Friday, August 31, 2012

Cleansed By Fire - James R. Callan


James R. Callan took a degree in English, intent on writing.  He went to graduate school in mathematics to support a family and mathematics became a thirty-year detour from writing.  He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Data Processing Management Association.  He has been listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science, and Two Thousand Notable Americans. But writing was his first love.  He has published a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, and picked up several awards along the way.  Cleansed by Fire, 2012, is the first of the Father Frank mysteries.  Murder a Cappella, a Sweet Adelines Mystery, was released in April by Wayside Press.  Callan wrote this mystery with one of his daughters, Diane Bailey, a well published YA author. Callan lives with his wife in east Texas and Puerto Vallarta.  They have four grown children and six grand children.  

Learn more about James R. Callan at his website.



Cleansed By Fire

Churches are burning and a man is murdered, plunging a small Texas town into a state of fear. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, is thrust into an impossible dilemma when he hears that another church will be burned. But the disturbing information comes to him via the confessional, and church law forbids him from telling anyone—even the police.

He doesn’t know which church, when, or by whom. Still, he can’t sit idly by, and no law prevents him from looking into the matter himself. The crimes have set the town’s residents on edge, fraying the bonds of trust. Is the mysterious newcomer with ties to the drug scene involved? What about the man who says maybe the churches deserved to burn? Or the school drop-out into alcohol and drugs who attacks the priest with a knife?  

Countering this are a young widow whose mission is to make others shine, and a youth choir determined to help those whose churches have been destroyed by the arsonist.

Father Frank’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the local drug scene and he soon discovers the danger has come to him. Can he save his own church? Can he save his own life?


Excerpt:

   The lock yielded in less than five seconds. He picked up the plastic container, slipped inside and eased the door closed. He stood motionless, his eyes adjusting to the darkness, his ears searching for any sound that might indicate danger. He smirked. I am the danger.
    Faint light filtered through the dark windows on one side of the building. He shifted his stance and his shoe scraped the floor. His head jerked, startled by how loud it seemed in the com-plete silence that engulfed him. He held his breath, straining to see or hear anything he might have disturbed.
    The quiet and darkness remained unchanged. Too bad for anyone who came in now. The church would burn tonight. It would crash down into ashes. Crash to ashes. He liked the sound of that.
    Bad break, building. Not your fault. But it’s gotta happen.
   His eyes had adjusted to the minimal light. Shapes and features of the building came into focus. He could make out the pews, gauge the length of the aisle, and see the pulpit.
   Time to get to work, take care of business.
    He walked deeper into the darkness, stepping carefully, trying to make as little noise as possible. About halfway down the aisle, he stopped and unscrewed the top from the container he carried. He began splashing the pungent liquid on the floor, as he backed toward the door he had entered.
    When he finished, he screwed the lid back on, and set the can on the floor near the entrance. Carefully, he cracked the door and peered out, scanning the area, making sure no one had driven up. All clear. He eased the door closed.
   He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, rolled it into a thin tube about the size of a drinking straw, then gave it a twist in the middle to hold it together. He fished a match from his shirt pocket, struck it and lit the paper.
    For a moment, he watched the flame crawl along the napkin, creating shadows that danced on the floor. When most of the paper tube was aflame, he tossed it on the floor a few feet in front of him. With amazing speed, the diesel caught and exploded to life.
    He stepped back and watched as the fire spread, his eyes reflecting the growing flames. Satisfied, he grabbed the can, ducked out the door, pushing it shut.
    Already, the windows were glowing.

Available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

James R. Callan is giving away a copy of Cleansed By Fire. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Remember to read wherever you wander, 
The Wandering Writer,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Say Hello to Author James R. Callan



 James R. Callan took a degree in English, intent on writing.  He went to graduate school in mathematics to support a family and mathematics became a thirty-year detour from writing.  He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Data Processing Management Association.  He has been listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science, and Two Thousand Notable Americans. But writing was his first love.  He has published a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, and picked up several awards along the way.  Cleansed by Fire, 2012, is the first of the Father Frank mysteries.  Murder a Cappella, a Sweet Adelines Mystery, was released in April by Wayside Press.  Callan wrote this mystery with one of his daughters, Diane Bailey, a well published YA author. Callan lives with his wife in east Texas and Puerto Vallarta.  They have four grown children and six grand children.  

