Monday, October 1, 2012

WOLF CREEK: BOOK 1 BLOODY TRAIL


Today, I’m proud to introduce five wonderful western writers who I was privileged to

work with on a “new concept” western, the kick-off novel of the Western Fictioneers’ Wolf Creek series.

Western Fictioneers is producing a new series of western novels, under the umbrella title Wolf Creek. The series gets its name from its setting, the fictional 1870s town of Wolf Creek, Kansas. The first installment, Bloody Trail, was released on September 1, with a new volume to follow every three or four months. Under the house pen name Ford Fargo, the six authors who collaborated on the first book of the series, Bloody Trail, are Clay More, James Griffin, L.J. Martin, Troy Smith, James Reasoner, and Cheryl Pierson.

Bill Torrance, Spike Sweeney, Derrick McCain, Charley Blackfeather, G.W. Satterlee, and Logan Munro are common citizens, until the day their small town of Wolf Creek, Kansas, comes under a methodically cruel siege. Led by one of the most brutal men of the post Civil War years, Jim Danby, the outlaw gang that invades Wolf Creek figures they got away clean with murder and bank robbery. But the dwellers of Wolf Creek have secrets of their own, and the posse that goes after Danby and his men are anything but the ordinary people they seemed to be before the attack. They'll go to any lengths to keep their town safe, no matter how long they have to follow the BLOODY TRAIL.

I asked three questions of each of the authors about their character, collaboration, and what’s to come in future editions of the Wolf Creek series. For the sake of space, I’ll post the questions once here at the beginning and number the answers to correlate.

Questions:

1. Wolf Creek is a town filled with secrets, and people "with a past." Tell us a little about your character without giving away all his secrets. What kind of man is he and how does he change in this story?

2. The idea of a collaboration with other authors is sometimes daunting. What did you enjoy most about working with your co-authors under the pen name "FORD FARGO"?

3. Are there any plans for your character to reappear in a future edition of the Wolf Creek stories? If so, what edition will it be?

Let’s start with Clay More’s answers, since his character kicks the story off.

CLAY MORE—Dr. Logan Munro

1. Logan Munro is a Scottish doctor, as am I. Shortly after graduating from

Edinburgh University he served with the British Army Hospital in Scutari in Constantinople during the Crimean War. In 1856, at the end of the war he had the opportunity to go to India. While there he married Helen, a young governess. A year later The Indian Mutiny took place and he was involved in the siege. Sadly, Helen died from malaria. Disillusioned with life, and bereft at losing Helen, Logan sailed for America. Along came the Civil War, during which he served as a surgeon in the Union Army. When the guns ceased and the smoke cleared he settled down in Wolf Creek. He has seen a lot of action in the three wars he served in and he has honed his surgical skills on the battlefields. He is tired of all the killing and he just wants to settle down as a family doctor in a sleepy town.

I don’t think that Logan has really changed in the course of the story. Like all of the decent citizens of Wolf Creek he is sickened by the attack by the Danby gang. When a posse is formed he insists on going, since he feels that he may be needed. His training and his experience mean that he keeps a cool head when he is under pressure.

2. This was indeed a very daunting prospect, since I was working with top names in the western genre, five writers whose prose and imagination I greatly admired. When Troy gave me the task of opening the story I was naturally anxious in case I failed to engage the reader in those first two chapters, which would result in the whole project collapsing. Troy had worked out an outline for us all to work to and everyone had the opportunity to chip in until we had the plot mapped out. Then each writer told the story through the viewpoint of their character. I think Troy was inspired to come up with the whole concept. We wrote the book sequentially, so I had to write mine quickly and hand it on to Jim Griffin, who then wrote his story and handed it on to Troy. Then Larry took up the reins and handed it on to James. And of course, Cheryl had to finish it off, which she did beautifully.

It was a lot of fun, but each writer had his or her own pressure to keep the story moving. I really enjoyed working with all of the writers and seeing just how the story panned out. I have to say that Troy, who ramrodded the whole thing, did a fantastic job in taking the whole manuscript and blending it seamlessly together. I think the result is a book that has turned out to be greater than the sum of its parts.

3. Yes, I am happy to say that Logan returns in Book 4 - The Taylor County War. In fact, I am working on it right now.

LARRY MARTIN—Angus “Spike” Sweeney



Angus “Spike” Sweeney is the town blacksmith.

