Once a week, every Tuesday, an excerpt from one of my books, chosen for no special reason.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What will we find when we get there?

The pioneers who headed for Oregon didn't really know what they would find. There were pamphlets and stories, often creative more than accurate, but they headed out on faith and dreams. This is an except from Round the Bend where the family is asking someone who had been there-- what should they expect.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    "Tell us about Oregon," asked Loraine.
    "Mostly I know the Willamette Valley where I’ve spent time twice... Once for a winter."
    “Is it all we’ve been told?" Amy moved into the circle, sitting on the ground, her arms wrapped around her knees.
    He smiled. “Well, I don’t know what you were told, but it’s pretty country, rich land, some of the soil almost black and will grow anything. A big river flows right down through it with tributaries coming out of the mountains on both sides. Hot springs... and the fish, you ought to see the salmon when they go up the rivers. A man could almost walk on them. There are huge cedar and fir trees, lush meadows, snow covered peaks to the east."
    "Tell me more about the farmland," Amy's father requested, a gleam in his eyes.
    "I’m no farmer but looks to me like a lot of water, good soil and with mild winters, that it’ll be easy to raise crops. Winters are mild. Mostly the snow only lasts a few weeks, a month at the most. The year I was there, it only snowed one time and melted almost right away."
    "With the Homestead Land Act passed last year, are you thinking of staking a claim yourself this time?”
    "Man has to stay on it four years to claim it. I used to think no place was worth staying that long. I have been thinking though... Maybe I might want to do that." Adam's gaze settled on Amy.
    Amos smiled, nodding his head.
    "They told us there’d be no Indian problems,” Amy’s mother said, as she pushed a wayward strand of hair behind her ear.
    "No trouble in the main valley, the country near Portland and Oregon City."
    "You hear stories about scalpings... savages attacking peaceful settlers. For instance, there's what happened to the poor Whitmans," she said, a worried frown crossing her beautiful face.
    "The thing with the Whitmans was a tragedy based on misunderstandings. It wasn't in the Willamette Valley though, and it was with Eastern Oregon Indians, the Cayuse—not the same at all."
    "Why do you say misunderstandings?" Amy's father asked.
    Adam shrugged. "I'm not fond of second-guessing people, what they do or don't do, and I didn't know the Whitmans. I hear they were good folks, but too many times the missionaries come to the Indians unwilling to learn anything about their customs and determined to change their way of life. They talk but don’t listen," His voice grew hard as he continued, "When the Indians fight back, everybody wonders why."
    "That's a severe condemnation of those doing God's work." Amy's father's expression had turned thoughtful.
    "Maybe so. I'm not the best man to judge," Adam said, his dark blue eyes saying he'd prefer to discuss something else... anything else.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

