Welcome to Excerpt Friday! Each Friday we’ll be featuring excerpts from recent releases by our very own Fillies. So grab a cup of coffee and read on. And if you find you’re hooked by what you read (and we know you will be!) just click on the book cover to purchase the entire book.
From Author Mary Connealy – THE ADVENT BRIDE
November 29, 1875
Being a teacher was turning out to be a little like having the flu.
Simon O’Keeffe. Her heart broke for him at the same time her stomach twisted with dread for herself. The churning innards this boy caused in her made a case of influenza fun and game.
The small form on the front steps of the Lone Tree schoolhouse huddled against the cold. Shivering herself, she wondered how long seven-year-old Simon had been sitting with his back pressed against the building to get out of the wind.
On these smooth, treeless highlands the wind blew nearly all the time. No matter where a person sought shelter outside, there was no escape from the Nebraska cold.
Just as there was no escape from Simon.
Picking up her pace and shoving her dread down deep, she hurried to the door, produced the key her position as school marm had granted her, and said, “Let’s get inside, Simon. You must be freezing.”
And what was his worthless father thinking to let him get to school so early?
Simon’s eyes, sullen and far too smart, lifted to hers.
“Did you walk to school?” Melanie tried to sound pleasant. But it didn’t matter. Simon would take it wrong. The cantankerous little guy had a gift for it. She swung the door open and waved her hand to shoo him in.
The spark of rebelling in his eyes clashed with his trembling. He wanted to defy her—Simon always wanted to defy her—but he was just too cold.
“My pa ain’t gonna leave me to walk to school in this cold, Miss Douglas.” Simon was offended on his father’s behalf.
“So he drove you in?” Melanie should just quit talking. Nothing she said would make Simon respond well, the poor little holy terror.
“We live in town now…leastways we’re living here for the winter.”
And that explained Simon’s presence. He’d started the school year, then he’d stayed home to help with harvest—or maybe his pa had just been too busy to get the boy out the door. And before harvest was over, the weather turned bitter cold. The five mile walk was too hard and apparently his pa wouldn’t drive him.
The day Simon had stopped coming to school her life as the teacher had improved dramatically. That didn’t mean the rest of her life wasn’t miserable, but at least school had been good. And now here came her little arch enemy back to school. It was all she could do to suppress a groan.
Closing the door, Melanie rushed to set her books on her desk in the frigid room. She headed straight for the pot-bellied stove to get a fire going.
She gathered an armful of logs, pulled open the creaking door and knelt to stuff kindling into the stove. She added shredded bits of bark and touched a match to it. A crash startled her and she knocked her head into the cast iron.
Whirling around, expecting the worst…she got it.
Glaring at her.
We always enjoy this dear lady who shares our love for the old West. She writes those wonderful Love Inspired stories. She’s going to talk about what inspires her.
She has a new book and it looks like a humdinger!
She’s toting one to give away so come and ride along.
We’ll have lots to talk about.
When I die….people are going to say….remember the month of October in 2014???? Well, if Mary could have skipped that month (well maybe half of September, too)….she’d have lived for ten more years.
Lots of great stuff happening and I’ll get to that, but also my mom fell and spent three weeks in the hospital, now she’s in a nursing home. Recovering and we hope to spring her soon but she’s 86 so it’s slow.
Also another family member with a health crisis I’m not going into here but trust me….tons of emotional energy and time….which I want utterly to give.
And in the midst of those things that I absolutely HAVE to make a priority………………………….
I’VE HAD FOUR BOOKS RELEASE!
Which is fun and wonderful and I love doing all of it….but wow, the marketing, trying to keep straight all the promises I’ve made…..trying to remember which book I’m supposed to be talking about now. And, plus, also, too…..I’VE GOT A BOOK TO WRITE!
So this is me, whining and rejoicing in equal parts because c’mon … this writing gig is what I pursued for years. This is what I WANT. This is an achievement of which I am so proud and amazed and honored.
If by any chance I have made any promises to anyone and haven’t kept them….please email me and remind me because many things have vanished into air pockets in my brain.
So Mom is healing. She’s an absolute doll. My main concern for her, beyond her health is she just does NOT ask for anything for herself.
