Monday, December 31, 2012

Julia's Golden Eagle now available

The second book in my Historical Western series is now available on Amazon. Whoop! This one was first released in 2007.  I cleaned it up some more, took out a few redundancies and painted a new cover. I still have two more to get ready so be patient. It might be spring break before Eliza's Copper Penny (my personal fave of the four) and Kaitlin's Silver Lining make their reappearance.

Here's a blurb for Julia's Golden Eagle:

When the only daughter of a Brownwood’s local cattle baron allows a stranger to take the blame for a murder she thinks she committed, she orchestrates a jail break.

Jake Nolan knows only one thing; he’s innocent of murder charges and Julia Stanton is the only person who knows who’s really guilty. While Jake holds her captive to discover the truth, Julia’s seductive charms imprison his heart.

You can find this story on Amazon.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Experimenting hopefully leads to sales

Experimentation is good and keeps me on my toes. So - here's what I've been up to. I decided to try self publishing. My reasons are selfish in some ways and not so selfish in other ways. I needed a way to find new readers for one and this seemed like a simple solution. I stressed over how to do this and worried over the right path. Well, there  is not right way to do anything new or experiment except to just dive in and hope for the best. That said, I asked for the rights back on 4 of my historical westerns.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not egotistical enough to think I don't need my publisher. I do. In fact, I probably need them more now than before. But I wanted this to be a win/win for both of us and I think it will be.

The reason I wanted the rights back on those 4 is pretty simple. I needed books that were already written to assist in my self publishing endeavors. I'd written a new story, Texas Forged. It had been a year since I'd had anything new released. The wheels of publishing move slowly and if I'd submitted this one, it would have probably been another year to year and a half before it would release. An author knows that he/she must keep producing to stay alive in this business. So, with that in mind, self publishing seemed the best route for this book. However, without a publisher, this book has little hope of being discovered. With so many books offered on Amazon daily, the only way to make its presence known is to offer it for free on occasion. And this is where the other books come into play. Texas Forged is my loss leader. I'm hopeful that if others read this one and like it, they will purchase Sarah's Brass Token, which will then lead to sales for my other three westerns.

Is it working? I think so. When I put Sarah's Brass Token up, she ranked around 500,000. Today, she's ranked at 53, 960 and she's showing up on pages for other westerns. That's the real goal.

How will this help my publisher? Well, if they like these books and my writing style, I'm hopeful they will try the books I've written in other genres. Do I have plans to ask for the rights back on my other books? No. Having a publisher opens doors I wouldn't have otherwise.

Now, off to finish getting Julia's Golden Eagle ready for Amazon. I've already got the rough draft of a cover done. Just need to take a better photo of the painting I did. I have about 50 more pages to edit and I'm there.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Charley’s Hart

I ran across this short story the other day and thought I'd share it here. I wrote this two years ago when we were doing a promotional thing on the Writer's Vineyard Blog.

Set up for Scene:  I’d like for you to meet two characters from Kaitlin’s Silver Lining who have now grown into young adults. Pete Hart was fourteen when Charley Kanatzer was eleven, but Charley is on her way home from a fancy school in Boston and makes a stop at Bryce Stanton’s family home in Brownwood. With nowhere else to go, Pete found his way to the Stanton ranch and is now foreman, and though he still has inner demons to wrestle, he’s content if not happy. But Charley wants more and starts a stampede on his emotions.

Pete was pitching hay into the back of wagon, and Charley took a moment to appreciate the fluid way his lanky but powerful body moved. He shot a wary glance at her approach but continued to work.

“Feel like taking a break?”

“Can’t.” He speared another pitchfork full and tossed it into the bed. “Gotta finish this chore.”

“You work too hard. Do you have family? Someone special to share Christmas with?”

He paused for a moment before returning to his work. The worn felt hat shadowed his face, so Charley had no idea what emotions her comment had elicited, but by the way his hands gripped the handle tighter, she figured she must have hit a nerve.

“The boss won’t mind if you stop for a bit. In fact, Uncle William will consider it a favor if you’ll help me out of a bind.”

He stopped and wiped his forehead with the back of his gloved hand. His silence was not inviting, but she plowed on anyway.

“I need you to help me cut a tree for Christmas.”

