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Monday, July 23, 2012

Resorting to Promotion

I know we authors are supposed to promote our books at every opportunity. We're supposed to put forth the impression that we and our writing are the greatest things since sliced bread. I know this, and yet I just can't seem to do it. Why? I've given this a fair amount of thought and the best excuse I can come up with goes back to the way I was raised. When I was growing up, bragging on oneself about anything was a punishable offense. It was in poor taste and not tolerated. Plain and simple. We were supposed to downplay our own accomplishments and give credit to others for theirs. That lesson took hold, maybe a little too well. And so, here I am, an author who absolutely cringes at the thought of self-promotion. But now it's time I step outside my comfort zone. My book has slipped into oblivion, my numbers the lowest they've ever been. So, with apologies to dad and mom, the following is the opening scene from Angel in the Rain, a blatant promo. To anyone who hasn't read my book, my hope is that you haven't dismissed it without giving it a try. Hey, it's the greatest western historical romance since sliced bread! (how was that? too over the top?) : /


Chapter One

West Texas – Spring, 1880



The moment she stepped from the stagecoach, cold chills skittered over Evangeline’s skin. She saw nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that should have made her uneasy in the least. So, why did she feel as though someone had just stepped on her grave?

The Agave Flats relay station looked much the same as a dozen others she’d seen since leaving the train three days ago—a crude blend of rough-hewn wood and adobe, flanked by knotty-poled corrals, standing in the middle of an empty landscape.

“Thirty minutes, ma’am, if you want to stretch your legs,” the stage driver called.

She forced an answering smile. If she “stretched her legs” much more, she wouldn’t be able to fit them inside the coach. With each interminable stop, she found it harder to tamp down a growing feeling of unease. She needed to be home.

A station attendant led away the horses, amid a swirl of dust. Evangeline looked down and slapped at the grit clinging to her fine, fawn wool traveling suit. Aunt Nelda would have a conniption if she could see her standing there without gloves or even a parasol to protect her ladylike pallor from the harsh southwestern sun. She heaved a breath and turned her back to the warm, grit-laden wind.

That’s when she saw him.

Nerve endings jolted when she spotted the dark figure nearly blending into the shadows of the relay station. The man stood with a shoulder braced against the outside wall, his thumbs hooked on the edge of a low-slung cartridge belt. One booted ankle anchored over the other. His relaxed pose stretched dark trousers taut over a long, muscled thigh. The black hat riding low on his forehead hid all but his chin and sardonically quirked mouth. His very posture exuded arrogance and something more. Something so darkly compelling it bordered sinister.

She knew he was staring at her. Right through her, in fact. Though the hat brim concealed his eyes, his gaze raked her with the impact of a physical touch.

Being stared at by men was nothing new to Evangeline Clayton. A woman traveling alone was a magnet for every rouĂ© along the pike, and she’d received her share of suggestive winks and leers during the train ride west.

Somehow, this man’s veiled inspection affected her more, probed deeper, as if he knew her very thoughts. She sensed a coiled energy behind his indifference, like a cat poised to pounce. And she had an eerie feeling that she was his prey.

“Miss Clayton?”

The driver’s voice tugged at her. With reluctance, she turned her back on the enigmatic stranger.

“Yes?”

“Just wanted to tell you, there’s coffee inside, if you want to step in out of the wind while we change the horses.”

“Thank you, Mr. Stewart. I just might do that.”

Evangeline watched the driver walk away and worried the inside of her bottom lip between her teeth. Tiny tingles continued to chase up and down her back.

Abruptly, the sensation vanished. She turned, knowing she would find the man in the shadows gone.

****

Angel in the Rain is vailable at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. More buy options are available on my web site.


Happy reading!
Devon

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Welcome Debut Author Cindy Nord!

Please welcome debut author Cindy Nord, a long-time friend and fabulous writer. She has an absolutely delicious book coming out from Samhain Publishing titled No Greater Glory. It's due to hit the virtual shelves on July 31st. and I couldn't be happier. I've been waiting a long time to read one of Miss Cindy's published books. Congratulations, Cindy!!!!

