Tag: Western Trail Blazers

WESTERN SUMMER READS by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl7126Summer has started off with a bang for me, in a fantastic way. I wanted to share with you all what my year has been like (the good parts of it!)

I always think when summer rolls around I will have more time. I think this started when my kids were little and I looked forward to not having to get up and make the school run every single morning, and then again in the afternoon. Even though it never happened the way I thought it would, for some crazy reason, I believed it would be that way year after year.

The one thing I did get a little more of in the summer was reading time. At least, it seemed that way. This summer I’ve had several new releases of my own I want to tell you about. Some of these are re-releases in a different format, but others are brand new!

 

KANE’S DESTINY is the third and final book in the Kane trilogy. It was released a few months ago.  Each of these books were released separately (KANE’S REDEMPTION, KANE’S PROMISE, and KANE’S DESTINY) but then we decided to release them all under one cover as KANE’S CHANCE. Why? There are a couple of contests I’d like to enter, but there is no category for these shorter works. With a bit of editing and shaping, the stories were made into one continuous novel.

Kane'sDestiny_CherylPierson._Medium

KANE’S CHANCE was released earlier this month and is available in both print and digital formats.

These “KANE” stories are for all ages, young and old alike. And everyone in the middle. They’re a “coming of age” tale about Will Green, a young boy who is kidnapped by a band of renegade Apaches after his family is killed. The first two books deal with that part of his life, and the last one, KANE’S REDEMPTION, deal with one of his biggest fears—his Bostonian grandfather coming west to claim him and trying to force him to leave Texas and go back East with him.

When KANE’S CHANCE begins, Will is ten years old, and by the end of the book, he’s thirteen. The adventures he has, the changes he goes through, and the inner torment he deals with throughout the stories speak not only of the maturing process every young man must go through, but also, his realization that the deaths of his entire family hinged on the poor judgment of his father. This is not a romance, but I hope you’ll find it to your liking all the same. Here’s the blurb for KANE’S CHANCE:

Kane'sChanceFinal_CherylPierson_MediumMy name is Will Green and I have to share the story of how I met Jacobi Kane or I’ll bust from holding it in. Apache renegades murdered my family and took me prisoner when I was ten. I never believed I’d live to see another sunrise, but Kane appeared as if from nowhere and fought to save me. Never saw a man so determined before, but I did have to step in and help a bit.

I didn’t know at the time that Kane kept a secret from me, one which might change my high opinion of him. Then he met Laura, and she helped both of us heal in different ways.
Later on, once we settled down on a place of our own, Kane led a band of lawmen in their mission to annihilate the renegades responsible for killing my folks – and Kane’s first wife and children. Laura sent me along after them, just to be sure Kane stayed safe. It turned out to be good planning on her part.

Once I turned thirteen, my own doubts crept in as to whether I actually should be with the Kane family. Then my wealthy grandfather showed up from back East, determined to take me to Boston. Took some doing for me to learn the true meaning of family and just where I belonged. In the end, my grandfather and I faced a fight for our lives and, once more, our survival relied on Jacobi Kane and me. Now, I’ve got a family fortune to deal with – one I never knew about or wanted – one someone else wants bad enough to kill me for.

But I’ve found my place in life, with Kane’s help, and I don’t plan on giving it up anytime soon…

And speaking of romance, I have a brand new western historical romance, GABRIEL’S LAW,  available NOW! It’s published through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER, and if this cover doesn’t make you grab a fan I don’t know what will! That Jimmy Thomas looks hotter every time I see him! Here’s the blurb for it:

GABRIEL'S LAW by CHERYL PIERSON

GABRIEL’S LAW by CHERYL PIERSON

When hired gunman Brandon Gabriel is double-crossed, it seems that his luck has run out. But Gabriel has more than luck; he has Allison Taylor, a lost angel from his troubled past who turns up and turns the tables. Old love blooms and new wounds begin to heal as Brandon and Allie tentatively make plans, but danger and self-doubt cast shadows on their hopes. When Allie and her ranch are threatened by an old enemy, long-buried secrets come to light and the stakes have never been higher. Will Brandon discover his chance at happiness in time to fight for it? Can Brandon and Allie confront the past, face down their demons, and forge their dreams into a future?

One thing Brandon doesn’t count on is the fact that Allie has already set a plan in motion that includes bringing orphans to her home—orphans like she and Brandon had been, early in life. Remember Travis Morgan from Fire Eyes? OK, that’s all I’m gonna say!