Welcome to the Spotlight, James. Readers are always interested to know if there is a story behind the book. Does Cleansed by Fire have one?

As a matter of fact, yes.  A couple of years ago, there was a rash of church burnings in east Texas. They finally caught the arsonists and convicted them, but there was never any real motive given.  I began to wonder what might cause a person to burn multiple churches, and Cleansed by Fire came out of that.

Which character in Cleansed by Fire most interested you while you wrote? Why?

My protagonist, Father Frank knows there will be another church burned, but his information came in the confessional and church law forbids him from telling anybody, not even the police.  So, he is in a dilemma.  He can’t sit by idly and do nothing, and yet he can’t seek police help.  So, he has to investigate on his own. But this takes him into areas and circumstances he is unfamiliar with and unprepared for.  It causes him to struggle within himself to remain true to his vocation as a man of God and not strike back at the evil he sees.

How did your writing journey begin?

I took a degree in English intending to write.  But that didn’t support a family, so I returned to graduate school in the field of mathematics.  Many years later, when the kids were out of college and self-supporting, I decided it was time to return to my first love – writing.

What sort of distractions take you away from writing?

Jobs that can be completed in a short time.  I like to finish things.  A novel takes me a long time, so I can be easily seduced to do another job – any job – that I can complete in a short time.  Of course, there are an endless number of those and if I’m not careful, they will eat all of my time.

I can understand that sort of distraction. Let me ask, what kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I like almost any well-written book. But mysteries and suspense novels would be my favorite. David Baldacci is a favorite author.  Jory Sherman writes beautiful prose, though not currently writing mysteries. I enjoy the smooth reading of a Dick Francis mystery.  And if I want a romance, I turn to Jodi Thomas.

I see some additions I can make to my reading list. Thanks. Now for some fun. If you were a style of music, what style would you be?

Light classics.

Have you ever done anything really quirky?

With a degree in English, and only 3 hours of college algebra, I applied to enter a Ph.D. program in Mathematics.  At first, they laughed.  Eventually, the head of admissions said they would take my money and I’d flunk out, but I could enter the program.  It was a little crazy, but I did not flunk out.

What is your favorite season of the year?

Spring, when life begins anew. 

What is something you remember fondly from your childhood?

The carefree time when, even as a kid under 12, you could play out on the streets at night with never a thought that anything bad would happen to you.  It was a time of freedom that most young kids today don’t get to experience.

It’s sad that we’ve lost that kind of freedom. Careful with this next question: Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Lots of them. Just ask my wife.

I’m smiling. That would be my husband’s answer too. Speaking of family, what's your favorite meal with family and friends?

I am often in charge of dessert, since that is my favorite part of any meal.  I have a lot of recipes that I have given my own touch to.  Here’s one that is a little unusual.
Pumpkin Cake
1 large or 2 small cans of pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (preferably Mexican vanilla)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs (mixed lightly)
Mix ingredients together until smooth.  Pour into a well-greased non-stick 13 x 9 baking pan
Sprinkle a full package of regular yellow cake mix on top of the mix you’ve just put in the pan.  Then, mix 2 cups of chopped pecans into a cup of melted butter.  Lightly spoon this on top of the dry cake mix.  Do not mix in.  Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees. 

That sounds wonderful! Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  

An ordinary person who has the opportunity to do something extraordinary for someone he or she does not know.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

A Ton of Gold is due out in October.  Crystal Moore learns some unknown person is trying to kill her 75 year-old grandmother, her only living relative. And there appears to be no reason at all. At the same time, the man who almost destroyed Crystal psychologically is coming back, now with an opportunity to destroy her career.

