Friday, August 31, 2012

Guest Post/Excerpt/Promo:A Day In Your Writing Life by Christine Amsden

Reading Addiction Blog Tours

"A Day in Your Writing Life" by Christine Amsden

I'm always surprised by interest in my daily writing routine. The truth is, writing is a solitary and outwardly uninteresting task. Inside my head, it's a whirlwind of activity, but to the passive observer, there's just not a lot to see. This is me, sitting at my desk. Typing. I do that a lot.

As far as what I'm actually doing while typing, every day is just a little bit different. Today, I'm fixing a plot problem that involves switching the order of two scenes, and then smoothing them out so it looks like they were always written in that order. Tomorrow, I will continue writing new material. In a few weeks, this rough draft will be finished and I will move on to other projects while I await feedback. Then revisions begin. Then edits. Then the process begins again with the next novel.

I don't have a routine. Because I have young kids whose schedule constantly seems to change, I haven't managed to establish a schedule for myself. Sometimes I write in the mornings. Sometimes, in the afternoons. Sometimes, in the evenings. I do try to help ground myself by lighting a candle and doing some meditation when it's time to write. This helps me shift my mind from whatever else I was doing, and lets me focus.

But mostly, it's all in my head. I have entire worlds and multiple casts of characters in there, trying to come out through my fingertips. Drafting is my favorite part of writing, because that is when those worlds and characters fight for attention. During revisions, it's more about fine tuning. If the life isn't already there, you can't breathe it in during a revision.

In my head, I wake up thinking about my story. It's in the back of my mind all day long. And I fall asleep planning new details. Like I said, a whirlwind of activity, but it doesn't look like much to the outside observer.

Sci Fi

Title: The Immortality Virus

Author: Christine Amsden

Date Published: 6/15/12


In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren't talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the ever-increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.

Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change -- if he's still alive. To complicate matters, Grace's employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice -- help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace's true mission, they won't hesitate to kill her in order to preserve their shot at immortality.

Winner of the Epic Award for Science Fiction, the Global eBook Award for Science Fiction, and a finalist in The Next Gernation Indie Book Awareds.

Author Bio

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

When she's not writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing, usually at Savvy Authors. She also offers professional editing services. She maintains a book review blog on her website with occasional writing tips thrown in for the fun of it.

Christine lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two children.





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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest Post: Things I Learned When I Moved To The Country by Kimberly Lewis

Things I Learned When I Moved To The Country by Andi Ford

I was born and raised in New Jersey—never ventured outside of my city lifestyle until I absolutely had no other choice. So you can pretty much guess how shell-shocked I was when I moved from my city apartment to a ranch house in Texas. It’s literally like living on another planet. Being that this was a brand new experience for me, I’d like to share with you some things this city-girl learned upon moving to the country.

1. I used to think that the term “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” was just that—a term people used when they were crazy busy and didn’t have a moment to rest. Um, no, it’s not. I learned this one fine day when fried chicken was on the menu for dinner and instead of going to the store like normal people, we made a trip out to the chicken coup. Needless to say, I wasn’t very hungry that night.
2. Country air is not always so fresh. Sure most of the time the air is clean and occasionally carries the scent of wildflowers, but pass a cow farm and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
3. Things move a lot slower in the country. I came from a city that was always on the go and here in Buford people seem to move at their own pace. There’s always work to do, but they seem to live by the rule of “it’ll get done when it’s done.” I must admit, though, that I kind of like this slower way of living. It makes you appreciate things a little more when you’re not rushing through life.
4. The word “yonder”. What is a “yonder” you may ask? Well, it’s a word people use when they are referring to a place that is a significant distance away from where you are. Most people would just say “over there” or “back there”, but here in the country it’s “over yonder” and “back yonder”. You get the idea.
5. And the last thing I learned upon moving to the country is that I absolutely love living here. To be honest with you, I never thought I’d love anything more than living in my city apartment, waking up to the hustle and bustle of the street below, and being in walking distance of every restaurant and store I needed to go to. But I absolutely love living out here in the middle of nowhere, waking up in the arms of the man I love, and spending our day’s side by side working on the ranch or curled up on the porch swing listening to the crickets chirp at night. It’s perfect here and I wouldn’t change this way of living for anything in the world.

Book Information

Release Date: August 7, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Formats: Kindle/Paperback

Zane Synopsis

Kellan Anderson is in hillbilly hell – or at least that’s what it feels like. After enduring endless accounts of abuse from her now ex-boyfriend, Kellan makes a run for her life and finds herself in cowboy country. Leaving her fancy clothes and expensive lifestyle behind her, she trades in her high heels for cowboy boots and changes her name to Andi Ford. With her painful past threatening to catch up with her, hiding out in this small town seems easy enough – until one blonde hair, blue eyed cowboy steps in the picture.

Zane McKade has sworn off women, determining that they are all liars and cheats – including the new waitress at the local bar. After a rather unpleasant first encounter with the beautiful brunette, Zane’s radar is set to high as he believes this woman is not who she claims to be. When his intimidation methods fail to break through Andi’s barrier he decides to turn on the charm to get her to tell the truth. But Zane’s plan begins to backfire as the more time he spends charming Andi, the more he finds himself breaking his own rules and falling for her.

Zane Excerpt

Kellan saw the man coming her way and a nervous feeling began to grow in the pit of her stomach. She hadn’t noticed it when he rode up, but he was incredibly good looking. The man had to be a least six two, with long muscular legs leading up to narrow hips that angled into a very masculine upper body. He looked like an athlete. He looked…solid. And although his pale blue shirt was soaked with sweat, it somehow added to his overall appeal. He stopped at her table and glared at her. Only then did she realize that this man was not coming over for friendly chit-chat and her mood shifted.

“Is that your red sports car out there?” Zane asked, tilting his head and jerking his thumb towards the parking lot.

“Yes,” Kellan told him. What’s it to you? She stared up at him, waiting for him to continue. But when he just stared back, his deep blue eyes shooting daggers at her, she decided enough was enough. “Is there something I can help you with?”

Zane’s jaw flexed. “You could have four miles ago.”

“What?” She was utterly confused as to what mileage had to do with his apparent anger towards her.

“I don’t look familiar to you?” He stared at her, his eyebrows coming together in frustration.

She looked the man over from head to toe. “No, I’m sorry you don’t.”

Zane let out an exasperated sigh. “How about now?” He raised his arms above his head and waved them just like he had done when he was trying to flag her down.

He looked completely ridiculous and she fought back the urge to laugh at him. But the more she looked at him she realized that he did look strangely familiar. Oh my… He was the man on the side of the road next to the pickup truck just outside of town.

“Oh,” Kellan said. “Yes, I do remember you now. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you with your shirt on.” She loaded her voice with sarcasm and crossed her arms over her chest. If he was going to have an attitude with her, then she was going to give it right back.

Zane’s eyes narrowed. “Well, would you care to explain why you just blew past me like that?”

Kellan laughed, quietly as to not draw attention. “Why did I blow past you? Hmm, let me think. Um, maybe it has to do with the fact that you were partially naked and in the middle of nowhere.”

Well damn. He hadn’t thought about that. He’d been all riled up thinking that some guy just ignored him. Now, thinking about it from her perspective, he could see why she didn’t pull over to help him. As it was though, his built up anger from everything that had transpired today got the best of him and he continued with his rant.

“I was not half naked,” he said, his voice low as he briefly glancing around the room to see if anyone could hear them speaking.

“Look, cowboy.” She said the word as though it were an insult and not an affirmation of what he obviously was. “I’m sorry you’re having a bad day, but don’t come over here and take it out on me. I had a good reason for not stopping earlier and I’m not going to apologize for looking after my own safety. You could’ve been a murderer for all I knew.”

Zane knew that he should just man up and walk away, but he just couldn’t do that now after her snarky “cowboy” remark. Why’d she have to go and say it like that anyway?

“Look, princess,” he said with the same tone she had used. “This ain’t Hollywood. Take your sunglasses off. You’re inside and you look like a damn fool.”

Kellan’s jaw fell in disbelief.

Zane smiled, feeling triumphant that he got in the last word. He turned and started to walk away from her.

