Tag: Fire Eyes

MAMA TRIED! (WHAT DOES A MEAL MEAN IN OUR WRITING?) by Cheryl Pierson

Cooking is the bane of my existence.  I know, I know. I hear the gasps of disbelief now! (Big grin here, because I know there are some people who agree with me, too.)  I think the reason for this is that my mother was TIRED by the time I came along. She was 35 when she had me, and already had her hands full with my 10-year-old and 12-year-old sisters. Like the Merle Haggard song says, “Mama Tried”—but it just didn’t work out.  I would have rather been climbing trees than making cookies.

When I was around 5 years old, our entire family went through the allergy clinic in Oklahoma City.  I got a wonderful flash of news that day! The doctor told my parents to let me eat whatever I wanted for breakfast—even if it was a hotdog.  I never liked “normal” breakfast food at breakfast—I usually just wasn’t hungry in the morning. I married a man who could wake up and eat a huge breakfast—but not me. Opposites DO attract.

So when I began to write, I tended to forget that my characters needed a meal every once in a while.  I still don’t write long cooking scenes, or even dinner scenes.  But, I know that dinner scenes most usually have a deeper meaning in our writing, or are meant to reveal something.

I will confess, I have never forgotten the breakfast scene in SWEET SAVAGE LOVE where the Mexican general makes Ginny come to his room as he is eating breakfast, offers her a bite, and then makes sure Steve sees it–while she’s half-dressed! I almost hated Ginny in that moment, seeing the scene through Steve’s eyes after he’d given himself up to save her. I had to remind myself she was just as duped as he had been. Anyone else remember that scene? It’s stayed with me after all those years, and I can still recall that feeling of shock and betrayal when I read it for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

I wrote a scene in my novel BEYOND THE FIRE, where Kendi is making breakfast for herself and Jackson Taylor, the wounded DEA agent she’s caring for.  In FIRE EYES, Jessica makes oatmeal, and at one point she has cooked something earlier. But my cooking scenes are few and far between.

How about you? Do you love to cook? Hate it? Love to read about it or write about it? Anyone have a most memorable cooking scene in reading or writing ventures you want to share?

I will leave you with an excerpt from BEYOND THE FIRE, where Kendi and Jackson share a meal. I’m also including a DIVINE, easy recipe—the first thing I ever learned to bake—Blonde Brownies.

Amidst all this, I should say that I’m very very thankful to be able to cook and do it well. It’s a talent I never cultivated, but I’m thankful every day that I have the appliances I have to cook with rather than what was available in the old west.

Have you read or written any “meal” scenes that revealed something so deep you couldn’t get it out of your mind? Inquiring minds want to know! This subject intrigues me because it’s such a basic thing, but something that truly IS so revealing.  If you can’t think of one, tell me what your favorite thing to cook is–I’m always looking for new recipes and ideas!

I’m giving away a digital copy of one of my books of your choice–FIRE EYES (western historical romance) or BEYOND THE FIRE (contemporary romantic suspense) today to a commenter! Be sure to leave your contact information in your comment. 

 

EXCERPT FROM BEYOND THE FIRE:

She stirred the eggs and laid the unbuttered slices of bread onto a cookie sheet, then popped it into the oven to toast. Jack’s earlier confession about running drugs had been quite a surprise. He obviously wasn’t used to sharing information about himself, especially something so personal.

She sighed, turning the bologna, then cutting a slice in each piece as it rose up in the center. That confession had been honest, though totally unexpected. There were only two choices—to trust him, or not. If not, she needed to find him one of Tal’s old shirts and send him packing no later than tomorrow morning.

If she did trust him, that was a bit stickier. That meant more doctoring, more talking, more caring…and letting him stay until he recovered enough to…to what? Go back and get himself killed trying to rescue this ‘partner’ of his?

Kendi gave a caustic chuckle as she pulled the toasted bread from the oven. Some partner. She’d never forget the way Clint Rivers had bent and put the gun close to Jack’s head. That he’d shot to the side is beside the point, she thought indignantly. Logically, she realized if the man had wanted to, he could have killed Jack. But in her heart, she was angry he hadn’t killed the shorter man with him and driven Jack to a hospital for the care he needed. Didn’t partners take care of each other?

She lifted the eggs up from the pan to the plate, then the bologna, which she cut up. Even that small task would be too much for Jack to manage with his wounded hands.

Somehow, she realized her dilemma was solved. She couldn’t say how or why, but looking at the tray she’d put together, she knew Jack would be staying. No matter what happened, her life was already entwined with his. It had happened the moment she witnessed his ‘murder’—and it might very well end with her own.

Oddly, that was why Kendi trusted him. She had brought him into her home, and she had not called for help. She had cleaned and bandaged his wounds and sat up with him through the rest of the night. She had even laid down beside him to give him her own warmth.

She wanted to laugh at herself. Her fate had been decided the minute she stepped out of the house last night, intending to scare the high school kids off her property. She tried to tell herself there wasn’t room on the tray for two plates, and that was why she’d put the food on one common dish for both of them. But in her heart, she knew it was more.

She put the coffee carafe on the tray then slowly opened the silverware drawer and took out two forks. Eating separately from the shared plate was a lot like living individually in the same, suddenly small universe. She started toward the stairs with mingled fear and wonder, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop this world of theirs from turning toward whatever end Fate dealt them. She wondered if Jack knew it, too.

 

BLONDE BROWNIES

4 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

1½  cups flour

2 ½  cups brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

½  cup (OR MORE!) choc. Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well mixed. Add vanilla, flour, salt and mix well. Add chopped nuts and mix. Pour into a greased, 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven). This makes a 9×13 pan of brownies. You can half this recipe for an 8×8 pan, and reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL OF CHERYL’S WORK, CLICK HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson/a/strong/em?tag=pettpist-20

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH STAND WATIE AND A GIVEAWAY–BY CHERYL PIERSON

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I am fascinated by Cherokee leader Stand Watie. I’ve used him as a character in many of my stories. I think the reason I can’t seem to get enough of him is because of his remarkable life and accomplishments. Here’s a little bit about Stand Watie and what he did–and then I’ll tell you about my stories he appears in.

 

 

 

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Only two Native Americans on either side of the States’ War rose to the rank of brigadier general.  Standhope Watie (Uwatie), fighting for the Confederacy, was one of those two.  Yet, what makes this accomplishment so incredible is the fact that while he was fighting for the Confederate States of America, he was also fighting other Cherokee tribal leaders who held opposing political views and very different visions for the Cherokee nation.

