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Highs and Lows of 2015: Look to the Future

HNY

The last few hours of 2015 are upon us, and as I sit here pondering the past year, I realize how lucky I’ve been. While there were some low spots to the year, overall, it was a wonderful one, and I’ll be forever grateful for the love and support I’ve received from old friends, new friends and fellow authors, and family. It’s been an amazing experience watching my blog follower list grow with people from all parts of the world, specifically Russia, the Phillipines, Japan, France, and Poland, as well as those of you who follow me in Australia, England, Romania, the United States, and Canada. Thank you all for making 2015 such a rush.

I terms of health, my husband of 44 years gave me a few scares, but the cardiologFormal Night 1ist doesn’t need to see him for a year, so that’s great news. While my own health isn’t perfect, and I’m way too fat, I’ve been remarkably well. Even my asthma and athritis  haven’t been a problem, so I’m looking forward to more of the same in 2016.

As far as my writing career goes, I continue to get a great deal of satisfaction from my readers and reviewers. I may not be getting rich, but I’m bringing joy and satisfaction to most of my readers, and that’s enough to keep me writing.

fire-angel-147x221In addtion to making the Published Authors Network (PAN) with the Romance Writers of America, thanks to Fire Angel, the very first book I published, I officially reached the status of bestselling author with Amazon in December when The White CarnationThe White Carnation broke the top 100 books, and I was number 21 in bestselling author ranks. As the year winds down, The White Carnation continues to break sales’ records for me, and Book Two of the Hravester Series, The White Lily, The White Lilyis right up there. too.  I’m looking forward to the release of the last book in the series, The White Iris, on February 8, 2016. Writing that series was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever undertaken. I hope readers will be satisfied with the way I endThe White Irised it. Some have suggested I write more books featuring the FBI characters. Who knows? Maybe there will be a White Rose  or a White Tulip at some point and possibly a White Pointsettia out for Christmas next year.

My other Crimson Romance novels have all done well this year. On His Watch and Just For The Weekend lead the pack, but In Plain Sight holds its own.  While the bundles haven’t done as well as I’d hoped, they have gotten my name out there, and that’s all good.

Just for the Weekend cover.         On His Watch     in-plain-sight-147x221

As for my other novels released in 2014, sales are slow and steady, and I’m grateful to all who continue to support my writing efforts. If you’ve read one of my books, consider leaving a review on my website, a new feature added by my son the webmaster. You can vist my website any time to find out about my books.

Unfortunately, 2015 brought some incredibly sad moments, too. In my personal life, I lost some cherished friends. In my publishing life, the biggest loss was the demise of Secret and Sweet Cravings Publishing. The remarkably classy publisher paid out as much as she could and returned the rights, but that left a few books without a home.Grand Slam cover Sadly, it also was the death knell for my writing partnership with Misty Cail. The books written by Misty Matthews are no more.  Grand Slam, the baseball themed novella we wrote together as our first effort, did well for us. In fact in 2014, when it first came out, it was our best seller.

Then,Coming Home cover in the fall of that year, we rereleased Coming Home, the first book in a series, a book we’d published with Front Porch Romance, an unscrupulous publisher who stole from us as well as from its other writers. Despite the editing and the revised and enhanced storyline, it didn’t do well. That combined with a number of other factors basically signed its death warrant.

While Grand Slam is unlikely to ever be released again, I have Misty’s permission to rework and rerelease Coming Home. If I do, it’ll have a new title and a suspense component added to the basic plot we created, making it almost a new book–Or, I may just let it go.

In terms of my own books with SCP, I only had one, Echoes of the PEchoesEbookFinalast, which I released independently in Spetember with a brand new cover created by the wonderful and talented Danielle Doolittle. Since the publisher released the edits, I only had to make a slight change to the story to get it out there and published again.

The other book I had with SCP, Secrets and Lies, A Hearts of Braden romantic suspense, I published on my own in Secrets&LiesFinaleBookMediumNovember. Michel Prince was the instigator of the project–eight books, set in a small town, each one written by a different author. She arranged for the editing, and Danille did the covers. I’d hoped for better sales, but while it’s started off slowly, I anticipate that will improve in 2016. All For Love

Another book that was a bit of a disappointment was All for Love, my firts attempt at a completely clean, Christian  romance suspense. While the reviews are great, once again sales are slow. I loved this cover and thought it would really amp sales. Maybe in 2016 … I can always hope. Not to be daunted, I’ve written and sold another Christian Romance Suspense, Hidden Assets, which will come out in Dec. 2016.

In 2015, I tried something else that has been moderately successful. I wrote a few short stories for Summer Solstice Publishing. The first, There’s Always Tomorrow, was published as part of an anthology and then later released on its own. To that I added a two-part Christmas short story that was disappointing in terms of sales. I guess people don’t want to read about families.

There's Always Tomorrow       Her Christmas Hero     The Best Day Ever

I also wrote a Christmas novella that did quite well for itself. Come Home For Christmas still had a child in it, but the focus was on a second chance at love. Danielle designed a different kind of cover for it, one that must’ve apSueWinterCoverSmallpealed to the readers.  She also designed the covers for my attempt at sci-fi space opera, Eloisia, the story of a captain and his crew looking for a new hEloisiaEpTwoFinaleBookome  a thousand years into the future. It’s written in episodes, like a television series. So far Stowaway, and Secrets have been published, and while they haven’t sold hundreds of copies, they’ve been well received. Sabotage will be published in early January.

