Thursday, March 25, 2021

Meet Author and Historian Harlow Giles Unger and Read About THE LAST FOUNDING FATHER, His Biography of James Monroe

 

About Harlow



I met Harlow in a Facebook book promotion group, and am becoming a big fan, as a huge history buff myself. He is the author of twenty-seven books, including more than a dozen biographies of America’s Founding Fathers and four histories of the early American republic. A veteran journalist, broadcaster, educator, and historian, he is a former Distinguished Visiting Fellow in American History at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and was named one of America’s premier presidential biographers. He is a graduate of Yale University and was a journalist the New York Herald Tribune Overseas News Service before becoming a full-time author.


This post features THE LAST FOUNDING FATHER, his biography of President James Monroe.



About THE LAST FOUNDING FATHER


The epic story of James Monroe—the last of America’s Founding Fathers--who transformed a small fragile nation beset by enemies into a glorious and powerful empire stretching “from sea to shining sea.”

A fierce fighter in the Revolutionary War, Monroe suffered a near-fatal wound at the Battle of Trenton, survived the cruelest winter at Valley Forge, and fought heroically at the Battle of Monmouth. Decorated by Washington for his courage, Monroe went on to serve America as its first full-time and life-long politician—a member of Congress, minister to France and Britain, governor of Virginia, secretary of state, secretary of war, and, finally, fifth president of the United States.

With his courageous first lady at his side, Monroe took command of a nation nearly bankrupt, its people divided, its borders under attack, and its capital in ashes after the British invasion in the War of 1812. Monroe rebuilt national defenses, expanded the military, ripped Florida from Spanish control, and added six states to the Union, extending national boundaries to the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean.

Monroe climaxed his presidency—and startled the world—by proclaiming the landmark Monroe Doctrine, which closed the Americas to foreign incursions and colonization. Secure from foreign attack, Americans streamed westward to claim a share of America, producing the largest economic expansion and redistribution of wealth in U.S. history.

The only president other than George Washington to win reelection by unanimous vote, Monroe led the nation and its people to greatness and created an “Era of Good Feelings” never seen before or since in American history.

A New York Times best-seller, Unger’s The Last Founding Father is both a superb read and stellar scholarship—action-filled history in the grand tradition.

Excerpt

On December 2, 1823, Monroe strode into Congress to deliver his seventh annual message to that body. He had aged noticeably—still tall and fit, but his hair had grayed and deep worry lines had etched his face. Still wearing knee breeches, silk hose, and buckle-top shoes while his audience wore ankle-length trousers, he seemed out of place—out of the distant past, come to ensure his own legacy. Members of Congress stood to applaud—and cheer—some of them trembling with awe as they watched him make his way down the aisle—the Last of the Founding Fathers.

Silence gripped the hall as he prepared to speak. In a voice that seemed more forceful than in previous years, he began by calling the years of his presidency “the golden age of this republic”—a time in which the United States had maintained “peace and amity with all the world.”

To maintain peaceful, friendly relations, he continued, his voice rising, he proclaimed United States supremacy in the Western Hemisphere, describing a line in the oceans around North and South America and warning the rest of the world—as his Virginia regiment had the British in 1776—Don’t tread on me!

In a two-hour speech aimed at foreign leaders as well as Congress and the American public, the president formally closed the Western Hemisphere to further colonization, saying that America’s political system differed from Europe’s, and that the United States would consider any European attempts to extend its system anywhere in the Western Hemisphere as a threat to the United States. From its origins, he said, the United States had sought nothing but peace—for its citizens to fish, hunt, and plow their fields unmolested. The United States had never interfered in Europe’s  internal affairs and would not do so—indeed, wanted no part of Europe’s incessant wars.

Purchase THE LAST FOUNDING FATHER

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Meet Sue Wright and Read About PEACEMAKER'S DREAM: THE TRUE FIRST LADY OF AMERICA--Pocahontas

 About Sue

Sue is a Psychologist by profession, and was the founder of the first online therapy system in the UK.   Since retiring she has devoted a lot of her time to writing Historical Novels.   He first novel 'Tempest' - Bermuda 1609 is about the founding of the Island of Bermuda where she grew up.  She loves to research history and imagine what it was really like - and what better place to start than the founding of her childhood home.  Her second novel 'Peacemaker's Dream' continues the story and she is writing a third - so watch this space!   

She now lives in Buckinghamshire, UK and is a Yoga Therapist teaching Yin Yoga and Chair Yoga.  

She has a husband, three daughters, nine grandchildren, and a retired racing Greyhound.  Never a spare moment!

About PEACEMAKER'S DREAM


HISTORICAL ADVENTURE ROMANCE  THAT WILL GRIP YOU FROM BEGINNING TO END

She was gutsy and determined, but nothing could prepare her for the wrath of the invading Colonists.  Kidnapped, and forced to marry an enemy, her heart would always belong to her childhood sweetheart.

 In captivity at the tender age of 19 she was grieving and broken hearted. The only glimmer of affection in her life was from the man she had been forced to marry. He loved her with an overwhelming passion.  Was she strong enough to survive in an emotional desert? Would loving another betray everything that she stood for?

Based on details previously only passed down by Native Americans, this book gives pause for thought about what really happened to the young Powhatan Princess who fought for peace with love in her heart.  

Excerpt

He smiled as she looked up at him with big black eyes that were glistening with fear and anticipation. Her tiny naked flat chest was rising and falling as she waited, hoping that he could take from her the weight that had suddenly crashed down on her tiny shoulders. Hoping he would say it was alright and that she had misunderstood.

He sighed as he stooped down and lifted her up onto his knee and put his arm around her, drawing her into him. She felt his strong firm body and his still and calm presence, and sighed. This was her father; this was the strong warrior that she knew. He would make it better. She relaxed into him.

