Release Promotion–Ione’s Dilemma

Now here’s my entry in the “Grandma’s Wedding Quilts” series. I set this story in my “Dorado, Texas” world so many of the secondary characters are known to my readers. But that won’t stop your enjoyment–the story stands on its own merit.

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When Ione Forrester calls off her wedding, she becomes the social pariah of Des Moines. Much to her society parents’ chagrin. To escape the gossip, Ione accepts a teaching job in Dorado, Texas, vowing to avoid scandal at all costs. Relocating from a doctor’s household with cook and maids to a room in a boarding house is quite an adjustment. Then she has to face her biggest challenge—a schoolhouse full of students.

Carpenter Morgan Shipley’s business is doing well and now he’s looking for companionship. An ad for a mail-order bride brings a deluge of letters, which prove more than he can handle. To his surprise, an intriguing woman from a big city arrives in his small Texas town. Correspondence is nothing like interacting with a flesh-and-blood woman every day. But gossip-leery Ione wants nothing to do with Morgan’s attempts at courting, which makes him try even harder.

Amazon buy link  SPECIAL 99cents today (price will rise to regular $2.99 after release day)

EXCERPT

Morgan tracked the woman’s progress around the backs of the occupied chairs to the empty one to Penn’s right. He noticed everyone else watched her movements, as well. Strangers in this small town were always objects of speculation—like he’d engaged in hours earlier. Lowering to his seat, he again forced himself to look away to avoid appearing rude.

“Ivey, will you announce tonight’s menu?” Missus Treadwell unfolded her napkin then started serving big spoonfuls onto plates and passing them.

As she pointed to the meat platter, Ivey grinned. “The main course is a ragout of pork with mushrooms, wild onions, and turnips.” She gestured toward other bowls. “Mashed potatoes with chopped garlic and parsley, pickled beets and artichoke hearts, buttered corn, and rolls.” She removed the cover from the closest bowl and scooped a spoonful of potatoes onto the plate before handing it to her left. “As is probably obvious, I’m the cook here at the boardinghouse.”

“Berg Spengler, town blacksmith.” The bear of a man ducked his head as he passed the plate.

“I’m Maisie Treadwell, and I’m the maid.” The woman with honey-blonde hair served a portion of beets and handed the plate top the next person, quickly repeating the gesture with the next one.

“I hope the potatoes don’t have too much garlic.” A dark-haired boarder giggled. “I have to work tonight.” She added a serving of cut corn and passed the plate. “Oh, I’m Olivia Domingo, and I am a barmaid at the Golden Door.”

Morgan glanced across the table in time to see the new woman’s eyes shoot wide and her backbone straighten before she passed the plate to Penn.

Then she pulled her expression back to neutral. “My turn, I suppose.” The stranger leaned forward and gave a little wave.

Ah, she speaks. Morgan savored the sweet sound of her voice.

“My name is Ione Forrester, and I have been hired to be Dorado’s new schoolteacher.”

“Welcome to Dorado, Miss Forrester. We’re glad you’ve joined us.” The rapid words spewed from his mouth before Morgan gave them any thought. Which made him look like an awkward schoolboy.

GIVEAWAY

Anyone leaving a comment here or on my post on the Sweet American Sweethearts blog today will have a chance at winning an e-copy of Wandering Home, the first novella in the Dorado, Texas series.

Guest Release Promotion–Zebulon’s Bride by Patricia PacJac Carroll

Here’s another entry in the “Grandma’s Wedding Quilts” series.

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He’s vowed not to marry until he reaches Montana. Then he meets Amy, and she has other ideas.

Zebulon Benton dreams of going to Montana, but he’s the only son and his mother doesn’t want him to go and his father needs help with the family store. Unknown to Zeb, his mother sends off for a mail order bride. After all, if Zeb marries and settles down, he won’t want to leave.

Enter Amy Gordon from New York. She appears to be the perfect bride for Zeb. Except she also wants to go to Montana and nothing is going to stop her including her love for Zeb.

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EXCERPT

Amy Gordon brushed the ever-present dust from her dress. She’d heard that Mrs. Chandler warned that her girls must be neat and proper, or she’d not match them to the perfect man. Well, being a lowly milkmaid didn’t leave her much opportunity to remain clean.