In 2015,SueParaCoverDraft5 (1) I was asked to be part of a weekly blog hop some of you may recognize Tuesday Tales is a work in progress group, featuring talented authors. I started a book specifically for the group when I returned from Alaska.
Hello Again is a paranormal, romance, suspense. While it’s a long way from ready to be published, I had Danielle design a cover for it. I needed to see my charcters and watch them grow. You are welcome to come back each Tuesday and watch the book’s progress as well as read the wip of my other author friends. Once a month, we do a scene based on a picture–max 300 words. It’s amazing how creative my fellow authors can be.

In 2015, I took my first cruise, visiting Alaska and spending time with family in the Vancouver area. It was an incredible experience, what I belived to be the trip of a lifetime, but I have a lot of living in me yet–at least, I hope I do.

So, what am I looking to do in 2016? More of the same. I have a four-part trip planned–Copenhagen, a Norwegian Fjords cruise, 10 days in Oslo, Norway with my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, finishing up with 2 days in Iceland. Think of the rich descriptions I can add to my books then!

In terms of writing, I’ve set my goals. I want to publish a YA novel or novella, dedicated to my eldest granddaughter, finish Hello Again and Honeymoon For One, my current wips, rewrite and recreate Coming Home, add six episodes to Eloisia, write at least three short stories, possibly one for Halloween. And if time allows, maybe do another historical romance, a follow-up to The Price of Honor. I also want to take a good look at some of my earlier work, stuff that’s been filed away for years.  Maybe I’ll publish a book of poems, a childen’s anthology. The year may also hold a surprise as I consider collaborating  with a well-known and well-respected author. As long as my health is good and my muse continues to inspire me…

So I plan to stay healthy, happy, and productive next year. How about you?

 

 

 

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Look Who Dropped By Today: Frederick H Crook

 

It is July, 2130,
less than a year after the destruction of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the
last of its kind in America. Major Reginald Mattersly of the British Army’s SRR
has been slowly making his way to the west coast, where he wishes to find a
home on the beach and live out the remainder of his life.
These plans are cut short when he is ambushed in Nevada by a mysterious trio of armed men. To his rescue comes a man of the 82nd Airborne who calls himself Elias Mulhaney. The two of them continue on to a town called Lovelock, currently embattled with their
neighbors in Reno.
The mayor of Lovelock, Jazz Hernandez, is the prime target of her former lover, Gillespie, the mayor of Reno. His mentality: If he can’t have her, no one can.

Mattersly and Mulhaney band together to infiltrate the city of Reno to rescue her kidnapped niece, Nora,and destroy the factory that provides Gillespie’s military power.

 In a post-Great Exodus Earth where there is no law and no national government, can there still be justice?
Reviews:
Frederick H. Crook is a masterful storyteller. He pits good against evil with a way different from most writers in the genre. The dialog is crisp and believable.” ~ Frank Scozzari
The entire book takes place over the course of a few days and honestly, I was bummed when it ended. You will never get bored reading this book.” ~ Melissa Massey-Maroni
I loved each page of this tale of hope. Anyone who still believes in the magic of heroism, should definitely have Of Knight & Devil in their bookcase.” ~ Susan Lynn Solomon
Just check out this excerpt!

 

             “Do it. Quickly,” Reginald replied.
            Just as he finished speaking, an explosion rocked the parking garage.
            “What the hell was that?” Elias wondered aloud and froze. “Artillery?”
            “Just reload, now!” Reginald ordered. Seeing no one beyond his driver’s window, the major dared open his driver’s hatch to listen.
            Another explosion rocked the building, this time more violently. Angel opened the infantry hatch and took a look behind them. Bits of concrete and dust filled the air around the two machines. Just as she was ducking back inside, a third explosion struck the building, directly above them. The outer hull was struck with falling concrete
from the ceiling.
            “Mortars!” Reginald shouted into the microphone for the benefit of their new ally, Sergeant Schamski. He slammed the driver’s hatch, locked it, and extracted himself from the seat, leaving the helmet behind. “Angel, get into the driver’s position and move if I tell you. We are being shelled!” With that order given, the major snatched up his Dragunov and lowered the rear ramp.
            “Major, I don’t know how to drive this thing!” she protested.
            “Just do it! Shut the door when I
get clear!” he shouted as the next mortar round struck against the side of the parking
structure, this time on their floor. Mattersly was shielded by flying bits of
concrete by Necromancer, which was immediately covered in dust.
            Reginald used the dust as cover for his run to the southwest corner of the building. He had judged from the trajectory of the first three rounds that whoever was launching the mortars would be found in that direction. He crouched low as he met with the wall, pulled his beret from his tunic’s breast pocket and placed it on his head. The action was more out of necessity than pride, for the gray surface of the cap
would not reflect the sunlight.
            Another mortar round struck nearly the same place as before, only one floor below. Wasting no time, he took a peek over the top of the waist-high wall, where his eyes found another large hotel across the street. Having adjusted his eyes for distance, he immediately located the mortar crew, which had taken a room on a floor slightly below the level of the garage on which Necromancer and Wolfhunter were trapped.
            He quickly reset his eyesight to normal and brought up his Dragunov, being careful to remain in the shadows. Reginald watched as the crew fired a sixth round. In seconds, it was clear that this one was going to be rather close. He lay flat and covered his head as the round struck just left of his position, taking out the short wall and the
leading edge of the pavement. Mattersly felt several bits of concrete strike him and was covered by dust.
            His ears rang despite the audio devices’ cancellation attempts and his eyes burned from the dust. Reginald noted that Necromancer had again opened fire on targets trying to come up to their level. Without further thought, the major rose upon one knee, lifted his rifle to his shoulder and located a target. It was the mercenary attending or perhaps firing the mortar.
            Reginald squeezed the trigger and dropped him. Training told him to move to another location, but he had found Renoite militia to be undertrained and inexperienced. He found a second target. This one was another militiaman which came to the aid of the man Reginald had just brought down. With another squeeze of the trigger, the second man was felled.
            This time, Mattersly did drop to the floor to crawl to another location. It was none too soon, as the place where he had just fired from was struck with a smattering of assault weapon rounds, returned from the militiamen supporting the mortar. As the two Stryker’s fired at targets that he could not see, the major lifted his body onto his knee and prepared to take another look. Just then, the seventh round struck the parking
garage, close enough to knock him flat.
Available now in paperback or for your kindle, this fast-paced, dystopian adventure will keep you planted and reading!

