Monday, February 29, 2016

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks with Jacqui Jacoby

This week author Jacqui Jacoby, joins us with her tip. Award-winning author, Jacqui Jacoby a self-defense hobbyist and brings the strength she learned from the discipline to her characters.

Jacqui’s Tip on Launch Parties

When With a Vengeance came out two years ago, it was my first book and I wanted it to be something to remember.  I researched “launch parties” and everything I found on the internet was how to promote the books and get agents and editors to come to your bash.  What I found dealt with large venues that were rented and inviting the businesses in town with the town’s officials. It was all about sales and presence.

That’s not what I was thinking of, it’s not what I wanted the memory to be.

With my last book out last week, promoting was not what this party was about.

I took the concept of” launch party” and I pulled it into an intimate setting and started planning what I saw as the perfect way to celebrate years of hard work.

We had friends at the house.  We decorate to match the theme of the book. In this case, Bystander and Hollywood.

I wanted a celebration with my close friends and family of what I had accomplished.

Invitations were done word of mouth and by Facebook. Nothing fancy.

Food was planned; just a cake and ice cream with a variety of beverages.  For the cake, it took three calls in town to find a baker who could make one with a photographic image on it instead of mere icing.

This cake has become important.  At every party, with every book, everyone wants to see the cake. The flavor? Whatever is the favorite of  heroine.  The music, whatever the hero likes best.

Suggested decorations for the venue:

- About six or eight small place cards set around the room with character facts. In my case “Beth doesn’t like chocolate” (above) and “Sean doesn’t listen to anything produced after 1979.”

- A playlist that represents your book playing softly in the background. For us, it was Sean’s classic rock.

- Recipe cards might be featured. One recipe that works for him, one for her. I made the Sangria that Beth loves and served it in cups the color that matched the cover of the book. Guests took the cards home.

- 8.5X11 covers of the book displayed in acrylic frames. Not only for this book, but others, if you have them. I put them around the room with a note on two: “Ask Me about My Next Book.” It was a great conversation starter.

- A couple of disposable cameras for guests to use to capture spontaneity.

- Balloon bouquets, steamers, silk rose petals here and there. Things that say “party”.

- Most important: Your new release displayed. Stacks standing next to one that stands alone and strong. Keep a pen handy if someone wants a copy autographed. We sold ours at cost to our friends and family.

A Launch Party doesn’t have to be an official occasion to promote name and sales. Sometimes it can be a mere celebration of this wonderful thing you worked so hard to achieve. Let your family be there with you. Have your friends come and see why you were always so busy. And have fun. In the end, that’s all it is about sometimes!!

Blurb for The Dead Men Continue with Book II: Dead Men Seal the Deal

Too-playful-for-his-own-good, Jason Sullivan keeps himself busy working, hitting the gym, and dating the right girl for the right amount of time. He likes romance.  He loves to treat a girl right. 

Jason hasn’t aged since the 1940’s while at school back east.  Whispers from new client, Maya Reyes of their first time, parties at school and what they could do together in the dark of a hotel room, leave Jason seeking advice from the roommates in his home.

Taylor Grant escaped Georgia to flee a broken relationship with a cheating fiancé.  Her convictions to stay single, stay away from men and give up sex all together will be challenged when the mischievous Jason she gets in his cross hairs.  Jason likes everything about her, from her Southern belle accent to the damn pearl earrings she always wears.

When the family comes under attack, taking causalities so sever, no one knows if they will be able to pull everyone back, the house falls into controlled chaos to bring them together.  Jason and his friends—Travis, Ian, Quinn and Evan--will unit as an unstoppable force that not even one greedy, vindictive pretty hag can expect. 

Excerpt from The Dead Men Continue with Book II: Dead Men Seal the Deal

She waved her hand. “Oh, no. I wasn’t suggesting…”

“You can go ahead and suggest. It won’t bother me.”

“It’s just…” she paused. “I’m not dating men.”