Christmas in July at WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER will see another of my short stories (Christmas, of course!) released as a “single sell” story for .99. THE WISHING TREE was first released in the VICTORY TALES PRESS A 2012 CHRISTMAS COLLECTON. Now, it’s being offered as a stand alone story, and I’m thrilled.   I don’t have the cover for it yet, but will try to share it as soon as I can–I know it will be another good one–Karen M. Nutt is a genius with covers!VTP_Christmas_sweet-sensual_2012-Lulu

Pete Cochran, a war veteran with both visible and invisible scars, is mostly a loner, rather than scare children. Then a special woman with a son walks into his life as he works at his father’s Christmas tree lot – a woman with problems he can’t ignore.

 

Maria Sanchez and her son Miguel eke out an existence on her part-time earnings, but share an abundance of love, except when terrorized by her drug addict relative. When she meets Pete, she sees him not as a frightening man, but a wounded hero returned from war. Her son seems immediately drawn to the unusual Christmas tree vendor.

 Will a special tree – a wishing tree – contain enough magic to fulfill all their Christmas desires? 

This is a lovely, heartwarming story that I hope will touch you as it did me.

Now, back to the old west and the WOLF CREEK series with the WESTERN FICTIONEERS! One of the characters I created for the post-Civil War Kansas town of Wolf Creek is Derrick McCain. He was introduced in book 1 of the series, Bloody Trail, (SEE LINK BELOW!)http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Creek-Bloody-Trail-ebook/dp/B00916VX5A/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373395806&sr=1-1&keywords=Bloody+Trail+by+Cheryl+Pierson and with the recent release of Wolf Creek Book 5: Showdown at Demon’s Drop, just a few weeks ago,  his past comes back to threaten his sister, Kathleen.Wolf_Creek_COVER1Web_jpg_opt262x393o0,0s262x393

By the way, Wolf Creek: Book 1 Bloody Trail is now ON SALE at Amazon for only .99! It is ranked around #40 in the Kindle Best Westerns list presently! I provided the link above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolf Creek-Showdown at Demon's Drop COVERHere’s the blurb for Wolf Creek Book 5: Showdown at Demon’s Drop:

The brutal Danby gang paid dearly for their raid on Wolf Creek. But some of them escaped, and their new leader Clark Davis is hungry for revenge -on the town, and on the man that he believes betrayed the gang, Derrick McCain. Seminole scout Charley Blackfeather, meanwhile, wants his own revenge on Davis for his actions in the war…at the Centralia Massacre. Blood is going to flow… Appearing as Ford Fargo in this volume: Robert J. Randisi, Bill Crider, L. J. Martin, Wayne Dundee. Cheryl Pierson, and Troy D. Smith.

This edition of Wolf Creek is also ranked in the mid 40’s on the Kindle Best Westerns top 100 list! Here’s the Amazon link for it:

 http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Creek-Showdown-Demons-ebook/dp/B00D6PPDNK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373396166&sr=1-1&keywords=Showdown+at+Demon%27s+Drop+by+Cheryl+Pierson

Last but not least, another delicious entrée from the Wolf Creek writers is hot of the presses as of last week! Wolf Creek Book 6 :HELL ON THE PRAIRIE,  is different than the others. It’s the first Wolf Creek anthology. I loved this idea because each participant is able to write a short story featuring their character(s) and show a depth to their character they might not be able to convey in a collaborative effort such as the other books before this have been. My story is called IT TAKES A MAN, and of course, Derrick is at the center of this one. And guess what? It, too, is on the Kindle Best Western top 100 charts–last I checked in the mid 30 range! I’m so thrilled to have all three of these Wolf Creek books I contributed to in the top 100 all at once!

WC Hell on the Prairie

Here’s the blurb for my story IT TAKES A MAN:

When Derrick and his mother are ominously summoned to the Cherokee settlement of Briartown, Derrick is determined to set things straight with the man he’s learned is his real father. But once he arrives, he’s distracted by the beautiful cousin, Leah Martin, of his best friend’s wife. Leah is hiding a secret—one that could be the death of her. Once Derrick discovers it, will he walk away? Or will he save her…and possibly himself? IT TAKES A MAN to do what his heart tells him.

