Tuesday Tales: From the Word SKINNY

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. While many of you celebrated President’s Day yesterday, here in Ontario we celebrated Family Day. Unfortunately, because of the disputes between the government and the teachers, the last thing my grandkids needed was another day off school. Still, it was a day away from work for my daughter and a chance to spend quality time with her children.

This week’s Tuesday Tales is based on a word prompt and limited to 400 words. The word is SKINNY. I continue with The Price of Courage.

They skied until the sun reached its zenith. Raising his hand, Lucien signaled a halt.

“We’ll rest here for an hour or so, have something to eat, and rebuild our energy. I’ll gather wood while you find us a suitable tree under which to make our temporary camp.”

Okwaho nodded. “There is venison stew for us to eat. Nugoomee filled a small pot this morning.” The Mohawk sniffed the air and frowned. “But we will eat quickly and then be on our way. I smell death on the wind.”

Lucien frowned but nodded. If the Mohawk smelled death, then something had recently perished nearby. Hopefully it was an animal and not a man. By now they’d gone beyond the boundary of Bouchard’s land and were either on unclaimed land or on the edge of the seigneurie, Beauséjour. Would that estate be the one the false Bouchard had called La Jeunesse Oublige? He hoped so, since the idea that there could be another estate out there that even the governor knew nothing about was disturbing.

Lucien set about finding wood while Okwaho checked nearby trees and cover for the best place to make a fire to heat their food. Skiing was hard work, especially when the snow was deep and sticky, but it kept a man warm on the outside even if it could sap his strength and energy. That was why taking time to eat and renew themselves was so important.

The heavy snowfall had covered many of the broken twigs and branches Lucien would usually collect for a fire. Pulling out his knife, he headed over to a stand of skinny birch trees bowed low and damaged by the snow. Green wood wasn’t the best, but the bark burned well.

animal arctic blur canine

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He was only a few feet away when he spotted the red snow and the frozen remains of a doe, her gut torn open, the tender organs ripped out. Here and there, the remnant of entrails highlighted the paw prints surrounding the carcass.

Other than man, wolves were the only predators who hunted for sport. Judging by the remains here, either this pack was well-fed or they planned to return to the kill later. Either way, he and Okwaho would do well to be far away from this place before nightfall.

Gathering as much bark as he could and some dry branches, Lucien made his way back to Okwaho.

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Tuesday Tales: It’s Picture Time.

New TT imageWelcome to Valentine’s Day Week version of Tuesday tales, the blog where a specific group of authors share scenes from their works in progress with you. This week is picture week and each scene is limited to 300 words.  Feel free to leave a comment on the posts you read. We are love to hear from our readers. I continue with The Price of Courage. 

Here is the image I chose. With a snowstorm raging outside my windows, it seems fitting to imagine the beauty of the day when it ends.TT

Okwaho was as good a man, if not better, than many he’d met. Huguette, or rather Nugoomee as she would now be called, could do far worse than attach herself to the Mohawk scout. He’d seen how well they treated their young, accepting adopted children with the same love they showed those born to them. Yvette, Jean-Michel, and the unborn child would have a kind and caring father.

Without another word, Okwaho finished putting on his skis and wrapped the hide ropes for the toboggan around his waist. There was little on it, but the scout hoped to find fresh meat on their return. Now that he had a family to feed, he would take his responsibilities even more seriously than before. Lucien smiled. Yves would be quite content with that. The coureur de bois loved fresh meat.

Skis secured, Lucien led the way around behind the house and out to the fields in the direction Nugoomee had given them. The estate was one spring day’s march from the Bouchard farm. There was probably a trail of some sort that skirted her land, but going cross country like this, through the bush and across the cleared fields, might save time. He hoped to reach their destination by nightfall. They’d heard wolves calling the last few nights and would prefer to be indoors when the beasts set out on the hunt again.

The air was clear and crisp, the sky an unending canopy of blue. Sunlight reflected off the snow necessitating the use of their bone eye shields. Trees, heavily laden with new snow, stood as solitary sentinels as he and the scout skimmed over the fresh powder, moving faster than Lucien had expected. Here and there, downed trees or those bowed so low they obscured the path, forced them to find another way.

