Tag: Time Plains Drifter

TIME PLAINS DRIFTER–APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS (AND LOVE!) by Cheryl Pierson

Did someone say ‘paranormal time travel historical western’? That’s what my novel, Time Plains Drifter, is—a very different kind of romance novel than anything I’ve ever read. It’s an “oldie but goodie”–one of my favorite stories that I ever worked on.

The publication of Time Plains Drifter is a story unto itself—but it has its very own ‘happily ever after’ ending. Here’s what happened. After being released in December of 2009 with an unscrupulous publisher, I took my rights back after only three months and spent the next year searching for another home for it. In the spring of 2011, it was placed with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER, an imprint of PUBLISHING BY REBECCA J. VICKERY.

But that’s not where it ends. When Livia and I opened Prairie Rose Publications, I made the decision to move Time Plains Drifter over from WTB to Prairie Rose. With a brand new cover and a few minor changes, this book can be offered not only in the Prairie Rose Publications line, but also in our New Adult (ages 18-24) category in the Painted Pony Books imprint.

 

That being said, let me tell you why Time Plains Drifter is so hard to pigeonhole and why that may be a bit scary in today’s market…this is also the very reason it’s a perfect fit for PRP.

I knew Time Plains Drifter was going to have to be classified as a time-travel romance; that’s how the H/h meet one another. She’s from the 21st century—he’s from 1879. That was the easy part. The part that was a bit harder to work around was that he was dead. I just couldn’t get past the premise that Rafe d’Angelico was going to be the “paranormal element” of the story. I didn’t want him to be a werewolf, vampire, or shapeshifter. So that left angels, demons, zombies and so forth. I chose for him to be an angel.

Working with Rafe—an angel who didn’t want to be an angel—was a challenge. I told him he had a pretty good deal going. He told me, “I want to be human again.” In the end, I realized he was right, and that was the only way to resolve the issue of time-travel-paranormal-angel-demon-human issues.

Jenni Dalton, the heroine, was completely unsuspecting in all this. She went out on a stargazing field trip with seven of her high school students one night and they never came home. Instead, they ended up in Indian Territory, 1895; one hundred-twenty years in the past.

Jenni’s got it rough, trying to deal with her seven charges, four of them the senior class troublemakers. It takes Rafe to bring them to heel and get them to toe the mark, until the gravity of their situation causes them to all make some surprising adjustments.

As Rafe and Jenni realize their growing attraction to one another is fated, they also understand there is no way anything can come of it on a permanent basis—Rafe is an angel, and Jenni is human—and they will eventually go back to their own times and places in the universe.

The twists and turns that finally bring the book around to the HEA were the most fun to come up with for me. But the story itself, being so unique, is tough to categorize. I think now, it has the best of both worlds. It’s in a place where it can appeal to two separate readerships.

Time Plains Drifter was the recipient of The Reviewer’s Top Pick Award by Karen M. Nutt, PNR reviews. It also received a 4.5 star review, the highest rating given, from Romantic Times Magazine. I was selected as the recipient of the Honorable Mention—Best New Paranormal Author category in PNR’s PEARL Awards (March 2010), for Time Plains Drifter.

I’ve got a sequel in the works, Time Plains Guardian, which has been a delight to work on. There are different twists than what we saw in the first book, and some familiar characters will be the stars of the show this time around since the story is built around Rafe’s brother, Cris, and Jenni’s sister, Victoria.

 

Time Plains Drifter is now available in both print and Kindle. I’ve also written some short stories that have a paranormal twist to them: A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES, THE GUNFIGHTER’S GIRL, HOMECOMING, (these three are Christmas stories) ALWAYS AND FOREVER, (Halloween story) THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS (western) and THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT (western). Take a look at my Amazon page to order. (See link below.)

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:

   

 

 

 

I’ve included the blurb and an excerpt below. I’d love to know what you think you might do if you found yourself in Jenni Dalton’s situation–tossed back in time over 100 years earlier with the responsibility of 7 high schoolers on your hands! ( I  know I would not handle it as well as she did!) Please leave a comment–I always love to hear from readers and other authors.

