Oct 09

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin

I’ve mentioned before that Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale” is my favorite novel of all time (and also the best novel I’ve ever read).  Every year, once the weather starts getting cold and the days shorter, I reread it, and it’s about that time.

This year, I want to share my love/obsession with the world (or at least the regular visitors of this blog).  I’m going to read two chapters a week, and post my thoughts and feelings about them.  And I’m encouraging any and all of my visitors to join me, both in reading the book, and in discussing it.

I’ll kick things off right here, talking about the very brief prologue.  Even before that, Helprin starts us off with a quote that sets the tone for all that’s to follow:

“I have been to another world, and come back.  Listen to me.”

That sentiment could apply to many of the characters in the story about to unfold, and it prepares us to jump across both worlds and eras (and different times ARE other worlds; as the famous quote has it, “the past is another country.”).

The prologue showcases Helprin’s gift of prose; it’s gorgeous from the very first word.  As he opens things:

A great city is nothing more than a portrait of itself, and yet when all is said and done, its arsenals of scenes and images are part of a deeply moving plan.

He goes on to talk about New York City specifically, where our story is set, and, really, the book is one long love letter to the greatest city in the world.  We’re told about the mass of white clouds that surround the city, about which we’ll learn much more as the novel progresses.  We  also get our first reference to the the city as one great machine, about which, again, much more later.

And then we are told:

…our swift unobserved descent will bring us to life that is blooming in the quiet of another time.

This is important, as we’ll see very shortly in chapter one.  The prologue ends with an invitation:

As we float down in utter silence, into a frame again unfreezing we are confronted by a tableau of winter colors.  These are very strong, and they call us in.

Colors, both wintry and otherwise, play a large role not only symbolically, but very literally in the story, as we’ll discover early on.

So the stage is set.  We’re about to embark on a journey that will span worlds and centuries.  I hope you’ll come along with me; our first steps will be onto the snow-covered streets of pre-World War I Manhattan, which is where chapter one begins…


Chapter Index

I’ll keep an updated list of links to the individual chapter discussions here, so it’ll all be easy to find…

Part 1, Chapter 1 (“A White Horse Escapes”)

Part 1, Chapter 2 (“The Ferry Burns in Morning Cold”)

Part 1, Chapter 3 (“Pearly Soames”)

Part 1, Chapter 4 (“Peter Lake Hangs From A Star”)

Part 1, Chapter 5 (“Beverly”)

Part 1, Chapter 6 (“A Goddess in the Bath”)

Part 1, Chapter 7 (“On the Marsh”)

Part 1, Chapter 8 (“Lake of the Coheeries”)

Part 1, Chapter 9 (“The Hospital in Printing House Square”)

Part 1, Chapter 10 (“Aceldama”)

Part 2, Chapter 1 (“Four Gates to the City”)


Mar 18

Buy the Books!

Here’s the one-page resource for everything you need to know about me and my books…especially how to buy them!

Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 22

Guest Post – “To Mate a Werewolf” by Kryssie Fortune

I’m turning over the blog to a fellow author for a little bit – please say hello to Kryssie Fortune, author of “To Mate a Werewolf”…



The heroine in my latest novel spent two years as a cook in the Lykae army. To celebrate the release of TO MATE A WEREWOLF she’s given me a collection of her favorite recipes to share on my friends blogs.

Excerpt from To Mate a Werewolf

Today Ellie’s given me a recipe for  this fruit filled gateau that oozes with fresh cream. Sheplans to sell these in her cake shop.

Cake with Cream and Fresh Fruit


Cake ingredients:

225g Stork Tub (Or Stork Packet)

225g self-raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Filling and topping ingredients:

85g flaked almonds

400ml double light Elmlea

250g seasonal fruit (e.g. grapes, mandarins, peaches, strawberries and blueberries)

Sweets and candles to decorate


Baking tin and equipment:

2 round 22cm cake tins (greased and floured and base lined with baking paper); piping bag with star nozzle


1 Preheat the oven 180°C, 160°C fan oven, Gas mark 4.


2 Place cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat together until smooth. 

3 Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tins and bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes until cooked and golden brown. Leave the baked cakes in the tins for 5 minutes before tipping them out on a wire rack. Allow to cool.

4 Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over medium heat, stirring well until golden brown. Cool on a plate. Whip the cream with the sugar until stiff. Clean the fruit and chop or slice, if necessary.

5 Cover a cake with 1/3 of the cream and half of the fruit.


6 Place the other cake on top and press down a little.

7 Brush the sides of the cake with a thin layer of whipped cream.


8 Take the cake between two hands and roll in the toasted almonds.


9 Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of whipped cream. Spoon the rest of the whipped cream into the piping bag and pipe swirls of whipped cream along the edge of the cake.

