Tag Archives: historical

Interview with Susan Furlong

Welcome, Susan. Let’s get started.

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

I don’t write the typical Scottish historical romance. All my stories wrap around a true event in history. Then I drop my characters inside that event and see how they survive. There are so many fascinating episodes in history that fall under the category of “You can’t make this stuff up!” Some are laughable, and some are tragic.

Clicking around the web led me to information about the troubled life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Then I stumbled onto King Henry VIII’s war, called years later as “Rough Wooing,” to force Scotland into agreeing to Mary’s betrothal in infancy to his son, Edward and that led me to the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. “Cleugh” is Gaelic for “valley,” and the name “Pinkie” caught my eye. This battle ended in Scotland’s defeat, and, subsequently, Mary, age 4, was sent to France to wed the Dauphin of France who was five. Her betrothal was the price for France’s support of Scotland against the English.

All of this got me thinking about how many people lost their lives to protect their young queen who obviously was too young to understand the sacrifice, and that led me to wondering who would be protecting her? It had to be my heroine! Since she would be devoted and trustworthy, her hero had to be a rogue who would eventually change his ways. Thus (Katherine) Kit and Hugh were created.

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

Four years ago, I took a cruise with my sisters around the British Isles. Our family heritage is Scottish, and north of Edinburgh Scotland, we toured a castle that once belonged to our long past ancestors. The land there is beautiful and gave me a real understanding of how the people lived, something I could not have gotten from photos alone. I also picked up an ear for the accent, which I used in the book. After reading it, my sister asked me if “I got off the boat at night and talked with Scottish wenches!”

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

When I get stuck on what should happen next, I have learned that I have to take a step back and “live in” the story in my mind with my characters. I leave my desk and go for a walk or take a turn on the treadmill or sit in my chair and close my eyes. I try out various scenarios, usually most don’t work, but eventually one makes sense. Some great ideas come to me while I sleep, so a notepad beside the bed is a necessity. Sometimes this process takes an hour, sometimes several days.

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

My biggest surprise in going back over my work is asking myself “Who wrote this?” Whether it’s really good or really bad, I’m stunned that those words came out of my head. How could I have thought of this and put it together like that?

What resources do you use for picking character names?

Medieval tax records offer authentic names from that era. Google also has a large variety of lists of medieval names as do baby name books and Pinterest. Sometimes I see a name and right away it fits my character perfectly. Other times I use several names while I write before I find the right one. I also search photos online until I find one that is my hero or heroine, which helps me match a name to a face.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I am a Cat person. Six years ago I adopted my two latest cats from the Humane Society’s “Cat Boutique, Meowza” at a local shopping mall. Here rescued cats are available in a pet store-like environment. My granddaughter and I looked over all the kittens and decided on two, one male, one female, who were alone in their cages after all their siblings had been sold. I couldn’t resist making them mine. They are not litter mates, but have been best friends from the start. My granddaughter named them Calvin and Hobbes after our favorite comic strip.

 

Left to right: Hobbes, Calvin

 

 

 

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I love history, not the dates, battles, etc. but how the people must have lived. I hope that readers will see that history is not a boring, dull, repetition of facts, but actually “see” the real people with real lives living through it. I often refer to a phrase I’ve used in my non-fiction historical books about my hometown. In an interview one man said, “We were so busy living our lives, we didn’t know we were living history.” History is made up of incredible stories of people who lived through incredible times!

TAGLINE: She wants to take off his head. He wants to win her heart.

BLURB for By Promise Made

Hugh Cullane, accused of murder and sentenced to hang, is forced to deliver a message of betrothal to four-year-old Queen Mary of Scotland. He faces death yet again when, in rejecting the proposal, the queen’s guardian orders his severed head sent back to England in a jar.

Trained to protect her queen at all costs, Katherine Payne can show no mercy to the handsome messenger, despite the way his stolen kiss unsettles her single-minded sense of duty. Trapped between the English and Scottish armies, she must escape with Mary. Hugh joins her as they are chased by men determined to murder the young queen in their own quest for power.

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EXCERPT

(After escaping the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, Kit, Hugh and young Mary flee north)

In the distance, bobbing heads of the horses of an English patrol headed in their direction.