 He looked down at her. "It is alright Pocahontas. The Spirits will always protect you and give you what you need. You are only a messenger.  It is not your message that we are waiting for - it is the message that will be given to you by the Manito Aki.  All you must do is open your heart.”

Pocahontas screwed up her face. "I do not really know what it all means, father. I don’t know how to open my heart. Say I am given a vision and I tell you the wrong thing?” Her mouth turned down and she sat up and stared into the fire, drawing her eyebrows together. 

Powhatan pulled her back and gave her another hug. "Before you were born, it was prophesied that you would be a Beloved Woman whose Dream Visions would foretell the biggest changes in the world for hundreds of years. When the Spring Equinox is with us, you will go to a Hobbomak and you will stay there, not eating for many days. It is then that the Spirits will send you the vision.”

 Their eyes met. Her face was long, and her eyes were watery, remembering what her Uncle had said.

“But father, I am only a child, I cannot do these things. I don’t know enough.”

"I know you will worry. It would be strange if you did not. All I can tell you Pocahontas, is that this is a process that has been going on for thousands of years. The spirits have said that you will be very special, and your name will be remembered for generations to come. There is nothing that you can do to stop this - the Spirits have spoken."

“But I don’t feel special, I just want to play and have fun. Can’t you choose someone else?”

Powhatan enveloped her in a bear like hug, smiling, but her body remained stiff, her eyes staring into the fire. She had known she had special powers for a long time. She saw things that others could not see. But she had ignored it, hoping it would go away.  She wanted to please him so much, but she feared telling him about the visions she had already seen, ...   She shivered, but not from the cold. She was beginning to realize that the nightmares that came to her day and night, were not just dreams, they were prophesies –  and silent  tears slid down her face as it became clear that Powhatan could not take it all away.

Purchase PEACEMAKER'S DREAM on Amazon

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Meet Prolific Award-Winning Author Ken Farmer & Read About THE POND, Book 3 of the Three Creeks Mystery Series

I met Ken when I joined his Facebook group Writers Roundup. Read about Ken's amazing life and Book 3 of his award-winning Three Creeks series. 


Ken didn't write his first full novel until he was sixty-nine years of age. He often wonders what the hell took him so long. At age seventy-nine…he's currently working on novel number forty.

He has written in several genres...Military Action, Police Procedural, SyFy, Western, and now, Southern Noir Mystery.              

Ken spent thirty years raising cattle and quarter horses in Texas and forty-five years as a professional actor (after a stint in the Marine Corps). Those years gave him a background for storytelling…or as he has been known to say, "I've always been a bit of a bull---t artist, so writing novels kind of came naturally once it occurred to me I could put my stories down on paper."

His writing style has been likened to a combination of Louis L'Amour and Terry C. Johnston with an occasional Hitchcockian twist…now that's a combination. Ken just likes to say, "I'm a storyteller." 

"I don't write about outlaws and peace officers...I write about people."

At age seventy-nine, he released novel #37 on Sept. 19th...THREE CREEKS. it just may be his opus. He has released #38, book #2 in the THREE CREEKS series...RED HILL ROAD, followed by #39, book #3 in the series...THE POND, Feb. 19, 20021. The THREE CREEKS series is late 1940s Southern Noir Mysteries in the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Rock Hole by Reavis Wortham. The first in the series, THREE CREEKS just won the Firebird Award for Best Mystery of 2020.

Novel #36 was SKINWALKER JUSTICE, a Western Supernatural thriller, book #5 in the Silke Justice series.  STEELDUST, started the BONE & LORAINE spin-off with modern day detectives, Bone and Loraine being accidentally transported back in time to 1898. Current WIPS are #39, DALIA MARRH, book # 6 in the Silke Justice series and FRIENDS, book #4 in the THREE CREEKS MYSTERY SERIES.

Writing has become Ken's second life: he has been a Marine, played collegiate football, been a Texas wildcatter, cattle and horse rancher, professional film and TV actor and now...a novelist. Who knew?

In addition to his love for writing fiction, he taught acting for 17 years, still teaches voice-over and creative writing workshops. His favorite expression is: "Just tell the damn story."

"Ken is a magnificent writer. I enjoy everything he writes whether it is about the old west, southern noir mysteries, or about the modern Black Eagle Force. - Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWER & VINE VOICE.

Ken Farmer's dialogue flows like a beautiful western river…it's the gold standard…Carole Beers

About THE POND

Best friends Foot and Hutch discover a 35 year old skull while swimming in Uncle Dud's pond in the woods...there are more.

Two thirty-five year old murders…High stakes game of murder...What do historical artifacts have to do with it?

Foot and Hutch discover the skeletons in a spring-fed pond, deep in the piney woods of southern Arkansas—each with two bullet holes in their foreheads, in 1950. Who were they?

Foot's favorite cousin, Francis Ann, comes from Texas to visit. He calls her 'Red' because of her long flaming red hair. She, Foot and Hutch are all the same age.

Who is Motshan Bieler and why are members of the new Nazi party from Argentina determined to find him?

What is he hiding?

Are best friends Foot, Hutch, and Foot's ten year old cousin from Texas, Frances Ann, in danger?

Does their friend, WWI Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient, Tom Rayford, come to their aid? Only time will tell.

Find out in the third thrilling addition to Three Creeks, the Southern Noir Mystery series,…THE POND when all the pieces come together.

Purchase THE POND on Amazon

Connect with Ken on Facebook


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Read About Prolific Author Ken Farmer's Novel RED HILL ROAD, Book 2 of the Three Creeks Series

Ken didn't write his first full novel until he was sixty-nine years of age. He often wonders what the hell took him so long. At age seventy-nine…he's currently working on novel number forty.


