Sunday, December 22, 2013

First Sneak Peek at Hearts to Heal

Gwynn here, having to brag a little about a long out of print tale of mine that will soon be available again!. You got a peek at the cover a couple of posts back but here it is again and now I'll offer a short excerpt, too.

A bit of background, when I lived in southern Arizona some years ago, my late husband and I were avid outdoor folks and did a lot of hiking, 4-wheeling and exploring. In April of 1999, we went hiking in the Huachuca Mountains up at the top of Carr Canyon Road with another couple. We were trying to find an old  mine where we'd picked up crystals years before on the debris dumped down the hill from driving the adit or mine tunnel into the mountain. I had an kind of freaky accident that day and broke both bones in my right leg, just above the ankle. I kept calm through the adventure by telling myself I had to remember everything I could about the affair so I could put it into a book! Later that summer I did exactly that and Healing Hearts came to be written. I even borrowed a bit of inspiration for the hero from the orthopedic surgeon who put me back together and told me I would be hiking again in a few months, as indeed I was. He was a very good looking man and I am sure garnered a bit of feminine admiration from patients and medical staff with whom he worked! But Dr. Jerry is not him in a thousand key ways. I never make a real person a character but gather bits and pieces from many real people!

Bonnie, the heroine, is not me at all, probably less of me in her character than in most of my heroines, but I enjoyed her a great deal and she became very real to me during the writing. Secondary characters came along and became real as well, each one with a key role to play in the story as Jerry and Bonnie took turns related the epic of their rocky road to building a relationship. I'm so happy that this special book will soon be available to readers again. I know it was not widely distributed before so it will be new to most who encounter it!

Here is a tidbit, the first confrontation that appears in the book. Bonnie and Jerry are not strangers and have clashed a bit before! You can bet there will be a lot more fireworks here before the HEA ending!

*****
Dr. Jerry Bertini shuffled out of the operating room, shedding his mask and gloves. Five major surgeries in nine hours, starting at eight this morning. Two legs, one hip, one elbow and one arm smashed into splinters. Why couldn’t people learn to keep their bones in one piece? If they ever did, he’d be out of work, but there was little danger of that. Between the crazy scrapes the college kids and GIs got into, the auto crashes, and the normal childhood mishaps, he could clone himself twice and still be busy.
In the doctor’s lounge, he shoved quarters into the soda machine, grabbed the cold can that clattered down, and sank onto the closest of the sagging chairs. He dozed off before he finished the cola, only to be startled awake by the intercom. Hearing his name, he had a hunch it wasn’t the first time he’d been paged. Oh shit, another one.
By the time he reached the ER, he was wide awake again. He finished the lukewarm soda and chucked the can. Ann Flannigan had the x-rays ready for him, already clipped on the light box. She was a good nurse, not like many of the giddy young girls, too immature and irresponsible for their profession.
He studied the film for a few seconds. Nasty break. Tibia and femur both, almost in a line, angling upward from the outside, just above the ankle. The ends of both bones were pushed down, distorting the muscle and over-stretching the ligaments and tendons. Surgical reduction. No other option, really. He crossed the hall to the cubicle where this as-yet-nameless patient waited.
He recognized her at once—Bonnie Verdugo, the prickly, opinionated little Latina EMT. She looked up as he swept through the curtained door, chocolate-flecked hazel eyes sparking defiance. Beneath her dusky tan, she was pale, stress and tension visible in the tightness of her lips, the pinched look to her nostrils. All considered, though, she was dealing well with the shock and pain. They had her on an IV already. Good.
Enjoying the unusual chance to have this particular woman at a disadvantage, he folded his arms and observed her for a silent moment. Of all the female EMTs and student nurses he worked with, she was the only one he could not reduce to tears or simpering giggles with a few choice words. Now, he couldn’t resist a jibe.
“Well, if it isn’t Ms. Super-EMT herself. How does it feel to be the victim?”
“Like a bad day at work. I wouldn’t be here if I had a choice.”
Her husky voice held the same go-to-hell independence that blazed in her eyes. Fidgeting in the wheelchair, she twisted the end of her long braid. Only the slight tremor of her hand revealed her anxiety.
He snorted. “Just like jail, ninety percent of the people end up here due to their own stupidity. Unless some old lady ran you down with her wheelchair, I’d bet you’re in the same boat.”
“Hiking accident,” she ground out. “I slid about eight feet and lit on my bent ankle. A nasty break, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “Nasty, but fixable. I’ve got to do an open reduction—put some hardware in there to hold everything in place while the bones heal.”
She huffed out a breath, looking everywhere but directly at him. “My insurance ought to cover that. They don’t make exclusions for stupidity, last I heard, or clumsiness. I just want to be back on both my feet as soon as I can.”
“Be a walk in the park. You’ll be hiking again in no time.” He glanced at his watch. “When did you last eat?”
She looked up at the clock on the wall and mentally counted. “About 2:30, two granola bars up on Platina Ridge. Almost five hours now.”
“Okay. I’ll go set up so we can get that surgery done this evening.”
Jerry turned from the room, feeling her gaze boring holes in his back all the way down the corridor. That’s one tough little lady. Got a chip on her shoulder bigger than New Jersey, but a lot of gumption in a small package. Make that a small, easy-to-look-at package.
Dirty and hurt, bundled in one of those ridiculous floppy gowns, she was still all woman. Hardly bigger than a half-grown kid, but there was nothing childlike about her. He’d heard she had to fight for everything she had, too. Well, there were worse ways to get there, and it certainly made a person value what he achieved.
His own progress hadn’t always been easy, but he wouldn’t trade his M.D. for the top post in Grandpa Bertini’s Boston law firm. And he could never have reached the pinnacle until the old man, Dad and brother Joe were all gone, even if he had chosen a legal career. Medicine was better, anyway.
Here, every case was a special challenge—to undo the damage and make someone whole again. He was never too tired to feel a thrill when he accomplished it. No, he’d made the right choice, maybe for the wrong reasons, but still the right choice.

***
Bonnie was already under anesthesia by the time he prepped and went into the OR to do his job. On the table she hardly raised a ridge under the blankets, folded back from her leg to bare it from the knee down.
His weariness fell away as he took the scalpel and made the first cut. With the oxygen mask hiding most of her face, with her tough mouth silent and her busy form still, he could forget who he worked on. There were only flesh and bone to be repaired, tasks his hands knew with total, intimate familiarity. He bent to the work, tiredness, sassy women and all else forgotten.

The surgery took just over an hour. This time, when he left the OR, he left the hospital. He prayed he wouldn’t get called back tonight. Exhaustion had caught up with him again. He drove home slowly, grateful the car almost knew the way by itself. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Holiday Treat from "The Old Country"

This is a different fruitcake and based on an old Irish recipe. I am not a fancy cook but this one is so easy you can hardly mess it up--even me! So give it a try and enjoy. I am sure it would be most suitable for Midwinter Solstice or a Yule supper or just about anytime. I swear Brighid has Her hand on my back every time I make it and ensures it comes out good!