Stand Watie commanded the Confederate Indian Cavalry of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi.  While the cavalry unit was comprised mainly of Cherokee, some Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole tribal members also served.

Born in Oothcaloga in the Cherokee Nation, State of Georgia, Uwatie (or Oowatie) was also known as Isaac.  He was educated in a Moravian mission school.  In his early adulthood, he occasionally wrote articles for the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.  The State of Georgia confiscated Cherokee lands in 1832 when gold was discovered, including the thriving plantation owned by Stand’s father and mother.  Stand and his brothers, part of the powerful Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction of the WA040Cherokee council, stood in favor of the Cherokee Removal. Their signing of the Treaty of New Echota facilitated the removal of the Cherokee people to Indian Territory—what is now Oklahoma.

Another faction of Cherokees following John Ross refused to ratify the treaty signing.  This segment was known as The Anti-Removal National Party.  Members of this group targeted Stand Watie and his brother, Elias Boudinot, along with their uncle, Major Ridge, and cousin, John Ridge for assassination.  Stand was the only one who survived the assassination attempt.  Although Watie’s family had left Georgia before the forcible removal of all Cherokees in 1838, another brother, Thomas, was murdered by Ross’s men in 1845.

In October, 1861, Watie was commissioned as colonel in the First Mounted Cherokee Rifles. Besides fighting Federal troops in the States’ War, his men also fought opposing factions of Cherokee, as well as Seminole and Creek (Muscogee) warriors who supported the Union.

In 1862, Stand Watie was elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, through dissension continued among John Ross’s supporters.

On June 15, 1864, Watie’s troops captured the Federal steamboat J. R. Williams on the Arkansas River off the banks of stand_watie_memorial_editedPleasant Bluff near Tamaha, Indian Territory.  The next morning, Colonel John Ritchie’s men, who were stationed at the mouth of the Illinois River near where the two rivers met, engaged Watie’s men as they attempted to confiscate the cargo.  The river was rising, and they fought to a standoff.  When Watie learned of the advance of Union troops from Fort Smith, Arkansas, (within about 40 miles), he burned the ship and much of the remaining cargo, then sank it.

Watie surrendered a year later in June of 1865, the last Confederate general to lay down his arms.

In my debut novel, Fire Eyes, I weave this bit of history into my plot.  The villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang have come upon the site where the J.R. Williams was sunk four years earlier.  Fallon speculates there could have been gold aboard, and sets his men to dive for it.  As mercurial as his temper is, none of them dare question his order.  Here’s what happens:

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FROM FIRE EYES:

“Damn! I know where we are.” Dobie Perrin said.

Andrew Fallon turned in the saddle, glaring at Perrin, the afternoon sun dappling them through the leaves of the thick canopy of trees. “So do I, you idiot! So do we all, now.”

The secluded cemetery sat on a bluff, overlooking the Arkansas River. They had been wandering for two days, ever since retracing their steps to the first small creek they’d come to. The one Fallon felt sure would give them their bearings. Now, at last, he recognized where they were. He’d figured it out ten miles back.

“Tamaha,” Denver Rutledge muttered. “I was raised up over yonder.” He inclined his head toward the riverbank. “Over in Vian.”

“Then why didn’t you know where we were?” Fallon’s anger surged. “I am surrounded by idiots!”

“I shore ’nuff shoulda known, General,” Rutledge said apologetically. “Right yonder’s where we sunk the J.R. Williams. Rebs, I mean. Stand Watie’s bunch.”

Fallon jerked his head toward the other man. “Right where, soldier?”

Rutledge kneed his horse, coming abreast of Fallon. “Why, right yonder, General. It was in June of ’64. She was a Union ship, the Williams was.”

“What was she carrying?”

Rutledge shrugged. “Don’t rightly know. Supplies, maybe.”

“Payroll? Gold?” Fallon fingered his curling moustache. “Could be anything, eh, Rutledge? But the Yankees were known to cache their gold profits in casks. Maybe that’s what the J.R. Williams was carrying. Casks that weren’t really supplies, but were filled with gold.”

“Could be, I ‘spect.” Rutledge’s voice was hesitant.

Fallon nodded toward the river. “I think maybe we’ll try to find out.”

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Eyes-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00JTAFTPS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476583998&sr=1-1&keywords=Fire+Eyes&tag=pettpist-20

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prp-meant-to-be-1-webThe next story Chief Watie was included in was my time-travel western novella, MEANT TO BE.  Here’s a little bit about this Civil War story:

Robin Mallory is facing another Christmas all alone when she decides to surprise her aunt and uncle several hours away. A flat tire leaves her stranded near a desolate section of interstate. With a snowstorm on the way, Robin has no choice but to walk, hoping to find shelter before the storm hits full force. But the road she chooses leads her back in time, to a battleground she’s only read about in history books.

Confederate Jake Devlin, an officer in Stand Watie’s Cherokee forces, is shocked when the spy he captures turns out to be a girl. She’s dressed oddly, but her speech and the ideas she has are even stranger than her clothing. Where did she come from, and what is he going to do with her? Will he be able to hold on to his heart? Is it possible for a love this strong to span centuries? It is, if it was MEANT TO BE…

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Meant-Be-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00M28NKI2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476584160&sr=1-1&keywords=MEANT+TO+BE+by+Cheryl+Pierson&tag=pettpist-20

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My most recent story that Stand Watie appears in is my first venture into “alternate history” in the alternate history anthology, TALES FROM THE OTHERVERSE released through Rough Edges Press. If you aren’t familiar with alternate history, it’s fascinating to read and to write–because you can change history to suit the story you want to tell. My novella is called MRS. LINCOLN’S DINNER PARTY–a very different story about how the Civil War ended, thanks to Varina Davis, Mary Lincoln, and of all people, Stand Watie. Hmmm…let’s just see what’s going on at this odd dinner party of Mrs. Lincoln’s, shall we?

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“If you’ll excuse me, sir,” Mary said, “I must return to the receiving line. You’ve had a long journey—if you’d like a moment to freshen up, Mr. Pennington can show you to your quarters—” She nodded at the guard standing behind the general.

“Yes, please. I’d like to know where I need to place my bag,” the general said.

Mary glared at Mr. Pennington, who squirmed uncomfortably.

“Thought maybe there was a mistake, Mrs. Lincoln—”

Mr. Pennington. There is no mistake. And I will not tolerate rudeness. Please, show General Watie to his quarters—and you carry his bag.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Pennington answered. “This way, sir.”

General Watie gave Mary a rare smile. “Thank you. I will see you at dinner, Mrs. Lincoln.”

Mary felt Abe’s eyes boring into her as she moved across the floor, back into her place in line.