“Down the cliff is the only way. Ye take Mary,” she said, tugging the straps of Mary’s carrying sack off her shoulders. “The wall of the cliff has a small cave in it about halfway down. We can hide inside. I’ll go down first and lead the way. Ye follow with the babe. I’ll guide ye. Here.” She hefted Mary and the carrying sack onto Hugh’s back. “The straps will rub on yer shoulder and start the bleeding again, but there is no other way.”

“Doesna matter. Are ye set, little one?” he asked Mary.

She kissed him on the cheek. “Aye, the man will take good care of me, Kit”

… “I think I see the cave.” She pointed. “I’ll start that way and call for ye to follow.” Swinging her legs over the side, she quickly started the climb down.

Hugh watched her from the top, trying to memorize where she put her feet and hands. “Mary, ye watch Kit verra carefully so ye can help me put my feet in the right places. Ye can even grab hold of the stones with yer hands to help me. Can ye do it?”

“Aye. Kit and I climbed this cliff more than once. Captain Rand put a rope around her waist, but we didna need it. Kit and I climbed up and down all by ourselves.”

“Are ye ready?”

“I am!”

Hugh adjusted quickly to Mary’s extra weight, and he found it relatively easy to follow Kit’s route down over the jagged rocks.

About halfway down the face, Kit called to him. “I see it. The cave. About thirty feet to yer left. I’ll get there and lead ye to it.”

“Aye,” he said.

That’s when loose rocks started sliding down the cliff, not the pebble or two that fell off when his hand hold wasn’t secure, but bushels of debris falling fast and hard. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Kit fighting to find a foothold. She had a grip on a rock with both hands, but her legs swung uselessly. She grunted and strained, but she didn’t cry out.

“I am coming to ye!” called Hugh.

“Nay!” she called back. “Get to the cave where Mary will be safe. I’ll find a way.”

Her right hand slipped off the stones, followed by her left, and she fell fast and hard. Time slowed down  as she flew through the air, bouncing repeatedly against the face of the cliff. Two, three times she slammed into the wall. Her tunic caught on a stone and ripped nearly off. On the fifth time, another jagged edge caught her boot and tore it from her foot and twisted her body until she fell headfirst toward the ground. She landed on her back at the edge of the road below with a sickening thud.

Mary screamed.

Quote from Five Star review by N.N.Light Book Heaven.

By Promise Made is a historical romance I couldn’t put down. I have read a lot of books dealing with Queen Mary of Scots, but this story puts a new spin on the young queen. From the first page, I was transported to medieval Scotland. The descriptive narration is so well done, I sniffed the air and heard the sounds of everything going on in By Promise Made.

By Promise Made was a finalist (top 3) in the N.N. Light Book Heaven Book of the Year in the Historical Romance category.

Susan Leigh Furlong was born at the University of Michigan before moving across the country six times before the age of fourteen. At college she met her love and moved to his hometown, where she taught first and fourth grades. While performing in community theater, she realized she wanted to play ALL the parts, and she now writes and/or directs church plays and performs with a music and drama ministry, LightReaders.

She wrote two historical non-fiction books published by Arcadia Publishing. Susan first discovered romance novels when she won a copy of Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux at the local bookstore.

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Guest Release–The Editor’s Kisses by Kara O’Neal

LOGLINE: A budding suffragette agrees to a fake courtship with the editor for a job…not love.

BLURB:

One kiss changes the whole game…

 Constance Forrester is a suffragette determined to change society. When Stephen Dawson, her school chum, starts a newspaper, she asks Stephen to take a risk and employ her as a journalist.

Stephen immediately turns her down. But his interactions with Constance have made the town princess, Madeline Talbut, curious. Stephen has loved Madeline for years, and he concocts a plan: enter into a fake courtship with Constance, and in return, Constance can be a journalist for his newspaper.