As it was, she’d traded her milking duty for gardening with Angela. Hah, yanking up weeds was hardly keeping her much cleaner than messing with the ornery cows. If only Papa hadn’t died a pauper, her life would have been different.

“Enough of that.” Amy wiped her hands again and made sure to get all the dirt from her nails which wasn’t that hard as she’d chewed them all down to the fingertips anyway. She sighed. If she’d been born a boy, she’d have already made her way west.

What had she read in the paper, Go West young man. Why was it that women were always left home? Thank Providence that Mrs. Chandler had taken an interest in the plight of young women.

She rushed up the cobblestone street to the big house on the corner, stopped to dip her hands in the water trough by the side of the road, and washed her face and hands. Another dip and she plastered the loose ends of her hair to make them stay down.

“That’s as good as I get with what I’ve got.” She smiled, put her head up, and walked as gracefully as she knew how up the steps to the two-story house. The place had a fairy tale look with turrets on each side. Painted a light blue with a shiny tile roof of dark red, the stately place set her imagination to work wondering what kind of magical woman Mrs. Chandler must be.

Amy stared at the intricately carved, wooden door, crossed her heart, and knocked.

The door creaked open. A rather stoic-looking butler questioned her with beady eyes. “Yes. Is Madam expecting you?”

Not really. But he didn’t have to know that. “I am Amy Gordon. I have come to find the perfect match for me in the west.”

He stepped back and gestured for her to enter. “I will notify Mrs. Chandler.”

She stood in the foyer and marveled at a marble floor so shiny that she could see her reflection. A far cry from the dirt floor of the shed she called home. She lived behind the barn that housed the cows she was in charge of milking. She bit her lip, hoping Angela remembered to be gentle with the young heifer that’d given birth two weeks ago.

She waited.

After a moment, shoes tapping on the hard floor, he came out of a room. “She will see you now. Do you have your papers?”

Papers? No. What, was she supposed to be, a prized animal with a pedigree? She chose not to answer and instead, walked down the hall and into the room from where he’d come.

Books lined one wall. A piano against the window. And in the center, the most luxurious sofa and chairs she’d ever seen with velvety dark blue swirls adorned with red roses. And in a matching high-back chair sat a woman who looked as if she were a queen on a throne.

The woman waved her over. “Well, don’t just stand there. Do you have your papers?”

Amy strode to her. “What I have is standing before you. I’m young, strong, and have a desire to go west and marry a man. I will make him the perfect wife. I am not afraid of hard work or hardly anything else.”

The woman, who with her silver hair piled high atop her head, had enough wrinkles to be in her sixties. “I’m Mrs. Chandler. You’re a pertinent young thing. Could be pretty though.” She put a gnarled hand under Amy’s chin and lifted her head. “You have your teeth?”

“All of them. I bathe and am self-educated.”

“Hmm, so you can read?”

“Yes.” Amy left her, went to the bookshelf, and pulled out Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. With a confident voice, she read the first page. At least Papa had left her with a love for books and introduced her to the public library at an early age.

Mrs. Chandler sat back on her throne. “So you can read. Why do you think I would have a man for you?”

Amy’s resolve cracked. She replaced the book and went to stand in front of her. “Because you are my last hope at happiness.”

The woman’s eyes opened wide with interest. “I see. And you don’t mind going west to wild lands and possibly wilder men?”

“No, I am not afraid.”

“Of anything?” Mrs. Chandler raised her left eyebrow.

The truth. Tell her the truth. The advice reverberated from her soul. Squaring her shoulders, Amy looked the woman straight in the eye. “I am afraid of … horses.”

“Horses? Have you considered that a man of the west will more than likely ride horses, maybe even raise them?”

“I said I was afraid of them, but I have learned that any fear can be overcome. I will do what I have to.”

Shuffling though some papers, Mrs. Chandler pulled out a piece of paper on stationary decorated with roses. “I received this request just yesterday. A man named Zebulon in Colorado is seeking the perfect wife with blond hair.” She ran a finger over the stationary and frowned. “Though just what kind of man would write on such a flowery and perfumed paper makes me wonder of his, well, his masculinity. Perhaps, you would care to take a chance on this,” she looked down. “Zebulon Benton.”