“I’m…surprised at you, Mary.”

Mary felt the hot flush creep up her neck, into her cheeks.

“I’m wondering, what other—guests—you may have invited without my knowledge.”

Oh, how she did wish he’d keep his voice down! She didn’t want the children to see the discord between them—especially here in public, where it was so easy for others to read between the lines, pick up on any issues that were best kept private. As Robert had said earlier, they could all find themselves on the front page of the papers along with unflattering descriptions and comments if they weren’t careful.

She didn’t answer Abe’s prodding, becoming suddenly resentful of being placed in such a predicament. She wouldn’t have had to resort to this if Abe and the others who had started this war had been more reasonable.

And though, in her heart, she believed fathers loved their children dearly…she couldn’t yet reconcile how fathers could call for sons to go to war. War! Where the children mothers had fought so hard to keep safe and whole all their childhood years could—in one moment—be maimed, or left to die a horrific death at the hands of their enemy…The enemy—people who had, just two scant years earlier, been their neighbors, their friends—even their own families!

She couldn’t sit by any longer and do nothing. Robert would be heading off to West Point in the fall…then Eddie and Willie would follow.

She was not going to lose her precious boys to this confounded idiocy.

“My God,” Abe swore, his tone calling her back to the present. “Is that—”

“Varina Davis. Yes. It is.” Mary turned to look up at her husband. “It looks as if Jefferson declined the invitation. Would you care to accompany me to greet her, or—”

“Yes, I’ll come,” he all but growled. “Mary, we have some talking to do.”

But Mary was already on her way across the floor to greet Varina Davis, Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s wife.

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Otherverse-James-Reasoner-ebook/dp/B018CQF05I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476584467&sr=1-1&keywords=Tales+From+the+Otherverse+by+Cheryl+Pierson&tag=pettpist-20

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I want to thank everyone for joining me today! Please leave a comment and you will be entered in my drawing for a copy (DIGITAL OR PRINT–YOUR CHOICE!) of FIRE EYES and I’m also giving away a copy of MEANT TO BE!

WHY DID YOU NAME IT THAT?(AND GIVEAWAY!) by CHERYL PIERSON

 

 

 

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Ask any writer where their titles come from for their work and you’ll get a thousand different answers from “It just came to me!” to “My publisher made me use this one.” As an author, I’ve had both happen to me, with several other scenarios for my titles scattered in between.

 

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In my first book, FIRE EYES, the heroine’s name is Jessica—my own daughter’s name. She needed a name that she was referred to by the Indians, and my daughter had told me years earlier she wanted her Indian name to be FIRE EYES. So that was a given. And it worked out great! That story was the one that the title came easiest for, of all my books.

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Eyes-Cheryl-Pierson/dp/1499215452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473745119&sr=8-1&keywords=Fire+Eyes&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

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Fast forward to my first contemporary romance novel, Sweet Danger. The story takes place in a deli that has been taken over by a very dangerous escaped convict, Tabor Hardin, and his men. His hostages just happen to include an undercover police officer, Jesse Nightwalker, who put him away in prison—supposedly for life. One of the other hostages is Jesse’s neighbor, Lindy Oliver, who is the retired police commissioner’s daughter. They’ve just met and are minding their own business over a sugar ring when a hail of gunfire erupts and—well, y’all know how I love my wounded heroes, and Jesse is no exception. I had titled the story THE SUGAR RING. But I was told by my publisher that that title would have to be changed. Period. SWEET DANGER was born, and in retrospect, is a much better title.

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Danger-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00KY8GGH4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1473745201&sr=8-4&keywords=Sweet+Danger&tag=pettpist-20#nav-subnav

Titles should stick with the reader, be memorable, and make readers want to know more about the book.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Who would do that?)

SWEET SAVAGE LOVE (Tell me more!)Sweet Savage Love

SHANE (Who is this person?)

ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN (Who were they?)

NOBODY’S DARLING (Maybe mine?)

THE GATES OF THE ALAMO (I’ve gotta know!)

THE CHRISTMAS SPIDER (What???)

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (Maybe I can learn something, here!)

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (Did I live there once?)

LOST SISTER (Who was she and why was she lost?)

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (Who was he? Certainly not who we thought!)

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TALES FROM THE OTHERVERSE (Where is this place, and what are these tales about?)

BUY IT HERE:https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Otherverse-James-Reasoner/dp/1519314272/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473745321&sr=8-1&keywords=Tales+from+the+Otherverse&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

The list goes on—but you get the idea. I know right now you’re thinking of titles you’ve read that have stuck in your mind—and the questions they’ve made you ask about those particular stories or books.

And I bet you’ve seen a phrase and thought, “That would be a great book title!” I know I’ve done that plenty of times. I’ve even written them down. Now, if I could only remember where I wrote them!

Another fun way to come up with titles is through a title generator. There are several of these online. They even have them for different genres: Sci-fi, westerns, fantasy…you name it. But they come up with some real doozies! Take a look at some of the ones a western title generator came up with for me:

FALLEN SAVAGE

THE GUITAR OF THE AZURE

THE PLAINS OF THE SAGE

THE DEATH’S RING

WOLVES IN THE MESA

THE WILLOW AND THE HOLSTER

THE REIN OF THE DWINDLING SECRET

THE BIBLE OF THE WHITE HEART

RUBY IN THE CHURCHYARD

LIGHTS IN THE SOMBRERO

ANGEL OF THE FINAL LIGHT

These are mainly odd, funny titles, but the beauty of them is that they get your mind working in ways you might never have thought before—and adding and changing some of the words in some of these titles can make for a beautifully creative experience!

What are some of YOUR favorite titles, and why? Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to WIN A FREE COPY OF A KISS TO REMEMBER! Five wonderful western historical romances by Kathleen Rice-Adams, Tracy Garrett, Tanya Hanson, Cheryl Pierson and Livia J. Washburn!

(If you can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the link to buy A KISS TO REMEMBER!)

https://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Remember-Western-Historical-Romance-ebook/dp/B01IM37OAA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473745450&sr=8-1&keywords=A+KISS+TO+REmember&tag=pettpist-20#nav-subnav

A Kiss to Remember

THINGS ABOUT ME YOU DIDN’T KNOW! by Cheryl Pierson

Cheryl2041webI suppose everyone is “strange” in their own weird ways, aren’t they? But I was definitely “the one” in my family! We all have a tendency to be “the oddball” or “the black sheep” or the one who is somewhat “different” in one way or another. So instead of just naming 10 things you might not know about me, I thought I’d talk about this phenomena of being “the weird one” in the family.