He smiled, feeling more disappointed than he should. “Completely acceptable and still worth a tire change.”

She flustered. “Oh, no, that’s not what I meant. I meant I’ve given men up for lent. Only on a more long term basis.”

“So, dinner Saturday night?” He still smiled.

She laughed outright. “No.”

“Friday better for you?”
“I am not going out with you.”

“Why not?”

“It wouldn’t be worth your time and effort. I’ve totally given up sex and I won’t sleep with you, so you would be wasting your time.”

He finished cleaning up the jack, lug and wrench and put it all away.

“I wouldn’t even try. With that accent? Whispering sweet things in my ear in the dark? Would drive me right up the wall and break all my concentration and we would get nowhere.”

“You are an odd man,” she smiled at him.

He stood across from her, his hands covered in grime and let his arms hang by his side. A sink was inside the gym in the men’s room but he didn’t want to take the time away from her to go take care of it. So he wiped his hands on his grey sweat pants.

“Gimme your phone,” he said, holding out his almost clean hand.

“Let me have your phone. For just a minute.”

She reached into her bag and pulled it out, handing it over.

He fiddled with it, entering information then held it up in front of him to take a smiling photo. A second later it played four notes of a song and then stopped. He handed it back.

She checked her contact list and found him entered. Name, phone, address, birthday, e-mail. Twitter, Facebook. He had given her every way she needed to contact him, including his very own ring-tone now set to the Doctor Who theme, and added the photo to boot.

“I know electronics. Not a phone exists I can’t get into.”

“Show off,” she said.

“Usually,” he chuckled. 

Buy Links:

Not Released Yet

You can find Jacqui at:


Twitter: JaxJacoby
Facebook: Jacqui Jax Jacoby
Instagram: JacquiJaxJacoby

Thanks Jacqui for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New Release - A Daughter's A Daughter

Irene Vartanoff 's New Book -A Daughter’s a Daughter

What is Women's Fiction?

When the category called women's fiction gets mentioned, it may be hard to see why a book is called that instead of a romance. Probably anything could be called women's fiction, if it's about women. We've seen thrillers that claimed to be women's fiction, and there are literary novels that are labeled women's fiction. It's a sad truth of our society that any novel told from a female point of view and concerned mostly with the lives of women might be categorized as women's fiction. But what really makes the difference between a women's fiction novel and a romance? The easy markers are how complicated the story gets with multiple characters, the ages of the characters, and how the story ends. 

A Daughter's a Daughter, my second published women's fiction novel, has multiple point-of-view characters, not just one or two as in a romance. These aren't secondary characters. They each have a growth arc, and they make major contributions to the story.

My main character, Pam, is a widow who blossoms late in life. Losing her routine clerical job in the Wall Street meltdown forces her to wake up and make big changes. It's the kind of transition that resonates best when a character has already lived one kind of life to its logical conclusion: Pam married, had children, and kept a home, and then her husband died and her children grew up and went away. As the story opens, Pam begins to realize she has been on autopilot and all she has left now are the house and her memories. So Pam makes some changes, some difficult, some surprisingly easy. A woman of Pam's age is typically not the main character in a romance, but older women are often the stars of women's fiction novels. Her romance with Bruce complicates her life decisions.

My story also features Pam's estranged daughter, Linley, an ambitious twentysomething in cable television financial news. Typically, in a romance, a young character like Linley would be very sympathetic and have a charming personality. Nope. I wrote her as a selfish, immature b***h who outright uses her mother's job loss to further her own media career. Linley has major temper tantrums that eventually make Jason, her coworker and secret crush, wary of a relationship with her. She has lots of room for improvement. In a romance, Linley would mature completely and end up in the arms of her true love. Linley's story arc doesn't quite work that way, which again is a marker of women's fiction. We don't always have happy ever after endings.