“Screw you, cowboy!” she yelled after him, saying the word exactly as she had before. “And that horse you rode in on.”
And—Whoops!—now everyone in the diner had turned to look at them.

Zane turned around to face her with amusement on his face. “Very original, princess.”

Author Bio

In November of 2011, author Kimberly Lewis stepped into the writing world with her first original western contemporary romance novel, When the Heart Falls.

Born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, this country girl at heart caught the creative bug at an early age, doing everything from drawing to writing short stories.

After the birth of her son, Kimberly found the inspiration to pick up a pen, or in this case a laptop, and began writing her first novel. Since then she has continued to write and credits her husband Rob and her wonderfully crazy family, who with their love and joking demeanor provide her with the ideas that inspire her novels.

In her spare time she enjoys reading, horseback riding, and spending time with her amazing family.

Author & Book Links



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For Readers: Readers should comment for a chance to win an eBook copy of Zane: The McKades of Texas.

Book Review: Armadillos! Learn About Armadillos and Enjoy colorful Pictures by Becky Wolff

Title: Armadillos! Learn About Armadillos and Enjoy colorful Pictures
Author: Becky Wolff
Release Date: July 13, 2012
Pages: 61
Genre: Children’s
Format: ebook
Source: Kindle

Kindle: Are your kids interested in Armadillos? Awesome! You have found the right book. Help your children learn more about aardvarks today by reading this book.

Mine: What a great and informative book about armadillos. Their armor plating is actually bones. They give birth to 4 babies at a time (ouch!). It takes about 4 weeks for the babies to acquire their armor. Who knew they could swim – they can hold their breath for up to 6 minutes. (wow). There are 20 different species of armadillos

Reading Challenges:
101 Books in 1001 Days Challenge
2012 100+ Books in A Year Reading Challenge
2012 100+ Books Reading Challenge
2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Pages Read Challenge
2012 Reading Challenge Addict
An Illustrated Year: 2012 Picture Book Reading Challenge
Why Buy The Cow? Reading Challenge 2012
2012 E-Book Reading Challenge
Free Reads 2012 Reading Challenge
What An Animal Reading Challenge V
2012 Read to Me Picture Books Challenge

Book Review: Aardvarks! Learn About Aardvarks and Enjoy colorful Pictures by Becky Wolff

Title: Aardvarks! Learn About Aardvarks and Enjoy colorful Pictures
Author: Becky Wollf
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Pages: 60
Genre: Children’s
Format: ebook
Source: Kindle

Kindle: Are your kids interested in Aardvarks? Awesome! You have found the right book. Help your children learn more about aardvarks today by reading this book.

Mine: What a great and informative book about aardvarks. They can walk up to 18 miles in a night as they search for termites or ants. They can eat 50,000 termites in one sitting. (they do keep the population or termites down that way). The pictures are wonderful and show the aardvark in captivity and in the wild.

Reading Challenges:
101 Books in 1001 Days Challenge
2012 100+ Books in A Year Reading Challenge
2012 100+ Books Reading Challenge
2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Pages Read Challenge
2012 Reading Challenge Addict
An Illustrated Year: 2012 Picture Book Reading Challenge
Why Buy The Cow? Reading Challenge 2012
2012 E-Book Reading Challenge
Free Reads 2012 Reading Challenge
What An Animal Reading Challenge V
2012 Read to Me Picture Books Challenge

Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview/Excerpt/Giveaway/Promo:The BACHELORETTE Project by Tami Anthony

1. Who or what inspired you to become a writer? Ever since I was in grade school, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I think it was all the books that I read late at night that really got me. I was a geek and I still am, but I love to read and I love writing. It’s just a natural thing for me.
2. How long did it take you to write The BACHELORETTE Project? It took me five years to write my debut novel. It was a project that I had written while in college, while working full-time jobs, and being a full-time mother. It took a lot of time, but I finally completed it and I’m very pleased with the finished project.
3. While writing, how many times do you go back and rewrite a plot? Well, I usually write an outline first, so the plot tends to stay the same. I find that I add things to the general plot to keep it interesting.
4. You run into a bookstore, where do you go first? The fiction section! Then, I search for books that I might have read about online or look for my favorite authors.
5. How many books in a month do you tend to read? I’d say about two or three. I try to read as much as possible, but sometimes I’m so caught up with life things and my own writing that it can be difficult to find time for recreational reading.
6. In all the books you’ve read, who is your most favorite character and why? I would have to say Jemima in Jane Green’s Jemima J. I love her wittiness and I feel that I can really relate to this character.
7. State 5 random facts about yourself. Hmm, I love anything pink, I have an obsession for butterflies, I’m a big Marilyn Monroe fan, I love the theatre arts, and I’m a bit of a hidden artist.
8. Your favorite genre? I really love comedic fiction. Anything that makes me laugh makes me genuinely happy 
9. What are you currently reading? I just picked up Jackie Collins’ Poor Little Bitch Girl and I can’t wait to start reading it with a glass of wine by my side, LOL!
10. What is the best book you’ve read? Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. It’s my favorite book of all time.
11. Any new projects coming up? Yes, of course! I’m working on two very confidential things right now and I’m very excited about both of the projects. One is a dark comedy and the other is YA. I’ll release more details soon, I promise.

“Why am I always getting dumped by men?” I ask Karen. “It’s because I know nothing about them.”
“OK …” Karen replies, unsure to where I’m going with all of this.
“So, my visit to the hospital really got me thinking,” I say, “and then I remember you using the word ‘experiment’ so then I thought … ‘EXPERIMENT!’” I exclaim. “It’s a genius idea! I can conduct this experiment on what men really want out of women and how I, the quintessential single woman, could give it to them and possibly find my true love!” I clutch my chest, smile, and spin around. “Isn’t that the most perfect idea that you ever heard? I would be like a scientist, a scientist of love.”
Karen rolls her eyes at my idea. “And how, O Great One, will you conduct this experiment?”
“I got it all planned out.” I pull my completed poster board from underneath my bed and I hold it up for Karen to see. She, once again, looks confused.
“What the hell is that?” she asks, sighing.
“It’s my experiment,” I say excitedly. “I’m going scientific on their asses. It’s called ‘The BACHELORETTE Project.’ How I will conduct the experiment is shown here.” I point to the different sections of the board. “I will go on a series of dates using different tactics in different environments to find out what works for women and what doesn’t.”
“I’m listening,” Karen says as she leans forward.
“In the process, I will study the men that I date, categorize them and see what their likes and dislikes are thereby unlocking the many secrets of the male species.”
“Oh, I can tell you the secrets of men,” Karen says, smirking. “It’s sex, food, video games, and sports. If a man has those four things, then he’s a happy man.” I guess that makes sense. You know, the ‘four things philosophy,’ but I’m just certain that there has to be more. It can’t be that easy or I wouldn’t be single … right?
“Well, I’m still conducting my experiment,” I say confidently. “Maybe there are more than just four secrets. Maybe there are seven secrets.” As I nod my head, I convince myself that there has to be more. Not everything is just sex, food, video games, and sports.
”All right,” Karen starts, “so when does your little experiment start?”
“As soon as possible,” I tell her. “Now all I need is a trusty assistant …”

Chick Lit / Women's Fiction
Title: The BACHELORETTE Project
Author: Tami Anthony

Date Published: 6/3/12

Synopsis: When an unfortunate twist of fate leaves 28 year-old socialite Leslee Robinson broken-hearted and unemployed, she embarks on a journey to discover what boggles every twenty-something single woman’s mind: What do men REALLY want and how do you find the perfect mate? With the help of her two best friends; Annie, a self-conscious, sarcastic single mother; and Karen, the neurotic, perfectionist ‘bridezilla,’ Leslee creates The BACHELORETTE Project, a ‘scientific’ dating experiment designed to uncover the enigma of the male species.

After multiple dates gone awry and unanticipated encounters of the extreme, Leslee decides to confide in the last person that she’d ever consider asking dating advice from: Eric, her handsome, womanizing college friend with a well-known ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ reputation. Aside from Eric’s infamous bachelor tactics, Leslee can’t help but to be oddly attracted to him, but will pursuing the charming, ‘bad boy’ philanderer that Eric is even be worth the risk?