He has written in several genres...Military Action, Police Procedural, SyFy, Western, and now, Southern Noir Mystery.              

Ken spent thirty years raising cattle and quarter horses in Texas and forty-five years as a professional actor (after a stint in the Marine Corps). Those years gave him a background for storytelling…or as he has been known to say, "I've always been a bit of a bull---t artist, so writing novels kind of came naturally once it occurred to me I could put my stories down on paper."

His writing style has been likened to a combination of Louis L'Amour and Terry C. Johnston with an occasional Hitchcockian twist…now that's a combination. Ken just likes to say, "I'm a storyteller." 

"I don't write about outlaws and peace officers...I write about people."

At age seventy-nine, he released novel #37 on Sept. 19th...THREE CREEKS. it just may be his opus. He has released #38, book #2 in the THREE CREEKS series...RED HILL ROAD, followed by #39, book #3 in the series...THE POND, Feb. 19, 20021. The THREE CREEKS series is late 1940s Southern Noir Mysteries in the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Rock Hole by Reavis Wortham. The first in the series, THREE CREEKS just won the Firebird Award for Best Mystery of 2020.

Novel #36 was SKINWALKER JUSTICE, a Western Supernatural thriller, book #5 in the Silke Justice series.  STEELDUST, started the BONE & LORAINE spin-off with modern day detectives, Bone and Loraine being accidentally transported back in time to 1898. Current WIPS are #39, DALIA MARRH, book # 6 in the Silke Justice series and FRIENDS, book #4 in the THREE CREEKS MYSTERY SERIES.

Writing has become Ken's second life: he has been a Marine, played collegiate football, been a Texas wildcatter, cattle and horse rancher, professional film and TV actor and now...a novelist. Who knew?

In addition to his love for writing fiction, he taught acting for 17 years, still teaches voice-over and creative writing workshops. His favorite expression is: "Just tell the damn story."

"Ken is a magnificent writer. I enjoy everything he writes whether it is about the old west, southern noir mysteries, or about the modern Black Eagle Force. - Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWER & VINE VOICE.

Ken Farmer's dialogue flows like a beautiful western river…it's the gold standard…Carole Beers

About RED HILL ROAD




Red Hill Road is only a few yards from the Jamison home. Foot's grandfather tells Foot and his best friend, a colored boy named Hutch, the story of a battle between Confederate and Yankee soldiers in a meadow near the bottom of the hill and missing Confederate gold. Add that to a crooked oil company trying to lease up land in the area and the mystery deepens.

What's at the bottom of Red Hill Road?

White and Black best friends, Foot Lee and Hutch Grant are faced with evil oil men in the oil boom in southern Arkansas in 1950. Murder, land theft, treachery, and mystery abounds.

Are there still spirits from the Civil War trying to complete an unfinished mission?

What does missing gold have to do with it?

Are Foot and Hutch in danger?

Find out in RED HILL ROAD.

Purchase RED HILL ROAD on Amazon


Monday, March 8, 2021

For Women's History Month, Oney Judge, The Escaped Slave Who Remained Free

For Women's History Month, I am honoring Oney Judge, Martha Washington's slave who escaped and outsmarted her captors to live her life in freedom.

Thanks for making ONEY an Amazon best seller.


A recent 5-star review:

Having taught the in-store of slavery as a teacher I was drawn to this story. It broke my heart reading about this beautiful girl. Would like to know if she has a marked grave.--Marilyn

Note to Marilyn and readers: Oney died in Greenland NH and was buried there. I live nearby, and researched where her grave could be. I went to the location where she may be buried, but it's not marked. I do wish it was known and marked.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Meet Award-Winning Author Ken Farmer, Who Proved It's Never Too Late

I met Ken when I joined his Facebook group Writers Roundup. Read about Ken's amazing life and 

Book One of his award-winning Three Creeks series. 


Ken didn't write his first full novel until he was sixty-nine years of age. He often wonders what the hell took him so long. At age seventy-nine…he's currently working on novel number forty.

He has written in several genres...Military Action, Police Procedural, SyFy, Western, and now, Southern Noir Mystery.              

Ken spent thirty years raising cattle and quarter horses in Texas and forty-five years as a professional actor (after a stint in the Marine Corps). Those years gave him a background for storytelling…or as he has been known to say, "I've always been a bit of a bull---t artist, so writing novels kind of came naturally once it occurred to me I could put my stories down on paper."

His writing style has been likened to a combination of Louis L'Amour and Terry C. Johnston with an occasional Hitchcockian twist…now that's a combination. Ken just likes to say, "I'm a storyteller." 

"I don't write about outlaws and peace officers...I write about people."

At age seventy-nine, he released novel #37 on Sept. 19th...THREE CREEKS. it just may be his opus. He has released #38, book #2 in the THREE CREEKS series...RED HILL ROAD, followed by #39, book #3 in the series...THE POND, Feb. 19, 20021. The THREE CREEKS series is late 1940s Southern Noir Mysteries in the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Rock Hole by Reavis Wortham. The first in the series, THREE CREEKS just won the Firebird Award for Best Mystery of 2020.

Novel #36 was SKINWALKER JUSTICE, a Western Supernatural thriller, book #5 in the Silke Justice series.  STEELDUST, started the BONE & LORAINE spin-off with modern day detectives, Bone and Loraine being accidentally transported back in time to 1898. Current WIPS are #39, DALIA MARRH, book # 6 in the Silke Justice series and FRIENDS, book #4 in the THREE CREEKS MYSTERY SERIES.