It’s a chance Constance can’t pass up. So what if she has to attend parties and withstand Stephen’s heart-melting kisses? A suffragette must forge through barriers, but when Stephen changes the game, Constance finds herself the object of the editor’s desire…

Book Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/31Y1ya

EXCERPT:

Setting: The Talbut Parlor

The Problem: An annoying parlor game

Madeline’s spinning of Constance was a little rough, but Stephen held his tongue. When their hostess let go, Constance fumbled for a moment before Stephen raised himself up and yanked her into his lap.

The shouts of excitement and delight that went around the room nearly deafened him. People playfully called out “cheater”, but Stephen didn’t care, especially when Constance whisked off her mask and looked immensely relieved to see he’d successfully caught her.

They headed to the closet without fuss. Constance almost looked as if she was dying to climb inside. She probably wanted to get the farce over with.

Once they were squeezed into the confining space, with their chests pressed together in a way Stephen had only fantasized about, she said, “Thank you. I don’t know what I would have done—”

He covered her mouth with his hand, having dislodged it from his side. Then he leaned near her ear. “They might be able to hear us,” he whispered.

She flinched.

He lowered his arm, and she let out a slow breath. He wished he could see her face. For more reasons than to satisfy his worry she was all right.

He did everything he could to ignore the touch of her body along his front. He tried not to remember how she looked, how her eyes lit up, how her expression sharpened when she was interested in something. Why had he watched her all night?

But he knew. He knew very well. She was captivating. Intriguing. And so damned lovely.

Why was he having feelings for her? Wasn’t his love for Madeline strong enough to withstand attraction for another woman? But if it was, he would be in the closet with his hostess and not the lady he pretended to the world held his fancy.

He had to kiss her. He had to discover if this attachment was real. Besides, if he didn’t kiss her, everyone would wonder why. And for some strange reason, he needed every fellow out there to understand Constance Forrester was his. He closed his eyes and realized his attitude was no better than a caveman’s. But the need to possess and brand raced through him without pause, and he couldn’t fathom how to check it. Except to kiss her and get her out of his system once and for all.

“Constance,” he uttered. “I’m gonna kiss you.”

She flinched again.

“I won’t hurt you, I swear it. But if I don’t kiss you…they’ll all question us and our…attachment.” He was an ass. He was using their agreement to coax her into acquiescence, and while he knew it, and was ashamed of it, he continued. “It will only be for a second. I’ll just brush my lips with yours.”

In the darkness, he felt her slight nod against his chin. His heart pounded at her quiet surrender.

When she pulled back as far as the space would allow and lifted her head to his, heat slashed through him. He’d never needed a kiss as much as he needed hers.

Madeline had kissed him. Once. Behind the schoolhouse when they were sixteen. And that moment hadn’t caused nearly the anticipation this one did.

He lowered his head and swallowed her gasp. It wasn’t a brush, even though he only set his lips on hers. It was a fire. A shot of whiskey that whipped through him and pooled in his gut. He deepened the connection, and she let him, sighing and sinking into him despite already being as close to him as he could get her.

He melted. He needed to move to the ground and cover her, press her down and make her his. He used his tongue, tasting her. She capitulated instantly and opened her mouth under his. He took what she allowed without hesitation as his free hand came up to grip her waist.

The damn closet was too small. His left hand was wedged between her side and the slender door. But though he couldn’t get his arms around her, he didn’t stop the kiss. It went on and on, stealing his breath, tightening his chest and making him doubt everything he’d ever known about his heart.

Rapid footsteps had him surging backward, and he knocked his head on the wall.

The door flew open, and cool air blasted his cheeks. He and Constance fell out of the space, their limbs tangling as they tried to right themselves.

Peals of laughter rung around them as Stephen reached out a hand to balance her. She latched on as if she didn’t want to let go, and his muscles vibrated with hope she had enjoyed the moment as he had.

It had taken less than a few seconds for him to realize kissing her had been the wrong thing to do. But also the most right, most perfect, most sound judgement he’d ever made in his life.

As those who’d crowded around the entrance to the kitchen went roaring with laughter back into the parlor, he gazed at Constance. And his world tilted.

Her flushed cheeks and bright eyes made his heart constrict with an emotion he was too afraid to name at the moment. But he knew what it was. He knew.

How in the devil had it happened? Was he a fool? A fickle man?