 

BLURB:

Trapped in Indian Territory of 1895 by a quirk of nature, high school teacher Jenni Dalton must find a way to get her seven students back to the 21st century. Handsome U.S. Marshal Rafe d’Angelico seems like the answer to her prayers; he is, after all, an angel. In a race against time and evil, Rafe has one chance to save Jenni’s life and her soul from The Dark One—but can their love survive?

 

EXCERPT from TIME PLAINS DRIFTER:

Jenni had been so preoccupied with staying in the saddle for the past four hours and worried about Joel that she hadn’t noticed the wind had quickened, the sky darkening as the thunderheads rolled in.

“We better stop here,” Rafe told her reluctantly, nodding toward a small ramshackle house in the distance. “Wait the storm out. Looks like it’s going to be a bad one.”

Jenni nodded, swallowing her protest as she glanced up, seeing the roiling black clouds for the first time. It was true, she reminded herself, some things never did change, no matter what year it was. It was April in Oklahoma—tornado season.

They had to find shelter immediately.

She followed Rafe toward the cottage, relieved to see a lean-to for the horses a few yards away.

As they rode into the overgrown yard, it was obvious the tenants had long since vacated. The runners of morning glory vines climbed along the front porch posts boasting new growth, the purple flowers adding a splash of color to the drab weathered wood.

Rafe swung down, calling a cursory greeting. He opened the front door at the answering silence, his gun drawn. As Jenni made a motion to dismount, he lifted a staying hand, not sparing a backward glance before he disappeared into the little cottage.

Jenni could hear him walking slowly through the house, his footfalls deliberate and hollow-sounding on the bare plank floors. She bit her lip anxiously, wondering what he was looking for. She didn’t like being separated from him, she realized. This was crazy. She thought of Kody and Anna, how quickly they’d come to care so deeply for each other.

Was she in love with Rafe d’Angelico? The idea was absurd. She barely knew him. Yet, when she’d ridden behind him, her arms encircling the lean grid of his waist, she’d felt—something. He’d noticed it too. “Can you feel it, Jen?” he’d asked.

Yes. She still did, stronger now than ever.

Rafe put his head outside the door, ducking through the narrow frame.

“Come on,” he said, reaching up to help her down. “I’ll get our gear, you go on inside out of this wind,” he yelled to make himself heard above the wail and rush of the storm.

Jenni nodded. “The horses—we can’t leave them out here!” she shouted.

He cast a glance back at the animals. “I’ll get ’em in the lean-to! Go on inside!”

Jenni slid off quickly and handed Rafe her reins, then hurried up onto the porch. She watched as Rafe quickly got the horses under the lean-to and looped the reins around the hitching post there, then ran back to her through the tall grass. Just then, the skies opened and rain pelted him.

Small pieces of hail fell. The horses whickered nervously as it hit the wooden structure over them. Rafe took Jenni’s hand, leading her back into the house. He was soaked, and Jenni hurried into the kitchen to see if there were any linens in the top of the pantry.

Whoever had lived here must have loved the place. The kitchen had been cleaned, and as Jenni opened a cabinet door, she noted the sparse pans lined up tidily against the wall. She opened another door to discover a beautiful china sugar bowl that was half full, and a can of beans on top of a can of condensed milk.

She found a clean but ragged towel and brought it to him, offering to dry his back as he shrugged out of his sodden shirt. But he took it from her, shaking his head. “I can do it,” he murmured, turning away from her quickly. “Thanks.” After a moment, he sat down on the chair, watching Jenni explore as he finished drying off.

She came toward him slowly, wrapping her arms around herself tightly. To have been so full of questions before, she certainly was at a loss for words now, she thought. A wry grin curved her mouth.

Rafe patted the side of the bed in invitation, and she sat down next to him. The hail was sporadic now, although rain was hitting the snug little cabin in sheets.

Water for the morning glories, if the hail doesn’t destroy them, Jenni thought, her gaze going out the front window to the thirsty flowers winding their way along the rough posts and roof of the porch. “It’ll wash out the trail,” she whispered to herself.

Rafe’s teeth glinted white against the stubbled growth of beard. His dark eyes were warm with a teasing light. “I think I can still find my way to Fort Sill. I’m pretty familiar with the lay of the land.” He gave her a wink. “This is my territory, Jenni. I don’t need to follow a trail to find them.” He shifted and began to pull off his boots.

“How long will it take us to get there?” Jenni turned to face him.