As among other things, a  goddess of hearth and home, it isn't unfitting that She be there to assist a lady who says with a mixture of defiance and pride that, "Martha Stweart does not live here!"





Tea Brack
 Source: Winfred Abbe, County Offaly (C: 1900)
A simplified version of the traditional yeasted Barm Brack.
The following recipe makes three loaves for 8x4x3 pans.

*1 cup sultanas (blond raisins)
*3 cups raisins
2 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
3 cups black tea   (or 1 1/2 cups tea and 1 1/2 cups Irish Whiskey)

Soak fruit and sugar in tea overnight. (use large mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel.)
The next day add alternately: (Mix dry ingredients and add alternately with beaten eggs)

4 cups flour
3 beaten eggs
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp assorted spices to taste

Pour into greased bread pans and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 300o.
When cool, brush with honey to give it a fine glaze

Some variations I’ve made use of over the years: 
At times I’ve replaced half of the brown sugar with an equal amount of Sugar Twin artificial sweetener or Stevia to reduce calorie/sugar content. Also, the equivalent of 4 eggs in a product like Egg Beaters can be used in place of the whole eggs to reduce cholesterol. There is no regular fat, which makes this a healthy recipe!  You can also use whole grain flours.
*I generally use no citron (like traditional fruit cake) but do add 1 medium package of dried fruit bits (1 cup or so), about 1 cup of chopped dates, and reduce the regular raisins to 1 cup. Dried cranberries, strawberries, blueberries or cherries can be used, too. You can be as creative here as you like with generally good results. Just dry fruit, not fresh or canned.
You can also use a liqueur like Amaretto or Kalua, or a good rum in place of the whiskey or use 1 tbsp of rum or almond extract/flavoring to impart a similar taste. Best when wrapped and "seasoned" in a refrigerator for 1-2 weeks and will freeze well for later use.


Note! This is not to be confused with the legendary "Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake" referred to by Robbie O’Connell in a hilarious song with the same title! One passage refers to a "crust that was nailed on with glue." The list of ingredients would gag a hungry coyote and the song says it "would kill a man twice after eating a slice.” The song is a real howl. Get it if you can find it. O’Connell is kin to the famous Clancy Brothers, BTW.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Midwinter and Ancient roots of Christmas

I've loved Christmas since I was a small child. This past several months I have been scanning in to digitize a lot of old family photos and found some to celebrate Christmases over the years as I went for a baby to a teenager and my brothers came along and grew with me. Our family was far from well-to-do but when I was little Mom and Dad always managed to make Christmas special and as my brothers came along and the parents were older and more careworn, I took over a good part of trying to make the holiday memorable for the boys. Then when I had kids at home, I did the same for them. After they were grown and gone, I did not quite become a Scrooge or Grinch but a lot of the fun went out of it.

In the past ten years since my hubby has been gone, I've varied from doing quite a bit in terms of decorating, baking etc. to almost nothing. In 2003, he'd just been gone a few weeks, having passed away on November 10, so that year the holiday was barely noted. Now that I live with my middle brother after we both ended up single--our youngest brother died of an aneurysm in 2005--we're both kind of jaded about it.  So we do not do a whole lot to mark the season but agree Midwinter Solstice is just as significant as Christmas. Below is that middle brother and me; I was eight and a half and he was six weeks old! I had to look twice to be sure it wasn't a baby doll I held. And yes, we always had fresh cut trees we got in the forest for our Christmas tree! They were usually juniper or pinyon pine, both plentiful in the high desert area of Arizona where we lived. This holiday would have been in Jerome, AZ by the way.

Even when I was in my teens, I also felt that the midwinter solstice was a very special time too. I've been a sun-centered being all my life. I say jokingly that I operate on solar batteries and they run down in gray bleak weather and lose some power when the hours of darkness exceed those of daylight. So that day when the sun stands still at its farthest point is critical to me.  And solstice means just that--the sun standing still! I often feel like that is the real New Year's instead of the arbitrary day of January 1. Well, actually the day after the solstice would be New Year's Day and the day itself New Year's Eve. My internal calendar kicks over on that night between anyway. Again I go back to my ancient Celtic ancestors who marked the night more than the day in terms of festivals.

These days I celebrate midwinter about as much as Christmas and now know why I always climbed a few old Cottonwood trees as a kid to collect mistletoe--my Druid ancestors got it from oaks but they held it sacred too, not just for kissing under! The evergreens, the candles, the gifts, and the special feast-style dinner all have roots many thousands of years old so I cherish all the time-honored customs. I still observe some of them in reality and others in memory.

I found a neat link if anyone is interested in some special music and such to mark the solstice date--which will be December 21st this year. Aine Mineague is the artist featured here. http://wintersolsticemusic.com/ I hope the link will work for you and you can enjoy this!

Then I came across another neat thing, a suggested Midwinter Solstice Rite. While it differs somewhat from some that a group of Druid friends have devised and performed it is simple ans clean and I like it! The author is in Australia so her midwinter is our midsummer but that is not critical! Here you are:

MIDWINTER SOLSTICE
Copyright Stella Woods (June 2009): 
Decorate a room with winter greenery. Place a large bowl of water and a
lighted candle in the centre of the room. Have some golden glitter and
scented oil nearby and a candle for each person. Sit in a circle with a
lighted candle in front of you and talk about what you wish to release at
this dark time of the year, blowing out your candle once you have
finished speaking. Once everyone has had their turn, blow out the
central candle and sit in the darkness reflecting on what you are leaving
behind. After a long silence, relight the central candle, which represents
the sun, and sprinkle golden glitter on the water. Then each of you light
a candle from the central candle and place it by the water so you can
watch the glitter sparkling. Pass around a glass of wine and offer a toast
to the sun, the bringer of new light. Then go round the circle again, each
of you talking about a dream for the future or a new attitude you wish to
embrace. Finally sprinkle scented oil on the water and choose someone
to anoint each person with sunshine by dipping their hand into the
sparkling, scented water and sprinkling it over each person’s hair. Hold
hands and offer thanks

As I wrote in my post over at the Amber PAX blog:  http://amberpax.blogspot.com/  the Norse god Odin is featured as a gift bringer driving a sleigh with an eight-legged beast drawing it! I will style myself Odin's handmaiden here and offer a gift for a selected commenter on my posts either there or here. You can have your choice of the three PAX tales I had released this year: A Different Drummer, Dark and Stormy or Last Train to Clarkdale. There's info on all three in earlier posts here this year if you want to look them up or you can go to www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/bio_ODare.html to find them on my backlist.