10 Decorate with the rest of the fruit and sweets.


To Mate a Werewolf



The scars on Ellie Padget’s cheek are a constant reminder of the times she tried to escape from sexual slavery. Two years ago, Joel—alpha in waiting of the Tundra-Tough pack—led the rescue party that freed her. She’s loved him ever since.

Their relationship finally explodes into steaming sex, but he offers to pay her off. She walks away with her head high and her heart shattered. When she learns of a plot to destroy Joel and his pack, her only option is return to his side and warn him.

Joel has to fight to retain the pack that should be his by right, and no one can leave until the pack has a new alpha. He’s horrified when Ellie turns up on the night he’s to meet the woman he’s agreed to marry but never met. She’s stuck there until he claims his birthright. Finally, he realizes Ellie’s his true mate. Now he has to choose between his arranged marriage, and the one woman he truly loves. Will he choose with his head or his heart?

To Mate a Werewolf is a stand alone story within the Scattered Siblings series.


Buy Link


Amazon US


Amazon UK



Social Media

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kryssie.fortune

Twitter @KryssieFortune

Thanks to Facebook book group https://www.facebook.com/foodcakesblogger for letting me raid their site for recipes.


#recipe  #cheesecake #Lykae  #am reading  #kindle

Nov 22

Book Tour – Mari Christie and “Royal Regard”

I’ve got a great indie author for you this morning…Mari Christie!

MAC head shot

Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym for Mari Christie, a mainstream historical and Regency romance writer. She is also a professional writer, editor, and graphic designer with twenty years’ experience and a Bachelor’s in Writing from the University of Colorado Denver, summa cum laude. She lives in Denver, Colorado with two kittens who have no respect at all for her workspace or her keyboard…………… lkojoi  09yu ;;;;88757463sdf
You can follow her at:




WordPress blog


Amazon Author Central

And her book is “Royal Regard”

Royal Regard cover3-02

When Bella, the Countess of Huntleigh, returns to England after fifteen years roaming the globe with her husband, an elderly diplomat, she finds herself in a locale more perilous than any in her travels—the Court of King George IV. As the newly elevated Earl and Countess settle into an unfamiliar life in London, this shy, not-so-young lady faces wicked agendas, society’s censure, and the realities of a woman soon to be alone in England.

Unaccustomed to the ways of the beau monde, she is disarmed and deceived by a dissolute duke and a noble French émigré with a silver tongue. Hindered by the meddling of her dying husband, not to mention the King himself, Bella must decide whether to choose one of her fascinating new suitors or the quiet country life she has searched the world to find.

The book actually comes out next Tuesday, the 26th, but one lucky commentor to this post by midnight tonight will win a free advance copy!

And here’s an excerpt…


“I think you are making a mockery of me, Sir. You are flirting shamelessly at every party, and now right in front of my husband. You must desist.”

“Nick, please—Wellbridge, if you prefer—and you are entirely correct. I would much rather flirt with you behind his back.” He leaned in closer to her ear, “When we are in front of him, I am afraid your sweet blushes will give us away.” The scent of flowers rose from her hair. Lavender. Maybe lilacs. Maybe both. He breathed deeply. Definitely both. “I cannot allow you to expose our secret, Lady Huntleigh, for I have sinful designs on you.”

Bella’s slipper caught on the waxed floor, throwing her off-balance. Taking advantage of the opportunity, he caressed her barely bared collarbone. She nearly fell, pulling away, so he held her waist more firmly, drawing her closer to encourage her shivers and gooseflesh.

“You said you had no designs on me! You swore by the Knight’s Creed!”

He leaned in to murmur, “I am not a knight, my sweet.”

With a bit less wallflower and a bit more worldly woman, she laughed, “Sir Satyr, I’m sure, charter member of the Order of Rakehells, pledged to lead me down the path to depravity.”

“You’ve caught me.” He stared down at her ripe mouth, wishing they weren’t in the middle of a crowded ballroom.


Nov 22

Book Blitz – Exposed Ezine and N.J. Cole

Welcome to the Exposed Ezine Release Weekend Blitz! A Quarterly magazine where amazing authors bring you outstanding stories! And yes, there’s a giveaway too!


“Exposed,” an
electronic magazine featuring short stories from hot, independent authors, is
Butterfly Publishing’s debut publication. Giving readers a glimpse into each
author’s writing style and stories, Exposed does just what the title suggests,
exposes readers to new titles and new authors. With its low cost and varied
content, every reader is sure to find something he or she enjoys.