 

This is Author Frederick H. Crook’s fourth novel, his third publication with Solstice Publishing, for which he also is employed as an editor.

For more news, visit Frederick’s website: http://frederickcrook.wix.com/crooksbooks

 Connect on Twitter: @FrederickHCrook
Also, coming in early 2016, Campanelli: Siege of the Nighthunter
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Tuesday Tales. From a Word: Shoe.

Badge for TT - very small (1)Good morning and welcome to the last Tuesday tales of 2015.  Being asked to join this weekly blog hop has been an honor and a priviledge and I look forward to another year of weekly participation.

To all of my followers and visitors, Happy New Year

For this week’s Tuesday Tale, I’m back to Hello Again. To recap: Charley was caught in a tornado and injured. Bill, with the help of Shirley, a Nakota shaman, rescued her. Bill bears an uncanny resemblance to Mike, Charley’s dead husband, and it looks like the spirits have plans for this unlikely couple. If you want to read the story The beginning  go here and then check the later posts. The novel will be published in its entirety once it’s finished. At the moment, I’d say we’re about a third of the way in.

So, without any further ado, here’s the next section of Hello Again.

SueParaCoverDraft5 (1)For a large woman, Shirley was surprisingly quick on her feet. Whatever breathing difficulties she’d had yesterday had vanished and she certainly didn’t act or move like a woman well into her eighties.

“This will be easier to wear than pants,” Shirley said, handing Charley a pile of garments.

This was a vintage pale blue, blouson-styled, cowl-collared pullover, with elbow-length sleeves, and an easy-fitting, pull-on, deep navy, almost black print skirt that would reach mid-calf on her. Instead of shoes, Shirley had added moccasins—white  leather, with extravagant beadwork—by far the most beautiful ones Charley had ever seen.

skirt“Thank you,” she said. “I’m honored to wear your daughter’s clothes. I’ll feel like a princess.”

As soon as Bill and Shirley left, Charley undressed and stepped into the shower, a task made much easier thanks to the handle Bill had added to the step. For the first time in five years, she considered what her life might be like if she let another man into it. Bill was kind and compassionate, dedicated to his responsibilities as an RCMP officer. He was a lot like Mike and yet different, too. At first, each time she looked at him, she’d seen Mike, but now, Bill was fixed in her memory as a person in his own right—not replacing Mike in any way, but carving out a niche of his own. The woodsy scent of the shampoo brought back the memories of last night.

He’d held her, comforted her when she’d finally realized that Mike was gone for good. She’d avoided dwelling on the loss of the urn and his ashes, and while she didn’t believe in ghosts, she’d imagined Mike by her side watching out for her. How many nights had she crawled between the sheets of her bed and talked to the urn on the dresser next to her? Mira had shuddered at the practice, but to Charley, it had been a way of hanging onto him. A tear slipped down her cheek. He was gone for good now.

She let the hot water sluiced down her body, bringing comfort to her stiff, achy muscles. It was too bad Saskatoon was so far away. She’d like to be able to come back and visit with Shirley when this was over, bring her a gift to thank her for her hospitality.

Letting her thoughts roam as she shampooed her hair, hoping the last of the blood was out of it now, her mind landed on the vintage car Mike had offered her. If—no when—she got it up and running, she’d have the perfect excuse to come back and visit. But did she really want to wait that long?

“They need you now,” Mike’s voice echoed in her head, startling her, making her drop the soap.

“Mike?” she said allowed, bending to pick up the bar, but no one answered.

I’m losing it.

Shirley’s talk of spirits was addling her brain. Quickly, she finished her shower. The skin around the cut on her leg was red, but not tender. Turning off the water, she toweled dry and dressed. It felt strange to put on someone else’s panties, but when the bra fit, she got goosebumps. Sure, she wasn’t the only 36C in the world, but talk about coincidence. After that, she wasn’t in the least bit surprised when the skirt, sweater, and moccasins fit as if they’d been made for her.

“Dorothy, you’re definitely not in Kansas anymore,” she whispered.

Moving to the mirror, she used the blow dryer to take most of the water out of her hair and then tied it back with the elastic she’d used earlier. After slipping her dog tags around her neck, she dropped them under the top. Satisfied she hadn’t left a mess, she opened the door.

“There you are,” Shirley said rising from the table. “How does the leg look?”

“A little pink along the edges, but it doesn’t hurt and the skin isn’t hot to the touch. I can even walk on it,” Charley answered limping forward a few paces.

“Good. Come over here and I’ll bandage it.”

Charley did as she was told, pleased to be able to get around on her own, but sorry not to have Bill’s arms around her again.

Now, I’m just being weird.

“Has Bill gone already?”

“No,” Shirley said, pulling Charley’s leg up onto the chair next to her and slathering salve over the stitched cut. “This is healing well.” She finished bandaging the wound and stood. “The horse is here. Do you want to see him?”