And then there's Dorothy. I conceived her as a woman in her high eighties, looking back on a long and useful life and knowing she doesn't have much more time. A retired social activist, Dorothy lives in a gracious beachfront home on Long Island and seemingly has it all together. As Pam hesitantly interacts with her intimidating mother, Pam begins to see that Dorothy may have lost the ability to do for herself independently. Dorothy doesn't get a romance in this story, and she also isn't going to be magically cured of the increasing frailties of old age. She does find a new friendship in Bruce, the man who moves in next door. But since this is women's fiction, not a romance, Bruce has a secret agenda. He wants something from Dorothy, and he's quite willing to romance Pam at the same time.

As you can see, A Daughter's a Daughter isn't a simple story of boy meets girl. With five point-of-view characters interacting, and many serious issues between and among them, the chance for a romance novel's one big happy ever after ending isn't there. In women's fiction, we're satisfied if we see that the characters have dealt successfully with their major problems, and have moved on to a new stage in life or even just to a new understanding of what their life goals should be.

Here's an excerpt showing Linley's tense relationship with Jason: 

Linley looked up to find Jason looming above her, blocking her view of the rest of the café. He had a smile on his face and a cup of coffee in one hand. He looked entirely too handsome and confident. He had the kind of broad-chested body that did justice to a well-tailored suit. She knew exactly what he looked like stripped, which was even more exciting.

Rein it in, girl.

When she merely eyed him without speaking, Jason invited himself to sit next to her on the bench seat that stretched the length of the corner she was tucked into. He sat too close. His long, well-muscled leg touched hers. 

“Ah, this is cozy,” he remarked, setting his cup on her table and making himself very much at home.

“What are you doing?” she asked, impatience evident in her voice.

“Getting comfortable. How was your day?”

His blandly delivered question nearly drove her to say something foolish, but she maintained her control. “Jason, I’m not doing this,” she warned.

“What?” he asked, all innocence.

“Spending personal time with you. It’s not happening.” Her last words rose in volume.

“I came by to tell you about our field trip.” Despite his denial, there was mischief in his eyes.

“Field trip?” What had he dreamed up now?

“Next week, you and I are taking the show to DC, where the regulatory action is. I’m not taking the whole group. It’ll be just you and me.” He spoke that phrase as if he savored it. He made it sound very intimate. What was Jason up to?

“We’re there for an afternoon and then come home?”

“Nope. We’re going to the press club reception later and staying in DC overnight.”

Ah, now she got it. Jason was happy because he had maneuvered her into being his date for the evening. Probably he also hoped they’d hook up.

Huge temptation. They would be alone, no scrutiny from coworkers. They could spend the whole night in bed. Get to know each other’s bodies intimately.

Then what?

“No way,” she said.

“Boss’s orders.”

“Sure, blame him,” she said, barely veiling her anger.

“I want to spend time with you,” he said. His dark eyes sized her up, lingering at her lips and her breasts appreciatively. “You’re elusive at the station. You won’t see me outside of work. Can you blame me for arranging for us to be together?”

She shivered. It had been difficult to hold back her desire when she’d thought she was alone in it. Now Jason was openly declaring his determination to have her. How was she going to resist him?   

“We won’t be together,” she insisted.

“Yes, we will, Lin.” He gave her his patented, direct stare that held the camera on his face for a long fade out. “Count on it.”

Hadn’t she been fretting daily because he’d played it cool all these months? Then why all of a sudden did she feel hunted?

A Daughter's a Daughter is available at Amazon at


Award-winning author Irene Vartanoff combined her love of romances and comic books by working for Marvel Comics and DC Comics as well as Harlequin, Bantam, Berkley, and My Her first superhero adventure novel, Temporary Superheroine, was quickly followed by a sequel, Crisis at Comicon. A third superhero adventure for Chloe is on its way. The Selkirk Family Ranch series of sweet contemporary romances starts with Captive of the Cattle Baron, followed by Saving the Soldier. Tess's story is in the works. Irene's women's fiction novels to date are Summer in the City and A Daughter's a Daughter, with more soon to be published.