First of all, I was a mistake. Yep, my sisters were 10 and 12 when I was born—so I was definitely a “bonus baby”—and one my poor parents weren’t sure of what to do with. Picture this: Mom and Dad were both born in a very tiny town in Oklahoma in 1922. They had a graduating class of 12 seniors. They were highschool sweethearts, married, and made it all the way through the 1950’s with two daughters (my sisters) who were well…typical 1950’s adolescents. Smooth sailing!

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But…I came along in 1957 and grew up in the 60’s and 70’s—enough said. So another weird fact about me is that my parents gave me the oddest name in our entire family. I’ve mentioned this before, so if you know this already, just skip on down to the next segment. My name is Cheryl. But it’s pronounced CHAIR-yl, not SHARE-yl. I’m sure my parents thought they were just being different…but that’s the point. I’ve spent part of my early lifetime correcting people and finally—I just gave up. But it still feels weird when someone calls me SHARE-yl. And as if that weren’t enough? My dad decided to name me “KATHLYN” – not Kathleen, not Kathryn. I will be 59 this month, and in my entire life, I’ve met 2 other women named Kathlyn and 2 others named CHAIR-yl rather than SHARE-yl. That’s not a lot, but at least I know I’m not alone. And I named my daughter Jessica…no complications there.

Cheryl and Aunt Emogene 1964

Growing up, I was lucky enough (or not, depending on how you look at it!) to be accepted as a student by a very perfectionistic, meticulous piano teacher. So one surprising fact about me is that I’m a classically trained pianist. This is doubly surprising considering the small Oklahoma town I grew up in!

Here I am at age 6, goofing around with my Aunt Emogene who was a self-taught pianist and could make that keyboard ring.

The next strange or surprising thing about me is that I actually achieved the dream of becoming a writer—something I’d wanted to do since I could hold a pen. In fact, I was the “problem child” who got in trouble for writing in my books—not drawing—but adding my own text. (Never mind that it didn’t make sense—it was a hodgepodge of letters that didn’t make words, but to me, what I was doing was really important!) From THE COLOR KITTENS to FIRE EYES!

THE COLOR KITTENS--LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK

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Another thing that is “strange” was how I met my husband. My father worked in the oilfields, and the summer before I started my senior year in high school in Seminole, OK, he was transferred to Charleston, West Virginia. Yep. I had to leave all my friends that I’d gone to school with since first grade! I graduated from Winfield, WV, and started college. There, I met my “older man”—a Vietnam vet with an ex-wife and two kids. He had just gotten a job with the Federal Aviation Administration, who had their main training facility in…OKLAHOMA CITY! So after a few years of marriage, I got to come back to Oklahoma when my hubby took a job at the FAA Academy, and we’ve been here ever since.

OKLAHOMA MAP-DETAILED

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another little known fact is that I am able to drive a stick shift. We are the last of a dying breed! AND I learned to do it in West Virginia—which is in the Appalachians and full of curvy roads, twist, turns, and…did I mention NARROW lanes? I learned on our little Capri—a car I still love with all my heart and am so sorry that we had to trade in on something else. I found this picture on the internet–this is the exact copy of the car we had back in ’76!

Mercury Capri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocking Chair Reader Memories From the AtticDid you know (I bet you didn’t!) that I started my published writing career as a short story author for Chicken Soup, Rocking Chair Reader, and also a feature writer for our local newspaper? I had been working on the “great American novel” for quite a while, but I had to “break in” somehow—and this was it. Here’s a picture of the first anthology I ever had a story published in. It was called PENNY MEMORIES. What a thrill!

 

 

 

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Probably the thing that surprised even me was going into the publishing business. Livia Reasoner and I started Prairie Rose Publications a scant three years ago. We now have expanded to six imprints and I have loved every minute of it! Helping other authors realize their dream of publication has been a thrill I never could have imagined—and now, it’s a reality.

 

 

And last but not least, another strange or surprising fact about me is that in recent years I have become an animal rights activist. Oh, no—not that kind that sprays spray paint on people wearing fur coats and that kind of thing—but I started out by sharing shelter animals that needed homes on Facebook. This might seem like a small thing, but guess what? I matched up at least six homeless animals with their “forever” homes just by sharing! What a great feeling. As time has gone by, I try to share petitions to stop animal cruelty as well as the shelter animals that are running out of time. It’s easy. It’s free. And it really does work. I’ve learned that every small thing we do toward keeping animals safe and loved all adds up in “the big picture.” Here’s a picture of my own rescue dog, Embry, when he was a puppy 7 years ago. He’s now a 200 pound bundle of love!

Embry as a puppy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that does it for me. Thanks so much for stopping by today!

COOKING IN WRITING BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cooking is the bane of my existence.  I know, I know. I hear the gasps of disbelief now! (Big grin here, because I know there are some people who agree with me, too.)  I think the reason for this is that my mother was TIRED by the time I came along. She was 35 when she had me, and already had her hands full with my 10-year-old and 12-year-old sisters. Like the Merle Haggard song says, “Mama Tried”—but it just didn’t work out.  I would have rather been climbing trees than making cookies.

When I was around 5 years old, our entire family went through the allergy clinic.  I got a wonderful flash of news that day. The doctor told my parents to let me eat whatever I wanted for breakfast—even if it was a hotdog.  I never liked “normal” breakfast food at breakfast—I usually just wasn’t hungry in the morning. I married a man who could wake up and eat a huge breakfast—but not me. Opposites DO attract.

So when I began to write, I tended to forget that my characters needed a meal every once in a while.  I still don’t write long cooking scenes, or even dinner scenes.  I know that dinner scenes most usually have a deeper meaning in our writing, or are meant to reveal something. I will confess, I have never forgotten the part in Sweet Savage Love where the Mexican general makes Ginny come to his room as he is eating breakfast, offers her a bite, and then makes sure Steve sees it. I almost hated Ginny in that moment, seeing the scene through Steve’s eyes after he’d given himself up to save her. I had to remind myself she was just as duped as he had been. Anyone else remember that scene?

I wrote a scene in my novel TEMPTATION’S TOUCH, where Kendi is making breakfast for herself and Jackson Taylor, the wounded DEA agent she’s caring for.  In FIRE EYES, Jessica makes oatmeal, and at one point she has cooked something earlier. But my cooking scenes are few and far between.

How about you? Do you love to cook? Hate it? Love to read about it or write about it? Anyone have a most memorable cooking scene in reading or writing ventures you want to share?

I will leave you with an excerpt from TEMPTATION’S TOUCH where Kendi and Jackson share a meal, as well as an easy recipe—the first thing I ever learned to bake—Blonde Brownies.