Phoenix Silverstone more commonly known as Nix, is a twenty-one
year old that has finally discovered her freedom. After living under the strict
rules and protection of her mother, Nix moved out with her two best friends in
a quaint little Seattle apartment. For the first time Nix is finally able to
spread her wings and breathe. Together, they get a job working at a bar and for
the first time everything is perfect.
Freedom, friendships, a great job and fantastic man on the verge of becoming
hers. Tristan is the suave, intelligent, not to mention gorgeous law student
that Nix has her eyes and heart set on. For the first time, she has her life
together; that is, until her path crosses with Levi. The charming, tattooed and
downright sexy bad boy that Nix knows she needs to avoid.But when one of her friends moves out she is shocked to find that her new
roommate is none other than Levi. Flirting. Desire. Undeniable
temptations. Nix can’t deny the chemistry surging between them but she can’t
forget her mother’s extreme hate towards bad boys.

Will Nix have the strength to listen to her heart? Or will her mother’s rules
cost her everything?

Jude was
born and raised in a small village named Lacolle. She now lives in Montreal,
Canada. She is the proud mother of a beautiful five year old son, and has spent
the last thirteen years with her partner, Cedric.



French is
her native language, but she prefers to write in her second language, English.



working full time and being a mother, Jude has a passion for books, both
reading and writing them.



Her first
novella, Under the Sun was published at the end of July 2013.It is part of an
anthology called Heat Wave. Her second novella, Wonderland, was published in
March 2014 and has hit the bestselling rank. Lost Dreams, a military romance,
was published in May 2014, Body, Ink, and Soul in late June 2014 and Ophelia in
October 2014.

At fifteen years old, Nick DiMarco got news
that changed his life – he was going to be a father. Stepping up, he took
custody and raised his little girl, whom everyone calls Harley. Hard work and
determination gave him the lifestyle he wanted for the two of them. Now,
twenty-one years later he’s flying Harley and some of her friends to the
Bahamas for an amazing birthday bash. As a special treat, he invites Victoria,
Harley’s long lost best friend from elementary school to surprise her. When the
flight carrying Harley and her friends is delayed due to weather, Nick finds
himself alone with Victoria who has grown into a beautiful woman. What starts
out as a few hour delay grows as a hurricane develops just off the coast. The
storm brewing outside is nothing compared to the passion brewing between Nick
and Victoria as each tries to fight the attraction of a forbidden love affair.

NJ Cole is the author
of five published books, Midnight Caller, Midnight Eternal, Landslide, Second
Chances and Yes, Mistress. Unlike many of today’s authors, she chooses to write
in first person, allowing the readers to experience life through the eyes of
the unique characters that live in her head. Her love of those characters and
respect for their stories come through loud and clear in her writing. With over
two million reads of her online work in the past year NJ Cole is clearly an up
and coming author.

Be sure to subscribe to her blog for all her books:NJColeauthor.com


What happens when a natural submissive bumps into a polished Dom while
spending a day at the beach? Wild, hot, explicit sex! Explore Steve’s seduction
of Maya in this exhilarating tale. Warning, graphic language, some forced

Fossbrook, author of Broken Tides, is a UK based writer of erotic fiction. He has been writing for a number of years but it wasn’t until his collaboration with Cole that he believed his stories might just be worth reading.

In his spare time Fossbrook is a huge sports fan and loves the occasional glass of wine.

Reeling after being blindsided by a bitter divorce, club
manager Chase Milligan relocates from his home in Austin to Dallas, to start a
new life. Soon he finds his interest captured again. But who is Baylee Andrews?
What dark secrets is she hiding? Will delving into her mysteries bring heal
Chase’s heart and faith, or will he find himself embroiled in more trouble than
ever before?




Bobby Kim is a publicist to several independent authors. He
markets, formats and analyzes current trends to help promote books to their
fullest potential. He co-founded Butterfly Publishing with author NJ Cole.
After meeting various authors in 2013, Butterfly Publishing, an independent
publishing house, was launched in 2014. Bobby Kim has been known to put pen to
paper, so to speak, and fellow collaborators would not be surprised to see some
of his own work appear in his magazine in the next few issues.
5 lucky people will win the first issue FREE! Just Enter the rafflecopter giveaway and GOOD LUCK! 

Nov 19

Book Hooks – Get Hooked on the Dream Series!

I’m participating in the weekly Book Hooks meme – sharing something from one of my books to…well…get you hooked on it.

Here’s something from the third book in the Dream Series, DREAM CHILD, which, appropriately enough, takes place at Christmastime…

I was right; there’s almost a full week’s worth of dinners in the refrigerator.  Over the course of an hour, and with several interruptions, Brian and I have our dinner.  First, Ben needs to be fed.  Then Steffy needs to be changed, and Lizzie “helps,” which ends with my having to comfort Steffy for fifteen minutes while Brian thoroughly cleans the changing table and takes Lizzie in for a quick bath.  Amazingly enough, that’s actually an improvement over how it usually goes.

