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Thursday, October 19, 2017

New Release -- THE MARSHAL’S LADY by Josie Malone

While trailing a serial killer on horseback, homicide detective Beth Chambers finds she has somehow ridden back in time—to 1888! When she comes across injured Marshal Rad Morgan, she has no choice but to try to save his life. Though Rad believes a lady should stand behind her man, headstrong Beth is determined to catch the killer she’s chased through time, and prove she’s a capable law enforcement officer in any century—despite the distraction of love.


Suddenly, Beth heard a short yip from Luke. The dog had found something of interest. A low, menacing growl came next. It meant the discovery was male, a human male, which the large German shepherd considered fair game. His refusal to work with men had almost ended the canine’s career with the department before it started.
“Luke, hold.” She called the order in a low voice. Had she found Smith already? Why wasn’t he shooting at Luke or her? She pulled her carbine from the scabbard.
Tigger snorted as they came around a bend. He leaped sideways as he caught a glimpse of the shadowy figure huddled near a boulder. Luke stood in front of the man. The dog continued to growl, hackles raised.
Beth cursed the dusk. The moonlight didn’t help her see much. She couldn’t get a clear view of the man, but he appeared bigger than her suspect. “Smith?”
“No.” The stranger groaned. “I’m hurt. Bad.”
Beth shoved her rifle back into its holder as she thought of the reporters who hung around the precinct. This would make a great human interest story. It’d go national, and people all over the United States would have the news on their televisions and computers with their morning mochas.
Her voice deepened with frustration and impatience. She had more important things to do than help this man. “What the hell are you doing here, then?”


Wednesday, October 18, 2017


OPENING HOOKS-by Celia Yeary

   "It was a dark and stormy night…" No, no, never begin a story with the weather. The reader will skip ahead and look for action or characters, or heaven forbid, close the book.The nineteenth-century Gothic novels opened with long brooding descriptions of the weather, or a monologue recounting the entire genealogy of the family in the story, enough to make one's eyes glaze over.
   Okay, let's see. "I was falling, falling…and then I woke up." Nope, I remember, now, NEVER open a book with a dream--or an alarm clock or phone ringing.
   What about something really funny? For example, "Nearing the table with a tray of filled tea glasses, her foot slipped on spilled gravy…." Uh, oh. That's on the list of no-no's, too.
   Such a list exists, in fact. The admonitions may vary slightly, but editors are programmed to stop reading a submission after the first sentence or first paragraph if she/he sees these red flags. This means if the editor stops reading, so will a reader.
   In today's world, the reader wants and deserves action, the inciting incident, the reason for the story, and he wants it right away. In some manner, the opening sentence or first paragraph or first chapter must give the reader what he wants--"What is this novel about?"      Grabbing the attention of an editor you'd like to impress or a reader you'd like to keep is an art form all its own. Books galore sit on shelves or can be found on-line that help the budding author or the experienced one who wants a refresher course learn a bit more about a good beginning.
Here are the beginning lines from six different novels.

1. The truth had long been settling on Jonathan Gray, sneaking into his resisting corners, but it had finally resounded in the deepest part of him. (The Fulfillment: LaVyrle Spencer

2.  He'd known all day something was about to go down, something life-changing and entirely new. ( Montana Creeds: Dylan: Linda Lael Miller)

3.  Sister Bernadette Ignatius and Tom Kelly sat in the back seat of a black cab, driving from Dublin's airport through the city. (What Matters Most: Luanne Rice)

4. It was well known around Russellville, Alabama, that Tommy Lee Gentry drove like a rebellious teenager, drank like a parolee fresh out, and whored like a lumberjack at the first spring thaw. (The Hellion: LaVyrle Spencer)

5.When Ella Brown woke up that morning, she didn't expect it to be a momentous day. (Rainwater: Sandra Brown)

6. A sharp clip-clop of iron-shod hoofs deadened and died away, and clouds of yellow dust drifted from under the cottonwoods and out over the sage. (Riders of the Purple Sage: Zane Grey

These opening lines come from Best-Selling authors. Do we need to pay closer attention to the novels we read? Go to a bookstore, find a shelf of best-sellers in romance, and open several to study the first page. Just read the first line.Make a list of the kind of “hooks” that interest you in a book. Your list may be the same as mine.