So I feel like I need to be there, asking for her. I’m actually not real good at that myself. My Cowboy husband is great at it. So he gets a lot of me worrying and him taking charge for which I am so grateful.
I’ve also got seven brothers and sisters who, well, one is a doctor but in an odd twist they ALL seem to think they’re doctors. So lots of advice.
AND I didn’t even intend to talk that much about my mom, let alone post a bunch of pictures of her so I’ll stop now, what I intend to do is explain the juggling and give books away. One each of the four releases. And you know what? I’m giving away five. Because P & P filly Margaret Brownley is in one collection with me!
TRIED AND TRUE…we’ve talked about that a lot here (well, I CERTAINLY HAVE) Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!
Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister–and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk–they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”–but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.
Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?
“Another great laugh-out-loud historical romance with memorable characters who have charm, style, grace, and a bit of mischief.”
–RT Book Reviews on In Too Deep
The Advent Bride…which costs $0.99 so if you don’t win, seriously consider buying it. It’s ebook only and it’s book #1 of a twelve book series of Christmas novellas called The Twelve Brides of Christmas.
New–The 12 Brides of Christmas! You’re invited to a Christmas wedding…that is twelve of them! Discover the joy of an old-fashioned Christmas romance with these twelve heart-warming stories. Brand-new stories from renowned inspirational fiction authors will take you into the heartland of historical America. Releasing each week starting October 6, you’ll want to read all of them.
#1: The Advent Bride
Melanie Douglas is alone on the Nebraska plains, teaching school to get by. She finds a unique box with hidden drawers to use over the advent season to engage a young boy in his schooling. When Henry O’Keeffe sees a positive change in his son, he has to see for himself what this new teacher is doing.
The Nutcracker Bride…by Margaret Brownley she’s one of the twelve authors of the 12 Brides of Christmas series. All twelve books in this series are $0.99 which honestly makes my generous giveaway not all that generous! Sorry.
#2: The Nutcracker Bride
When Texas ranger, Chad Prescott, wakes up from a gunshot injury in Kansas, he finds himself surrounded by German nutcrackers and nursed by the feisty Lucy Langdon. Could this be the start of a beautiful friendship or just a bad dream?
THEN (yes hang in there, more giveaways) Hope for the Holidays-Historical Bundle
Four award-winning and best-selling inspirational authors take you back to times gone by with this heart-warming collection of old-fashioned romance at its best! From 20th century Boston to the forested hills of 19th century Idaho, these talented romance writers offer a taste of faith, hope and love in this delightful collection.
Including my contribution to the collection…”Sophie’s Other Daughter” by Mary Connealy …this is Sophie McClellen from Petticoat Ranch, she had four daughters and this is the story of the fourth one….Laura McClellen is just answering a call for her big sister, Doctor Beth, at the Reeve’s home. (I told Beth’s story in my Rita nominated book Doctor in Petticoats) Ike Reeves shows up for a surprise Christmas visit, exhausted and filthy. Ike claims the right to escort Laura home and outlaws after Ike turn a simple ride into a fight for their lives.
And Hope for the Holidays-Contemporary Bundle … yes you’re reading that right CONTEMPORARY. I wrote a contemporary. If it helps ease your fears that I’ve abandoned the BRAND….it’s a contemporary cowboy….so it should be okay.
Six heart-warming romances from award-winning, best-selling and multi-published authors will make you smile your way through the holiday season… and beyond! In today’s busy, commercial world these sweet stories remind us of the true spirit of Christmas: faith, hope and love… and the greatest of these is love! Six happy reads at one low price! Merry Christmas!
Including my contribution to the collection….”Hope for Christmas” by Mary Connealy the hero of this book is Tanner Harden IV…great-great-great (oh who knows how many greats???) grandson of Belle Tanner and Silas Harden….Kelsey is alone, lost, pregnant, stuck in a blizzard and surrounded by wolves.
And then things get worse.
There are multiple authors in the last two … it’s my friends from our Seekerville blog. We teamed up and wrote a bundle of Christmas stories…and they are both ebook only and cost $2.99-each.
I’m giving away one each of all five of these books today…to five separate winners…in the hopes you won’t notice that this blog is really about NOTHING. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.