He swallowed. “Do you want to leave?”

And before his eyes, he witnessed a transformation that set his blood on fire. Determination changed her expression, and she lifted her chin.

“Certainly not. I’m quite all right, I assure you.” She gave a shake to her skirts. “We’ve a job to do, Stephen Dawson, and I’ll not let you down.”

She exited the kitchen with a swirl of satin, and he followed with less sure steps. She wouldn’t let him down, he knew it. But he feared he might disappoint her, for if she knew the direction of his thoughts, she would never forgive him. Constance Forrester had no time for any man. She had plans. Plans that didn’t include caring for the heart of the newspaper editor.

Born and raised in Texas, I chose to make the state the setting for my first series. From the food to the fun, like floating the rivers, it is the fire in my blood that inspires me. My family and friends take center stage in my books. My sisters and best friends are my heroines, and my husband created my favorite hero. Love and family are the point of my stories, and I seek to entertain, relieve stress, and inspire people. Books can take one on a journey that one can relive over and over. I am extremely grateful to those authors who did that very thing for me. I learned and I fell in love with their words and characters. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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Blog — http://www.karaoneal.com/blog

Blog – The Story Continues — http://www.karaoneal.com/the-story-continues

Love Holiday Stories?

Today I’m featured on N.N. Light’s Book Heaven Presents…Christmas and Holiday Book Festival. During the month of December, 63 books by 45 authors are highlighted with promotional information and a favorite holiday memory. Stop by to learn about these books and enter for a chance to win multiple gift cards.

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/single-post/2019/12/06/A-Vow-for-Christmas-CHF

Christmas Wishes Romance giveaway ending soon

If you haven’t already participated in the giveaway for a chance to receive free ebooks in several genres, don’t wait. Click through to the page on Connie Bretes’ website or enter through the Rafflecopter below.

 

My giveaway, Silent Signals, is a historical western romance set in December 1887 in Aspen, Colorado with a rancher and a woman who trains shepherding dogs.

Christmas Wishes Romance Ebook Giveaway

Release Promotion–Baling Wire Promises

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YAY! Today is release day for BALING WIRE PROMISES, Entertainers of the West #4, a Montana Sky Kindle Worlds novella. In this story, I bring the third Andrusha brother, bounty hunter Pete Andrews, who is still living under his alias from when spies attempted to learn the family’s leather tanning secret, into contact again with his brothers in Morgan’s Crossing.  On his ride from Idaho Territory, he encounters a woman and five children making their way south after an orphanage fire robs them of their home. Raised better than to desert a woman, Pete offers to help her reach the next town.

Only by a fluke did Fantine Pomeroy and five children survive an orphanage fire. Now she needs to travel hundreds of miles to deliver them to Virginia City. Fantine’s upbeat manner is tested by the exhausting toil of driving all day, foraging for food and dealing with traumatizing nightmares. But a promise must be honored. One night a stranger invades their campfire, and a tentative alliance is forged.

Exclusive to Kindle

I’m looking for readers willing to accept an ARC with the promise of posting a review by the end of this month. Those doing so will be entered into a drawing for either a print copy (US only) or a boxed set of A Year of Romance, Books 1-4 in “Dorado, Texas” series. Interested, email me at l.carrollbradd@gmail.com. Limited copies available.

Guest Release–Answering Sarah by Nancy Shew Bolton

AnsweringSarah_Cover copy (2)

BLURB

After a fire destroys their home when she was a girl, Sarah’s family rebuilds their lives, yet the echoes of the fire’s damage remain. Sarah learned to turn inward, and keep her curious mind to herself, asking God all the questions that her own father used to delight in. But the fire silenced her father, and spread the stillness to the rest of them. Yet Sarah longs to express herself, to find answers to all her questions. A new, young pastor arrives, and captivates her heart. The prospect of a challenging and unexpected life dances before her, but then is held out of her reach. And with the new possibilities come questions she’s never asked herself before. Is she ready for the answers?

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EXCERPT

Soon Mary left the library to help fix supper, but Pastor stayed. How she wished he would leave so she could lay her head on the desk and cry away some of this pain. He’d go soon, and then she could give in to her tears.