~ No Greater Glory ~

Amid the carnage of war, he commandeers far more than just her home.


Widowed plantation owner Emaline McDaniels has struggled to hold on to her late husband’s dreams. Despite the responsibilities resting on her slender shoulders, she’ll not let anyone wrest away what’s left of her way of life—particularly a Yankee officer who wants to set up winter camp on her land.

With a defiance born of desperation, she defends her home as though it were the child she never had…and no mother gives up her child without a fight.

Despite the brazen wisp of a woman pointing a gun at his head, Colonel Reece Cutteridge has his orders. Requisition Shapinsay—and its valuable livestock—for his regiment’s use, and pay her with Union vouchers. He never expected her fierce determination, then her concern for his wounded, to upend his heart—and possibly his career.

As the armies go dormant for the winter, battle lines are drawn inside the mansion. Yet just as their clash of wills shifts to forbidden passion, the tides of war sweep Reece away. And now their most desperate battle is to survive the war with their lives—and their love—intact.


No Greater Glory ~ Excerpt

October 1862

Seven miles west of Falmouth, Virginia

A bitter wind slammed through the tattered countryside, sucking warmth from the morning. Emaline McDaniels rocked back in the saddle when she heard the shout. She glanced over her shoulder and her eyes widened. Across the fields of ragged tobacco, her farrier rode toward her at breakneck speed. Lines of alarm carved their way across the old man’s ebony face.

Emaline spurred her horse around to meet him. “What’s wrong?”

Tacker pointed a gnarled finger eastward. “Yankees, Miz Emaline! Coming up da road from Falmouth!”

“Yankees?” Her heart lurched against her ribs. She’d heard of their thievery, the fires and destruction left in their wake. Teeth-gritting determination to save her home flashed through her. She leaned sideways, gripping his work-worn sleeve. “Are you sure they’re not the home guard?”

“No, ma’am. I seen ’em, dey’s blue riders, for sure. Hundreds of ’em.”

Two workers moved closer to listen to the exchange, and the farrier acknowledged them with a quick nod.

“Everyone back to the cabins,” Emaline snapped, sinking into the saddle. “And use the wagon road along the river. It’ll be safer.”

“Ain’t you comin’ with us?”

“No. Now move along quickly, all of you. And keep out of sight.” She flicked the reins and her horse headed straight across the fields toward the red-brick mansion that hugged the far edge of the horizon.

The spongy ground beneath the animal’s hooves churned into clods of flying mud. Aside from a few skirmishes nearby, the war had politely stayed east along the Old Plank Road around Fredericksburg. Her mare crested the small hillock near the main house, and Emaline jerked back on the leather reins. Off to her far right, a column of cavalrymen numbering into the hundreds approached. The dust cloud stirred up by their horses draped in a heavy haze across the late-morning air. In numbed fascination, she stared at the pulsing line of blue-coated soldiers, a slithering serpent of destruction a quarter of a mile long.

Waves of nausea welled up from her belly.

“Oh my God…” she whispered. She dug her boot heels into the mare’s sides and the nimble sorrel sprang into another strong gallop. Praying she’d go unnoticed, Emaline leaned low, her thoughts racing faster than the horse. What do they want? Why are they here?

Her fingers curled into the coarse mane as seconds flew past. At last, she reached the back entrance of the mansion. Quickly dismounting, she smacked the beast’s sweaty flank to send it toward the stable then spun to meet the grim expression fixed upon the face of the old woman who waited for her at the bottom of the steps. “I need Benjamin’s rifle!”

“Everythin’s right dere, Miz Emaline. Right where you’d want it.” She shifted sideways and pointed to the .54 caliber Hawkins, leather cartridge box and powder flask lying across the riser like sentinels ready for battle. “Tacker told me ’bout the Yankees afore he rode out to find you.”