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Insecure Writers Support Group Monthly Blog Post

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeMy life has become a little crazy, but I’m taking a few minutes to post this month’s blog question. Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

In my case, the answer is yes. In fact, my recent trip to Mexico and the photographs I took there of the sunrise are at the center of a new novella that will be released as part of a box set in June. I’m titling the story, Tequila Sunrise. Here’s the photograph.  The story is all laid out, and if it does well, I’ll consider writing a longer version. But this picture isn’t the first time one on my vacation photographs has inspired a story.sunriuse 1

In 2015, I took an Alaskan cruise. Among the activities was a float plane ride. I took this picture of an isolated lake. It became the scene of a covert cult’s hidden base in my novel The White Iris.

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Similarly, when on a Caribbean cruise, I took this picture of the water in the harbor. The color of the sea was the basis of my heroine’s eye color in Wedding Bell Blues. 20190124_120653(0)

The more I travel, the more I hope that the photographs I take will inspire more stories.  Do vacation photos inspire you?

Check out the ISWG’s page to see how other writers have answered this question. https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Tuesday Tales: From the Word GRAY

New TT image

Welcome to the first of February’s post for Tuesday Tales. Today’s word prompt is GRAY. I continue with The Price of Courage.

The door opened and the scout entered.

“Are we set to go?” Lucien asked, turning to face him. Huguette looked up at his words.

“We are.”

“What have you decided to use? The skis or the snowshoes?” Yves stood to the side to let Huguette and the children approach.

“The skis,” Okwaho answered, bending down to pick up each of the children. “You will be good for your mother and Michaud,” he stated, but not as severely as he normally would have.

Yvette nodded and kiss his tattooed cheek.

“I want to go with you,” Jean-Michel said, his lower lip trembling.

Okwaho’s face softened. “Not this time, Eksá:’a. When I return we will all go, but for now you must be a brave boy. Listen to Michaud and take care of your mother and sister.”

Huguette reached up to take the boy from him and set him down while Okwaho did the same to the little girl.

“I made this for you,” she stated solemnly, holding out a gray woolen scarf similar to the one she’d given Lucien. “Will you accept my gift?”

Lucien looked at Yves who shrugged. There seemed to be a wealth of meaning behind the offer of the scarf that hadn’t been there when she’d given him one earlier.

The Mohawk nodded and allowed her to wrap the strip of wool around his neck and face.

“Thank you, Nugoomee,” Okwaho said.

Huguette nodded. “I hope it will keep you warm and safe.”

“As I will you. Be ready to leave in four days.”

Huguette nodded and stepped away.

With a single nod, the Mohawk left the house, closing the door behind him.

“Yves will keep you safe,” Lucien said to the children huddled in their mother’s skirts. He opened the door and followed the scout down the steps. Okwaho was putting on his skis.

“What was that all about?” Lucien asked.

“The woman and her children have agreed to be mine,” Okwaho said, his voice filled with pride. He indicated the scarf. She made  this for me from a garment that had once been her husband’s. Now I take it and his place in her life. Do not worry. She and the children won’t hold us back on our return to Ville-Marie. Nugoomee of the Mi’kmaq is a strong woman. Her children are healthy. When the time is right, she will bear me fine sons as well.”

Thanks for visiting. Don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Book of the Month for February:Forever & Always

sunriuse 1Well, we’ve made it through January and what has to be the strangest winter on record. I spent a lovely week at Los Cabos on the Baja peninsula of Mexico. Sunrises, lie this one were breathtaking. Watch for a story this spring inspired by the sea, sand, and fun.

February has always been considered the month for lovers. To that purpose, this month’s 99 cent book is Forever and Always, a story of endurance and triumph.