She sat at her desk and wrote reminders for tomorrow. Considering her jumbled state of mind, she doubted her ability to remember anything. The sound of the door closing made her look up. He hadn’t even said good-bye. She scanned the pegs on the wall. He was in such a hurry to go, he forgot his coat.

He was probably glad to go home, away from her gloomy unfriendliness. Thank God, he couldn’t see how petty she was. What a failure she’d turned out to be. A test came along, and all manner of awful things poured out of her. She wanted to go home.

Sobs shook her as she released the tears and held her bowed head in her hands.

God, please forgive me. Please help me. Please.

“Sarah, what is it? What’s the matter?” Pastor’s alarmed voice cut through her sobs.

Oh, no.

He stood next to her desk. How could she look at him? What could she say? Why was he there?

She tried to catch her breath. “I…I miss my family. I wouldn’t have cried, but I thought I was alone.” She took a few shaky breaths and kept her gaze down.

“I saw Deacon Tobias outside trying to calm down his horse and went out to help him. He said the leaves spooked her.” He was silent a moment. When he spoke, she could barely hear him. “Sarah, how can I help you?”

“I’m all right. Don’t bother about me. I’ll be fine in a minute.” She stood and walked past him to the stacks of books. How could she let herself get to this point? She’d never be able to look him in the eyes again. Heavy silence filled the room. Sarah stood and stared at the books, mind blank, unable to remember what she should do next. She could feel his presence and squeezed her eyes shut.

“Sarah?”

She couldn’t take any more. Why wouldn’t he leave?

Her voice shook. “Pastor, please. I can’t talk right now.”

“Let me help—”

“No. Please leave me alone. Please.”

Silence.

Just go or I’ll lose my mind.

She waited, back stiff, head held high.

“All right.” Pastor’s voice sounded sad and resigned. He must have been so disappointed in her.

She heard him put on his coat. The door closed behind him. Trembling, Sarah walked back to her desk and almost tumbled onto the chair. She crossed her arms over the top of her desk and dropped her head onto them. Her heart yearned for her family and her life as it had been before.

I can’t do this. I don’t have the strength.

Nancy Bolton

Nancy Shew Bolton is a wife of 43 years, mother of five grown sons, and grandmother to a boy and girl. She’s lived in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY all her life. Her faith, her family and her surroundings inspire her writing. Her books explore the many depths of faith and love.

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Guest Interview—Barbara Burke

Welcome to an author friend from The Wild Rose Press.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a freelance journalist. I started out working as a reporter for a weekly newspaper and when I moved away I branched out on my own. But many years ago, when I was in university, I had a naïve plan to write a romance to finance a career as a ‘real’ writer. My manuscript was rejected, not surprisingly. Since then I’ve become a little more humble and maybe even a little wiser and I thought I’d give it another shot. It’s worked out much better this time.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Barbara Burke’s characters fall in love with their brains, not their bodies.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I like to hike and sail, which makes me sound all outdoorsy and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Really I like to read and do cryptic crossword puzzles and drink red wine.

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

Heads or tails? You can’t have just one side of a coin.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Again, I can’t pick just one. I start off with an idea of plot and character and then see how they negotiate their way to the end of the story.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

I need absolute silence or I’ll start singing along (even if it’s an instrumental piece) and that can completely change the mood of what I’m writing.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

There is no starting point for research. I’m doing it constantly.

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

Yes, but I’ve travelled to a lot more places that were the setting for books I’ve loved over the years.

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

I don’t get stuck creating a story. I get stuck in the dreaded middle bit where you know where the story came from and you know where it’s going, but it seems to be spending all its time playing solitaire instead of progressing.

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

I don’t think there were any. Everyone needs an editor. EVERYONE.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

Write a few lines. Check email. Write a few lines. Move the cat off the keyboard (and check email). Write a few lines. Have lunch. Write a few lines. Move the cat from in front of the computer screen (and check email). Et cetera.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

I have all kinds of unfinished novels and I’m a freelance journalist. I get antsy if I’m spending all my time writing fiction and I get antsy if I’m spending all my time writing non-fiction.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

It depends on the time of year, but generally speaking it would be somewhere with lots of history, outdoor cafes and a beach.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

Yes. At the moment three cats, a snake, a tankful of fish and a horse.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

A feeling of satisfaction at the end. I don’t write insightful or deep. I’m just trying to entertain, not enlighten.