from Round the Bend

When the going was rough for the pioneers heading to Oregon; and it often was rough, talking about how it would be helped them get through it. For that matter, it still helps us during difficult times. From Round the Bend:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "Tell me about how things'll be in Oregon," she whispered dreamily.
    Matt swallowed and tried to remember his own dream. It was becoming lost in a sensual haze. He cleared his throat. "I got a little money, not much, but it'll get us a start. Not fancy though." He pushed her away, studying her dark eyes as another reality intruded. "We’ll file on the land when we get there. Married, we get over 600 acres. We have to work it and then the time will come it’ll be ours. First thing we do there will be to build a cabin. I am good at that-- except, the home you had in Missouri was a fancy place. Were you hoping for one like that in Oregon?" He worked to keep his tone deliberately light, as though her answer didn’t matter.
    "Any home with you will be wonderful," she whispered. She slid back into his arms, her lips next to his, her breath mingling with his. "If it was just you and me, a tent would be enough."
    "It wouldn't, Amy. You don't know what it's like to not have enough-- even for eating."
    "You're not helping," she protested. "I want a picture to keep with me, hold near my heart, of a future to look forward to, not dread. I don’t want a list of don’ts, but of dos." She slapped his chest lightly. "Close your eyes, Matthew.” She smiled as he gave up and obeyed. “All right now the cabin will be over to the west, just one room with a loft, at first. The barn with one milk cow and some chickens is over to the north. South of the house, just above the creek is a garden. Do you see it?
    “There’ll be flowers mixed in with the vegetables and healing herbs like Mama always has.” She ran her fingers over his lips. “Eventually we'll plant fruit trees a little further up the slope and-- well, who knows what else we'll plant." She stopped.
    He laughed, as always reading her thoughts with too much accuracy. "I expect we'll think of somethin'-- to plant," he whispered, his lips brushing hers, lightly, teasingly, then with full possession in a kiss that lingered.
    "You do want children, don't you, Matthew?" she asked when she could.
    His mother had died in childbirth, his birth. Would he lose Amy the same way? Would that be his punishment for having killed his mother? Another fear, more deeply seeded, refused to come to where he could grasp it. It lingered in the shadows. He was not facing something fully, but whatever it was, he couldn't look at it-- not yet.
    Delaying the need to find an answer, he nuzzled the soft curve between her neck and shoulder. "Why is it," he murmured, kissing the soft skin, "you always smell so sweet?"
    She laughed. "I was just thinking the same thing about you."
    He looked up at her in surprise, thinking she was teasing him. He knew what he must smell like. There'd been no time to wash so much as his hands, and he'd spent the day working with animals, greasing wheels, eating dust and riding a horse for eight hours.
    "I meant what I said. You smell like hard work and outdoors, like a man ought to smell."
    Slowly they walked back, the darkness now cloaking them from interested eyes. Avoiding the small clusters of people, Matt saw her nearly to her own wagon. He stood in the darkness until she was safely with her family.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

from Second Chance

As with most writers, I like every book I write. If I don't have the feel for them, I stop writing as I would stop reading a book I didn't like by another author. Some though have a special place in my heart usually for different reasons. Second Chance is one of those as it is not only about human second chances but those wildlife find in rehab centers like my hero runs. 

Due to early mistakes (he was in Moon Dust), Judd has had a special feeling for second chances and found his life work giving it to animals. He supports his center by being a trucker. He's become the kind of man a woman could fall in love with not only for what he looks like but his ethics-- unless that woman isn't fond of the idea that he takes on everybody else's problems. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lifting the boxes, stowing one after another into his truck, Judd tried not to think about the week he'd endured. TGFF had never had so much meaning. After the beauty of Barrett, her home, her soft body, he'd gone back to Second Chance to find Barry running a fever, a fever that rose to dangerous levels despite the antibiotics the doctor had immediately prescribed. 

Judd had taken care of his friend as best he could, but the animals were demanding of his time, another hawk had come in, this one too disabled to save, and he'd been offered two shipping jobs that conflicted, causing one of his regular clients to become irate enough to threaten finding another trucker. When he'd thought the week couldn't get worse, his sister had shown up, reading him the riot act about his ignorance in not filing charges against his father. 

At this point, he couldn't have done so if he'd wanted, he'd destroyed any possible evidence as soon as it had come to him. He tried to explain that to Teresa, but it only caused her to break out in tears, something that always leveled him. 

Judd had taken off his shirt as he worked; the sweat rolled down his torso as he thought about his father. Teresa was probably right. He should have gone to the police with the letters. His lingering distrust of the police, pride, and that constant need to do what he could to fix things had kept him from it. Now he would have to face the consequences. 

There were a lot of consequences waiting in the dark for their chance to get payback, but he usually prevented himself from thinking of those. In the past. He’d made amends. It never seemed to totally wash the dark feelings away. 

He wondered, as he had more than once throughout the week, about Barrett. Was he on her mind the way she was on his? It didn't seem likely. She had so much going for her--beauty, brains, money, position. What would she need with a guy barely making ends meet, with more mouths to feed than made sense, with a past like his, and a future potentially filled with problems? Maybe in a few years. 