Then we decorate the Christmas tree.  Lizzie insists that we have to do it right now, but I would have done it tonight anyway – I’m not going to have a lot of time to do it this week once I’m back on my insane residency hours. We all take turns hanging ornaments, and Brian lifts Lizzie up to put the angel on top of the tree.  Then I turn all the lights out and Brian plugs the tree lights in.

“Ooh!  Mommy, it’s so pretty!”  The three of us sit on the couch and admire our handiwork for a few minutes, until I look over at the clock and see that it’s nearly Lizzie’s bedtime.  But she wants to play with her brother and sister before she goes to sleep.  She’s the only one so far who can get Ben to smile.  At first I thought it was just gas, but it’s clearly not.  She stands over him, tickles his stomach, and – every time, a smile.

I’m very glad Lizzie likes the twins.  My mother rarely fails to remind me that, when I was Lizzie’s age and my brother arrived, all I wanted to do was trade him in for a dog.  At least she doesn’t say it in front of Lizzie; I guess I should be grateful for that.

We have to drag Lizzie away from the twins, and it takes three stories before she’s ready to go to sleep.  I tuck her in, turn off the light, and I’m pulling her bedroom door closed when she calls out to me, “Mommy?  I don’t wanna have any more scary dreams.”  It takes every ounce of my willpower to hold back from bursting into tears on the spot.

You can buy the book on Amazon, and it’s also an Audible Audiobook! 

And here’s where you can check in on a whole bunch of other great authors also sharing from their books:

Nov 18

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” (part 2, chapter 2 – “Lake of the Coheeries”)

We jump back into the narrative, eighty or so years after Peter Lake and Athansor jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and into the cloud wall.  We’re not going to see them again for a while, but we have some new characters to meet.

And we begin with Virginia Gamely, a lifelong resident of Lake of the Coheeries.  We open with a beautiful description of the Hudson Valley leading up to the town, and the brutal – yet wonderful – winter that is currently gripping it.  And we come to the house of Mrs. Gamely, an elderly widow who lives there with her daughter Virginia, a lovely woman somewhere in her thirties, and her infant son Martin.

Mrs. Gamely is illiterate, yet has a vocabulary of several hundred thousand words, and some unique views of the world (or, perhaps not so unique among the residents of her town).  Helprin has a lot of fun with language in this chapter with Mrs. Gamely and her linguistic genius, which we’ll see later that Virginia has inherited, too.

At this moment, though, there are more important matters: the winter is worse than any in memory, and there’s not enough food for Mrs. Gamely, Virginia and the baby to make it through to the spring.  One night, Virginia has an extraordinary dream – something that has happened to her before.  She sees a great city, a city that is a living thing, a city that becomes her lover.  When she awakens, she knows that she dreamed the truth: her future is in that city (Manhattan, naturally):

She had always known that her future was in her, waiting to be shaken out

She explains to her mother that, if she and the baby go now, there’ll be enough food to last through the winter, no matter how bad it gets.  Mrs. Gamely finally agrees, once Virginia recounts the dream.  And she sends Virginia off with one last bit of wisdom:

“Remember, what we are trying to do in this life is to shatter time and bring back the dead.  Rise, Virginia.  Rise and see the whole world.”  Virginia did not know exactly what her mother had meant.

But I think we do.  If anything, though, Mrs. Gamely has it backwards.  It’s not shattering time, but putting past, present and future back together – or at least being able to see them for the one seamless whole that they are.  And as for bringing back the dead, we’ll get to that in part 4 of the book.

Virginia makes her way down the Hudson, via sleigh to an iceboat dock.  The iceboat isn’t running, however, so she stops at an inn.  The innkeeper offers her a room for the night, and then she’ll have to skate down to the dock to reach another dock where a cutter will be waiting, bound for the city.  Virginia dreams of skating, and lives exactly the journey she dreamed of the next day.

The journey is blocked by an impassable wall of snow that piled up overnight, but Virginia climbs up and over.  The innkeeper is horrified; it’s a nearly sheer wall.  But Virginia, having dreamed of this already, knows what’s to happen.  Near the top, she almost loses her nerve and begins to lose her grip, but she forces herself to imagine her triumph, and that vision carries her over.  At the very top is the bottom of the cloud wall, which dances her across and deposits her on the other side:

all because of the baby on her back, for whom allowances had to be made.

In part 1, remember that Peter Lake had the experience of sometimes negotiating with the cloud wall, so this is just par for the course.

Virginia and Martin cross over (and I think there may be more going on that is plainly stated – I have some questions about time that I’ll get to at the end of this post) and make it to their boat.  It’s stuck on ice, and the weight of little Martin (the last passenger to be brought aboard) cracks the ice and the boat is suddenly in open water.  As they sail down the Hudson, Virginia begins to think about the city she’s headed for:

the city would be cold, completely of itself, unconscious, that its every move would be transcendent, and that each of its hundred million flashing scenes would strike a moral lesson.