He wears a butternut wool Confederate Kepi with a Davis Guard Medal pinned above the eye shade and invites comments, which might just be met with an iron bender’s grip on the throat and a pounding left to the proboscis. Considered a hero of the Davis Guards and the defense of Sabine Pass. He is usually unarmed, but is deadly within twenty feet with his hammer, and can split hairs at fifteen with his hatchet or Arkansas toothpick. A decent and deliberate shot with both a sidearm and long gun.

Spike was born in New Orleans and was a sailor (both in trading vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Mississippi) and on-board smithy, where he acquired some skill as a gunsmith as well. He keeps a garden in the rear of the shop with both vegetables and flowers, and is teased about the flowers. He is bashful around women and wouldn’t swear in front of one if a beer wagon ran over his moccasin clad foot, but is on the prod for a woman who can put up with his (in his eyes) questionable looks, and long hours in front of a hot forge.

Spike’s silent partner at the forge is Emory Charleston, an ex-slave -the two men make an incongruous, but mutually loyal, pair. Em’s biggest complaint about Spike is the Confederate cap he insists on wearing.

JIM GRIFFIN—Bill Torrance

1. My character is Bill Torrance, the owner of the Wolf Creek Livery stable. He’s a

man who seems to care only for horses, and little else. He’s never even been known to carry a gun. In modern-day terms, he’d be considered a “wimp”. However, Bill Torrance is not his real name, and his background is far from the picture he presents to the citizens of Wolf Creek. This becomes clear when the town is attacked by the Danby gang.

2. First, it was an honor to be asked to participate in this project, with authors far more well-known than I, all of whom I admire. What I found most amazing and enjoyable was the complete cooperation among all the authors, and the complete lack of egos. Everyone was willing to bend to let the storyline mesh together cleanly. All of the authors were allowed to use the other authors’ characters in their chapters, as long as they didn’t change the character “owner’s” concept of his or her character. Again, everyone was fine with that. By everyone working together and setting aside our natural instincts to not want anyone else using “our” characters, we were able to avoid transition and storyline problems.

3. Yes, Bill Torrance, now using his real name, will be appearing in a future Wolf Creek book. I believe Volume 6. In that book, we’ll learn more about him, plus he’ll be interacting with Edith Pettigrew, widow of one of the founders of Wolf Creek. Bill had a confrontation with her in Bloody Trail, so when they meet again the sparks will once more be flying.


TROY SMITH—Charley Blackfeather

1. Charley Blackfeather’s father was an escaped slave, and his mother was Seminole –he

was raised as a member of that tribe, and as a very young man fought against the U.S. military in the Seminole Wars. Later, during the Civil War, he served in the same blue uniform he had once fought against… now (1871) he serves as a cavalry scout, making use of his vast knowledge of Kansas and Indian Territory.

Charley is an adept tracker and hunter. He bears a lot of pain from the losses he has suffered in the various wars, but carries it stoically. He can be pretty intimidating if you don’t know him well –but if he is comfortable with you he can display a wry sense of humor. In the course of our first episode, Charley is visited by ghosts from his past that re-awaken his grief and rage. He also begins to develop new friendships, with people he would not have expected he would ever trust.

2. As editor of the series, I admit I did have some trepidation about trying to coordinate this kind of complex project, and about dealing with so many different authors. I feared it would end up being an exercise in herding cats, and that I would have a lot of stubborn, narcissistic, recalcitrant people to deal with (in other words, writers.) But I was pleasantly surprised. This book, and the ones that are set to come after, were joys to work on. Everyone cooperated wonderfully- it really did feel like a team from the outset. And the rich, vibrant characters everyone created came alive immediately.

3. Well, that’s kind of a trick question in my case. As editor, I will be writing a section in every book, to help pull the various other parts together. I have two characters –one for stories that take place mostly in town (Marshal Sam Gardner) and one for stories that take place largely outside of town (Charley Blackfeather.)

