Tag: www.cherylpierson.com

THE TRADITIONAL WEST–AN ANTHOLOGY

In the category of “dreams come true”, here is my latest one. I became a member of the WESTERN FICTIONEER group about a year ago with the help of one of my friends, Kit Prate.  Kit’s a fantastic western writer who’s been doing this a lot longer than I have, with many more “notches in her belt”—figuratively speaking—in the writing world. She put my name before the group and I was accepted—a greenhorn in the truest sense of the word.

I’m still totally in awe. Robert Randisi, Jory Sherman, Peter Brandvold, Kit Prate, Kerry Newcomb, James Reasoner, Livia Washburn Reasoner…the list goes on—these are the members of the WESTERN FICTIONEERS.

A few months after I joined up, they decided to put together their first anthology.  Livia and James Reasoner worked tirelessly on it—collecting the stories from those of us who wanted to submit, editing, formatting, writing the introduction to the book, and even deciding the order of the stories.  One of the other contributors, Pete Peterson, provided the gorgeous artwork for the cover of the book.

This book is not, by any means, a romance offering.  But there are stories from 24 different authors with many different “takes” on the west. It’s the largest anthology of original western short stories ever put together, and though every one of them might not be to your liking, you’re sure to find some different authors you might want to try out for further reading pleasure from this fantastic collection.

My story is called THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.  It has a LOT of paranormal twist to it, but it’s one of my favorite projects I’ve ever worked on.

I’ll leave you with a blurb and an excerpt.

Jericho Dean is on a one-man mission: to track down the outlaw gang that murdered his wife and daughters. When Freeman Hart joins forces with him, Jericho isn’t sure which side this peculiar stranger is on. Determined to gain his revenge no matter the cost, Jericho finds redemption in a most unlikely circumstance. Will he take that fork in the road, or will his thirst for revenge end his chance for a new start?

 EXCERPT FROM “THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS”:

Jericho gave Dan one final pat.  “Ain’t many men lost as much as I did on that day, Freeman.  My wife, my daughters, and my desire to exist in this world without them.”  He pointed at the growing pile of wood.  “No fire.”

Hart gave a sage nod.  “I see.  You’re expecting to be reunited once you complete your mission—kill the Comancheros.  Once you die, you think you and Elena will be together again, along with Maria and Ana.”

Jericho stood completely still.  How did this stranger know the names of his family?  How did he know Jericho’s own heart and purpose so clearly?

Hart dropped the last two pieces of wood on top of the pile, then dusted his hands.  “We need to have a talk, Jericho.  A good long visit about things.  I don’t aim to do it in the cold.  And make no mistake, this night’ll be an icy one—way too cold to spend without a fire.  Trust me, boy.  They ain’t gonna know—or care—if you spend it warm or freezin’.  Got a match on you?”

Jericho sized up the other man once more, a shiver running up his spine.  No, things were not what they seemed, but whether for good or evil, he didn’t know.  He cursed his luck, either way.  He didn’t want to be burdened with whatever it was this Freeman Hart brought to the table. He hadn’t asked for it, either way.  He remembered that he had deliberately not prayed, carefully refrained from asking God for any favors, so he wouldn’t have to be in His debt.  Well, he still didn’t plan on owing Him anything, no matter how this all worked out.

He finally forced his legs to move, walking stiffly to his saddlebags.  He put the brush away, and drew out the box of matches wrapped in oilskin.

Hart caught them when Jericho tossed them over, opened the box and struck one of them on the bottom of his boot. The match head flared in the gathering semi-darkness and Hart hunkered down, cupping his hand around the flame as it caught the base kindling of the pyre and the wood above it began to burn.

Jericho stood watching as the fire flared to life, remembering how he’d burned the cabin. After he’d buried Elena, Maria and little Ana, he’d poured kerosene throughout their home.  The smell of it had made his stomach twist and roll over.  He’d poured it over the cabinetry he’d built so lovingly for Elena, remembering how proud she’d been to have a pantry in her kitchen.  He’d poured it across the bed where they’d made love. Made children. Made a family together.

He’d opened up the old trunk that had been Elena’s, full of her keepsake treasures.  He had taken only one thing from the chest before he’d saturated the rest of the contents with the kerosene remaining in the can.  He’d stood at the door and tossed in the match, watching as the trail of fire raced across the dirt floor of the cabin and began to eat the furniture, the woodwork, and finally the walls. 

Then, he had turned his back on the entire dream he’d created and then destroyed, riding away from it as it burned.  It maybe burning still, he mused.  That entire northern part of Indian Territory could be nothing but acres of smoldering blackness destroyed by his hand.  Right now, if he could, he’d set the entire world ablaze.

Yes. A fire would be good to have tonight.