“At the rate we’re going—”

She grimaced at the teasing note in his voice. “I know I’m holding you up. If I wasn’t with you, you might have already caught them rather than having to go all the way to Fort Sill.”

“I don’t mind. It’s just—time’s not on our side.”

The wind cried around the corner of the cabin, and Jenni thought how much it sounded like the sorrowful wail of a woman. Then there was silence, stretching out between them, broken only by the noise of the storm.

“Who are you, Rafe? Really?”

~*~

GET IT HERE:

Again, I apologize this month–Wordpress is stripping my links for both my Amazon Author Page and for the Time Plains Drifter order page. You can locate both of these by  searching at Amazon.

 

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

IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW HOW TO CUT UP A CHICKEN

Our generation has lost so many important talents and skills. Technology makes it easier for us, but in some ways, it takes away our independence. Maybe that’s one reason we love to read (and write!) historical romance. We can go back in time vicariously without having to live through all the hardships and trials of everyday life, experiencing only the top layer of what must have been difficult, by our standards, every moment. 

Does anyone know how to cut up a chicken anymore? My mother did. I remember her getting out the wickedest looking knife I’d ever seen every Sunday and cutting up a chicken to fry. They had started to sell cut-up chickens in the store, but they were more expensive. Mom wouldn’t have dreamed of paying extra for that. By the time I began to cook for my family, I didn’t mind paying that extra money—I couldn’t bear to think of cutting a chicken up and then frying it. 

It’s all relative. My mom, born in 1922, grew up in a time when the chickens had to be beheaded, then plucked, then cut up—so skipping those first two steps seemed like a luxury, I’m sure. I wouldn’t know how to begin to cut up a chicken. I never learned how. 

Hog killing day was another festive occasion. Because my husband was raised on a farm, he and my mother had a lot of similar experiences to compare (this endeared him to her in later years.) Neighbors and family would gather early in the day. The hog would be butchered, and the rest of the day would be spent cutting and packing the meat. When my husband used to talk about the “wonderful sausage” his mother made, I was quite content to say, “Good for her. I’m glad you got to eat that when you were young.” (There’s no way I would ever make sausage.) 

Medical issues? I was the world’s most nervous mother when I had my daughter. But being the youngest in the family, I had a world of experience to draw on. I also had a telephone and I knew how to use it! I called my mom or one of my sisters about the smallest thing. I can’t imagine living in one of the historical scenarios that, as writers, we create with those issues. The uncertainty of having a sick child and being unable to do anything to help cure him/her would have made me lose it. I know this happened so often and was just accepted as part of life, but to me, that would have been the very worst part of living in a historical time. I had a great aunt who lost all three of her children within one week to the flu. She lost her mind and had to be institutionalized off and on the rest of her life. 

 My mother was the eldest of eleven children. She often said with great pride that her mother had had eleven children and none of them had died in childhood. I didn’t realize, when I was younger, how important and odd that really was for those times. My father’s mother had five children, two of whom died as children, and two more that almost died, my father being one of them. 

It was a case of my grandmother thinking he was with my granddad, and him thinking three-year-old Freddie was with her. By the time they realized he was missing, the worst had happened. He had wandered to the pond and fallen in. It was a cold early spring day. Granddad had planted the fields already, between the pond and the house. A little knit cap that belonged to little Freddie was the only evidence of where he’d gone. It was floating on top of the water. By some miracle, my granddad found him and pulled him up out of the water. He was not breathing. Granddad ran with him back to the house, jumping the rows of vegetables he’d planted. The doctor later told him that was probably what saved Dad’s life—a very crude form of CPR. 

Could you have survived in the old west? What do you think would have been your greatest worry? What would you hate to give up the most from our modern way of life? I’m curious to know, what skills or talents to you think we have lost generationally over the last 100 years? I’ve written two time travel stories where the heroine found herself living in the old west, 1800s Indian Territory. They both faced issues that were daunting, simply because of the time period…would they stay if given a choice, or go back to their present-day living? Does love REALLY ‘conquer all’?  In my time travel novel, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, the heroine must go back in time, but in the sequel, I’m turning the tables. The hero of that book is going to go forward. Once he gets there, will he ever want to go BACK to his time?

 I’m not sure I would have lived very long, or very pleasantly. I know one thing—my family would never have eaten sausage, unless they had breakfast at the neighbor’s house.

Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from my time travel short story, MEANT TO BE, available in the 2011 Christmas Collection from Victory Tales Press.

BLURB:

Robin Mallory is facing another Christmas all alone when she decides to surprise her aunt and uncle several hours away. She becomes stranded near a desolate section of interstate. With a snowstorm on the way, Robin has no choice but to walk, looking for a house to provide shelter.

Jake Devlin is shocked when the “spy” he jumps turns out to be a girl. She’s dressed oddly, and talks like a Yank. Where did she come from, and what is he going to do with her?

The set up: Jake, a Confederate soldier, has been seriously wounded by a Cheyenne arrow as he tries to protect Robin from the attack. His only hope is for her to be able to go back through the “portal” in the woods to her old truck, parked along the interstate, and get the medicine from another time that he so badly needs. With Cheyenne in the woods along with a platoon of Yankee soldiers, what chance will she have of survival? Can she even find the rift in time again…twice?

EXCERPT:

Robin turned her back on the pickup and started down the gravel road. Doubt assailed her. Was she crazy to go back to a time she didn’t belong in?

But she did belong. She’d been…alive. More so in that time than here, in her own. And could she possibly hope for a future with Jake? It was too soon for commitments…but wasn’t she making the biggest one of all?

Her steps slowed. If she took the medicine back to him, what guarantee was there that, should she want to come back to her time, she’d be able? She may be stuck in Indian Territory of 1864 with no way back, ever.

She couldn’t let Jake die. How could she live with herself in either time if that happened?

What if she was misreading his intentions? He seemed—interested—in her. Her heart shrank at the thought of another rejection. She wouldn’t be able to handle that. But…that fear might also be keeping her from letting herself fall in love with the kindest, most decent man she’d ever met—in any time. Trusting was so hard.

Yet, he’d trusted her, hadn’t he, with much more to lose than she had. He could very well die if she didn’t take the antibiotics back to him.

And…another thought, too awful to bear, rose up, refusing to be ignored. What if he died in spite of the antibiotics? She might be trapped in a time that wasn’t hers, without the man she’d fallen in love with.

Oh, dear God. She stopped walking as the reality hit her full force. She was in love with Jake already. How could this have happened? The damn magical doorway through time had to have some other influence. There was no other explanation. But…it felt real. And if she lost Jake, the heartache would be very real, she already knew. She’d sworn, after her last romantic fiasco, that she wouldn’t jump into anything again. Yet, here she was, in love with Jake Devlin after only twenty-four hours. And worried sick. She began to run. What if she couldn’t get back through the portal? What if the medicine doesn’t work?

What if Jake doesn’t love me? Her mind seized on the question, mocking her, taunting her, throwing it back to her again and again.

He loves me, her heart answered, remembering the way he’d reached to pull the blanket over her, and the gentle touch of his hand on her cheek in the night when he thought she was asleep.

Remember, her heart reminded her, as she thought of the way he’d put himself between her and their attackers. He would have died for her. He still might.

She stopped running, trying to catch her breath. Her side hurt, and she noticed the sky seemed to be darkening more than normal, which probably meant they were in for more snow.

Nothing else had changed, though. Panic gripped her. The road remained graveled and wide, never narrowing in the least as it had before. The trees weren’t nearly as thick as they had been a scant half-hour earlier when she’d come this way.

With her heart pounding from fear as much as exertion, Robin looked behind her. She could still barely see the top of the rise that hid her truck. Maybe she hadn’t come quite far enough! She couldn’t remember. It had all been so gradual before. But now, everything looked the same, unchanged. She held her breath listening for the far-away sounds of the interstate traffic. She couldn’t hear anything, but maybe it was just because there weren’t many cars. It was Christmas Eve. Everyone would most likely be at their destinations by now, so late in the afternoon, the day before Christmas.

“Oh, please,” she whispered, starting down the road again. “Please.”

The wind whipped up, and the first flakes of snow began to fall. She was so close—so close to getting the medicine back to Jake—how could everything go so completely wrong? She fought back angry tears of frustration, her throat raw from the cold. It would never do for her to really get sick now—now that Jake was in such need of her medication.

She lifted her chin determinedly. She was going to get it to him. Somehow, someway. And she prayed it would be strong enough to heal him. Christmas was a time for miracles. She needed one right now. 