With unbelievable twists and a contemporary, comedic Chick-Lit feel, The BACHELORETTE Project is the chronicle of a single woman’s journey to finding true friendship, discovering herself, and learning the enigma of love down to a science.

Author Bio

Tami Anthony is an author, a playwright, and the beautiful mind behind Pink Butterfly Publications, a publishing company devoted to female-driven literature. She is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s in English Literature and Theatre Arts. Tami presently resides outside of Philadelphia with her son and is currently working on her second novel and future plays.


Twitter - @ tami_anthony



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Preview Tour: Tame A Wild Bride by Cynthia Woolf

The Book 
Rosie Stanton climbed on a west-bound
train to answer his ad for a wife and mother, everything she wants to be. 
But Tom Harris lied.  He doesn’t want a wife, merely a mother for his two
abandoned children and a cook and cleaner for his ranch. 

Betrayed once, he’s vowed never to let
another woman into his heart.  Sexy Rosie upsets all his plans and
threatens to invade his scarred heart.  How will he maintain his vow to
keep his hands off her as she charms his children, his cow hands, his life?

An Excerpt

Rosemary Stanton stood on the train
platform sweating and waiting.  Sweating because it was an especially hot
day in late June.  Waiting for her husband.  A husband she wouldn’t
recognize if he were standing right next to her. 

She’d been desperate when she answered
the advertisement for a mail order bride.  Wanted: Single woman to cook,
clean, and care for children on a cattle ranch in southwestern Colorado. 
Will marry upon arrival.

Well, she was twenty-six with no
prospects.  Her brother just got married and his new wife, Beatrice,
didn’t want Rosie around.  She could answer this advertisement or become a
governess.  Help someone else’s children grow up into adults.  Live
in someone else’s house.  For the rest of her life, she’d have nothing she
could call her own.

Rosie wanted a home.  She wanted a
husband and children.  All the things she’d never have if she stayed in
Philadelphia.  When she’d seen the ad in the morning paper, she’d nearly
shouted with glee.  However, she managed to restrain herself until she got
to her room before she yelled with joy.  The advertisement was tailor-made
for her needs.  It got her away from Beatrice and got her her own home all
in one fell swoop.

Her brother, Robert, though was not
happy with the idea of his baby sister traveling across the country to marry a
stranger.  He grudgingly agreed to give her her dowry to take with
her.  Five thousand dollars.  She’d take the draft to the bank as
soon as she arrived in Creede, Colorado, and married Mr. Thomas Harris. 
Cattle rancher.  It was her “in case it doesn’t work out” money. 
Though she supposed it would belong to her husband once she married. 
Perhaps she just wouldn’t tell him about it.  Her conscience spoke
up.  That’s no way to start a marriage.  With lies and secrets. Oh,
all right.  She’d tell him and have him take her to the bank.  But
not until after she’d taken his measure.  If he was a cruel man, she would
leave and she sure as heck wouldn’t tell him about her money.

Even with the dowry, there’d been few
prospects for Rosie back in Philadelphia.  She wasn’t pretty in the
conventional sense.  She thought her face with its big brown eyes and full
lips was pleasing enough, but men apparently hadn’t.  Her one beau had
said her eyes were the color of warm brandy.  That was before he left her
to marry another more suitable woman.  More suitable, hah!  Richer
was more like it.

Paul had expensive tastes and married a
rabbit-faced girl, heir to a substantial fortune to which he’d have
access.  Well, good luck and good riddance.

Rosie did have one feature she’d been
told was extraordinary.  Her hair.  It was waist length, wavy and a
clear, golden blonde.  Right now, standing on the train platform in Creede
it was bound up in a loose bun on top of her head under her hat.  It, like
the rest of her, was covered in dust and soot from the train.  She’d
discovered on the second day that she could minimize the grime by sitting in
the front of the car with the window closed.  But sooner or later the heat
and mugginess of the car would force her to open the window.  The air came
rushing in, cooling her, but bringing with it the dirt and ash from the train’s

On the long trip, she’d told herself
again and again she’d made the right decision.  This was her future.

The Author
Woolf was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of
Golden.  She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with
her friends.

worked her way through college and went to work full time straight after
graduation and there was little time to write.  Then in 1990 she and two
friends started a round robin writing a story about pirates.  She found
that she missed the writing and kept on with other stories.  In 1992 she
joined Colorado Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America.  

the loss of her job demanded the she not renew her memberships and her writing
stagnated for many years. In 2001, she saw an ad in the paper for a writers
conference being put on by CRW and decided she'd attend.  One of her
favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker.  Cynthia was
lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter's table at the luncheon and after
talking with her, decided she needed to get back to her writing.  She
rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn't looked back.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spot Light/Guest Blog/Interview/First Chapter/Giveaway :Kentucky Green by Terry Irene Blain

Historic Sites that Help Me Write
I’ve always been interested in history – probably from hearing all the family stories, particularly during summer vacations when I was a child when we had our family reunions. Nothing like sitting on the front porch in hot, humid Illinois summer listening to my uncles, great uncles and.grandfather telling stories about when they were young, or re-telling the tails they heard from their parents.

As you might imagine I turned out to be a history teacher. I taught US History and Western Civilization at the college level. So when I started to write, I naturally chose to write historical.

I’ve been lucking enough to live in several part of the United States – marrying an active duty sailor will give you the opportunity to travel. And being a history buff, I always visited historical sites wherever we were.

Here are some of the site that helped give me that feeling for writing Kentucky Green:
Colonial Williamsburg, VA
- This is one of my favorites; I could go again and again.

Yorktown Victory -Center, Yorktown, VA
- Where the British surrendered to General Washington. The 1780s farm at the
Yorktown Victory Center, VA - A re-creation of a
frontier home, just like the one that Dan and April will eventually have in Kentucky Green.

Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, VA, George Washington’s home
and one of my favorite places.

Dan and April’s home was nothing like this, but the daily chores such as cooking and animal care would have been the same.

Moving father west, but still with that pioneer spirit, especially again for those
household/homestead chores and for filling in the descriptions of their way of life at the time:

Log Cabin Village, Ft. Worth, TX

Pioneer Heritage Townsite Center, Fredrick, OK

Here are few other places worth a visit that turned out to be of help for writing other books:

Molly Brown House, Denver, CO This site was useful for writing one of my other novels, Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold, which is set in the 1880s in Durango, CO.

Museum of the Western Prairies, Altus, OK - Life on the prairies in the late 1800s. This was a good resource for my Texas Ranger stories.

Currently, we live on the west coast, but our son’s family live in Massachusetts, so I see a trip to Boston and a walk on the Freedom Trail in my future. Who knows, maybe I’ll write about the American Revolution.


Kentucky Green

Blurb: April Williamson’s heart calls her across the frontier, but only one man—a handsome army scout with a tormented past—can get her safely to freedom.
Synopsis: Daniel McKenzie was an army scout—quiet, capable, handsome…and utterly unwilling to be the trail guide April Williamson needed to reach Kentucky. The Indian attack at Blue Licks was but one bitter taste of the American frontier, a massacre that had taken her father just as cholera had taken her mother. But April would not give up on her dream. At journey’s end was independence, and nothing would stand in her way.
The young widow was beautiful and determined, but the months of travel involved in her plan would be too hard. Without the general’s order Dan would have told any woman no, but April especially. His secret would destroy her—or she might destroy him. April’s kiss was like the country itself. Restless and sweet, it promised a love that denied every boundary and looked only to freedom and the future.