“Say, Jericho.  You hungry? Me, I’m so hungry my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut. I’ve got some tins of beans and peaches we can open up.” Hart rose and crossed to where his saddlebags lay, rummaging for the tins of food. He pulled them out and came back toward Jericho, who stood rooted to the spot where he’d gone moments earlier to get the matches.

Hart nodded toward the fire.  “C’mon.  Let’s get some grub.  Talk a spell.  I can see you’ve got some questions.”

“Who are you?” Jericho’s voice was hoarse.

Hart laughed.  “I knew that’d be the first one.”

To order your copy of THE TRADITIONAL WEST, click here:

http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Western-Fictioneers-Anthology-ebook/dp/B005E1JI8U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314121098&sr=1-1

TO ORDER OTHER BOOKS AND SHORT STORIES  BY CHERYL, CLICK  HERE: 

http://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Pierson/e/B002JV8GUE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1314121244&sr=1-1

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.

Short Stories vs. Novels

I had never thought of myself as a short story writer.  But if it hadn’t been for short stories, I never would have “broken in” to this business.  I’d always wanted to write longer projects, and in fact, had written a huge saga-type western novel that I still have hopes of someday revamping (and it will take a LOT of revamping) and getting out there. That was the true book of my heart that set me on this path.  But I had a lot to learn about writing.

After sending the query and first three chapters out to several agents, I did land one. But after a year of nothing happening, I couldn’t see anything changing. I was getting very depressed, to say the least.

A friend of mine found a call for submissions from Adams Media for their Rocking Chair Reader series. This series was somewhat akin to the Chicken Soup For the Soul books, and my friend and I had already missed the deadline for the first of the series! But there was another anthology coming out as a follow up to the first one.  The second one was called, ROCKING CHAIR READER—MEMORIES FROM THE ATTIC.  These stories were true stories about something the writer had found years later that brought back memories of something that happened in childhood.  I had the perfect tale! I wrote it and submitted it, and thankfully, the editor liked it, as well. That led to several more publications with Adams Media through these anthologies, and then a few stories with Chicken Soup.

 But these stories were all based in truth, and I wanted to write fiction.  Western romance fiction.  It was shortly after that when I sold my first book, FIRE EYES, to The Wild Rose Press, and then branched out into contemporary romantic suspense with SWEET DANGER.  While writing these novels, I had been approached by a couple of publishing companies asking for fictional short stories.  But did I really want to go back to short stories?  The answer was YES. 

Writing those short stories in the beginning helped me realize that while I was adding to my portfolio of credits, I was also proving to myself that I could write compactly, in short story form.  Writing a short story is a totally different breed of cat than writing a novel. Making each word or scene count and not seeming to rush the story while doing it is something I will forever be working on, just to improve the telling of the story even more.

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to tell a story in six words. This is what he wrote:  “Baby shoes for sale.  Never worn.”  If that doesn’t tell a story, I don’t know what does.

 Just this past month, I had three of my short stories that had been previously published in anthologies with Victory Tales Press re-released as stand-alone stories.  Two of them, SCARLET RIBBONS and HOMECOMING are western short stories, available for only .99 through their WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER imprint.  WHITE CHRISTMAS is available through Victory Tales Press for .99 as well. The best thing is…they all have JIMMY THOMAS covers. <G>

All of these stories are available at my Amazon page here:

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

Here’s a bit about these stories.

HOMECOMING:

 A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission for a dying Confederate soldier—his enemy. 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 fiance, Sarah. Will the miracle of Christmas be able to heal his heart in the face of what awaits him?

WHITE CHRISTMAS:
Since her divorce, busy ER nurse, Carlie Thomas, has been only too happy to spend Christmas on duty. This year, however, she’s decided to take a much-needed break. What she gets instead is an unexpected house guest, courtesy of her Uncle Rick. Derek Pierce, a fireman with no family, needs some special care after being injured in a fire. As Christmas approaches, Carlie discovers that she has more in common with Derek than being alone. But Derek’s wounds are more than just skin deep. Will they spend the holidays haunted by the ghosts of the past, or could this Christmas spark a new, beautiful friendship…or even something more?

SCARLET RIBBONS:

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?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE DRAWING OF YOUR COPY OF YOUR CHOICE OF ONE OF THESE THREE STORIES! I WILL PICK TWO WINNERS AFTER 8:00 P.M. THIS EVENING.

ONE MAGIC NIGHT from A 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION

Have any of you ever incorporated your family history into your writing? Do you like to read books that are based, however loosely, on factual happenings?

My mom was the oldest of eleven children. She knew everyone in our family and how they were related. Because she and my dad grew up together in a tiny little town in southeast Oklahoma (their high school had a graduating class of twelve), she also knew quite a lot about his side of the family as well.