“I’ll have Blake do it.” He pushed his hat back, and his striking features arrested her attention. Dark brown hair fell across his forehead in a tangle of waves. High cheekbones and a broad nose hinted at Indian blood somewhere in his lineage.

“No. I don’t trust anyone to do it right but you, Mr. Hart.”

He narrowed his blue eyes and looked as if he meant to protest, but William chose that moment to ride into the yard and into their conversation.

“Goodness, Uncle Will, you look cold to the bone.”  Her own cheeks felt blustery from the winter chill. The cold front had brought rain and biting temperatures but little else. With Christmas only five days away, she hoped it would snow.

“I hate the cold. You about done, Pete?” Will asked after dismounting.

“I’ve got another hour of work before I’m finished with this chore, I reckon.”

“But I want to steal him for the afternoon. Please, Uncle Will. Your kids are counting on me to find the perfect tree to decorate.”

Will frowned but nodded. “Pete could use a bit of fun. Yeah, you two go on. I’ll find someone else to finish up here.”

Pete did not look happy with the order but couldn’t refuse the boss’s wishes. Steam left his lips as he heaved a great sigh. Without much talk, he gathered supplies, hitched another wagon, and clamored into the seat. “Climb in,” he ordered.

She stood next to the buckboard and glared. “A gentleman always lends assistance.”

He jumped from his perch and roughly helped her onto the hard, wood seat. She adjusted her coat and folded her gloved hands into her lap. After rearranging the scarf about her throat, she was ready to go.

They found a patch of forest that looked promising, and Pete set the brake. He even remembered to help her down. She lamented the need for gloves, for she would have enjoyed feeling his touch.

He followed her into the dense woods.  “Find one fast. I really need to get back to work.”

The elm and oak had all lost their leaves and looked like skeletons against the harsh blue sky, but after hearing the stories of the Christmases she’d enjoyed in the northeast, Will’s children had wanted a tree. With enough decoration, bare limbs could come alive with color and symbolic meaning.

“No you don’t. You work all the time. I’ve been watching you.”


“Handsome young man without a wife? Single woman heading for spinsterhood? No mystery there.”

“You don’t know anything about me, or you’d play in someone else’s backyard.”

“I know more than you think, Pete.” She stopped in front of the perfect tree and examined it from top to bottom. “I know you want to kiss me in the worst way.”

He caught her arm and yanked her close. “Don’t toy with me. I’m not the settling down kind of man you want.”

His gruff voice spoke of a deep hurt, one that only time could heal. She understood, had singled him out for that very reason. She’d overheard Bryce talk about Pete with her Aunt Kaitlin and knew she had to find him, to heal the wounds in his soul. In so doing, she could come to grips with her own tainted childhood. They had a lot in common. He’d been abused as a youngster, and she’d grown up in a brothel. And both owed the Stantons the world for changing their destinies.

“I – I know most men don’t want the daughter of a calico queen for a wife.” There, she’d finally put into words the pain she endured the moment a prospective beau found out her past. Oh, they might be willing to overlook her upbringing in light of Bryce’s wealth, but once she’d seen that look in their eyes, she knew they could never love her for herself.

“Why me?” His voice broke. She’d touched his heart with her confession.

“Because the reasons you don’t want me have nothing to do with my past and everything to do with yours.” She stepped closer.

He dropped her arm as if her nearness would roast him alive, but she didn’t back down. She grabbed the lapel of his jacket and tugged him forward. “Kiss me, Pete. Make this a Christmas to remember. For both of us.”

If you want to know more about either of these characters, read Kaitlin's Silver Lining, available soon on Amazon.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In answer to a western challenge

I spend a lot of time at the western forum at Amazon. Maggie, a reader, is wonderful about issuing challenges. Most of the time I don't really have time to participate, but I wish I did. There is something very liberating about just writing without an end purpose in mind. Indeed, a lot of my work starts out that way anyway as I'm a pantser, but ...

So, the first challenge she issued has us drafting a short scene with the following words:  Cake, Rustler, Tuesday, Cheyenne, and Jack rabbit.  I wrote a short scene that I really liked. So yesterday she issued another challenge whereby we had to use the words: Ghost town, Tumbleweed, Townsfolk, Gingerbread, and Angel(s). 

I decided instead of working up something new, I'd just add to what I'd done before. Since it's too long for the forum, I'll post here for any who want to read it. I'm stealing the idea of posting the longer version here from Alison Bruce. Be sure to read her challenge answer also. It's amazing.

