Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Love Affair With Writing by Ginger Simpson #BooksWeLove

If you know an author personally, you're probably familiar with the term, WIP.  We always have a "writing in progress" project, and although some may sit on the back burner for months while a new and more exciting storyline takes precedence, I'll bet every other writer out there shares my burning desire to finish that meaningful story.  I have that problem right now, but for a different reason.  I earlier explained in another post the difference between "plotters/pantsers," and I'm a pantser, so my heroine in The Well speaks more often than Yellow Moon.  

I know I'm going to finish Yellow Moon, because I already have the cover, but she's been one of the most difficult heroines to work with because she turns mute on me.  I can't SHOW you her story if she doesn't TELL it to me.  So, for today, I'm going to give you an example of The Well, hopefully to make Yellow Moon jealous.  *lol*

So, while I'm trying to pry words out of Yellow Moon's mouth, here's the story that Harlee is anxious to share with you.  I'm loving it, but I really want to get Yellow Moon to my publisher soon.  Oy Vey...what I wouldn't give to be able to plot...but I've tried it and it just doesn't work for me.

The Well
Oklahoma Panhandle - 1894

Hot winds drove a herd of tumbleweeds across endless acres of sod–broken and dried by the sun.   The devastating drought in Oklahoma continued on, leaving everything parched or dying. Using the rope crank, Harlee Wagner lowered the bucket into the well. She swiped at the perspiration on her brow with the sleeve of her dress.

Each time she fetched drinking water for the family, the rope attached to the wooden pail reeled closer and closer to the end. What would they do if the well ran dry? They'd already given up bathing, and Ma only prepared one meal a day, using mostly dried meat and vegetables she'd preserved. Harlee’s younger sister, Hannah, complained the most, but sacrifice was inevitable if they were to survive.  
Drastic times called for change. The horses needed water every day but Harlee no longer filled the trough. Instead she gave them small amounts from a pail. The chickens seemed unaware of their plight and pecked unaffected at the ground, searching for insects.  

A small dirt devil swirled across the corral and moved like a ghost-like apparition through the weathered fence and then disappeared from sight behind the barn. Rain was certain to come and things would improve. She needed to cling to that hope. 

“Well, that was a durned waste of time.” Pa stomped by, his rifle resting against his shoulder and a frown on his face.

“Whadda you mean?” Her words stopped him before he went inside.

“I mean there’s not an animal around for miles that I saw, at least. I think they’ve all gone in search of something green to munch on instead of all this dried grass and weeds.” His leathery skin gave him a much older appearance despite not having a single grey strand in his auburn hair, and worry deepened the sun-etched creases in his brow. The wind fluttered his wispy hair into his eyes, and he huffed his annoyance and brushed the thin strands aside.

“How about fishing?”

“Open those brown eyes of yorn. Have you seen the lake recently?” His brow furrowed. “There’s more bloated trout dead on the shore than I can count. If it don’t rain soon, the lake is going to shrink into a pond.”

Her pa went inside and slammed the door. Harlee winced. At seventeen, this was the most severe season she’d witnessed in her life. Her stomach growled with hunger and her dried mouth cried out for a long, cool drink. The plants in the garden were as withered as Harlee’s heart. She wanted to leave Oklahoma, mainly because her chances of finding a beau, especially miles from nowhere, were slim to none, and most likely she'd end up an old maid. The family had only lived on the ‘farm’ less than a year, but the men who stopped by to see her pa were definitely not even close to her age.

A glance at the shack they called home served as a reminder there was no real reason to stay in this God-forsaken place, but Pa saw something here she didn’t and remained determined to make this their permanent home. Perhaps his decision was based on being driven from every other place they'd lived…either by crooked tax men or cattlemen who didn't want to share the range land. Pa came from a small town in New England that raised sheep and saw that as his calling.

Harlee cranked the bucket up and shielded her eyes against the sun while looking longingly at the sky for any hint of rain. A few wispy white clouds drifted across a sea of blue, and in the distance, vultures circled some poor critter either dead or dying. Her heart ached for such a gruesome end to life.

“Are you gonna take all day getting water?” Eleven-year-old Hannah poked her nose outside. “I’m mighty thirsty, just in case you care.”

“Hold your horses, would ya? If you think you can fetch a bucket full any quicker, you’re welcome to try.”