When she first catches sight of New York City:

she knew she was meant to be there.  It did not draw people to it the way it did for nothing.  It was God’s crucible, and she was on her way into it.

She and Martin wander the streets of Manhattan in the frigid cold before ending up in Grand Central Station, and looking into the window of the Oyster Bar, she sees a familiar face: Jessica Penn.  Yes, one of those Penns – daughter of Harry Penn, whom we last knew as a teenaged boy.  He’s now elderly, and has long since taken his father’s post as publisher of the New York Sun.

Virginia knows Jessica from childhood; the Penns spent summers at their home in the Lake of the Coheeries.  Jessica beckons Virginia in, and introduces her to the executive staff of the Sun.  The two we’ll get to know best are the editor in chief, Praeger de Pinto (he’s also Jessica’s fiance) and Marko Chestnut, the paper’s artist (I mentioned him as one possible candidate for the creator of the painting in the Penn basement in part 1):

One could, in a few lines, show the soul.  One could, if one had the courage.

Virginia sees that Marko does have that courage, in spades.

Virginia is drawn into conversation, and impresses the collected staff of the Sun with her vocabulary and insight.  Praeger invites her to visit the paper the next day for what Jessica informs her is more or less a job interview.  That night, she dreams about it, recounting in precise detail every step and every word – and, as has happened twice already in this chapter, it plays out exactly as she dreams (with one exception).

Praeger, after asking ehr to write about her impressions of the city, offers her a job on the spot.  She accepts, but she wants to start from the bottom:

“I’ve imagined great victories, and I’ve imagined great races.  The races are better.”

The one exception between her dream and the reality is a stop to buy Martin a cookie in Chinatown, which is sold to her by:

a fat Caucasian boy with slit eyes and a Chinese hat.  He seemed very strange.

No question but that he is Mr. Cecil Wooley.  It’s interesting that he should greet a new arrival from Lake of the Coheeries, a friend of the Penn family, and someone who will, as the story progresses, get caught up in the story of Peter Lake.

One more thing about this chapter – the question of time.  This chapter, although it’s not stated explicitly, takes place in 1994 (at least, the New York City action does).  I’m skipping ahead to say this, because in the next chapter, we learn that another year has passed, and the date is given as September of 1995.  But it’s hard to reconcile this.  Mrs. Gamely is an elderly woman.  We’ll learn in the next chapter that she was only a few years old when Beverly Penn died, back in 1916.  That would make her 85 years old here.  We also know that Virginia is 35 or so, which means that Mrs. Gamely had her when she was 50 (not impossible, but certainly eyebrow-raising).  In a much later chapter, Mrs. Gamely remembers taking a young Virginia (probably 10 years old or so) to greet her father as she returns after “the war” ended, on a troopship, only to be met by his commander, Harry Penn, who informs them that Mr. Gamely died in the war.  If Virginia were born around 1960, that places her father’s death at 1970.  But that doesn’t jibe with history as we know it.

I think the answer is something else – time, in Lake of the Coheeries, is not a constant.  The town is only loosely and inconsistently connected with the rest of the world (Virginia tells the Sun staffers that no one can get to it unless they are “a resident” – or, as we’ll see in the next chapter, by accident).

I don’t know exactly how to reconcile the times yet, but keep it in mind as we read on, and maybe it will become more clear.

Next up, we’ll meet our second new character, Hardesty Marratta…

Nov 12

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” (part 2, chapter 1 – “Four Gates to the City”)

Onwards to part 2!  This section of the book is titled “Four Gates to the City” (as is the first chapter of the section).

Before we move forward, though, let’s take stock of where we are. We’ve just left the New York City of 1915-16, with the disappearance of Peter Lake into the “infinite fury” of the Cloud Wall.  Beverly Penn and her father are both dead, although Beverly, at least, had seen through to a new and different world before her passing, and Peter was given a glimpse of it as well.

Now we jump ahead eighty years, to the early 1990’s.  We’re still in New York, though, and this extremely brief chapter tells us how one may enter the great city.  In the past, we’re informed, cities had literal gates, built into protective walls.  As time went on, however, those gates disappeared, replaced by barriers more subtle and yet much harder to enter.

Some claim that the barriers do not exist, and disparage them.  Although they themselves can penetrate the new walls with no effort, their spirits (which, also, they claim do not exist) cannot, and are left like orphans around the periphery.

As with so much of this book, I think this is meant to be taken at least somewhat literally, and not just as flowery language or a metaphor.

What are these new, more subtle gates?  There are four of them:

Acceptance of responsibility (the east gate)

The desire to explore (the south gate)

Devotion to beauty (the west gate)

Selfless love (the north gate)

It was said that a city with entryways like this could not exist, because it would be too wonderful.