The 2011 Christmas Collection anthology containing MEANT TO BE, my novel TIME PLAINS DRIFTER,  and all my other work can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson  or at Barnes and Noble.

 

 

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:   

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

 

HAVE YOURSELF A PARANORMAL HOLIDAY!

Love time travel? Crazy about holiday reads?  Well, then, I’ve got some great short stories to tell you about, including my latest release, MEANT TO BE, that appears in a new Christmas anthology from VICTORY TALES PRESS.

MEANT TO BE is a time travel set on the last Christmas of the Civil War, in 1864. A young single woman, Robin Mallory, from present day set out to pay a surprise holiday visit to her elderly relatives. When one of her tires blows out, she finds herself stranded on a lonely stretch of road with no one to call for help. 

When a handsome ‘Confederate soldier’ tackles her in the early evening shadows, Robin is outraged and frightened. Jake Devlin is dressed from a time gone by, but what are re-enactors doing in these woods over the Christmas weekend? When the predicted winter storm moves in, Robin has no alternative but to take a chance and trust Jake.

Jake’s presence is comforting, and Robin welcomes the sanctuary from the raw night that his camp offers. But something isn’t right. Once they arrive at the camp, she realizes she’s walked down a gravel road that’s taken her backward in time nearly 150 years. Jake is an officer of the Confederate Army, serving under Cherokee Chief, General Stand Watie.

Unsure of Robin’s motives and who she is, the general puts her in Jake’s care. When they are separated from the rest of the unit, Jake is severely wounded. What will Robin do? Will she seize the only opportunity she may have to return to her own time? Or will she stay in 1864 with Jake and take a chance on a love that was MEANT TO BE?

MEANT TO BE appears in the Victory Tales Press Sensual/Spicy 2011 Christmas Collection anthology, along with four other great stories by my fellow authors, Kit Prate, Stephanie Burkhart, Christine Schulze, and Sarah McNeal.

I also want to tell you about some great stand-alone paranormal holiday short stories that are available for only .99 through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER PUBLISHING.

MEANT TO BE is not the only paranormal Civil War era holiday short story I’ve written. Another one, HOMECOMING, is a sweet love story that first appeared last year about this time in A Christmas Collection: Sweet through VICTORY TALES PRESS (VTP). It’s still available in the anthology, but now is also available in the .99 gallery at WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER as well. Though it’s a Civil War themed short story, it has a very different take and a surprise ending I hope you will enjoy.

Homecoming by Cheryl Pierson
A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission to fulfill his promise of honor to a dying Confederate soldier—his enemy. In an odd twist of fate, a simple assurance to carry young Billy Anderson’s meager belongings home to his family a few miles away becomes more than what it seems.
As he nears his destination, the memories of the soldier’s final moments mingle with his own thoughts of the losses he’s suffered because of the War, including his fiancee, Sarah. Despite his suffering, can Jack remember what it means to be fully human before he arrives at the end of his journey? Will the miracle of Christmas be able to heal his heart in the face of what awaits him?

 

SCARLET RIBBONS is a story of lost love regained through a holiday miracle. The hero, Miguel Rivera, is a bordertown gunslinger who believes his heart can’t be touched. Christmas brings him a miracle he never expected; one that can’t be ignored.
 SCARLET RIBBONS by Cheryl Pierson
Miguel Rivera is known as El Diablo, The Devil. Men avoid meeting his eyes for fear of his gun. Upon returning to a town where he once knew a brief happiness, Miguel is persuaded by a street vendor to make a foolish holiday purchase; two scarlet ribbons.

When Catalina, his former lover, allows him to take a room at her boarding house, Miguel soon discovers a secret. Realizing that he needs the scarlet ribbons after all, he is stunned to find them missing. Can a meeting with a mysterious priest and the miracle of the Scarlet Ribbons set Miguel on a new path? 

A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES is a novella available through THE WILD ROSE PRESS. This story takes place in Indian Territory of the 1800’s. A widow takes in a wounded gunman and three children on Christmas Eve. The small gifts she gives them all reveal something even more precious for all of them on A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES.

These are all great holiday short stories that will leave you wanting more. I f this isn’t enough paranormal reading for you, try my latest novel, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, a WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER publication. Here’s the blurb for this time travel story of good vs. evil.

