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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Arizona Sunset excerpt

Arizona Sunset, Book 1 of the Arizona Historicals, is set in 1883, when an outlaw and a spinster meet in an unexpected way. They begin with a mutual attraction but wanting very different things from life. She is looking for a brief adventure and an escape from a life of rigid conventions. He sees in her a possible chance for a respectable life such as he's only seen from the outside looking in.

Expectations have a cost, but neither grasp that at the start. This snippet is where they are coming up against some of those differences, which can be too much -- even with love as the binder.


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

    “You really went to the Reimers?”
    “Yes, I did.”
    “Why?”
    “I told you I wanted to meet our neighbors. I felt like it’d be a good thing to do for us. Having friends is a good thing, Sam.”
    “I don’t need friends.”
    “It’s not a matter of need. It’s just nice to know your neighbors.”
    “God, you are green, Abby. I keep thinking I have seen it all with you, and you surprise me again.”
    She knew that was no compliment, and it irritated her to have him keep saying how she was so unknowing of the ways of the world. True, she had not lived out on her own as he had, but she knew something about people “People need people, Sam. It’s about community. You then have someone you can count on.”
    “You count on anyone but yourself, and you’ll be dead.”
    “So you keep people from getting too close?”
    “It works best.”
    “And where does that leave me?”
    His smile was reluctant. “I’m trying to figure that out.”
    There was no answer to that. She managed a smile of her own. “I’m hungry. How about you?” She opened the cupboard and looked around for what might be possible.
    “Not much.”
    She gave a little laugh. “Well, I am starved.” She found some biscuits and handed Sam one. “I should have left Margaret’s earlier. Time got away from me.”
    “You liked her?”
    “Yes, I did. She’s a plain spoken woman. I told her we’d have them to dinner some evening.”
    He gave her a look. “Abby, you’re not using your head. You and I are not the usual couple here. I am not the usual ranch owner in these parts.”
    “Well, I certainly know how it’s been, Sam but...”
    “If we go around other people, they’re going to figure something is wrong at the Circle R. From there it won’t take long to bring a hanging rope.”
    She wasn’t ready to let this go even though she felt a surge of fear at the idea of Sam at the end of a rope. “Haven’t you thought of being a real rancher someday, Sam?” She saw by the expression on his face that this was something he wasn’t open to discussing. “Things change. For instance, you could learn to read if you wanted.”
    “I’ve tried. I’m illiterate."
    "You're not or you wouldn't even know a word like that."
    "I took care to learn that one. It had special meaning to me."
    “You can learn to read, Sam. I know I can teach you. You couldn’t read that note, but sometime it could be something that matters even more.”
     He appeared equal parts embarrassed and exasperated. "Don’t you think I’ve tried. I've looked at books, tried to figure them out. I can't."
     "Because everybody needs somebody to help them, to read to them, to show them words. You were too proud to ask for that help, weren't you? The question now is are you still?"
     "What do you mean?" He didn't like the idea of her teaching him to read. It seemed to put him even further beneath her than he already knew he was. He wanted to be the one to teach her things, not the other way around. As he watched her stubborn expression, he thought of all the things he wanted to show her. But tonight was not the night. He was as tired as she was.
     "I can teach you to read. Are you too proud to let me?" she asked nailing it on the head.
     "It's not pride."
     "Isn't it?"
     He stared at her, knowing she was right. It was pride. He swallowed a chunk of it. “I could try, I guess."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This couple show up as secondary characters in Book 5's Echoes from the Past.

 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

too busy and still too dry here in my part of the PNW

This has been a particularly busy time for me in the writing area. Echoes from the Past is out as a prerelease-- on sale for $2.99 until it is delivered August 5th (that's when it is paid also). 

The edit for the third Oregon historical seemed to take forever. I thought I had it in perfect condition-- not so much. It goes to its beta readers next week and then will be published September 21st. 

In the midst of that, I have been doing some cover work. One advantage of being an indie writer is I have total control over my covers. That means if they don't quite hit the mark, I can only blame myself. It also though means when I want to change one, I can do it. 

I wrote about one of those changes in my Rain Trueax author page at Facebook. This is a place anyone can access without being a member or even joining Facebook. If cover art and the philosophy behind it interests you, check the link out: 



If you are interested in reading about my writing process, etc., it's also a good place to bookmark and visit now and again as I write tidbits there frequently, most on the writing.