That was stupid talk. Nothing would have changed in a few years. He was smart enough about women to know she was attracted to him. He also knew for a woman like her, raising a daughter, that wouldn't be enough. Even if he'd let himself think he had a chance with her, her ex-husband would make the whole thing too risky. 

Stowing the last box in his truck, he handed the shipping list to the clerk and got it signed. "You get that there before six," the little guy repeated for the seventh time. Judd shouldn't have been counting, but he had been. 

"That's only an hour off," he said irritatedly. "You should have had this load ready for me when I got here, if you wanted it there today." 

"It's gotta be there before six," the man repeated. Judd looked at his watch, debating the traffic he knew he'd have to fight, recognizing his own desire to see his truck unloaded, and said, "I can't guarantee it, but I'll try." 

 "There's a penalty clause." 

"Yeah, and it should've been invoked when you didn't have everything ready for me," Judd retorted. The little man shook his head. "All right. Do the best you can."

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Excerpt from Hidden Pearl

Hidden Pearl is a story of a cult and the people who try to unmask what is going on. The hero and heroine are S.T. and Christine. Hank is a significant secondary character, who is a friend of Christine's, and becomes one of S.T.'s.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


“We met before?” S.T. asked taking Hank’s hand for a firm shake.
“In the photos Chris took. Beautiful shots." He tilted his head, studying S.T.'s face, then scanning down his body. "I wouldn’t mind shooting some studies of you myself. Gratis, of course."
      Before S.T. could get past his surprise, Christine said, "You do remember I told you he doesn't take kindly to cameras? Where’s Jerry?"
      "He’s out but should be back.” He glanced at his wrist watch. “In an hour or so. Why don’t you like having your picture taken? With a face like that, you owe it to the world. Not to mention that body. Good God.” He scanned down S.T.’s body. “How many hours a day you work out? I don't suppose you'd let me photograph you in buckskin maybe with a feather. I could sell those shots for big bucks."
       "You've got to be joking," S.T. shot back.
Hank laughed. “I do? Chris told me about you and the camera. Just like to joke around a little… Of course, if you’re open to no clothes on a river bank, I’m your guy. Anybody ever catch you buck naked?”
     “Not with a camera." S.T began to recognize Hank's offbeat sense of humor and found at least a modicum of appreciation for it. He gave Christine a telling look. "At least I don't think so." She smiled innocently and said nothing.
       "So what'd you do to your ankle?" Hank asked.
       "Wrenched it," S.T. said.
       "Or broke it," Christine put in. "He won't go to a doctor."
       "Want me to look at it?"
       "You a doctor as well as photographer?" S.T. asked. "Or do you just like looking at-- swollen flesh?"
        Hank laughed loudly. "I was a medic in 'nam. Did a lot of quick patch-ups. Come on back to my kitchen. I'll take a look." Hank led the way down a narrow corridor to his private quarters, then glanced back. "You think about that modeling thing though. You could make some real money at it. Ads. Magazines. Yep."
        The kitchen, a large yellow room with long, black-topped counters, glass fronted cupboards, a round oak table at one end, was filled with the fragrant smell of freshly brewed coffee. S.T. wondered how strong his will power was going to be. He'd always said he wanted to get off the brew. He'd gone since Friday morning without a cup, but did he now want to stay off?
        "If he changes his mind on the modeling," Christine said, linking her arm possessively with S.T.’s, "I have first dibs." For good measure, she added a firm grip on his biceps.
        "So that's the way of it." Hank shook his head. "All the good ones are taken," he said, leaving it up to S.T. to decide how he meant that as he grinned like a tipsy leprechaun, which, with his bowling ball shaped bald head and slightly pointed, prominent ears, was how S.T. was beginning to see him.
        "How about coffee?" Hank asked S.T., pouring Christine a cup.
        S.T. felt the desire well up in him. One cup. What could one cup hurt? When he took it, he saw by the knowing expression in Christine's eyes that she hadn't forgotten his earlier comment that he would give up the brew. Just as well she be forewarned that where it came to will power, he didn't think his would take any awards.
        "Sit down on that chair," Hank gestured. "We'll get that boot off and have a look at the injury."
Overriding S.T.’s protest, Christine and Hank soon had him seated, his boot painfully pried off, his sock removed, jeans rolled up his calf, and his foot resting on a chair, while Hank heated some sort of salts in a pan of water.
        "Stick it in there," he said, lifting S.T.’s leg as though he wasn't capable of doing it for himself. When his foot met the water, he understood why the hand had been there. It was to keep his leg down and foot submerged.
        "Ouch!" he yelped, hoping Hank would relent, but he didn't.
        "Got to be hot. When this cools, we'll pack it in ice. Tomorrow you'll barely remember it happened."
        "If I survive the burns.”