Visit Irene Vartanoff at
Or check out Irene's Amazon author page at 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

River of Danger

A teacher and translator turned author of Christian romantic suspense, Alexa Verde loves writing more than she loves seafood and strawberry cheesecake, and that's saying something. She has over 200 short stories, poems, and articles published in the five languages she speaks and has more diplomas on the wall than she knows what to do with. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, Alexa calls south Texas home. Please visit her online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @AlexaVerde3.
Blurb: Dallas reporter River Montenegro returns to her hometown, Rios Azules, in south Texas to aid her father, a constantly recovering alcoholic. After the notorious Smiling Killer strikes close to her home -- and her own neck, River grudgingly accepts help from her childhood friend and first love, who unknowingly crushed her heart.
When his formerly awkward school buddy is being stalked and attacked, local newspaper editor and town favorite Jacob Forrester decides to protect River. Falling for River, who blossomed into a confident, beautiful woman, Jacob is also eager to take their friendship to a different level. But River always made it clear she wouldn't stick around.
Scarred and scared, River has fled to the big city lights once. But she's stronger now. The homegrown killer better be prepared because not all Rivers run...
Beverley's post about setting made me think about my fictional town Rios Azules in south Texas in my Secrets of Rios Azules series. I enjoyed creating a small town with a sense of community where everybody knows each other. I imagined places I'd like to go to myself. For example, a seafood restaurant with delicious food and a friendly atmosphere in Color of Danger (the heroine owns that restaurant). Or a library where one can also get free movies, discounted tickets for local shows and football games, or learn watercolors and ESL in my upcoming release Taste of Danger (the heroine is a librarian).
What setting do you like to see in books: big city, small town, international, country, ranch, coastal? Sometimes I also think of having an international setting. If you had a chance to travel to any country, where would you go and why? 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Warm Glass Fusion

No guest today so I decided I’d share some of what I’ve been doing. We winter in Tucson at a great RV resort. They have so many amazing things to do and be involved in- music lessons, genealogy, stained glass, lapidary, ceramics, oil and watercolor painting. These are just a few things that are available.

This year I decided to try glass fusion, also known as warm glass or kiln-formed glass. According to Wikipedia this the working of glass by heating it in a kiln. We have small kilns for things like jewelry and a large kiln for the bigger stuff.

Warm glass working uses a variety of processes, according to the working temperature and the time the glass spends at this temperature. The high temperatures basically cause the glass to move, round edges, do a full fuse to smooth everything out or a contour fuse to leave ridges and bumps. If you want to make a dish or maybe a spoon rest, it then has to be slumped to give it shape.
So I’ve been having fun, breaking some glass, but learning lots. The pictures are some of my projects.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saint Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day. How do you celebrate?

I wanted to know the history of Valentine's Day so once again I checked out my favorite source of information-Wikipedia.

Saint Valentine's Day, also known as Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine is observed on February 14th every year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them.

Like many of our traditions, Valentine’s Day began as a Christian celebration of one or more early saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14. A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.

Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love in the times of Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering candy, and sending greeting cards, known as valentines. Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards and in the 20th century online greeting cards are becoming more and more popular.

Valentine's Day is an opportunity for people in Canada to tell somebody that they love them in a romantic way. It falls on February 14, the name day of two saints, St Valentine of Rome and St Valentine of Terni. In pre-Christian times, the middle of February was a time of pagan fertility festivals in Europe and allegedly the time when birds chose a mate.

Many people send letters, cards, presents and gifts to the person with whom they have or want to have a romantic relationship. Valentine's Day cards are often red or pink and decorated with images of hearts, red roses, teddy bears, presents or happy couples kissing or embracing. They may be in brightly colored, perhaps pink or red, envelopes.

Many people give gifts to loved ones on Valentine's Day. Common gifts are: Flowers, particularly red roses; chocolates and/or candy; teddy bears; toy hearts; sparkling wine; cosmetics; clothing, including lingerie and jewelry.