 

Here’s the link for Wolf Creek Book 6: HELL ON THE PRAIRIE.

http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Creek-Hell-Prairie-ebook/dp/B00DPPFUPM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373396355&sr=1-1&keywords=Hell+on+the+Prairie+by+Cheryl+Pierson

I sure hope this will provide you with some ideas for some stories you might enjoy over the summer! There’s something here for everyone! For more great reading, please visit my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE here :     https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

Please be sure to leave a comment before you go–I’m giving away a digital copy of KANE’S CHANCE and also one of WOLF CREEK BOOK 1: BLOODY TRAIL today! Don’t forget to leave your contact information!

 

Horse Power to Horsepower

 

“When a man opens a car door for his wife,

 it’s either a new car or a new wife.” 

                                                                                      Prince Phillip

Ah, the automobile. What would we do without it?  The car I most remember is a battered old ’61 white Valiant with a stick shift.  The clunker almost caused me to gave birth and file for a divorce on the same night.  That’s because my husband steadfastly refuses to drive over the speed limit.  No thanks to him, I missed giving birth in that auto by mere seconds.

 

 The reason I have cars on my mind this month is because  of my new book, Waiting for Morning, a historical romance set in Arizona Territory in 1896. The hero, Dr. Caleb Fairbanks introduces the Last Chance Ranch cowhands to his beloved gas-powered “horseless carriage,” Bertha. When Caleb and backfiring Bertha incite gunfire from former dance hall girl, Molly Hatfield, the handsome doctor barely escapes with his life.  Little does he know that his troubles have only just begun.

 

Today, cars are blamed for everything from global warming to funding terrorism through oil dependency.  It might surprise you to learn that it wasn’t that long ago that the old gray mare was held responsible for the social and economic ills of the world.

 

In 1908, it was estimated that New York City alone would save more than a million dollars a year by banning horses from its streets. That’s how much it cost back then to clean up the tons of manure clogging the roadways each year. 

 

 A tree never hits an automobile except in self defense. 

American Proverb

Horses were also blamed for traffic congestion, accidents, diseases and, of all things, noise pollution.  Hooves clattering on cobblestones were said to aggravate nervous systems.  Even Benjamin Franklin complained about the “thundering of coaches, chariots, chaises, waggons, drays and the whole fraternity of noise” that assailed the ears of Philadelphia residents.

  

The first automobiles to drive west were driven by insurance salesmen and land agents.  When an attorney in a small Texas town rose to leave during an important trial, he practically emptied the courtroom. Jurors,  witnesses and spectators all wanted to see his two-cylinder Maxwell.  An irate judge pounded his gavel and ordered the autorist to “Drive the contraption a mile out of town where there are no horses and permit everyone to look it over so the court can resume its regular business.”

 

As with all technology, outlaws were quick to see the advantage of automobiles. The auto allowed for a quick get-away and would keep going long after a horse gave out. This left local sheriffs at a disadvantage. 

 

Youths hopped on the auto band-wagon long before their elders and many ceased driving the family springboards entirely. Frontier lawmen suddenly found themselves issuing stern warnings, not to outlaws, but to racing youths.

 

Remember: When everything’s coming your way,

you’re in the wrong lane.

 

The automobile was supposed to make the world a safer, saner, quieter and healthier place.  That’s something to think about the next time you’re stuck in traffic.  But take heart: the safer, quieter, more economical Robot Car is here.

 

www.margaretbrownley.com 

To celebrate the publication of my book, my publisher is running a fun contest. To enter all you have to do is write a paragraph or two about the car that played a part in your life’s story and send to:

contests@nancyberland.com

That’s it!  The winner will receive a $100 gas card. 

 So what car played a part in your life story?

 

To order print or eBook click on cover

Better yet, order from your local bookstore.

Do Westerns (and Other Historicals) Have a Fighting Chance in Today’s Market?

Lately, I’ve been doing some hard thinking about the seeming “decline” of history lovers.  Why, I wonder, are western romance and other historical sub-genres of romance being turned down by some of the bigger New York publishers?  As a general rule, it seems that contemporary romance is on the upswing more now than ever before. Yet, I know many people, myself included, who enjoy nothing more than a well-written historical (especially western, in my case) romance novel.

It seems that a lot of the people who have written western romance for years, and in fact, have made their name and career in that sub-genre, are now being told they are going to have to write contemporary in order to sell.  At least, according to  the big New York houses.  I’m seeing this with my own work. I’ve submitted my latest western historical to a couple of agents recently and both of them told me they were interested in seeing something contemporary rather than a historical.  It would seem that historicals are on the way out, to be replaced with contemporary, at least as far as New York is concerned. With all the marketing studies that have been done, there must be some research that supports this theory of declining historical readership. I might be out in left field with this, but here’s my take on it.