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BLURB

When ARP warden Molly sees a light shining through the darkness of London on a cold winter’s night in the middle of the blitz she’s infuriated with the careless American who struck it. Doesn’t he know there’s a war on?

Guy’s just trying to find his way through a maze of unlit streets. He’s very sorry and Molly reluctantly forgives him. When he accompanies her on her nightly rounds the two learn about each other, themselves and whether it’s really possible to fall in love in only one night – especially when there’s no guarantee of tomorrow.

BUY LINKS

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The Wild Rose Press

EXCERPT

They stood silently. Slowly her hand came out of her pocket to rest on the top of his arm. The other one reached up to gently touch his cheek. He could see the glint of her eyes, those impossible brown eyes, as she gazed up at him gravely.

“Are you going to kiss me?” Her cool British voice gave him no inclination of how she felt.

“Is that what you want?” Guy wasn’t sure what he would do if the answer was no.

She didn’t reply, and he took that for her answer. Quickly he undid the clasp on her helmet and pulled it away, letting it drop to the ground without a thought. Free of its weight, she tilted her face up, her lips dark and full in the black night, and settled more deeply into his grasp.

It was invitation enough.

He bent his head toward her.

Her lips were soft and cold. Willing, but tentative. Her arms circled his neck, and he pulled her to him more tightly, body to body despite the thick winter clothing they both wore.

The night suddenly got a lot warmer.

The kiss didn’t last long. It was too sweet to be sustained, and they were too new to the sensation to change it into something more. As soon as Guy sensed Molly withdrawing, he broke it off.

But he didn’t release her. And she made no move to pull away.

“Was that a mistake?” he asked.

“No.” Molly sounded quite sure, and Guy’s heart soared. But then she continued, “However, repeating it might be.”

SNIPPET OF REVIEW

I absolutely loved this book! Ms. Burke descriptions of London in 1941 were so clear and concise, I felt like I was there. The historical accuracy of this story was spot on. ~~Amazon review

Barbara Burke - CopyBarbara Burke’s peripatetic life means she’s lived everywhere from a suburban house in a small town to a funky apartment in a big city, and from an architecturally designed estate deep in the forest to a cedar shack on the edge of the ocean. Everywhere she’s gone she’s been accompanied by her husband, her animals and her books.

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Guest release–Of Love and Vengeance by Louise Lyndon

COVER Of Love and Vengeance

BLURB:

Forced to marry Lord Aymon to ensure her nephews survival, English Lady Laila vows undying hatred for the Norman she holds responsible for so many deaths. Discovering Aymon has committed an act of treason gives her the chance to seek vengeance he deserves.  But will Laila really let Aymon die once she learns the truth?

A hardened Norman warrior, Lord Aymon has lived through atrocities no man ever should. With the invasion of England over, all he wants is a quiet life and a wife who will give him heirs and obey his every command. Instead, he finds himself wed to feisty and outspoken Laila. But when she learns the truth of his treasonous act, can Aymon count on her to keep his secret?

EXCERPT:

Laila heard them long before she saw them. Their angry, frenzied shouts and thunderous roars filled her ears. With her hands tied securely behind her, she was dragged up the lane toward Tyburn Gallows, where she was to be hanged for a crime she did not commit. The mob sounded blood thirsty. Large. Frightening.

There was no sign of Aymon. Or Hugh. Had they left her alone to die?

Her chin trembled and her nails dug into her palms.

She suddenly fell to her knees and screamed until she tasted blood at the back of her throat. She kicked out and tried to crawl free as her hair was almost torn from the roots as she was pulled up and shoved along the lane.

Her eyes burned with her tears.

“I am innocent!” Laila screamed.

They came around a corner, and that’s when she saw them. There must have been a least two thousand men, women, and children, hungry for her blood. And when they saw her, they erupted into a wild fever of roars and cries for a slow and painful death. Their thirst had been piqued, and now it must be sated.