A grin broke free from Amy’s lips. “Yes. I am sure I can make him the perfect wife.”

“Very well, I will send a reply. I suppose you don’t have money to get there do you?”

“No, ma’am, unless three dollars will cover the cost.” Amy’s hopes trembled. Would lack of money once again deny her dreams?

With a smile, Mrs. Chandler stood and came to her.

Amy didn’t back away.

Wrapping her in a hug, the woman placed the letter in her hand. “Perhaps you would care to read about the man you’re going to marry?”

Taking the flowery stationary, she read a letter that sounded a bit desperate, although the man thought much of himself. He wrote in a flowing handwriting how he was tall and handsome with dark hair and bright blue eyes. And prosperous. She handed the letter back. “I’m ready to go.”

“I don’t usually do this, but you are a most unusual, young woman. I admire your fire and confidence. I’ll pay your way and give you a healthy stipend. I’ll send a reply to Zebulon Benton, today. Give your notice to whoever it is that you work for. I will send Otto with the carriage to pick you up and take you to the train station tomorrow. The letter should arrive in Colorado the same day you do. Don’t disappoint me. I expect every girl I send to marry the man I pair her with.”

“I will not disappoint you.” Amy started for the door and stopped. “Thank you, Mrs. Chandler.”

The woman smiled with a gleam in her eyes. “I hope your dreams are realized.”

“I’ll make sure they are.” She curtseyed and then in a rush hugged the older lady.

Mrs. Chandler gasped and disentangled herself. “Be on your way now. Find Otto and tell him where to pick you up.”

Amy practically ran back to the farm. She was going west. Now, she’d pray that this Zebulon Benton with the flowery stationary and proud letter would be man enough to take her as his bride.

PacJac

 

Patricia PacJac Carroll~ I am a writer, Christian first, and blessed beyond my imagination. I live in the Dallas-Ft Worth area of Texas with my wonderful treasure of a husband, my spoiled dog, Jacs, and my awesome son, Josh. Did I say I was blessed? The PacJac is from my initials and my husbands. I wouldn’t be able to write if it weren’t for him. I love adventure and the open road. The stories of the western era have always been a favorite of mine. I enjoy writing, and my goal is to write stories readers will enjoy.

Hope you are enjoying the series ~ Mail Order Brides of Hickory Stick. I have a new series this year set in Texas – Mail Order Brides of Misfit Ranch Bluebonnet, Texas

Sign up for my Newsletter~PacJac News, and receive notice when new books are available: http://eepurl.com/bpPmbP
Website http://www.pacjaccarroll.com/
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Email Paricia@pacjaccarroll.com

Psalm 26:7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Guest Release Promotion–Jessie’s Bargain by Kay P. Dawson

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Cora left England for a new life in America as a mail order bride – only to find the man she’s come to marry has been killed in a gunfight. She has a sister in Kansas, but how can she get there?
Jesse needs this job driving cattle to Kansas so he can marry the woman who’s given him an ultimatum – buy land and settle down, or she’ll marry someone who will.
But, his cook’s been killed in the same gunfight, leaving him without anyone to drive the chuckwagon. His right hand man, an old cowboy with a soft heart, has a solution for both Cora and Jesse – one he might not like.
Dressed as a boy, Cora heads off with a team of cowboys, led by a man who isn’t happy about her being there. Kansas is a long way away…and a lot can happen before they get there.

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BIO:
I am a stay at home mom, who loves to read and write clean historical romance. I enjoy thinking back to a simpler time, a time when men and women were true heroes. I also believe that a good romance can be told without needing to know all of the details;)
All of my stories will tell of people who find true love, and who find their happy ever after. Sometimes the road might be rocky, but that makes it all worthwhile!

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Guest Release Promotion–Kizzie’s Kisses by Zina Abbott

My Kizzie’s Kisses Journey:

Being a Civil War enthusiast and with my story set between 1862 and 1865, my original plan was to write a Civil War story. With her home set in Salina, Kansas, Kizzie’s family was close to the turmoil of guerilla attacks from the pro-slavery factions in Missouri, not to mention the Lawrence, Kansas massacre that took place in August of 1863. I researched several Kansas cavalry regiments to decide which would fit best with my locality and characters.