But of course it does exist, and we’re about to meet four characters in the next four chapters, each of whom will be passing through a different gate.  My interpretation (if you think differently, please chime in and share your opinion!) is that our new people come in as follows:

Virginia Gamely comes through the South gate.

Hardesty Marratta comes through the East gate.

Christiana comes through the North gate.

And Asbury Gunwillow comes through the West gate.

We’ll see how that pans out starting with the next chapter, when we revisit the Lake of the Coheeries and meet Virginia…

Nov 12

A Giveaway for Dream Series fans!

If you’re reading this post, and if you’ve read DREAM STUDENT (or any of the subsequent Dream Series books), I’ve got a giveaway for you.

Just go to the page for DREAM STUDENT (and any other of the books you’ve read – here’s my Amazon Author page to make it easy!) on Amazon and leave me a review, if you haven’t already, and then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you’ve done it.

If you have already left a review for all of my books that you’ve read, you can still enter the giveaway.  Just leave a comment letting me know you already reviewed the book(s).

The prize will be an ebook or audiobook copy of the Dream Series book of your choice (well, there are only audios for the first five books, so if you want #6 through #8, it’ll have to be an ebook).  I’ll pick the winner randomly from all comments left here by Friday at 5 PM (eastern time).

Nov 12

Book Launch – Shanna Hatfield and “The Christmas Cowboy”

Shanna-Hatfield-Nov-Blog-TourWelcome to the

Cowboys & Christmas

Blog Tour!

A kickoff of two new holiday romances by Shanna Hatfield

and a fundraiser for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

The Christmas Cowboy with Shanna Hatfield


It’s a pleasure to be here with you today sharing a little about my holiday romance The Christmas Cowboy, the first book in the Rodeo Romance series.

Tate graphicTate Morgan is a good-looking, dimple-cheeked saddle bronc rider chasing his dream of earning a World Champion title.

Frequenting the small airport near his ranch in southeast Washington on his way to rodeos, he keeps seeing the same beautiful brunette. He finally works up the courage to sit down next to her one morning and strikes up a conversation as they wait for a flight to Denver.

Kenzie Beckett is a trainer for a direct sales company, traveling coast-to-coast as she works with consultants and the corporate team. Gone more than she’s home, she doesn’t have time to invest in relationships, particularly with a cowboy. Burned twice by sweet-talking men wearing Wranglers and boots, the last thing Kenzie plans to do is give a third one the chance to break her heart.

As the name of the book implies, Tate is The Christmas Cowboy. He loves everything about the holiday season from sweet treats to decking the halls. His enthusiasm for the holidays made it so much fun for me to incorporate several holiday tidbits into the story.


Here’s an excerpt from the book.

In this scene, Tate arrives unexpectedly at Kenzie’s apartment:

“What are you hiding?” she asked, her eyes warm and inviting when he stepped inside and nudged the door shut behind him with his boot.

“I couldn’t help but notice you’re missing a very important component of proper Christmas décor,” Tate said, sounding all knowing and official.

“What could I possibly be missing?” Kenzie asked, looking behind her and sweeping her arm toward the living room that did look particularly festive, thanks in part to Tate. “I’ve got a poinsettia, a beautiful Christmas tree, garlands, pine boughs, sugary treats, and a blazing fire. Did you bring me some chestnuts to roast? If you did, I’ve got no clue what to do with them, so you’re out of luck.”

Laughing, Tate raised his arm and held a bunch of mistletoe over their heads. “It seems to me this is the most important decoration of all.”

“Possibly,” Kenzie said, reaching out and looping her arms around Tate’s neck, pulling his head down to hers. Teasing and gentle at first, their kiss soon gained momentum until he dropped the mistletoe on the table near the door and she pressed as close against him as his thick coat would allow.


Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund®

Now through Dec. 24, Shanna will donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from all book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. JCCF logoThe JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.



Where to Find The Books

The Christmas Cowboy

Start the Rodeo Romance Series with The Christmas Cowboy.

Kindle | Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple | Audible

You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty

The third book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series releases that day! The Christmas Calamity takes readers back to Hardman just in time for the holiday season. Preorders are available now for just $1.99 on Kindle. You can reserve your copy here: http://amzn.com/B00OGOO994

In addition, the first book in the Hardman Holidays series, The Christmas Bargain, will be available free that day, as well!

Prize BasketEnter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form.


About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Nov 10

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” (part 1, chapter 10 – “Aceldama”)

We’ve come to the end of Part 1 with this chapter.

I never knew what the title of this chapter meant, or referred to, so I Googled it, and it turns out that Aceldama is pretty fraught with meaning.  It refers to a field near Jerusalem that’s associated with Judas.  In one interpretation (as told in Acts of the Apostles), Judas himself bought the field with the 30 pieces of silver he received for betraying Jesus, and he “burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out,” leading to the name Aceldama, which means “Field of Blood.”  In the Gospel of Matthew, the field is bought by the authorities of the Temple with that same 30 pieces of silver; in this telling, Judas returned the money to them, but, deeming it “blood money” and therefore unfit to be put into the treasury, it was used to purchase what became known as a field of blood.

