Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sample Saturday - Mended by Moonlight

Hi! Welcome back to Sample Saturday. I've been able to get my main character, Ella Ruth Owen, to talk to me again. Good thing! Mended by Moonlight is on my publishing schedule for this year.

Ella Ruth has gotten herself a paying position at a convalescent hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia, and she starts the job today!

"What on earth have I gotten myself into?" Ella Ruth whispered to herself the next morning as she debated on what a "Matron" would wear in a Yankee hospital. She began to pace the room, attired only in her shift. Nothing came to mind. The doctor had given her no instructions, no advisement at all except for an arrival time. If she didn't solve her attire dilemma soon, she would be late. She was already cold. Heaven forbid she should start to shiver before she even left the house.

Lula stood patiently at the open door of the wardrobe, silently awaiting her direction.

Ella Ruth turned and strode toward Lula, whose eyebrows had raised expectantly in the last few moments. The girl would soon give an exasperated huff and adopt a less restrained attitude. Ella Ruth threw up her hands.

"What do I wear," she asked. "I have no experience of Yankee hospitals."

"Your uncle, Doctor Allen, he didn't complain none when you wore your ordinary dresses," Lula said, her expression starting to harden.

"All right. All right," Ella Ruth conceded. "Find me something."

When Lula touched the skirt of the gingham dress Momma brought into her room last week, a purple gingham dress sprigged with white flowers, Ella Ruth burst out, "No!" and then took a breath and thought better of railing at her servant. "It's not warm enough," she said in a more moderate tone. That was true enough. Momma meant for her to wear it come spring.

Lula had the temerity to grin. "I's joking with you, Missy. Here's your old wool skirt, plenty good for the Yankees and with wear enough in it for the whole winter."

Ella Ruth nodded, not sure whether she should be outraged or thankful that Lula could dredge up a sense of humor for the occasion. The black skirt would suit. She could wear the black bodice from yesterday, as well.

"I reckon you'll want this apron, Missy," Lula said as she held up a very large white number that surely came out of Cook's wardrobe.

"Where did you get that?"

Lula chuckled. "Cook has three. She won't miss this one."

Ella Ruth felt her nerves settling. Of course she should wear a protective garment over her clothing. Who knew what she would encounter at the hospital? Soiled bandages always made a mess, and if any of the Yankees suffered from illness instead of wounds, there might be more unpleasantness to face.

"Thank you, Lula," she said, and her shoulders relaxed. She gave her head a tentative shake. No pain. Perhaps hard work was to be the cure for her headaches.

While you're waiting to find out how Ella Ruth's first day on the job goes, be sure to pick up a copy of my latest novel, The Zion Trail:

The Zion Trail
$3.99 for ebooks; $12.99 for print books
Ebooks: Smashwords | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Apple iBooks Store

And here's the newest piece to read, my novella, Blood at Haught Springs:

Available as an Ebook only
$2.99 at the following online retail outlets:
Smashwords all formats | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Apple iTunes Bookstore

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sample Saturday - Faith and the Foreman

A long time ago, I started a novel that I called Slim and the Schoolmarm. Somewhere along the way, I was persuaded to write a synopsis of the book for a contest. That was fatal to the novel: my brain told me I had written the story, and I couldn't get it started again.

Fast forward many years. I received an invitation to contribute a novella to a collection. I brushed off Slim and the Schoolmarm, changed the name to Faith and the Foreman, started the story all over again, and turned it into the novella that I had contracted to write.

Faith and the Foreman was published two years ago in the Old West Collection, volume nine of the series from Mirror Press entitled A Timeless Romance Anthology. Now it's time to publish it as a stand alone short. Look for it later this summer.


A bell jangled on the horse-drawn street car outside as Faith Bannister folded the letter she’d been reading and rose to pace the room. After two circuits, she stopped before her cousin. “I am ruined.”

Clarissa Pembroke looked up from the bandage she was knitting and shook her head. “The news can’t be all that bad, dear. We’ve managed to survive the bank crisis fairly well thus far.”

Faith waved the letter. “The interest on my stocks is practically zero.”

“You should have told me, Faith. I must try harder to find employment.” Clarissa breathed heavily. “I can’t believe my usefulness as a nurse is over because of a few gray hairs.” She straightened her back as though in denial of aging. “I’m going to a lecture tonight to keep up with advancing science. Doctor Harley will speak on treating poisons.”

“You shouldn’t have to support me, Clarissa. I’ll sell the house to that fat banker who lusts after it.”

“Faith! Mind your language.”

“He’s wanted it ever since Poppa and Mama got killed.” She bit a fingernail, then removed her finger from her teeth at Clarissa’s continuing reproachful look. “I know. Mama tried so hard to break me of that.” She brushed a blonde curl away from her misting eye and whispered, “Stocks and bonds are no replacement for one’s family. I’m most grateful for your companionship.”

Clarissa wiped her own tearing eyes.

Faith turned away. “Perhaps I can enter the nursing school at Bellevue Hospital. Mr. Spencer offered a price sufficient to pay tuition and allow me to rent an apartment.” She shrugged. “I’ll have to let the servants go. If it appears I don’t have time to train as a nurse before we’re destitute, I’ll become a governess or a shop clerk.”