Book Excerpt

Chapter One
Philadelphia, Spring 1794

April Williamson slowed her pace as she approached the Twelve Tankards Inn. Cool
morning sunlight bathed the wooden steps and wide front porch. To bolster her courage she
wore her most flattering gown, completed before Richard’s death had dressed her in
mourning. Enough time had passed to make the dark-green watered silk acceptable. She
shivered, more from apprehension than from the crisp morning.
Male voices drifted from the common room as she climbed the inn’s steps. On the
porch she paused. For inside, just through the inn’s open double doors, was the man who
could turn her dreams into reality. Please, don’t let me mishandle this. Please make Daniel
McKenzie agree to take me to Kentucky.
Swallowing her nervousness, she entered the inn. The dusky interior caused her to
hesitate just inside the doorway while her eyes adjusted.
Light streamed in from the open door behind her, throwing an elongated patch on the
wide planks of the pegged floor. A stone-flagged fireplace bearing a huge oak mantel
dominated the north wall. Solid oak tables and ladder-back chairs dotted the room which held
only two men and the lingering aroma of bacon and sausage. The men sat at one of the tables,
steaming cups of coffee before them.
The innkeeper’s message had given her just a name—Daniel McKenzie. But which one
was he? Her gaze went first to the taller man. With his dark hair and tanned complexion, he
didn’t appear particularly Scottish. She looked to the second man. Slightly older, he had the
fair skin and sandy-red hair which characterized so many Scotsmen.
While she hesitated, the dark-haired man rose, and with long booted strides started
across the common room toward the fireplace. Concluding the seated man must be Mr.
McKenzie, she moved toward the table with a determination she hoped camouflaged the
butterflies in her stomach.
April stopped before the table, heart beating in her throat. “Mr. McKenzie?” The
smaller man stood to acknowledge her presence and she said in a rush, “I understand your
company has a commission to carry supplies to General Wayne.”
The man nodded.
She hurried on, not giving him a chance to speak. “I would like to accompany you on
that trip.”
“No.” The flat reply came not from the man before her, but from the tall, dark man
standing by the fireplace. Startled, she twisted to look at him.
Lean and hard-looking, he stood tall enough to rest his arm easily across the high
mantel. His muscles bunched under his linen shirt as he brought his arm down. With easy
grace he strode across the room toward her.
A sinking, fluttery feeling intensified with his approach. A new and different feeling,
certainly not the apprehension she had felt up to now.
Tight buckskin riding breeches fit his slender hips and strong thighs without a wrinkle
before disappearing into glossy top boots. Hair, dark as India ink, was brushed straight back
from his brow and tied at the nape of his neck with a plain queue ribbon. And his beautiful
eyes: a striking pale blue-gray with long lashes, framed by high cheekbones and thick, dark
eyebrows. She’d seen that particular shade of blue-gray before. But this wasn’t the time to try
and remember when.
He stopped before her. Under the intensity of his gaze, she instinctively took a small
step backward.
“No,” he repeated. “The McKenzie and Murray Trading Company transports army
supplies.” His rough-textured baritone held the faint drawl of the frontier. “We don’t take
Fear of failure made her words sharp. “I beg your pardon; I wasn’t speaking to you, but
to Mr. McKenzie.” She gestured to the man standing across the table.
“I’m McKenzie,” the dark-haired man replied. “This is my partner, James Murray.”
A heated flush of embarrassment crept up her cheeks. To think this was the man whose
help she so sorely needed. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Mr. Murray saved her
from doing either.
“Pleased to meet ye,” James Murray said, pulling out one of the ladder-back chairs and
gesturing toward it. “Will ye no’ sit doon?” A hint of laughter flickered in his voice, but she
couldn’t tell whether he directed his amusement toward her or Daniel McKenzie.
With as much grace as possible, she took the proffered seat. In open amusement, James
Murray continued, “Dinna trouble yoursel’, lass. ’Tis common for strangers to mistake us one
for t’other. As ye ken, I am a Scotsman, ma’sel’. I answer to ‘Scotty’ as easily as James.”
Since he’d tried so hard to put her at ease, she smiled her thanks. She watched Mr.
McKenzie out of the corner of her eye. He, too, drew out a chair. To keep her hands
occupied, she tugged a lace handkerchief from her reticule. The neutral look on McKenzie’s
face became a frown.
“Now,” Mr. Murray continued, “tell us why a young lass would want to go to the Ohio
“In any case,” Mr. McKenzie interrupted, “we’re taking supplies only as far as
Cincinnati for transhipment to General Wayne. Then we’re going home to Oak Point in
Kentucky. I won’t return to Ohio until late summer.”
Oak Point! She smothered a gasp and let the sweet words in his faint frontier drawl
wash over her. These traders lived in Oak Point. Her goal of home and independence. His
wonderful words deepened her longing and intensified her determination.
Perhaps fate was on her side. She struggled to keep her composure. She must convince
them to give her passage. Because looking at Dan McKenzie made it difficult to concentrate
and because she sensed Mr. Murray was more sympathetic, she kept her eyes directed to his
kind face.
“I seem to have started in the middle. Let me explain. My name is April Williamson
and I need transportation to Oak Point.”
Mr. Murray looked intrigued. April chanced a glance at Mr. McKenzie. If anything, his
frown had deepened. With a prickle of annoyance, she turned to him and asked, “Is
something wrong?”
“Where are your menfolk?” His voice held a tone of manufactured civility.
Meaning of course, where is the man who takes care of you? He would, of course,
expect a young woman to be attached to some man. A measure of her self-confidence
returned. She had the perfect, irrefutable answer. “I have no menfolk. My husband died last
With satisfaction she noted Mr. McKenzie’s surprise and discomfort. “I’ve inherited
property near Oak Point. I appreciate it’s unusual for your company to take passengers, but
there’s no other means of getting to Kentucky.”
“Aye,” Mr. Murray agreed, “but the trip is verra difficult. ’Tis too much for a visit.”
“It’s not just a visit,” she replied. “I plan to live there.”
“Don’t be silly,” McKenzie looked pointedly at her bonnet and the lace handkerchief
clutched in her hands. “You couldn’t survive.”
“Really?” she challenged. His peremptory dismissal stung. “I survived there for eight
years. I was born in Kentucky.”
McKenzie blinked and his gaze sharpened. A chill shivered up April’s back.
“Why did you leave?”
She drew a deep breath. “My mother and I came to Philadelphia in ’82,” she said,
smothering any emotion in her voice, “after Indians killed my father at Blue Licks.”
A strange look flashed across Mr. McKenzie’s face, the expression so fleeting she
couldn’t identify it.
She must convince McKenzie and Murray to help her. Going to Kentucky wasn’t just a
return to home. Kentucky was her hope of a new life, different from the one she’d been
obliged to live in Philadelphia. The compelling desire for freedom and the frontier came from
deep inside her. A desire that even her closest friends considered so extraordinary as to be
Why should these two strangers understand? A material reason would be easier for
them to accept. “The property I’ve inherited in Oak Point is my only asset. I’m determined to
reach Kentucky,” she said simply.
After a moment, McKenzie leaned forward in his chair, resting his forearms on the oak
table. One look at the closed expression on his face and her heart sank. Instinct told her if she
pushed for a definite answer now, it would be negative. The pale blue-gray eyes under their
dark brows also warned her this man, once an answer was given, would never change a “no”
to a “yes.”
She tried to think of some way to get the response she needed. Unable to give up hope,
she turned to the kindly face of the Scot. “Mr. Murray, is it me you object to, or do you refuse
all passengers?”
“Well... ah... ’tis... ah...”
“You have taken passengers to Kentucky before, haven’t you?”
“Aye.” The Scotsman glanced at his partner. “But nae a woman traveling on her own.”
With a small point scored in her favor, she decided to retreat for now. Using her best
smile and most reasonable voice, she said, “I see my query was unexpected. Please take a few
days to consider my request. I promise I won’t be any trouble on the trip.”
The look of patent disbelief on Mr. McKenzie’s face brought her close to panic again.
Desperate to keep the “no” in his eyes from coming to his lips, she impulsively leaned
forward and placed her hand on his.
“All I ask is that you think it over. Please consider helping me.”
His expression didn’t change. After a heartbeat, he looked down and her gaze followed.
The deep tan of his skin accentuated the soft ivory of hers. Touching him confused her. His
warmth imparted a feeling of comfort while at the same time caused her heart to thump at a
disconcerting pace. Unable to move, her hand rested on his large, work-roughened one.
She lifted her eyelashes and her gaze locked with his. The force of his blue-gray gaze
made her throat dry. She gently withdrew her hand and rose to her feet.
Both men stood.
“I apologize for interrupting.” She kept her voice calm. “All I ask is for you to consider
my request.”
Dan McKenzie sat back down in his chair. He stared for several long seconds at the
open inn door through which the young woman had disappeared. He’d noticed her earlier as
she paused just inside the doorway. Her dress, made of some material which changed color as