But when I was younger, I was not interested in the stories she told me.  It was only later, when I was grown and had children of my own, that I began to wonder and ask questions, and by that time, her memory had already begun to decline.

 If you have ever read the book, The Education of Little Tree, (by Forrest Carter) or seen the HBO movie, this story might sound familiar. When Andrew Jackson decided that the Indians were to be assimilated into the white man’s world, he put lots of plans into action that would take years to snowball and evolve into what they eventually became—a truly shameful period in the US governmental policies and procedures. One of Jackson’s plans, besides Removal, that was carried through into subsequent presidencies, was the idea of assimilating Native American children in white homes to integrate them more completely. The Native American children were taken from their villages and given to willing white families (along with a tidy little government stipend for their troubles) to raise.

 My great-great-great grandfather was one of these children.  We don’t know his real name. It was changed when he was delivered to his new “family”, a Presbyterian minister and his wife.  Their last name was Walls.  So his name was changed to Walls, and he was given the first name, David. Forbidden to speak his language, he was forced to forget all the ways of his People, and dress in white man’s clothing, go to white school.  But he was never going to be white, and his place in the world was divided so drastically that he could not fit in anywhere.  Eventually, the Rev. Walls sent David to medical school in Missouri.  When he returned to the small town where he’d been raised, he was a doctor who rode to his patients on horseback. Later, he married and had children, but it was not a happy union and his son, my great-great grandfather, became an alcoholic whose own children, in turn, left home as soon as they possibly could. My great grandmother, his daughter, married at 13.  Her older sister left home one day and never returned.  No one ever knew what became of her.

I’ve often thought of these children that were abducted by our cavalrymen, and taken away to their white “families”, forbidden everything familiar and forced to adopt everything new and different, even their speech and childhood games. Can you imagine it?  To never be allowed to see your mother and father again. Siblings separated and “given” to different families, their heritage and connection with one another lost forever.  How many tears must they have shed? And how lonely and separate they must have felt, how isolated,  even into adulthood…so that most of them, I imagine, never were able to fit in anywhere in the world.

 My story in the 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION, available through Victory Tales Press, is based loosely on what happened to my long-ago ancestor  

Dr. Shay Logan has just returned to Talihina, Indian Territory, from medical school in Missouri. Shay hopes to settle down and make a life for himself, but how?  He doesn’t belong to either world, Anglo or Indian He’s made the acquaintance of Katrina Whitworth at the July 4th town social, and the attraction is mutual from the very beginning. Shay begins to have hopes and dreams that may be out of the question…but Katrina seems to have stars in her eyes for him as well. Will she risk everything to be with him?   Katrina makes a social blunder, and Shay follows her into the woods to apologize to her, but when they return, Katrina’s drunken father humiliates her.  To make matters worse, her former beau shows a side of himself she had not seen before. Can Katrina and Shay have a life together that they so badly want? Here’s an excerpt for you.

FROM ONE MAGIC NIGHT:

As his hand started its descent, Katrina turned away.  But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word.  He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by.  Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel.  Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath stares of the townspeople of Talihina.  What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare.  It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all.  How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later.  It was always this way when he drank too much.  These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before.  But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that.  He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though.  She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone.  “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter.  She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth.  Never that.  You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake.  ‘Shay,’ she had called him.  As if she had known him forever.  As if she was entitled to use his given name freely.  As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter?  Not, ‘Dr. Logan’Shay.”  He spit the words out bitterly.  He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face.  “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you.  And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end.  Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored.  “You understand me, Whitworth.  You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart.  As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you?  Threatening me?”

“Truman.”  Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina.  “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?”  He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm.  “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her.  She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers.  “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time.  She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear.  “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor.  If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

BUY LINKS

Smashwords:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66862

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/victorytalespress

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/VTPanthologies

 Lulu:

http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/2011-summer-collection-anthology-sweetsensual/16048225

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=55332464

Here’s the link at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00564A820

 I WILL BE GIVING AWAY COPIES OF A 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION TO TWO LUCKY COMMENTERS! JUST LEAVE ME A COMMENT WITH YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS AND I WILL DRAW WINNERS SOMETIME AFTER 8:00 TONIGHT!

BLOG—EVERY GIRL’S DREAM from A WESTERN SAGA

Do you believe in love at first sight?  Can it happen?  More importantly, can it last over the long haul of the ups and downs of a relationship?

Throw in a few obstacles from the very first meeting of the hero/heroine, and the relationship becomes even more intriguing.

In my novella, EVERY GIRL’S DREAM, the opening story from A WESTERN SAGA (Victory Tales Press), that’s just what happens.