Amidst all this, I should say that I’m very very thankful to be able to cook and do it well. It’s a talent I never cultivated, but I’m thankful every day that I have the appliances I have to cook with rather than what was available in the old west.  Yes, I’m going to cook tomorrow, but will be glad to have the leftovers to fall back on in the day after.

HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!

EXCERPT FROM TEMPTATION’S TOUCH:

She stirred the eggs and laid the unbuttered slices of bread onto a cookie sheet, then popped it into the oven to toast. Jack’s earlier confession about running drugs had been quite a surprise. He obviously wasn’t used to sharing information about himself, especially something so personal.

She sighed, turning the bologna, then cutting a slice in each piece as it rose up in the center. That confession had been honest, though totally unexpected. There were only two choices—to trust him, or not. If not, she needed to find him one of Tal’s old shirts and send him packing no later than tomorrow morning.

If she did trust him, that was a bit stickier. That meant more doctoring, more talking, more caring…and letting him stay until he recovered enough to…to what? Go back and get himself killed trying to rescue this ‘partner’ of his?

Kendi gave a caustic chuckle as she pulled the toasted bread from the oven. Some partner. She’d never forget the way Clint Rivers had bent and put the gun close to Jack’s head. That he’d shot to the side is beside the point, she thought indignantly. Logically, she realized if the man had wanted to, he could have killed Jack. But in her heart, she was angry he hadn’t killed the shorter man with him and driven Jack to a hospital for the care he needed. Didn’t partners take care of each other?

She lifted the eggs up from the pan to the plate, then the bologna, which she cut up. Even that small task would be too much for Jack to manage with his wounded hands.

Somehow, she realized her dilemma was solved. She couldn’t say how or why, but looking at the tray she’d put together, she knew Jack would be staying. No matter what happened, her life was already entwined with his. It had happened the moment she witnessed his ‘murder’—and it might very well end with her own.

Oddly, that was why Kendi trusted him. She had brought him into her home, and she had not called for help. She had cleaned and bandaged his wounds and sat up with him through the rest of the night. She had even laid down beside him to give him her own warmth.

She wanted to laugh at herself. Her fate had been decided the minute she stepped out of the house last night, intending to scare the high school kids off her property. She tried to tell herself there wasn’t room on the tray for two plates, and that was why she’d put the food on one common dish for both of them. But in her heart, she knew it was more.

She put the coffee carafe on the tray then slowly opened the silverware drawer and took out two forks. Eating separately from the shared plate was a lot like living individually in the same, suddenly small universe. She started toward the stairs with mingled fear and wonder, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop this world of theirs from turning, toward whatever end Fate dealt them. She wondered if Jack knew it, too.

BLONDE BROWNIES

4 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

1½  cups flour

2 ½  cups brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

½  cup (OR MORE!) choc. Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well mixed. Add vanilla, flour, salt and mix well. Add chopped nuts and mix. Pour into a greased, 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven). This makes a 9×13 pan of brownies. You can half this recipe for an 8×8 pan, and reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL OF CHERYL’S WORK, CLICK HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

WHAT BRINGS US ALL TOGETHER

I love reading stories about how other writers got started on their writing paths, because it makes me realize AGAIN what holds us all together as writers! So many of us have similar experiences, yet many of them are very unique–and they all have brought us together in this world of writing and sharing our stories with our readers.

I had written the “book that started it all” for me–my “baby”–trouble was, by the time I finished it, it was WAY too long to be published (for a first time author).  It’s around 284,000 words!  (But who’s counting!?)  I sent it off (FINALLY!) and of course, it was rejected by all the agents I sent it to, except for three.  Those three wanted to see something shorter.  That’s what made me get busy and write the “next” book–another western, but different characters and MUCH MUCH shorter.  I got an agent and was sure that that book would be “the one” to be published.  But, no.  I was already working on book # 3– another western.  When I shipped it off to my agent, again, it was with high hopes and crossed fingers.  He wrote to tell me that “No one reads westerns much anymore.  Have you got anything different?”

My husband had very graciously been “standing by” all this time while I had more or less taken a
break from working to write.  He was starting to get impatient about the way our money was at the time, and I was worried, too.  I went back to work part time, first as an emergency serivces operator (911) and then as a “guard” in the National Cowboy and Western Heitage Museum here in Oklahoma City.
My husband was not happy about me switching from the 911 job to the museum, but I knew I had to do it for self-preservation.  It was not nearly as much money per hour, but the pressure was not as tremendous either.  I enjoyed working there.  And as time went by, I realized that it was where I neededto be.

For whatever reason, I found that people who came through the museum were willing to open up to me and talk about all kinds of things–I don’t know if it was because we were strangers and they felt safe about telling me about old emotional wounds, knowing they’d never see me again– but even my co-workers noticed it.  No, it didn’t happen every day, but I’m thankful that I was “there” for them when
it did happen.  It’s hard to explain in an e-mail, but I felt like I was where I needed to be for those 2 years that I worked there.  The Viet Nam vet who talked about losing his best friend, the man whose father got him out of going to Viet Nam who blamed himself when his best friend was killed over there, the couple who had married, divorced, and then remarried after TWENTY YEARS, the man who had never made peace with his father before his father passed on. . . and on and on.

What does that have to do with writing?  In a way, it took the focus off — and the pressure– to crank
out that next book and hope that it would sell.  I realized that I would be writing, whether my books sold NOW, LATER, or NEVER.  I was a writer, and that was what I loved to do.  I was forced to quit the job at the museum due to a bout of poor health that year, and I never went back to work there, but I made some lifelong friends among my coworkers that I never would have met had I not worked there.  I gained a new perspective on my role as a writer, and what writing meant to me.  It was not a “job”–it
was something I’d been doing, literally, since I could hold a pencil.

 I’ve gone on to write several full length novels, and that third one I wrote (the western that “no one is reading anymore”) was the first one I sold.  Fittingly enough, the heroine is named for my daughter Jessica, who is my biggest fan, and the hero bears the same last name as my dear friend and supervisor at the museum, Martin Turner, who has since passed on. (The cover at the left is the 1st cover my book had when it was published with The Wild Rose Press. The one below is the new one it was given when it was reissued with Western Trail Blazer.)

It all connects.  Success is measured in so many ways for so many people, but for me, that little
“detour” of 2 years at the museum was filled with cherished memories, and I think it helped me as a writer in so many ways.    At the time, I saw it as something I had to do to help the family financially, but now, I realize it was not just the money I earned– it was the building of friendships, and helping others, and learning more about human nature and healing the spirits of those who confided in me in whatever small way I could.