Some people celebrate Valentine's Day lavishly. They may treat their partner to a themed meal in a restaurant or a night in a luxury hotel. Others may take short breaks or vacations on Valentine’s Day. Valentine's Day can also be an occasion for a more general celebration of love and appreciation of people who are personally important to an individual. School children may help decorate their classrooms with hearts and spring birds and make cards or presents for their parents. Stores may also sell Valentine's Day themed cakes, cookies or candy. Teenagers and young adults may hold Valentine's Day parties or dances on or near February 14.
We usually spend the evening at home with a nice dinner and a little wine.
How about you?
I'd love to hear how you celebrate if you do or if you don't. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tuesday’s Tips and Tweaks with E. Ayers

This week author E. Ayers, joins us with her tip. E is a writer who loves a good book and believes in true love.

E’s Tip on Writing the Historical Western World and Research

Hi, Beverley! It's always fun to visit with you and your readers. Besides, I'm so excited. I have a new book releasing today in Kindle World. A few months ago Debra Holland asked me to be part of her Kindle World. This is a fairly new thing on Amazon and allows for fan fiction. There are all sorts of worlds, but I think Debra's is the first historical western world.

 She and a bunch of her friends all got together and we've each written our own stories, often bringing our own characters and worlds into hers. Pinch me! I was able to work and collaborate with Caroline Clemmons. She's a legend who has been cranking out best-selling novels forever.

I've worked closely with Cynthia Woolf and several other friends as I wrote my story using their characters and they used mine. And we all used Debra Holland's characters. We were all exchanging bits and pieces of stories to assure accuracy. It was so much fun. And not only did I make many new friends - I was awed at the ability of so many of these authors and the quality of their writing.

But the interesting thing about this group is that our stories are all different. Each author has her own take. Each has approached the world of Morgan's Crossing, Montana, differently.

I write historically correct stories. I don’t write historical facts. I write about people and how they lived and loved.

Romance back then was not what it is now. The west was settled by men. Many took wives with them, but the women didn't survive. The biggest challenge for women was childbirth and without birth control, they were having quite a few children. To make matters worse, they lost children to childhood diseases, injury, etc. Medicine was not what it is today, and out there…a doctor might have been two or three days away, and hospitals barely existed.

Men weren't looking for pretty women, but they weren't going to ignore a lovely face. They wanted strong women. Love was good and sex was better. Yet, strangely enough, it seems that the vast majority of those marriages worked.

In my story, the hero, Zeke, has contact with Henry Ketchem whose wife was by arrangement. I think this excerpt shows the difference in the west when it came to marriage. Today six fingers on a hand is virtually unheard of because the extra digit is removed almost immediately after the baby is born.

"He wrote his mother and asked for a bride. I was twenty-two at the time and still not married."

She held up her hands. "Six fingers on each hand. No one wanted me. But my grandmother insisted that I write to Henry. He said he didn't care that I had extra fingers. He was more worried about my being able to move out here and if I could cook. He promised that he was a good man and would treat me well."

Mr. Ketchem chuckled. "I don't mind those extra fingers. She's a hard working woman, and I couldn't ask for a better or prettier wife."

Zeke looked at the dark-haired woman with crystal blue eyes and porcelain white skin and smiled. He wouldn't have called her pretty.

But arranged marriages weren't just in the west. My great grandmother had an arranged marriage, and she lived in the east and came from a wealthy family. She did know the man when she married him, and I was given the impression that she could have refused, but her father would not have been happy. Was she happy and madly in love? I'll never really know, but from what I've heard, she was happy and content. He was a good man, and they lived comfortably.

Writing historical novels requires research. That's time consuming. In the beginning, it felt as though I was stopping every third line to look up something. Now I have more knowledge of the timeframe, but I'm still researching things.

I can't just go to Wikipedia and assume what I read is accurate, because often it's not. But frequently the information for certain tools or appliances can be found on websites owned by that company. Many large companies employ historians. One of the railroads provided me with so much information and even sent me a book on their history, which included things such as the cost of tickets.