the sunlight struck it, had flickered hundreds of shades of green, like a breeze ruffling the
leaves on hillside trees back home.
He straightened in his chair, seeing her in his mind’s eye. Her face resembled a square
more than an oval because of that firm chin. But her mouth looked soft. Between the low
light and her bonnet brim he hadn’t got a good look at her eyes and he wondered what color
they were. But even in the dim light, her hair gleamed like polished mahogany.
She put him in mind of a porcelain figurine on the mantel in a rich man’s parlor. Nice
to look at but of no practical value. On the frontier, practicality measured everyone and
everything. He knew firsthand what the harsh life on the frontier could do to a woman.
A chuckle jerked Dan back to the present. He turned to the grinning face of his partner.
“Well?” Scotty questioned.
“Well, what?”
“We could take her. ’Tis nae beyond the realm of possibility.”
Dan didn’t bother to reply, but reached for his coffee. He stared into the cup, then with
a resigned sigh looked up. “Yeah, reckon we could. But we won’t. She and her lace
handkerchief should stay here.” He pushed the cup away. “Life’s hard enough for women
used to living out there. The frontier would chew her up and spit her out.”
“I’m nae so sure,” Scotty countered. “I admit she’s a right wee lassie, but she’s got
courage enough to want to go. And she was no afraid of ye, rude as ye were.”
Dan snorted. “She would be if she knew what I am.” At Scotty’s puzzled look, Dan
explained, “Any girl whose pa was killed by Indians might not want to travel with a halfbreed.”
Scotty started to speak, but Dan motioned him silent. “Maybe in Scotland I’d only be a
quarter Indian, but here the son of a half-breed is still a ‘breed.’” Dan accepted what he was.
Funny how Scotty never quite grasped the idea.
“Ach, nae wonder ye looked peculiar when the lassie mentioned Blue Licks.”
Blue Licks! Dan controlled a shudder as the words again knifed across an old wound.
He changed the subject. “Next you’ll tell me she wouldn’t be any problem on the trip.”
“I couldna’ say that,” Scotty replied with a laugh. “Don’t ye go a’ telling my Mary I
said so, but woman ha’ been trouble for man since Adam met Eve.”
~ * ~
“Now, April, you cannot go traipsing off to Kentucky. It’s not suitable, my dear, not at
all suitable.” Mrs. Browne’s voice brought April’s head up from her embroidery.
She’d been wool-gathering, her mind still on the morning’s interview with McKenzie
and Murray. The eight ladies seated in the Browne parlor suspended their conversation and
awaited April’s reaction to their hostess’s pronouncement.
“I’m not ‘traipsing off to Kentucky.’” April paused a moment to ensure her voice
remained respectful. “I intend to live on the property I’ve inherited. Since my parents were
among the first settlers in Kentucky and I was born there, I’ll be going home.”
Mrs. Browne glared at her over the rim of her china teacup. “Utter nonsense! Your dear
mother is turning over in her grave. That wilderness wasn’t a proper place for a widow with
an eight-year-old daughter. Nor is it a place for a twenty-year-old girl, widow or no.” She put
her cup and saucer on the table next to her Queen Anne chair.
Not surprised Mrs. Browne already knew of her plans, April bowed her head over her
embroidery. She suspected it hadn’t taken more than a few hours for word to get around
she’d met army contractors this morning, asking for passage to Kentucky.
She smiled to herself, thinking how apoplectic Mrs. Browne would be if she only knew
about the letter April had written weeks ago. A letter to her husband’s old friend, Anthony
Wayne, who as general of the army, now had authority over the western territories.
“You don’t need to go running off to Kentucky.” Elizabeth Jefferies’s faded blue eyes
twinkled in her wrinkled face. “There are plenty of men here in Philadelphia. Get married
“That’s always your advice,” April replied, biting back a smile at the older woman’s
suggestion. Why, she wondered, would she want to subjugate herself again? When a woman
married, she lost her legal identity. All her property and her decisions given over to another’s
authority. Still, she couldn’t help but smile at enthusiastic Widow Jefferies. “You’ve
suggested marriage four times already.”
“It’s good advice,” the widow countered. “I put my third husband in the ground last fall
with the yellow fever, same as you did your Richard. If an old lady like me is ready for
another husband, you should be, too.” Under cover of the conversation, the spry old woman
leaned over and patted April’s hand. “Get a young man this time, one who’ll treat you like a
wife, instead of a daughter.”
April glanced sideways, wondering if Elizabeth guessed the truth of her marriage.
“Thank you for your advice,” she said politely, “but I plan to remain a widow and keep my
freedom to do as I please.” For the first time she was the one making decisions affecting her
life. She was free. She meant to keep her freedom and she meant to go home to Kentucky.
In Philadelphia her only choices were to marry again or live on the charity of friends. In
either case she’d become dependent upon others, obliged to live her life as they directed. But
in Kentucky she had land—her own land. The start of a new life beckoned. Ever since she’d
written to General Wayne, the thought of going to Kentucky made her spirit come alive. No
matter the difficulties involved in travel, in spite of her fear of Indians, she was going home.
She glanced around the parlor of Mrs. Browne’s spacious two-story house. What a
contrast with her memory of Kentucky. She recalled the single-room log cabin, the clearing
in which it stood, the path to the spring, the barn and the hayloft. She vaguely remembered
the cabin-raising, playing with other children while the men heaved the logs into place and
the women quilted before setting out dinner. And later, the quiet as she snuggled under her
quilt in the attic, contentedly drifting off to sleep to the murmur of her parents’ conversation.
Beautiful and expensive furnishings filled the Browne parlor but laughter and love had
filled the cabin in Kentucky.
The clatter of teacups drew her attention as tea and small cakes were served.
Needlework aside, a lively discussion ensued. Since they lived in the capital city, politics
were as much a topic of discussion for the group, as babies and home remedies.
One lady commented to the group in general. “My Robert said a lawyer from Kentucky
went around to all the Representatives last week, saying how bad the situation is in the West.
This lawyer claims with the British backing them, the Indians are unbeatable.” With a
condescending look, the lady turned toward April and said, “Maybe you ought to reconsider
your trip.”
“That’s right,” Martha Allen exclaimed. “What about Indians? Aren’t you afraid?
Remember?” she said, her face serious, “I was with you last summer when the Indian
delegation from the Six Nations rode in for the Peace Conference. You went positively pale.”
She remembered. Feathers, beads, and buckskin fringes dancing, the Indian delegation
rode bold as can be down the Philadelphia street. While others stared in curiosity, terrible
memories had frozen her to the spot. She’d been four the winter of ’78 when during the war,
the Indians, supplied with British arms and ammunition, besieged the three small forts in
Kentucky. She’d hidden her face in her mother’s lap trying to block out the yelling, the
screams of pain, the bang of gunfire.
“The sight of Indians riding through Philadelphia scared lots of people,” she countered.
What Martha didn’t know was since making the decision to return to Kentucky, April’s
childhood nightmares had returned. Several times in the last six months she’d awakened sick
and shaking, having been chased through her dreams by screaming, half-naked Indians. But
everyone knew Indians no longer roamed freely over Kentucky since the army was pushing
them out of the Ohio Territory. She might be afraid, but she wouldn’t let old fears prevent her
from pursuing her future.
“Whatever will you do in Kentucky?” Martha kept her voice low, glancing in Mrs.
Browne’s direction.
“I can make a decent living as a seamstress,” April replied. “And I’ll have my
Sheltered by the small talk that rose around her, April sat and stitched and planned. She
put on a determined face and carried on as though she knew she would succeed.
Of course the reply to her letter to General Wayne would come, or she would convince
McKenzie and Murray to take her. And if not, then she’d have to think of some other way.
She was going home to Kentucky.
~ * ~
Dan McKenzie arrived at the inn late for supper. He hung his black broad-brimmed hat
on the last empty peg by the door. Across the crowded room, he spied Scotty seated near the
fireplace and maneuvered his way to his brother-in-law’s table.
With minimum conversation the partners turned their attention to pot roast, potatoes,
carrots, and turnips in a thick, dark gravy, followed by apple pie. Hunger satisfied, Dan
pushed the empty plate away. “Everything will be ready by next week.” He leaned forward to
be heard over the hub-bub of voices enveloping them. “Payne had a good selection of horses,
but he’s upped the price this year. He knows we’ll sell the horses to the army at Pittsburgh.”
“’Tis expected. I’ll nae fret as long as we can make a profit.”
“We’ll make a profit, but we’ll earn every penny of it. I saw Colonel Barker and we’re
set with the army supplies. You satisfied with the merchandise for the store?”
“There’ll be nae problem.” Scotty related arrangements made for the wide variety of
goods and supplies for the McKenzie and Murray store in Oak Point. He took a sip of coffee and then,
glancing about the room, said, “I picked up information on our other problem.”
“What problem?” Dan asked, instantly suspicious of the self-satisfied look on the
Scotsman’s face.
“The wee lassie.”