Sheena McTavish, a young Irish girl, has been raped by the son of her father’s employer. Now, with a baby on the way, Sheena is given an unthinkable choice:  give her baby to the father’s wealthy family to raise, or travel to New Mexico Territory by stagecoach to live with her aunt and uncle until her child is born.  At that point, she will have to place it in a nearby orphanage.

Desperate to buy some time and protect her baby from its father, she chooses to travel west.  Alone and afraid, she starts on the journey that will change her life forever.  Before Sheena’s stage leaves, she meets handsome Army scout Callen Chandler.  The attraction is there, even under difficult conditions.

As the story progresses, Sheena must learn to trust again, and Cal begins to realize he doesn’t have to live the solitary existence he’s endured up to now.  Being half Comanche has left him with no place in either world—white or Indian.  When Sheena comes along, everything changes…for both of them.

 I WILL BE GIVING AWAY PDF COPIES OF A WESTERN SAGA TO TWO LUCKY COMMENTERS TODAY!  BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT!

There are three other wonderful stories in this anthology besides EVERY GIRL’S DREAM.   They are ALONG CAME WILL by my good friend CELIA YEARY, STORM RIDERS by my pal KAREN M. NUTT, and SAFE HANDS by my long time friend CINDY CARRIER.  These are all wonderful stories, packed with plenty of emotion and lots of action.  To see all of the other wonderful anthologies available from VICTORY TALES PRESS, click here:

http://victorytalespress.yolasite.com/online-store.php

At Amazon/Kindle: 
http://www.amazon.com/Western-Saga-Anthology-Sensual-ebook/dp/B0051BIBWC/

Also, check out their exciting imprint of all WESTERN books and short stories at WESTERN TRAIL BLAZERS:

http://westerntrailblazer.yolasite.com/online-store.php

I’ll leave you with an excerpt of EVERY GIRL’S DREAM

Cal is a half-breed U.S. Army scout, who has just rescued Sheena, the heroine, from a Kiowa attack on the stagecoach she was in. They had met briefly the morning before, and as luck would have it, Cal comes upon the stage after the Kiowas have attacked and are getting ready to ride away with Sheena. He tells them he and Sheena are married and the Kiowas reluctantly let him take Sheena, but then…

Cal felt…something.  His back tingled as he waited for the stinging burn of a shale arrowhead.  He risked a glance backward, and saw the Kiowa leader’s stare heavy upon him.

“Sheena, hold on tight.”

“The baby—”

“I know, sweetheart.  We won’t ride hard any longer’n we have to.   Lowell’s Ridge is  only about four miles away.” A very long four miles.

She nodded in understanding.  “I’m sorry, Callen.”

“No call for that.”

“You came for me.”

He smiled at that.  There was a small amount of disbelief in her tone, overshadowed by a huge amount of wonder.  Who wouldn’t come for her?

“You could be killed because of me,” she said softly, as if she had only just realized it.  She laid her hand over his, and in that moment, he wondered if dying for her would be worth the twenty-seven years he’d lived so far.

His heart jumped at her touch, then steadied.  But as he risked another glance back, he saw exactly what he’d feared.  Two of the braves were mounting up, and they weren’t riding the opposite way.  “That still might happen,” he murmured.

He leaned forward, trying to protect Sheena with his body as he slapped the reins against the horse’s side, urging him into a lope, then a full-out run.

The Kiowas were close behind them.  There must have been dissension among them. The leader had seemed content to let him take Sheena and ride away.  One of the others must have disagreed with that decision.

Cal reached to pull his revolver from his holster.

They were strangely quiet, he thought. 

The first bullet cracked from behind them, and Cal reflexively bent lower.  The bullet whined past his ear like an angry bee.

Sheena gasped.  He fired off a shot and got lucky.  One of the warriors screamed in agony and fell from his saddle.  But the other rode low, hanging onto the side of his mount. And he kept right on coming.

The next bullet sang over Cal’s head.  He concentrated on eating up the miles to Lowell’s Ridge.  Riding double was slowing them down considerably.  Sheena’s body was tense beneath the shelter of his own.  Fragile, but strong.  Delicate, but determined.  His hand splayed over her stomach, holding her close, cradling her from the jarring of their wild ride.

A whoop from behind them accompanied the crack of a rifle, and this time, the Kiowa warrior’s bullet found its mark.  A bolt of fire seared through Cal’s right shoulder, and for a minute, the pain was so strong he almost sawed back on the reins. But at his harsh curse, Sheena glanced up at him, her hand instantly clamping tightly over his. The reins were still wrapped in his fingers, but Sheena kept her hand on his, reminding him to let the horse have his head and continue their flight for freedom.

“Hang on, Cal!”