The new cover perfectly suits Evening Star, a book I wrote years back but only now have a visual image for what that hero looked like :). A lot of my heroes are that way. When I finally find the right face and expression, I am happy :).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sky Daughter Excerpt

Snippet from Sky Daughter, a contemporary paranormal with a new cover that finally has the right image for the hero on its cover. He wasn't easy to come by as the hero, Reuben, has a Jewish mother and Puerto Rican father. He also is supposed to be so handsome that the ongoing joke is he looks like a model for a magazine ad. I have the right guy with Vikkas Bhardwaj:




          “A living head, huh?”
          “Cutting off enemy heads and displaying them--which the warriors did after and before battles--sounds ruthless, but they didn’t do it to be cruel. They thought the head had power.”
          “I’m going to assume your grandmother didn’t take her Celtic lore to that extreme,” Reuben said with a wary smile.
          “She wasn’t going to battle. If she had, who knows. Celtic women can be fierce warriors.”
          “I do know that,” he said. “Fierce warriors and maybe…” He bent and kissed her, his lips as firm and tender as she had remembered. His tongue traced her lips, sending a quiver through her that seemed to radiate throughout her body. She reached up, wanting more. She felt a growing passion that demanded she acknowledge that connection between them.
          The kiss again seemed to pull her into him, to hold her there by something more than his arms. His hands stroked down her back. She realized how little she and he wore and where all this would lead in another moment, and she pulled back.
          Breathing heavily, she rose from the sofa and walked a safe distance away before she looked back at him. He was sitting where she’d left him, his hands at his side, and a bemused expression on his face. “You are like a flame,” he said after a moment. “Hot, burning, then gone, nothing left but the coals.”
          She managed a smile. “We needed a time out.” She recognized the power in him. It wasn’t just in the sinewy, muscular body; it was within the soul of him, something that called out to her, that revealed in her own self a place she had no desire to know better.It was as though too many things were coming at once, secrets her grandmother had found a way to reach out from the grave to leave for her. Then this man who seemed to be setting her soul and body on fire. Yes, she had a Celtic heritage, but she had carefully kept that part of herself controlled.  She had to keep it controlled
          We did?” he asked quietly.
          “It’s just not right for us,” she said finally.
Going against everything he’d just told himself only hours before, he asked,  “What’s the harm in doing whatever comes naturally? Men and women do that all the time.”
          “I don’t.”
          He didn’t know why he was going to stir up an argument with her but he did it anyway. “Holding out for the wedding ring?”
          “You are taking a lot for granted,” she retorted.
          “I am?”
          “That I’d want to wear any man’s ring.” He just smiled at her.“Good night, she snapped, sharply turning on her heels and heading out of the room. She couldn’t resist one more rejoinder. “Next time you have a nightmare, you can suffer with it.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Some heroes are tougher than others-- that's not always good

The hero, Vince Taggert, in Echoes from the Past is not haunted by past life memories but his own. At forty-one, he has left behind family and any hope of a peaceful future. 

He has come to accept that you can't run from your past by changing your name-- the past will find you. As John Damian, he showed up first in Arizona Sunset where he was trying to be a pastor, one who ended up using a gun and with it blowing away any chance of being a man of the cloth. 

That was eighteen years earlier. Now, his past is back-- along with a little something extra. This 1901 Arizona historical (coming out August 5, 2015) is a romance but also an historical with a tough, western hero ;).