So without further ado, here's my short:

Cheyenne Meeks leveled his Smith and Wesson model 1870 Schofield at the unsuspecting jack rabbit foraging for its own supper. The tall eared critter hopped to the left and just out of view, its gray brown body hidden behind a fallen log. Cheyenne continued his vigilant pursuit and stood stock still hoping dinner would reenter his sights soon.
“You best hightail it out of there, mister.”
He jumped and whirled toward the voice. The movement had the rabbit bounding away faster than a rustler making a quick get-away. “You just cost me dinner.”
“Better an empty stomach than having to digest one of my bullets.”
The voice was decidedly female, but her garb was anything but feminine. Dressed in buckskin pants, fringed tunic, and a wide rimmed cowboy hat, she presented a comical picture.  He relaxed his stance and rocked back on his heels. His stomach growled, reminding him he hadn’t eaten since leaving Fort Worth on an errand he hoped would solve many of his current problems. The piece of cake he’d nibbled yesterday morning couldn’t stave off the gnawing hunger working its way to his feet. “Mind telling me why you stopped me from shooting.”
“Floppy White Toes is a pet.” She lowered her Colt revolver and smiled. “You wouldn’t happen to be Cheyenne Meeks, would you?”
“I guess that depends on who’s askin’.” Her eyes were sure an interesting shade of amber.
“I knew it. Been expecting you since last week. I’m Tuesday Henshaw. Your fiancĂ©e.”
Cheyenne maintained his smile with some effort. He hadn’t come all this way for a bride that could probably outshoot, out cuss and out ride him. Damn the war for forcing him into his current situation, but his place of birth was all but a ghost town, and he was right tired of living from hand to mouth. Her advertisement promised a large plot of land for a man willing to work. The only catch – marriage.
Tuesday holstered her Colt but maintained a wary stance. “Got vittles simmering at my place if you’re still willin’ to marry me. If not, then you can just mosey on back the way you came. Got no use for men who don’t keep their word.”
His glands salivated at the mention of food and desperation forced an answer. “I’d be honored to accept your proposal, but I require an inspection of the property first. I, too, would prefer not to be swindled with an unsatisfactory promise of goods.”
“Well now, ain’t it grand that the wind blew me such a cultured tumbleweed. I s’pect I can give you a tour. We’ll start out at first light tomorrow after a good night’s rest. I’ll even take ya into town to meet some of the townsfolk. They’re right curious about my future husband. Though I can’t quite understand why. Women get married all the time without all the fanfare my notice created.”
“About that. Are you still set on wedding a stranger? Perhaps we can work a deal whereby you hire me instead.” Though to be honest, the idea of owning a hundred forty acres of prime land appealed more than he wanted to let on.
Something flashed in her eyes. Hurt? Surely not. After all, they didn’t even know each other.
She flicked her head to the side. “Come on. Let’s get on up to the house. We can discuss the details then.”
He plowed through fallen leaves and clinging foliage until they hit a more established path. From there, they walked in companionable silence until they reached their destination. He stared in awe of the two story white washed house trimmed in gingerbread scrolls. The wrap-around porch held a cozy appeal that reminded him of his childhood home. The quaint abode somehow didn’t match the woman who stood beside him. Perhaps she had a soft side after all.
He was about to voice his approval when the door squealed open and a small child peaked out at them.
He straightened against sudden and intense pain, his appetite gone. “I believe our deal is off, madam.”
“Beg pardon?”
“Your advertisement said nothing about children.” God, why did she have to look so much like Savannah?
“Have you got somethin’ against the wee angel? Cuz if’n you do, I s’pect you’re right.”
No. He didn’t have anything against angels, but the doe eyes, full cheeks and blonde curls reminded him more acutely of all he’d lost. The cherub peered up at him through thick lashes and stuck her thumb in her mouth.
“Is she yours?” he asked.
“Hell no. Got no little ones. This here’s my niece and one of the main reasons for my need of you.” She hefted the child into her arms and smiled. “Wednesday Lou, meet your new daddy.”
He started at her brazen announcement. He took a deep breath and willed himself to remember why he’d agreed to her terms in the first place. For better or worse, he was about to accept the hand of a woman more suited to herding cows than being the wife of a misplaced, southern plantation owner.