The pain was so breathtaking he could do nothing but nod his understanding.

“Dammit!” she cursed.  That almost made him smile, but the agony in his shoulder surged up and stole his breath again as the horse’s hooves pounded the ground below.

The road was not much more than a trail, and where it narrowed, branches reached out to scrape and snarl in hair and clothing, scratching their faces as they blindly rode toward safety.

As they broke through the brambles and low limbs into the clearing on the other side of the wooded section of road, Cal glimpsed the steeple of the church, then in a moment, the rooftops of houses.

He glanced behind him to see the Kiowa had stopped.  He was taking careful, deadly aim with the Winchester he held. “Christ,” Cal muttered.  “Keep down, Sheena.”

 

 

 

JASON’S ANGEL–A HISTORICAL COLLECTION

Hi everyone!  I just wanted to share with you all what a great month May has been for me! I have had two short stories released this month with Victory Tales Press.  Today I wanted to tell you about the one that appears in A HISTORICAL COLLECTION, an anthology that I’m in along with Karen Michelle Nutt (The Devil’s Wolf), Kate Kindle (A Tale From the Red Chest), and Miriam Newman (Deirdre). These stories all take place in different historical settings and time periods. My story, Jason’s Angel, is set in the final days of the War Between the States. 

Writing Jason’s Angel wasn’t easy.  My conundrum was the fact that for me, the Civil War was such a tragic time in our history that I wasn’t sure if I could see that my characters reached their “Happily Ever After” ending that I wanted them to have.  The only way I could see to do that in this case was to make Sabrina Patrick’s compassion so great that she saw beyond all boundaries of gray or blue, and didn’t think of the hero, Jason McCain, as the enemy, but first as a wounded man who needed her help.  

 Since Jason and another fellow Union soldier had been captured and are being held in the hospital where Sabrina volunteers, she knows that they will both die of their wounds if she doesn’t do something more than let nature run its course in those deplorable conditions. There is nothing she can do but bring them home, away from the inhumane treatment they are receiving from their guard and even from some of the hospital staff.  No one is more surprised than her Aunt Emmaline, who is none to happy with Sabrina’s decision. 

The only thing that could make matters worse is to find out that not only is Jason wearing Yankee Blue, he’s a southern boy, born and bred in Georgia—only a few miles from where Sabrina’s home is situated. What could make him fight for the Union? As Sabrina finds out more about Jason’s devastating past, she begins to understand. Because he is half Cherokee, his family has been shunned, and unimaginable tragedy has followed.  Can his restless soul find peace in Sabrina’s sweet love for him? 

I will leave you with a blurb and excerpt from JASON’S ANGEL. To order A HISTORICAL COLLECTION, go to the Victory Tales Press store here:

http://victorytalespress.yolasite.com/online-store.php

 or to my Amazon author page here:

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

 If you would like to read about the other exciting stories in this anthology, or any of the other anthologies that Victory Tales Press offers, here’s the link

http://victorytalespress.yolasite.com/online-store.php

 I WILL BE GIVING AWAY PDF COPIES OF A HISTORICAL COLLECTION TO TWO COMMENTERS TODAY! Please leave a comment when you stop by to read the blog along with your e-mail address and you will be automatically entered for the drawing.

Jason ‘s Angel by Cheryl Pierson

Two wounded Union soldiers will die without proper treatment. Sabrina Patrick realizes they won’t get it at the Confederate army hospital where she helps nurse wounded men. She does the unthinkable and takes them to her home.

Jason McCain’s pain is eased by the feel of clean sheets, a soft bed, and a touch that surely must belong to an angel. But what reason could an angel have for bringing him and his brother here?

 FROM JASON’S ANGEL: 

Sabrina nodded. “Is there something else, Aunt Emma?”  

“You’ve been acting mighty peculiar, Sabrina.  Did something happen between you and Jason?”  The kindness and assurance of understanding, no matter what, in her aunt’s tone undid what little resolve Sabrina had left.  She had been on pins and needles since Jason had kissed her.  And she’d thought of nothing else.  But she’d been careful to avoid being in a similar position again since that day, and when she’d brought up his meals there had been only polite conversation between them.   

 Once, she’d thought she’d caught a glint of a deviling reminder in his eyes, but he’d looked past her after a moment and she couldn’t be sure. She couldn’t even tell Desi.  Desi would have gotten the greatest bit of fun from that knowledge—and she was unpredictable. 

For all Sabrina knew, had she confided in Desi, her younger sister might have decided to take matters into her own hands and tell Jason that Sabrina liked it. Which she had.  Or that Sabrina wished with all her heart he would kiss her again.  Which she did. She might even tell him of that indescribable rush of wind and heat and wonder that moved over her entire body when their lips had met—a feeling that she was still trying to figure out how to put into words herself.   