Author Bio

Terry Irene Blain was lucky enough to grow up in a large Mid-western family with a rich oral tradition. As a child she heard stories of ancestors’ adventures with Indians, wildlife, weather and frontier life in general, so she naturally gravitated to the study of history and completed a BA and MA then taught the subject at the college level. Married to a sailor, now retired, she’s had the chance to live in various parts of the U.S. and has traveled to Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland.

“My degrees and my teaching experience make me a natural to write historical romance. Writing historical romance gives me the opportunity to pass on stories of who we are and where we come from while exploring the relationship between men and women. What could be more exciting than that?”


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Monday, August 20, 2012

Spot Light/Guest Blog/Excerpt/Giveaway : Colorado Gold, Colorado Silver by Terry Irene Blain

Chapter One
St. Louis, Missouri, 1889

Whistle shrieking, the train jerked to a stop, the sudden lurch throwing Julie Lawson forward. The black silk of her skirt slipped on the hard wooden seat and only the firm bracing of her feet kept her from slipping to the floor. She glanced down at the small valise that hadn’t been out of arm’s reach since she fled Philadelphia.

Julie shifted back in her seat, hearing the echo of her grandmother’s favorite phrase, your impulses will get you into trouble one day, Juliette Marie, you mark my words. Gran had certainly been right.

She let out a shallow sigh. The widow’s weeds she’d hurriedly dug out of the trunk in the attic required a corset so severely laced a shallow sigh was all she could manage.

The train whistle gave a short toot. “St. Louis! St. Louis! Thirty-minute stop in St.
Louis!” came the sing-song voice of the conductor.

She glanced at the watch pinned to her bodice. Enough time for her to walk down the platform and back. As she stood, the hat and heavy veil wobbled. Using her reflection in the dusty window as a mirror, she readjusted the long hat pins. The hat more secure, she peered through the glass.

The platform bustled with activity. Fellow passengers came and went, dodging
scattered trunks and carpet bags. The harried-looking conductor strode by, a piece of paper in his hand and a pencil tucked behind his ear. A small boy in corduroy knickers trailed a large, hairy dog, the boy clutching a piece of twine attached to the dog’s collar.

A telegraph office stood at the platform’s west end near the panting engine. Standing in front of a row of round-topped steamer trunks, a man waited quietly beside the office. His coat and trousers were the color of bitter chocolate. A perfect match to his wide-brimmed Stetson and western boots. A pair of saddle bags hung over one shoulder.

Leaving her coat draped across the seat, she lowered the black lace veil, and drew on her black kid gloves. Picking up the small valise, she left the railroad car.

She walked along the platform, the warm summer air smelling of coal smoke and dust. As she neared the west end of the platform, she noticed the man she’d seen from the window. A growing commotion behind her caused her to turn. All down the platform, people scrambled and yelled, their shouts mingled with a dog’s deep bark. A flash of tabby fur streaked past her skirt. The dog bumped her knees as he gallumped past.

Off balance, she stumbled backward. And into a solid, warm male body. Strong arms wrapped around her. Her flailing bag struck him, bringing a muffled exclamation. With a thud they came to rest against a steamer trunk. Turned sideways, she half-sat, half-lay over his long legs. She fought to regain her balance, thwarted by the slick silk of her skirts.

“Hold still, lady,” he muttered as he hitched her more securely over his lap. “I don’t want to drop you.”

Throwing her arms around his neck, the bag she still held thumped into his back.
Another exclamation, this one not so muttered, sounded in her ear.

With one arm about her shoulders, the other stretched across her lap grasping her hip, he kept her from sliding to the ground. For a few seconds neither of them moved. She started to breathe again inhaling a faint scent of leather, tobacco, and shaving soap.

The masculine scents made her instantly aware of the intimacy of their position with her draped across his lap, the surrounding warmth of his arms and body. She loosened her grip around his neck and brought the bag back over his shoulder where it plopped to the ground. Unable to get her breath, she blamed the too-tight corset. “I... I beg your pardon,” she managed to get out.

Her hat dipped so far forward it practically sat on her nose. The pins pulled hurtfully at her hair. Without thinking, she reached to fix it and flipped back the veil. She glanced up and got a good look at her rescuer.

His hat gone, his gold-blond hair curled slightly where it lay too long about his ears and collar. His muted green eyes widened in surprise. His gaze flicked from her face, to her hair, and back to her face. Julie’s stomach dropped like a stone. She jerked the veil back into place.

Without the obscuring veil, she looked even younger than her twenty-one years, her hair a pale, but unmistakable, blond. Not the gray-haired widow he’d obviously expected. “I do beg your pardon,” she repeated. “I’m so sorry.”

A grin tugged up one corner of his mouth, white teeth flashing under his blond
mustache. “I’m not,” he replied.

Her heart jumped into her throat, reminding her of her scandalous position on his lap. She squared her shoulders, stiffening in his grasp. She swallowed her heart back to its proper place. “Please, sir,” she said in her best touch-me-not voice.

His fabulous smile faded. “Yes, ma’am. Sorry.” Carefully, he loosened his grip,
allowing her to slide from his lap. Once she’d regained her feet, he stood. For some reason she still couldn’t catch her breath. Drat the corset for making her so breathless and lightheaded.

After a second, he stooped to pick up his hat. Her gaze followed his movement and she spotted her valise tangled with his saddle bags. “Oh,” she gasped.

He shot her a quick glance then extracted the small bag from the snarl of leather.

She twisted her hands together, resisting the impulse to grab for her bag.

“May I carry your bag?” the blond man asked as if to make amends. He gestured with the bag toward where passengers were re-boarding. His face showed a carefully neutral expression. But his green eyes reminded her of the waters of the Chesapeake in a storm. She didn’t want to imagine what thoughts those eyes might hide.

“No,” she stammered, “no, thank you.” She couldn’t even get a simple sentence out. When he handed her the valise, her hand brushed his strong, tanned one. Even through her glove, she imagined the warmth of his touch. “Thank you,” she was able to murmur as she turned.

She concentrated on walking with as much dignity as possible as she returned down the platform. He had to be watching, for she felt his gaze between her shoulder blades as she fought to keep her steps at a sedate pace. At last she regained the haven of the railroad car. Relief washed through her.

She took her seat but couldn’t resist looking out the window. He still stood in front of the telegraph office, hat in hand, looking down the platform toward her railroad car. After a moment, he slapped the hat against his thigh before resettling it on his head.

“Al-l-l aaaa-board!” shouted the conductor. The train whistle echoed with a toooo-tootoot! A loud clanking was followed by a sudden forward jerk. The whistle shrilled again. A series of short tugs became smooth forward movement. Through the window the train depot and platform began to slide away.

Don’t look. Don’t look. Her head remained straight forward, but in spite of her
admonishments her gaze crept toward the window as the telegraph office scrolled by.