Laila was shoved into the center of the clearing.

She glanced wildly around in a desperate search for Aymon’s towering, bulky frame. She could not see him.

But what she could see was the Tyburn Tree. The gallows she was to be hanged from. The executioner, hooded, stood beside the tree as he waited patiently for her. Laila’s mouth suddenly went dry.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon US http://ow.ly/FT0wg

Amazon UK http://ow.ly/FT0CD

Amazon AU http://ow.ly/FT0GP

The Wild Rose Press http://ow.ly/FT0oK

Kobo http://ow.ly/FT0K8

All Romance eBooks http://ow.ly/FT0O6

Book Strand http://ow.ly/FT0Ra

Louise

Louise grew up in Australia before moving to England, where for sixteen years she soaked up the vibrancy of London and the medieval history of England. She has since returned to Australia. In 2013 Louise won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing Contest – Historical Romance Category –for her story, The Promise, which has since been retitled as, Of Love & Vengeance. When not writing, she can be found crawling under barbed wire and hoisting herself over twelve foot walls!

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Guest Interview–Sharon McGregor

Welcome today to Sharon McGregor, an author with Prism Book Group.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I ‘m a prairie transplant to the West Coast, trying to run away from winter.  I  am moving this month to the warmest spot I can find and still live in Canada- on Vancouver Island, where I will be a block away from the beach. I grew up on a quarter-section farm on the prairies and attended a one-room country school of the sort where  Maggie has come to teach  in Autumn Dreams. Unlike Maggie, I have always loved horses.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I’m a history buff. My favourite period is the time of the Plantagenets. I want to do some travelling if I can ever get away and I plan a trip to the UK with friends next year. I like watching my grandchildren with their sports.  Any time I spend with animals is time well spent. I love horses, dogs, and my cat Zoey as well as any others that cross my path.

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

I would say the two main characters first. Some of the other characters just show up as the plot develops.  In Autumn Dreams, I wanted to start with a teacher of the sort my aunts were when I was young. Then Maggie just walked in and said, “This is my story.”

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I do about sixty percent planned and the rest freestyle.  I don’t feel comfortable without a structure to work within. Then I often change things as I go and the outline goes out the window. An outline is sort-of like your reserve parachute-it’s comforting to know it’s there even if you don’t use it.

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

I lived the location. Maggie was just a little before my time but close enough that the farm, the people the school and the families all seem to be familiar on a personal level.

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

The first thing I try is take the dogs for a long walk.  That usually clears my head and I find on my feet is the best way to think.  Second best is my Lazy boy, but sometimes I goof that one up and doze off.  If I am stuck for too long, I set the story aside for a couple of days and tackle something else-maybe a short story or plotting another book.  Then some little thing hits you and you’re back on track with your work.

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Blurb:

Autumn Dreams takes place on the prairies in the late 1940s.

Maggie arrives at her new teaching job, to board with a family she’s prepared to like. What she isn’t prepared for is her landlady’s brother Marshall who seems to hate her on sight. She is captivated by Ellen’s six year old daughter Emma who is having identity problems when faced with the arrival of a new baby. Then Ellen goes into labour in the middle of a storm and Maggie must face her fears to help. Along the way she helps a family grow closer together but what about her hopes for the future? Can she get past the wall Marshall has set up and does she really have a future here amongst the people she has grown to care for?

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From a 5-star review:

This charming story weaves little touches of 1940s history with romance and endearment. The story is so well written, with delicate description, a great storyline and believable characters. The heroine, Maggie, not only has to adjust to a new life and job, but overcome her fear of horses and find romance along the way, a true inspiration to us all.

Sharon McGregor

 

Excerpt:

Maggie stood in the barn doorway watching for a moment as Marshall threw forkfuls of soiled straw onto the stoneboat.  It was a warm day and his shirt hung on a wooden peg on the wall.  Maggie wasn’t used to seeing a man’s naked torso.  When her father came home from the hardware store, he might take off his jacket and loosen his tie but that was as casual as he got.  She watched in admiration as each muscle moved and realigned when Marshall lifted. She could feel an unfamiliar warmth in her own body as she watched.  She knew from the way his shoulders tightened that he was aware of her presence.