I’m still hoping to sell the ‘book of my heart”– that 284,000 word saga– but if I don’t, I’m okay
with it.  I enjoyed writing it, and I will probably still be working on it, rewriting on it, cutting and editing on it forever.

What got you started writing? Any budding writers out there who want to share their experiences? I love it that we are all brought together by this wonderful fove of writing!

All my books and short stories are available here: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

FIRE EYES REVISITED! Everything Old is New Again!

Three years ago this month, my debut western historical romance, FIRE EYES, was published by The Wild Rose Press. I was thrilled! Finally, my dream had come true, with the help of a wonderful editor and publishing company.

When I got my first box of books, I sat and gazed at the covers—just like any first time author would. My husband teased me about “rubbing off the paint”—but I was so proud of them, and justifiably so. A lot of very hard work had gone into that story, not just
from my perspective, but also from many other people. My editor at The Wild Rose Press, Helen Andrew, was wonderful. She really explained in detail why certain things couldn’t stand and had to go or be changed.

But part of what ‘had to go’ was important to the story, in my mind. Still, there were company guidelines to be followed, and neither of us could do anything about that. So we worked together to find a way to take out the parts that made it more “western” than “romance” and still came out with a fine story.

However, this spring, I asked for my rights back for FIRE EYES and got them, and submitted the story to another small publisher who has an imprint for westerns and western romances.  I was able to re-edit the book and add in much of what I’d had to take out or rewrite in the first version, and it was released yesterday with a brand new Jimmy Thomas cowboy cover and lots of renewed interest.

The e-book version is available now at Amazon, Lulu, Monkeybars and many other e-book retailers, and will become available soon at Barnes and Noble, Sony and Apple.

Here are the links for Smashwords and Amazon:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/162817 

http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Eyes-ebook/dp/B0083JYET8

The print version will become available within the week, and again, I’m very happy
about breathing new life into this wonderful story. Once I am able to order my
print copies, I’m sure I’ll sit on the floor and ‘rub the paint off’ again. And
I’ll be grateful that I’ve had two chances to get my story out there—another
thrill, a second time around!

I’LL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF FIRE EYES TODAY! JUST LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING, ALONG WITH YOUR CONTACT INFO.

EXCERPT FROM FIRE EYES:

“You waitin’ on a…invitation?” A faint smile touched his battered mouth. “I’m fresh out.”

Jessica reached for the tin star. Her fingers closed around the uneven edges of it. No. She couldn’t wait any longer. “What’s your name?” Her voice came out jagged, like the metal she touched.

His bruised eyes slitted as he studied her a moment. “Turner. Kaedon Turner.”

Jessica sighed. “Well, Kaedon Turner, you’ve probably been a lot better places in your life than this. Take a deep breath, and try not to move.”

He gave a wry chuckle, letting his eyes drift completely closed. “Do it fast. I’ll be okay.”

She nodded, even though she knew he couldn’t see her. “Ready?”

“Go ahead.”

Even knowing what was coming, his voice sounded smoother than hers, she thought. She wrapped her hand tightly around the metal and pulled up fast, as he’d asked.

As the metal slid through his flesh, Kaed’s left hand moved convulsively, his fingers gripping the quilt. He was unable to hold back the soft hint of an agonized groan as he turned away from her. He swore as the thick steel pin cleared his skin, freeing the chambray shirt and cotton undershirt beneath it, blood spraying as his teeth closed solidly over his bottom lip.

Jessica lifted the material away, biting back her own curse as she surveyed the damage they’d done to him. His chest was a mass of purple bruises, uneven gashes, and burns. Her stomach turned over. She was not squeamish. But this—

It was just like what they’d done to Billy, before they’d killed him. Billy, the last man the Choctaws had dumped on her porch. Billy Monroe, the man she’d come to loathe during their one brief year of marriage.

She took a washrag from the nightstand and wet it in the nearby basin. Wordlessly, she placed her cool palm against Kaedon Turner’s stubbled, bruised cheek, turning his head toward her so she could clean his face and neck.

She knew instinctively he was the kind of man who would never stand for this if it wasn’t necessary. The kind of man who was unaccustomed to a woman’s comforting caress. The kind of man who would never complain, no matter how badly wounded he was.

“Fallon.” His voice was rough.

Jessica stopped her movements and watched him. “What about him?”

His brows drew together, as if he were trying to formulate what he wanted to say. “Is he…dead?”

What should she tell him?

The truth.

“I—don’t know.”

“Damn it.”

“You were losing a lot of blood out there,” Jessica said, determined to turn his thoughts from Fallon to the present. She ran the wet cloth lightly across the long split in his right cheek.

His breathing was controlled, even. “I took a bullet.” He said it quietly, almost conversationally.

Jessica stopped moving. “Where?”

THE HELP YOU GET ALONG THE WAY

Do you have a “collection” of special people in your life? People that helped you in ways maybe you hadn’t really given much thought to, but that turned out to be extremely important? One of the first milestones in my writing career—becoming a finalist in the EPIC Awards with my first novel, FIRE EYES—brought this realization home to me. I got curious. I know there are incidents in people’s lives that are pivotal to their entire careers, dreams, and goals, that, perhaps at the time, don’t seem that important. Later, looking back on it, it becomes an “aha” moment—you understand that THIS was the moment when you made the decision to do something you might not have done otherwise, or because of a word of encouragement you continued on when you’d been ready to stop.  

Most people that I’ve met in the last half of my adulthood would never describe me as “shy,” but as a youngster, I was—horribly.  That’s one reason I turned to writing.  It was a great way for me to get my feelings out without actually having to say them.  I could have someone else say it all for me. 

I imagine that’s how many of my fellow writers started, too.  I sometimes wonder what might have happened had we all known each other when we were younger.  Would we have developed into the writers we are today, or would we have found our “niche” with one another and NOT turned so much to writing? 

If you can relate to the “shy” part, then maybe you felt this way, too:  I was never competitive.  Not like so many sports contenders might be.  The things I enjoyed, writing and music, were open to everyone, I felt.  I am not a “joiner” and I am not one to enter a lot of contests.  I entered FIRE EYES in the 2010 EPIC Awards competition, and something odd happened when I did. 

From the moment I entered, my attitude about myself changed.  BEFORE I entered, I thought, “I probably don’t have a chance.”  But my mom always used to say, “If you don’t enter, you certainly are NOT going to win!”  I remembered those words, and sent in my entry that very day.  Once it was sent, I began to feel some confidence growing.  As I analyzed WHY, here’s what I came up with. 

