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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

when one thing leads to another

Lately I've been sharing mostly excerpts from my historical novels, but I have a lot of contemporary also. I've always mixed it up between today and yester year. 

This clip is from a book that was based in Arizona and introduced a secondary character who ends up having his own book down the road. David Bannister's coming to Nogales will change the course of his life. When I first met him through his interaction with Jake Donovan, I knew only that he was an agent-- and good at his job. And Jake knew only that this agent was good at using people to get what he wanted. They ended up in what I call a bromance (and something I much enjoy writing-- strong friendship between two men who are equals).

Next week I'll use an excerpt from the book where David heads to Oregon to solve a murder but more than that... Never mind, more on that next week. Today this is from Desert Inferno.


     Bannister opened his wallet and flipped an identification card to the front. He watched as Donovan read the name of the agency for which he worked.

     "Hmmm I heard of you boys. Kind of a secretive bunch."

     "We don't like publicity.”

     "So what are you doing in Nogales? Wouldn't think we'd have anything big enough down our way to bring you here."
     "A body." Bannister folded his long body into one of the chairs across from Jake.
     "Any particular one in mind?"
     "Winston Joseph Franklin, 55 years old, late of New Jersey. Very recently dead... Found west of here."
     "You have my interest."
     "I thought I might."
     "You got out here fast," Jake observed, putting his boots up on his desk and lighting a cigarette.
     "I was here. Mr. Franklin was a fence, a very exclusive fence."
     Jake raised his brows.
     "On a plea bargain over another charge, he had agreed to do a little job."
     "So little it cost him his life?"
     "We lost track of him until we heard about your dead guy."
     "Inconvenient—for him," Jake said, smiling thinly.
     "To say the least," Bannister agreed with his own sardonic smile. “Basically this sets our work back to zero, which is unpopular with my boss."
     "What was the job?" Jake asked, studying the handsome face of the agent. If the man had an imperfect feature on his face or flaw to his physique, Donovan couldn’t see it. For some reason that irritated him. He definitely didn’t like this guy.
     "Smuggling Mexican antiquities."
     "Say what?" Jake asked, drawing cigarette smoke deeply into his lungs before he expelled it.
     Bannister grinned. "The Mexican government has been more than a little upset to find some of its most important historical artifacts and treasures disappearing. Most likely across the American border. The most recent incident was last month. A truck, heading for a Mexico City museum with Olmec and Toltec pottery, jade figurines, masks and several ritual vessels, disappeared."
     Jake snorted. "Wait a minute with all the drug trafficking, the illegal immigration, possible terrorist bombs, and you guys are worried about frou-frou? You have to be kidding?"
     Bannister’s expression told him he was not. "We got into it at the request of our government and the Mexicans. Rather than make an international incident out of it--especially since so little is provable at this point--they asked us to find out."
     "Trinkets are worth murdering someone?"
     “It’s a lot more than that. It’s a national identity, many hundreds or even thousands of years old. If that doesn’t do it for you, their worth can easily be into seven figures. Multi-millions for the overall operation. Collectors will pay anything to acquire such rare treasures. When an assemblage like this disappears into private collections, it rarely surfaces. The case became more personal when three months ago we lost one of our guys." Bannister's face hardened; the pretty-boy look was replaced by a hard, seasoned expression, that of a capable, rugged man. "We'll get whoever did it. You can put money on it."
     Jake shook his head, still having a hard time believing the scenario. "You really believe this is all over pottery?"
     "Any operation is a mix but yes, this went from drugs to antiquities.”
     “And that’s worth murder?” he asked disbelievingly
     “There are those who kill for a lot less.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Going Home

The weeks before a book comes out get a little crazy. There is the final edit-- one hopes, and writing of blurbs-- multiple writing of blurbs. Frankly it leaves my partner and me a little zoned out. Add to it that this is lamb and beef marketing time-- not a favorite for me but necessary. It'd be easier if we were more tolerant of feedlots and auctions. We are not. We want to sell direct or to someone who has an empathy with the animals. That takes more work and more craziness. It has to be done though as a rancher who sells no livestock soon is running a desert with starving animals.

On the writing and publishing end, this has been a crazy year. The poster above shows three historicals that are not yet out-- Lands of Fire and Bound for the Hills (#6 & #7 Arizona historicals) and Love Waits (#4 Oregon historical). 

This turned out to be a rather unusual year for how the books went. It seemed to grow in a rather organic sense-- at least that's what I'd like to think.

Having put off bringing out the Oregon historical series, written over a span of many years, I had decided, once I found the perfect image for its first cover, to bring all four out in 2015 at spring equinox, summer Solstice, fall equinox and finally winter Solstice. If I had stuck to that, the year would've been easier, but something else came along.