“Yes, I do. I’ve never seen a wild horse before.”

“He’s not wild, child. He belongs to the spirits. Here,” Shirley slipped her arm around her. “He’s coming to the door to greet us.”

“Where’s Bill?”

“Out front getting something from his car, but he should be back here any minute.

Shirley opened the door.

The pinto stood regally beside a washtub someone had filled with water. He nodded his head, as if thanking whoever had provided the drink before bending his neck to the make-shift trough.

“He’s beautiful,” Charley said, awed by the majestic animal. As if he understood her words, the horse looked up and whinnied.

“I will never doubt you again, Shirley,” Bill said coming around the side of the house.

“Yes, you will,” she said and chuckled, “but I’ll remind you of this. Get his tack and the saddle, and you’d best be going. Emile will be expecting you before the day heats up. You need to get back by early evening—no later.”

“And I’m not even going to ask how the chief will know I’m coming, and I promise not to be late for dinner.” He turned to her. “How are you feeling?”

“Good,” Charley answered. “Like a new woman, or maybe a throwback to another one. I can’t believe how well the clothes fit.”

“I had those same heebie-jeebies when I put on mine,” he whispered and winked. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…”

“…Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” She finished the quote. “Hamlet, Act 1, scene 5. I was an English teacher.”

He laughed. “Now, an auto mechanic moonlighting as an English teacher is something I’ve never pictured.”

“I consider myself well rounded.”

“And you are,” he answered his eyes roaming over her appreciatively. “Very well-rounded.”

Charley swallowed awkwardly, surprised by the heat coursing through her body.

Shirley giggled, but said nothing.

“I’d better get the horse saddled,” he said, “and you should get off that leg. Do you want to sit out here for a while? I can bring out a chair…”

“We’ll sit on the porch later,” Shirley answered, “but you’re right. She needs to sit. Come inside, wi’cin. You can help me get today’s bread ready while Bill and Shoon-kah’ ker get to know one another.”

Shoon-kah what?” Charley asked, wrinkling her brow.

“It means horse,” Bill answered, his face mirroring Charley’s confusion, “and don’t ask me how the hell I know that.”

Shirley chuckled. “The spirits are strong in you, Cbin’-chah.

Bill’s face reddened, but he didn’t answer. Instead, he turned and went outside.

“He’ll believe soon enough,” the old woman said and shrugged. “Now, let’s make bread.”

That’s it for this year. Well, that’s it for me.  Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales for this week’s offerings. And, Happy New Year!

Posted in Christmas, Tuesday Tales, Uncategorized

Tuesday tale: The finale of Where There’s a Will…

Badge for TT - very small (1)Christmas Eve is finally here, and while I look forward to tomorrow, I’ll miss the excitement and anticipation tonight will being.

Today’s post marks the last instalment of my Christmas story written just for you. If you missedd parts one and two, you can find them by looking at yesterday’s post.

is (2)Without further ado, let me invite you to read the ending of Where There’s a Will…

“I was sorry to hear about the accident,” he said as the limo moved along the busy Victoria street where houses shouted out their joy this Christmas. “I know how much being able to dance meant to you.”

“Thanks. Sometimes I think this is all a bad dream and like Clara I’ll wake up and it’ll just be a memory, but…”

“When life gives you lemons, you can either let it get you down or make lemonade and get on with it. You’ve never struck me as someone who’d give up easily.”

“If I were, I would never have made it. I’ll never be able to dance again, but I’ve got the memories and enough money to support myself for the rest of my life. I’m just not sure what I’m going to do with that life.”

“Coming home was the right decision,” he said. “Could you teach?”

“Ballet? I suppose I could, but I’m not quite ready for that yet.”

Their eyes met, and she could have sworn her heart stopped beating.

“You know, I’m a little disappointed about tonight,” he said, reaching out to take her empty hand, surprising her by the quick change of topic.

She cocked her head questioningly.

“I was really looking forward to carrying you out kicking and screaming.”

Brandi burst out laughing, the tension seeping out of her. “You wouldn’t have.”

“Maybe not,” he said and winked, “but we’ll never know.” He held onto her hand.

Chrysler Hall (2)Within minutes, the limo pulled to a stop in front of the country club beautifully decorated for the occasion. There had to be several hundred lights wrapped around the pillers, pine trees and other trees and shrubs, and artificial snow gave it a wintery look.

“Wow! The club certainly knows how to put on the Ritz, doesn’t it?”

“Blame your sister. She’s the one who arranges the décor. This is her baby, as is the charity Valentine’s Day dance she hosts each year. Last year, Jane’s silent auction raised over thirty thousand dollars for the BC Children’s Hospital at this event alone. I happen to know that one item tonight has already sold for twenty-five grand.”

“You’re not serious?”

“I am. The purchaser paid the money this afternoon on the proviso the item would not be put on public display. He didn’t want to chance losing it.”

“Wow. That must’ve been some … what was it?”

“A poster.”

“Seriously?”

isShe knew what that poster was. She’d signed and provided it herself. It was the one from her first ballet as the lead. Swan Lake, five years ago. Who on earth would pay twenty-five thousand dollars for a poster?

“Yup. Your sister is certainly dedicated. Wait until you see inside.”

“Without that hospital, my niece, Hope, would never have survived,” Brandi said. “Jane takes her fundraising responsibilities seriously.”

“Are you ready to face the lions?” he asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Don’t worry. I don’t plan to leave your side.”

“You don’t have to do that,” she said. “I’m sure you have friends here. I’ll be fine.”

“Don’t have to do it, but I want to do it.” He rang the doorbell before she could comment.