Saddle bags resting near his booted feet, he scanned the train. His gaze seemed to penetrate the dusty window and her veil with no problem. His eyes held hers for a split second, making her breath catch. He briefly touched the brim of his hat and nodded as his figure slid past.
* * *

Wes ducked his head against the soot and sparks that swirled after the caboose. After the flurry died away, he raised his head to look down the tracks again. He absently rubbed his shoulder wondering if tomorrow he’d find a bruise where the widow’s small carpet bag had struck him.

He slapped the soot from his coat and turned to look toward the telegraph office. The operator shook his head. He returned to the steamer trunks clustered at the end of the platform. He leaned his butt against a rounded top and crossed his ankles.

Again he looked west, watching the receding caboose grow smaller. That was some widow. Under that obscuring veil her hair had been a striking silvery blond.

Of course, someone that young and pretty could be a widow, but something about her nagged at him. He closed his eyes and let his mind see her again. The widow’s weeds she wore were old fashioned. And there’d been a faint odor of camphor from the black silk. But if she’d been widowed suddenly, it wouldn’t be too surprising if she wore make-shift mourning.

What else didn’t ring true? Her eyes. There’d been no pain, no sorrow in her eyes. They’d been as clear and beautiful and innocent as the blue sky they resembled. He remembered the feel of her in his arms, half-lying across his lap. Remembered her eyes wide, her lips parted as she tried to get her breath.

His eyes popped open and he took off his hat to run his hand through his hair. Why in hell spend all this time trying to figure out what was wrong with a widow lady he’d never see again?

With a sigh, he resettled his Stetson, acknowledging he was suspicious because that was his business. Suspicion kept him alert and kept him alive, made him good at his job. His hand touched his coat pocket as though he could feel through the fabric the brown leather case with the shiny metal badge that defined his life.

“Mr. Westmoreland?” The telegraph operator’s voice jerked Wes from his reverie. The telegram from San Francisco you’ve been waitin’ for is here.”

Wes crossed to the telegraph window and took the piece of paper the operator held in his direction. He heard his boss’s sharp, hard voice as he read:

Congrats Rayburn job. Proceed Denver, instructions wait.
Ultimate destination, Durango, Colorado. Use own name.
Dan Challenge, Wells Fargo

Wes folded the note and put it in his pocket.

“Too bad that there telegram didn’t come a few minutes earlier.” The operator

“Why’s that?” Wes asked.

“That there’s the Denver train,” the operator said with unconcealed glee. He nodded where the widow’s train was nothing but a faint puff of smoke on the horizon.

“Figures,” Wes said with a sigh. Over the last ten years, he’d learned patience. But the telegraph operator’s amusement rankled. Keeping his voice neutral he asked, “When’s the next train and where do I get a ticket?”

“Next train same time tomorrow, goes to Denver and then on to San Francisco. Tickets just inside to the left.” He chuckled again. “Yessirre, too bad that there telegram didn’t get here sooner.”

Nodding a thanks he did not feel, Wes slung his saddle bags over his shoulder and started down the platform. He must be more tired than he thought to allow the telegraph operator’s attitude to put him out of sorts. Or maybe, he was more than just a little disappointed he wasn’t on that there train with the flaxen-haired widow.

After purchasing a ticket for Denver, he got a room in the hotel across the street. What was the chance, Wes wondered as he lay on the narrow, hard bed, that he’d run into the widow in Denver? And what might have happened if that blasted telegram had come an hour earlier?
* * *

Julie Lawson peered through the window as the train clattered over the wooden bridge spanning the Rio Los Anamis and headed south into Durango. By concentrating on the breathtaking scenery of the rugged mountain canyons and the swift river, so different from Philadelphia or the endless plains west of St. Louis, she’d pushed the thoughts of what brought her here to the back of her mind.

The sign on the Denver and Rio Grande train depot proudly announced Durango,
Colorado. Julie brushed her hand across the royal-blue skirt of her serge traveling suit, tugged at the black lapels and cuffs of the matching jacket. She took a deep breath, thankful to be in her own pliable corset. She’d hidden the widow’s weeds at the bottom of her trunk and changed into her own clothes during the layover in Denver.

Following a balding merchant to the exit, she descended the train steps. She shaded her eyes against the harsh noon sun, searching the people milling about on the platform. Had Uncle Frank received the telegram she sent from Denver?

“Julie! Julie!”

Her name echoed over the noisy doings of the busy depot. She turned to see Uncle Frank striding toward her. He looked just as she remembered him. His Lawson family fair hair largely hidden under a bowler hat. With his white dress shirt, dark suit and tie he looked like any Philadelphia businessman.

“Welcome to Durango,” he said as he opened his arms. Julie threw herself into his embrace. She’d reached her destination. She was safe. Her knees shook at the relief.

Uncle Frank must have felt her tremble. “Here now,” he said, holding her away from him to look into her face. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, just tired. It’s been a long trip,” she reassured him. Just being with family made her feel better, feel more secure. She could do this. “Sorry I didn’t give you more warning, but you always said I could visit anytime.”

They headed toward the baggage area for her trunk. “Guess I gave in to one of my impulses as Gran would have said. With Papa in Europe and Cory in the country, the house was just too lonely.” Pretend this was just an ordinary visit. Forget the outrage and anger that propelled her to action. Forget the panic that followed in her dash from Philadelphia.

Uncle Frank retrieved her trunk and paid a man to load her baggage into his buggy.

“How is Aunt Marie?” She asked as Uncle Frank drove the buggy through the traffic of wagons, riders, and other buggies on Main Street.

Uncle Frank cleared his throat. “Actually, she’s in San Francisco, taking care of

“Is Grace sick?” she asked in surprise. Her cousin Grace lived in San Francisco with her husband and small daughter.

“No, it’s just that Grace needs extra help now that, ah, she’s, ah...” Uncle Frank looked uncomfortable.

Julie smiled. “You’re going to be a grandfather again. When?”

“Not for six more months, but Grace was feeling poorly, and Marie was worried about her.”

“I understand her worry.” More than Uncle Frank knew.

Apparently the conversation reminded Uncle Frank of Cory’s delicate condition as he asked, “How is your sister?”

“Cory’s doing fine this time. The baby is due in two more months. I wrote you that she and Mark are taking extra precautions this time. So to make sure she isn’t upset, two weeks ago he sent her to the country with a nurse.”

After two previous miscarriages Mark wasn’t taking any chances and had ordered quiet with no responsibilities for Cory’s mental as well as physical health. Nothing could be allowed to jeopardize this pregnancy. Julie looked at the carpet bag, resting in its usual spot beside her feet. Just two more months to keep herself and the contents of the bag hidden. For Cory.

Shaking off the uneasy thoughts, she glanced around. Here in the Rocky Mountains the
summer sun shone harsh through air that was somehow less substantial than in Philadelphia. The stark light gave a clear, sharp focus to the town and the landscape. She took a deep breath. Away from the train station and the main street the breeze carried a faint scent of pine from the western mountains.

As Uncle Frank turned east off Main Street, she caught a glimpse of a blond man in a dark brown hat. Her breath lodged in her throat. Then he turned and she saw he was clean shaven. Silly, she thought as she exhaled. How could it be him? She blinked away the memory of sea-green eyes and a devastating smile.

* * *
Three days after Julie Lawson arrived in Durango, the Denver and Rio Grande brought another visitor. As the train came in, Wes studied the lay of the land. Standing on the gently swaying platform between two cars, he had a widespread view. He spotted the smelters. Trailing dark plumes of smoke from a half-dozen stacks, the two smelters sat southwest of the city like dark giants against the mountainside.

The wire waiting for him at the Wells Fargo office in Denver had been brief.

Proceed Durango. Possible sabotage or subversion at smelters.
Production down. Determine problem and notify.
No contact available Durango. Wire Denver office for assistance if needed.
Dan Challenge
Wells Fargo

No contact available? That was odd. And why was the head of Wells Fargo’s
investigation department interested in trouble at the Durango smelters? He knew Wells Fargo transported the vast amounts of gold, silver, copper, and other mineral wealth that poured from the smelters, but something didn’t add up.

The train rolled into the Durango station. As the whistle blew to announce their arrival, Wes slid his hand inside his jacket to check the short barreled .32 nestled under his left arm. He hitched his saddle bags more squarely over his shoulder, reseated his hat, and stepped from the platform as the train pulled to a stop.