Cleansed By Fire is available at:

James R. Callan is giving away a copy of Cleansed By FireTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

                                                    Remember to read wherever you wander, 
                                                    The Wandering Writer,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Winners!

Congratulations to our winners!


The winner of Naomi Musch's e-book: The Black Rose is: Ann.
The winner of Chana Keefer's book: The Fall is Elizabeth.



Elizabeth and Ann, it's your responsibility to contact me at browncarole212(at)yahoo(dot)com with your address so the author can send you a book.







Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Warm Welcome to Author Rebecca Lyles


We're happy to have Becky Lyles with us today. I already love the twist in her story and am anxious to read it. Tell us, Becky: is there a story behind your "Winds of Wyoming?"

Glad you asked! My inspiration for writing Winds of Wyoming came late one night as I drove home from team-leading a Bible study at a women’s prison. Each time I visited the prison, I was struck by the similarities between the incarcerated women and myself. In the same way I loved my family, they loved theirs and longed to see and hold them, especially their children. We also had in common everyday struggles with relationships, forgiveness, transparency, obedience, health, finances, faith, and so much more.

For several years, I’d been trying to write about a woman who left the east coast to start a new life in Wyoming, where I grew up. But I could never come up with a strong enough motive for the move to create a plausible plotline. When that ah-ha moment came to me, I realized the challenges ex-offenders face when they return to society could provide the basis for my heroine’s obstacles. As believers, freed prisoners have the power of Christ to help them walk the narrow road; however, past failures and corrupt friends still haunt them and try hard to drag them back to their former lifestyles. Kate’s story is one of a young ex-felon learning to live a new life in a new place as a forgiven daughter of the King.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?

My readers love Dymple, and so do I. She’s a feisty but funny “tell it like it is” older woman who offers Kate, the heroine, blunt advice delivered with heavy doses of love and common sense.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Quirky may not quite be the word, but what I did was definitely out of the norm. I won’t bore you with the details or the reasons, but after two C-sections, I birthed our third child at home with the assistance of midwives.

What is your strangest habit?

This is kind of embarrassing, but when I’m curled up on the couch engrossed in a good book, I pick at my toenails (unless I’m wearing socks, of course). I have no idea why, but I think I’ve had that habit since I first learned to read.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

On one of the corner lots at a stoplight intersection about a mile from our house, a small herd of attentive alpacas watch the traffic pass, their big eyes and long ears alert to danger. Alpacas are similar to llamas but smaller. They’re hilarious to look at, especially after they’ve been sheared. With their hair trimmed, they look like pipe-cleaner critters with pointy ears poking through a shock of fur on top their tiny heads. I’m thrilled when the light is red and my husband is behind the wheel, so I can ogle the alpacas and get my chuckle for the day.

What is your favorite season of the year?

I love autumn, partly because it’s a season of new beginnings. But mostly, I like the fresh and invigorating feel of the cooler air, the amazing colors in the changing trees, and the earthy aroma and satisfying crunch of leaves underfoot.

What is a favorite memory from your childhood?

One of my favorite mental pictures is that of me and my four siblings snuggled against my father listening to him read to us with his deep resonant voice. Though he only had an eighth-grade education, he loved to read and made the stories come alive for us. But that experience was rare, because he often worked away from home. My dad also loved horses. “My Friend Flicka” and “Black Beauty” are two of the books I remember him reading to us. I have a feeling my passion for books and for the West originated with him.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in? 

Mountains. I like mountains, a lot, and have been blessed to live, camp and hike in mountainous states like Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Idaho. My dream vacation, which hasn’t happened yet, is to spend a month or so in the Swiss Alps.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)

Almost every day I have a new favorite verse, but one I’ve clung to for many years is Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” In the midst of heartache and disappointment, our “God of hope” pours hope, joy and peace into our souls. What a privilege! All we have to do is trust him.