Writing has become Ken's second life: he has been a Marine, played collegiate football, been a Texas wildcatter, cattle and horse rancher, professional film and TV actor and now...a novelist. Who knew?

In addition to his love for writing fiction, he taught acting for 17 years, still teaches voice-over and creative writing workshops. His favorite expression is: "Just tell the damn story."

"Ken is a magnificent writer. I enjoy everything he writes whether it is about the old west, southern noir mysteries, or about the modern Black Eagle Force. - Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWER & VINE VOICE.

Ken Farmer's dialogue flows like a beautiful western river…it's the gold standard…Carole Beers



About THREE CREEKS

WINNER - BEST MYSTERY - 2021 - FIREBIRD AWARDS   

Three Creeks is a heart wrenching, gripping, sometimes poignant, all be it occasionally humorous, Southern Noir Mystery seen through the eyes of an eight year old Texas boy, Foot Lee, in southern Arkansas 1949.

Foot's grandfather is called out of retirement from the Sheriff's Department to cover for Sheriff Wilson, wounded during a moonshine still bust, to track down a chain killer who has murdered three teenage girls with a fourth girl missing.

Who is the killer?

What do Foot and his best friend, a colored boy the same age named Hutch, have to do with it?

Is the fourth girl found alive?

Follow the twists and turns to find out in THREE CREEKS.

THREE CREEKS just named First Place Winner - Mystery Category - Firebird Awards.  I have had the story of Three Creek fighting to get out of my head and on paper for the last five or six years...It finally won. I wrote it in 21 days. I've never written a story quite like this before and I'm amazed at how fast it came pouring out...in a torrent. Some of my beta readers told me after reading it that Three Creeks had the flavor of To Kill a Mocking Bird, Catcher in the Rye, and Where the Crawdads Sing and they thought it just as good. That's a bit heady, but I do think most will like it, especially if they like a good Southern Noir Mystery. 

You could almost call it a memoir - minus the murders.

An Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

“No, Daddy, no! I’m scared…” Was all I got out before the waterwings my grandma had made me

out of two one gallon lard buckets and a flour sack went sailing into the bushes one way an’ all I could

see in the other direction was sky, trees, water, sky, trees, water…

I splashed face first to the surface of the murky creek all the way out in the middle of the swimmin’

hole. I came to the surface, spittin’ an’ sputterin’…tryin’ to hold my head above water.

“Put your head down, boy!…Swim to me. Come on…Put your head down…Reach for the bank.”

I looked up with water blurin’ my vision at my daddy standin’ up on the clay bank of the local

swimmin’ hole at Three Creeks, waving me toward him. He was a hard-as-nails, muscular,

square-jawed, broad-shouldered man without a ounce of fat on him.

I was to be eight years old in three days, June 18, 1949…if I survived. My daddy was a driller for

Shell Oil and we currently lived just outside of a boomtown named Gainesville, Texas, in some

former Army barracks. The base where all the drillin’ crews lived had been named Camp Howes

durin’ the war.

The war they called World War II…guess there’d been another one before…had been over

almost four years and we had already lived in seven boomtowns in three states, searchin’ for oil during

the war an’ were still at it. I was born six months before Pearl Harbor.

Connect with Ken on Facebook

Book Trailer

Ken's VO Demo


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Meet My Friend Alois Lohn, at 87 Still Writing, and Read About His Newest Book


About Al

Al was born in 1934 on the outskirts of Cologne Germany and educated in the art of apparel manufacturing. He worked until 1956 in his father's business. In November 1956, he immigrated to the USA with his parents and younger brother. Drafted thirteen months later, he served in the US Army for two years, two years in the Army Reserve, and two years on stand- by. While stationed in Germany he met his wife. After his discharge from the Army, he became the manager of Brooks-Van Horn's manufacturing department in Philadelphia, a Theatrical costume company serving the entertainment industry. During his ten year-tenure, he worked on many challenging projects such as 'Holiday on Ice', 'Hello Dolly', the Philadelphia Mummers, historical reproductions for the Marine Corps, the Smithsonian Institute, and wax museums. During his fifty-year career, he served as Corporate Senior Vice President for Liz Claiborne Inc and retired as Corporate Vice President from the Spiegel Group in 1998. His extensive travel during his 50-year career took him around the world to all five continents. His travels gained him a deep understanding of the world's cultures as well as their trials and tribulations. This, combined with his experience growing up in a war-torn country during World War II, and his military service, compelled him to turn to writing after his retirement. He resides in New Jersey with his wife of fifty-seven years were they enjoy their children and three grandchildren. Now he writes and is the author of several published books.

About ENEMY TERRITORY


President Tanner of the USA forms a team to investigate the conspiracies of a confederation of totalitarian governments, set to change the world order and become the global rulers.

The president's team consist of the secretary of state, the CIA, FDI, and the military. He picks the CIA deputy director, Captain McDonald, a former Seal Commander as the planner, organizer, and executer of the final mission to destabilize the frightful alliance.

Purchase ENEMY TERRITORY on Amazon

Saturday, February 13, 2021

A Valentine's Day Short Story: Cupid's Beau by Alicia Dean

Alicia is a fellow Wild Rose Press author, and she's been my blog guest many times. Enjoy reading about her Valentine's Day story Cupid's Beau!


Ab0ut Alicia


Alicia began writing stories as a child. At age 10, she wrote her first ever romance (featuring a hero who looked just like Elvis Presley, and who shared the name of Elvis’ character in the movie, Tickle Me), and she still has the tattered, pencil-written copy. Alicia is from Moore, Oklahoma and now lives in Edmond. She has three grown children and a huge network of supportive friends and family. She writes mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal, but has also written in other genres, including a few vintage historicals.