But Desiree would certainly have no trouble telling Jason what Sabrina had felt like—she was never at a loss for words.  And that’s why Sabrina could never tell her—not until she grew up a little.  

 How wonderful it would be to unburden herself to Aunt Emmaline. And how utterly shameful.  

“He…he kissed me,” she blurted. The familiar heat burned her cheeks.  

But Aunt Emmaline only smiled, and Sabrina watched her face transform into a reminder of the beauty she must have been as a young woman. 

“Is…that all?”  

Sabrina took a deep breath.  This was harder than she had imagined it might be.  “No.  I—Aunt Emma, I kissed him back.” 

Aunt Emma didn’t answer for a moment.  Finally, she took Sabrina’s hand in hers until Sabrina met her eyes.  “Sabrina, when I was young—younger than you, though not quite as featherheaded as Desi—there was a young man in my life.  He kissed me one time—and I kissed him back.  I’ve often wished through the years, that I’d allowed myself a second kiss.  Things…might have worked out very differently if I had.” 

“Aunt Emma—are you saying—”  

The older woman squeezed Sabrina’s hand gently.  “I’m saying follow your heart.  He’s a lonely soul, your Jason.  He’s searching for a place in the world.  And this world is changing, dear.  He may never find it without your help.  I’ve often wondered why you brought home two Yankees.  I’ve done a little digging of my own, as well.  These boys are Georgia born and bred.  Mrs. Davenport knows of their family, the McCains from over near Allen’s Ridge.”  

Sabrina was quiet, wondering how much of the family history her aunt had uncovered. 

“I…learned quite a bit, Sabrina,” she said gently.  

 Apparently, though, she wasn’t going to share any details. 

 “Mrs. Davenport is a fount of information.  Those men have been through hell, and not just the last years while the war has been raging.” 

Sabrina nodded, her throat tight. What must Jason believe, after what he had told her?  That she was keeping her distance because he’d opened his heart to her?  Or, because he was, as he said, “a half breed”?  

She had to go to him.       

 

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.”

TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST

  Today I have something kind of “unwestern-y” to blog about–it’s a short story of mine called TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST.  It first appeared in an anthology put out by VICTORY TALES PRESS last summer called A SUMMER COLLECTION. All the stories in the collection took place in the summer, but they could have been during any time period. Mine, I decided, would take place in a contemporary setting. 
 
In Oklahoma where I live is part of the area known as “tornado alley.”  The story opens with a newly divorced police officer starting down the stairs of his apartment building with the tornado sirens wailing in the distance.  All in a day’s work for a police officer in Oklahoma City, but the excitement is only just beginning on this very unusual day. Who would ever expect to find love in the middle of Latino gang warfare and a tornado? 
 
I was so pleased that my story was included in one of the very first anthologies that VICTORY TALES PRESS put out, and I can’t say enough good things about Rebecca Vickery and her up-and-coming publishing company. TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST also appears now as a “stand alone” short story in one of the VTP imprint companies. 
 
One thing that is very exciting to me about this story is that my daughter created the cover for the e-book stand alone version. I have several new releases heading your way over this summer, and wanted to start by showcasing this short story, the only non-western one of the bunch!
 
I will be giving away 2 copies of TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST–all you have to do is leave a comment.  Please check back later on this evening to see who the winners are!  I hope you enjoy!
 
The set up: 

To Make the Magic Last 

Police officer, Steve Cooper, heads out for work one morning just as the city’s tornado sirens blast a warning. In the stairwell he runs into a different situation—a gang war in his apartment building. Shots ring out and Steve catches a bullet. Seriously injured, he pushes the beautiful woman who has come through the door behind him back toward safety.

Christy Reed, his enchanting new neighbor, pulls him into her apartment and attempts to stop the bleeding. Recently arrived from Mississippi, Christy has no idea what the sirens and gunfire mean, but she knows enough to be terrified.

The phone lines aren’t working and the storm is bearing down. They take refuge in the bathroom as the sound of a freight train roars over the building. Through the pain, Steve finds himself drawn to Christy. There’s some sort of magic about her. Christy feels the same about Steve. He’s the man she’s always dreamed of meeting.

When the building collapses around them and they meet the gunmen once more, will Steve and Christy have what it takes to help each other through this? Can they make the magic last?

 
EXCERPT FROM “TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST”:
The wind was roaring outside, deafening even in the small bathroom.  They were practically yelling to be heard above the storm.

Hesitantly, Christy crawled over the side of the tub, careful of where she placed her hands.    Finally, his good arm came around her in a strong embrace, pulling her down flush with his body until she lay on top of him.  She tried to hold herself away from his shoulder, but he drew her down, tucking her head beneath his chin, and she reached to pull the comforter around them.