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I finished writing “Winds of Freedom,” the sequel to “Winds of Wyoming,” and am working my way through the editing process. We don’t have a definite date for publication, but I’m hoping January, at the latest. Here’s a brief description:

Four desperate women searching for their place in the world fight for freedom and wholeness—for themselves and each other. Kate Neilson Duncan’s loss and heartache during a long cold winter take a backseat to the needs of her failing great-aunt and those of her mother-in-law and her best friend, who’ve both been ensnared by evil.


   Check out Becky's websites at:
http://www.beckylyles.com
http://www.widgetwords.wordpress.com
Facebook: Rebecca Carey Lyles
Twitter: @BeckyLyles


To buy her book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Rebecca is giving away a copy of Winds of WyomingThe giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. 



Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Monday, August 27, 2012

Winds of Wyoming by Rebecca Lyles


 



Fresh out of a Pennsylvania penitentiary armed with a marketing degree, Kate Neilson heads to Wyoming anticipating an anonymous new beginning as a guest-ranch employee. A typical twenty-five-year-old woman might be looking to lasso a cowboy, but her only desire is to get on with life on the outside—despite her growing interest in the ranch owner. When she discovers a violent ex-lover followed her west, she fears the past she hoped to hide will trail as close as a shadow and imprison her once again.




Read an excerpt from Winds of Wyoming:



Kate Neilson peered into the slot on the collection box lid. Was that money she saw on the bottom or crumpled paper?
Sometimes people put weird stuff in offering boxes. The early morning sunshine hadn’t reached her side of the dark log chapel, but she didn’t dare turn on the interior lights and attract attention. Maybe she should grab the flashlight from her car. Though she’d opened the side door at the front of the sanctuary, she still couldn’t see inside the box.

She toyed with the padlock. All she needed was enough cash to get by until payday at her new job. If she left a note saying she’d pay it back right away, with interest, surely they’d understand. After all, she was down to her last ten—
The floor creaked.

Her heart stopped.

“That box is empty, sweetie.”

Stifling a gasp, Kate dropped the lock and spun around.

A white-haired woman stood in the open doorway at the far end of the chapel. “We haven’t used it …” The woman’s voice cracked. “Since two-thousand and three.”

Kate darted for the foyer, her pulse pounding at her temple. No way were they going to catch her this time. She slammed against the front door. One twist of the handle and—



Though debut novelist Rebecca Carey Lyles grew up in Wyoming, she and her husband, Steve, currently live in the neighboring state of Idaho. She enjoys the creativity and beauty that abound throughout her adopted state as well as opportunities to hike, camp, snowshoe and cross-country ski in the midst of God’s grandeur. Currently, she’s putting the finishing touches on a Winds of Wyoming sequel titled Winds of Freedom. Rebecca is giving away a copy of Winds of Wyoming.

Check out Becky's websites at:
http://www.beckylyles.com
http://www.widgetwords.wordpress.com
Facebook: Rebecca Carey Lyles
Twitter: @BeckyLyles


To buy her book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Becky is giving away a copy of "The Winds of Wyoming." The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.  To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.






Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Welcome Christian Author Karen Robbins