I wish all of you a wonderful midwinter season and whichever of its special days and festivals you observe! It is a magical time of year and one we can all enjoy, whatever our persuasion in terms of religious practice or simply our preference. Go in peace and harmony into the new year and may it treat you well!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm still here--and have some news!

Yes, I have been way too quiet lately. I can only plead a bit of the down cycle of my mild bi-polar and the SAD impact that hits me even here in the southwest desert. I miss the sun as its hours of shining shorten and when the cooler temps and some storms come, it is hard not to hibernate. Maybe I was a bear in a previous incarnation!

Anyway, Last Train to Clarkdale has been out for several weeks now and seems to be doing well. My next PAX story has been submitted but I am not sure yet when its release date will be. I do not have a cover for it yet either but my readers here will be the first to learn about it, I promise. The title is Wrenching and it will be part of a PAX group which all take place or at least begin with something that happens in a garage! It was a kind of off-the-wall idea but I think we've come up with some neat and unusual tales. Hey, with the great writers that participate in these packages of themed stories, you can count on that!

And one more bit of news, this for Gwynn Morgan. I'm not sure the exact date yet but I'm going to have a novel out in January! This one was briefly published by the now closed Treble Heart Books about ten years ago but has been out of print for a long time. The old title was Healing Hearts and it is now called Hearts to Heal. Yes, it is a medical romance of sorts since the hero is an orthopedic surgeon and the heroine an EMT who aspires to be a doctor but a lot of the story takes place in other than hospital or doctor's office venues! I do have a cover and it is perfect! Here is a sneak peek at it. I'll be posting some excerpts and offering a giveaway or two as the release date nears. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 18, 2013

All Aboard!


That's both the time honored call to get on the train and the title of a brand new PAX--about railroads, of course--that will be coming out this weekend. Yes, I do have a story in the group of five and to say I am excited about it would be putting things mildly. I  love writing romance--doesn't matter to me whether it is hetero or GLBT or even about dogs! Love is the One True Thing in my beliefs and happily ever after may not always happen in real life but it sure as heck can in my stories and it does. After that, I love trains too!

Last Train to Clarkdale is a very special tribute to my one-time home town, to the past as my brother and I lived it years ago when we both became avid rail fans and to the rebirth of the little Santa Fe spur line into an incredible scenic excursion that I feature in this tale.

Just for fun I typed in "Last Train to Clarkdale" into a search engine a few days ago and I was amazed what all popped up! Of course there is that great old song, the Monkee's first hit, Last Train to Clarksville and I do pay homage to it in my story. I also learned there is a Clarksdale, Mississippi which was the home town of blues legend Muddy Waters.

But as far as I can find, there is only one Clarkdale. It is in central Arizona and was named for a one-time politician and investor in the Verde Valley mining industry whose name was Clark. There is plenty of history involved in the paired communities of Jerome and Clarkdale, which were the mine and smelter towns of the past century and even before just as several more pairs of towns were in Arizona. Mines happen where the ore bodies are found but smelters have to have a certain type of terrain and usually rail access to handle the heavy industrial process and transport of the raw material and the purified metal, usually in ingot form. I may visit some of the others later and my alter-ego Gwynn Morgan is working in the preliminary stages of a historical novel about building the narrow gauge railroad into Jerome back in the late 1800s. So you are likely to hear more but for now, let's focus on the upcoming tale and the inspiring little railroad.

If you would like to learn more about the Verde Canyon Train they do have a website! The URL is www.verdecanyonrr.com  There's also at least one U-Tube video about a couple's experience on the excursion, an article about an Elks Lodge in Havasu City, AZ which organized a trip on that special train  for some returning and recovering veterans and more. What fun!

Anyway I have loved trains forever. My first trip was a solo one in December of 1965 when I took the San Francisco Chief from Flagstaff, AZ to Stockton, CA and spent the holidays visiting relatives in Sacramento, CA. During my college years I took several more train trips including one west from Flagstaff for the holiday break when the rails were the only thing rolling during a huge blizzard! Those big, powerful diesels could shove through quite a bit of snow. As it was, the trains were running hours late but highway and air traffic in northern Arizona was at a total stand still. By the time I got back to campus after the holidays, a total of nine feet of snow had fallen and melted/settled to about five or six feet still on the ground! Come to think of it, that could make a pretty good story setting too...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Whoo-hoo, my cover!

All right! I've now got an awesome cover for Last Train to Clarkdale and I am just tickled pink with it. What do you think? Isn't it just fab?? More about this story soon!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Check this out!

Hey, I am interviewed this week at the Amber PAX blog! Click out to www.amberpax.blogspot.com to learn more about me and about our great five-story collections that sell at a discount for the group. There are links to the past and current collections and news on the upcoming plus author interviews and more.

And if you leave a comment there this month you could win a $25 gift certificate good for some wonderful reads at the Amber Quill site. The offerings there are many and varied from a wide range of general and genre fiction on the basic Amber Quill page to erotic hetero romances at Amber Heat and LGBT romance at Amber Allure. I actually have featured works on all three so whatever your taste you could get something of mine!

Go to www.amberquill.com/ and work your way through all the pages. For Deirdre you can visit either www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/bio_ODare.html or www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/bio_ODare.html for my 'hotties' of all kinds. My Amber Quill books are under Gwynn Morgan's author name and include two of my favorite 'western' set novels, a modern suspense/ adventure The Man In Black, and a time travel, Back to Tomorrow. Come January a revision/reissue of my 'broken leg story', Hearts to Heal, will be there too! It is a kind of medical romance with an sailing adventure thrown in as well!

And watch this site for more about the upcoming October Pax, All Aboard with five delish train-themed stories!! I don't have a cover yet for Last Train to Clarkdale but here's the collection cover. I'm drooling on my keyboard!! A train and a yummy hunk:what's not to love??

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sooner instead of later

...is when All Aboard will be released. The latest word is October, probably the third weekend of the month which is the normal PAX release date! Wow, just about seven weeks. I'm already excited.

I have never ridden on Amtrak but I did do some train travel while I was in college at Flagstaff, Arizona when Arizona State College-Flagstaff had just become Northern Arizona University. There were about three trips on the San Francisco Chief to Stockton where relatives residing in Sacramento and suburban towns came to pick my up for holidays and  a couple probably on the Chief or El Capitan to San Bernadino where I was met by a friend who lived at the time in the Elsinore/Perris area. I loved it! Not too many years later I flew for the first time, after I had gone to my first real job at Fort Huachuca, Arizona but the rails still held most of my travel-heart. Maybe I can manage an Amtrak trip on of these days.

Here is a color ad type photo of one of those old "War Bonnet" diesels and a B&W shot taken by me in Flagstaff at about that time. In mine there was a puddle--either  snow melt or summer rain--between the tracks throwing up a reflection.