“You’re here and dressed for the occasion,” Jane said, when Jarrett escorted her into the club’s main room, all decked out for the festive season. “I almost expected you to back out.”

“I came close, but I figured you wouldn’t let me, and as I’ve learned on the way over, he would’ve dragged me here as you’d requested.”

“No,” he wouldn’t have,” Jane laughed, “but I’m sure he’d have tried to persuade you to attend. Now, come on over here and say hello to everyone.”

Brandi followed her sister into the room, leaning on Jarrett for support even though she clutched her cane in her left hand.

“You look wonderful, darling,” her dad said, kissing her. “How’s the house?”

“It’s great. You did a wonderful job.”

“Not me. Jarrett did all the work.”

“You didn’t say anything,” she said turning to look up at him, noticing the slight flush on his face.

“It wasn’t very much really—mainly redoing the bathroom and putting in sturdier staircases and railings.”

“Well, I appreciate it. I’m more solid on my feet right now, but when I’m tired and my back aches, I feel like I’ve danced all night.”

“Brandi,” her mother pushed forward. “Let me look at you.” She frowned. “You’re still too thin.”

“Mom, you saw me just last week. I can’t gain weight that quickly…”

“I know, but you’re even smaller than you were when you danced.” Her mother’s face turned a deep red. “I’m so sorry…”

“Mom, it’s okay. I used to be a prima ballerina. Now, I’m not. I’ve accepted that. You have to accept it too. We can’t keep dancing around the elephant in the room.”

“I know, sweetheart, but I didn’t want to be the one to bring it up.”

“Then let’s not talk about it anymore.”

Swallowing her pain, Brandi moved from relative to relative, friend to friend, shaking hands, answering nosy questions, and accepting their commiserations, until she was ready to scream.

“You look like you can use a break,” Jarrett said. “Santa’s on his way in, and while he visits with the children, let’s grab some air.”

“You’re a lifesaver,” she said wholeheartedly.

is (1)He led her down the hall to the back of the clubhouse and into the empty dining room that opened onto the terrace, a fairyland of lights and automated Christmas figurines. She stopped in front of the glass doors.
“Oh, this is beautiful.”

“Not as beautiful as you are,” Jarrett said. “I snuck this in here before I rescued you.” He pointed to the champagne bottle and two glasses sitting on the table closest to the French doors. He poured wine into two flutes, handed her one and with the bottle in his hand, offered her his other arm. “We’ve got about an hour before everyone piles in here to eat. Come outside. It’s even more magical there.”

Opening the doors, he led her to a rattan sofa and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders.

“I suppose they keep blankets out here for the guests?”

“Of course they do,” he deadpanned, making her giggle.

“You’re like a Boy Scout, always prepared.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” he said. “Look up.”

She raised her glance and saw the tiny clump of mistletoe he held high above her head.

“Merry Christmas, Brandi.” He bent his head to kiss her.

His lips were soft and tender and broke through the walls of loneliness she’d hidden behind for longer than she could remember. He slowly pulled away.

“I’ve been waiting more than ten years to do this,” he said quietly.

“But you never said anything.”

“What was I going to say? What could I have said? You were destined for great things and my place was here, but I knew you’d come home one day and I’d be waiting. You’ve always been my girl, even if you didn’t know it. The only thing that stopped me from coming to Toronto after the accident was Jane. She said I had to let you heal. I did, but I can’t stay quiet any longer. We’re on the verge of a new year, and I want you to be part of my life from now on. I won’t rush you, I just want you to let me in.”

Tears filled her eyes. “Consider yourself admitted,” she said smiling. Leaning forward, she kissed him. In the background Tchaikovsky’s familiar music played.

“If your parents named you after the song the first kissed to, does that mean we have to name our daughter, Sugarplum?”

She giggled. “No, but Clara isn’t so bad. Merry Christmas, Jarrett.”

He bent his head and kissed her once more.

 

The End

Well, that’s it for me. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales for the remaining stories written just for you. 

And may all your seasonal wishes come true. 12243301_569465426543052_289394125839172159_n

 

 

Posted in Christmas, Tuesday Tales, Uncategorized

Tuesday Tales, Part 2, Where There’s a Will…

Badge for TT - very small (1)Yesterday, I published part 1 of this Christmas story. If you missed it, you can read it here. Part 1 Where There’s a Will…

Now, I’d like to invite you to read Part Two.

Two hours later, wearing a floor-length, chocolate-brown silk gown,dress that hid the scars crisscrossing her legs as well as the unflattering flat shoes, so like the ballet slippers she’d worn for years, Brandi stood next to the tree staring out the living room window, watching for her private chauffeur to arrive. Glancing at her watch, she saw it was after five.

Great. I’m being stood up by the date I didn’t want in the first place. How perfect is that?

limo.jpgShe was about to call Jane when a black limo pulled up to the curb. The uniformed driver opened the back door and Jarret stepped out. Dressed in a dove gray suit with a charcoal shirt and a Christmas tie, he was as handsome as she remembered.

Moving out of the window, she reached for her coat and clutch, staringcane at her cane before deciding to leave it behind. Without it, after a short period of time her mobility would be limited, and she could use her discomfort as an excuse to bail early.

The doorbell rang.

Opening the door, she smiled. Standing there in all of his plus six foot glory was the one man who could still make her heart do flips. In the five years since the wedding, silver had peppered his dark brown hair, adding rather than detracting from his appearance. He was clean-shaven, the way she preferred her men. In his hand, he held a box.

“I see you’re ready,” Jarett said, stating the obvious, his hazel eyes conveying more warmth than she’d expected. “I’m glad you left your hair down. It reminds me of flowing lava.”