Hi, Karen. 
Is there a story behind In A Pickle?
Absolutely and I smile fondly every time I tell it. My mother loved to bake and do home canning. She also had a great sense of humor and used it often as she laughed at some of the things she did herself. Mom was forever getting words mixed up or saying them with the accent on the wrong syllable. She would ask for marjoram to season something but instead of saying “marjoram,” she would say, “marijuana.” A novelist thrives on the what-ifs of life. What if, I wondered, someone thought they were putting marjoram in their pickle recipe and it was actually marijuana? From there the story just grew. By the way, the opening story where Annie thinks there’s someone in her basement is a slight embellishment on something that actually happened to my mother. I loved her dearly. She would have enjoyed my Annie Pickels character.
Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
While I didn’t set out to make her complex, Annie ended up having a lot more layers than I had originally envisioned. The friendship with her neighbor, Elma, develops deeper as the story goes on there is one place where they have a falling out that had me in tears every time I had to edit it. And I knew what would happen!
What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Grandkids and traveling. There always has to be time for grandkids. They are the heartbeat of a grandparent and writing takes a back seat when they are around. My husband and I travel a great deal and even though I take along my laptop, finding time to write is difficult when you are tired from touring or the schedule is full of new places to explore and experience.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
When the kids were younger—much younger, I was a clown in a Vacation Bible School parade we had in the neighborhood around our church. I used white clown makeup, drew in the signature eye accents, and made my nose red. We had a huge crazy polka dot tie that I donned over a large white shirt and baggy pants. I was truly out of my comfort zone but when it was done, I found I’d really had a lot of fun.
What is your strangest habit?
Did you mean habit or addiction? In addition to being addicted to travel, I’m also addicted to Angry Birds. ‘Nuff said.
Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?
We have been to all seven continents and almost circumnavigated the globe. When people hear that, they always want to know our most favorite place. I have to disappoint them. There is not just one. God has created an amazing world and each is unique. As much as I hated the inconveniences we experienced in China, it was still an amazing place to visit. We have been to Australia four or five times, so perhaps that is a favorite country. Antarctica was truly spectacular. Paris and Rome, romantic. Norway’s fjords. . .well, I could just go on. Check out my blog and see what I wrote about the places we’ve been.
Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
Our travels have given me a lot of material to use as illustrations for speaking topics. God tends to give me moments here and there where He brings Biblical truths to mind while we are out traveling. For example, a young tree in the Red Center, the desert of Australia, has to send down a long tap root to find water before it can survive and grow. That revelation led me to write and talk about how we need to find the Living Water Jesus offers to us for our survival and growth.
Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?
My quiet time for prayer and reflection often takes place at my kitchen table in the morning but my favorite thing to do is to prayer walk in my neighborhood. Not only is it time to pray for my family and friends but I can also pray for neighbors as I pass each home. I don’t always know what the needs are exactly but God does. That’s what counts.
Where does your sense of humor come from?
I’m pretty sure I inherited some from my mother but then I also married into it. My husband has a great sense of humor and it rubs off on me. Most of all I think it’s a gift from God. He knew I would need it. Having five kids pretty much insures that to keep your sanity, you’d better use that gift of humor.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
There is not a definite date for the next book. I am almost finished with the sequel to my first cozy mystery, Murder Among The Orchids. The second in the Casey Stengel Mystery Series is titled, Death Among The Deckchairs.  The sequel to In A Pickle is still in the infant stages and loosely plotted out. All I can tell you is that it will involve a trip to London for Annie and Elma and a new pickling recipe that sounds a lot like Piccadilly Circus. Hmmmm. It’s best to hook up with me on Facebook and/or Twitter for the latest news.

Purchase the book at:
Or ask your local library to order it in for you!

Karen Robbins is giving away a copy of In a Pickle. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In a Pickle by Karen Robbins


As a full time mom, a teacher, a businesswoman, a paralegal student, a travel addict, and diver, Karen Robbins has had a wealth of experiences that contribute to her story ideas and speaking topics. In 1987, she sold her first written piece for publication in Standard, a Sunday School take-home paper. Since then she has published numerous articles and essays in a variety of publications including several regional and national magazines and written columns for a local newspaper and an online women’s magazine. Karen has been a contributing author to many compilation books including the Chicken Soup For The Soul series. She coauthored A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts. Earlier novels include Divide The Child and Murder Among The Orchids. Her most recent novel, In A Pickle, is dedicated to her mother who not only loved to do home canning but often got her words mixed up and asked for marijuana when she meant marjoram.

You can find her on facebook and twitter, her website,  and blog

Back Cover Blurb:

Annie Pickels, a 65 year old widowed pickle entrepreneur is in real trouble. One of her city farmers is growing marijuana on his rented plot of land. Annie, thinking it is marjoram, uses it as a secret ingredient in her pickles.