 Hannah stuck out her tongue and then disappeared back inside the house. No surprise, she wouldn't put forth any effort. As the youngest, she was spoiled rotten…and probably would still be even if the babe Ma lost when Harlee was her younger sister’s age had survived.

Harlee turned her attention back to the chore at hand. The bucket crested the well’s top, only half full this time. The water used to be so high, she often bent over and stared at her reflection. Doubtful she could see it now, she crawled up on the stone ledge and peered over, searching for any hint of her likeness. Stretching farther . . . she still saw nothing but emptiness. The old stone beneath her grip gave way, sending her tumbling into the black abyss, her head striking rock. Numbed by shock, her scream froze in her throat. 

Harlee hit the water, creating a splash, although not a very big one. Pain shot through her head, and she grabbed her scalp to soothe the ache and found a huge lump had already formed. Something dripped down the side of her face. Was it water? She touched the dampness, licked her hand, and confirmed by the coppery taste it was blood. Her attempt to choke back tears failed when the throbbing intensified and matched each beat of her heart. She cried until she got the hiccups, and leaned her head against the wall, waiting for them to stop.

  She jerked upright and stared up, noting the sun directly overhead. “I must have dozed off.”  Raising her hand, she checked her head and found the bleeding had stopped. “Oh, thank you God, I needed something positive about this day.”

  The light cascaded down the well and highlighted the greenness of the walls and the murky color of the water. Gathering her wits, she struggled to her feet, wiped sodden hair from her face and gasped when the water’s depth barely reached her thighs. “Oh, Lord, we need this precious liquid for so many things, but taking a swim wasn't one of them.”   

As the shock of her fall faded, she faced an even greater fear than how injured she was–how to get out of the well.  “Help me. Ma! Pa! Hannah! Someone! Heellllppp!” She yelled until she had no voice left. 

No answer came from above.

 Time ticked by and she grew weary. Her elbow, evidently skinned during the fall, joined the dull ache in her head, and her knees begged her to sit. The blue sky above darkened with the approaching night, and Harlee sagged into the water, letting it lap to her chin while she rested against the stony interior. Why hadn't someone come to look for her? Especially her impatient little sister?

Despite her discomfort, Harlee slept and woke with a crick in her neck and fingers wrinkled from being under water. She glanced up, praying to see someone peering back, but strangely, no longer saw the sky. Could it still be night? Straining her eyes, she noted light leaking around what appeared to be a cover. Her mind whirred. Was this all a bad dream? The fact that she sat in water, confined in a stone prison confirmed the truth. But why hadn't someone missed her, and why did they cover the well unless her family thought her dead? 

 With a hoarse voice, she shouted as loud as she could, but still no one responded. Trying to find a bright spot, she remembered the circling vultures. “At least I cheated those gluttonous birds out of a meal,” she muttered as tears plunked into the water, barely making a ripple. Death would surely claim her anyhow. Maybe the grim reaper already had and she didn't realize she'd passed. Resting a hand on her bosom, she searched for a heartbeat.

 Her soaked dress cloaked her like a second skin, and the slime from the well’s bottom coated her skinned palms. She crinkled her nose at the musty smell and kept assuring herself help would come, but her cries bounced off the walls and went unanswered.

Harlee’s strength waned more and more by the morning of the fourth day, and she prepared to die.  Her measure of time came by means of daylight filtering around the well’s sealed edges, and she no longer had hope of rescue. After wanting water so badly, she taken only small sips a few times and now dreamed of Ma’s buttermilk biscuits. An imaginary aroma masked the musk and hung teasingly in the air.

  Numbness enveloped Harlee’s body and outlook, but didn't dull her curiosity about her family.  Maybe they hadn't given up on her, instead perhaps something had happened to them?  At the thought, she embraced herself to quell her increased shivering.

Harlee inhaled a deep breath, drawing in the unpleasant aroma she'd avoided by shallow breathing.  The lack of air inside the well made her light-headed and the smell made her gag. The thought of sitting in her own urine soaked clothing added to her nausea. She retched a few times, but threw up nothing but bile. The bitter taste in her mouth matched the rancidness of the well’s bottom.  