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll get burned?” she teased, fighting not to touch the copper curls cascading over her right shoulder, not sure whether the comment was a compliment or an insult.

“I’m hoping for it,” he answered cryptically. “I thought this might add to your holiday appearance, but you look perfect just the way you are.”

“I’ll bet you say that to all the girls,” she parried, reaching for the corsage of white roses with holly and pine. “It’s beautiful. Thank you. Can you pin it on?” She felt like a teenager going to the prom she’d never been able to attend. By the end of her last year in high school, she’d made the National Ballet and had moved to Toronto.

corsageHe reached for the corsage, pulled out the two beaded straight pins. “I’d forgotten how tiny you are,” he said bending down to attach the flowers to the left shoulder of her dress. “You know, if you’d stuck around ten years ago,” he continued as if he could read her mind, “I would’ve asked you to the prom. Since I couldn’t then, I thought I’d at least bring you the flowers, although I know you’ve been given dozens of roses over the years.”

“Yeah, but those were given to Alexandra Jameson. These are the first ones I’ve received in a very long time,” she answered, a tinge of sadness in her voice. This wasn’t the time to feel sorry for herself. She was over that, but the chances were, regret would come later once she was alone again. “Thank you.”

She didn’t comment on the prom, not because she didn’t want to, but because she was too stunned by his admission to say anything. Other than teasing her, he’d never indicated he’d been interested in her one way or another—of course, her life had been crazy back then. She’d barely had enough time to eat and sleep between school, ballet classes, and rehearsals for the ballet that had been her stepping stone to the top.

“I never understood why you danced under another name,” he said.

“It wasn’t another name; it was my middle name. The executive director thought Brandi was too kitchy for a prima ballerina.”

“I always thought it was cool.”

“You always made fun of it.”

“Maybe,” he admitted, “but it got your attention. I made sure no one else did.”

The realization that no one had ever called her by any other name but her own surprised her. Why had she never noticed?

“Why did your parents call you that?”

She chuckled. “It seemed like a good idea at the time, and given the color of my hair even back then, they thought it was fate. Back in high school, they’d dated a bit before my dad’s father was transferred to England. They kept in touch for a while. Brandi was the song playing when they first kissed and again when they kissed goodbye. When they met again fifteen years later…”

“That’s kind of romantic, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but when Jane came along four years later, she got a normal name.”

He laughed. “Her name may be normal, but your sister is a force to be reckoned with.”

“Amen to that.”

He took her coat from her and draped it over her shoulders. Before she could stop him, he handed her the cane.

“I wasn’t going to bring it…”

“I know. Jane figured you’d leave it behind as an excuse to cut out early.”

Shaking her head, Brandi sighed. “She knows me too well.”

“Sisters should know one another like that. It shows how much they care.”

He waited as she locked the door, and then tucking her arm in his, he led the way to the limo, and helped settle her into the car’s luxurious interior. It wasn’t the first time she’d travelled in such a vehicle, but it was the first time she’d done it with the man she’d pined over years ago. If he’d asked her to the prom, would she have said yes?

“Thanks for picking me up,” she said, surprised when there was no one else in the vehicle. “Where’s your wife?”

“I’m not married—never have been. The girl I wanted wasn’t available.”

“I can’t believe that blonde from the wedding didn’t get you to put a ring on her finger,” she answered horrified at the peevishness in her tone.

What the hell’s wrong with me?

He guffawed loudly. “You must mean Destiny, my plus one at the wedding. She realized I wasn’t rich enough for her and married a Vancouver plastic surgeon three years ago.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, feeling like a fool.

“Don’t be. I’m not. I consider it a lucky break.” He sat back as the chauffeur poured them each a flute of of champagne—Dom Perignon—nothing but the best.Xmas 6

“Well, this must be costing a pretty penny.” She thanked the driver who’d handed her a glass and sipped.

“Actually, it isn’t. Destiny just didn’t stick around long enough. The limo belongs to the company, although I sprang for the champagne.” He raised his glass in a toast. “Here’s to us, old friend reacquainted at the most wonderful, magical time of the year. Sort of like your parents.”

“History repeating itself?” She sipped her wine again. “So, what is it you do that has a limo on the company payroll?”

“I own a construction company. The limo impresses foreign clients when they come to view my designs.”

“I see.” She wanted to say something witty, but felt as awkward and gauche around him as she had as a teenager. It looked as if her ability to dance wasn’t the only skill she’d lost.

Now, please  drop by and visit  Tuesday Tales  for those with on-going stories. Don’t forget to come back here tomorrow for the final part of Where There’s a Will….

 

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Look Who Dropped By Today:Carrie Dalby

Good morning. This will probably be my last new author post of 2015. Meet, Carrie Dalby, a Christian aiuthor with Anaiah Press here to help promote her latest book, Fortitude, an Anaiah Surge novel.

fortitude 1600x2400

Blurb:

Growing up with a Creole best friend, sixteen-year-old Claire O’Farrell held little regard for the Jim Crow laws and the consequences of befriending those of a different color. But once she leaves the haven of her home on Dauphin Island, the reality of racial intolerance can no longer be ignored. Though she’s underage, Claire makes the bold decision to serve alongside Loretta, her best friend, in the “colored camp” hospital tents during the Spanish-American War, but her idealistic attitude and choice of working location immediately puts her in danger. Claire gives her heart to a soldier in the camp, only to find herself caught in the racial violence besieging the area. When the intolerant attitudes and stigma follow her home, she clings to her faith to navigate through her social isolation and find the path she was meant to travel.