Insisting Tommy is a nice young man, Annie discovers his beloved Mary Jane is not the name of his girlfriend after Annie is arrested for cultivation and sale of marijuana. But Annie knows God always takes care of her. On a cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2, Annie meets the man who might solve her impending legal dilemma, Arnie.

Elma, Annie’s best friend, knows that Arnie is just what Annie needs in her life. But is he?

Annie’s niece thinks Arnie is out to fleece her aunt. Is she right? Or is Arnie the one who can get Annie out of the pickle she’s in?

Book Trailer:

Excerpt:


Chapter One 
   I’m not ordinarily a violent person, though I beat up the newspaper deliveryman once. I whacked him with the newspaper from the end of the driveway to my kitchen door. It didn’t hurt the paper none since he’d rolled it up and tucked it into one of his skinny orange plastic bags.
   “You can take the time to bag it, but you can’t take the time to put it into the special box the newspaper people made me install?” I yelled as I swatted him. It gets my dandruff up when I have to bend down and pick up a newspaper that ought to be in its proper place.
   He wasn’t hurt any because he really wasn’t there. I have a good imagination. I conjured up a picture of a cowardly deliveryman, arms flailing to protect himself, yelling, “Have mercy! Have mercy!” Yes, I could see him in my mind running for his car or truck or whatever he drives, a trail of orange bags blowing in the wind behind him. He’s lucky he wasn’t really there when I went to retrieve the paper that morning. I just might have given him a few whacks, or at least a piece of my mind.
   The gray misty November morning didn’t help my mood any. A cold chill hung in the air as the weather wavered between giving us more of an Ohio Indian summer and hitting us with an early arctic blast.
   “No excuse,” I mumbled as I fumed over the paper I had to pick up from the ground. There wasn’t even any snow yet to keep him from getting his car near the box. “Just no excuse.”
   Sometimes I wonder if people think they can take advantage of me because of my white hair. Yes, it’s white, not gray. It used to be chestnut until I stopped dying it on my 55th birthday and went au naturale. That was ten years ago and I haven’t been sorry. Not only have I saved lots of money on dye jobs, but I’ve gotten plenty of compliments on it.
   “Annie Pickels,” people say, “your hair is as white as a fresh snow fall in December.” Still, lots of people see a white or gray head, and they think it’s a sign of senility. Let me tell you, I’m far from being senile. You can’t be senile and run a business.
   I pickle pickles and sell them to local restaurants and diners near the farm where I live. I have my own recipe, and my pickles have quite a reputation in the area. The money the pickles make isn’t important. My Russell, rest his soul, provided well for me before his untimely death.
   I also make a little money renting out plots of land on what’s left of my acreage to the city folk who want to come and play in the dirt and pretend to be farmers. Some of them are successful at it and some aren’t.
   That November morning, the morning I imagined I beat up the deliveryman, the heavy leafy smell of autumn mixed with the pungent odor of rotting vegetables. Some folks hadn’t harvested everything before the first frost and what lay in the fields was returning to the soil. It was a good smell though. It reminded me of Russell.
   I don’t mean to say Russell smelled earthy. No. I mean it reminded me that Russell would have been out turning over those fields and making them ready for the next spring planting. He knew how to farm. He’d gone to Ohio State University to learn all about it. These city folk—they just played at being farmers.
   My nose dripped like a leaky faucet by the time I got back inside the house. I gave it a swipe with a tissue from my pocket, and then exchanged my muddy outdoor boots for my warm cozy slippers. I left my boots to dry on the landing that sits between the three steps up to the kitchen and the ones that go down into the basement. The basement is where I keep all my canning supplies and inventory. It’s cool down there and the cucumbers keep well until I can get them all pickled.
   Last year, my brother built me some shelves in the basement for storing jars. Trouble is, my business has outgrown those shelves, so I have to pile up the empties alongside those that are full and it can get a little precarious. I recycle the empties. I sterilize them and refill them, putting on new lids to seal in the freshness after I fill them with cucumbers and brine and seasoning.
   Once I got my slippers on, I thought about trudging down those steps to gather some empties and the rest of the cucumbers, and get started on finishing up the year’s crop. It seemed like there was no end to pickling. Either I planted too many cucumbers or the Lord blessed too much.
   I didn’t feel up to pickling just then or my usual two mile walk. I had a cold coming on, and my bones ached. My robe comforted me with its softness and warmth. I wasn’t about to give that up for regular clothes yet. I hung my jacket on the hook and took the picked-up-off-the-ground newspaper into the kitchen.
   Now, I usually don’t imbibe, but my daddy did teach me how to make a good medicinal hot toddy. My symptoms called for something that would warm the joints and chase the sniffles, so I fished under the sink for the bottle of whiskey that someone had given me ages ago. Does whiskey ever go bad? I sniffed. Whew! The smell went clear up my nostrils and hit something inside my head. I guessed it was still good.
    I drained the little that was left of the caramel colored liquid into a saucepan and added lemon, honey, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and water, then left it to simmer on the stove. The spicy aroma floated through the kitchen. I filled my mug and blew on it to cool it a bit. Just a few minutes with the morning news show, I thought, and I’ll get to work. I sat in the big easy chair, propped my feet on the ottoman in front of the TV, and took a few sips. The sweetened whiskey burned a bit as it went down, but its warmth began to spread with a tingle from the top of my head right down to my toes. My eyelids grew heavy.
   Suddenly my body jerked me awake. What time was it? I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck begin to rise. I shivered. Something wasn’t right. My ears tuned in to listen for the familiar sounds of the house. Then,
   CRASH! I heard glass shatter against the basement floor, as if someone had run into my stash of empty pickle jars.