 She positioned herself firmly against the wall, bending her knees and planting her feet against the opposite wall. Drowning wasn't a preference and there was enough water for that to happen. With any luck, she’d just fall asleep and wake up in the beautiful garden Ma read about in the Bible one Sunday. 
 The pictures the hallowed words painted colored Harlee’s mind and her muscles relaxed. Her head lulled to her shoulder. If her time had come, she was ready, despite lamenting she'd die without knowing the pleasure of having a husband and children. Still, at this moment, anything had to be better than the wet, damp hell that claimed her. Her eyes closed and then squinted tighter against a light much brighter than she'd ever seen. Was it the door to heaven? 

The bucket banged her atop her head. “Ouch!” The pain brought back her voice.

“Holy shit ” A deep voice sounded above. Surely, God didn’t curse. Then who?

Harlee tried to adjust to the daylight filtering down the well by holding a shielding hand to her forehead. She looked up, but the dank and dark prison had stolen her vision as well as her voice.  Weakness robbed her of the ability to stand. Despite only hearing a voice, she continued to peer up and pray. Finally, she managed to see her rescuer’s outline. 

“Help me,” she managed to rasp out.

He leaned farther over the opening. “Are you alive?”  

Seemed like a silly question since dead people didn't speak, but she stifled her sarcasm, not wishing to risk her rescue. “I-I think so.” Harlee barely had the strength to respond, but the idea of being set free gave her a voice.

“Hold on. Let me see if I can find something to help get you out.”

Out? The word sounded more beautiful than any other she'd ever heard, but when he disappeared from her sight, panic seized her heart. Was she hallucinating?  

The blue sky loomed overhead and the smell of freshness drifted down to replace the wet, musty stench she'd endured for so long. She released a pent-up breath when a fuzzy silhouette re-appeared.
“This place is deserted, but I did manage to find a good, hearty rope. The one attached to this old bucket is so rotten, it wouldn't hold up a feather. Do you think you could manage to tie this one around your waist and climb out while I pull?”

Tying something around her waist wasn't the problem.  Her legs had grown weak and she doubted she could stand. Still, the idea of living appealed more than dying. “I can try.” She braced herself with the sides of the well and forced herself to her feet. Her head spun and she feared she might faint. The rope unfurled as he released it. His comment about the place being deserted didn’t make sense, but then nothing did at the moment.

With shrivelled and weak hands, Harlee secured the braided horse hair around her waist, and gripped the lifeline with all the strength she mustered. “Okay, I'm ready,” she called up to her rescuer.
“I’ll pull and you use your feet to walk up the wall.”

“I’m not sure I can.”

“Well, if I have to come down there and get you, there'll be no one here to pull us both out.  You've got to try.”

“All right. I will.”

She made a first step and a second. Water dripped from her body and splattered into what remained in the well. Her limbs trembled and the coarseness of the rope nipped through the thin material of her dress and chafed her skin. On her third step, her leg gave out and she slammed against the wall, knocking the air from her lungs and scraping her cheek against the rough stones. The stranger slackened the rope, allowing her to collapse back into the water. Harlee massaged her burning face and even in the dim light saw blood on her fingers. She used the wet hem of her dress to soothe the burning and dab the wound.

“Are you okay?” His deep voice resonated and brought her to her senses.

Would anyone who'd been trapped in a well for days be just fine? She took a deep breath and resisted asking him if he was serious.

“Did you hurt yourself?” He yelled louder.

“Yes. My cheek is bleeding and my hands are raw, but I’m ready to try again.” Determination drove her as she rubbed her sore hands along her skirt.

“Okay, I'm going to start pulling again, so stand up and hold on tight.”

Her mind whirred with questions she hoped to ask. Harlee struggled to her feet and took a firm grip on her lifeline. “Pull,” she instructed.

Despite the pain, she concentrated on each step, unwilling to waiver until she reached freedom.  Her palms and fingers burned and the top of the well appeared miles away. Still, she made sure she kept one foot anchoring her in place before she moved the other. Many times she wanted to surrender, but looking up into the blurred face of her hero gave her the strength she needed to continue.

After what seemed forever, sunlight warmed Harlee’s face and a breeze caressed her soggy skin. The stranger grasped her beneath her arms and hauled her over the well’s edge. Her feet touched the ground, but overcome by weakness, she sagged against him. He swept her into his arms as if she was nothing more than a feather and cradled her like a mother would her babe. “There, there, you're going to be fine now.” 

Somehow, in desperation, she believed his soothing words.

Okay...I'm either going to keep working on this on or choke the words out of Yellow Moon.  *lol*

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy September 18th! by Nancy M Bell

Hello! This is my first monthly post and I'm very happy to be here.