Trapped in Indian Territory of 1895 by a quirk of nature, high school teacher Jenni Dalton must find a way to get her seven students back to 2010.  Handsome U.S. Marshal Rafe d’Angelico seems like the answer to her prayers; he is, after all, an angel.  In a race against time and evil, Rafe has one chance to save Jenni’s life and her soul from The Dark One—but can their love survive?

 

The 2011 Christmas Collection can be purchased here:
http://www.amazon.com/2011-Christmas-Collection-Sensual-ebook/dp/B005Z8VOVG/

All my other novels, short stories and the anthologies I am a part of can be found here:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE 

 I write a mix of contemporary romantic suspense and historical western romance.  Please leave a comment and let us know the best paranormal western romance you’ve ever read. This is kind of an up-and-coming subgenre, and one I’d love to read more of.  I’ll be giving away a copy of the brand new 2011 Christmas Collection to one lucky commenter! Please be sure to include an e-mail addy in your comment.

 Here’s wishing you a very happy holiday season with lots of great reading ahead!
 

 

 

 

TRAVELING IN OUR WRITING–HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?

 Writing a short story or a novel is a “journey” from beginning to end in many ways.  

Hopefully, our main characters will learn something about themselves and grow emotionally and in their personal values of not only each other, but the world around them.  They must become more aware of their place in the world as individuals to be able to give of themselves to another person, the hero to the heroine, and visa versa, or the story stagnates. 

The main conflict of the story brings this about in a myriad of ways, through smaller, more personal conflicts and through the main thrust of the “big picture” dilemma.  I always like to think of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell as a prime example of this, because the States’ War was the catalyst for everything that followed, but it also remained the backdrop throughout the book.  This generated all of the personal losses and gains that Scarlett and Rhett made individually, so if the War hadn’t been the backdrop, the main original conflict, their personal stories would have taken very different routes and their love story quite possibly would have never happened. 

No matter what kind of story we are trying to weave, we have to have movement throughout—not just of the characters’ growth, but of the setting and circumstances that surround them. Sometimes, that “ain’t” easy! 

Have you ever thought about how important it is to have travel in your writing?  No, it doesn’t have to be lengthy travel, although that’s a great possibility, too.  Even a short trip allows things to happen physically to the characters, as well as providing some avenue for emotional growth and development among them. 

One of my favorite examples of the importance of travel is the short story by Ernest Haycox, “Stage to Lordsburg.”  You might know it better as the John Ford movie adaptation, “Stagecoach,” starring a very handsome young newbie…John Wayne.  A varied group of people are traveling on a stagecoach that is attacked by Indians, including John Wayne, (a seriously good-looking young outlaw by the name of Johnny Ringo) who is being transported to prison.  The dire circumstances these passengers find themselves in make a huge difference in the way they treat each other—including their hesitant acceptance of a fallen woman and the outlaw.  

If the characters of the story are going somewhere, things are bound to happen—even if they’re just going to the store, as in the short story “The Mist,” by Stephen King.  Briefly, a man goes to the grocery store and is trapped inside with many other people by a malevolent fog that surrounds the store and tries to come inside.  Eventually, he makes the decision to leave rather than wait for it to get inside and kill them all.  He thinks he can make it to the pickup just outside in the parking lot.  A woman that he really doesn’t know says she will go with him.  By making this conscious decision, not only are they leaving behind their own families (he has a wife and son) that they know they’ll never see again, but if they make it to the vehicle and survive, they will be starting a new chapter of their lives together.  It’s a great concept in my opinion—virtual strangers, being forced to make this kind of life-or-death decision in the blink of an eye, leaving everything they know behind, when all they had wanted to do was pick up a few groceries. 

In all of my stories, there is some kind of travel involved.  In Fire Eyes, although Jessica doesn’t travel during the story, she has had to travel to get to the original setting where it all takes place.  And Kaed is brought to her, then travels away from her when he is well enough.  Will he come back?  That’s a huge conflict for them.  He might be killed, where he’s going, but it’s his duty.  He can’t turn away from that.  After what has happened to him in his past, he has a lot of mixed feelings about settling down and trying again with a family, and with love. 