“Ellen says supper will be ready in a half hour,” she said.

“I figured.”  He stopped briefly and stood, fork in hand, one foot resting on its shoulder, a slight smile pulling the right side of his mouth upward.  “Is there more?”

“You used to live here, right?”

“It was our family farm.”

“Your parents aren’t still living?”

“No.”  He pointed through the open north door to a hillside. “My father was cultivating that hillside when the tractor wheel hit a large rock and threw it off balance.  The tractor rolled over on him. He was dead before help came.  Mom died a year later.  Farm life isn’t all baby calves and collecting eggs, you know.  It’s a hard life.”

“Why didn’t you stay on the farm?’

He picked up the fork again.  “Do you always ask so many questions?  If you want to make yourself useful, grab a fork.”  His eyes travelled over her from head to toe sending a shiver down her back. “On second thought, you’d better not.  Those shoes weren’t made for shovelling manure.  Wouldn’t want to soil them.”  He turned dismissively back to his work.

She flushed as she felt her anger rise at his off-handedness.

She marched past him skirting the flailing fork handle. She knew she’d seen a pair of rubber boots earlier by the corner stall. She pushed her feet out of her shoes and into the boots.  A little big but they’d do. She reached for a fork hanging on the barn wall aware of his stillness as he watched her.

“Not that one; that’s a hay fork. Take the one next to it.”

She lifted the shorter heavier manure fork and tentatively shoved it into a pile of damp, smelly straw. As she lifted, most of it fell off but she managed to fling some of it onto the stoneboat. The second forkful went better. Marshall had turned his back but she knew by the way his shoulders moved that he was laughing at her.

I’ll show you she thought. She closed her nose to the stench and wondered if you ever got used to the smell of manure. ‘Oh Dora, if you could only see me now.”

///

Maggie bit the side of her lip and plunged in, partly because she wanted answers and partly just to say something to cover her confusion. “So why didn’t you stay on the farm?  Don’t sons usually take over?”

He gave her an amused look. “You never give up with your questions, do you? Well, let’s see if I can satisfy that curiosity bug of yours.” He leaned back in his chair balancing it on the rear two legs and closed his eyes for a moment. “When our parents died, Ellen was already married to Ray and I was turning eighteen.  That was when the war came.  Ray couldn’t join up; he’s always had weak lungs.  That’s why he keeps getting those bouts of pneumonia.  But I was young and idealistic so I enlisted.  Ray and Ellen moved in and ran the farm.  When the war finally ended I was restless like so many others and I wandered around the country for a bit before coming back to Timber.  Ray and Ellen had put so much into the place and I wasn’t really anxious to become a farmer, so they bought out my share.  I started the lumberyard with a friend and here we are.”  He bounced the chair back to an upright position with a bang.  “Does that answer all your questions?”

“All but one.”

He stood and set his cup down as if to show he’s given her all the time he would allot her and said “What might that one be?”

“Why do you dislike me?”

He gave her a long slow look. “Yes, I can see where you’re one of those people who needs to have everyone like them.”

She flushed and was about to protest when he moved closer and said, “The short answer is I don’t dislike you.” He put one arm around her shoulder turning her to face him and leaned down to kiss her, gently at first and then with a ferocity that shook loose all her feelings for this intriguing man and replaced them with sensations she had never felt before.  Warmth swept through her very essence. Just as she felt she was going to fall over the edge of a cliff he released her, swung around so quickly she couldn’t see his expression and walked out the door.

Bio:

Sharon McGregor is a west coast transplant from the Canadian prairies. Her imagination and story weaving got its start when she was an only child living on a farm. She’s moved on from cowgirl dreams to romance and mystery, but hasn’t lost her love for horses.
In spite of her eternal quest to escape the cold, she does spend time at ice rinks watching her grandchildren figure skate and play hockey.
When she can summon up the nerve to get on a plane she likes to visit with her son and grandchildren who are still knee deep in the prairies.
Sharon loves endings with happy resolutions which is why she enjoys writing romance.

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