Here is what happened as I started to write. I found my Kizzie fleeing from an Indian massacre, an actual event that took place just west of Salina  in 1862. Later that year, a band of twenty bushwhackers attacked the town. Through it all, Kizzie discovers her future sweetheart working as a guard on an ox-team freight train traveling the Smoky Hill Trail that stretched from eastern Kansas to Denver, Colorado. As for nearby Fort Riley, their troops were sent not only to fight Civil War battles and repel Missouri Confederates but also to fight Cheyenne war parties protecting their hunting grounds. One thing the fort needed for both efforts was replacement horses for its cavalry. What an interesting and not over done set of events to write about.

I have found that I can research, prepare time lines, develop an outline, but once I start writing, the characters write their own stories. This is what happened with Kizzie and Leander. Instead of Leander joining the Army, he worked at a contract freighter for the Army, passing through hostile Cheyenne and Plains Apache territories on the Smoky Hill and Santa Fe Trails. Several times a year, his travels took him past Kizzie’s home where he stopped to visit while they worked together to keep her mare and his stallion from being requisitioned for the Army’s needs at Fort Riley. Add to the story Kizzie’s colorful family and Charlie, the half-Kaw scout for the freight train, I believe Kizzie and Leander wrote quite a story.

What about all that Kansas cavalry regimental history I researched? Not to worry. Kizzie’s cousin, Otto Atwell, enlisted in the Army. I plan on him having his own book someday. Tales from those regimental histories will fill the pages of his story.

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Running from hostile Indians attacking Salina, Kansas, feisty Kizzie Atwell runs into freighter Leander Jones. He is as interested in her as his stallion is in her mare. The two join forces prevent the Fort Riley Army captain from requisitioning their prize horses for the cavalry. Will the bargain they make to save their horses lead to a more romantic bargain sealed with a kiss?

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About Zina Abbott:

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels.

The author currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She is a member of Women Writing the West and American Night Writers Association. She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Connect with Zina Abbott:

 

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Blog  http://www.zinaabbottbooks.blogspot.com

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Sweet Americana Sweethearts:  a blog by authors who write in historical settings from 1820-1920

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Release Day–Montana Sky: Dance Toward The Light

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The third book written in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky story world has just released. Dance Toward the Light features the third vaudeville performer, Dorrie Sullivan. She was introduced in the first book as being a friend of the two York sisters when the troupe arrived in Morgan’s Crossing. Well,  in books 1 and 2 Cinnia and Nola have found romance and happiness.

The Great Blizzard of 1886 is over, the snows have receded, and Dorrie is unsure of what her future involves. Enter Valerik Andrusha who barely survived the blizzard and traveled from the Canadian wilds to visit brother Nicolai in Morgan’s Crossing. But Nicolai has taken his bride, Cinnia, to San Francisco to meet his parents.

Normally reclusive, Valerik figures he’ll get much needed rest and relaxation while he waits his brother’s return. Almost against his will, he is captivated by the vivacious woman living in the attached shop who draws him into the community. What does a man who prefers the shadows have in common with a woman who loves the light?

Exclusive to Kindle

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Thirteen other stories also launched today. The titles and authors are:

Rugged Bloom by Dallis Adams

The Watchmaker and the Widow by Linnea Alexis

Murdoch’s Bride by Caroline Clemmons

The Outlaw’s Promise by Crystal Green

Nolan’s Vow by Linda Hubalek

An Unexpected Gift by Kit Morgan

Rebel Love Song by Louella Nelson

Angel In His Pocket by Nan O’Beery

Where the Heart Is by Judy Pennell

Say You Love Me by Deborah Schneider

Her Gentle Heart by Reina Torres

Magic in Morgan’s Crossing by Janet Wellington

A Family for Christmas by Cynthia Woolf

 

 

 

Guest Release Promotion—Keri’s Christmas Wish by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

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For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?

BUY LINK

Amazon ebook

EXCERPT

An image began to form in her mind…a young girl being led around on a horse by an ethereal figure. As the trio came closer, Keri felt as though she looked in a mirror. Her heart swelled. Tears clogged her throat, filled her eyes, and slipped down her cheeks.

“Hi, Keri!”

The childlike voice reverberated through her entire body. Keri smiled and whispered, “Hello.”