I've also had the thrill of riding at least two tourist scenic excursion trips--the steam powered train that runs from Durango to Silverton, Colorado and back and the train out of Clarkdale, Arizona that I feature in Last Train to Clarkdale. The latter was a special treat, for like Clay in my story, my brother and I were both avid train watchers and very  much taken with the historic route up through the Verde River Canyon to connect with the main line of the Santa Fe.

In his great book Canyon Lands and Super Chiefs, railroad historian Joe McMillan gives a vivid picture of the Santa Fe routes through Arizona to include the Clarkdale District. The book is liberally illustrated and I use it and the others in his series on the Santa Fe for a lot of research plus just enjoying the atmosphere and memories the books evoke. Most of my middle childhood and youth is interwoven with train memories. The Santa Fe was "my" railroad and I still miss it. The modern successor BNSF just does not have the mystique! Thus you can almost bet there will be more train stories from the pens of Deirdre and Gwynn in the future.

It's going to take a lot of research and work but I am going to write a story about the Harvey girls to focus on one fictitious member of that legendary group. It will be a novel but I'll weave as much authentic detail and historical fact into it as I can. But meanwhile, you'll soon be able to read Last Train to Clarkdale. Yes, the title is a shameless play on the Monkees' song--which I also recall with a vague, slightly guilty fondness! (giggle)--more memories. I perhaps should have dedicated the story also to the memory of Davy Jones--RIP, anyway. You gave us in the hippie era some fun songs!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Two of my favorite things...

appear on this brand new future cover for the All Aboard PAX collection where Last Train to Clarkdale will be one of the five featured tales. They are, of course, trains and hunky guys! This one is totally drool-worthy and I am on pins and needles as I wait for the bound-to-be-awesome cover for Last Train! I'll share as soon as I get it!

For just a little background, I first have to admit that both my grandfathers were career railroaders. It skipped a generation then but my brother, with whom I now share a home, put in close to forty years in the industry and between us we have many friends who are or have been associated with the train business.

My earlier tale, Workin' on the Rairoad, celebrated the side of the business my brother was involved in, the critical aspect of maintaining the track to keep those monsters rolling. I am working on a sequel titled Second Summer which I may have ready to submit before the end of the year so it should be released in 2014.

Last Train depicts quite a different side since one hero is involved in administrative work, the scheduling and shipment of large and high-priority freight cargo. And it also features a real-life wonderful scenic tourist excursion which uses the tracks that originally brought Santa Fe freight into our home area in Arizona's beautiful Verde Valley. Add a bit of bulk to the reclining eye candy here and a neat beard, make the eyes blue and you'd have a good facsimile of the second hero in Last Train.

I am so delighted to be able to keep "the romance of the rail" alive in some of my fiction. While passenger travel is not a big thing anymore, I can assure you that rail freight is very much alive and well. It's a critical link in the world economy  getting raw materials where they are needed and the end products to where we can buy them. If you are interested or curious, there is a great magazine, called simply Trains and they have a web site with lots of neat photos, articles and news as well. The URL for it is http://trc.Trains,com/   in case you'd like to take a look. They also have a Classic Trains magazine about historical/nostalgic railoading which I subscribe to and use as a reference aid. Wearing my "Gwynn Morgan" hat, I'm in the developmental stages of a novel about a "Harvey Girl" back around 1900 or so and another tale of the construction of a narrow gauge line into the booming mining town of Jerome, AZ a bit earlier. More on them in some future day!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Update on things to come



Last Train to Clarkdale is submitted and tentatively set to come out in November. We'll see. Of course I will let everyone know as soon as I do. This one is a special story to me for the chance to "go back home" in a different way and honor the little rail line that grew out of a significant part of my past! I don't know if there are any rail fans among my readers and friend-fans but I hope there are! I'll share some more train-related stuff in the next month or two leading up to the release of this story and the others in the All Aboard PAX of which it is a part.  Here's one very bad shot from the tourist excursion that I took a few years back and another of the scenery, which is awesome and well worthy of photography!

Now I have a WIP that has been set aside for a time to work on and then another PAX story for the 'It Happened in a Garage" themed PAX that is due in by 1 December. I have one hero clear in my mind now and he'll be talking to me so I can get that one underway. The working title is "Wrenching" and it has a double meaning of both the work of a mechanic and the way emotions can hit you at times. I hope it will be as powerful as my title implies. More on it as it develops.

I've been working in odd moments on my own memoirs plus scanning zillions of old photographs. Right now I'm reading my journal for a period of about three years that seems more like a novel now than real, sadly not a romance per se. The period covers some of the most traumatic and yet also amazing months of my life 'way back when' and wrenching is a word that fits there very well. First loves tend to be that way; mine did not have a happy ending but perhaps we will have another chance in the next life. Anyway, I can see from revisiting my long-ago self that becoming a romance writer was almost inevitable and inescapable! Love has always been the focus of so much of my time, efforts and thoughts that of course I would have to write about it. Now I am glad I do and also thankful for the strange and twisting path of my life that provides much fodder for stories.

The other tale I think I have mentioned before--about a wildfire fighting slurry bomber pilot and the young journalist-reporter who develops a crush on him. The working title for it is "Red Tails in the Sunset" since the fire fighting planes are all marked with the identifier of a tail section painted red. The plot is starting to shape up now that I have both the characters clear in  my mind. They come in odd ways and times and once I can see and 'hear' them, they will start telling me their tale. That's where this one is right now, the opening scene written and more to come soon, at least hopefully!

I'm also working on some minor revisions of another Gwynn Morgan book that has been out of print for a time and hope to submit it to Amber Quill to be reissued sometime next year. Titled Deal for Love originally--and I may keep that title--it's about a young woman from Boston who is working as a financial planner with an investment and real estate firm and an anthropology profession she first takes for a blue collar type guy when they get stuck in a blizzard together. And yes, there can be blizzards in Arizona! This one is a fun romp and may end up a bit hotter than it was but probably not quite to the X rated level for the Heat line so it will likely be released on the regular Amber Quill side of the house.

The writing never stops and I am soooo thankful for that. It's been so much a part of my life for so very long and sharing these stories that are given to me is one of my greatest joys. That at least a few readers enjoy and appreciate them is my gift too. I pray I never stop. And I just got the Dragon Naturally Speaking software that will allow me to dictate work when my eyes are not up to snuff. It's kind of daunting to start to learn it but I shall! I'll begin by reading in a bunch of stories that were written by my father and then my husband since I intend to self-publish an anthology book of these for each of them. Dad's were outdoor hunting and fishing adventures and Jim's were borderline urban fantasy/nostalgia/historical since they take place around some mining camps and nearby ranches about a hundred years ago but feature some paranormal aspects! Retyping was going to be so daunting that I decided this method would be a lot faster and easier for me. I hope I can get this going soon.