Sunday, May 3, 2015

yes, they did fly fish back then... some anyway

Romances are actually books about relationship. At their heart, of course, is the love story but always there are other relationships that are significant. Some of my favorites are bromances. This is an excerpt from Round the Bend:



      Walking back from the river, Matt, cold and wet, could hear Clem and St. Louis talking before he and Adam reached the camp. Clem's face was lit by firelight as he stirred a pot of stew, now and then gazing toward the river. With the glare of the campfire, it had to be too dark to see much of anything.
      "Ya worried about them boys of ours?" St. Louis asked.
      "Nah. Just wondered when they'd be getting back," Clem answered and then looked up as Matt and Adam walked into the circle and headed straight for the fire, dripping water, their boots squeaking.
      Clem watched them for a moment. "Where's the fish?" he asked when he could obviously stand waiting for the answer no longer.
      "In the river," Adam said tersely. He knelt by the fire, holding his hands up to the warmth.
      Matt eased himself to the ground, stretching out his leg in an attempt to find a comfortable position.
      "All of 'em?" asked Clem finally.
      "You see any fish on us?" Matt retorted, edging a little closer to the fire.
      Clem chorted. "You two got skunked!"
      Adam grimaced with distaste. "Can't you think of a better word for it? Besides it wasn't my fault."
      "It wasn't?" challenged Matt.
      "I had it hooked!"
      Matt snorted. "Ah yes, hooked. That's the trouble with that funny lookin' pole of yours. It doesn't do you any good to hook them if you can't bring them to shore." He enunciated his words carefully, as though speaking to a slow-witted man.
      "How'd you two get wet?" Clem asked, looking from one soaked figure to the other.
      "He thought it was one way to land the fish," Matt quipped when he saw Adam wasn't going to answer.
      "I did not.”
      Clem handed them each a cup of coffee.
      Matt took a restoring sip of the hot brew. "You saw that fish slipping off, and you lunged for it." Matt shook his head as he added, "Thanks to my bum leg, he knocked me in at the same time."
      "You damned near broke my pole," Adam accused, his eyes flashing.
      "And you damned near drowned me." Matt shook his head with disbelief as he looked at Clem and St. Louis. "Got me tangled up in that funny line of his, thought I'd never get back to shore."
      "If I'd have gotten my hands around your neck, you wouldn't have," Adam muttered almost under his breath.
      Matt smiled. "If I hadn't broken his line, I'd be in the bottom of the pool."
      "I thought you did that on purpose. Do you have any idea how expensive good fly line is," Adam grumbled, staring moodily into the fire. He glared accusingly at Matt. "Why were you so close when I hooked him anyway?"
      "I wasn't. You got buck fever, ran up the bank like a kid seeing a fish for the first time." Matt laughed at Adam's expression of suppressed outrage.
      "I do not get buck fever," Adam snapped. He looked to St. Louis for confirmation. "Have you ever seen me get buck fever?"
      "Nope, but then I ain't never seen ya go fishing neither." He stared into the campfire. "I seen a lot of good men lose their heads over trout. Craziest thing I ever seen the way men go nuts for fishin'. Good men just can't think of nothin' but catchin' a little bitty fish on a hook."
      Matt and Adam glared at him with indignant faces. "Little bitty!" they growled, almost in unison, "you should've seen it!"