Forever and AlwaysThe dance is everything, or is it?
Brandi Alexandra Jameson’s entire life has been dedicated to ballet. When an accident she believes was caused by a crazed stalker fan leaves her close friend and dance partner dead and herself barely able to walk, she’s lost, adrift without a future.
Jarrett Sullivan has spent most of his life in love with the petite red-headed brunette he met when he was in first grade, acting as her protector throughout school, but just as he was ready to make his move, she left Victoria for the National Ballet in Toronto. He’s followed her career, and now that she’s back home, he jumps at the chance to get to know her the way he always wanted to.
Brandi remembers Jarrett, the boy she idolized, and when the man wants to have a relationship with her, she’s thrilled. But that joy turns to horror when she learns the truth about a poster, and believes he’s just another fan and that it’s Alexandra, the dancer, he wants, not Brandi, the broken woman. Fleeing her family and Victoria, she runs to the only friend she has hoping to heal her broken heart.
Discovering Brandi may have misunderstood the situation, Jarrett is frantic to find her and straighten out the mess, but will she be willing to listen and give him a second chance?

Here’s a sneak peak at Chapter One

Chapter One

 December First

Toronto, Ontario

 Heart pounding, body covered in sweat, Brandi’s face glowed as she waited for her cue. God, she lived for moments like these. How Pavel could even think of retiring was beyond her. If she couldn’t dance, she would wither and die.

At the familiar strain, she danced onto the stage. Caught up in the music, she flowed from one movement to another, as if her body had been designed for this and only this. Up on her toes once more, she finished the final steps of the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”, ending in the fourth position. Tchaikovsky’s music faded, and she relished the audience’s approval before hurrying off stage.

Finally, the last dance and the apotheosis completed, the curtain fell on this year’s opening night performance of The Nutcracker. Brandi smiled at Pavel, the Nutcracker prince, and Lucinda, who’d taken on the role of Clara. From the auditorium, applause thundered. In the wings, the ballet’s stars waited for their time to step forward for their first curtain call.

Usually Brandi danced the role of Clara in the annual presentation, but this year, Anton had chosen her to be the Sugarplum Fairy. They would perform the ballet another dozen times before Christmas. Her family, including her three-year-old niece, Hope, would arrive in Toronto for the final performance of the year, and then she would fly home with them. She would have three months off before rejoining the company for its European tour, Pavel’s final performances. This year, while he would be Siegfried, she would dance the part of Odile/Odette in Swan Lake, reprising the role that had earned her the title of prima ballerina.

“You were wonderful tonight, dorogoy,” Pavel said, the Russian endearment slipping off his tongue before he kissed her cheek as he had done to Lucinda. “Not even the great Pavlova could’ve done better.”

“As usual, you’re exaggerating, but I’ll take it. Lucinda, you were wonderful, and you, old man, weren’t too shabby yourself,” she said, grinning, teasing him about the fact that at thirty-seven, he was the oldest dancer in the company.

Praise from Pavel was high praise indeed because he was also the most critical dancer, demanding perfection not only of himself, but of every member of the troupe.

“You could give Nureyev a run for his money,” she admitted, knowing it was true.

Pavel inclined his head. “If only I was half as good as the master.”

“You’re that and more.” The orchestra played a different tune, and she smiled. “You’re up.”

Pavel nodded, and taking Lucinda’s hand, danced onto the stage to bask in the adoration of the crowd. Brandi waited the required thirty seconds before pirouetting to join them.

The audience roared its approval.

This was why she danced. Forgotten was the pain in her toes, the ache in her muscles, the pinched ribs, the long hours of exercising, practicing each move to exhaustion, and constantly watching what she ate. In their place was the adrenalin rush that flooded her when she stepped onto the stage, a feeling that turned euphoric as her body became one with the music until the dance ended and the audience applauded.

Bowing low, she glanced up in time to see a stagehand, or was it another theater employee, hurrying over to them, his arms filled with enormous bouquets of red roses. He offered one to Pavel, another to Lucinda, and the largest one to her.

Her smiled faltered, stopping short of a grimace, when she saw the small pink envelope attached to the white ribbon.

Not again.

Who was he that he could orchestrate this every night?

Consummate professional that she was, she accepted the roses and hid her distress behind those plastic smiles she wore so well until the last curtain call ended. Twelve calls tonight, and the accursed roses grew heavier with each one.

Walking into the wings, she shoved the bouquet toward another of the stagehands as if the mere act of holding them in her arms pained her.

“Get rid of these, will you?” she asked, grabbing the clean towel he offered her.

“Right away, Miss Alexandra,” he said, reaching for the two dozen blood red roses, the look on his face one of stunned disbelief. “Do you want the card?”