So that's what I'm up to right now. More news as things advance. BTW, Dark and Stormy has done really well and got a couple of good reviews, one actually very good-- a '5' level rating and many kind words. I think I posted that link last time. Happy reading all!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Time flies when you are having fun??

I'm hard at work on Last Train to Clarkdale and it's shaping up very well. It's fun to revisit some of my old haunts from years ago, modernize them in degrees and let my two heroes see them through new eyes. And of course watch them find the pleasure and treasure of a new love on the way. You'll enjoy Jon and Clay, I think, and the proxy trip on the Verde Canyon Wilderness train. It makes me want to go back and take the trip again!

I also really wanted to share a wonderful review of Dark and Stormy that I saw the other day. The reviewer mentions my story and Jane Eyre in the same sentence. Talk about being on cloud nine! She really loved it and had very few negative comments at all. That is wonderful! It feel so good to have someone else love Dylan and Martin too. I really liked them both very much.

Here is a snip and  the link to read the whole thing:

"I  was reminded of Jane Eyre more than once as I read this. Common themes sprung throughout, the mystery hidden in the manor out in the moors. But the mystery here is different, with drama, suspense, and action on a whole other level… The haunting manor with its rich private rooms and its abandoned sections offers a delightfully suspenseful backdrop to a Gothic style mystery/adventure and erotic romance. The scenes between Martin and Dylan are fraught with sexual tension. Martin and Dylan are both heroic in their own way, and I rooted for them from the beginning. Highly recommended ..."

http://top2bottomreviews.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/dark-and-stormy-by-deirdre-odare/

A reissue of Gwynn Morgan's Healing Hearts will be coming in January on the regular (non erotic/LGBT) side of Amber Quill under the new title Hearts to Heal. More on that when the date gets closer. Meanwhile watch for Last Train in September or October. I'll share the cover and the exact date just as soon as I have them!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wales!!

Since I have a good bit of Cymric or Welsh blood as well as Irish in my veins, I am fascinated by the country of Wales and all the wonderful legends from this area and these people. We are all familiar with the Arthurian tales, of course, and have probably visited Wales and neighboring Cornwall frequently in our reading, especially if we favored the likes of Daphne DuMaurier and the Brontes, among  the premier authors of the Gothic romance novel! I just added to the genre is a very small way with my new story, Dark and Stormy. See the prior posts for information on it!

As I often say, I am a creature of the high desert and believe I have lived a number of lifetimes in this kind of environment but the genetic memory or connection to the British Isles is also strong. I will probably never get a chance to visit that region since time is ticking merrily away and I do not see a strong chance of finding the fortune that would allow me to go spend the 'quality time' for the independent journey I would want to make. So maybe next time--as well as in the past!

Still I read a lot about the history, geography, cultures, legends and myths, and even modern realities in the Celtic regions. I do have a picture or two that I have collected, not mine of course, but valued items in my collection.

By the way, I have library of about 3,000 photos, perhaps a third or so my own and the rest 'pinned' from many sources that serve as a slide show screen saver on my computer. The selection is totally random and each shot is displayed for about thirty seconds. Even after a couple of years, I can sit and watch it for hours and do at times. But I digress.

Here is a shot of Welsh mountains. An odd thing I notice about the mountains in Scotland, Ireland and Wales--many of them are barren. It's not that they are above timberline like the high peaks of the North American chains that run from Canada through the US and Mexico and eventually rise again as the Andes in South America. I think the cause is a combination of centuries of grazing and timber harvest and the harsh winds and storms off the ocean that have scoured them bare over the eons. Still, they almost seem "desert" in their stony and rugged faces. This scene could almost be along the Pacific Coast, don't you think? Not desert in the cacti and sand image yet deserted and also with scant vegetation!

I also want to find a picture of Powys castle since a cousin's research indicates that my maternal grandmother's family, Wilcox, had ties to this region and the lords of that domain. If I do I shall post it soon! That family name was once Wilcockson or perhaps the sons of Will the Cock. Did that long ago ancestor raise poultry? Was he "the cock of the walk"? Who knows. The background of many surnames can be quite fascinating! And Wales has a peculiar tradition of names reflecting one's trade but used in an unusual way: David the Train, Lew the Swine, Dylan the Bard etc. reflecting a railroad man, a swine herd and a poet!

There is a totally silly little tale of "Oom the Belt Holes" about a leather worker who devised a clever idea of having a buckle that connected into holes on the belts he made to keep one's trousers secure and in place. The punch line is something like "Ask not for Oom the Belt Holes." I told you it was silly but I do enjoy the funny punny sort of "fuzzy puppy stories"--not quite the full grown shaggy dogs! An old friend of my late husband's had an innumerable collection!

And since I am celebrating Wales, I have to share a dragon! We all know the link between Wales and dragons! This was taken at a kite festival by Luanna Rubin  who runs the marvelous equilter.com fabric and quilting site. I think it is marvelous!

Gothics Galore!!

Here , hot off the presses are the blurbs for the five great stories in this new PAX! If you are a fan of the classic Gothics and yet favor gay romance, you are in for a treat! These five stories all sound delish and I can't wait to read the other five. I am especially intrigued by Coliseum Square because it too has a tutor and a mute child! Talk about a really weird coincidence. But Lynn and I write very different voices, styles and tales so I am sure you will not get a deja vu feeling from these two! 


Grab them while they are new and on sale, like right now!

Coliseum Square
by Lynn Lorenz
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-457-1 (Electronic)
Genres: 
Gay / Historical / Gothic
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (29k words)
New Release 35% Discount (One Week Only)

Description:
 New from Lynn Lorenz, author of the Amber Allure best-sellers David's Dilemma and Remember Me?......

When Mark Madison accepts a position as tutor in New Orleans, he does so to run away from his past. Yet he never once believed the house on Coliseum Square would actually hold the key to his future. Royal DuCote, the wealthy owner of the house and father to a son named Luc, is dark, sexy, and haunted. Ever since the death of his wife and Luc's mother, nothing has been the same. Luc refuses to speak or let Royal near him, and putting Luc in school is out of the question, so he hires a tutor for his son. But when he meets Mark Madison, he's instantly attracted to the younger man. As tensions build between the Mark and Royal, Luc's affliction becomes a mystery Mark wants to solve. But will what Mark discovers destroy all that is left of the DuCote family?...........Find Out More!
  
 
Dark And StormyDark And Stormy 
by Deirdre O'Dare
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-458-8 (Electronic)
Genres: 
Gay / Historical / Gothic
Heat Level: 2
Length: 
Novella (21k words)New Release 35% Discount (One Week Only)

Description:
 New from Deirdre O'Dare, author of the Amber Allure best-sellers Rez Dogs And Scooter Trash and The Sorcerer's Apprentice......