 digital painting of my favorite fly fisherman on Miller Creek in Montana

Monday, April 27, 2015

Diablo Canyon excerpt


In writing Diablo Canyon, I enjoyed the discussions between those in the spirit world as much as the human characters. Naturally, this is purely imagination for what that spirit world might be like... Of course, it is :)



    A disturbance around them settled in. They looked toward the female form that had joined them—Aretha. “What are you doing here?” Justus asked using an officious tone.
   “Exclusive territory is it?” Her smile was sly.
   “Not saying that but there are protocols and assignments.”
   “And oversight,” Aretha retorted.
   “Oversight?” they repeated simultaneously.
   “You two have let this become too personal. You aren’t paying attention to the bigger picture as you argue with each other. I am here to moderate.”
   “He assigned you?” Remus asked.
   “She did.” Aretha grinned as the other two sighed with resignation. “Do either of you remember the purpose of being a guide?” she asked.
   “Of course,” Justus snapped. “It’s to encourage our person to reach their fullest life potential.
   “And who decides that,” she asked. Even though he had said much the same thing, Remus resented her smug tone. He then was angry with himself for revealing an inferior human response to correction.
   “They do before they are reborn.”
   “And that still holds even when it’s not the choice of your charge?” Aretha obviously knew she had them by her confident smile.
   “Even then,” Justus said unwilling give up.
   “So no free will?”
   “I am not trying to limit Clayton’s will,” he argued even as his expression indicated he knew he’d lost the debate.
   “Except you have been guiding, really since birth, a man particularly attuned to going within. You now want to block his free will because it doesn’t suit your perceived plan for the proper path. It’s all because you’ve made up your mind what his current life plan should be.”
   “It was the agreement.” Justus thrust his thumb toward Remus. “You’re on his side.”
   “No, I’m on the side of guides doing their jobs, which doesn’t mean making up their minds what it must be. Life isn’t set that rigidly is it?”
   “They are not supposed to be together this go round. You know how it works when they come together,” he argued. “You remember all the times they came together and look at what happened.”
   “Fate can also play a part.”
   Justus gave a disgusted snort. “Well the idea this time was they stay apart to develop self-control.”
  “Worked great, didn’t it?” Aretha asked laughing as they watched the subtle byplay with the couple.
   Remus wondered what made her in such a good mood about this. He might disagree with Justus in trying to brainwash his charge; still, this was not how it had been laid out—at least he didn’t think it was. Was there more here than he had been told?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Excerpt


Excerpt from Her Dark Angel, a contemporary romantic suspense set in Reno, Portland and Tahoe.


       “Is there something there you don’t want me to see? Are you the reason my uncle’s business is failing?" 
       He didn’t flinch nor turn away from her appraising gaze. “You never know, do you.” His smile was lazy, self confident. She knew now for sure-- her first impulse had been right. She didn’t like him. His features were nearly perfect, but there was a sneer under the surface that could turn them almost ugly. Was she seeing his soul? There would be no middle ground with how someone saw Dill Delaney—angel or devil.
      God, she almost hated him as he coldly met her gaze with that harsh, masculine toughness, those cold eyes, but something was worse about him. Under it all she saw vulnerability. Damn. She hated seeing that. There was a quality of boyishness that called out to be nurtured.
      She turned away, not wanting to find anything good in that face. She was sure of it. He couldn't be trusted. He was the type who would use whatever weakness he found in others.
     "You’re right, he said, “don’t trust me.”
    That was infuriating. He was reading her mind. “I won’t.”
     "Good. Don't trust anybody down here."
     "Except Uncle John," she corrected. She looked back and saw the muscle twitch in his jaw.
    "Love your uncle," he said, "don't trust him either."
    She glared at him. "I've known Uncle John all my life. If I can't trust him, who can I trust?"
    He shook his head, his hands spread. "Don't ask me. I've never found trust gained me much."