“No,” she spat the word. “I know who they’re from, and believe me, he has nothing I want.”

Pavel seized the envelope. “Thanks, Luke, I’ll look after this.” He reached out and grabbed her shoulder, holding her in place, trying to hand it to her. “Brandi, you can’t ignore this guy. Detective Anthony told you that. Aren’t you in the least bit interested in what he has to say this time?”

“Why? It’s going to be another one of his creepy declarations of undying love, or some crap about fate. I am not now, nor ever will be, his destiny.” She shook loose, started to walk away, the stiff skirts of her pale pink tutu—the same pink as the damn envelope flouncing along with her—and then stopped, her shoulders slumping. “Damn it. Why can’t he leave me alone? Why does he have to ruin everything?” She wiped her damp brow with the towel, staining it with stage makeup before putting it around her neck. “You’re right. I should at least have a look at it and hand it over to the police. Who knows? Maybe he stepped over their invisible line this time. Thanks for grabbing it.” She took the envelope, holding it gingerly. “It’s hard to issue a restraining order when you don’t know who you’re trying to detain, and ‘Your Prince’ isn’t a lot to go on. Maybe he left fingerprints or something on this one.” She huffed out a breath. “I’m sick to death of all this. I wish things were like they were in the early days when fans were just that—not obsessive psycho monsters. In some ways I envy you. In six months’ time, this will all be behind you and you’ll be up to your ears in dirty diapers.” She lowered her voice. “Is Stan still picking up Collette before us?”

“He’s probably there now.” He grinned. “We’re going to Sergei’s if that’s okay with you?”

She nodded. Sergei’s was an upscale Russian restaurant on Finch that specialized in the traditional dishes she’d grown to love. The owner was a friend of Pavel’s and had a quiet backroom they could use for their meals—out of sight, out of mind. The photographers could focus on someone else tonight.

“Collette’s been craving vatrushka all week and Sergei’s cheese pie is the best. As soon as the European tour is over, we’ll be going to Brandon to visit my parents for a few weeks before we move to Winnipeg. Don’t get me wrong, vozlyublennaya, I love the dance, but I love my wife even more, and with our first child on the way, I’m happy to retire from the stage and take a position as an instructor. I’ll still get to dance but without all the hours of rehearsal, the traveling, and publicity nonsense that go with it. Pavel, the dancer, like Siegfried, goes out in a blaze of glory as they say, and Ivan Branski, the teacher, takes his place. Some of my fans will be heartbroken, but life goes on.”

Brandi sighed. “I know, but I’ll miss you both so much. You’ve become closer to me than my own family.” Not difficult to do when she’d spent more time in the last fifteen years with him and the rest of the company than she had with her parents and sister.

“And we will miss you, but Winnipeg isn’t really so very far away, and there are plenty of direct flights from Toronto. My mother is thrilled that she’ll be so close to her grandchild.”

She punched him softly on the upper arm, the muscle firm beneath her touch. “I’m happy for you—for both of you—but who’ll protect me from the wolves once you’re gone? Ramon is an excellent dancer, but he’s not into women, and that’s public knowledge. I never minded having my name linked with yours as long as it kept the fools away, but it did make it hard to have any kind of personal relationship. I’m thirty-two and I’ve never been on a real date. The closest I got was five years ago when you escorted me to Jane’s wedding and I danced with an old friend—more of a tormentor, but one I had a crush on—all those years ago growing up. Back then, all the time I had went into schoolwork and the dance. No room for a life. I’m amazed you found time for one.” She looked down at the small card. “Adoring fans are one thing, nut jobs like this guy,” she waved the card around, “are another.”

Pavel stopped in front of her dressing room door. “Life is too short to ignore any part of it, Brandi. I wasn’t looking for love, but when I saw Collette, it hit me between the eyes like a hammer. She means the world to me. There’s someone out there for you. That guy may not be your prince, but don’t give up on finding him. Just be willing to give him a chance. You may not believe me yet, but there is more to life than the dance, and I look forward to every one of those dirty diapers. I intend to be the best otets I can be. There is no greater glory for a man than to be a father.” His smile was large enough to give the Cheshire Cat a run for his money. “Now, are you sure you don’t want to go to Rick’s like the others?”