Clarissa shook herself as though to restore a cheerful outlook. “Let’s not fret about finances now, dear. Come with me tonight and enjoy the lecture.” She held up her knitting. “This bandage will be finished by then, and I’ll have another eleven for the good doctor.”

Have you purchased your copy of Blood at Haught Springs yet?

Here are the purchase links.
$2.99 at the following online retail outlets:
Smashwords all formats | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Apple iTunes Bookstore

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Behind the Scenes - Blood at Haught Springs

Today, instead of Sample Saturday, I'm going to go Behind the Scenes of my latest work, Blood at Haught Springs.

I've been asked a couple of questions about this new novella quite a bit, so I thought I'd answer them. The first question is, "Is there a real town called Haught Springs in Texas?"

The answer is, "There could be, but to my knowledge, there isn't."

The second question is, "How did you find the name Haught for your characters?"

The answer to this second question is longer than the first, and there's an uncanny story Behind the Scenes.

When I began writing what became Blood at Haught Springs, I needed names for my characters. I decided to make use of one old writer's secret and go through my phone book for intriguing names. I wrote several down, and when I'd finished the novella, the main characters carried the surname Haught.

Now, Haught is a well-known and respected name in these parts. In fact, I know several people who have that name. However, I did not use any of their traits or characteristics for my characters. I never do that, to the best of my ability.

I liked the ring of the name Haught. I also liked the fact that it sounds like "hot." Who doesn't like "hot" cowboys, ranchers, millers, or storekeepers? I know a lot of readers who do.

Thus it was that I created Haught Springs, Texas, located somewhere on the Texas Panhandle. Maybe west of Amarillo. Maybe a bit east. I'm not telling.

But there's more to the story.

After I released Blood at Haught Springs, Number 1 of the new series, Men of Haught Springs, I learned that the Haught family of Gila County, Arizona, came from Texas. Who could have guessed that? [cue music to Twilight Zone]

Come back next Saturday to see what I spring on you then.

Two bonus short stories are included with Blood at Haught Springs: Cottonwood Cowboys and No More Strangers. The novella kicks off a new series set in Haught Springs, Texas, a rowdy frontier town bursting at the seams with action, adventure, and intrigue. Join me in a new world of hard-working, rough and tumble men who sometimes aren't exactly who or what they seem to be.

Blood at Haught Springs is now available for $2.99
in ebook formats at all the major online retail outlets:

Smashwords all formats | Kindle | Kobo | Nook | Apple iTunes Bookstore

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sample Saturday - Blood at Haught Springs

Hello! Before I get into today's Sample, I'll let you gaze at the 2015 Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award that now sits on my mantelpiece.

It's heavy! My friend, who accepted the award in my place, had troubles getting it through the TSA because, you know, it's a pointy object. LOL!

Okay, now on to today's Sample from Blood at Haught Springs, which I released yesterday in ebook formats. Lonnie Haught is feeling pretty good. He just got a promising job with a newcomer to Haught Springs.

Lonnie strolled into the store using the front door, a smile on his lips and satisfaction warming his soul. Even though the bell still jangled behind him, Wes was too preoccupied in tending to a customer to glance up and notice who had come in.

Lonnie’s smile broadened. Wes may have got a jump on him with the leases, but Lonnie would have the last laugh. I’ve got a paying job now. No more depending on Wes for pocket change.

He coughed slightly to make sure Wes looked up and saw him before he sauntered into the back room. He could feel Wes’s glare boring a hole between his shoulder blades, but it didn’t matter anymore. I’ve got a job, a good job. Mr. Badger said it would be worth my while.

He grinned as he lifted his gun belt and holstered pistol down from the nail where he had left them hanging yesterday, and strapped on the rig. Knees slightly bent, he pulled the pistol quickly from the holster. He had to remember not to lock his knees in excitement. He might need to move after a bit of gunplay. He grinned again. Mr. Badger had said he’d probably have a task for him on Monday morning. Maybe he’s got an enemy to put down. Such a nice thought. Gunfighters make top money.

Lonnie tried his quick draw again, then checked the cartridges in the chambers and replaced the pistol in the holster. Straightening up from the task, he took in a deep breath. I’m a bodyguard. Probably a gunfighter, too. Wes can’t say that. He’s only a storekeeper.

Lonnie dusted off a speck of lint that had fallen onto his trousers, and looked out the door. Evidently, Wes had filled the customer’s order and taken it out to her wagon, because now he was hunkered down over paperwork. I’ll never have to do paperwork again. As far as I’m concerned, the old man can give Wes the entire lousy business, lock, stock, and barrel. I’m working for a big man, now.


Two bonus short stories are included with Blood at Haught Springs: Cottonwood Cowboys and No More Strangers. The novella kicks off a new series set in Haught Springs, Texas, a rowdy frontier town bursting at the seams with action, adventure, and intrigue. Join me in a new world of hard-working, rough and tumble men who sometimes aren't exactly who or what they seem to be.

Blood at Haught Springs is available for $2.99
in ebook formats at the following online retail outlets:
Smashwords all formats | Kindle | Kobo
It will soon be available at the Nook and Apple iTunes bookstores, as well.

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