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

     “You came here on a job requiring a gun.”
    “I told you I was only to see it got done. And it was to be a fair fight. Pa said Ryker would be easy to push into one. This wasn’t to be a shot in the dark. No murder.”
    “Other than someone so fast he knew he couldn’t be beat.”
    “Other than that.”
    Vince smiled the cold one. He knew what he was going to do. He stubbed out his cigarette. “Well, Cole, you can side Brody and Jackson. If you do, you’ll be facing me, and you better be ready to use your gun because I will be.”
    “I’m your brother.” Again, it sounded more a question than the statement it was.
    “They’re not killing Ryker. And I am not waiting for him to come to town to stop them.”
    “Then you might be the one dead. Brody is the fastest man with a gun I know.”
    Vince felt at peace with his decision-- as he always had when he knew what he was going to do and there was no going back. “Sam is coming to town with his son. It won’t only be him killed if there is shooting. This is going down tonight, and it’s up to you with who you side.” Vince rose, pushing back his chair and loosening his revolver. He already knew it was ready to fire. “You have a choice, Cole. If you’re not with me, then you better step out of the way.”
    “You going to kill him in cold blood? You’d be arrested.”
    “I won’t have to. Look at Brody’s face. He’s salivating.”
    He walked across the room unsure where his brother would stand in what was to come. He stopped in front of the two men’s table. “I need to talk to you-- outside,” he said gesturing to the door.
    Brody smiled. “Just talk?” He had the snake eyes that Vince had seen in other killers. Jackson was of a different stripe. Eager to do wrong but not so eager to stand up to someone else’s bullets.
    “I ain’t got no quarrel with you,” Jackson said.
    “I know who ya are,” Brody said with a satisfied smirk. “No mistaking that. Maybe I can make some more money on the deal by taking you out.”
    “Maybe.” Vince smiled coldly. “Outside.”
    In a few moments, they were on the street, and others had moved away. Jackson was beside Brody, but it was clear that he wanted no part of this. Vince glanced at him but kept his eye on Brody. “Either of you can ride north tonight.” He flipped his coat behind his Colt.
    Jackson looked beyond Vince to Cole who had stayed on the boardwalk. He nodded and then stepped away from Brody. “I am out of this. I’ll be heading north.”
    “I ain’t goin’ nowhere, you bastard,” Brody said.
    Vince did not like his uncertainty as to where Cole would stand in the fight. His brother hadn’t committed to anything. He had to forget about that now and deal with Brody, who was eager to shoot. If Jackson didn’t draw his gun, he’d let him go.
    He saw the moment Brody decided to draw and had his own gun out at the same time. As he fired, he heard a shot whiz past his shoulder. Brody staggered but didn’t fall. Vince shot again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Excerpt from Echoes from the Past


Most of my work lately has been devoted to editing. With two books due out in the next months, editing is critical-- requiring multiple read-throughs each with different purposes. When I write a book, I might write 5000 words in a day (keep in mind, a lot of thought went into these stories before I touch a keyboard). I write fast to stay with the flow. But that means I can forget the order of things when I leave it from day to day. Editing, faster than I write, I find where I lost consistency, where I wrote something, forgot I wrote it, and wrote it again. Editing catches that-- most of the time. 

This is an excerpt from the rough draft, which means it might yet change before the book is out August 5th-- Echoes from the Past.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  



     Undressing in the dark, she put on a light nightgown before pulling back the covers to lie on her bed. She stilled her breathing and looked up at the sky through the open window. April, for a desert, could be surprisingly cold at night, but this year she had already been able to sleep with the windows open.
     Although they were not yet installed, she had ordered screening, which would keep out the bats that had occasionally flitted inside after insects. She didn’t mind bats—at least not the ones that didn’t swoop low over her head. Still, she’d be happy when the screens were in place.
     The stars were particularly vibrant with a new moon. Various patterns came into view, most vivid was Orion and his sword—a warrior in the sky. Soon she would be seeing them from the Cibecue.
     She thought back over her day and the negative experience with Princess. She supposed the stranger had been right—even if curtly said. She had been foolish to ride her for the first time with the sidesaddle when she was not that comfortable riding even astride. She had just felt it would work out, as she had equally believed going to the Cibecue would.
     She tended to jump into things, often without thinking enough as to the consequences. She had been assured by others that it was a character flaw. Perhaps, but it also gotten her to where she was—a woman willing to step out on her own, hire a crew, and investigate the unknown—even more when it was the unknown within her own soul and a journey that, in many ways, would be a solitary one.
     In her dreams, she had seen the dwellings she sought. Although the name of the place had never been in her dreams, she had found it through reading the works of Adolph Bandelier. An ethnographer, he had explored the region and written detailed descriptions of the various prehistoric dwellings found there. From his words, she had believed the Cibecue would be where the homes would be waiting.
     Or they would not. That was the issue for her. In some ways, she as much hoped the dreams had been silly and not some true view into the past. They had things to them that very much made her not want to find they had been of real events. When she finally reached the room, when the pot was not in the corner, when the grave didn’t really exist, maybe then she could put away the dreams as childish and not of meaning. The man, with the dark intense eyes, he wouldn’t have ever been real.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Titles-- I got titles


This isn't a book excerpt, but I am happy about it; so wanted to post it here. I have titles, finally that fit the fifth, sixth and seventh Arizona historicals (one yet to be written).

These three books are all about the Taggert family and in particular, three brothers. The one where I had the excerpt Tuesday will now be Echoes from the Past. It happens there are quite a few books called that already out, but it suits this book so well. It will be Echoes from the Past: Book 5 Arizona Historicals-- the Taggerts.