 Excitement lit the youngster’s eyes. Brilliant colors vibrated around her. “Do you know who I am?”

“You’re me as a little girl. That’s Spark, my horse who died when I was a teenager.”

Spark nodded his head as the girl giggled—a joyous melody that rang through the atmosphere. “No, silly, I’m your big sister. Only, I didn’t live very long.”

 Tension seeped in, a mixture of shock and awe.

 “Don’t be afraid. Ask Mom.”

 And then the mirage disappeared.

Pamela S Thibodeaux publicity photo

 Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Participants on the blog tour for Keri’s Christmas Wish will have a chance to win one of 5 electronic  or 5 print copies. Prizes awarded at the end of the tour

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Additional stops on the blog tour where Pamela would love to see visitors

Dec 10th – Marilyn Leach Blog: marilynleachteaandbooks.com

Dec 11th – Robin Bayne Blog: http://wwwwritingbetweensundays.blogspot.com/

Dec 12th – Raquel Byrnes Blog: http://nitewriter6.blogspot.com/

Dec 13th – Cami Checketts Blog: http://www.camichecketts.com/

Dec 14th – Linda McLaughlin Blog: http://lindalyndi.com/reading-room-blog/

Dec 15th – Diane Burton Blog: http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/

Dec 16th – Maureen Bonatch Blog: http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/

Dec 17th – Alicia Dean Blog: https://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/

Dec 18th – Jody Day Blog: http://jodysdevotionaljournal.blogspot.com/

Dec 19th – Marian Merritt’s Blog: http://marianmerritt.blogspot.com

Dec 20th – Kim Headlee Blog: https://kimiversonheadlee.blogspot.com/

Dec 21st – Patricia Preston Blog http://patricia-preston.blogspot.com/

Dec 22nd  – Delia Latham Blog http://chirpnchatter.blogspot.com/

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Guest Interview—Jana Begovic

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (ex Yugoslavia) where I spent most of my adult life. I also acquired most of my higher education there (B.A. and M.A. degrees in languages and literature). With my husband and son, I immigrated to Canada in 1991, half a year before the country was engulfed in a civil war. After graduating from the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Canada, I started working for the Department of National Defence and began my career path as a foreign language curriculum and testing specialist. With a full-time job that involves a lot of international travel, too, I currently write only as a hobby.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Gourmet cooking and entertaining friends and family, reading, running and other fitness activities, travel, walks in nature.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I think of the characters first and have a rough contour of the plot in my mind. I allow the story to evolve organically without much planning.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

I’ve traveled to most of the locations I mention. For example, in Poisonous Whispers, parts of the plot unfold in Vienna, Rome, Barcelona and Glasgow. Glasgow is one of the cities I have not visited yet. England and Ireland are also mentioned in this book, and I was fortunate to visit England several times. I dream of travelling to Ireland because I feel a strong attraction to that country. My bucket list is much too long for one lifetime.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

When I get stuck, I simply stop writing and let the story ferment further in my subconscious mind. I also believe in synchronicities, that is meaningful coincidences that come into your life when you need them. And invariably, whenever I’d hit a reef in my storytelling, I would hear a story from a friend or an acquaintance during my travels that would inspire me to continue writing. When it comes to Poisonous Whispers, I simply trusted the process because I believed this book was destined to be born. I will never forget sitting in an airport in Europe and having the “Aha” moment, and knowing without a speck of doubt where the story needed to go in order for the plot line to come full circle.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I was shocked to see my characters assume a life of their own. They became alive and started to control the storyline. I was especially surprised that the heroine would reveal a certain secret to her husband almost ruining her marriage. That was so unnecessary and cruel!!! When it comes to editing itself, the realization that it is an almost never-ending process, that it is almost impossible to catch every single error discouraged and frustrated me many times. And I’m not even a perfectionist in my everyday life!

What’s your dream vacation destination?

A hot climate with white pebbled beaches surrounded by pine trees, buzzing with cicada song and infused with the scent of brine and Mediterranean grasses. I believe I’m describing the Adriatic coast where I used to vacation, and which I will always miss.

In what genre do you read?