FIRE EYES was a joint project.  I wrote it, but I couldn’t have if I hadn’t had the cooperation and support of my family—my kids and my husband.  While I was writing it, my oldest sister, Annette, was constantly asking about “how it’s coming” and she was the one I could bounce ideas off of.  Once written, my business partner read it for glaring mistakes, and my best friend of 45 years read it for moral support. The Wild Rose Press accepted it, and my editor, Helen Andrew, was so phenomenal in helping me mold it and shape it into the story that was released last May.  My cover artist, Nicola Martinez, did a superb job on the beautiful cover. My family and friends were all pulling for me, and constantly offering encouragement. With all these people behind me and my story, my confidence rose.  Whatever would be, would be—and entering the competition was a win/win situation.  Even if I didn’t make it to the finals, I would still have taken the chance and had the experience. 

When I received the news that my book was, indeed, a finalist, I thought immediately of all the people who had helped me get to this point; people in my life who had faith in me, and in my ability, and in the story itself.  I thought of that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  It’s true, even in the broader sense of our lives as writers.  The experiences we had growing up, people who encouraged us even then, our spouses, our children, mentors and teachers we’ve had along the way, and peers that have helped and encouraged us.  Editors, artists, publishers and organizations such as EPIC that give us a chance to compete and strive to be better and better, along with our readers, are all part of the completed circle of a successful writer’s endeavors.

 Though FIRE EYES didn’t win that year, the experience of entering the competition and finaling in it was more important that I could have realized when I sent my entry in. It was the thing that made me understand just how many people had been involved in the entire process of writing that book. And it gave me the impetus and encouragement to move forward with the rest of my writing projects since that time. That realization was far more important than winning the contest, and has been with me every day, like a component of myself that I didn’t have before; another part of my make-up. 

Does anyone have a “special person” that helped them along the way? Not just in writing, but in your life’s goals and dreams?  What about a “collection” of special people? My “collection” of special people in my life is the thing that I am most thankful for above all else.  Without them, my dreams could have never happened.  I could never have done it alone. 

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:   

https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

 

SWEET DANGER

Sweet Danger is my first contemporary romantic suspense novel.  Up until this point, I have stuck with writing western historicals, though my third book, Time Plains Drifter, which is due to be released next month, is also a bit of a departure from that as it ventures into the paranormal/time travel aspect, as well as historical. 

Sweet Danger is the story of Jesse Nightwalker, an undercover cop, and Lindy Oliver, his beautiful next-door neighbor.  They’ve been very much aware of one another for the past year or so, but have never formally met, until one fateful Friday morning when they both come into the local deli and end up next to each other in line. 

But things turn deadly as a gang of criminals takes over the deli in what seems to be a robbery.  Unfortunately for Jesse, the leader of the pack is Tabor Hardin, a vicious cop killer that Jesse helped put behind bars.  Hardin’s purpose changes instantly.  The robbery was only a façade for a much more heinous crime—kidnapping the governor’s children from the adjoining daycare.  Now, Hardin swears to make Jesse pay for his part in Hardin’s imprisonment before anything else takes place. 

As if things couldn’t get worse, one of the other children in the daycare is Jesse’s own son, Nash.  Jesse has to walk a fine line to figure out what he can do to save his son and Lindy, as well as the other hostages—even though it means certain death for himself. 

When his wife died four years earlier, Jesse cut off all romantic feelings, immersing himself in his undercover work.  Now, Lindy Oliver has reawakened those feelings at a most inopportune time, and Jesse is incredulous at what’s happening between them, now that he stands to lose it all at Hardin’s bloody hands. 

I loved the premise of this book, and especially loved figuring out how to make it all “come around” so that Jesse and Lindy could have the HEA they so richly deserved. 

Sweet Danger became available through the Wild Rose Press on October 1, 2010. It’s also available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, among other distributors.  I’ve posted the blurb and an excerpt below for your reading pleasure!  Please leave a comment.  Visit my website at http://www.cherylpierson.com  

 BLURB: 

When undercover cop Jesse Nightwalker enters Silverman’s Deli, he doesn’t expect to find himself at the mercy of Tabor Hardin, a sadistic murderer he helped put in prison five years earlier. Now, Hardin’s escaped, and he’s out for more blood—Jesse’s.

Lindy Oliver has had her eye on her handsome neighbor for several months. Fate provides the opportunity for them to finally meet when they both choose the same deli for breakfast. Becoming a hostage was not in Lindy’s plans when she sat down to share a pastry with Jesse, but neither was the hot kiss he gave her when bullets began to fly. That kiss seals both their fates, binding them to one another with the certainty of a vow.

But Jesse’s got some hard-hitting secrets. With both their lives at stake, Lindy has a plan that just might save them—if Hardin takes the bait. Will they find unending love in the midst of Sweet Danger? 

 EXCERPT FROM SWEET DANGER: 

This excerpt takes place in the first chapter.  Jesse Nightwalker, an undercover cop, runs into his neighbor, Lindy Oliver, in the local deli.  Though they’ve never met, they are very aware of one another. The deli owner introduces them officially and points them toward the only available booth.  But their Friday morning takes a quick nosedive in the next few minutes.  Here’s what happens.

Jesse looked past her, his smile fading rapidly. As the flash of worry entered his expression, Lindy became aware of a sudden lull in the noisy racket of the deli. Jesse’s dark gaze was locked on the front door, a scowl twisting his features.

“Damn it,” he swore, reaching for her hand. “Get down! Under the table, Lindy…”

But she hesitated a second too long, not understanding what was happening. In the next instant, the sound of semi-automatic gunfire and shattering glass filled the air.

Lindy reflexively ducked, covering her head. The breath of a bullet fanned her cheek as Jesse dragged her down beneath the sparse cover of the small table. He shielded her, his hard body crushing against her, on top of her, pushing her to the floor. The breath rushed out of her, and she felt the hard bulge of the shoulder holster he wore beneath the denim jacket as it pressed against her back. 

Her heart pounded wildly, realization of their situation flooding through her.  A robbery! But why, at this hour of the morning when the take would be so low? The gunfire stopped as abruptly as it had started. From somewhere near the counter, a man shouted, “Come out and you won’t be hurt! Come out—now!” 

Lindy looked up into Jesse’s face, scant inches from her own. What would he do? They were somewhat concealed here at the back of the deli, but these men were sporting semi-automatic weapons. 

“There’s a back door,” Jesse whispered raggedly. “Get the hell out of here. I’m gonna be your diversion.” She didn’t answer; couldn’t answer. He was likely to be killed, helping her go free. He gave her a slight shake. “Okay?” 