His first order of business was obtaining information. And there was only one place where a stranger could sit and talk, and find out what was going on without drawing attention to himself. At the end of the platform, he stopped a teamster loading boxes into the back of a wagon. “Which way to the nearest saloon?” he asked.


Guest Post

Music to Write By

Often times while writing I like to have music on in the background, but it has to be
instrumental. If there are words, I find that I’m actually listening to the music and not using it as background.

Music, like the sense of smell, brings memories or feelings associated with the music. I’ve found it’s a big help to use music that fits what you happen to be writing. Since I write historical romance, I tend to use music that reflects the feeling of the time period.

When I wrote my first novel, Kentucky Green, set in the Kentucky frontier in 1794, I listened to the movie soundtrack for The Last of the Mohicans. Not only did the music fit the story, when I was writing a love scene, there was a romantic track, as well as tracks for the action/adventure part of my story.

When I started to write Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold, I looked for music set in Durango,Colorado in 1880s. I found a great CD by Peter Elman entitled Durango Saloon. A natural since my hero grew up in a saloon and lives in the saloon in Durango for part of the story.

Several scenes also take part in the saloon (listen to the CD when reading the saloon scenes – it puts you there).

Also, I used the movie soundtrack from Silverado, partly because of the name and the western style and theme and because I really like the movie. I think there’s a little bit of Emmett (Scott Glenn) in my hero, Wes Westmoreland.

The CD, Cowboy Celtic by David Wilkie, is included because it has songs that were being sung and played in the timeframe of the book, songs such as Shenandoah, Annie Laurie and Gary Owen (the last was General Custer’s favorite).

A Romance novel means love scenes and I have a collection of love scene music. One CD has classical music such as Tchaikovsky’s Andante from The Sleeping Beauty, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 (Elvira Madigan) and Ravel’s Bolero.

Part of the fun of writing a new story is being on the lookout for new music to enhance the mood that goes into each book.


Author Bio

Terry Irene Blain was lucky enough to grow up in a large Mid-western family with a rich oral tradition. As a child she heard stories of ancestors’ adventures with Indians, wildlife, weather and frontier life in general, so she naturally gravitated to the study of history and completed a BA and MA then taught the subject at the college level. Married to a sailor, now retired, she’s had the chance to live in various parts of the U.S. and has traveled to Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland.

“My degrees and my teaching experience make me a natural to write historical romance. Writing historical romance gives me the opportunity to pass on stories of who we are and where we come from while exploring the relationship between men and women. What could be more exciting than that?”

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Author Guest Post: by Lyle Prouse

From The Author’s Mouth

I wrote “Final Approach” for my grandkids and family but had no intention of actually publishing it until a friend read it and strongly encouraged me to do that. The reaction has been surprising and I’ve been taken aback by it.

So much was said about this first-of-a-kind event in which three airline pilots were arrested for flying under the influence and most of it was inaccurate. Reporters and journalists, TV news anchors, and late night comics all had their say and put their own personal twists on things as I sat, watched, listened, and remained mute. I was amazed at reporters I didn’t know who claimed to know what I was thinking as though they had access to my innermost thoughts and how the public seemed to accept, without question, the information they put out.

Clearly, the groundwork for sensationalism was part of the scenario with an impaired flight crew at 35,000 feet and passengers in the aircraft cabin. I understood and accepted that and I never attempted to excuse or minimize what had taken place – nor do I do that in my book. Throughout the entire manuscript I take very clear and naked responsibility for the event. Indeed, I’ve done that my entire life, including my Marine Corps career and my time in Vietnam.

Nothing excuses or mitigates what happened, not even my alcoholism; and I’ve never hidden behind that.

This event destroyed and shredded me, reducing me to an emotional shell, and I found myself thinking thoughts I had never before believed possible – suicide. Hopelessness can never be reduced to a lower plateau than when suicide becomes seductively attractive and the desire to escape the pain and shame overwhelmingly outweighs the desire to live.

From that near fatal outcome came a story of beauty and redemption and one that I claim no personal credit for. I suited up and showed up, but I can take no credit for anything other than that.

As the story unfolded I experienced the absolute best of mankind…and the worst of it. We need love the most when we deserve it the least and I’ve never forgotten that as I devote a lot of my time to helping those who are suffering as I once was.
In front of me as I write this is a statement that says, “I believe life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it” and that has become one of my credos as a result of what happened to me.

I need others in my life and that’s a gift of humility, something I once viewed more as a character flaw than asset. I learned about humility through another form of the word – humiliation.

What began as the most devastating experience in my life, and one that nearly ended my life, has evolved into the greatest positive thing that could ever have happened to me. In my Native culture we often speak of ‘Grandfather’ or ‘Creator’ and I use those terms as well as the God I knew growing up. Whatever He does and however He does it will never be something I can understand, but I do know that some power somewhere steered the outcome of this story and I had nothing to do with it.

I went from pilot to pariah, yet in an astonishing turn of events I ended my career as a 747 captain for the same airline I’d so horribly shamed and embarrassed; and I never fought or resisted my termination. I went from prison to Presidential Pardon and even I, who was there every moment and lived every day of this, cannot possibly understand how it all occurred.

Blue skies,
Lyle Prouse

About the Author:

Lyle Prouse was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1938. He is part Comanche and grew up in an alcoholic home in a World War II housing project. He was active in his Native American community. After graduating from High School in Wichita, Lyle joined the Marines as a private but made the rare transition from enlisted to officer grade and ultimately Captain, a jet fighter pilot flying combat missions in Vietnam.

After his discharge from the Corps, Lyle became an airline captain for Northwest Airlines and flew for nearly 22 years before the same alcoholism that killed his parents almost destroyed his life. He was the first commercial pilot ever arrested and sent to prison for flying drunk.

The blistering media coverage was relentless as he was fired, stripped of all flying certificates, tried, convicted, and sent to Federal prison for sixteen months. The trial judge added sanctions on top of the conviction to guarantee he would never fly again. In spite of all the seemingly impossible obstacles, Lyle got sober, experienced many breathtaking miracles, returned to Northwest Airlines and retired as a 747 captain. In January of 2001 he received a full Presidential pardon from then President Bill Clinton.

Today, Lyle is a husband, father, and grandfather. He has been sober over twenty-one years and has devoted his life to helping others overcome alcoholism. He is still flying and has participated with all the major airlines in their ongoing alcohol programs. He remains active in Native American sobriety movements.
His latest book is Final Approach: Northwest Airline Flight 650 Tragedy and Triumph.
You can visit his website at

About the Book:

This is the story of the first airline pilot ever arrested and sent to prison for flying under the influence. He was fired by his airline, stripped of his FAA licenses, tried, convicted, and sent to Federal prison. This was a first. It had never occurred before.

Lyle Prouse came from a WWII housing project in Kansas and an alcoholic family where both parents died as a result of alcoholism. He rose through the ranks of the United States Marine Corps from private to captain, from an infantryman to a fighter pilot. He made his way to the pinnacle of commercial aviation, airline captain…then lost it all.

Today he is a recovering alcoholic with nearly twenty-two years sobriety. This story describes his rise from the ashes of complete destruction from which he was never to fly again. It is full of miracles which defy all manner of odds.

In a long and arduous journey, he eventually regained his FAA licenses. He never fought his termination; he considered it fair and appropriate.

Miraculously, after nearly four years, the President/CEO of his airline personally reinstated him to full flight despite the adverse publicity and embarrassment.
In effect, the President/CEO gambled his own career by taking such a risk on a convicted felon and publicly acknowledged alcoholic pilot.

In another stunning event, the judge who tried, sentenced, and sent him to prison watched his journey and reappeared eight years after the trial. He became the driving force behind a Presidential pardon although he’d never supported a petition for pardon in all his years on the bench.

Lyle retired honorably as a 747 captain for the airline he’d so horribly embarrassed and disgraced. He lives with his wife of nearly forty-nine years and has five grandchildren.

He continues to work with all the major airlines in their alcohol programs. He is also active in his Native American community, and he provides hope to those struggling with the disease of alcoholism, no matter who they are or where they are.