In late 2014, I got the idea for a novella--an elder romance, Rose's Gift. Rose and Ollie had each been in several of the earlier Arizona historicals. She was married. He was a dedicated bachelor. Her husband had died before Arizona Dawn. Still I hadn't really thought of these two together-- and then it was so obvious that nothing would do but to write their story. I had the rough draft done by Christmas but with multiple edits and all, it didn't come out until January 31, 2015. That was no conflict with the Oregon historical due out March 21st. It didn't even require writing another in the Arizona series-- except...

Holly Jacobs was introduced in Arizona Dawn and again in Rose's Gift with the idea of eventually writing a romance that centered around prehistoric ruins, archaeology, and reincarnation. I needed a hero, and he had been in one of my earlier books and a short story. Hero, heroine and a plot. I couldn't turn away from it.

The writing went smoothly although, I was by then promoting the first Oregon historical-- that has to start a month before a book comes out-- and continues on a long time after it. I could have let Echoes from the Past set for a year, I suppose, but I didn't. I brought it out August 5th... and then, well it turned out the hero had two other brothers, who needed their own love, and...

I won't go on with this as I am sure you can see how this thing snowballed. Writing has a way of doing that. So this has been the year of Oregon and Arizona historicals and not sure I will ever do something like it again. It was fun, if a little confusing for readers maybe.

If you have been following the Oregon historicals and read its excerpts, that book came out yesterday. Its paperback will be available sometime this week. Going Home.

With the blurbs mostly written, I am onto editing the sixth Arizona historical, which was a story I really liked writing (of course, if I don't like them, I don't write them). There really is no end in sight to the work-- not for awhile anyway.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

more controversial than I figured...

When writing Going Home, I knew I was taking on some controversy when I had my hero fight for the South. This also is the most multicultural book I have written with secondary characters who are Chinese, Jewish, Native American, and half black and half white. What I did not expect was my own country again to be debating the causes of a war that was fought from 1861 to 1865. This was a war though that tore a nation apart and the healing didn't happen quickly even in far off places like Oregon. 

My hero, Jed, faced more than those who hated anyone who fought for the South. Eastern Oregon was caught up in another Indian War-- The Snake War was one of Oregon's most violent. This clip has three men discussing the current and previous situation. They sat on a porch in Eastern Oregon as night made them reflective.

Excerpt from Going Home:

“Part of my crew are two Warm Springs,” Jed said as he watched the smoke rise. The moon had just come up and was casting an eerie glow on the other men’s faces. He supposed his also. “I wonder if they will feel safe to return.”

“They might not want to leave their people,” Rand agreed. “The Snakes aren’t any friendlier to peace loving Indians than they are to whites. Right now they want to wipe any sign of us from their land.”

“Again,” Adam said, “I understand how they feel, but I’d have to kill them also to keep my own safe and protect my land. I wish there was a better way for men to resolve their differences.”

Phillips looked then at Jed, met his gaze. “Sometimes there isn’t and yet here we are, sipping a whiskey, smoking, when a year ago, Jed and I would have been trying to kill each other. Rather ironic, isn’t it.”

“You expect the Indian conflicts could end up the same way?” Jed asked with a touch of disbelief even if he wished it to be so.

“Once there is a clear victor.”

“You expect there will be,” Jed said laconically.

“Eventually. Hard feelings or not, this is a problem of land. It seems unlikely to be settled short of a lot of dying. I may not like it, but it’s how the world has always operated. The military tries to make peace but again and again it’s undermined by those who want control. What do you do about that?”

“Peace is found in a cemetery and sent there with a bullet,” Jed said with some bitterness. Two of his brothers had paid the ultimate price as they had tried to secure their land. Just because it had always been that way didn’t mean it should.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Short Story-- Curly Learns a Lesson

Awhile back, for a friend's summer short story blog, I wrote one that followed up some of my favorite characters in From Here to There and A Montana Christmas.  

Curly Learns a Lesson was my second short story (my first, Connie's Gift, in the Arizona historicals is in the Rawhide 'n Roses Anthology). I had written some short stories when I was in high school but not sure where those ended up as most of my early writing has been stuffed in boxes hidden in the attic. When I have thought about their plots, I haven't felt it worthwhile to go looking.

Curly Learns a Lesson is a stand alone story, but if I ever get all my historicals written, edited, and out, I have been thinking of a possible novella for the Rocking H-- a senior romance. I knew when I wrote A Montana Christmas that there was a potential story out there. But other projects got in the way-- well, for that matter, still do.