1. Attention-getting
2. Exciting
3.Pulls me into the story
4. Straight forward
5. Brief and punchy
6. Rouses curiosity
7. Emotionally charged
8. A declarative sentence

Hooking your reader is not easy, but with a little self-study, you can improve your chances with editors and with a reader. With your next or current WIP, try writing five opening sentences and ask fellow authors or your critique partners help you select one. You might consult a good friend, too, one you know will give you an honest answer.

Happy Writing!
Celia Yeary-Romance…and a little bit of Texas
My Website
Sweethearts of the West-Blog
My Facebook Page

Monday, October 16, 2017

Haunted City Hotel in Columbia, California

This hotel sits on the site of what was originally a blacksmith’s shop and the Lager Beer Saloon. In 1860 it was converted to a hardware store. 

In 1865, owner George Morgan added a frame structure called Morgan’s City Hotel. He continued to add on and made space for a bar, a music hall and theater, a restaurant, Cheap John Louis’s Auction House, and Shine and Company’s Stage Line. Even when Columbia’s fires damaged his building complex, he patched it up and reopened its doors.

City Hotel dining room today
This complex of businesses was run by George Morgan’s family after his death until 1911 when it was sold. In 1947, the State of California purchased the building to become part of the new state park and the building was renovated. The hotel had no indication of paranormal activity until an ornate antique bed from the 1850-1870’s period was moved into Room #1. 

Many of the furnishings for the City Hotel renovation were originally imported from Europe to fill some of San Francisco's finest mansions. More than a century later they made their way to Columbia. One of the hotel's furniture focal points is the ornately carved bed in Room #1, for in addition to its fine craftsmanship and artistic design, it came with a tragic history. It seems a woman, who hotel guests and staff came to name Elizabeth, actually died in childbirth in the bed.

Ever since the bed was moved into Room #1, doors open and close randomly, and often a perfumed "scent of a woman" will waft through the room with no apparent cause. Lights flicker on and off. On one occasion, a child repeatedly awakened his mother to tell her he was afraid of the woman dressed in white who stood at the foot of the bed.

The staff named the ghost Elizabeth. Later they discovered a woman named Elizabeth had died during childbirth while in that bed. Either, Elisabeth was so attached to the bed, she came with it from San Francisco to Columbia. Or, she has been in the vacant hotel all along, but became active with the arrival of the bed. Several paranormal investigators who visited the hotel came to conclusion there was a some type of tragedy involving a baby, grief and an atmosphere of sadness that can still be felt in Room #1.

City Hotel and What Cheer Saloon
Carol Biederman, a ghost tour guide in Columbia, discovered through intensive research that there had been a brawl in the saloon on the first floor of the building, which was just under Room #1. Guns were drawn, shots were fired, and a stray bullet went through the room’s ceiling into Room #1 on the second floor. The bullet killed a baby in that room, which could account for the aura of sadness.

Reports of paranormal activity in other rooms in the hotel have been made. Some people claim George Morgan, who hanged himself during a period of despondency, still makes the rounds in his hotel to make sure everything is going well.

My one and only ghost story to date takes place in the Leavitt House, a hotel in Bridgeport, California on the other side of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains from Columbia. There is a ghost associated with Room #16 in the Leavitt House, however, no one knows who she is, or what causes her to stay at the hotel. The genesis of the story I wrote was based on the reports of the woman who died in childbrith at the City Hotel in Columbia.

Williams, Nancy K.; Haunted Hotels of the California Gold Country

Here is an Excerpt:

     Hazel knew she had a long day ahead of her the next morning. She decided she might as well put on her nightgown, brush out her hair and prepare for bed. She noticed when she walked toward the opposite side of the room to pick up her valise, the feeling of sadness faded. But, when she walked back toward the dressing table, it increased slightly. Her curiosity aroused, Hazel once again walked toward the side window of the room. The feeling of sorrow again intensified.