JAMES REASONER—Sheriff G.W. Satterlee

1. My character, Sheriff G.W. Satterlee, is a former buffalo hunter and army scout who

drifted into packing a badge, and in the process he discovered that he's an instinctive politician who enjoys the power of his position. He's not the morally upright lawman hero so often found in Western fiction, but neither is he the corrupt official out to line his own pockets. Rather, he's somewhere in between . . . which means that he's capable of either inspiring us or disappointing us, depending on the situation in which he finds himself and his reaction to it. In BLOODY TRAIL, he discovers that maybe he has a little more of a conscience than he thought he did. As with most things about G.W. Satterlee, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, we just don't know yet . . . and probably neither does he.

2. I really got a kick out of the passion and enthusiasm the other authors brought to the project. Everyone tried to make this the very best novel it could be.

3. Since G.W. Satterlee is the county sheriff, headquartered in Wolf Creek, he's bound to make plenty of return appearances, ranging from brief cameos to leading roles in some books. I believe he's supposed to be featured again in the fourth book in the series.

My blog can be found at http://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com

CHERYL PIERSON—Derrick McCain

1. I have two characters in this story, Derrick McCain, who has come back to Wolf

Creek after many years of "drifting" after the war. He's uneasy with himself and his past--he did some things that he regrets both during and after the war. But he has a personal stake in joining the posse to go after the gang that attacked Wolf Creek...he's seeking revenge of his own. My other character is Carson Ridge, a member of the Cherokee Lighthorse law enforcement. He makes a brief appearance but will be back in future editions of Wolf Creek.


2. I truly loved working on this project. Getting to read the other parts first really helped me in my decision as to how to end it properly, since I wrote the last two chapters. It was important to "get it right" because the ending has to leave the reader wanting more. But every chapter built on the one that came before it, and Clay, Jim, Troy, Larry and James really made my job a lot easier than it might have been otherwise. This was Troy's idea, and he has been organized and kept the ball rolling all along. So for me, the entire experience was really a good one--and nothing like I'd ever done before.

3. Derrick McCain will appear in book 5, Showdown at Demon's Drop. I also have a couple of short stories planned for his character in future anthologies. Carson Ridge may also appear in book 5--I'm not certain yet, but I know he will turn up again in the future somewhere!

Here’s the link to the page at Amazon!
http://www.amazon.com/WOLF-CREEK-Bloody-Trail-Volume/dp/1475243197/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1347404335&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Wolf+Creek+%3ABook+1+Bloody+Trail
http://www.amazon.com/WOLF-CREEK-Bloody-Trail-Volume/dp/1475243197/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1347404335&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Wolf+Creek+%3ABook+1+Bloody+Trail


Friday, September 2, 2011

THE SADDEST TWENTY MILES


People say all small towns look the same. The old brick buildings guarding the streets silently speak of the past, when they were new and full of life. The traffic light on Main Street measures the slow pace of life in increments of green, yellow and red. Most times, the Christmas decorations go up on the streetlights after Halloween and don’t come down until the first warm day of spring.

The flag at the courthouse is no odd sight; flags in small towns are common and patriotism runs high along with societal values. The speed limit is no more than 35, and everyone knows that. There’s no reason to rush, anyway.

My first clue that something was different about Madill that August day was the sign. On the very far northern edge of the “city” limits someone had placed a huge banner by the side of the two-lane highway. It stood unfurled between two wooden poles.

“A TRUE AMERICAN HERO,” the lettering read, and below that, “2ND LT. JOE CUNNINGHAM.”

Red and blue magic marker starbursts filled the white void of the background around the letters, leaving no doubt that the banner had taken hours of loving, painstaking precision to create.

And the rockets’ red glare,
The bombs bursting in air…


The banner stood as the beginning of what was to be a somber twenty miles of driving for me that day. Only a few feet from where the banner had been placed, small roadside flags were planted in the parched Oklahoma soil. There had been no rain for weeks, and with our record-breaking number of triple-digit days, I could only imagine how hard it must have been to push those small, fragile twelve-inch sticks into the rock-hard ground at such measured intervals.

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know Saturday mornings are the liveliest, busiest times of the week. Not so on this Saturday morning. As I topped the hill and the main part of town came into view, my heart skipped a beat. I had never seen such a profusion of color. Red, white and blue—everywhere. Flags flew from every porch, every small business, every conceivable place visible…and that could only mean one very tragic thing.

Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there…


I slowed down to twenty-five as tears blurred my eyes. A car pulled out in front of me a little further down the road, and I looked to my right. The side road had been blocked off. There were at least two hundred motorcycles parked beside the First Baptist Church. The Patriot Guard Riders had come to pay their respects—and to be certain that everyone else did, too, should a certain crazed group of fanatics from Kansas decide to make an appearance.

Across from the motorcycles, a huge, beautiful American flag was unfurled, the field of blue lending its stars to heaven, the stripes perpendicular to the ground. In front of that flag stood perhaps fifty lawmen of every type, a mix from both sides of the Red River, Texans and Oklahomans.

The parking lots for the businesses in the immediate area were full to overflowing, even though none of those businesses were open. Signs filled the windows under where the flags flew: “CLOSED. BACK AT 1:00 P.M. REST IN PEACE, JOE.”

I stopped at the light on Main Street. The courthouse flag was, of course, flying at half-mast. There were no other cars on the road. The one that had pulled out in front of me earlier had turned off a block back, at the first available parking place, a long, half-mile hike away from the church. I was driving through a ghost town.

The signboard at the Grab & Go read, “OBAMA MAY BE PRESIDENT, BUT GOD IS STILL IN CHARGE.” Any other time, I might have smiled, but not with that small picket of flags that still sporadically lined the road, reminding me of the terrible loss this town was reeling from.

Another hand-lettered sign by the road: “WE’LL MISS YOU, JOE. GO WITH GOD.”
And yet, another: “REST IN PEACE, JOE. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.”

I drove out of Madill, headed for Kingston, another small town, a few short miles away.

Small towns, close together, are usually rivals on the high school football field and in most other things, but when all is said and done, we remember that we are, all of us, citizens of the same wonderful country, and that’s what matters—more than who wins the game on Friday night, more than which town has the best point guard on the basketball court, and more than which quarterback has better chances with the big college scouts. As Americans, we all have equal ‘bragging rights’—we are Americans, and no other country pulls together as we do when the going gets tough.

I couldn’t think of anything, anywhere, any time being tougher than losing even one of our young men to war. A bright smile that would never be seen again, coming through his parents’ door; two arms that could never open to hug his best girl again; the echoing sound of emptiness forever where once his steps fell—an aching, empty hole in the lives of every person he ever knew that could never, never be filled.

My thoughts rolled over one another as I drove. I wondered about him, about his family—about what he’d left behind, and how the people he’d known would ever manage to survive without him in their lives forevermore.

I was on the fringes of Kingston when the roadside flags started up in earnest again—though they’d never completely stopped. But now, it looked as if someone had planted a beautiful garden of red, white, and blue flowers in the cracked, dry Oklahoma soil.

As Kingston came into view ahead, flags fluttered in the wind at every business. Some buildings had bunting on their storefronts.

It doesn’t take long to cover the few miles from one end of Kingston to the other. But with every inch of ground I traveled, there was no doubt that 2nd Lieutenant Joe Cunningham was remembered, respected, and revered.

As I drove out of town, yellow ribbons tied around several branches of a tree in someone’s yard caught my eye.

“HE IS HOME. REST IN PEACE.”

No small town rivalry, now. As Americans all, we share only a unified, joint loss of a shining star; the precious, irreplaceable light of someone’s life.

He was 27. He loved to hunt and fish. He had dreams of becoming a highway patrol officer and finishing his degree. He always wore a smile.

I will never drive that sad stretch of road again without remembering a man I never met. A hometown hero is gone forever, but he will never, never be forgotten.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SWEET DANGER IS HERE!


Sweet Danger is my first contemporary romantic suspense novel. Up until this point, I have stuck with writing western historicals, though Time Plains Drifter was a bit of a departure from that.

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 fa├žade 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. I’ve posted the blurb and an excerpt below for your reading pleasure! Please leave a comment. I love to hear from readers and other authors. Visit my website at http://www.cherylpierson.com E-mail me at fabkat_edit@yahoo.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?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

CHERYL'S BOOK COVERS






FIRE EYES:

Fire Eyes is always going to be the “book of my heart”—most special to me for several reasons. By the end of my writing career, it may not be said that it’s my best work, but it will always remain the most memorable, because it was my first one.