“Positive.” Using the keypad lock, she punched in the code to open her dressing room door. “The paparazzi and God alone knows who else will be there, and I would much rather have a late, quiet supper with just the two of you—that is unless you’re sick of me playing fifth wheel. I can just go home and make myself a salad or something.”

“Don’t be silly. We love having you around. You’re the little sister I never had. Now, no more doom and gloom for tonight. It’s time to celebrate. Collette’s checkup today was good and Baby Branski will be here for Valentine’s Day. I can’t think of a more wonderful gift. I’ll meet you at the stage door in twenty minutes.”

“Sounds good.”

Brandi stepped inside her dressing room, the scent of half a dozen bouquets, all gifts from fans wishing her success tonight, almost overpowering. She should be used to the funeral parlor aroma by now. When she’d first started performing with the National Ballet, she’d been thrilled with the bouquets and letters from adoring fans, but over the years, and especially lately, that adoration had become smothering. Gone was her ability to eat in a fast food place or go for a walk without having to don dark sunglasses and a cap. She couldn’t go shopping without being accosted, and a day at the beach was out of the question. Not that she’d ever had much of a personal life, but she missed the one she’d had. This newest fan, the one who, for the last six months, seemed to attend every performance regardless of where she danced, had gone from annoying to downright creepy.

A stack of cards wishing her well sat on the table in front of the sofa. Tomorrow Maria, her publicist, would send autographed pictures to each one of those who’d provided an address, but so many—like her stalker—were anonymous.

On her dressing table was the one bouquet that made her smile, a vase filled with red carnations, their spicy aroma fighting for recognition. Those flowers were from her family, sent on opening night no matter where she performed, the only floral tribute she wanted. Unlike the red roses her stalker sent her after each performance, the ones that somehow managed to be delivered while she was on stage in front of the audience—the ones she couldn’t refuse.

Forever and Always is exclusive to Amazon and available from all distributors.

Tuesday Tales: From the Word GRAPES

New TT imageHello.  It’s so nice to be back, although I miss the warm sun and heat of Mexico. Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales, the weekly blog where a small dedicated group of writers share their works in progress with you. Today’s word prompt is GRAPES. I’m working on The Price of Courage, a historical, romance suspense novel. While Izzy and Guy continue their trek to Quebec, we return to the Bouchard farm where Lucien, Yves, and Okwaho still have work to do.

Enjoy:

“We shouldn’t be anymore than a couple of days, three at most,” Lucien said to Yves, pulling on his heavy coat, and wrapping the scarf Huguette had knit him around his neck and face.

The snow and bitter cold, as well as a serious grippe afflicting the lady of the house, had stopped them from traveling to check out the estate to the north for more than two weeks. The pregnant woman’s fevers and severe bouts of coughing had been extreme, no doubt a side effect from her time spent half-naked locked in the root cellar. Lucien had feared for her life. Yves had been concerned they could bring on an early labor, but Okwaho, more solicitous than ever, had nursed her back to health, using herbs he’d brought with him, as well as the thick soups and stews he’d spoon-fed her himself. Yves had tended to the children, keeping them a safe distance from her, while Guy had taken over most of the sentry duties, but given the severity of the weather, neither man nor beast would be out for any length of time in it.

Lucien had returned to the cabin one night to find the Mohawk on the floor in front of the large fireplace, his body and furs wrapped around the trembling woman in the hopes of keeping her warm. Much to the relief of all, the fever had broken the fourth night, and while Okwaho had them all drinking willow bark and echinacea tea every few hours, no one else had fallen ill. Now that she was well on the mend and capable of helping with the chores, Lucien had noticed an unspoken understanding between the Mi’kmaq woman and the taciturn Mohawk warrior. Did she feel she owed him her life? It wouldn’t be the first time that kind of debt had brought strangers and former enemies together.

This morning, the sun shone brightly. While it was still cold, the temperatures would rise during the day, not enough to cause problems, but high enough to let them travel without the risk of frostbite. Since the days were growing slightly longer, they should make good time. Lucien just hoped they wouldn’t find a massacre at Beauséjour. Perhaps the false Bouchard had been truthful, and the men had died from illness. Lucien shook his head. Since he wasn’t drunk on caribou or the homemade fermented grape wine Huguette had found, her husband’s private stash he hadn’t shared with the interlopers, that was hard to believe.