Other than reading and writing, her passions are Elvis Presley (she almost always works in a mention of him into her stories) and watching (and rewatching) her favorite televisions shows like Ozark, Dexter, Justified, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and Vampire Diaries. Some of her favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Stephen King, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Ridley Pearson, Joseph Finder, and Jonathan Kellerman…to name a few.


Fun Fact

 

I love to create fictional locations for my stories, and I always try to attach some kind of meaning to them. For Cupid’s Beau, I set it in Wisconsin because I wanted it to be a wintry setting and because my favorite NFL team is the Packers. For the name of the town I chose Castleville. It’s a play on Castle Rock, from Stephen King novels, and a town I lived in as a child for a brief, idyllic time, Cassville, Missouri. (Technically, we didn’t really ‘live’ in Cassville. We lived in some odd Bermuda triangle type location that was a mash up of Exeter, Washburn and Cassville, but we attended Cassville schools, so that’s what I went with 😊)

About Cupid's Bow




    Ivy Pierce is a Cupid who prides herself on doing her job well. Except when it comes to a certain human male, Grant Crawford. Each time she's supposed to shoot her arrow into his heart, her stomach hurts, her chest hurts, and she feels….sad. Cupids are never sad.

Humans who are not looking for love only get three chances to find it. And after Ivy sabotages Grant's last chance, her boss, Aphrodite, sends her to earth to right her wrong. She has until Valentine's Day to help him find his soul mate.

But the more she's around him, the more she wants him for herself, even though she knows that can never be. A Cupid and a human? Unheard of.

As V-Day draws closer, can she sacrifice her own happiness to help the man she loves find his?


 Excerpt

He helped Gretchen into her coat and walked her to her car. She hesitated before climbing inside the door he held open. Did she expect a goodnight kiss? Snow had started, and he wanted to get back in, so he leaned forward. She lifted her lips, and he gave them a quick kiss. "Goodnight, Gretchen. I had a nice time."

Her expression showed disappointment, but she didn’t voice it. She slid in the driver’s seat. He closed the door and watched while she backed out of the parking spot and headed down the road.

Before going in, he glanced down the street. A woman was outside a small cottage half a block away. Was that Ivy? What was she doing outside, in the dark, with a blizzard brewing?

None of his business. He turned toward the restaurant, but didn’t go in. What if something was wrong? If she was hurt? How would he feel if he didn’t at least go check on her? Cursing under his breath, he whirled and stalked down the sidewalk to her house.

“Ivy? What are you doing out here?”

She turned to him, her eyes wide. She wore a white coat with a fur hood framing her face. “Grant! Hi. Isn’t it beautiful?”

He blew into his hands and rubbed them briskly together. “It’s freezing. Are you out of your mind?”

She closed her eyes and stuck out her tongue, trapping a snowflake and swallowing. She looked at him. “You try it. It’s wonderful.”

He nearly groaned with irritation. “I don’t have time—”

She took his hand, her soft, gloveless skin warm on his. “Just try it.”

Letting out a heavy sigh, he groaned again. The sooner he acquiesced, the sooner he could leave. He stuck out his tongue. Icy snowflakes drifted into his mouth. Nope. He still didn’t get it.

She squealed. “Wasn’t it great?”

Her green eyes sparkled, the pink in her cheeks making her look…heart stoppingly lovely.

He hadn’t seen anyone show such pure joy in…well, ever. Especially in something so insignificant. He looked up into the sky. Snow drifted down from the blanket of blackness. The Heavens dumping an icy wonderland on Earth. Nature was amazing. While he didn’t exactly share Ivy’s enthusiasm, maybe it wasn’t so insignificant after all.

Purchase Cupid's Beau

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Meet Lara MacGregor and Read Her Inspiring Short Stories

Lara was my first editor when I began publishing with The Wild Rose Press. An extremely gifted editor, she made my work sparkle. I asked her to become my personal editor, which she did, and we became friends as a bonus. Lara has written flash-fiction to full-length novels of various genres.

She wrote two essays that I must say blew me away. They're writing exercises, based on her experiences, and she graciously agreed to let me post them here. She also recently published a book of short stories, HALCYON MOON, which is on sale at Amazon.


Purchase HALCYON MOON on Amazon

Enjoy Lara's stories here:

Write a story that ends with a character asking a question.

Promise from Beyond         

My mother was a counselor and teacher but also a hunter of ghosts and demons. I don’t mean the kind you read about in urban fantasy books, and this isn’t a fictional spiritual thriller story like you might see in the movies. Nor is this a paranormal tale. I like to call the situation: as-of-yet undiscovered science, for it is only a matter of time before scientists come up with sensitive enough machines to measure the existence of the soul, ghosts, angels, demons and the like. So, when I tell you I’m waiting here on this lonely yet serene park bench for my mother, you’ll understand that I mean this to be literal. She passed away three years ago, but she promised me before she left this plane of existence that she’d come to me after she pierced the veil. A prophetic dream announced this would be the day.

            I’m leaning back against the chipped wood of the bench picking at the peeling green paint on the seat. The sloshing of the pond’s water soothes my nerves, but the pulsing of the water matches the incessant grief washing through me, slapping against my heart, receding, then pushing again, shoving loss into me.

            I sigh and stop peeling the paint. I cross my ankles then re-cross them. When will she be here? Ducks softly quack and paddle across the water. If I stood and took three steps, crossing springy cool grass and a ring of sand, I could bend and touch the shiny green- or gray-feathered heads. But I just sat there. Pondering. At the pond. Ha! Despite myself, I cracked a smile.

Those ducks…  I zeroed in on a pretty one with royal blue streaks under his green head. What an elegant combination. Not even for a duck. Did he know he was the prettiest one of the group of five he was amongst? The others were what I would call gray men or rather gray ducks. They blended in with their surroundings, gray twigs with green buds on the periphery of the water and floating on it at irregular intervals.