Steve could feel her shaking as she lay down.  She was more afraid of the storm than the gunmen, it seemed.  But as soon as he thought it, she asked, “Do you think they were after you, or just anyone who came down the stairwell?”

Her breath was warm against his neck, the comforter enveloping them in a cocoon of false security.  The wind roared outside, deafening in the small bathroom.  There was a high-pitched sound of rending metal, the heavy clunking noise of tearing wood, and Steve knew the roof of the building was gone.

Christy gasped, pressing closer into his chest.  He patted her awkwardly, his arm at an odd angle.  After a moment, he answered her question.  “Neither.  They were after each other.” They’d been yelling at each other in Spanish, he remembered.  He had just happened to walk into the middle of rival Latino gang warfare, ongoing in this neighborhood, day and night.  What was a girl like Christy doing in this area?  “Right now, this storm is more of a threat.”

She had stopped shaking despite the fact the storm still blew with wild strength outside.  She seemed to have forgotten it, lying so close to him.  But he knew they were still in terrible danger, and he might not get the chance to tell her what he needed to say if he waited.

A long moment of silence hung between them, the only sound the worsening storm outside.  “Christy.” He touched her arm again, and she glanced up.  “Thanks for trying to . . . help me.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

Her voice sounded muffled, he thought.  Like she was crying, and trying to hide it.  “Sure you did.”  The comforter was soft. The bleeding was stopped.  And, Steve decided, he loved the feel of Christy Reed’s body on his, warm and curvy, and more comforting than that damn piece of down-filled material ever could be.

Her fingers slowly curled into the folds of his once-starched uniform, then settled against the soft cotton tee shirt.

“You’re doing it . . . even now, sweetheart.”

Slowly, she lifted her head and met his eyes in the dark haven they’d made.  “Steve—” she broke off, raking her teeth over her bottom lip quickly, nervously. 

He smiled at that habit of hers, thinking how he’d like to kiss her; how he wished he knew her better; how it would seem to her if he even  . . . 

Hell with it.  He pulled her to him slowly, her lips coming across his, warm and sweet and soft as the brush of butterfly wings.  Uncertainly, she tasted his mouth, and he opened for her, letting her explore him.  Her right hand moved to his jawline, her thumb skimming his cheekbone before her fingers found their way to thread through his hair.

“What’s happening to us?” she murmured, drawing back slowly to look at him. 

Her voice was quiet and low, and Steve realized that they must be in the eye of the storm.  There was no sound but the rain now, and far away in the distance, the wail of a siren somewhere. “Magic,” he whispered, believing it himself.  He’d never felt so protective of any other woman—even Lacey.  Christy needed him, but she was a giver, too.

She shook her head and lay back down against his chest.  “Magic always fades away.”

Not this time, he wanted to say.  But he was too exhausted to form the words.  Instead, his hand drifted to her short curls, tangling gently there, finding comfort in the clean softness. She’d been hurt before, he knew; he could hear it in her voice.  He wanted to know who…and why.  But he couldn’t ask—not right now. He couldn’t keep himself awake.  “Christy, I’m . . . so tired.”

  There was a long pause.  He knew she was afraid, not only of the storm and the predators, but also of what was happening between them—the magic they’d made so suddenly, the fire that had kindled so unexpectedly between them.  He wouldn’t let it disappear, he thought fiercely.  She was something special—he could feel that already.  Something worth holding onto.“I know, darling,” she whispered finally.  “Just rest, okay?  I’ll be here when you wake 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 

SHANE

Jack Schaefer’s book, Shane, has been classified in many sub-genres, but to me, it will always remain my favorite western romance.

Shane  
Current bantam edition cover

Romance?  Shane?

This story cannot have a truly happy-ever-after ending for all the principal characters, so it normally wouldn’t make it to my “Top Ten” list for that very reason.  But the story itself is so compelling, so riveting, that there is no choice once you’ve read page one—you are going to finish it.  And it’s not just a story about a very odd love triangle, but also about Shane discovering that he is worthy, and a good person, despite what he’s done in his past.

Shane is the perfect hero—a drifter, a loner, and no one knows why.  He plans to keep it that way.  If only his pesky conscience didn’t get in the way, he might have stopped briefly at the Starrett’s homestead, then moved on.

But from the beginning of the book, we know there is something different about Shane.  The story is told through the eyes of Bob Starrett, the young son of Joe and Marion.  Bob is about ten years old, and his account of the people and action that takes place are colored with the wonderment and naivete of a child who will be well on his way to becoming a young man before the story is over.