Its story is about how the past impacts our present even when it might not be real. There were a few variations that I could have used, but I like that one best. It does deal with reincarnation but also how our own life sometimes is changed by what already went by. There are times to let some ways of thinking go. Let go of those echoes and live fully where we are. Of course, it's a love story and where better to illustrate how the past can tarnish the present.

The next, due out November 5th, will be Lands of Fire: Book 6 Arizona Historicals-- the Taggerts and the third, yet to be written will be Bound for the Hills: Book 7 Arizona Historicals-- the Taggerts. I will aim it for February 5, 2016

If you've never had to title a work, you won't probably understand how good getting these three made me feel. If you have, whether it's a painting, a business or a photograph, you will get it. I have gone to sleep trying to think of titles, awakened with the same quest. I began to look at song lyrics, anything to give me ideas that would depict the meaning in the stories. When I got the titles, it felt as good as when I finish the last edit on a book.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

excerpt from Aztec Moon (tentative title)

This week-end, I finished editing a romance that is scheduled to be out in August. It will be the fifth in the Arizona historicals and has some previous characters returning. In Rose's Gift, Ollie Oliver is presented as a tough man; but there, he shows his softer side as he courts Rose. Not so much here as he's worried about the man he regards as a son. Connie and Del Sicilla have been in my short story and other books.  

This will also introduce a new old-timer, Jeremiah, the patriarch of the Taggerts, a family that has often operated on the edge of the law-- or further over. Jeremiah proved so interesting to me that he got a point of view (that made for three with the hero and heroine each having one). I do like writing these tough old galoots ;). Of course, nowadays, they are not all that old to me.

As a work, for which I'll be doing one more edit, this might change some before it reaches actual publication. The title is my biggest question mark. There will be three books about the Taggert brothers (first time I've done a brother series), and although they share characters with the first books, they do have a new family at their center-- and in that sense, are a series of their own. I'd love to have three titles that work together. Aztec Moon was to be the first (this one) but the second didn't have something that fit with it. The third, coming together but yet to be written, doesn't have a title. So title is still in flux for this first of the Taggert romances. I might yet get some brilliant insight that pulls all three together.

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

     The store had been left unlocked, and they walked in only to see Sicilla leaning against a counter and an older balding man beside him. A trap?
     “Jeremiah Taggert meet Ollie Oliver.”
     “Do I know you?” Jeremiah asked as he moved forward. He hadn’t checked the load in his gun. He hoped that wasn’t a fatal mistake.
     “Not direct,” Oliver said. “We might’ve crossed paths a time or two.”
     “Don’t keep me guessing.”
     “Would you gentlemen like some coffee?” a woman’s voice asked from the other side of the store. Jeremiah turned to see a beautiful woman standing at the door to what must have been a back room, perhaps even living quarters.
     “That would be very nice,” he said putting on his most mannerly voice. He needed to figure out what the hell this deal was.
     A few moments later, they were all seated at the table with coffee. “This is my wife, Mr. Taggert,” Del said. “I already told Connie who you were.”
     “How do you do, Mrs. Sicilla.”
     “Please, Connie.”
     He smiled. She was not only beautiful but had the way about her that ladies had. He always appreciated a beautiful lady. “So why did you invite Mr. Oliver to join us?” he asked then turning back to Sicilla.
     “This here is Sam Ryker’s mother.”
     Jeremiah managed to avoid a double take. “I take it you mean figuratively, he said taking another look at the older man. He had a tough look about him, and he had not missed the way he was wearing his gun tied down. Interesting situation.
     “It ain’t figurative, you sidewinder,” Oliver snarled.
     “All right, gentlemen, may we start over?” Connie put out her hands for peace. “I think we are facing a mutual problem. I would like it if you would give Mr. Taggert an opportunity to speak his piece.” She gave Oliver that look which caused him to subside, but his eyes remained cold as he watched Jeremiah.
     Jeremiah considered what he should say. Only the truth would do. “I made a mistake. A big one. I accepted a deal from someone who came to my ranch out of Vernal. He wanted Sam Ryker dead.” At the angry grunt from Oliver, he put out his hands, palms up. “I said it was a mistake. Ryker had been a gunman and outlaw. I thought he still was.” A minor lie. He actually had had no idea what the man had been today. He hadn’t cared.
     “Save the smooth talk,” Oliver said. “We know about the agreement. Why are you here now? To finish it? And where the hell is your other son?”
     This was a sharp old-timer, maybe as sharp as he was. Jeremiah smiled, admiringly, even though he realized this was still a delicate situation. “That is where my problem begins. Asa, along with two of my men, went north to kill Ryker.”

 image from CanStock