This is me! Photo credit Unique Perspectives Monique de St. Croix

First, just let me say I love Books We Love and how happy I am that I made the brilliant decision to come here. I'm a bit of an eclectic writer. I dabble in poetry, a bit of non fiction and mostly I write YA fantasy and contemporary romance. That being said my current work in progress is a horror/thriller about Jack the Ripper. It's a new twist on the old rehashed theories. Because he could have been anyone, and there are good arguments for quite a few suspects, I basically had carte blanche when it came to how I shaped him. He really is a twisted dark person, but I have tried to give him a bit of a human face. My ultimate goal is not to make the reader like him but to at least feel some sympathy for him at some point in the story. We'll see how that goes.
I'm looking forward to the Masters class with Jack Whyte that I'm attending at the Surrey International Writers Conference. Each participant submits three pages of a work in progress and then Jack reads it out (a treat in itself) and the group discusses what works and what doesn't. It is a very interesting and enlightening process.

Me and Jack Whyte! Taken at Surrey International Writers Conference 2010

Pandora's Boox and Teas in Olds, Alberta is carrying my YA Laurel's Quest on their shelves. If you're up that way or int he neighborhood please drop in and say hi to the owners. The store is chock full of books, cool journals, over 60 types of loose tea and tea paraphernalia. I spent a good hour and a half drooling over the selection. Needless to say I came away with some new reading material and some scrumptious teas.

Christmas Storm is a romance set in Longview, Alberta. I'm working on the last edits and am hoping to have it released by Books We Love in time for the Christmas season. One of the secondary characters is the rescue dog, Storm. She tends to steal whatever scene she is in. LOL Which brings me to my latest adventure... I volunteer with a rescue group in Calgary, Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society. I promised my husband I would only volunteer but not foster... Ummmm Yeah... about that... On Monday I brought home a very pregnant young dog who was surrendered to us. All the whelping foster homes were full and I just couldn't leave her in the kennel all pregnant and... well you know how it goes.

My husband is up for saint hood of course. He never batted an eye. In retrospect he was probably relieved it wasn't a horse, or a sheep, or.... The poor man never knows what will be waiting for him when he gets home at night. We fostered a sheep for over a year until his people got a place where they could keep him with them. I still miss Sheep (I know not very original) His people call him Spot, Doug calls him Ramses. Somehow Sheep just works for me LOL

I hope you'll drop by every month on the 18th and see what new trouble I've gotten myself into. There will be puppy cuteness coming soon so by October 18th there will be pictures. If anyone is in or near Calgary, Alberta this weekend AARCS is having a Jail and Bail on Saturday September 20th, please come by and support the great work this organization does.
You'll notice as you read my books, there is always animals included, usually horses, but not always. In A Step Beyond, book 2 in The Cornwall Adventures, the war stallion is quite the ham. I've grown very fond of him, I must say.

Till next time... Keep reading and I'll keep writing... Cheers

I'm on Facebook at AuthorNancyMBell
You can follow me on Twitter @emilypikkasso It's my horse's name and her father's name so no, it's not weird at all LOL
You can find my books at my Author Central Page
Please visit my author page at Books We Love.

Please keep in mind, to find me search for Nancy M Bell or Nancy Marie Bell. There are other Nancy Bells out there, but they're not me!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Introducing Bast's Warrior - Ancient Egypt #MFRWauthor #Suspense #BooksWeLove

  1. Just released today. An alternate ancient Egypt with no pyramids or the Sphinx but with action and adventure with the avatars of the three gods worshipped aiding the hero and heroine.

Just released, Bast's Warrior is the first book in a trilogy involving my love of ancient Egypt with a bit of a twist. There is a reason for making this an alternate world story. The other twist is while the story could be considered a time travel, it really isn't since the characters don't return to an ancient Egypt we know and have many artifacts from. The why for the change is "there were no camels in Egypt during the time I had targeted for the series." I so wanted camels meaning I had to find a place where they could exist. Enter an alternate world.

Tira is the modern heroine who is sent back to this world. The time is around the ending of the Hyksos, mysterious invaders who are never really identified in what is known about this ancient world. Because of my interest in Astrology, the means of sending her back is by casting her horoscope and the spinning of a giant horoscope wheel.

So Here's a look at the Heroine. Tira wanted three things in life and she had little chance of gaining any of them. She wanted to be financially independent. She wanted to go to Egypt and study the ancient ruins. And she wanted her sister to stop using drugs.