Curly Learns a Lesson
Rain Trueax

    “Amos,” Curly yelled wondering where his boss had got to. Seemed he was more and more disappearing at odd times. When his friend’s bearded face appeared, he was grinning and in his hand was a phone.
    “Dang it all,” Curly said glaring at the phone. “You on the phone to that woman again.”
Amos’s smile broadened. “You know her name.”
    “Supposin’ I do.”
    “Wal, use it.”
    “Ever since you reconnected with that old teacher of yours, you ain’t been no good for nothing!”  If he had expected his older friend to take offense, he’d been wrong. He was grinning like a fool teen-ager.
    “Well, first off, wasn’t talkin’ on the phone. We was texting.”
    Curl’s look grew even more distressed. “Only kids text.”
    “That and those without enough signal to talk on the blamed phone.” His smile hadn’t disappeared. Clearly he was proud of himself.
    “She’s old enough to be yore mother,” he tried a new tack.
    “But she ain’t,” Amos said with a chuckle, “and it ain’t like she’s all that old inside. She can still dance me under the table.”
    “Ninety-five if she’s a day.”
    “Ninety-four and I’m seventy-six. So what. We ain’t kids, and we know what we want. More than I can say for you.”
    “What’s that supposed to mean?” Curly walked over to a bale of hay and plopped down wishing he still smoked. Stupid habit smoking but it gave a man something to do with his hands and an excuse not to answer without seeming like stonewalling.
    “You danged well know what it means.” Amos sat on the feed bin across from him.
Outside a welcomed summer rain began. The distant hills were quickly swallowed by mist as the rain grew heavier. The sound on the barn roof was pleasing to Curly’s ears though he’d heard it thousands, maybe millions of time. Never a time where Montana didn’t need more rain especially in the summer.
    The steady rain also kind of set him and Amos off into a little world of their own. Friends for well over fifty years, nearer now to sixty, this little man was important to Curly, as important as his own existence. He guessed he didn’t want to lose him and suddenly felt he might. Danged women. Nothin’ but trouble, that’s what they were.
    “All right,” he gave up when Amos wasn’t willing to let this go. Bad as a dog with an old bone. “Ain’t really goin’ nowhere with Linda.”
    “That yore doin’ or hers?”
    “Both. She’s busy a lot getting that little deli of hers going. Still got that brat daughter living with her. Ah hell maybe it’s all an excuse.”
    “You just scared is all,” Amos suggested.
    “Not of nothin’.”
    “Sure ya are. You don’t want to get burned.”
    “Been married four times. Seems a man oughta learn something one of them, and I see she ain’t wantin’ nothin’ with me... maybe with no man right now-- although she's got a couple hanging around."
    "You're paying more attention than you let on."
    "Maybe some. The thing is she’s been burned too. She's plumb gun shy now.”
    Amos nodded. “All right, if not Linda, how about Marion, Belle’s friend?”
    “Belle? Now ya call her Belle?” Curly felt his face pickle up as though he’d eaten something sour.
    "She likes it better than Annabelle.”
    He looked around for another excuse. “Marion’s older than you.”
    Amos shook his head. “Don’t look older than you, ya old coot.”
    “Likely had that plastic surgery stuff or maybe that Bo something that they inject in their skin.”
    “So what if she has?”
    “Well it’s all to fool a man.”
    Amos chuckled again. “Never know about that ‘til you find out what’s under the peelings.”
    “You talkin’ dirty to me, Amos?” Curly tried to find a shocked look.
    “I mean personality, ya dumb...” He stopped before he finished the insult. “Trouble with you, Curly, is you never did get to know women. Married ‘em maybe but never took the time to get to know one. How about you double dating with me and Marion, go to a movie or something. Dinner out.”
    Curly stood up with outrage. “This is going too damned far. First, you’re texting. Now you’re wanting to double date. Good God, Amos, how far you takin’ this with that woman?”
    “Well with Phil and Helene busy with two babies and Rafe off on a buying trip for Phil’s business and Emile and Nancy busy with school stuff, I shore got no family reason to hold me here. As for age, she’s more likely to bury me than me her. Man only got so many years and better make ‘em good. Only got one nursemaid wanting me to back off. And that ain’t happening. I had one good marriage; and if I get lucky enough to get another, why I’ll just damned well do it.”
    Curly let that seep in and fully digest. He could lose his friend. “Where would ya live if ya done that? She’s still got that painting stuff she does and wants to be in Bozeman. I cain’t see her coming out here.” He felt fear now greater than before. He’d be alone because Amos was right, the young ones had their own lives. What did he have?
    “I been thinkin’ about that and ain’t ready to take it that far yet. Might be Belle don’t want a husband.”
    “She’d be a fool not to want you.” Curly still found it hard to believe their old teacher and his best friend had found love at their ages.
    Amos grinned. "As for where it takes you... Wal, I’d say—learning to text. Want Marion’s number or would ya rather it be Linda’s?”
    “She’s got one? Hell, I ain’t even got a phone.”
    Amos’ smile broadened. “Sure ya do. I bought it for ya a month ago. Ya just been too stubborn to learn to use it. Ain’t like a seventy-year old man can’t learn new tricks.”
    Curly slumped back to the hay bale. “Could ya write it all out for me?”