I’m not sure whether Helprin is trying to refer to to either of those stories, or to the more general idea of a Field of blood, and a potter’s field.  But let’s see if the chapter sheds any light on the question.

We open with Peter contemplating Beverly and her increasingly difficult-to-understand pronouncements:

“I’m just like you,” she had told him.  “I come from another age.  But there are many things we must take care of now.”

Partly, Peter goes along with her simply because he loves her, but he begins to see truth in her delirious words.  He himself has had glimpse of similar things – hints of a larger plan, a process of justice underpinning the entire world.  And then he remembers an incident back when he was with the Short Tails, when Pearly Soames had emptied two pistols into a dark window, claiming that he had seen behind it the White dog of Afghanistan, “come to get him from another time.”

It’s with all these jumbled thoughts that Peter arrives at the Penn mansion to take Beverly to the promised New Year’s Eve date at Mouquin’s.  While they get ready, Beverly speaks of another vision – animals in the Heavens, bigger than stars – made up of stars – and Peter says he believes her.  Beverly answers that he doesn’t have to believe, because it’s the truth.  Finally, she says:

“They’re not just dreams.  Not anymore.  I dream more than I wake now, and, at times, I have crossed over.  Can’t you see?  I’ve been there.”

And with that, they’re off.  When they arrive at the usually lively dance hall, Peter is surprised to find it strangely quiet – even more so than on December 31, 1899, when it had been “as quiet as a church on the Fourth of July.”  This year is even more solemn (this is also the closest Helprin comes to pinning down a date for this portion of the story.  He refers to it as an “odd-numbered frozen year,” and the two references to World War I later in this chapter mean that it must be either 1913 or, more likely, 1915).

Even the arrival of Pearly Soames and the Short Tails does not liven things up.   In fact, Beverly’s mere presence paralyzes Pearly and his gang.  While they’re frozen in place, Beverly demands that Peter do something to get the party going.  He has no idea how to do so.  When Beverly declares, “It’s my last damned New Year.  I’d like to see some fire in it,’ though, things change.  She turns towards the doors, and at her glance, they fly open.  The cold air rushes in, stoking the fires.  The hands of the clock begin to race, and midnight strikes.  And then, as all the partygoers are overcome by the magic, the dancing begins, with Beverly at the center.

Afterwards, Beverly confesses to having been terrified, and Peter protests that he didn’t see any sign of it.  “That’s because it was so deep,” she explains.

With New Year’s Eve, we come to the end of Beverly’s part in the story (maybe):

By spring, Beverly’s soul had ascended.  She died on a windy gray day in March, when the sky was full of darting crows and the world lay prostrate and defeated after winter.  Peter Lake was at her side, and it ruined him forever.

He’s a changed man, but note this:

And for the rest of his days he would be oppressed by the image of her whitened emaciated body eternally motionless in a dark root-pierced grace – or so he thought.

(the italics are in the book)

So here’s one reference to a field of blood, a place outside of the holy city where Gentiles are buried (she’s buried not in Manhattan but in the Lake of the Coheeries).  Her father soon follows her in death, and the family is scattered: Willa and Jack up to the country and Harry to Harvard and then to fight in World War I (this is why I think we’re in 1915/1916; the war hadn’t yet begun in 1913, and 1917 is too late for him to spend even a year at college before going over to fight).

Peter is left behind, and disappears from society.  He and Athansor manage to feed themselves thanks to Peter’s talent for robbery, which is not even exercised consciously:

his hands were more loyal to his stomach than to his head.

One day in September, Peter finds himself in front of a movie theater, and goes inside to see what it’s all about.  He’s stunned by the bright light, and, really, by the whole process.  After a couple of short features, Peter witnesses a film called “The City in the Third Millennium.”  It’s a filmed portrait of the painting from the Penn house.  And the final segment of this film is called “As the City of the Future Burns.”  Definitely remember that!

Peter leaves the theater, somewhat in shock, and finds a bed for the night.  He has an incredibly vivid dream, in which Beverly returns to him, glowing in white, silver and blue, holding a bridle made of stars, or possibly diamonds.  In the dream, aware that he is dreaming, Peter goes to Beverly and grips the bridle.  It cuts his hand, and then the dream fades.

Meanwhile, not far from Peter’s refuge for the night, Pearly Soames is busy.  He’s got not only his Short Tails, but the remnants of just about every gang in the city, nearly 2,000 criminal soldiers, and he’s been organizing them for a major operation.  The police are bribed to stay out of the way, and other preparations have been made.  At dawn, the sun:

illuminated a massive army of squat criminal beings, who could not resist talking loudly to each other, because they hoped for blood.