The last desire brought memories of this morning’s quarrel.  The money squirreled away to see them through the rest of the month was gone. “Luci, why?”

“You don’t understand,” Luci screamed.

True. She didn’t understand why her sister needed to escape into a drugged stupor instead of studying and working to step onto the road leading from the slums. Tira’s hands stung with the memory of slapping her sister. And the words she’d shouted as she slammed out of the apartment echoed in her thoughts. “I hate you. I wish you were dead.” A shudder rumbled through her body. She hadn’t meant those words. As soon as she reached the apartment she would tell Luci.

With a sigh she turned back to the museum display. The Egyptian artifacts awed her. For a short time she allowed the beauty of the objects to carry her into dreams of pyramids and temples, of gods and pharaohs and of digging in the earth to uncover treasures of the past.

The dream hovered beyond her grasp. Her chances of gaining a position on a dig in Egypt were slim. Positions were avidly sought by students who had chosen the right colleges and the right professors. Those choices had been beyond her financially. She sucked in a breath. Instead of adventure, when the summer ended, she would take her place in front of a classroom teaching history at an inner city high school.

A glance at her watch said dreamtime was over. She had to reach the apartment in time to change for her evening shift at a restaurant several blocks from the cramped fifth floor efficiency she shared with her older sister. Once again, flash moments from the morning’s quarrel exploded in Tira’s thoughts. She’d been so upset she’d missed her morning martial arts session at the local center.

Tira cast her dreaming self aside and donned the role of practical sister. She hurried to the exit and stepped from the past into a steamy August day. Heat shimmered from the sidewalk. The air hung heavy and filled with the odors of the city and the noises of traffic. She strode along the crowded area taking advantage of every opening.

Ten days to dream. Ten days to walk the halls of the museum. Ten days to study the artifacts that had become her lodestones. She breathed the aromas of real time, spices of cooking foods, metallic scents of passing traffic and the odors of people, some pleasant and some not.

Several blocks from the apartment building the crowds thinned. In an alley she glimpsed furtive movements in the dark shadows. She hurried past. On the corner across the street a group of gang members gathered. She sucked in a breath and held her head high. For all her twenty three years she’d avoided the gangs. As she strode past she heard the usual crude remarks about her body and her attitude.

Get a life, she wanted to scream.

When she saw the ambulance and two cop cars in front of the building where she lived she halted so abruptly she stumbled. A hand caught her arm. Tira saw the gray-streaked beard of one of the winos who slept in the doorways or the alley. “Get your hands off me.”

“Don’t go home,” he whispered. “Lose yourself in the crowd and keep your head down.”

She saw a keen intelligence in the man’s dark eyes. Who was he? He wasn’t as old as she had imagined either. “Why?”

“Your sister’s dead. Cops’ll be looking for you. They heard about the fight.”

Tira’s stomach clenched. She blinked away a rush of tears. Though hearing about her sister’s death wasn’t unexpected another dream shattered. There would be no rehab for Luci. “Junkies O.D. every day,” she said.

“She was murdered.”

Quite a way to start out. The hero Kashe has his own problems. Kashe of Mero sat on his bed in his chamber of the family compound. His head pounded. When he opened his eyes he saw the day had progressed into late afternoon. The bright light made him wince. He recalled the past night’s celebration for the retirement of the family’s arms master who had been his mentor and friend. From the Tuten he had learned the skills of a warrior. Last night Kashe had finally defeated his mentor with weapons and a capacity for beer.

“Kashe.” His father’s voice stabbed like a dagger.

He groaned and sat up. The drum in his head banged. Leave me alone, he wanted to shout. The Nomarch of Mero’s anger toward his middle son was nothing new. What did he want now?

As second son Kashe had been marked for the priesthood. He had no desire to become a priest. He found satisfaction in his role as a warrior. Yet, duty called for obedience.

If any other temple had been chosen he might have agreed. He had no taste for this newly risen cadre of men seeking to force their god into the circle of goddesses and gods of the Two Lands. Aken Re had been unknown until the invaders had arrived. The army of those men had been defeated so why did their priests linger?

The beaded curtain jangled adding cacophonic notes to the beating in his head. “Answer me.” The nomarch entered and halted at the foot of Kashe’s bed. “Rise and present yourself in the central hall. We have guests. Your older brother has news of importance.”