Thanks for visiting. Don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales, the blog that provides weekly glimpses of our works in process. I’m continuing with my historical romance suspense novel, The Price of Courage. As always, picture prompt scenes are limited to 300 words. Here’s the image I chose.

 

snowy trees for TT

On the fourth day, the sun rose in the east, the clouds scuttling out of the way. While the air was crisp, it wasn’t as cold as it had been and Izzy was anxious to begin the second leg of the trip. Ensconced in the sleigh, one of Amaya’s feather quilts between the heavy fur and her body, she settled in to enjoy the ride. Her time at L’Erable Rouge, newly renamed by Richard, had been pleasant, and Guy had promised to stop again on their return. Amaya assured them of a hearty moose stew supper, and Jakinda would have the lace bonnet ready for the baby. Izzy ran her hand lovingly over her belly, scarcely discernible under the heavy clothing.

The trees frosted in snow, sparkled, adding magic to the scenery. In the distance, mountains rose, not as majestically as those in France, but tall enough to be daunting.

“Will we go into the mountains?” She nestled into Guy, glad to be alone with him once more—well as alone as she could be with two men directly in front of them.

“No, my love. We’ll skirt the base and stay along  the river’s edge. We’ll climb a bit, but it will be such a gradual escalation, that you won’t even notice.”

Nodding, she sighed. “Tell me about those we’ll meet tonight.”

“Pierre Legardeur’s estate, L’Assomption, is one of the oldest and most prolific seigneuries in the area. He was granted the land almost twenty years ago and now has a small settlement inside a horseshoe-shaped bay in the river. I’ve availed myself of their hospitality many times. It’s safe to say, he supports the colony.”

“Amaya spoke highly of our hostess.” She grinned. “Have I thanked you for taking me with you?”

“No thanks necessary, wife.” He bent to capture her lips with his.

Thanks for visiting. Don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Insecure Writers Support Group Blog for January 8, 2020

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeSince New Year’s Day was the first Monday of the month, the blog’s a week later than usual this month, something that allowed me to get back on board.

I have been noticeably absent these past few months. My father died October 1, and it’s been difficult to pick up the many pieces of what I considered normalcy in my life. Losing Dad wasn’t the first loss I suffered last year. By the end of 2019, twelve people I called friends had joined him. Sometimes trying to find normal again is like trying to put toothpaste back into a tube. You can’t. You have to move on and try to find whatever can pass as a new normal for you. It’s a slow process, but one I’m working on.

January 8 question – What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?

For me, writing a book was a dream for as long as I can remember. I knew I wanted to write; the catch was getting up the nerve to give it a try.  I’d written some poetry and done technical writing, but what I wanted was to craft a novel, something that would live on, long after I was gone.

When I retired from teaching, the writing bug was stronger than ever, and I opted to do something about it. I had a vivid imagination and enjoyed reading, so when the opportunity presented itself with a chance to write a real book and get it published, I jumped at it. Of course, my first pitch failed, but when I entered a second pitch-fest, I got interest from a small publishing house, and after revisions, I sold my first book, then another, and so on.

But it wasn’t all roses and sunshine. I was shafted by at least two small publishing houses, had another close, and finally, had one swallowed up in a merger that tossed little fish like myself to the garbage. I valiantly continued writing and trying to court new publishers, but eventually realized that the only one making money on my writing was them, not me. With more than a little trepidation, knowing I still wanted to write, I requested my rights back and self-published. I haven’t looked back. Fire Angel, my first book, looks far different now than it did in 2013, but the things I learned have made it a much better story.

Why do I write? For the money? Not bloody likely since I don’t make much.  I write for a number of reasons, but the primary ones are to entertain others and just do something. For me, writing provides  an escape from the terrifying reality that surrounds me. I’m aging, and my body reminds me of that on every cold, damp day. My Facebook feed is flooded with news of one calamity after another–fires out of control, plane crashes killing hundreds, mass shootings in schools, the looming threat of a third world war. Does the bleakness of a world gone mad affect my writing? It does, but not always in a negative fashion. I like to think there is still some good out there, rational minds who’ll realize we’re destroying ourselves and our planet. That’s why, regardless of the plot, my books offer hope and a happily ever after.