Gently reared Martin FitzHugh finds himself adrift without means when his uncle goes bankrupt from gambling debts. Martin seeks a livelihood by taking a post as tutor to the young children of an earl on a remote Welsh estate. Arriving on a dark and stormy night that sets the tone for his whole adventure, he falls into intrigue, mystery and powerful new loves--for the three traumatized children and their enigmatic guardian. Dylan Davis was called back from military service in South Africa after his elder brother supposedly found his wife with another man, killing the pair, then himself. Now, Dylan has to assume the title of earl as well as care for his nieces and nephew. He hires a young man, sight unseen, to become their tutor while he sets out to uncover the roots of the scandalous tragedy that tore apart his family. Both matters reveal surprising results, however...some tragic and some delightful...........Find Out More!
  
 
Mist In The Night
by D. J. Manly
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-459-5 (Electronic)
Genres: 
Gay / Gothic / Dark Fantasy / Vampire / Paranormal / Ghosts / Hauntings / BDSM (Light) / Ménage (M/M/M) / Group Sex
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (19k words)
New Release 35% Discount (One Week Only)

Description:
 New from D. J. Manly, author of the Amber Allure best-sellers Cherished Displacement and Weeping Roses......

Jamie's on the brink of rebelling against everything in this life when, on one fateful evening, he's invited to spend time in what's thought to be a haunted house near the university campus. His roommate and another guy, totally "out" and ready to play, want Jamie to join them for some sexy fun. Intrigued by the idea of exploring his sexuality, Jamie follows the two men into the old gothic mansion on the hill, once a place of decadence and torture. But could there still be echoes of the past lingering there? Jamie's about to discover much more than his sexual preferences on a night of terror he won't ever forget...........Find Out More!
  
 
My Soul He Seeks 
by Darcy Abriel
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-460-1 (Electronic)
Genres: 
Gay / Contemporary / Gothic / The Arts / Paranormal / Ghosts / Hauntings / BDSM (Light)
Heat Level: 3
Length: 
Extended Amber Kiss (15k words)New Release 35% Discount (One Week Only)

Description:
 New from Darcy Abriel, author of the Amber Allure best-sellers Nightingale and Run To Ground......

In Ternekill, Terne House was said to be haunted. Auction house researcher Byron Shepley knew that all too well because he'd broken into the then-vacant, ominous mansion when he was sixteen, and he'd never forgotten the chilling experience. Or perhaps it was the house that never forgot him. Now, the old estate is no longer vacant, and on this night, the delivery of an expansive instrument has Byron returning once more. Will the house let him leave this time? Ravol Nova appeared in Ternekill and took up residence at the Terne House two years ago. Once a well-known guitarist, Ravol formerly played his music for no one but his lover, the flamenco dancer Francisco Caspar, until the man died a horrible death at the hands of an unknown killer. Ravol, now a recluse with a dark, mysterious past, came to Terne House for a specific purpose, and has been waiting a long time. On a dark and stormy night, one man may trade his soul for passion, while another may find the redemption he's been seeking for so very long. What dangers await these two men when they finally unite and come face-to-face with destiny?...........Find Out More!
  
 
Shattered By Fate 
by A. J. Llewellyn
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-461-8 (Electronic)
Genres: 
Gay / Gothic / Mystery / Detective / The Arts / BDSM (Light) / Interracial / Multicultural
Heat Level: 3
Length: 
Extended Novella (39k words)New Release 35% Discount (One Week Only)

Description:
 New from A. J. Llewellyn, author of the Amber Allure best-sellers Balthazar Starblitz and Nightwalker......

Elvis Summers and his writing partner Holt have scored a fantastic gig--spending two months in romantic Buenos Aires while researching their old TV idol, Guy Williams, famous for playing Zorro and the futuristic, perfect father in Lost in Space. What made Williams fall so deeply in love with Argentina that he gave up his acting career to move there in the mid 70s? For years, the actor remained an icon as Zorro in Argentina, even though he died alone and under mysterious circumstances in his apartment in the lush neighborhood of Recoleta. As Elvis and Holt retrace the actor's footsteps, history and gothic romance seep into their souls. Elvis meets a hot local named Joaquin, a man with his own secrets and apparent fears. Elvis falls hard and fast for the sexy porteño, but after scorching nights of passion, Joaquin inexplicably vanishes. Elvis desperately searches for him even as Holt tries to convince him that Joaquin was obviously not interested, and that residents of Joaquin's apartment building claim no such man exists. Feeling the ghost of Guy Williams accompanying him on his sometimes-frightening search, Elvis is determined to find the man he came to adore. Or will he, like TV's Zorro, find himself shattered by fate?...........Find Out More!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A little about The Last Train to Clarkdale

I've been a railroad buff for most of my life. When I was growing up I seldom saw trains except for the small mixed freight "local" that came into the Verde Valley from the Santa Fe main line across northern Arizona. Then on occasion when my grandparents came out west, we went to Flagstaff and met them there when their train arrived from Kentucky. That was always very exciting.

Just for fun here is a very old snapshot of the original depot and a more recent view of the current one. They give you an idea of how Clay recalls it and how he sees it in the story. They are both my photos. The one was taken with a Kodak box camera and shows the building just left of the tall smoke stack, long gone. The color one on my recent trip back for my high school reunion.. Now the former freight line into Clarkdale mainly serves as a scenic tourist excursion line. I took this trip a few years ago myself and found it to be wonderful, a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. The idea of a story featuring this trip began to take shape in my mind but other things came first. Finally I had a chance to tell that tale! This one will be coming out in the fall, perhaps around October, as part of another Amber PAX titled All Aboard. We've done trains before but its a great theme to revisit--at least for me!

The first hero came to me first and began to talk to me. Then a bit later, I meet the other man. It's very rough yet but here is the first part of the story....