Good morning, as I careen toward my latest deadline, the ninth book in my Charity House series, I’ve decided to offer a special treat to our readers. Leave a comment and you’ll be included in a drawing to win a copy of each of the previous eight (8) books in the series. I will choose two winners. Here’s a quick look at the eight books in the series.
And the most recent installment in the series, HIS MOST SUITABLE BRIDE
When it came to restraining outlaws and criminals, nothing was more useful than a trusty set of handcuffs. Lord knows the old west saw more than its share of the criminal element due to lawmen being few and far between.
The ratio was probably something like 1 to 500, especially in the less settled regions. Like Alaska.
This first image was what they would’ve had universally here in the U.S. back in those days.
Some of these would’ve been very tortuous. But then, criminals needed a deterrent of some sort and still do.
These were downright barbaric. I pity anyone who had their wrists inserted into these. Oh my dear Lord!
And this last pair looks really strange but they were extremely cruel. The length was made of intertwined wire or other stiff material. They were drawn tightly around the wrist, either one or both, and held by a man of the law. If the lawman wanted to inflict excruciating pain, he would twist until the wire cut into the lawbreaker’s flesh. Or he could yank.
Then when they GOT you to the jail, things went from bad to worse.
As you can see punishment wasn’t something they took lightly back then. And yet, they had an abundance of crime. Almost the same as it is today. Our prisons are full.
What is your favorite lawman or outlaw in a book or on the screen?
TEXAS MAIL ORDER BRIDE is available for preorder from Amazon.
I don’t know about you, but when I write, I use the word “moment” quite a bit. I never really stopped to think about how long a “moment” was until my first editor for Fire Eyes made me take out a description of a moment—I had deemed it “a long moment”—she let me know that there could be no such thing as a “long moment”—it was either a moment or it wasn’t.
Ever since then, I’ve paid close attention to my writing about “moments”—because it dawned on me that I believed there were more than just one kind of moment. There are the long, awkward pause moments; the quick can’t-believe-I-said-that moments; the long steady stare moments that say “I saw what you did and I know who you are”. There are the moments in between the blink of a firefly’s light in the summer night, and the breathless moments in between the first assault of a tornado’s devastating winds and the eye of the storm. There are the moments that tick by into minutes, and then hours…and hopelessness; and there are the moments of despair that settle quickly only to be lifted by a smile of forgiveness or understanding.
A MOMENT OF REMEMBRANCE–Soldiers raise the flag at Iwo Jima–World War II
I subscribe to a funny little newsletter called “Wisegeek” that addresses all manner of subjects, and their piece on “moments” was what prompted this post. Here’s what they had to say about it:
The amount of time in a moment is 90 seconds, or one and a half minutes, according to its usage as a unit of time measurement in medieval times dating back to the 8th century. This was based on the positioning of shadows on a sun dial, in which shadows moved along the dial 40 times in an hour. After the invention of the mechanical clock in the 13th century, a moment was no longer widely used as a specific unit of measurement. Going forward in modern times, a moment began to be used as a figure of speech to refer vaguely to any very brief period of time.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH–Tom is about to give Rance the news that HE wasn’t the one who shot Liberty Valance, after all…
- Time has been measured since at least 1500 BC, which is the first instance of records indicating time measurement through the invention of the sundial by the ancient Egyptians.
- The word clock comes from the medieval Latin word for bell and refers to the bell that was used to signal that it was time for monks to pray.
- The poet Miroslav Holub proposed in 1990 that a moment is the unit of time it takes a person to read a average line of verse
A MOMENT IN HISTORY–Bud and Temple Abernathy, the youngest long riders in history, in their car (ages 11 and 13)
So now that you know what a moment really is, what do you think? Would you define it the same way? How would you measure a moment in your writing? Would there be “long moments”? “Fleeting moments”? “Awkward moments”? I’m of the mind that there can be many different kinds of moments—but it’s clear, not everyone agrees. What do you think?
Here’s a “Moment of Truth” from my upcoming release, SPELLBOUND, a short story that will be included in Prairie Rose Publications’ second volume of Cowboys, Creatures and Calico. There are some wonderful Halloween moments in the old west in all of these stories!
The horse shifted, and as he moved to the side, Angie saw the form of a man lying on her front porch.
“Is it him?” Angie asked in a low tone.
Earlene didn’t answer, and when Angie turned, the girl had tears running down her cheeks.