I know e-books are the wave of the future, but I’m old fashioned. I love to hold a real book in my hands and read from paper. And when that first box of print books arrived at my doorstep, I was elated. I can’t tell you how long I sat and fondled the books as I took them out of the box. BEAUTIFUL!

Nicola Martinez was my cover artist and she really captured the flavor of the book. A funny story about this cover: The heroine’s name is Jessica, the same as my daughter’s. My daughter has dark eyes and is a brunette, and without fail, people believe that the picture on the book is my daughter. Even people we know and relatives have asked me, “Where did that picture of Jessica come from?” LOL

Fire Eyes is available at AMAZON:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Fire+Eyes+by+Cheryl+Pierson

or at THE WILD ROSE PRESS:
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/fire-eyes-p-1259.html

TIME PLAINS DRIFTER:

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. She is a really talented artist and this cover launched her promotional and cover art business, Yellow Bird Promotional Company.

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 Author category in PNR’s PEARL Awards this past month (March 2010), based on Time Plains Drifter.

Unfortunately, I am between publishers with it right now, but my feeling is that it’s better to have it with a larger company that has promotional opportunities than a small company that depends solely on the author for every piece of promotion. Print books are important to me, although I understand that e-publishing is growing by leaps and bounds. I’m sure that in time, Time Plains Drifter will find the perfect home, especially now with a sequel in the works.

A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES:
This cover was also done by Nicola Martinez, and I love it because Nicola took such pains to incorporate elements that were important to the story. A Night For Miracles is a novella about a true miracle that happens on Christmas Eve between a lonely widow and a man who has nothing to live for, or so he thinks. It's available at The Wild Rose Press.

SWEET DANGER:
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?

AVAILABLE OCTOBER 1, 2010 through THE WILD ROSE PRESS!!!

SWEET DANGER was originally called THE SUGAR RING, because it takes place in a deli. I was asked to change the name of it, and really had trouble coming up with something that “fit.” This is my first romantic suspense, and I have been really nervous about getting it out there, every step of the way. I love the cover. Angela Anderson did a wonderful job of capturing the dark feel of the book, and the sexy undertones. I can’t wait for October 1!!! I will leave you with an excerpt—hope you enjoy!

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?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES

Christmas has always been a miraculous time for me. It still is.

When I was younger, it was because of the presents, and the anticipation that came with the season. My parents were not wealthy, but we had the necessities and a few of the luxuries. My mom was a great manager. She could make the smallest thing seem of the greatest value. She could transform our house into a marvelous Christmas haven with her decorations, wonderful cooking and a few well-wrapped packages. When I became an adult, the torch was passed, but the anticipation merely shifted. The excitement I felt was not for myself, but for my children–the joy I could bring to them.

Once I had written A Night for Miracles, I began to think about my heroine, Angela Bentley, and how I might have reacted had I been in her place. I would like to think that I would have done what she did–transformed her small cabin into a memorable Christmas castle that none of the children would ever forget, simply through a good meal, a warm fire, and a gift. But it was all of these things that made Angela’s “gift” — the gift of her heart — special. She put herself out on a limb, having been emotionally wounded before.

I thought about the old legend–that Christmas Eve is a “night for miracles” to happen. Angela was not a rich person by any means, but she gave what she had, freely. She took in the stranger and the three children from the cold, gave them warm beds and fed them. But then she went even further. She gave her heart to them, although it was a huge risk. She comes through with physical gifts, but the true giving was in her spirit. And that leads to a miracle.

A Night For Miracles is one of those short stories that I didn’t want to end. I love a happy ending, and this is one of the happiest of all, for everyone in the story.

BLURB FOR A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES
Legend says that miracles happen on Christmas Eve. Can a chance encounter between a gunfighter and a lonely widow herald a new beginning for them both? On this special night, they take a gamble that anything is possible–if they only believe! Available now with THE WILD ROSE PRESS!

EXCERPT FROM A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.
A Night For Miracles is available at The Wild Rose Press.

I also have another Christmas short story, a FREE READ, available there, Until the Last Star Burns Out http://www.thewildrosepress.com/until-the-last-star-burns-out-p-1065.html

To find out more about my other books and short stories, you can read about many of them here on the blog or at my other blog, http://www.westwindsromance.blogspot.com.