Kashe groaned. He and Pian were a year apart in age and generations in philosophy. In embracing the new religion, His brother had seen an advantage for bringing his ambitions to fruition. He believed the priests would smooth his path to the pharaoh’s chair.

Kashe sat on the edge of the bed and considered his brother and his plans. Pian was slender and shorter than Kashe. He fit the picture of an ideal pharaoh in appearance but not in character. He was cruel and selfish. His sense of justice and honor were lacking. He had no love for Kashe. 

“Throwback” was the mildest of the names Pian used as needles to jab his younger brother. Kashe had strengths his brother lacked. Every match on the training field had ended with Kashe as the victor.

He rose. He couldn’t help that in stature and build he resembled the Nubian ancestors his father and older brother chose to forget in their desire for power. If Pian became pharaoh the Nomarch of Mero would become his son’s chief advisor.

“Are you coming?” his father asked.

If he said no who knew what would happen. Kashe stretched. “As soon as I wash and dress.” Though he would rather have bathed he would make do here. He glanced in the polished metal mirror. His warrior’s braid was neat enough. He poured water from a pitcher into a basin and washed. After donning a fresh kilt he fitted wrist and arm bands and selected a collar necklace.

As he left the family sleeping quarters he braced for the evening meal, the main one of the day. He entered the central hall and hid a desire to duck behind one of the pillars. On the dais his parents sat with a pair of priests. Their gold medallions glittered in the torch light. His older brother stood before the men.

As Kashe neared the platform he noticed the robes were embroidered with gold-rayed discs representing their god. The pair were opposites. One was rotund, smiling and fluttering his hands while speaking. The other was lean with a hawk-like nose and a somber expression. Kashe noticed his younger brother lingered in the shadows near the dais. If anything was to be learned Namose would know.

The nomarch gestured. He strode past his sisters who were engaged in a board game and gossip. 
When Pian’s voice took on a tone both servile and arrogant Kashe grimaced.

“My lords, Oris and Hebu, beloved of Aken Re, has the daughter been found? I so desire to look in her face and claim her as my chief wife. The honor you offer humbles me.”

The rotund priest’s smile broadened. “As yet we have not found her, but the signs point to where she is hidden. When the auspicious hour arrives we will claim her.” He turned from Pian to the nomarch. “You know the price.”

The nomarch pointed to Kashe. “My lords of Aken Re, this is my middle son. He is skilled with weapons and has a vast knowledge of strategy. He will enter your temple as a priest.”

So welcome to my world. Horu's Chosen will be released next month and is up for pre-order. Toth's Priest is waiting for edits so there will be more about my fascination with ancient Egypt

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Trouble Comes in Twos by Roseanne Dowell

Everyone calls me Kate, but my full name is Katherine Wesley. I’ve recently returned to my home town of
Twinsburg, Ohio after five years of living in self-imposed exile. Okay, it wasn’t really exile. I left because my fiancĂ© jilted me two days before our wedding. Can you believe he didn’t even have the guts to tell me in person? Oh no, he left me a note and took off to Las Vegas. 
I left town shortly after, because I couldn’t stand the looks of pity from everyone. I know I wasn’t the first, and I probably wouldn’t be the last, but that doesn’t help when it happens to you. So I fled. I built a new life for myself. I even opened a very successful flower shop in Clyde, Ohio.

But now I’m back and I opened my own florist shop here. Problem is, my ex is back too. Not that I care. I mean seriously, I’m over him.  The fact my heart beat a little faster the first time I ran into him didn’t mean a thing. Heck, it thumped twice as hard when I met my client’s brother. Not that I’m looking for a guy, believe me, I’m not.  I’m happy just the way I am. I don’t have to answer to anyone, and no one has to answer to me. Nope, I’m quite happy, thank you very much
Life was fine until I visited my Aunt Kate’s grave, well mostly fine. I mean my ex and Emma’s brother seemed to be vying for my attention. I never had that happen before and, quite honestly, I could live without it. Talk about uncomfortable. But the florist shop was doing well for just having opened. Emma’s wedding helped that. So there I was, minding my own business, going to the cemetery, and that’s when I found a body.

Well let me tell you, life turned upside down, backwards, forwards, and inside out. Between my ex, Emma’s brother and the body, let’s just say things got real complicated.

To make matters worse, the twin sister of the victim showed up in town. If you don’t think that made life real interesting, well think again.