In a long ago English class, one of my professors once stated, “There are only two things that happen in a story, basically.  1.  A stranger comes to town.  Or,  2. A character leaves town.”  Pretty simplistic, and I think what she was trying to tell us was that travel is a great way to get the conflict and plot of a story moving in the right direction.  I always think of “Shane” when I think of  “a stranger coming to town” because that is just such a super example of how the entire story is resolved by a conflicted character, that no one ever really gets to know.  Yet, although he may have a checkered past, he steps in and makes things right for the Staretts, and the rest of the community.

 In my upcoming novel, Time Plains Drifter, a totally different kind of travel is involved—time travel.  The hero, Rafe,  is thrown forward sixteen years from the date he died (yes, he’s a very reluctant angel) and the heroine, Jenni,  is flung backward one hundred fifteen years by a comet that has rearranged the bands of time on earth.  They come together in 1895 in the middle of Indian Territory.  But the time travel is just a means to bring them together for the real conflict, and that’s the case with most of stories.  Whether as readers or writers, we don’t want to look at the scenery/history for the most part; we want to see the conflict, and the travel is just a way to get that to happen.

For all the writers out there, how do you use travel in your writing?  And for the readers, what kinds of travel passages bore you, or make the story come alive? 

Here’s a short excerpt from Time Plains Drifter, which will be re-released at the beginning of June.  Rafe and Jenni have just met, and there’s a definite attraction!  Hope you enjoy!

FROM TIME PLAINS DRIFTER

For the first time, Rafe began to wonder what—and who—she might have left back there in her own time.  Two thousand-ten.  A mother and father?  What about siblings?  Was she as close to someone as he and Cris had been?  Was she…married?  Did she leave children of her own?

She was a school teacher, and he took comfort in that thought.  In his own time, school teachers were usually women who were not yet married.

Suddenly, the question burned in his mind.  Was she married?  Did she have someone waiting for her?  Hell, what difference does it make?  He sighed.  You’re dead, Rafe. Remember?  Dead.  All a mistake.  Beck’s sure sorry, but—

If he was dead, why did his leg ache?  He felt the pinch of the cramped nerve endings in his left calf just as he had always suffered from when he held this position too long.  Was it real?  Or did he just anticipate that pain, where it had always been when he was alive?  He hadn’t imagined the instant response of his body earlier, holding Jenni Dalton in his arms.  That had been real enough.

He stood up slowly with a grimace, and his fingers went to the small of his back automatically for an instant before he bent to massage his leg, then walk a few steps to ease the strain of the muscles.  The twinges faded, but Rafe knew he hadn’t imagined either of them.

If I’m dead, how can I hurt?  Was this part of what Beck had tried to explain to him earlier, about giving in to the “human” side of himself?  Those “bodily urges?”  Beck had seemed horrified that Rafe even entertained the thought of wanting to live again—in a normal, human state.

But he did, God help him.  He did.  And five minutes with Miss Jenni Dalton was all it had taken to reaffirm that conviction to the fullest measure.

There was something about her; something strong, yet, so vulnerable.  Her eyes captivated him, her lips seductively beckoned to be kissed—but what if she knew she was kissing a ghost?  A dead man?

His glance strayed to Jenni once more as she stood up, and he controlled the urge to go after young Kody Everett and choke the life from his body for his deceit.

Jenni came toward Rafe stiffly, her back held ramrod straight.  Without conscious thought, he opened his arms to her, and she kept right on walking, into his embrace, until he closed the gates of safety across her back and held her to him, protected inside his fortress.

She didn’t cry, and Rafe knew it was because she was too exhausted. They stood that way for a long moment, breathing the night air.  He wanted to give her what she needed—shelter, safety, and…togetherness.  She wasn’t alone any more, and he wanted her to know it.

He felt her take a shuddering breath of bone-deep weariness.  Who was waiting for her in her own time, to comfort her like this when she returned?

“Jen?”

“Hmm?”  Her voice was a contented purr.

He smiled. “Where you come from, are you, uh—married, or—”

“Huh-uh.  No husband.  No kids.  Nobody at all.”

“No—betrothed?”  He searched for a word they might still use a hundred and ten years from now, and by the way she smiled against his shirt, he knew he had sounded old-fashioned to her.  “Okay, what’s your word for it?”

“Boyfriend.  Fiance.  Lover—”

Lover!”