Peter Lake awakens filled with energy, and Athansor seems to know that something is up: he’s nearly vibrating with energy.  Peter takes the time to notice that his hands are badly cut, although he can’t remember how or why.  He hears the sounds of Pearly’s army, mounts Athansor and emerges to see exactly what he’s facing.

Besides the 2,000 men, Pearly has equipped his army with pikes forty feet high, to prevent Athansor from jumping.  Heavy nets are mounted between buildings for the same purpose.  There’s only one way Peter and Athansor can go – onto the Brooklyn Bridge.  But that, too, has been equipped with cables and nets to prevent flight.

Peter’s one hope is that, if Pearly’s army rushes him, an escape route may open up in the confusion.  But Pearly has thought of even that.  He sends his men in a hundred at a time, keeping the test back to stop any chance of Peter getting away.

Together, Peter and Athansor kill the first hundred, but at a heavy cost in wounds and injuries.  And Peter sees that Pearly has another hundred, and yet another hundred after that, to continue the fight until its inevitable end.

This could not be borne.

He looked at the river below.  It was very far, too far.  But it was a lovely blue, and a much better way to die, if he had to, than upon the bloodstained boards of the Great Bridge.  There was nothing to lose.  They would jump.

And they do:

Athansor arched on visible waves of power.  He compressed himself into something almost round.  Then, with a roar, he unfolded in a long white silken movement, and flew into the air

Rather than falling, Athansor rises, speeding into the cloud wall.  After a time, he finally breaks through the clouds, and they’re into the black:

What Peter saw was what Beverly had described, and he was awed beyond his capacity for awe.

But he cannot breathe, and he knows he will die if he remains atop Athansor.  So he falls, plummeting back down, into the clouds, into the cloud wall:

And then, entirely forgotten, he vanished deep into its infinite fury.

And here ends part 1.  Whew!

So: Beverly is dead, although not completely gone – Peter’s dream of her is not simply a dream; it leaves behind a physical souvenir.  And remember that dreams are one way to cross worlds (if they’re not entirely separate and completely real worlds in themselves).

And Peter is gone, vanished, forgotten, but certainly not dead.  Remember “or so he thought” ?  That will be paid off later in the book.

And what of Aceldama?  Going back to the beginning of this post, should we be thinking of Judas here?  I’m not honestly sure.  Yes, the innkeeper who sheltered Peter on his last night betrayed him to Pearly, but he’s a throwaway character, not even named, so I don’t think we can give him much importance.  Is Pearly himself Judas?  No – if anything, he was the one betrayed by Peter, not the other way around,  And yet, we can’t fault Peter for saving the Baymen, or his friend Cecil Mature.

I’m back to thinking that it’s a reference merely to the place, and not meant to call Judas – or Jesus – to mind.  But it’s an open question, and I’m curious what others think of it.

In our next chapter, we’ll be jumping forward eighty years or so, and meeting a whole new – but familiar nonetheless – cast of characters…

Nov 09

Indie Author Spotlight – Suzie DeMello and “Plotting & Planning (A Writing Manual)”

Plotting and Planning–a #Writing Manual, Just in Time for #NaNoWriMo! (@suzdemello #MFRWAuthor #iamwriting)

plotting and planning FINAL

Hey there, aspiring authors! Ever wondered how an author plots and writes a book?

Wonder no more! Suzie deMello is here to tell you the secrets, or at least a few of them.

Plotting and Planning is Suzie’s second writing treatise, following the best-selling Write This, Not That!

Here’s the blurb:

Another engaging, witty writing primer from Suz deMello, whose Write This, Not That! was an Amazon bestseller. Plotting, point of view, character creation, conflict and much more are examined in this brief but pithy writing manual.  A must for the serious writer who wants the basics without boredom.

Says bestselling author Kylie Brant: “Sue has written a concise manual that is valuable for both beginning and seasoned writers. Going to write a book? Read this first!”


Here’s an excerpt to pique your interest:

How does an author write a book?

Unfortunately for aspiring authors, this is not an easy question to answer. It’s tantamount to asking, Where do authors get their ideas? which, believe me, is our least favorite question. I often tell people I get them at Sears—they’re sold by the dozen in the basement between the barbecues and the bikes.

In reality, I get my ideas from almost anywhere. Maybe a magazine article about a place or event. Perhaps someone I meet or something a person says may trigger a train of thought that will eventually lead to a book. Maybe travel to someplace new ignites the creative spark that will inspire me.

Here’s a better question: What are the building blocks of plot and story?


If you like what you read, here’s where you can buy the ebook:



About Suz deMello:

suz w name venice mask

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for several including Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

Check out Suzie’s site: http://www.suzdemello.com

And her blog: http://www.TheVelvetLair.com

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