You’ll have to read Trouble Comes in Twos to find out what happened. Released from Books We Love Publishing, it’s available at Amazon

You can find out more about my books at or check out my blog  at

Excerpt from Trouble Comes in Twos

A shadow passed over the doorway, and Kate realized she wasn’t alone.
Adam stood in the doorway, a cocky grin on his face. “Now that’s settled, how are you, Kate?”
Kate couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t he take a hint? “What do you want, Adam?” She didn’t care if she sounded angry. He deserved angry.
Adam came into the work room and stood in front of her. “You look great.”
Kate looked away. So did he, but darned if she’d tell him. He looked too damn good. What was the saying? Fool her once, shame on him, fool her twice, shame on her. Nope, she didn’t need him or anyone like him.
 “So what do you want? I gave you all the information on Emma. Shouldn’t you be out investigating?” She picked up a flower and set it in a vase. Her heart beat so hard, it surprised her that he didn’t hear it.
“Look, I know you’re still upset about the wedding, but give me a chance to make it up to you. How about dinner tonight?”
“I’m busy.” Still upset? The man had no idea. Like she’d pick up where they left off? Was he kidding.
“Tomorrow then?”
“I’m busy tomorrow, too. Look, Adam, just go, okay. I don’t want to have dinner with you. Not tonight, not tomorrow, not ever.”
“Come on, babe, don’t be like that.” Adam moved a strand of hair behind her ear. “I don’t blame you for being angry. But damn, it’s been five years.” He ran his finger along her cheek. “The least you could do is give me a chance to explain. Not that I’m sure I could. I’m not sure, even now, why I took off. Cold feet, I guess.”
Kate trembled at his touch. A spark of something familiar tumbled in her stomach. She pushed his hand away. Try as she might, her anger shattered.
“How dare you walk in here like nothing happened? Like we’re going to pick up where we left off?” Kate spoke through clenched teeth. What she really wanted to do was lash out and hurt him the way he hurt her, but a customer might come in and screaming wasn’t going to help anyway.
Adam stared at her, a look of confusion in his dark eyes. He just didn’t get it. He really didn’t see anything wrong with what he did. Took the coward’s way out and left her to deal with canceling all the wedding plans. What a jerk. “Look, just go.” She turned back to her work and picked up a vase to fill her next order.
Adam ran his hand through his dark, wavy hair. Hair she used to love to run her fingers through. She could almost feel the soft, silkiness of even now.
“Give me a break, Kate. Let me make it up to you.”
Part of her wanted to give in, and part of her wanted to throw something at him. Stay strong, get rid of him. No way was she picking up where they left off.
The bell rang again, and before she had a chance to react, Mark stormed in. Kate’s stomach did a flip at the sight of him. What was wrong with her, reacting to these men this way? For five years men had no affect on her. Now in the course of an hour, the two of them managed to get under her skin, causing feelings deep within she hadn’t experienced in years. Feelings she didn’t want to feel.
Mark stared at them for a second. “I don’t know what the two of you have going, but why aren’t you out looking for my sister?”
Kate shuddered at the angry tone of Mark’s voice. “There’s nothing going on between us, Mr. Westfield. I just suggested the very same thing to Detective Shaffer,” she said just as angry. “Now if the two of you will continue this outside, I have work to do.”
“I’ll call you later, Kate.” Adam acted as if everything between them was settled. Par for the course. Wasn’t that always how it was? She got mad, spoke her mind, and that was it. Over and done with.

Nothing changed. Adam went on doing the same things he always did. Didn’t matter if it upset her. Poker every Friday night with his friends, no matter how angry she got. How they had managed to plan the wedding was beyond her.  Not that he did any of the planning. Adam didn’t even want to see the hall or listen to the band. No wonder he didn’t have any qualms about canceling the wedding. He didn’t do any of the work for it. Obviously, he wasn’t ready to get married. So why had he asked her? Asked her, heck, he had insisted. Even when she suggested they wait a year or so. He at least owed her an explanation. But did she really want to hear it?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A drink, a dance, or something else?

The Red Onion Saloon
This month I'm going to take you on another journey - one of the most entertaining I've experienced during my travels.

This took place in Alaska which is wild and wonderful, and one of our stops was Skagway. In the 2010 census its population was 920 people. During the height of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, however, it was the largest city in Alaska, with a population of around 8,000 and with an additional 1,000 miners passing through each week. 