The main obstacle to anything historical is that we don’t teach it in our schools any longer.  So kids, growing up, have no sense of what came before. They don’t learn about history in depth at all, it’s just glossed over, and with the watered-down, public educational system’s “no child left behind” program, they don’t have to care or study.  The academic programs are softened so that no child, despite lack of effort or concern, will have to worry about failure. When my son was in high school 4 years ago, his history textbook devoted a two-page spread to World War II; a one page (including a picture) write-up of Viet Nam. How can this be?  Do we care so little about the causes, repercussions, and influences of the wars our countrymen have died for that we reduce it to a one-page retelling? Shameful. There’s an old Sioux proverb that says: “A people without history is like wind on the buffalo grass.” I believe that.  And there is something within us that needs to know where we came from to give us the strength and determination to get to where we are going. Knowing our history and values of the past instills this within us.         

The next dismissal of history is in our entertainment field.  If you look at the television programming, it’s all police drama, detective and forensic work of some kind, sitcoms or reality tv. There are no historical dramas anymore other than what you see on cable, such as series like The Tudors. Growing up in the 1960’s-1970’s, I was fortunate to have been exposed to all those wonderful old historical series—westerns such as Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Lancer, High Chaparral, Wagon Train, Rawhide, The Virginian…the list goes on and on. Not only were these shows teaching history, geography, and giving us a glimpse of everyday life in those times, they also taught values. There was clearly a “good guy” and a “bad guy.” We learned about the workings of cattle drives, that lightning could stampede the cattle, that towns were built around railroads, that Matt Dillon always got his man, and he never quit.  These westerns provided entertainment, but they gave us so much more.  History provides us values of the past to carry forward into the future.  There is no other period where this is more evident than the western.

As a society, we are moving away from even concerning ourselves with history in any venue–movies, television…or reading. Sounds bleak, doesn’t it?  But wait! There’s a light up ahead. With the advent of the smaller publishing houses, and e-publishing, there is a great possibility for the writers and readers of historical fiction! New York might not realize it, but there are some of us out here who still yearn for a good old fashioned piece of historical fiction every once in a while! And thanks to the e-publishers and the smaller presses, we are going to be able to have our cake and eat it, too.  There are a lot of wonderful writers who are being passed over by NY, even people who have big names, who are being told “write contemporary or you’re out.”  Well, those people have a following already.  So how could they have that following, writing western historicals, if no one read those? Why are they being told to write contemporary?  Because New York sees it as the way the world is turning now, and they are desperate to make every dollar they can make.  That leaves the smaller presses and e-publishers to make the money on the historicals that NewYork doesn’t want to publish anymore. These smaller presses are going to build their own following, and the writers they publish will do the same.

Historicals rise and fall in popularity, but “westerns will never die.” I think John Wayne said that, and it’s very true. I write a mix, both contemporary and historical.  My heart is with the historicals, and I will continue to write them, because I know that there are people out there who read them.

Not everyone who reads a book lives in New York City, but it seems that that’s what the New York houses cater to. I get really tired of how every show on tv being set in New York or Los Angeles.  There are other places in the world! And the same is true of the books we read–they don’t all have to take place in those two places.  There are tons of other very interesting locations to set a story in, and there are thousands of people who want to read – and relate—to a variety of settings.  Exciting things can happen anywhere, any time period, as long as the writer has the imagination to make it realistic.

Society, as a whole, is responsible for the disregard of our rich heritage and past that should be remembered, written and read about, and learned about.  I love history, and though I read and write contemporaries too, there is sometimes nothing like picking up a good ol’ western and reading it.  And that’s why I will continue to write historical westerns.  There will always be a readership for them, because of the fulfillment they offer our need for a true hero and heroine, and always, a “happily ever after” ending.

I’m curious as to what your favorite historical romance is. I have so many, my list would be endless. And while I write in both genres, I can’t picture myself ever giving up writing historicals to  pen only contemporaries.

FOR ALL CHERYL PIERSON NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES, PLEASE VISIT:  http://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Pierson/e/B002JV8GUE/ref=sr_tc_ep?qid=1316144509

TIME PLAINS DRIFTER IS RELEASED…AGAIN!

Time Plains Drifter is a different kind of romance novel than anything I’ve ever read.  I think that’s why I enjoyed writing it so much. 