Maps have driven me nuts. I had found one that showed the railroad lines. It was wonderful! Except it was wrong. The railroads were given land to build upon. The lines in areas on that map were authorized, but sometimes it was another ten years or more before those lines were built. If I had used that map, my story would have been inaccurate. Fortunes were made and fortunes were lost on the railroads as they were built. They assumed it would cost "X" amount to build the line, and in actuality, it cost anywhere from three to twenty times more.

History, as it was taught in school, is based on battles and political alliances. That's not helpful to the author writing about the time period. At least in our modern history, we have magazines and cookbooks that have survived. I have an 1860 cookbook, and the number of times I've referred to it is unreal. A few recipes make me want to gag and others look yummy. But the real surprise was found in breads and cakes. Skip that fluffy stuff we eat today. The cakes were heavy like pound cakes and sweetened with bits of chopped fruit and spiced with cloves and nutmeg. Even the breads were heavier.

Research has sent me down some odd roads on the internet and down quite a few, paved, macadam roads. I always check my sources by using other sources. I make certain they agree, and they aren't using the same source for their information. My head is now filled with trivia about the history of pens and cardboard boxes. Maybe if they had taught history in school the way I've had to research daily life, I would have paid more attention, but wars and battles were boring.

My westerns, both contemporary and historical, are sweeter than my other novels. My newest one is set in the late 1880's, and although most of the story takes place in or around Debra Holland's fictional town of Morgan's Crossing, Montana, there are direct ties to my fictional town of Creed's Crossing, Wyoming.

Montana Sky Series in Kindle World

Loving Matilda

Matilda “Matt” Berwyn, forced to live disguised as a boy in a mining town, longs to escape and blossom into the female she's always wanted to be. But her desire to leave Morgan's Crossing escalates when she realizes she's being stalked.

Stockyard hand Zeke Hillerman knows her secret and has fallen in love with her. He helps her flee to his parents’ home in the east to learn to be a lady, while he struggles to start his own ranch. As Matilda grapples with Victorian expectations of young women, Zeke’s plans for their future unravel and he realizes that the cost of her ticket out of Morgan's Crossing may have been his own heart.

Excerpt from Loving Matilda

Zeke awaken and stretched. He had found the perfect spot for sleeping. Using his bedroll as a pillow, he’d slept through the night and well into the morning hours, leaving him feeling refreshed and ready for the ride to the Reiner stockyard. He scanned the water below and didn’t see Matt. Unfortunately, he couldn't wait forever. It was important that he return to the stockyard in a timely manner. But that didn't stop the disappointment that ran through him.

As he prepared to leave, movement caught his eye and he stopped long enough to realize it was Matt. She's not playing. She really is panning for gold!

He stood there mesmerized. Whatever she was finding wasn’t small. He left his horse and went back down the pass to get a better look. A spear whizzed through the air and landed near Matt.

Zeke instantly stiffened. His rifle was with his backpack, leaving him only with his knife. There was no time to think. He had to protect Matt. He took off in a full run, his boots barely touching the ground. A blood-curdling yell resonated across the peaceful landscape as an Indian ran towards Matt. He saw the Indian attack Matt.

Zeke dove for the young man slamming him into the creek bed. With his fist raised, Zeke looked into two dark orbs that instantly widened…

"Who is he?" Gray Fox asked.

Matilda sat in the creek after she dragged the man from the water and watched him. "Not sure. Think he's going to die?"

"As hard as you hit him with that rock, he might."

As the official matchmaker for all the characters who wander through a mind full of imagination and the need to share, E. Ayers enjoys finding just the right ones to create a story.