“Bless you, Euley.” Emaline swept up the expensive, custom-made hunting rifle her late husband treasured. The flask followed and she tumbled black crystals down the rifle’s long muzzle. A moment later, the metal rod clanked down inside the barrel to force a lead ball home.

She’d heard so many stories of the bluecoats’ cruelty. What if they came to kill us? The ramrod fell to the ground. With a display of courage she did not feel, Emaline heaved the weapon into her arms, swept past the old servant, and took the wooden steps two at a time.

There was no time left for what ifs.

“You stay out of sight now, Euley. I mean it.” The door banged shut behind Emaline as she disappeared into the house.

Each determined footfall through the mansion brought her closer and closer to the possibility of yet another change in her life. She eased open the front door and peered out across Shapinsay’s sweeping lawns. Dust clogged the air and sent another shiver skittering up her spine. She moved out onto the wide veranda, and with each step taken, her heart hammered in her chest. Five strides later, Emaline stopped at the main steps and centered herself between two massive Corinthian columns.

She squared her shoulders. She lifted her chin. She’d fought against heartbreak every day for three years since her husband’s death. She’d fought the constant fear of losing her beloved brother in battle. She fought against the effects of this foolhardy war that sent all but two of her field hands fleeing. If she could endure all that plus operate this plantation all alone to keep Benjamin’s dreams alive, then surely, this too, she could fight.

And the loaded weapon? Well, it was for her fortitude only.

She knew she couldn’t shoot them all.

“Please, don’t turn in,” she mumbled, but the supplication withered on her lips when the front of the long column halted near the fieldstone gateposts at the far end of the lane. Three cavalrymen turned toward her then approached in a steadfast, orderly fashion.

Her gaze skimmed over the first soldier holding a wooden staff, a swallow-tailed scrap of flag near its top whipping in the breeze. The diminutive silk bore an embroidered gold star surrounded by a laurel wreath, the words, US Cavalry-6th Ohio, stitched beneath. Emaline disregarded the second cavalryman and centered her attention directly upon the officer.

The man sat his horse as if he’d been born in the saddle, his weight distributed evenly across the leather. A dark slouch hat covered sable hair that fell well beyond the collar of his coat. Epaulets graced both broad shoulders, emphasizing his commanding look. A lifetime spent in the sun and saddle added a rugged cast to his sharp, even features.

An overwhelming ache throbbed behind her eyes. What if she had to shoot him?

Or worse—what if she couldn’t?

The man reined his horse to a stop beside the front steps. His eyes, long-lashed and as brown as a bay stallion’s, caught and held hers. Though he appeared relaxed, Emaline sensed a latent fury roiling just beneath the surface of his calm.

Her hands weakened on the rifle and she leaned forward, a hair’s breadth, unwillingly sucked into his masculinity as night sucked into day. Inhaling deeply, she hoisted the Hawkins to her shoulder, aiming it at his chest. Obviously, in command, he would receive her lone bullet should he not heed her words. “Get off my land!”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you'd like to get better acquainted with Cindy and find out how she started her writing career, you can visit her web site at http://www.cindynord.com/

No Greater Glory is available now for pre-order at Amazon and Samhain Publishing

Happy reading, all!
Devon

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cowboys Ain't Easy To Love...

Well, on second thought, the one in this picture would probably be pretty easy to love. Ya think! Hmm... wonder if he's available for book covers.

Anyway, I'm over at Cowboy Kisses today talking about those danged, ornery cowboys who threw down their gloves and walked out on the job back in 1883. Yep, they went on strike.

If you're itchin' to know what happened, come on over and join me. I'd love to see you there!

Devon

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On The Bright Side...

For the past four days, my cart hath overfloweth, just like the one in the picture. I hope they got that poor mule down without breaking his legs.

It started the morning of July 4th. When I turned on my computer that day, almost immediately I found something that set my little world on its ear. One of the grand dames of western historical romance tweeted that her newest book was available for pre-order. When I saw the title, all I could do was gape in shock at my computer screen. She'd stolen my title!