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.  Just this past spring, it was placed with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER, an imprint of PUBLISHING BY REBECCA J. VICKERY.  This is a marvelous company that handles some much “bigger” names than I have, such as Peter Brandvold, Jory Sherman, and Madeline Baker, among others.  Print books are important to me, although I understand that e-publishing is growing by leaps and bounds.  I’m sure that WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER will prove to be the perfect place for Time Plains Drifter, and I’m glad to say I now have the sequel in the works. 

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. 

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 2010—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-fifteen 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. 

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. 

Time Plains Drifter is special to me because it’s the first project my daughter, Jessica, and I have had the chance to work on together.  She designed the cover art. I absolutely LOVE what she did. 

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 from Romantic Times Magazine.  I was selected as the recipient of the Honorable Mention—Best New Paranormal Author category in PNR’s PEARL Awards last year (March 2010), based on Time Plains Drifter. 

The sequel has been a delight to work on, with a different twist than 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 all formats, including print, Kindle, and Nook. Take a look at my Amazon page to order. (See link below.)

 Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:

    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE  

I’ve included the blurb and an excerpt below.  Please leave a comment!  I always love to hear from readers and other authors.  Visit my website at http://www.cherylpierson.com

Enjoy! 

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 2005. 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: 

He closed his eyes, letting the pleasurable feel of her wet mouth on his body wash over him, along with her voice. “Some things never change,”she’d said earlier. Her Oklahoma accent was a slow waltz to his mind, its lilting cadence urging him to accept what they had between them. Still, he couldn’t let it go. Couldn’t ever be dishonest with her, of all people.

“Don’t you want to know—”

She stopped him, placing two cool fingers across his lips, smiling at the tickle of his moustache against her skin. The smile faded as she absorbed the worry in his expression, the smoldering fire in his eyes, and made it her own.

“Not now, I don’t. You asked me—earlier—if I felt it. Whatever it is between us. I do.” Debating with herself, she hesitated a moment before coming to a decision. “I want you, Rafe,” she murmured. “I trust you.” She nuzzled his neck.“It doesn’t matter now, who—or what—you are.”

His hand closed in a fist around the shimmering satin of her copper hair, his chest filling with a sweet peace at her quiet words.

Dead…alive…Mexican…American…man…ghost…angel…

His mind churned as Jenni kissed him once again. Accepting him, for whoever he might be. She loved him. She hadn’t said it yet, but he knew it by the gentle way her lips grazed across his, then claimed his mouth completely, as if that was the only way she had to let him know how she felt. They breathed together, as one.

He answered her wordlessly, his tongue going into her mouth, fingers splaying and tightening against her scalp as he pulled her to him.

She came across his bare chest, the stiffness of the material of her own blouse gliding with gentle abrasion across his nipples. He groaned in pleasure and felt her smile against his mouth. She made the move again as she lifted her lips from his, emerald eyes sparkling into his searing gaze.

“We’ll talk later,” she assured him.

“It’ll be too late to change your mind about me then,” he said, half-jokingly.

“I won’t change my mind, Rafe.”

The sweet sincerity in her voice and the promise in her eyes reassured him. He pulled her down silently. As their mouths melded once more, he rolled, taking her with him, changing their positions so he lay atop her.

She gasped, yielding to him, her cool palms sliding over the fevered heat of his skin, across his chest and shoulders. He began to unbutton her blouse as he kissed her, his fingers moving deftly. He pushed away the first layer of material with his customary impatience, then started on the stays of her corset.

She twisted beneath him at the loosening of the undergarment. He pulled her upright momentarily, whisking blouse and corset over her head, dropping them in a heap on the floor.

In silent invitation, Jenni lifted her hand to him. She touched his side, and he flinched slightly as her fingers lingered over the very place the Bowie had gone into him earlier that day. Even though a red scar marked the spot, there was no pain for him, and he saw no puzzlement in her eyes…only concern.

“Does it hurt?”

It was as he had suspected. She’d seen what had happened, how bad it should have been…but wasn’t. And she had accepted it, unconditionally. They would talk later, as she’d said, but somehow, he felt he would find the words he needed to explain things to her. He shook his head slightly. “No.”

A vulnerable uncertainty crossed her face for a moment. “Well, then, Marshal—what’re you waiting for?” He unfastened her skirt and petticoat, then made short work of the stockings and underpants.

God. Rafe swallowed hard, reaching to trace the faded tan lines across her shoulders. He moistened his lips, his teeth sinking into the lower one momentarily. His pulse raced as his gaze moved over her face—then lower, to her breasts, her flat belly, and the triangle of soft hair, below.

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 

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