She drew back at his indignation, looking him in the face.  “It’s—It’s just a word,” she stammered.  “It really doesn’t mean—”

“Don’t say that one,” Rafe growled.  He shook his head to clear it. “What I mean is—you wouldn’t want to say that around anyone.  They’d take you for a—loose woman.”

She looked up earnestly into his smoldering gaze, liquefying his bones with her piercing green eyes, her lips full and sensual, the tangle of copper hair blowing in the breeze. “Would you think I was ‘loose’ if I asked you to—to just lie down beside me?  It’s not that I’m afraid,” she hastened to add. “I just feel—kind of shaken up.”

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 

HOWDY FROM A NEW FILLY

Hi everyone!  I’m Cheryl Pierson (Cheryl #2 here at P&P)!  This is my first “official” post as a new filly, and I’m very excited to be here at Petticoats & Pistols in such great company!  I’ve done a couple of guest posts in the past, and from the moment I began to get to know my “fellow fillies,” I knew I wanted to be here amongst ya!

I won’t bore you with too many details–just want to tell you a little about me and I’d love to hear about you all, too.  I was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, in 1957.  I had two “way older” sisters (10 and 12 when I came along) and I was a Tomboy–with a capital “T” for sure!  Although I loved Barbie, I’d much rather have been playing cowboys and Indians–probably why I chose to write western historicals.

I finally got to go to a rodeo when I was about 9 with my cousin, and Larry Mahan was there!  I was in love.  After that, I wanted to be a barrel racer, thinking that would be a great way to get those handsome cowboys to notice me when I was older…of course, that was a huge pipe dream since my family was NOT into rodeoing at all.  But my first “serious” little story I wrote in elementary school had a guy in it named “Larry” and girl named “Cherry” (original, huh?)

My dad was an oilfield hand–a chemical engineer, on call 24/7 for as long as I can remember.  Mom was the “June Cleaver” type, and both of them were appalled when I told them I wanted to write books for a living.  As they predicted, that dream had to be placed on hold for many years–enough time for me to marry and raise my two kids–with a myriad of “real jobs” (as others called them) in between.

But I was writing all the time, every spare minute I got.  I started out with an idea for a western romance, and the more I wrote, the bigger the story became, until I had a 1000 page manuscript!  Of course, it’s still unsold (go figure!) but it’s the book of my heart–and I know each of you has written a book that holds that special place in your heart, as well.  That was what I needed to “get me going.”  Ideas flowed, and so did the words.

Although that first “tome” is still as yet unpublished, the third book I wrote, FIRE EYES, was published in May 2009, and went on to become an EPIC Award finalist.  The Wild Rose Press also published two of my western short stories, and my first contemporary romantic suspense, SWEET DANGER, will be released on October 1.

The fourth book I wrote, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, was published through another smaller press.  After a few short months, we parted ways, and TIME PLAINS DRIFTER is homeless again. My daughter designed my cover for this book so it’s very special to me.  It also garnered me the award of Honorable Mention for Best New Paranormal Author in PNR’s PEARL Awards this year.

Right now, I am waiting (on pins and needles) to hear back from Berkley about one of my manuscripts that’s under consideration with them.  GABRIEL’S LAW was the third place recipient in this year’s historical category in the San Antonio Romance Authors’ Merritt Contest.  The judge for that final round asked for the full manuscript. It’s been thirty-five days, six hours and fourteen minutes…but who’s counting?

I live in Oklahoma City with my “transplanted” (from West Virginia) husband, Gary, who plans to make good on his threat to retire this fall.  My daughter, Jessica, is 23 and works at an actors’ casting agency here.  My son, Casey, is 20 and a physics major in college (and believe me, those math and science genes did not come from me!)  Along with my business partner, I teach writing classes for all ages, and have done lots of work with the Indian Education Program for one of the major school systems here in OK City.  And I’m FINALLY getting to actually write! 

Thank you all so much for your warm welcome and your generous friendships.  I am thrilled to be here–a “regular filly!”

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from one of my short stories,  A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES. 

When a wounded drifter and three children appear at her doorstep, widow Angela Bentley can’t turn them away.  Nick Dalton has a dangerous reputation, but is it truly deserved, or is it just talk?  Will love find two lonely people on this, A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES?

FROM “A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES”:

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”

http://www.cherylpierson.com

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