It was the green duck’s eyes that magnetized my attention. His big black eyes. So simple. Wasn’t his brain the size of a cherry or something? And yet, he had no worries. Perhaps that was the reason why his duck heart was, I assume, free. I could feel his simple energy from here.

I leaned forward and rested my forearms on my knees, watching mister No-care-in-the world Pretty Duck. What was it like not to hurt inside day and night? At least my anxiety calmed in this peaceful place.

Splash splash. I breathed in deeply. Peace, now, go to my heart. A gray duck flapped to the left edge of the pond, and a red toy boat came to my notice. A hamster could fit in that boat and go for a ride. Another smile on my part. My dad once had a model train from the 1940s that he had gotten from his father. Dad would set up the train’s tracks all across the living room, and I’d put my hamsters on top of the cars. They’d go for a ride. I’d laugh, and Dad would pull out his professional camera and take pictures of me clapping my child’s hands. He’d develop the pictures in his own dark room with me peering around him. In the dim light, I’d watch as he hung the wet papers up to dry then voila! Pictures!

Mom was the star of Dad’s most special picture. With her head bowed in humble grace, her black hair touched her waist. Mom, the gentle but fiercely powerful soul—maybe she was so strong because of her true humility—when other kids told me their moms told them things like, “Make sure to eat your vegetables and do your homework,” I’d remain silent thinking of my mom’s last advice. In a pinch, if you don’t have holy water, you can bless the nearest liquid, even soda if you have to! We had a good laugh over that one.

Quack.

I looked up at Pretty Green Boy again. Just let go. Is that what my duck friend had to say to me? If he could let go and live a tranquil life, so could I. I sighed. Where was Mom? I twisted my hands in my lap. Tears slipped down my cheeks. I tried so hard, and yet, I have nearly exhausted my hope. Having fought the good fight for decades, I had no more strength.

I was eight years old again, braiding my mother’s long hair.

“Your great grandmother was Cherokee, but she hid that fact because of the way society treated her people at the time.”

“That’s terrible.”

“I know.”

I drew the brush slowly down Mom’s locks.

“There are so many things in this world that people don’t yet understand.”

“Tell me more,” I asked.

Mom nodded.

I put the pink brush down and cuddled against her side, hugging my ragged stuffed toy lion in my other arm.

I was sixteen. Mom came home, not looking so well, pale, shaken up.

“Mom? Are you okay?”

“I…will be. I need to rest.”

“What did you do? What happened?”

“You know I went to see one of my friends, a priest.”

“Yes?”

“He and I went into a home that had…problems, an unwanted, scary, paranormal problem, and we got rid of the problem.”

Mom went to lay down.

At dinner time, I caught Dad pacing by the red couch.

“Dad?”

He stopped and looked at me with worried blue eyes.

I plopped down into the matching red armchair and swiped up my long-haired hamster from the cage next to me on the table. With long strokes, I pet the little furball. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m worried about your mother. I don’t like her doing those things so often.”

“She’s helping people, though.”

His shoulders dropped. “I know, but it’s taking its toll on her health.”

I kissed the hamster’s head and set him back in his cage.

I was seventeen, and the phone rang, as was common, at a late hour.

“It’s one in the morning!” came my father’s sleepy voice.

My mother answered the phone, as I stood in the doorway to my parents’ bedroom, yawning. My dad grasped the blanket and rolled over, annoyed.

“I’ll be there tomorrow,” Mom said on the phone.

The next afternoon, Mom recruited me to pray with her before she left, armed with holy water, rosaries, and the powerful words in her memory.

Alone now, I dropped to my knees, clasping my hands tightly. “Please, let her be okay. Let her be successful.”

Later, she dragged herself through the front door and went straight to her room, closing the door.

Splash.

I looked at Green Duck and his gray friends. They probably thought he was the ugly one. But he didn’t think he was ugly. No, he was content, at peace with himself and his world, unconcerned with superficial things such as looks or profound things like demons or ghost hauntings.

Mom, where are you? You promised me you’d give me a visitation. My heart is breaking, and I need to know if it’s really worth it to keep fighting with no strength left.

If there is life, there is hope, she had said years ago.  I’m eighteen again, and Mom is clasping my cold hands, sitting on my bed.

I know you don’t think so, but you have a good future.

I don’t think so, Mom.

Your broken heart won’t last forever.

I shake out of the memory looking at those oblivious ducks. What do they know? They know enough to be happy no matter what. Easy for the ducks.

I scrubbed my face with my hands. I really needed my mom’s encouragement. Some would think I was nuts for waiting for my passed-over mom, but I’m telling you, that supernatural stuff is just future science waiting to be discovered. The things my mother had seen, the things I’ve seen…

I leaned back again and rested my arms up on top of the bench, closing my eyes and taking a deep breath.

Splash, swish.

I didn’t open my eyes. Suddenly, the hair stood up on my nape, and tingles rushed over me, searing my skin. Mom’s energy approached, entering my auric field.

“Mom. You’re here.”

I promise I have one very important piece of advice for you, then I have to go.

I sat up, my eyes open and stinging with tears. “What is it?”



      Write a story about the relationship between a parent and a child that 

                                                        spans several years.


Promise from Beyond, part 2


On that green park bench by the duck pond, my mother’s loving energy receded from my auric field. I wiped tears from my eyes. Three years without her presence had tried me. Three years since illness took her to another plane of existence. She wasn’t a ghost. Ghosts hung around the physical dimension. No, her spirit had arrived from her beautiful new home and imparted advice given from a wider perspective above my limited earthly viewpoint.