Of course she hadn't stolen my title. Titles can't be stolen, but she had titled her book the very same as my upcoming book. I immediately went into OMG! OMG! What am I going to do! mode. I wasted no time asking my western romance author pals for advice. Half said change my title, the other half said keep it. The split opinion only added to my own indecision. I slipped into a deep funk and stayed there the rest of the day.

I woke the next morning determined to get over it. Yeah, I've had the title for years, but that's just the luck of the draw. I intend to change mine, but have no idea what it will be. I'm dragging my feet right now but in the very near future, my cover will disappear from this blog and my web site. When it does, you'll know why. I'm going to have to come up with a new title and redo the cover.

On the bright side... I'm very thankful I'm able to do what I love to do nearly every day--write.

Okay. So, Thursday, hubby asked me to go shopping with him, just to get out of the house for a while. He's been talking about replacing the living room furniture for quite a while, so we went browsing the furniture stores. As luck would have it, we ran into a sale so awesome we couldn't pass up some of the deals. We ended up buying a new LazyBoy sofa and his and her recliners. That's the good news. The bad news happened when we went to take the old sofa out of the house. It was a no-go. We'd done some remodeling and changed a doorway since we bought that dinosaur with the high arched back and monstrous curving arms. No matter how we turned, angled, and measured, we couldn't get the sofa through any of the doorways in our house. This really makes me sick but hubby ended up having to rip the upholstery off the back of the sofa and remove the wooden frame for that big arching back. After that, he and our son managed to get it out into the garage. But every time I look out there, I think there's someone out there somewhere who would have loved to have that big sofa. I'll probably end up trying to put it back together before it's over with. Never mind that the cushions are pulled loose at some of the seams and it was very uncomfortable to sit on, it just seems like a waste to me.

But on the bright side... I'm very thankful we'll still be able to give the love seat--which is still in wonderful condition--to someone who needs or wants it. Also thankful that we were able to go out and buy new on a whim. Not so long ago, we would not have been financially able to do that.

Okay. So, moving furniture around showed me just how much I've been neglecting my housework. This set off a two-day cleaning marathon. Fortunately, the only big surprise I found was what looked like the remains of Molly--our rat terrier/chihuahua mix--getting an upset stomach behind the piano. Yes, BEHIND the piano. How, I ask? Did she move the piano and then put it back? Who. Knows. I've added this to a very long list of similar great mysteries. Anyway, I ended up cleaning for two days and since I haven't been used to doing all that lately, I wore myself down to a frazzle.

On the bright side... I'm soooo very thankful that I'm now able to go on a two-day cleaning marathon. For the past few months, I haven't been physically able to do much at all without a great deal of pain for the effort. I'm so thankful I'm finally healing and feeling better. :)

Devon (counting her blessings everyday)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hey, Andy!

I was sad today when I turned on the computer and learned that Andy Griffith had passed away. For some of us, he is embedded in our youth and memories of a kinder, gentler time. I won't attempt to eulogize because that's for others to do who actually knew the facts of his life. But I do want to share a picture I took of Andy, with his wife Cindy and daughter Dixie, circa 1973. He was nice enough to stop and share a little time cutting up with us. I'm happy to say that Andy was just as nice and friendly in person as he was on tv.

click on photo to enlarge

This picture was taken in Topanga Canyon, California during a parade for charity. I seem to recall it was for the local animal rescue because Earl Holliman and Joanne Worley were in the back of a pickup with a bunch of dogs, asking people to adopt them, but any specifics are gone from my memory now. Several celebrities who lived in the neighborhood came out that day with their vintage cars to help raise money. The reason I was there was because my then husband--that's him in the black hat and jacket, with his arm propped on the top of Andy's seat--was part of a western stunt group that regularly put on shows to benefit charities. At the time, my husband and the rest of the stunt guys were all sailors stationed at Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station. There were three others in the group, but they'd wandered away by the time I took the picture.

Anyway, I just wanted to share and say one last, "Hey, Andy! You will be missed."

Devon