     “Go away.”
     Hazel froze in place. Someone was speaking to her. She quickly stepped back until she reached the bottom corner of the bed. The sense of sadness once again diminished. But that did not answer the question now in Hazel’s mind. A tingle of fear coursed through her as she realized she was not alone in the room.
     “Who’s there?”
     “Go away. Leave me alone.”
     Her legs trembling, Hazel clung to the post at the foot of the bed. She had heard the voice twice now. Only, it wasn’t a voice she heard. The words entered her mind as plainly as if someone stood next to her and spoke to her, but they did not come through her ears first. And, in spite of the two lamps casting their soft glow throughout the room, she could not see anyone. 
      “Who are you? I know you’re here, but I can’t see you none.”

      “Leave my room. Go away.”

      Leave her room? Hazel had heard the Leavitt’s talking about this room belonging to a Sarah. But, they said she wasn’t there. Or, was she?
      Hazel swallowed in an attempt to keep her throat from closing with fear. “Are-are you Sarah?”
     “I’m Sarah. How do you know of me?”
     “Right pleased to meet you, Sarah. Mr. Leavitt done told me about you, and he said you like stayin’ in this room, but he said he ain’t seen you for a spell.”
      “I’m here. Leave me.”
      “I don’t mean you no harm, Sarah. I done told Mr. Leavitt I didn’t want to put you out none, but he said it ain’t no problem seein’ as how there ain’t no other room I can stay in and I don’t want to share a room with Mr. Sweeney.”
      Hazel waited, but heard no response. “I can tell you’re here, Sarah, and you seem powerful sad, but I can’t see you none. Are-are you under the bed, or hidin’ in a closet?”
      Hazel gasped for breath and gripped the bedpost until her fingers ached as she witnessed what took place before her eyes. Where before there was a carpet with a red, blue and cream design next to the bed between the side window and a table at the head of the bed, she now watched as a mound of white materialized on top. A dark spot in the center which Hazel soon realized it was hair flowing down the back of a head to someone’s shoulders lifted. A face appeared beneath it. The face belonged to an attractive young woman perhaps only a few years older than she was. Hazel had no idea how the woman accomplished it, but the woman rose to her feet as if pulled up by a puppeteer’s string until she stood at her full height. The two studied each other. Hazel’s eyes never left Sarah’s face, yet with her peripheral vision Hazel could not help but notice the beautiful design of the white gown worn by the woman before her.
      Gradually, the fear Hazel felt faded. The person before her radiated sorrow, but nothing Hazel considered threatening. She began to suspect what she was seeing, but wanted to confirm it.
      “You’re a haint, ain’t you?”

You may read more about Haunted by Love by Zina Abbott by CLICKING HERE on the purchase link. The book is available for Kindle on Amazon. You may also read it with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017


A woman with no home…

Beautiful Southern belle Julia Jackson has just been informed she and her niece must find a new home immediately—or else. With no family to turn to in Georgia, Julia takes a mighty gamble and answers an advertisement for a nursemaid in wild Indian Territory—for the child of a man she knows nothing about. Together, she and five-year-old Lauralee waste no time as they flee to the safety of the new position Julia has accepted. She can only hope this move will be the start of a bright future for them away from Lauralee’s dangerous much older half-brother.

A rancher with no heart…

The death of Devlin Campbell’s young daughter has ripped the light from his life. Though the birth of his son, little Jamie, should have been a source of happiness, the subsequent loss of his wife forces Dev to ignore his emotions and trudge through life’s joyless responsibilities. But all that changes with the arrival of Miss Julia Jackson from Atlanta! Not at all what Dev is expecting in response to his ad, his resentment boils over at her failure to mention her tag-along niece—a painful reminder of the loss of his own little girl just two years earlier. Yet, how can he deny the sunshine Julie brings into his drab existence with her very presence?

Can love find a way?