This will be my seventh year as a published author. During that time, my writing ability has undergone change. I’ve learned from others, honed my skill, and as I continue to write, I use everything I’ve learned to the best of my ability. No one can predict the future. We all have to hope good will overcome evil and that there will be positive news this year. In the meantime, I’ll continue to vanish inside my head and crank out stories with a happy ending.

If you would like to read more from IWSG, click on this link. https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

 

Tuesday Tales: From the word ROUND.

New TT imageWelcome to this the first Tuesday Tales post of 2020. Each week, our team of authors posts from a current work in progress based on a word or picture prompt. I’m currently working on The Price of Courage, a historical romance suspense story.  This week’s word prompt is ROUND.

Enjoy.

At last alone with Izzy, Guy pulled her into his arms, the small round belly partially hidden by the dress she wore, fitting snugly against his frame.

“How are you really feeling?” he asked, holding her tightly to him.

Izzy shifted against him, her profile buried in the thick woolen shirt he still wore.

“I won’t lie to you, Guy. I’m tired, more tired than I thought I would be, but I’m also excited. Because of the twins, Amaya wasn’t able to come to our soirée, so this is the first time we meet, but we have a lot in common. Did you know Jakinda is actually her cousin and step-mother, her own having died before her tenth birthday? Alasne is her half-sister, bearing a stronger resemblance to her father.”

Guy nodded. That explained the age difference between the girls as well as the difference in appearance. While Alasne was younger and sickly in color, Amaya resembled the Spanish women he’d met the Navarre area before deploying to the colony. That time seemed so very long ago.

“I wish we were staying longer,” Izzy continued. “The babies are so very sweet, and I have no doubt Amaya could give me truly useful information to help me prepare for the baby.”

Guy grinned, making an instant decision. Anything to please the woman he loved.

“It looks like you’ll get what you want. Richard mentioned that there is a large moose in the woods around the property. Such an animal would keep the family in meat for most of the winter. Luc and I will join Richard and his men in a hunt tomorrow. You can gossip with the ladies the entire day.”

Izzy pushed off his chest, her eyes open wide, glowing with pleasure.

“You just decided that, didn’t you?” Her eyes narrowed with suspicion, but the glow of happiness on her face didn’t fade.

“Yes, my love, I did, but I should’ve considered the idea before we left the settlement. A day’s break between bouts in the sleigh will make the trip easier on you. Now,” he released her and began unbuttoning his heavy shirt. “Let me clean up so we can go down to supper. You must be hungry, and I’m famished. We will stay an extra day even if Richard chooses not to go hunting.”

But the extra day turned into three as the wind howled and the snow fell.

Thanks for visiting. Don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Book of the Month: Secrets and Lies

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

It’s Book of the Month Time, and for January 2020, I’m offering Secrets and Lies for only 99 cents. As always, Secrets and Lies is free to read on KU.

Secrets and Lies is part of the Hearts of Braden Series, a multi-author series. Secrets and Lies stands alone for your reading enjoyment, but the story doesn’t need to end there.

The Blurb:

Secrets&LiesFinaleBookSmall (2)DEA agent, Emily Shepherd, is after the Chef, a crystal meth cook, who sets up labs for the Mexican cartel and walks away—the same man responsible for the deaths of her husband and unborn child. Her search leads her to Braden, Iowa, a small town just right for the Chef’s specialty. But identifying her quarry won’t be easy when she’s up against a woman who sees her as a threat, a male chauvinistic deputy sheriff, and an attractive school principal who might just be at the center of it all.
Jackson Harris has sworn off women. Life is satisfactory, if lonely, until he meets a hazel-eyed damsel in distress who gets under his skin, and triggers that protective instinct of his. There’s a killer in town, one who may or may not be a notorious drug lord. Finding him, and keeping his town, his students, and Emily safe, may be harder than he thinks.

Here’s a taste of the story:

May 1

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me the truth, Kyle? I had a right to know.” Emily Jacobson Shepherd sat in one of the hard chairs across from Kyle Kavanagh’s desk, fervently wishing she’d opted to stand, although by now that would probably be torture, too. She’d run the gamut of emotions these past eighteen months, but nothing matched her current fury.