Nowadays, of course, the numbers of visitors are much larger. 900,000 annually, mainly from cruise ships, and each and every one of them enjoying an existence far removed from the tough lives of the gold prospectors. The memories haven't gone away though. The cries of “gold in the Yukon” still echo from steep canyon walls, as do the sounds of bar room pianos and boomtown crowds. It's a place where the romance and excitement of yesteryear lingers around every street corner, every bend in the trail.

Like all historic towns, Skagway boasts buildings full of artefacts and tells stories of hardships endured. People had to be tough to survive the gold rush. The prospectors' journey included climbing the mountains over the White Pass above Skagway in often terrible weather. Then on across the Canadian border to build a barge on one of its lakes so that they could float down the Yukon River to the gold fields around Dawson City. Soon, overwhelmed by the number of prospectors, officials began to insist that everyone entering Canada had to bring their own supplies to ensure that they didn't starve during the winter. This placed a huge burden on the prospectors as well as the pack animals who had to climb the steep pass.

It wasn't all bad though because it also offered a lot of opportunity to the people who decided to stay behind. Pretty soon there were stores, saloons and offices lining the muddy streets of Skagway. The Red Onion Saloon, was one of these.
A portrait of one of the original girls

 In 1898 it was one of the classiest dance halls and saloons in town. Was that because it also provided something extra? Maybe. You see the upstairs was a bordello which comprised 10 small rooms, known as cribs. Each crib was very small but elaborately decorated by the women who used them. A weary miner could wander into the Red Onion Saloon for a bottle of liquid courage and a dance or two with a beautiful lady. Then, ready to order something a little more personal, he would choose his girl in a very unique way. Behind the bar were 10 dolls that represented the 10 girls upstairs. As soon as the customer chose a doll, the bartender would lay the doll on her back, indicating that that girl was 'busy'. Once the personal services were complete and the customer had returned to the bar, the doll sat upright again, waiting for her next customer.

So what, you say? Interesting, but that was life in the gold rush. Well yes it was, but this was different. The Red Onion Saloon, having gone through a long history of thriving success and then dwindling to nothing as bigger dance halls and casinos were built in Dawson, is now operating again. Not as a bordello I hasten to add, but as a saloon full of beautiful, laughing girls who all dress in the style of the madams of the gold rush era.

So nowadays, after years of being used variously as an army barracks, a laundry, a bakery, a union hall, a television station and even a gift shop, it is open for business again. This time, however, the girls are merely guides and historians when they lead a group of visitors up the stairs to look at the 10 small cribs. And in their revealing red and black dresses with a black top hat perched on their piled up hair, they add a touch of glamour to the simple business of buying a drink. So do the barmen and the musicians who also dress the part. Stepping inside The Red Onion Saloon and hearing the tinny sound of the piano and the strum of a banjo, both overlaid with the the buzz of voices and the clatter of glasses, it is possible to see a shadow of the history of the gold rush right in front of you.

Modern day 'Madams'
But why did I find it especially entertaining? Well that's because our particular 'Madam', a beautiful young lady with the pretty and unusual name of Tamar, was born and educated in England in a place not very far from where I grew up. So there I was, approximately 4,250 miles from home, being served beer and tortilla chips by an attractive girl dressed as a gold rush Madam even though her origins were very far removed from the history of Alaska.

 Why was she there? Well in the manner of a true Madam, she winked and told me it was because of a man! " Isn't it always," she said.

Of course, as a writer of romances I had to agree. However, in her case, I should also hasten to add that she married the man well before she started to work at the Red Onion saloon. She told us that she had been working there for 10 years and it was one of the best jobs in the world. Five months of hard work during the cruise ship season and then seven months of relaxation with friends and family, not just in Skagway, but in warmer places during the cold Alaskan winter.

She made our day as we watched her dispense jokes and witty repartee with every sign of enjoyment. She tucked dollar bills into her cleavage while she collected empty glasses, smiled, laughed, posed for photo after photo. Thanks to the history of the gold rush, I suspect than the Red Onion Saloon has given the beautiful Tamar far more than it ever gave to those poor souls who lived and worked there at the end of the nineteenth century.

Brides of Banff Springs by Victoria Chatham

AVAILABLE HERE   VICTORIA CHATHAM is a young-at-heart senior who has written short stories, newspaper and magazine articles on a...