In the depths of Dev’s boundless sorrow and his accompanying anger, is there room in his life for anyone else as Christmas approaches? Can Julie convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…

THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON is available now for pre-order for KINDLE, and will release on October 26 in both digital and paperback. It’s full of action, suspense, and of course, Christmas magic!

Here's the link to order THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON for your very own! It will also be available in paperback on October 26.
Fall is definitely here, and it’s time to settle down with a good book in a comfy chair with a favorite beverage (and maybe some chocolate!) and read, read, read!

Going back to school can be a killer!

Phyllis Newsom and Sam Fletcher come out of retirement to take substitute teacher jobs as a favor for some friends, but they soon realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That means getting up early, dealing with students and other teachers, and helping out with extracurricular activities. The problem is, for Phyllis, stumbling over dead bodies is an extracurricular activity!

When murder strikes at the school’s Friday the Thirteenth dance, it’s unlucky not only for the victim but also for the student who’s the prime suspect. Sam’s granddaughter has a crush on the boy and can’t believe he’s a killer. Neither can Phyllis. The police are convinced, though, so the only way Phyllis can help him is to uncover the true identity of the killer stalking the halls of the high school before it’s too late!


     The light downstairs went out before they reached the stairwell. Phyllis frowned. If Mr. McCracken was down there cleaning he should have been moving around enough to keep the light on. Unless he was inside one of the classrooms, then the light might have gone off, she reasoned.
     Then it came on again.
      Something about the way things were happening made a chill run down her back. She was at the top of the stairs now, so she stopped and called, “Mr. McCracken?”
     A strange sound came from below. It might have been a human groan. Ronnie exclaimed, “What was that?”
     The lights went off again.
     “Ronnie,” Phyllis said, “I’m starting to get the feeling that something is wrong. Go back to the cafeteria and find your grandfather.”
     “What are you going to do?” Ronnie gestured toward the stairs. “Go down there and see what it is we heard? It might be a . . . a monster!”
     “You don’t believe in monsters.”
     “Right now, I don’t disbelieve in them.”


Gideon thought he had the perfect life as a musician with a beautiful model as his girlfriend, until he was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Ashamed and afraid he may die, Gideon hits bottom when his girlfriend dumps him for a real man.

Hope comes in the form of his father’s ghost and a person he has just met. Can he beat the odds and survive? And if he does, can he ever find happiness again?


     Gideon rose up out of the ether of anesthesia as his senses began to return to him. Pain seared across his chest beneath the bandages. He opened his eyes to the too-bright white of the hospital room and the smell of antiseptics and fresh linen. He glanced up at the bottle of clear fluid dripping into the plastic tubing that ran down to his arm where it disappeared under the cover of a small dressing. Thank God, he couldn’t see the needle, where it pierced his skin.
     A soft knock, and the door opened. Doctor Swanson walked through the portal, across the room to Gideon’s bed. He took up the chair next to the bed and sat down. The doctor’s face grew solemn as he folded his hands and bent his head to stare at them for a few moments. When he lifted his head, he peered straightforwardly into Gideon’s eyes, with unflinching resolve in the determined, thin line of his mouth.
     Gideon’s heart fell in gritty pieces into the pit of his stomach where it sat cold and heavy like a coiled snake ready to strike. He knew the answer before he asked the question but he had to ask it, just the same. “Well Doc, what’s the verdict?”
     “I’m sorry, Gideon, it was malignant...

Kala's position as tour guide at a Kentucky Welcome Center isn't enough to cope with huge debts left by her late husband's illness, but she manages to make ends meet, until she has car trouble. To save on future repairs, she enrolls in a basic auto-care class. 

Rex is a handsome, part-time instructor whose broken heart needs repairing, too. After recently losing his important job and family, he has sworn never to get involved with another woman.

Kala discounts her growing attraction to Rex when she learns he is years younger, until the winter storm of the century throws them together. When the Interstate closes down, Kala opens her home to a houseful of strangers. Despite fire, flood, and friction, she creates an old-fashioned holiday rich in the true spirit of Christmas. In the process, will Kala and Rex discover the greatest gift of all?