Purchase the book at:
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Friday, August 24, 2012

When Shadows Fall - Tina Pinson


Tina Pinson resides in Mesa, Arizona with her husband of thirty plus years, Danny. They are blessed to have three sons, and five grandchildren. Tina started writing in elementary school. Her love of writing has caused her to seek creative outlets be it writing poetry, songs, or stories. Her WWII story Trail of the Sandpiper won third place in the Genesis in 2003.  When Shadows Fall Book 1 in the Shadows Series is available through Desert Breeze Publishers. Shadowed Dreams, and To Catch a Shadow the next two installments of the Shadow Series about the civil war and the Oregon Trail, will be available, November 2012 and June 2013. 
Find out more about Tina and her books at her website.
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When Shadows Fall

As the Civil War rages, Rebekah fights to keep her world intact. But loss and sorrow has seeped into her heart and mind. She sets her sights on Oregon, praying this new Eden will allow her a place of peace and a place to put her life, and that of her son's, back together again. She travels to Independence, Missouri ready to take the train west, but is denied the opportunity to join the train because she is woman alone. Matthew battles his way through one fight after another, all the while thinking of Rebekah. The woman who holds his heart. He longs to help her west, but fears his biggest battle lies ahead of him. Will Rebekah open up her heart to him and allow him to be the one to hold her when the shadows Fall?

Excerpt:

Chapter One
   July 22, 1862 Washington, D.C.
   Stay open. Rebekah held her eyes wide, but after a ten-day wagon trip with her friends, Harland and Martha Graves, with little rest, her mind couldn't keep them propped -- even amidst the commotion. She hoped the White House staff would call her before they found her strung out between two chairs.
   A child darted past, brushing Rebekah's skirt, catching her attention. Her head lifted on a rubbery neck as her gaze trailed the boy around the room in a dizzying manner. He trotted around, weaving through the chairs and ducked beneath one.
   It seemed everyone wanted to see the president. How many of the women had come for the same reason as she? She eyed the door and thought about leaving so as not to burden him. Where else could she go?
   Stifling a yawn, she got up to walk. Straightening her gray skirt and her bonnet, she went to look out the window.
   Paved streets and traffic-laden thoroughfares -- how different from home. She envisioned the Washington she knew as a child, remembering little. The landmarks were hazy. New buildings filled the skyline, and so many people lined the walks. Had there been so many when she was young?
   They all seemed to be at the White House today -- in the East Room, waiting for an audience with the president.
   She removed her bonnet and fanned herself. Were summers here always so hot? Her clothes soaked up the heat and held it. Only an idiot wore wool in the dead of summer. Idiot. Leaning against the wall, she studied the scenery outside, the opulence inside. Despite her best effort, her eyelids grew heavy.
   She went in search of a chair.
   "Miss. Miss." The sound buzzed in her head, followed by a firm shake. She came to, blinking to focus and found the steward over her. He straightened. "It's time."
   She gave her grainy eyes a thorough rub.
 "The president will see you."
She covered another yawn, licked her teeth and lips, ran her knuckles along her eyes, and took the steward's hand. He pulled her from the chair.
   Snatching her bonnet, she pressed it on her head, fighting to get it over her loose, rebellious chignon. Forfeiting, she flopped the bonnet on the chair and concentrated on her hair. Once satisfied with the way it lay, she bent to retrieve her bag. A shock of blond curls escaped, tumbled into her face. She battled to right it in a dignified manner and realized she had an audience. At the far end of the room, a man with a full beard and hat low on his head, watched with interest.
   She matched his stare.
A broad grin lit his face.
Their eyes locked. He looked almost familiar. Too familiar. But he couldn't be. And she didn't have time to find out why. After a couple of faltering steps, craning her head to study him, she followed the steward.
                                                                               ***** 
   "Mr. President." Rebekah extended her hand. "Thank you for allowing me a moment." 
   "Don't be so formal, child. Abraham will do." He scooped a calico cat from the horsehair swivel chair and motioned for her to sit. He pulled the chair from behind his postmasters' desk, gently pushing the gray Tom cat sprawled there to the floor, and sat beside her. "How is my favorite goddaughter?" 
   "I could be better," she spoke candidly. The Tom wound itself through the president's legs in a figure eight before it lay at his feet. The calico draped over the desk and languished there, lazy and content. Rebekah held a yawn and turned her attention to the president. "I hate to be bothersome, but... if anyone can help, it's you." 
   "It'd be my distinct pleasure." The edges of Abraham's lips turned upward. "Your father helped me on many occasions. I consider him a dear friend and you, young lady, are just as dear." Long fingers reached out and brushed her cheek. "Tell me of your situation?" 
   Rueful, Rebekah told how her husband, Robert Montgomery, joined the Confederacy to fight McClellan in the Virginian Hills." 
   Her fingers battled as she talked. She fought the tears clogging her throat. "He returned safely home for a short respite, then he left again." The tears moved up her throat, she coughed and looked away. The cat on the desk, lifted his tail and made lazy circles in the air before dropping it to the wood again. Rebekah took a faltering breath. "He fought at Manassas in the summer of 1861. The Rebs were victorious, and yet, Robert never returned home." 
   She faced the president. 
   "I've searched for him this last year. When I learned he was being held in a filthy Yankee... I'm sorry," she excused herself before continuing, "a Yankee prison -- an asylum for the insane, I came to get him out." 
   "I rode here with another family who is searching for their son." She paused. "I don't know why Robert wasn't exchanged. He's ailing, but they won't let me in to care for him. I'd bribe the guards, but I have no money." Why he went to war, she didn't know, either. Nor did she fully understand the reason why he joined the south instead of the north. 
   "I'll do what I can," Abraham promised. 
   "I'd love to meet your son." 
   "I'd like that. He's about as old as..." Thinking of the son Abraham had lost earlier that year, she stopped abruptly. Willy, wasn't it? She'd sent a card, and received a lovely response. How did Abraham feel these few months later? His heart must ache. Hers did when she thought of her own loss.


When Shadows Fall is available for purchase at:

Tina Pinson is giving away a copy of When Shadows Fall. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each Spotlight post for Tina. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Remember to read wherever you wander, 
The Wandering Writer,

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