“Damn it, Emily. I didn’t know for sure until they recovered the bodies in Mexico. We thought he’d died in that blast, too,” he said running his hand through his sparse ginger hair. “Information to the contrary started trickling in about a year ago, but it was just speculation. Even my source inside the cartel wasn’t positive. Since I wasn’t sure you’d ever be able to come back, let alone want to do so, I figured letting you think he was dead would help you heal and move on.”

The Chef was alive! She tried to get her head around Kyle’s revelation and was still too stunned to fully appreciate all that those four little words implied. The bastard wasn’t one of the unidentified corpses they’d found in the warehouse. Kyle had suspected the truth for almost a year, and yet he had let her go on believing her enemy was gone. Knowing that monster was still out there, praying on the innocent and luckless, would’ve helped her get back on her feet sooner. Instead, she’d wallowed in months of self-pity, regretting the losses she’d suffered, and feeling cheated because her nemesis would never pay for the crimes he had committed. Death in that explosion would’ve been the easy way out for him. She wanted him to suffer, like she had, like she did now. “You don’t have the right to decide what I need or don’t need. It was my life he ruined.”

The Chef had forfeited his men the way a chess player sacrificed his pawns. Those poor buggers probably hadn’t realized they were the equivalent of the guys in the red shirts on Star Trek. Alex had loved the sci-fi series and always joked that the extras in the red shirts should get danger pay since they were sure to die within the first few minutes of the episode—that was unless of course they were engineers. Like the Enterprise’s Montgomery Scott, the Chef always managed to make it out in one piece. Despite his age and educational background, Alex had been superstitious and had refused to wear red shirts, citing the precedent, and yet wearing a blue shirt hadn’t saved him or the other men who’d walked into the trap with him.

By some miracle, she’d survived, but look at the price she had paid. This was her chance to get even, to get the justice she wanted for the man she’d loved. Who was she kidding? She wanted revenge, plain and simple, but Kyle was vacillating and she didn’t like it one damn bit. He owed her. “This is my case, has always been my case, and now that I’m back, I should be the one to follow through on it.”

She was so angry with the agent-in-charge of the El Paso Division of the DEA that she was shaking, and gripped her hands together to hide it. How dare he presume she could ever go on not knowing the truth? A slip of the tongue from a visiting agent and friend had changed everything and given her a reason to live again. Badgering her doctor, she’d convinced him to let her return to full duties. The days and nights of feeling sorry for herself were over. Her life had purpose again, and that goal was to put the Chef out of business once and for all.

“Despite what you’ve heard, we don’t know exactly where he is, but we know where he’s been. We’ve got someone on the inside now, and our informant says he’s on the move. I’ll see what I can do about getting you reassigned to the case, but Emily, it isn’t up to me alone. The brass has to sign off on this, and given the situation, I’m not sure they will.”

“Then you need to convince them I’m the best person for the job. I’m not an idiot, Kyle,” she argued, frustration giving her voice an unnecessary edge. “I’m a frigging bionic woman now. People with artificial limbs like mine return to their regular jobs every day. Soldiers go back into the field, and it’s time I did, too. It’s taken me more than a year to accept what happened to me, and I’ll be damned, if I let it steal any more of my life. I’m either a DEA agent returned to full duty or I’m not, and you’ll have my resignation on your desk as fast as I can print and sign it, but let me assure you, I will find him even if I have to do it on my own and spend every last cent I have tracking him down.”

“Don’t be stupid. Going after him without the resources of this office to back you up would be suicide. You’re smarter than that. You’ve gone through hell to get where you are today. Why would you chance throwing it all away?” he asked, calling her bluff.

“Because I have nothing left to lose. Suicide or not, he’s mine and I’ll see he pays for what he did to me and to Alex. You’ve always said any of the undercover operations we handle can turn deadly in the blink of an eye. While I never really believed that before, I do now. I was there the last time we almost had the Chef, remember? I have the internal and external scars to prove it.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking.”

“I do. I’m asking to finish the job that got my husband and my son killed and left me like this.”

Secrets and Lies is available form all Amazon distributors.