Release Date:

December 8, 2015

Print ISBN: 978-0-9966827-6-3

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9966827-5-6

Book Links:

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27855801-fortitude

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Fortitude-Carrie-Dalby-ebook/dp/B018HSNK62/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448486496&sr=8-1&keywords=fortitude+carrie

CarrieDalbyAuthor Bio:

Born and raised in California, but a resident of Mobile, Alabama since 1996, Carrie Dalby is a homeschooling mom with a love of literature for young adults and children. Some of Carrie’s favorite volunteer hours are with Mobile Writers Guild, SCBWI, and Metro Mobile Reading Council’s Young Author workshops.

 

Website:          www.carriedalby.com

Twitter:              @Wonderwegian

Pinterest:           pinterest.com/wonderwegian

Goodreads:       goodreads.com/user/show/27124063-carrie-dalby

Google +:       https://plus.google.com/+CarrieDalbyCox/posts

Facebook:         facebook.com/carriedalbyauthor

Excerpt

© 2015 Carrie Dalby

Chapter One

Loretta, Aunt Norah, and I reach the waterfront after a short walk from the end of the trolley line. The docks are crowded with people, passengers, fishermen, and city officers going about their business.

When we spot my pa’s boat, Loretta grabs my elbow with her gloved hand. “Is that the one? The guy who had the nerve to kiss you on your birthday?”

Sure enough, Pa’s hired man, Joe, is tucking in his grimy shirt, his sun-streaked brown hair dusting his broad shoulders.

“Yes.” I clutch the carpetbag to my chest. “Why did he have to come along? It’s not like Pa’s going to be catching anything on the way home.”

“Don’t be coy, Claire O’Farrell. He wants to admire your fair beauty on the sparkling waters of Mobile Bay.”

I ignore her remark. After all our years of friendship, she knows I’m jealous of her fawn-colored complexion because it never betrays a blush.

“I missed my girl.” Pa stops for an embrace and his bushy beard tickles my forehead. Then, he’s on to speak with Aunt Norah.

Joe’s still a good twenty feet away, but his eyes are on Loretta and me.

“More likely he came to see if I really do have friends in higher society.” I run a hand over my ankle-length gingham dress, one that isn’t fit for city dwelling.

Loretta, adorned in a gray linen skirt and crisp white blouse, turns so Joe can gaze upon her supple profile, wiggling her lace-covered fingers in a mock-wave. “Well, I’ll bet he’s never seen the likes of a Creole princess.”

As if sensing our inappropriateness, Aunt Norah turns to us in the moment of Loretta’s flirting. She marches over, the wooden planks groaning beneath her weight.

“Miss Loretta Davis! I hope your dear mother never sees you behaving in such an unlady-like fashion!” My aunt is the active chaperone for Loretta, as well as the cook in her household. “If one of those patrolmen come over, you’re liable to get young Joseph Walker in trouble.”

“Why, Miss Norah, I was only waving hello.” Loretta’s thick eyelashes play their innocent game.

Aunt Norah’s face is as red as her frizzy hair. “If you were ten years younger, I’d put you over my knee right here on this dock, young lady!”

Loretta’s giggle sprinkles across the lapping waves. “Yes, Miss Norah. I see the error of my ways.”

Joe joins our little group and hands a basket of fresh oysters to Aunt Norah, sneaking one more glance at Loretta. “For your kitchen, Ma’am, from Mr. O’Farrell.”

“Much appreciated, Joseph. I’ll be sure to give my thanks to him.” Aunt Norah tucks the basket in the crook of her arm.

Loretta takes my arm and turns to Joe. “What’s your opinion on the disagreements with Spain?”

Joe removes his hat and runs the back of his hand against his forehead. “Ain’t any of my business what one country does to another. Cuba might as well be across the Atlantic for all I care.”

“But those soldiers gathering in Florida in preparation for war are taking ill on our own soil.” Loretta leans into my side. “I want Claire here to volunteer as a nurse with me so we can help relieve their sufferings. What do you say to that?”

I can’t help but become irritated at her dragging Joe into her scheme. To be sure, Loretta has more than the desire to become the next Florence Nightingale urging her plan. Her focus has always been finding the perfect gentleman, and I don’t think this idea of hers is any different.

Joe looks me over before speaking. “I’d say that’s a right fine thing to do.”

“Don’t do anything rash, Claire,” Aunt Norah chimes in. “I know Miss Loretta put some big ideas into your head, but think them through.”

“Yes, I will.” I say my farewells and hug my aunt and dearest friend good-bye.

The two ladies head off with Pa to accompany them to the streetcar line, and I seek a quiet spot to think. I forget my city manners and pull my skirt a little too high to step down into the boat. Joe unnecessarily holds my hand to steady me before I sit. I pull away.

“Your family sure is dotty with how things are between your aunt and the Davises. But your friend’s a mite perky thing, ain’t she?”

“I’d rather not discuss Miss Davis, or Aunt Norah’s position at their house.” I keep my voice formal, trying to discourage further questioning.

Joe isn’t one to take hints. “Did you have fun?”

“It was a lovely weekend, but I’d rather not discuss it. Shouldn’t you be fixin’ the sails for the trip home?”

“Nah, Mr. O’Farrell won’t be ready for a good five minutes.” His adorable crooked-tooth smile taunts me. “I was hopin’ you might want to tell me something, like how you’ve missed me, because I’ve missed you.”

The seagulls seem to be laughing at my predicament.

“It’s my family I missed, though three days isn’t much time to start pining after someone.”

He’s leaning close to me now. “‘Tis when someone fills your heart.”