What to do with her advice...      

            I sighed and slid my splayed fingers over the thighs of my jeans. My silver treble clef thumb ring snagged on a tiny tear in the material. Green Boy, the pretty duck, swished around the pond and captured my gaze in his disinterested black eyes.

            I don’t believe in coincidence. This has meaning.

            The splashy pond, the scattered gray twigs with their green buds, the grass, all of it withdrew into the future as my mind travelled back to the past.

            I was six years old again, living in that large red brick Victorian house situated behind the mortuary. After chasing my siblings behind dark secret passageways and through dim hidey spaces, I plunked my little weary self on the piano bench in our home’s chapel. Mom had an altar set up in there, covered with a purple cloth and a gold sun-shaped container on top of it. One of her priest friends would visit once in a while and perform a private mass for our family. But this wasn’t the beginning of my mom’s connections with the spiritual and the paranormal. She had friends and allies in many churches, prayer beads and books from a dozen different religions. In fact, when I was a little girl, she took me around to visit different monasteries. I snickered at the men in one. They dressed weird, had weird hairstyles, and ate weird food. Mom bent down and took me by my hands. “Honey, different doesn’t mean bad or weird. It’s what’s in one’s heart that matters. Always remember that.” I nodded solemnly. She took me to other monasteries, and I filled her day with a child’s curious questions. She gave me a smile of respect. I had gotten the point.

But to go back further, Mom had had a mystical experience as a child and was never the same. Because of that, I was never the same-well, you know what I mean. I was introduced into the world of the beyond at a young age. I saw auras as a kid and could tell if someone was lying to me or if a boy had a crush on me, or if a friend’s aura screamed it, I knew she was about to betray me. Mom and I saw a black aura around an elderly man while walking. We stopped on the sidewalk in front of a 7-11 and frowned at each other. “He’s going to pass soon,” I muttered. “Yes,” she responded.

Prophetic dreams alerted me to breakups, where I’d wake up trembling. Huh, my Cherokee grandmother had those too. When as a fourteen-year-old, I walked into my father’s home office quivering and told him not to get on that plane and take his business trip, he cancelled his flight.

            All the neighborhood kids told us our house was haunted. Often there were funerals at that mortuary that shared a parking lot with us. Certain places in our home chilled me. For instance, I hated entering that dark downstairs bathroom, passing into a narrow inner room and out into the living room. Putting my hand on that doorknob made all the little hairs on my skin raise and had my heart thumping, seeming to rise in my throat, swelling there, and coating my mouth with fear.

            “Oh, by the way, honey,” Mom told me one day at dinner, “the man who built this house lost all his money in the silver crash and killed himself in the bathroom.”

            Gasp! Mom didn’t waste time by sugar-coating reality. Now that pulpy terror I experienced in those two dimly-lit small downstairs rooms made sense. But Mom didn’t try to dispel him from our home. Perhaps because my sister had seen him, and he in his “old-fashioned clothes” only smiled at her and left her alone.

            I played my heart out on that piano in the chapel, but I wasn’t any good.

            Years later, in high school, I noticed that some of my friends and acquaintances disrespected their parents, bad-mouthing them and lying to them at times. My mom had a heart condition. Fear edged my days, tears hidden in my subconscious—please, God, don’t take her from me too soon. No smack talk towards my parents escaped my mouth. Why should it? My mother the quiet, gentle warrior, and my dad, the quiet, gentle…dad.

Music was my life, but I still wasn’t any good.

Mom approached me and sat on my thin blanket on my bed, taking my hands in her  small ones. “Honey, God is love, the glue that holds everything together, and miracles aren’t just miraculous. If you have rock-solid faith, you’ll put the science God made into action. You’ll trigger the physics.”

            Is that what she had done when I fell deathly-ill as a toddler and she and my father had prayed over me? I had had a spinal tap and a bad prognosis, but the day after my parents’ prayer, I was completely healed. Doctors confirmed it with their tests.

            Mom had a heart attack. I wet my pillow every night with my tears while she was in the hospital, but she survived and told me about the beautiful city she had seen on the other side. The phone calls picked up after that. Friends and acquaintances and friends of friends called when they had an unwanted spiritual presence hanging around. Mom would gear up with her holy water, rosaries, prayer books, and her knowingness, and go kick ass, changing lives. Sometimes priests would help her—like with the heavy stuff—and sometimes she went in with spiritual friends.

            One day, she went to lay down in her room and asked not to be disturbed. When she pushed open her door later, and I laid eyes on her, I sucked in a sharp breath. She had bruises on her arms! She had sensed her friend was in danger and needed to get there immediately, but the woman lived hundreds of miles away. Mom left her body and visited her friend in astral form, slipping between her friend and her husband as he was preparing to arc a large knife into his wife’s chest. He dropped the knife, trembling, and wept. Mom stayed on the astral plane helping another friend when a bad presence attacked her. She came back pale and shaken up. I hugged her.

            My senior year in high school, I held my homemade guitar on my lap and strummed. God, I sucked. Why couldn’t I be good at something so important to me? To want something so much but to not have natural talent in it was excruciating. Mom told me to never give up.

            Years later, my heart aching for missing her, on that park bench, flashes of the faces of her friends and people she helped invaded my mind. When Mom had passed over, they had hoped I would take over the reins. But damn, that was some scary shit she had dealt with. She changed lives. I was called to change lives too, but in a different way. I wanted to do it through music. Having always battled depression and anxiety, I seriously doubted myself. I had no talent. So, I asked Mom’s advice.      

            That duck was staring at me, as if to say, “Hey, don’t be a dumb ass. You know what to do. Listen to your mom.” He shuffled his green-feathered tail and paddled away toward his gray friends.