VIST MY WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ALL MY WRITING: http://www.cherylpierson.com

Monday, December 7, 2009

DECEMBER 7, 1941-- A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY

Driving down one of the busiest streets of Oklahoma City today, I noticed a flag at a local business flying at half-staff. It was the only one on that block. I’m sure many people wondered about it.

But I remembered.

December 7, 1941…the day the U.S. was brought into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.

Through the years, my mother recounted tales brought home from “over there” by her relatives who enlisted. She talked also about the rationing here at home—how difficult it was to get needed items, and how impossible it was to get luxuries. She was 19 when the U.S. entered the war—just the very age of so many of the young men who were killed in the surprise attack on December 7, 1941. Was there a man of that age who didn’t rush down to sign up for duty after that fateful day? Many of her fellow students and co-workers did just that, and during the course of the next four years of war, many of them were lost.

My father tried to sign up, but his lungs were bad. He was turned away. I think he was always ashamed of that, because until the day he died, he had one of the most patriotic hearts I’ve ever known. Secretly, when I was old enough to realize what that might have meant, I was glad that he had not had to go to war. I knew that would have changed everything in my world.

Being as close as it was to Christmas made the deaths of the men at Pearl Harbor even more poignant. Just done with Thanksgiving, looking forward to the Christmas holidays to come, so many young lives snuffed out in the space of minutes. Watching the documentaries, hearing the old soldiers that are left from that time talk about the horror of that day, and of war in general, brings tears to my eyes.

I’m always amazed by the generations that have gone before us, and how they stood up and faced adversity when it was required of them. Being human, as we all are, the unknown was just as frightening to them as it is to us. We tend to forget it, somehow, because of the luxury and comforts of our modern lives that we have become used to. We have let ourselves become numb, in a way, and what’s worse—we have forgotten.

We have forgotten what the generations before us sacrificed for us, their future. We have forgotten how to honor the memory of those men and women, and what they did, individually and collectively.

I counted flagpoles the rest of the way home from that one, lonely half-staff flag—about a mile and a half to my house. There was only one other pole along that route that flew their flag half-staff in memory of that day sixty-eight years ago. A day that ended in smoke, and fire, drowning and death…and war.

Something peculiar occurs to me. I have been alive during the time when the last surviving widow of a veteran of The War Between The States died. I have been alive during the time that the last survivor of World War I died. There are not that many survivors left of World War II. Yet, our schools pass over these huge, world-altering events as if they are nothing, devoting a page or less to them in the history texts. Think of it. A page or less, to tell of the suffering, the economic impact, the technological discoveries, and the loss of humanity of each of these wars.

No wonder our society has forgotten the price paid by those who laid down their lives. When we don’t teach our children, and learn from the past, history is bound to repeat itself.

President Franklin Roosevelt declared December 7, 1941 as “a day that will live in infamy.” That statement, spoken so boldly, believed so strongly, held so close to the hearts of that generation, is only true as long as the next generation, and the one beyond that, remembers.

Well, many years have passed since those brave men are gone
And those cold ocean waters now are still and they’re calm.
Well, many years have passed, but still I wonder why,
The worst of men must fight and the best of men must die.


From “Reuben James” by Woody Guthrie

Thursday, October 1, 2009

TRAVELING IN OUR WRITING

When we write a short story or a novel, that work 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.

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 use 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.

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, “Last 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 your characters 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 place 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.

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 release, Time Plains Drifter, a totally different kind of travel is involved—time travel. The hero is thrown forward sixteen years from the date he died (yes, he’s a very reluctant angel) and the heroine 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 is the case with most of the stories we write. We aren’t writing to look at the scenery/history: we want to see the conflict, and the travel is just a way to get that to happen.

How do you use travel in your writing? Do you have any tips that might make it easier to describe the actual travel sequences? I find that is the hardest thing sometimes, for me.

Here’s a short excerpt from Time Plains Drifter. Rafe and Jenni have just met, and there’s a definite attraction! Hope you enjoy!

FROM TIME PLAINS DRIFTER—RELEASE DATE DEC. 1, 2009

For the first time, Rafe began to wonder what—and who—she might have left back there in her own time. Two thousand-five. Was there 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 raging hard-on he’d gotten 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, right 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 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.”