I read both fiction and non-fiction, commercial and literary prose, but literary fiction is my preferred genre. I enjoy the depth of literary thought, and I crave books that make me stop after every couple of pages and contemplate life.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope that readers derive pleasure from reading my debut novel; I hope they read it slowly, visualizing the pictures of both the physical and emotional landscapes I painted; I hope they lose track of time once they step into the multi-layered worlds I created; I hope the heroine’s pain-laced journey touches them, and also shows them that pain and loss, and poor judgment can deepen, strengthen, humble and redeem us.  And I hope they like and relate to my characters in spite of their flaws and moral fallibility.

Poisonous Whispers-1207

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“Don’t you ever forget about me…,” he whispers during their secret encounters. Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair. Unable to heal on her own and tormented by dreams in which supernatural forces create havoc with her fate, she desperately turns to David, a colleague psychiatrist, asking him to take her through past-life regression therapy. She hopes that this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly.

The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality. In her hypnotic state, Leandra recounts a saga of intoxicating love, dizzying passion, flaming lust and profound heartbreak. Despite the painful answers she finds under hypnosis, Leandra still cannot let go of the hope to reunite with her lover. Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

BUY LINKS

Roane Publishing

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EXCERPT

A tiny streak of pale light is cascading softly down the cell window and making a shy sliver in the veil of darkness. I open my eyes, disoriented. I do not move; I do not even dare blink until I get my bearings. Then I remember and freeze in horror. I sit up, an aching all over my body and cold dread in my heart. Instinctively, I try to disentangle my matted hair with my fingers, but it is hopeless. All around me, I smell mold, decay and death. How can I survive another day in this hole? The sound of the door opening with a screech makes me jump in terror.

The gaoler walks in; a heavy set of keys dangling and jingling in his hand.

“Come. You are being moved in preparation for tonight’s execution. A verdict was reached.”

I speak not but follow him. We climb a steep staircase. Below us, I hear moans and yells and what sounds like the death throes of those hopelessly lost to the world and forgotten by justice, compassion and mercy. Again, I am feeling dissociated from the event of my calamity; I see my body walking, but my soul is not in it and indifference over what might happen floods me. Death is not the end. Death offers me salvation from pain, from the torment of living a human life.

We leave the jailhouse and enter the house across the street to the village inn. The inn owner, James Bourke, looks at me with hatred and disdain. He also always hated my husband because his wife had hoped my husband would marry her. She was in love with him, and when he married me she tried to kill herself. James married her later, but has always known that she never stopped loving my husband.

The gaoler takes me upstairs to one of the guest rooms and locks the door behind me. The room is wide and clean even though sparsely furnished. The bed is large and looks inviting and I realize how exhausted I am. On the bed is a white, thin chemise and I immediately understand thisis what I will wear tonight when I am pushed off the bridge into the water that is cool even on the hottest of summer days. Will I have the strength or the will to swim and save myself? What surprises and almost delights me under such grave circumstances is a bathtub in the corner of the room. There is steam rising from it and I immediately undress and slip into it, relieved to be able to wash off the dirt, the grime, and above all the horrible stench on my body. I rub myself raw trying to clean my skin. Washing my hair is more difficult because at home I have servants who help me with bathing, dressing and undressing. I have been spoilt by marrying a man of wealth and power. Where is my husband now? I crave his protection. If he saved me now, would I give up Kieran, would I give up love in order to live? I surmise I would.

After I have washed, I come out of the tub feeling more exhausted than ever. At the same time, I realize I have not eaten for over a day and devour the plate of bread, cheese and apples ravenously. As I am eating, I can feel tears stream down my face; they are tears of silent despair and hopelessness. My chest is heaving with pain and I have difficulty swallowing the last few bites. I throw myself on the bed thinking my weeping and sobbing will continue forever, but I fall asleep. One would think that my dreams would be filled with the terror of the situation, but instead I dream of Kieran. In my dream I accuse him of being a weakling, of not fighting for our love. He just looks at me sadly and his eyes are filled with tears of powerlessness. He is also saying something in his defense, but I do not understand his words. I wake up feeling a sharp pain stabbing my chest and I gasp for breath. I feel like I am suffocating. I take a sip of water from the pitcher on the floor and the pain subsides. Outside, the moon is peering out from behind a cloud and I realize I’ve slept through the whole day. It is time to get ready for a new chance at life or for death.