Buy Links:

You can find E. at:



Twitter: @ayersbooks

Thanks E, for dropping by and sharing that great information on the historical western world and research.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Promo for A Highland Ruby by Brenda B. Taylor

Looking for a new historical fiction. Check out A Highland Ruby.
A Highland Ruby Blurb:

She must choose between a life of adventure with the man she loves or a settled, secure life with her betrothed. Flora Vass forced Gavin Munro out of her heart and mind until he returned to Scotland after an adventurous five years in the New World. Gavin leaves no doubt he returned to make the bonnie Flora his own and intends to fight for her. Flora's betrothed, Iain MacKay, and Gavin's brother, Chief Andrew Munro, have other plans. Andrew needs her to marry the MacKay and bring peace between the two clans. Iain MacKay desires an heir. War with England looms on the horizon, forcing Flora to make crucial decisions.

A Highland Ruby Excerpts:

Flora’s heart hurt at the sight of his wounded body. He saved her from the mauling, at a high cost to his arm and leg. Gavin had wandered the world and fought savages only to come home to Scotland and injury. She bent forward on her knees and kissed his dry lips.

“That kiss was worth the fight.” The corners of his mouth tilted up and a small sparkle lit his eyes.

“I thank you for saving me.” She returned his smile.

“Do you see it?” he asked, then wrapped his arm around her shoulder again.

She felt Gavin’s forehead—still cool. “Aye. I see an eerie green glow. What is it?”

“’Tis called St. Andrew’s Fire. I’ve seen it once before.”


“The night I left Fàrdach on my way to the New World. I slept under the stars in these same woods, on my journey to the coast. The fire burned through the trees just as it now does. I felt it a good omen and it would light my way back to Scotland. My mither told me stories about the fire when I sat at her knees as a young lad. Hunters reported seeing the glow deep in the trees and it always brought a good hunt.” He squeezed her shoulder. “And ‘tis a good omen now.”

Images of Gavin in his youth not long after Phillip had been killed and the handsome auburn-haired warrior came calling filled her mind as she stood in the library surveying the empty bed, his warmth and imprint still upon it. Flora picked up the pillow, putting it to her nose. His manly scent remained. She would keep the pillow and use it for her own as she remembered the sweetness of his kiss, the tenderness of his love, and the feel of his hard body against hers. He had changed, toughened, aged by the savagery of survival in an unknown land, but his heart remained the same. Flora longed to possess that tender heart, filling it with love for her again.

A Highland Ruby Buy Links:

Brenda B. Taylor Bio:

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

Contact Brenda:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Phil, Willie, Sam and RIP Willow

Ground dog is celebrated on February 2nd. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and there will be six more weeks of winter.

Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Clymer H. Freas was the editor of the local paper Punxsutawney Spirit at the time, and he began promoting the town’s groundhog as the official “Groundhog Day meteorologist”.

Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow.

In southeastern Pennsylvania Groundhog Lodges celebrate the holiday with social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more plays or skits are performed for entertainment. The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime, or quarter per word spoken.

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney is a borough in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, United States, 84 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Groundhog Day, received widespread attention as a result of the 1993 film Groundhog Day.

America's most iconic weather forecaster, the Pennsylvania groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, "told" the president of the groundhog club spring is coming after not seeing his shadow at Gobbler's Knob in the town northeast of Pittsburgh after he emerged from his burrow shortly after 7:20 a.m.  

In Canada, the first of North America’s famed, four-legged forecasters, given Nova Scotia’s time zone, Shubenacadie Sam didn’t see his shadow this morning as he scurried from his tiny shed at a provincial wildlife park northeast of Halifax. Although it was a brisk morning, a sign stuck in the snow outside Sam’s shed reading, "Yay! I didn't see my shadow," making it clear Sam expects warmer weather to be on its way.

Ontario’s Wiarton Willie issued his long-term forecast later today as his community celebrates the albino woodchuck’s 60th anniversary. “Well, for those hoping for 6 more weeks of winter… you’ve got your wish. I saw my shadow,” the groundhog declared on his official Twitter account.

But this year’s festivities have already been marred by the death of Sam and Willie’s westerly counterpart Winnipeg Willow. Groundhog Day celebrations have been cancelled in Manitoba due out of respect for Willow, who died last Friday at the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.