Gliding down the gentle curves of I-17 from Flagstaff, Clay almost drove on autopilot, watching the familiar yet strange landscape unfold before him. They said you can’t go home again. He wasn't sure he even wanted to, yet something seemed to be drawing him back. The drag of it felt as relentless as one of those tractor beams they spoke of in old science fiction tales.  How many years had it been?
More than ten, nearer twenty…  He had to be bloody fucking insane to go back and relive a minute of it. The memories that filled the oldest suitcase in his mental baggage were all ugly, weren't they? And yet what he felt now seemed vague, gentle nostalgia instead of the bitterness he thought would be there.
As he turned north toward the Verde Valley towns, he decided maybe that was partly because nothing was the same. Oh, the same ragged old hills, the unbelievably blue sky, some of the old run-down buildings still mixed with the new ones. Would he run into any of the guys he’d known in school, the ones who’d taunted him as “Gay-Clay” and made his life miserable? Or any of the older folks who’d known his parents and been as appalled as they’d been when he was came out at sixteen? Still, he had to take that risk. He just knew he had to go back and come to terms with it all. 
The old grade school looked derelict and decaying. They had new schools now, consolidated to serve the several small communities instead of the low-budget old ones for each area. The middle school was gone—only a concrete foundation left. The old high school held some offices and a small shop or two.
He made a U-turn and headed down another road, the one that led to a favorite old hang-out. The railroad station had never been much, a small frame building painted a dull mustardy yellow, but for him it was paradise. He loved trains, always had. For several years the high points of his week were the days when “the local” arrived, a Santa Fe manifest freight bringing in a variety of commodities to serve the somewhat isolated area, a few villages in a river valley edged by rugged mountains.
Smelling the diesel fumes, hearing the powerful rumble of those GP-9 locomotives and sometimes daring to talk to some of the train crew took him out of his misfit status. When a work train came in with crews to maintain the tracks or repair the bridges over the many arroyos that tended to wash out during the summer monsoon rains, he would hang out and watch, listen and learn. Those experiences had turned him to the career he followed to this day, a life inexplicably bound to the railroad industry.
He pulled in to the parking lot, a much larger and well-maintained one than he recalled and looked around in amazement. The new depot, built in Spanish Colonial style, had class and quality. Behind the building, two older but clean and brightly painted diesel engines idled, hooked to a string of matching coaches and some open observation cars.
Of course, he recalled, they ran a tourist expedition here now. He’d read about it a few years back and then promptly forgot. On an impulse he got out of his crossover and walked in. Maybe he could still get a ticket for today’s trip, or at least soon, before he headed back to Topeka. It was midweek, just short of summer, and the crowds were not too heavy yet. As luck would have it, he got a seat on today’s trip. Maybe it was meant to be.
With a couple of hours to kill before the post-noon departure, he wandered through the gift shop and then out to an open courtyard that featured several bronze sculptures of wildlife. They were exquisite and beautiful.
A slight sound close behind him had him spinning around. Clay was always sensitive about his space, alert. Maybe that went back to the mean tricks and bullying he’d known in school. Unseen people behind him were not safe. Was this different? As he took in the man who had paused, a step or two away, he felt the same shocking jolt one got from a close lightning strike, the sizzle of energy and the keen ozone scent that stirred an adrenaline rush. Could a heart really skip a beat and then leap forward in double time? It felt that way. He sucked in a fast breath. Who was this guy?

***

Jon Reid took fame and notoriety in stride. As a world renowned wildlife and scenic photographer, his face might not be known but his name was. He kept clear of the danger zone in front of a camera but behind one, he was an acknowledged genius. Why then had life begun to feel dull, colors muted and flat as if viewed in poor light? Could it be because there seemed to be no new venues to portray, no new adventures to dare?
Or maybe because the solitude and independence he’d once valued so highly now seemed empty. Lonely... He’d never expected to apply that word to himself. He didn’t like it.
“Nice work,” he remarked casually when the man he’d approached whirled around like a startled deer and then stared, something akin to shock or amazement on his face.
The stranger nodded. “Yes, it is. They are, all of them. I’m guessing the same artist produced them. He didn’t do bronze, but I’m reminded of the Larry Toschik’s work.”
So, the man knows something about wildlife art. That wasn’t typical of the kind of tourists Jon expected to encounter on a much touted scenic rail excursion like this one. Still, some did come to see the eagles and other species that called the rugged and remote canyon home, the route the track traversed.
“I’m a fan of his work myself. I believe these are by another artist, though clearly one with a similar level of skill and attention to detail.”
The stranger nodded again. He edged back a step or two, while the initial expression of wariness if not actual fear left his face.
“Are you taking the train today?”
The other man shrugged. “Yeah. I hadn't really planned on it but when I found they still had seats available, I decided I might as well, almost as if it was an omen. I’m a train fan, always have been. Maybe it’s in the genes. Both my grandfathers were railroad men.” He stopped then as he feared he was babbling or talking too much to a stranger.
“I enjoy them myself,” Jon said, seeking to put the other man at ease. “A trip like this is fun for that as well as the sights to be seen. I’m hoping to get lucky and find a few photo ops today. I prefer to miss the summer weekend crowds. It’s easier to get some good shots if the observation cars aren't jam packed.”
They ended up eating lunch together, sitting out in the shady courtyard with food bought from the casual little cafe in the station. The weather was mild, warm but not yet the stifling heat that would come later in the summer. A light breeze carried the subtle sweet scent of mesquite blooms and tamer flowers making up the landscaping around the depot. Above through the slatted roof, glimpses of the incredible blue of the desert sky tempted the artist in Jon’s mind. He glimpsed a large bird, high in that sky, a hawk or perhaps even an eagle. With luck he’d see more where he could photograph them from the train.
While they waited for the train to load and depart, Jon enjoyed the company, despite his normal habit of staying aloof, He found the somewhat diffident younger man a pleasant companion. No harm in some conversation, was there? He doubted he’d ever see the other man, who’d introduced himself as Clay Carter, after this one day. Still, they talked easily and it seemed no time at all before the growing crowd of passengers gathered to answer the call to board.
Jon glanced at Clay as they tossed the trash from their lunch into a convenient can and started toward the platform. “What car are you in?”
Clay glanced at his ticket. “Flagstaff, it says here. It looks like they all have the names of Arizona towns. How about you?”

“I’m in Flagstaff as well. What a coincidence. Well, let’s obey that all aboard and begin this adventure.”

Dark and Stormy is coming soon!

Next weekend the Gothics Galore Amber PAX will be coming out. There are five great stories with the Gothic flavor. I have not read the four of the other authors yet but I  know mine is in the traditional or almost classic vein of the genre. I loved the style of Daphne DuMaurier, the Bronte sisters etc. So romantic and also touched with the shivery rush of fear and danger. I tried to bring a bit of this into my story and even wove a bit of a mystery into the tale which the two heroes get involved in solving. The bad guy comes to a fitting end and all ends well. Of course, as it is a romance!!

Here is the luscious cover again in case you missed it the first time. And then I'll give you another sneak peek at the tale. Specifics and buy link will follow soon along with the other four titles and their authors.

Excerpt: Dark and Stormy
 (this is about a third of the way into the tale and Martin again meets the mysterious dark rider of his arrival night.)