The book starts with tension, as Bob is watching the stranger, Shane, ride in.  Shane comes to a fork in the road. One way leads down toward Luke Fletcher’s, the cattle baron who is trying to force the homesteaders out of the valley.  The other branch of the fork leads toward the Starretts, the homesteaders who will ultimately force Fletcher’s hand. Shane chooses that path, toward the Starretts, and the die is cast.

He would have looked frail alongside father’s square, solid bulk.  But even I could read the endurance in the lines of that dark figure and the quiet power in his effortless, unthinking adjustment to every movement of the tired horse.

He was clean-shaven and his face was lean and hard and burned from high forehead to firm, tapering chin.  His eyes seemed hooded in the shadow of the hat’s brim.  He came closer and I could see that this was because the brows were drawn into a frown of fixed and habitual alertness.  Beneath them the eyes were endlessly searching from side to side and forward, checking off every item in view, missing nothing.  As I noticed this, a sudden chill, and I could not have told why, struck through me there in the warm and open sun.

In a nutshell, Shane drifts into the Wyoming valley, and is befriended by the Starretts.  Once there, he is quickly made aware of the brewing trouble between the homesteaders and the powerful local cattle baron, Luke Fletcher, who is set on running them all out of the valley.  Shane is firmly committed to helping Joe Starrett and the homesteaders who want to stay.  Fletcher’s men get into a fistfight with Shane and Joe in the general store, and Fletcher vows his men will kill the next time Joe or Shane come back into town.

Fletcher hires Stark Wilson, a well-known gunhawk, who kills one of the homesteaders that stands up to him.  Joe Starrett feels it is his duty, since he convinced the others to stay, to go kill Fletcher and Wilson.

Shane knocks Joe out, knowing that, though Joe’s heart is in the right place, he’s no match for a hired gun like Wilson.  There’s only one man who is—Shane himself, and that’s going to set him back on the path he’s so desperately trying to escape.

Shane rides into town and Bob follows him, witnessing the entire battle.  Shane faces Wilson down first, and then Fletcher.  Shane turns to leave and Bob warns him of another man, who Shane also kills.  But Shane doesn’t escape unscathed—Wilson has wounded him in the earlier gunplay.

Shane rides out of town, and though Bob wishes so much that Shane could stay, he understands why he can’t.  No.  Bob does not utter one of the most famous lines in cinema history—“Shane! Come back!” There’s good reason for this.  In the book, Bob’s growth is shown because of what he learns from Shane.  To call him back would negate that growth process.

He describes Shane throughout the book, and in many ways, with a child’s intuition, understands innately that Shane is a good man and will do the right thing, which is proven out time and again. So, he also realizes that there is no place for Shane there in the valley, now that the trouble has been handled.

Bob witnesses the conversation between his mother and Shane, as well, where so much is said—and not said.  It’s one of the major turning points in the book, though Bob, in his telling of it, doesn’t realize it—but the reader is painfully aware of it.  If Shane really is a good man, he will have no recourse but to leave.

This happens as the novel is drawing to a close, when Marian, Bob’s mother, asks Shane if he’s going after Wilson just for her.  He has knocked her husband out to keep him from going after the gunman.

Shane hesitated for a long, long moment. “No, Marian.” His gaze seemed to widen and encompass us all, mother and the still figure of father huddled on a chair by the window and somehow the room and the house and the whole place.  Then he was looking only at mother and she was all he could see.

“No, Marian.  Could I separate you in my mind and afterwards be a man?”

 

Shane was Jack Schaefer’s debut novel, published in 1949.  It was honored in 1985 by the Western Writers of America as the best Western novel ever written—beating out other works such as Owen Wister’s The Virginian, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, and Louis L’Amour’s Hondo.

In 1963, Schaefer wrote Monte Walsh, a book that chronicles the passing of the Old West and the lifestyle of the American cowboy.

Though Schaefer never deliberately wrote for young adults, many of his works have become increasingly popular among younger readers.  Universal themes such as the transformation and changes of growing up, the life lessons learned, and rites of passage from childhood to becoming a young adult in his writing have been responsible for the upswing in popularity with this age group.

Though I consider Shane a romance novel, it’s a very different and memorable love triangle because of the unshakable honor of the three characters. I love the subtlety that Schaefer is such a master of, and the way he has Bob describing the action, seeing everything, but with the eyes of a child. If you haven’t read Shane, I highly recommend it—at less than 200 pages, it’s a quick, easy read, and unforgettable.

A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything.  A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it.  Remember that.  (Shane to Marian)

 

A man is what he is, Bob, and there’s no breaking the mold.  I’ve tried that and I’ve lost.  But I reckon it was in the cards from the moment I saw a freckled kid on a rail up the road there and a real man behind him, the kind that could back him for the chance another kid never had. (Shane to Bob)