An interminable moment passed between them before she finally nodded. “Get going as soon as I get their attention.” He reached to brush a strand of hair out of her eyes, his own gaze softening as he leaned toward her and closed the gap between them. “Take care of yourself, Lindy,” he whispered, just before his mouth closed over hers. 

The instant their lips met shook her solidly. Every coherent thought fled, leaving nothing but the smoldering touch of his lips on hers, burning like wildfire through her mind. Soft, yet firm. Insistent and insolent. His teeth skimmed her lower lip, followed by his tongue, as he tasted her. Then, he pulled away from her, their eyes connecting for a heart-wrenching second.  

“Safe passage,” he whispered. 

Lindy didn’t answer, more stunned by the sudden sweet kiss than by the madness surrounding them. Jesse pushed himself out from under the table and stood up, directly in front of where Lindy crouched. Only then did she hear his muted groan of pain, his sharp, hissing intake of breath. The blossoming red stain of crimson contrasted starkly with the pale blue of his faded denim jacket as his blood sprang from the bullet wound, soaking the material. 

He’d been shot

Lindy gasped softly at the realization. How could she leave him now?

I will give away a pdf copy of SWEET DANGER to one commenter today!  To order SWEET DANGER and all other Cheryl Pierson work, click here:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE 

THE HEROINE’S BACKSTORY–HOW MUCH DO WE NEED TO TELL?

What has made our heroine into the person she became for the purposes of our story?  What occurrences in her life have shaped her personality?  And how do we decide on the balance between what we, as the writer know about our heroine vs. what the reader needs to know?

Obviously, we don’t have room to tell the reader all that we, the writer must know about her.  Nor would the reader be as enthralled with that deluge of information as we are.  It’s not necessary for the reader to know every single thing—yet, as writers, one of the hardest parts of creating believable characters is giving them a past, and knowing how much of that history we need to go into.

In my novel, Fire Eyes, one thing we learn about the heroine, Jessica, is that she married young.  She thought she was marrying for love, but as it turned out, she grew to understand that she was not in love with Billy, nor he with her—at least, not in the way she had always dreamed of.  This is a huge issue with her after Billy dies.  She tells Kaed, “The next time I marry, it will be for love.”  This shows how much it means to her, because her existence as a single mother is not easy, and the threat of Fallon is still there.

There are many reasons for her to hold onto that dream so tenaciously, but I didn’t have room to talk about in the novel. Her life before Billy was not easy, and marrying Billy was just the ‘icing on the cake.’  But rather than me tell you about Jessica, how about letting her describe her background to you? 

My name was Jessica Lea Beckley.  That was before I married Billy Monroe, when I was only seventeen.  I thought I was in love with Billy.  He was handsome in his own way.  I was glad when he started courting me, because he was the only boy my father seemed to like.  Once he started coming around, it seemed like word got out we were ‘a couple’—and the other boys quit coming by.

 

That suited Pa just fine though.  I was the only girl in a family of boys—four older brothers and one younger.  My ma died when Mitch was born, and somehow, Pa always seemed to blame him for it.  I had to come between them many, many times.  Pa was always heavy-handed.  Mitch was determined to prove to Pa that he was worthy.  He ran off when he was sixteen.  Said he wanted to be a marshal.  We never heard from him again.  I missed Mitch more than my other brothers.  He was always special to me.  But Mitch is dead now, killed by Andrew Fallon’s men.

 

They killed my husband, Billy, too.  I did what I could to save him, but he was just hurt too bad.  Most of what I did was just making him comfortable as he slipped away.  It took him two long days.   Even though I didn’t love him, I was sorry for not being able to save him.  Something really sad was this.  Billy never wanted to be touched—he wanted to do all the touching—what little of it there was between us.  How I would yearn for him to just hold me sometimes!  But it wasn’t in him.  Still, just before he died, he opened his eyes a little and said, “Jessica, would you please just hold my hand awhile?”  Even then, I knew I couldn’t touch him the way I wanted to—just pull him close and hold him.  I took his hand in mine, and he smiled.  It wasn’t long after that, he passed.

 

Somebody had to bury him, and there was no one but me to do it.  Me, two months gone with our baby. But I lost it, too, when I buried Billy. Nearly died myself, from bleeding, but my good friend Rita, and her husband, Wayne, took me in and cared for me.

 

In an odd twist of fate, after Rita had her baby girl, she was bitten by a copperhead a few weeks later.  Wayne waited too long to come for help, and Rita passed.  If Wayne had come sooner, I might have saved her.  I think he knew it, too.  Not long after that, he asked me to marry him.  It made sense, me with no husband, him with no wife and trying to care for little Lexi.  But I didn’t love him, and he didn’t love me.  I had to keep true to my promise I made myself, to only marry for love.  A few days later, he showed up at my door with the baby, asking me to take her.  I felt sorry for Wayne, but I was glad to see him go.  Gladder, still, that he left me precious Lexi.

 

It was good to leave home.  Sometimes I think my pa just wanted me there to cook and clean.  I wanted my independence, and maybe I saw Billy as my ticket out of there.  I’ve never been back, even though it’s less than a day’s ride from here.  Pa was a hard man to deal with, and I was glad to see my older brothers marry and leave, one by one, too.

 

I’ve always felt bad about not saving Rita and Billy.  I’m a healer.  Had to learn that, being raised as I was with all those boys. They were always getting hurt somehow.  I believe things happen for a reason, though.  If I hadn’t gone through those hard years of growing up where I did, I wouldn’t have been able to save Kaed Turner when Standing Bear dumped him on my porch.  He was hurt worse than Billy, but he had more to live for.  I wasn’t enough for Billy, but to Kaed, I was everything.

 

Remember when I said that I wouldn’t marry again except for love?  Kaed’s the best man I’ve ever known.  When I look at him, I see love in his eyes—for me—every time.  But more than just the love, I see understanding.  And that’s just as important, I’ve learned, because, love can be many things to many people.  Kaedon Turner knows my soul as well as my heart. We’ve both suffered loss and despair.  But now, we have each other. And when he says, “It’ll come out all right,” I know it’s true.

 

And now, you know what I knew when I created Jessica Monroe Turner.  A lot goes into making up a heroine’s personality–a lot that the writer must know about her.  This knowledge makes the heroine a well-rounded person to the reader, although you, as the writer, might not be able to include everything.  Still, snippets of conversation and insights will provide for a deeper look into the heroine’s character.  What about your heroines?  How did you manage to convey their backstory to the reader?

To order Fire Eyes or any other Cheryl Pierson short story or novel, visit Amazon at the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Pierson/e/B002JV8GUE/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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