At one point, Martin’s feet went out from beneath him when he hit a slick spot in a narrow gully. Down he went, slipping and sliding, scooting on his arse down a muddy slash in the hillside until he finally fetched up against a tree that leaned out over the declivity. He grabbed the rough bark, halting his headlong fall and dragged himself up onto a rockier but less slippery spot. From there he continued down with no further mishap but his wet and muddy trousers clung to his legs, clammy and chilling. A fire would be most welcome. He hoped the hut offered at least that much.
As he approached the odd little structure, Martin heard muffled sounds which he could not quite identify, like a heavy step and a snuffle or whuff. Deep in the valley, dusk had turned to real dark. Nearly blind, he ran smack into a huge, dark bulk. When he flung his hands up to stop himself, he encountered warmth and soft fur over a solid wall of flesh. A horse, a big one and dark, a shade darker than the trees and ground. The animal snorted and sidestepped but did not offer him any harm. To his hands, bruised, scraped and cold, the soft fur felt wonderful. The beast shuffled, snorting mildly in an anxious manner, apparently as startled as he by their sudden collision.
“Easy, big boy,” Martin murmured. “If you’ll allow, I’ll just move around and past you.” The horse shifted another step or two and revealed a gentle glow that seemed to come from the far side of the hut. Either a door was open or that side was not walled. Martin stumbled toward the light. Before he was able to peer around the corner, a low voice challenged him.
“Halt. Who goes there? What is your business?”
The voice was not that of a humble and unschooled huntsman, shepherd or wood cutter, which Martin expected. It was a cultured voice, each word clearly and precisely spoken.  The tone also held a note of warning, even perhaps of threat. Martin sensed the speaker was not a person to be trifled with or presumed upon but his needs drove him past caution.
“It is I, just a weary and chilled hiker who’s become lost in the hills.”
As Martin rounded the hut to look into the front, which was indeed mostly open, his eyes were dazzled by the dancing fire in a rustic fireplace inside. At first all he could see was a towering black form, more shadow than shape, looming to bar his way. Then, as if the other man decided Martin posed no threat or danger, he stepped aside.
“Come then, and warm yourself. I haven’t much to offer but was about to brew a bit of tea. I can share my pasty with you if you’re in need of nourishment. It’s quite a large one.”
Martin stumbled to the fire and held his hands out to the welcoming warmth. Within a moment, his trousers were steaming as the heat started to drive the moisture from the woolen fabric. When his front had warmed enough to warrant it, he turned to let his back dry, too.
As he looked at the other man, sudden recognition jolted through him. A black horse, a big man with a black cloak—who could it be but his mysterious benefactor from the night of his arrival, now several fortnights past?
The man kept his face averted from the firelight at first. When he finally turned, Martin realized he wore a silken black mask which concealed all but his mouth and chin. What skin he could see was darkened as if rubbed with charcoal or boot black. Disappointment speared him. It seemed he would not get to see the face of his rescuer after all.
“I think I know you,” he said, after a moment. “Were you not the one who snatched me from the mired coach and bore me to Ravensrawn the night of the terrible storm back in February?”
The masked man laughed. “It seems you have a proclivity for getting yourself caught in difficulties. You’re the young tutor for the Ravensrawn children. How come you to be out in the woods alone?”
Something familiar about the man’s voice tugged at Martin’s awareness but he could not quite pin it down. He lacked time to ponder on it, for he knew he needed to answer the man’s question and did so. “The children and the housekeeper are away for a few days and I was at loose ends. Since I hiked in my youth on my grandfather’s estate near the Scots border, I thought to explore a bit. I must have gone farther than I intended or else I got turned around completely. I’ve been lost since well before sundown.”
The other man nodded. “We’ll have some tea then and I’ll see you safely home before I go on about my business. Though it isn’t really far, I can understand how one unfamiliar with our hills and deep gullies could become lost. It looks like you took a tumble, too. Are you hurt?”
Martin shook his head. “No, the only real damage was to my attire and my dignity. In retrospect, I would have been wiser to stay on the grounds. Hindsight is always so much clearer…” At his host’s gesture, he sat where indicated, on a rough bench to one side. The rustic seat looked to be made from a large log, split in half and cut to a length of four or five feet. At least my muddy arse won’t leave a mess on a better seat.
As he looked around, he saw the amenities were few. Surely no one actually lived here. The hovel could not be anything more than a temporary shelter for hunters, shepherds or others wandering in the wilds. Once sitting, he realized in a few breaths how very weary he was, even more now than when atop the hill. He had no idea how far he’d hiked but it had to be several miles, most of it up and down steep slopes.
He watched as his strange host fetched two rough earthenware vessels from a single shelf above the fireplace. From a knapsack beside the hearth he extracted a small pouch and took from it a generous pinch of tea leaves which he sprinkled into the mugs. As the kettle hanging over the fire began to chirp, he filled the crude cups with water and handed one to Martin.
Then he dropped to the bench on the other side and sat quiet for a time, gazing down at the steaming beaker in his hands. Although Martin could see little of the other man’s face, he sensed his host was troubled, perhaps worried or even angry. He found himself hoping he was not the cause of such distress.
Although the black clad man spoke in a mild voice and made no sudden or violent moves, he emanated confidence, power, even danger. A slight shiver tracked down Martin’s spine. Although he told himself he had nothing to fear, a mixture of anxiety and inexplicable attraction heated him almost as much as did the fire.

Although it made no sense, he felt as if he could follow this man to the ends of the earth were he asked to do so. The same strength, courage and defiance he’d sensed the first night still radiated from the tall stranger. He might not be exceptionally large, but his posture and attitude made him seem huge. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

What's Happening?

It's been a crazy month. Since I last posted I suffered a lengthy bout with a very severe eye inflammation issue that had me stumbling around close to legally blind for several days. I could not drive, read or use the computer at all. I could barely get around the house and use the facilities or pour a glass of water! That was scary but my eye doctor prescribed some powerful and expensive eye drops that eventually cleared it up. That happened barely in time to allow me to make a trip to Arizona and attend one of my old high school's multi-year reunions that happen every five years. I had missed 2008 so I really did want to make this one. And I did--I had a great time and reconnected with some folks I had not seen in many. many years and drove through some gorgeous New Mexico and Arizona scenery coming and going. It was a fine trip. I even got in a bit of research for my next writing project which is titled The Last Train to Clarkdale! More on that later.

Just as my eyes went bonkers, I did manage to get my Gothic story turned in and it will be coming out in July, probably the third weekend since that is the normal release date for the new PAX collections. Gothics Galore will be the July offering. And my contribution to it is Dark and Stormy. We have covers, too! And as always they are just gorgeous! Here they are. Pretty moody, tasty and enticing, no?



I'll give you all more about Dark and Stormy in the next couple of weeks and also some sneak peeks at Last Train as it starts to take shape. You know I am a rail fan and at least one of my heroes for this story is too. And he takes a life changing trip on a real excursion train that operates in the north end of Arizona's beautiful Verde Valley where I was blessed to live through my childhood and growing up years. And I did take the trip, not this time but back in 2007 I think it was. If the old saw of write what you know holds true, this should be a good story with a lot of realistic atmosphere. And I already love both my guys in it!