In exasperation, I pull one of Loretta’s tricks—I pat my stylish coiffure, compliments of Loretta herself—and roll my eyes. “Well I wouldn’t know, since there’s no one on the island I feel that way about.”

“Always so proper, but just you wait, Claire O’Farrell. I’ve been told I grow on people.”

“Moss can grow on things, too, but that doesn’t make it good. It can be downright slippery.”

Joe’s dimples crease his cheeks as he smiles. “I’ve done been warned ‘bout you. They told me to watch out for that Irish temper and feisty tongue.”

Shock causes me to sit upright. “And who are they?”

Joe pulls a cover of seriousness over his jovial face. “Oh, I’ve got my sources, but don’t worry your pretty lil’ head, I’ll protect you.”

“And from what, or whom, do I need protection?”

His dark eyebrows close the gap above his nose and he reaches for my hand, but I tuck it under my skirt. “All the single men on the island have their eyes on you, from the widowers to the school boys. They’ve been watching since before I came along, and think it crazy for your ma to keep educating you the way she does. Not to mention sending you off to that Creole house for visiting every month.”

I’ve never thought myself the topic of conversation among the fishermen. The need to know pulls me closer, so I lean toward him.

“It’s fine to romp n’ play as kids, but those strings to the Davises should’ve been cut years ago. Some people might—”

“And what right do you have to say something like that after that flirting you did with Loretta?”

“She’s a sight to behold, that’s for sure.”

Pa chooses this minute to board.

“Lose your sea legs already, Claire? You look a wee bit green.”

I shake my head and try to breathe. Joe gets to work, following Pa’s silent lead. As the miles to Dauphin Island decrease, I mull over my trip to town. It was different than my typical visitations because in celebration of my sixteenth birthday the week before, Mrs. Davis and Loretta put me up in the fancy guest room, on the second floor hall between their own bedrooms. Usually, I bunk with my aunt, who has a simple clapboard room off the kitchen in the back of the house, but for the past two nights, I slept in a wallpapered room with silk sheets.

Besides the use of the guest room with the four-poster bed, I received a streamer trunk full of clothes, most of which were left in Loretta’s care, awaiting my call to adventure. The bounty included a ruffled mint green frock with capped sleeves. I’d never felt as naked in my life as when I tried it on. The thought causes me to look around self-consciously. Joe’s sitting against the side of the boat across from me, mending a net. Our eyes meet and I look away, my face hot from embarrassment.

“Everything all right?” he asks.

“I’m worried about the war.”

“There’s plenty right here in this boat to keep me occupied. I don’t need to go lookin’ for adventure.” Joe tosses one net aside and picks up another for inspection.

Pa, one hand on the sail ropes, takes a few extra puffs on his pipe and looks from me to Joe but remains silent.

“All that disease they’re suffering from, right here in our own country. It doesn’t seem right for the soldiers to grow ill and die before they have the chance to prove worthy in battle.”

“There’s no honor in death,” Joe says, “whenever it comes.”

His words are almost poetical. I suspect he’s been reading, so he can try to impress me with wisdom or wit, but the way his callused hands work the nets make it difficult to imagine them holding a leather-bound book. My own freckled hands are used to hard work, though I never much get to aid people outside of the community of Dauphin Island.

A gull cries out, and a brown pelican passes overhead. The birds and the smell of low tide—comforting details of shore life—help me temporarily forget the ill soldiers. I turn back to the water, casting my gaze starboard. We’re sailing past Mon Louis Island—a piece of land separated from the mainland by Fowl River. I can’t help but think of Loretta’s relations there. When her parents moved from New Orleans after they were married, they settled in the Creole community with her father’s extended family, but moved on to town while Mrs. Davis was pregnant. Having Loretta a few miles across the water would have been grand, but I don’t think our paths would have crossed if her parents stayed there. Besides, having Aunt Norah in common, we’re better than kin because Loretta chose to bunk with us rather than her relations when her mother sent her out of the city during the yellow fever epidemic last year. I do want to help Loretta volunteer, but I’m not sure rushing off to Florida is the best idea.

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Time Travel Books, Part 2

Last week, I shared the bfirst part of Morgan O’Neill’s Italian time travel series. Today. I’m drwaing your attention to the second part that goes on sale for 99 cents USD tomorrow. A great, inexpensive way to fill up that Kindle or tablet you’re getting or giving for Christmas.

Time Enough for Love, Book Two of the Italian Time Travel Series, published by Time’s Arrow Productions. Genre: Historical/Time Travel Fiction

TimeEnoughLove_CVR_LRGAbout the Book:

Through dark magic, Californian Gwendolyn Godwyn has been swept back in time to medieval Italy. There, she finds herself in the midst of a war between Italy’s rightful queen, Adelaide, and those who have kidnapped her and seek to usurp her crown. Risking her life, Gwen elects to play a pivotal role in the planned rescue. In the midst of the chaos, she is drawn to the queen’s champion, Lord Alberto Uzzo, who battles not only their military foes, but also his personal demons. Tested to the limit when he discovers Gwen’s true identity as a time traveler, Alberto nevertheless fights through his doubt and the whirl of superstition that surrounds this intriguing and strong-willed woman. Time is of the essence as the lovers seek to overcome the evil forces rallying against the queen they’ve vowed to save. Will Gwen and Alberto be able to overcome the groundswell of danger to find time enough for love?

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NPCGH34/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

DeborahCordes&CaryFratesAbout the Authors:

Two authors writing as one, Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O’Neill Cordes specialize in recreating pivotal moments in history, epic adventure, and romance—with a time travel twist