I use the chamber pot and wash myself again with the bath water that is no longer clean. I tie my hair into a braid and pin it up. If I had scissors, I would gladly cut it off so it does not weigh me down once the cool river takes me in its wet embrace.

I sit on the bed waiting for my fate to open the next chapter of my life. I do not understand why I am suddenly so peaceful, and I cannot be certain if it is tranquility or resignation that has filled my heart.

I have no reaction when I hear the key turn in the lock and see the homely face of the gaoler appear in the doorframe. He is carrying a large red candle and in its light his toothless smile appears eerie and foreboding.

“Are you ready, my lovely, to face the savior? I must say ‘tis a shame to see such a nice body go to waste and be eaten by the fishes and snakes, but you are not the first or the last wretched witch this village has put an end to.”

His laughter is broken by a cough that must be tearing up his insides. It is so strong that it overwhelms him and he has to bend down to cough out something awful that seems to have been stuck in his throat. What a horrid man!

From a 5-star review

“The writing is exquisite—a book of depth, sophisticated in style, literary in nature. Ms. Begovic displays strong lyrical and poetic writing filled with symbolism and universal truths. The book also holds an element of suspense that keeps the reader wondering about the relationships of the characters until the surprise ending. A beautiful story, a compelling read.”

Beverly Knauer, Author of “The Line Between”

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As far back as she can remember, Jana has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning stories, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. Her love of reading and writing drove her to study languages and literature. She works for the Government of Canada in the field of military language training. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has lived in Canada since 1991.

WEB CONTACTS

Facebook

Twitter @ZhannaBegovic

Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

One AUTOGRAPHED book copy as giveaway will be mailed to a reader who leaves a question/comment and his/her contact info. The author will select the winner randomly. Good luck!

 

Welcome to the Highway Café Christmas Blog Tour

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The post may not be the top one but it’s there all three days.

Hi there, I’m Elf Sparkle

My job at the North Pole is decorating the wrapped packages with ribbons and bows or silk flowers or glitter. <giggle> I love glitter, and I love this job because I like making things look pretty.

Playing holiday music while I work keeps me energized. I switch between vocals like Celtic Ladies Christmas or carols by country artists and instrumentals like Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas in the Aire.

My favorite holiday snack and drink. I can’t decide between pfefferrnusse cookies (spice cookies coated in powdered sugar) or thumbprint cookies (cookies rolled in chopped nuts with a dab of jam in the center). But I know my favorite drink is hot chocolate stirred with a mini candy cane.

I’m the Secret Santa for Elf Annie, who works in the kitchen concocting decadent hot cocoa for Santa’s sleigh ride and helping Mrs. Claus bake cookies. I’m giving Elf Annie a mini-grater for the final flourish of fresh cinnamon or nutmeg on top of the whipped cream Santa loves on his cocoa.

This winter/holiday recipe I got from my mother (although she was Midwest born and bred).

New England Cranberry Custard Pie

Ingredients:

4 eggs

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

2/3 cup undiluted evaporated milk

1 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon nutmeg

9” unbaked pastry shell

1 8-oz can whole berry cranberry sauce

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

¼ cup chopped nuts

Combine eggs, salt, 3/4c sugar, evaporated milk, water, vanilla and nutmeg. Beat well. Pour into pastry shell. Bake in hot oven (425°) 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350° and bake 20-30 minutes more, or until knife inserted hallways between edge and center of pie comes out clean.

In small saucepan, stir cornstarch into cranberry sauce then add 2 T sugar. Heat until boiling, then boil one minute, stirring constantly. Stir in nuts and orange rind. Cool cranberry mixture before spooning over the custard. Cool 3-4 hours before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.

