New Book Out – Phew!

The best thing about self-publishing is no deadlines. The worst thing is…no deadlines! That means tinkering around making endless changes to the story, starting other projects, and, without oodles of self-discipline, what is intended to be a few weeks can stretch out to… Well, never mind. It’s done! Over! Finished.

Yes, my long-awaited (by me, at least) western is finally out. I don’t really consider the novel a “western” but rather a historical that happens to be set in the western United States immediately after the Civil War. There are horses, bandits, six-shooters, and American Indians, yes, but it’s mostly about three displaced young persons finding “home.” And of course there’s a love story in there too.

Many thanks to my wonderful friends and critique partners who helped me whip it into shape. I could not have done it without you. And thanks to my daughter for the new banner featuring my book covers, including my next historical with romantic elements, New Hope, which should be out in a month or two.

If anyone’s in the mood for a fun story with lots of action, Chance’s Bluff is available as an ebook or paperback at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=chance%27s+bluff

(If you like it, please post a kind review. Thanks!)

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Love & War Anthology

I have just finished an anthology of novellas, written with three of my friends as a salute to soldiers and veterans of different wars. A sampler with the first chapter of each story is now available on Amazon for 99 cents. Love & War Anthology shares the stories of soldiers and veterans of the U.S. Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the war in Afghanistan. The full-length anthology is soon to follow. Keep posted!

Love and War Anthology (1)

Gad — a Great New Word

My daughter came up with a useful new adjective, which I find myself using regularly these days: “gad.” It describes things that are both good and bad at the same time. For example children growing up and moving away from home is good, because that’s what we want for them, but bad because their absence will leave a hole in their parents’ hearts. What are some situations that have happened to you that were “gad?”

A Western Novel With Romantic Elements

Here is the prologue to my western novel, tentatively titled Westering Home (borrowed from an old Scottish song my late father taught me). Set shortly after the end of the Civil War, it’s the tale of three young people whose lives are thrown together by an act of violence. I hope it piques your interest!

The novel should be available on Amazon as an ebook by September, 2015. Look for further details!

Westering Home

Prologue

Willy hated the emigrant from the moment the canvas-topped wagon lumbered into view. It stirred up a cloud of dust, almost obscuring the lone cow that ambled behind with a bell clanking mournfully around its neck.

From his perch high above the trail, the red-bearded miner crouched on his haunches, shook tobacco into a square of brown paper and twisted it before clamping it angrily between his teeth. The unfairness of it all—of life—made him nearly chomp through the cigarette. Here he squatted, pockets empty, amidst the tall weeds and fallen rocks of the Southern Cascades while everyone else was pulling bucketsful of silver out of the mines or setting up prosperous farms in the valleys beyond.

Now along rolled this cocksure emigrant, a darned foreigner from the looks of the ruddy face and thick blond beard, big white teeth grinning as if life was spread out before him like a banquet. It was the wife sitting beside emigrant, though, who fired Willy’s envy into white-hot envy. Her bonnet had fallen back so sunlight glinted off her golden hair, and the blue calico dress, faded from months of travel, displayed a trim figure.

Willy sucked harsh tobacco smoke deep into his lungs. How smug the man looked with his barrels and fat bags of seed lashed to the wagon. Must be plenty more goods inside. Maybe even a chest filled with banknotes, or gold coins. And that pretty wife….

He ground out the stub of the cigarette under the heel of his boot and held chapped-knuckled hands toward the small greasewood fire, dimly aware the burning resentment was unjustified. Hundreds of other wagons passed this way every year. This was just a straggler, no different from the rest. Truth be told, life was probably just as hard for the farmers as it was for him, but as Willy shivered in his threadbare coat, misery left no room for sympathy.

A plan was hatching itself. Soon a grin spread across his wide, sunburned face.

For two days he followed the wagon. While the couple unwittingly made camp below, he tethered his horse in the hills, squatted, and watched. Finally, he thought, Willy Ratzel was going to have his due.

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I just switched to WordPress from Blogspot, so please forgive me while I go through the learning curve.  It seems appropriate to make the change in July, a month where Americans celebrate change — the change from old ways to new, as exemplified in the Declaration of Independence.

My first book, The Gardener, is set soon after that world-changing document was signed. In it, a young English gardener is forced to leave his homeland and make his home in the newly formed United States of America. Quite unintentionally, it seems that most of my stories have similar patriotic themes, as well as the struggle between the yearning for independence and the longing to belong and be safe.

Although I write mostly historicals, I believe those themes are true today, as we continue to debate how much freedom we are willing to trade for security.John-Trumbulls-painting-Declaration-of-Independence-depicting-the-five-man-drafting-committee-of-the-Declaration-of-Independence-presenting-their-work-to-the-Congress-1819