“Part of me wants him to be alive, but the other part don’t,” Earlene whispered. “He’s liable to be a mean ’un, Ang. And us all alone—”
“Hush up your blathering, Earlie,” Angie said sharply, sparing her a hard glance. “Better be every little part of you down to your wishbone hopin’ for him to be alive, girl. Else, you’d be a murderess.”
Together, they slowly approached the bottom step of the porch.
“And from the looks of him and his gear…he’s not some drifter that will go unnoticed if he disappears. Now, help me get him inside.”
Earlene turned wide eyes on Angie. “But—you’re gonna bring him in our house, Ang?”
“Well, I sure as hell am not gonna leave him here on the porch to freeze to death, little sister! It’s bad enough you shot him! And we’re going to have a talk about that. You and that gun—” She broke off. “Oh, come on. Help me, before he bleeds to death.”
“If he’s a robber, I’ll plug him again,” Earlene said steadfastly as she helped Angie roll the man over onto his back.
Angie bit back her response. Right now, this stranger couldn’t do anyone any harm. His shoulder still oozed blood, but the lump on his head where he’d fallen from his horse was every bit as worrisome. How had he gotten back on?
Just as they leaned over him to take hold of his coat, his eyes opened.
Earlene jerked backward, with a shriek. Angie was startled, but she managed not to scream. His dark, intense gaze held hers, and she felt her bones seem to liquefy and melt.
In spite of his situation, incredibly the corner of his mouth lifted in a rakish grin. “I’ll be damned…”
Authors in this volume besides me include Jacquie Rogers, Kathleen Rice Adams, Kristy McCaffrey, C. Marie Bowen and Kaye Spencer.
Both anthologies, Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico Volumes 1 and 2, are available at Amazon. Here’s the link for Volume 2:
I WILL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF VOLUME 2 TODAY TO ONE LUCKY COMMENTER!
My last visit covered my historical travel guide Forts of the Northern Plains – since then, I’ve published two more historical travel books, The Great Plains Guide to Custer (2012) and The Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill (2014), all from Stackpole Books. The latest on Buffalo Bill, follows the format used in Custer – it’s the chronological story of William F. Cody’s time and experiences on the plains, from his birth in Iowa through his scouting in Kansas, his creation of the Wild West show in Nebraska, his land development in Wyoming, and his death in Colorado. It tells the story of how he went from a fairly obscure buffalo hunter to becoming the world’s first superstar, interspersed with information on getting to the sites where his history happened. It’s more history than you’d find in a guide, and more travel info than you’d get in a history book, but it’s a marriage that works for me!
I just finished writing Extra Innings: The Story of Rushville’s Modisett Ball Park, a truly amazing story about a small-town ball field that hosted professional ball schools of the Braves, Yankees, and Angels, and I’ve already begun work on my next historical travel guide, this one on the elusive Jesse James. I’d love to visit about any of these subjects!
A bit of background on me – I am a fifth-generation Nebraskan from both parents’ families, with one great-great-grandfather a Civil War veteran and Sand Hills newspaper publisher and another a hunter for two wagon trains through the state. I was raised on a farm near Yutan, Neb., and was graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree and minors in history, geography and political science. My professional career has included radio announcer; newspaper reporter, columnist and editor; press secretary for a former governor of Nebraska; public relations and marketing executive for an Omaha advertising agency and an architectural firm; and marketing director for the Durham Museum, Omaha’s museum of history.
I am a frequently requested speaker through Humanities Nebraska, a past member and chairman of the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission, and former “sheriff” of the Omaha Corral of the Westerners. I’m currently on the board of trustees of the Nebraska State Historical Society which lets me promote and enjoy the history of my state in an even more personal way. In the course of researching, speaking, and meetings, I imagine I’m probably one of the few Nebraskans to visit all 93 of our state’s county courthouses!
I make my home in Omaha with my wife Susan. I have four adult children, all of whom are married and still live in Omaha, and two granddaughters and a grandson – my family’s first seventh-generation Nebraskans. (I know – for those of us with grandkids, I’m a pretty envied guy to have all of them within 15 miles!)
Thank you, Jeff, for joining us here in the Junction. Jeff will be giving away a copy of his latest book The Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill to one lucky winner. Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible for the drawing.