My holiday gift to participants on this blog tour is that each task completed in the attached rafflecopter earns a chance in a random drawing for a print copy of One Winter Knight, a medieval winter holiday anthology of 8 stories, or an electronic copy of Silent Signals, a historical western novella.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
TAG LINE: Will the valley’s feud between cattlemen and shepherds keep Konrad and Anora apart? BLURB: After losing half his herd in the Great Blizzard of 1886, rancher Konrad Werner needs to safeguard his cattle. Tomboy Anora Huxley trains the Australian Shepherds and Kelpies that run the family’s sheep herd. Although cattlemen and shepherds are at odds, the pair discovers common interests. A threat is overheard, and Konrad rides out to Anora’s ranch to protect her. The tense situation reveals their true feelings. Will Anora be swayed by family loyalty, or will she listen to her heart that responds to Konrad’s silent signals? Buy link for all electronic formats: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/681040 Here are the sites for the other participating authors. Visit them for more holiday fun, recipes and giveaways. http://transcanadaromancewriters.blogspot.ca/2016/12/highway-cafe-christmas-blog-tour.html http://www.findingthewritewords.blogspot.com/ http://www.tenastetler.com/my-blog/ https://barbaraburkeauthor.wordpress.com/ www.writerknapsack.com http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com/ http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/ http://www.sorchiadubois.com/

http://www.carolhenry.org/

www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com

http://casimclean.com/casis-christmas-…cal-mystery-tour/ https://kaydenclaremont.wordpress.com/ http://mariahlynneauthor.blogspot.com/

http://kkweil.blogspot.com http://www.clairdelunebooks.co.uk/

http://nancyfraser.ca/wordpress/holiday-blog-hop/

Guest Release Promotion—It’s In The Blood by Juanita Aydlette

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BLURB

Never stare at a shirtless hunk with green eyes. Gabrielle Madsen is drawn in by such a pair of eyes that captures her soul and leaves her a prisoner of an addictive kind of love–not that she’s complaining. But her educational trip turns out to be more than just a fun-filled summer escapade.

She’s faced with a life-changing decision that could affect the world around her. Her discovery of this ancient, legend-come-to-life proves to be deadly, but her heart can’t break away. She and Josh Van Ness fall in love and must battle the forces that want to keep them apart.

BUY LINKS

Class Act Books

Amazon ebook

Smashwords

EXCERPT

Away from the open menagerie was a path surrounded by dense trees. It was across a narrow decorative bridge built into the landscape. The thick greenery provided a shady side to the open garden. A spotlight created by the sun beckoned to me from inside and I walked away from the others. My eyes were fixed on the pink and red groundcover that glimmered with a hypnotic seduction. I ventured toward the fragrant breeze, unaware of how far I had strayed.

After only a few yards inside the cover of the trees, my body was seized again by a rumble and a frightening snarl. A chill blanketed me and I couldn’t move. I didn’t dare look around, for the back of my blouse had already been saturated by the heated moisture from the breath of the beast. My first instinct was to scream, but fear had stolen my voice. So I took a deep breath and held it. The scent of horror filled my lungs. It was familiar. Was I being stalked by the animal that lurked outside my hotel grounds?

Help me please, rang inside my head. My eyes squeezed shut as its sharp fangs pinched my shoulder. Tears filled my eyes and my hands formed a fist. I waited to feel my bones snap when suddenly, it let go. The leaves crunched. The sound grew fainter by the second, then nothing. My eyes remained closed as I trembled and listened.

“Miss?” A woman’s voice severed my nightmare. “I saw you come out here. We’re getting ready to go to another area. You don’t want to be left behind.”

Without hesitation I ran past her, clutching my throat and sobbing. The other tourists were boarding the van and I made my way to the back. The woman I believed saved me from certain death, came and sat beside me.

“Hi. My name is Kara. Are you okay?” She placed her hand on my shoulder.

“Did you see anything?” I searched her eyes for a confirmation. “An animal? It was behind me.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see anything,” she said and smiled.

“Was it a spider?” the little lady with the blinding yellow blouse asked.

“No. Never mind, Kara. I guess I’m just tired. Thank you for checking on me.”

“You’re welcome, you take care.” She quickly returned to her seat.

My body trembled as the bus came to stop. I ran from the tourist center to the hotel. Once inside the bathroom, I stripped and examined my shoulder. A painful bruise was both in front and in back. I cried out loud, shook convulsively, and then laughed hysterically. Was I going mad?

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Juanita Aydlette is from Shreveport, Louisiana, and now lives in Texas.  She’s the only girl in a family of four brothers. She love music, planting flowers and is a dog lover…that’s why she works at an animal clinic.

WEB CONTACTS

Website

Facebook

Facebook for Publisher

Twitter: @Juanita Aydlette

by author Linda Carroll-Bradd