Once in love, Leigh and Russell are maneuvered into spending time together during the Christmas holidays. Recovering from a tragedy, Leigh vows never to be responsible for a child again while Russell faces deciding custody of his two daughters after his ex-wife remarries.

Even as their attraction flares once more, how can they possibly overcome the obstacles life has placed between them? Then toss an arsonist, a lovable Labrador, and an unwanted stepfather into the situation... 

Will the twelve days of Christmas be time enough to sort it all out?

Heart-warming Civil War Tales

A Season of MiraclesCaroline Ross, a Confederate widow, desperately seeks medical help for her little son in the Union Army camp. 

John Oldham, a soldier disowned by his family for choosing the wrong side, comes to her aid. 

As they keep a vigil for days at Danny's bedside, a close relationship develops between them. John longs for a family and wants to make Caroline and Danny his own. Will his wish come true in this season of miracles?
• ♥ •
A Season for Love Elizabeth Harper, a recent widow, is in danger of losing her home and livelihood to her late husband's brother who is claiming legal ownership.

Matthew Sutton, a homeless wounded veteran, takes on her cause when he agrees to become her husband to stop Fred Harper's takeover. Elizabeth and Matthew have no intentions of falling in love, but love happens. Can she convince him that she looks beyond his past allegiance and useless arm and loves the man he has become?
• ♥ •
A Season to Forgive Enid Sutton is resigned to remaining single and caring for her dictatorial father in the aftermath of the Civil War. When Judge Sutton suffers a heart attack, Enid sends for his estranged son who returns and brings his new family with him.

Ben Taylor arrives to claim his deceased aunt's property and convert the mansion into a school for freedmen, but his plans go awry.

Grab a cup of coffee and settle down into your easy chair to ride the range with some of the most exciting tales of the Old West you’ll find anywhere! This collection is called BEST OF THE WEST for a very good reason—IT IS!

These fourteen stories will have you standing beside lawmen and outlaws as the bullets fly, saddling up some of the best horseflesh to be found West of the Mississippi, and wagering your livelihood on the turn of a card. Tales that include savvy swindles, gunfights, loves lost (and found!), the making of an outlaw and the secret protection of a president will draw you in and hang on tight.

This anthology is bustin’ with acclaimed Western authors such as James Reasoner, Livia J. Washburn, Jackson Lowry, Kit Prate, Charlie Steel, Richard Prosch, Big Jim Williams, Cheryl Pierson, J.L. Guin, Clay More, and David Amendola.
What are you waitin’ for, pardner? You’re burnin’ daylight! Happy trails!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Medieval Vampires and a Dark Maiden

Medieval people believed in ghosts and in evil necromancers, using devilish arts to re-animate the dead or to control demons. They believed in witchcraft and charms and magic. They believed in succubii and incubii. Vampires, however, do not really make an appearance until the fourteenth century. Why then?

In 1348 the Black Death struck Europe. Thousands died and thousands of rotting corpses had to be buried, often in mass graves. Sights of these bodies was often grisly and bloody, and so the idea of the vampire, feeding on the blood of the living, came into force.

Recently a body in a medieval Italian mass grave on the Venetian island of Lazzaretto Nuovo was found with a slab of rock slammed between its jaws – a crude anti-vampire measure. The dead woman was suspected by the grave-diggers of being a vampire, possibly because of gruesome sights around her decomposing body when they had re-opened the mass grave to bury more plague victims. So the frightened grave-diggers put a brick in her mouth to stop her chewing through her shroud and escaping the grave to infect others. A very grisly measure!

I touch on vampires in my medieval historical romance, Dark Maiden. My heroine, Yolande, spends a lot of time persuading others that the spirits or supernatural creatures they are dealing with are not vampires, mainly because she knows they are not and because the ways of dealing with vampires is very violent and would be distressing to bereaved families. I do have her fighting vampires however, if only in her dreams, and then she shows what a medieval exorcist would have to do.

Read Chapter One

[Vampire image published Paris, 1820. Sourced from Wikimedia Commons.]

Lindsay Townsend