            I bent over and slapped my face into my hands. Can I really believe in miracles? Stupid question.

            Mom, I’m a below-average musician.

            But you’re bursting with heart. She swished side-to-side like a happy teenager, and indeed, she, in spirit form, looked decades younger than when I had last seen her, younger than me. Her long black hair curled to her waist.

            It’s not enough in that cold, hard world just to have heart.

            Her spirit smiled. The world has plenty of technical geniuses, and not all of them have heart. You have more heart than anyone I have ever known.

            Thanks, Mom, but what good is that?

            You have something unique to offer the world.

            I scoffed.

            You want to be successful with music, but you don’t give a care for the glory or the fame.

            You’re right.

            You want to bring sunlight where there is darkness.

            Yes.

            There are certain souls, certain persons, that only you can touch, in your unique way. If you never go out there, despite your depression, anxiety, and self-doubt, you’ll never drop that sunlight into those suffering lives.

            My technical abilities aren’t up to par.

            But you understand music.

            Yes.

            Keep it simple, but keep it pure, and your heart will carry you where you need to go. You’ll be surrounded by the right people. You’ll write the right songs, and you’ll make a difference in the way your heart demands.

            How do I know that is the correct path? I’ve had nothing but one failure after another. Shouldn’t I give up?

            If thinking about music makes you light up with joy, it’s your calling, and it’s the right thing to do. God, the universe, whatever you want to call it, has a point to make with you. That’s why God gave you the strong desire for this but not the natural talent. Go have fun and discover what that point is.

           I sat up on that bench and watched as a breeze carried leaves skittering across the pond. Could I keep torturing myself with pursuing my dream after nothing but failure? Mom said I should. But wasn’t I getting too old? I drew in a long, slow breath and stood, rolling my shoulders back. Stupidity is mere feet from faith. Some stop too soon, and some turn the corner, believing against all logic, and finally meet their success. I’m not supposed to be another Mozart. What am I supposed to be? I can’t wait to find out.

           

           

           

           

 

 

 


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Meet Monique DeVere and Read About Her Married Second Chance Romance MATT'S PREGNANT RUNAWAY WIFE

When an award-winning pastry chef marries a Sicilian-born restaurateur in a whirlwind romance she thinks she has it all...until he refuses to introduce her to his family.

About Monique




Monique grew up on a plantation on the beautiful island of Barbados, where her childhood was all about exploring and letting her imagination run free. She moved to the UK as a teen and soon fell in love at first sight with her amazing, strong-silent-type husband. They have four beautiful children and four incredible grandchildren.

Monique writes sweet ‘n’ spicy romance, and when she isn’t working on the next novel or movie script, she can be found spending time with hubby and family, armchair travelling, creating recipes, reading about health and nutrition, or working on her spiritual growth. She enjoys going for walks, gardening, or simply crazy-dancing around the house. 

About MATT'S PREGNANT RUNAWAY WIFE

This might be the biggest risk of her life. 


When her whirlwind romance with gorgeous Sicilian-born restaurateur Matteo Giordano culminates in marriage, award-winning pastry chef Sabrina Newton-Giordano thinks she has it all...until Matt refuses to introduce her to his family. Sabrina desires their baby to have the same love she knew from her grandparents, but Matt’s outright rejection of his family could result in their baby never knowing his or her paternal grandparents, something Sabrina will not accept. Until that is, she hits on the perfect solution—run away to Sicily to meet the in-laws!  

Matt wants only one thing—to keep his wife and unborn child safe. For a man intent on never allowing anything to stand in his way, it should be an easy task. But Matt hasn’t bargained on how stubborn his irresistible, runaway wife can be. Despite his stern objections, she’s determined to form a relationship with his family. He knows, from past experience, they’d never accept her or the baby. Now Matt is torn between the urgent need to protect his wife and fear of causing her undue stress in her pregnancy. 

Excerpt 

She kept him on his toes, he’d give her that. From the moment he met her he’d known she was unique to any other woman. The first hint was when he’d arrived unexpectedly to check on his London restaurant. Everyone, except Sabrina, had nervously tripped over themselves in his presence. She’d simply continued to work as though his arrival was as insignificant as a dust mote drifting past her head. The second hint had knocked him the moment she glanced up and locked eyes with his. Something he’d never experienced before had happened. His body had responded to the instant connection in a way that had been shocking and potent. He’d decided right then to make her his. Even then, she hadn’t made it easy for him. She’d resisted their attraction, had flat-out refused to have drinks, dinner, or—her words—anything else with him. To say that she’d become a challenge he’d fixated on was to understate the level of his attraction for Sabrina.

Then one day, after weeks of him putting his best moves on her and about to admit defeat, a delivery arrived at his office. It was a beautifully presented slice of his favourite dessert along with a note that read: if you want more, come and get it! He was pretty sure the soles of his handmade Italian shoes left scorch marks on his office rug in his haste to get to Sabrina. The rest had been white-hot sizzling sexy, whirlwind, and incredible. And now here he was, fighting to keep his marriage from falling apart only after eleven-and-a-half months of wedded bliss.

Matt washed his hands at the kitchen sink, then rummaged in the under counter fridge.

He chuckled. “Surprise, surprise, nothing but dessert and fruit.”

Yep, one thing he could be sure of was that he’d always find some sort of dessert in their fridge at home, thanks to Sabrina’s never-ending effort to create new and exciting after-dinner treats. And, oh look, she had his favourite dessert sitting in a small yellow and white cake caddy, as though she’d somehow been expecting him. When he grabbed the container his gaze landed on the four red apples in a bowl on the shelf below, so he snagged one of those, too.

 Purchase on Amazon

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