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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nothing New Under the Sun by Keena Kincaid

Someone recently commented that chaos would follow this election, regardless of who wins.

As an historian, I have to confess: the chaos has started.

For the most part, everyone likes history, but I think the one thing you get from studying history versus just reading history is the long-view of life on earth. You learn how to take an event and follow the ripples through the centuries and realizing that seemingly unconnected events are, in fact, so intertwined one would not happen without the other.

The best example of this is probably James Burke’s Connections series. He actually tells you what an event has to do with the price of tea in China, and the series gives you an idea of how the long-view will change how you see the world.

So what does all of this have to do with the current presidential elections? As we all know, this election is out of control. Pundits and extremists on both sides have predicted chaos on Nov. 9 if “their” candidate isn’t elected.

If you take the long-view, however, the chaos has started. It actually started decades ago, if not in the fall out of World War 1, which was itself a consequence of our on-going shift from agrarian to industrial and now to automation.

More importantly for this election, people are losing jobs and those jobs aren’t coming back regardless of campaign promises. The jobs of the future haven’t jelled yet, so we don’t know where to go for deliverance. It’s a normal part of the ebb and flow of society but it’s unsettling. Hence the anger, the preppers, the mass shootings, the rioters, the people quietly googling “where should I live after Nov. 8?"

One problem is it’s hard to see the long-view amidst chaos. A bigger problem is most people don’t even look for it.

Businesses focus on the next quarter.

Politicians focus on the next election.

People focus on the next weekend.

Few of us are looking beyond the immediate pain to see where we’re going and lay foundations to get there. Instead, we want a quick fix and assurances that we will be safe. This is why guns, bunker manufacturing, food preservation and training for the apocalypse have become multibillion-dollar industries.

Trump’s appeal lies in his outsider role and promises of quick fixes. He’s cast himself as the lone wolf hero (a very American literary archetype) and makes it OK to lay the blame for the chaos on whatever scapegoat you choose. And it’s very nice to have someone to blame…whether it’s Christians in Ancient Rome, Jews in Medieval Europe, Witches in colonial Salem or Communists in McCarthy’s America.

As a woman, the misogyny that’s erupted around this campaign reminds me that it’s easy to lose rights, even those pledged to us.

My area of study is the 12thcentury, the era of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Empress Matilda, and some men you might have heard about, Henry II (son of Matilda and husband to Eleanor), Thomas of Beckett (annoyance to Eleanor) and Richard the Lionhearted (son of Eleanor and husband to no woman).

Matilda was the only legitimate daughter of King Henry I, who had upward of 20 illegitimate children. His son and heir, William, drowned when the White Ship burned and sank in the English Channel in 1120, throwing the succession into chaos.

At the King’s urging, the barons vowed to support Matilda as “king,” but when the time came to crown her in 1140, her cousin Stephen of Blois raced to Winchester and had himself crowned before Matilda reached England. Enough of the nobility broke their vow and supported Stephen that civil war followed.

By the summer of 1141, she was winning the fight. Then the chatter started. Chroniclers tell us that Matilda:
  • Displayed “intolerable pride and willfulness”
  • Possessed an “extremely arrogant demeanor instead of the modest gait and bearing proper to the gentle sex”
  • Was “lifted up into an insufferable arrogance”
  • “Alienated the hearts of almost everyone”
  • Was “unfemininely willful and unnaturally domineering”

 Sound familiar?

For the record, Matilda never became queen. "Empress" is a nickname bestowed on her by her enemies because of her haughty nature. 

And for those keeping track, I have problems with Clinton. I think her vision is small, short-term and unprogressive. But I also think history will be kinder to her than her peers have been. History takes a long-view and knows when it’s seen this shit before.

Most importantly, though, history also tells us not to despair. Chaos ends, just as fat and happy times pass.

Even in the midst of The Black Death, people still married, still made wills, still sued their neighbor for diverting his sewer into their backyard. On the Camino, you’ll see all types of graffiti but one of the most common phrases is: LIVE YOUR LIFE.

So even as chaos rages, be kind, have faith, and live your life. 

My story Beyond All Else (set during the 12th century civil war) is part of PRP’s latest medieval anthology, One Winter Knight, which releases Thursday, Nov. 3. Here an excerpt:

The will-o-wisp flickered through the trees, a shimmering lure that her deep into the heart of the forest. Alais followed, focused solely on the light winking at her.

“Will you slow down. Not everyone is the size of a brùnaidh.

Alais looked back at her friend, who struggled to free her clothes from a thorn bush. “I am not that small.”

“You are a good deal smaller than me.” Johanna yanked her mantle, then frowned in disgust at the torn fabric. “What is your hurry? We have nowhere to go to beat the storm and war already vexes the kingdom.”

War did more than trouble a kingdom. Half the world seemed drawn into the fight between King Stephen and Empress Matilda for the throne. But Alais had bigger worries than what might vex a kingdom. A death sentence hung over her head and at least one sheriff seemed determined to deliver it personally.

In the spirit of Live Your Life share with us the one thing you've always wanted to do but haven't yet?

Monday, October 17, 2016

The White Lady of the Bridgeport Inn

Nestled high in the valley once known as Big Meadows, California is the town of Bridgeport. It was settled as gold and silver were discovered on the east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. To read more of how it became the transportation and supply hub and eventually the county seat on Mono County, please CLICK HERE.  

My fourth book in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series features a ghostly resident known as the "White Lady" who appears in what is now Room 16 of the Bridgeport Inn. In 1884, the Bridgeport Inn was known as the Leavitt House. To read a little of the history of Hiram Leavitt and the Leavitt House, please CLICK HERE.

Not much is known about who the White Lady is, how she died or why she haunts this room. However, over the years since before 1884, the time of this story, until recent years, numerous people staying in this room have reported seeing a woman wearing white standing in the room. She does not speak. She is not a poltergeist (a spirit who moves objects or is responsible for unexplained noises). She is not malicious in any manner. She merely stands in the room, then she disappears.

I interviewed Bob Peters, the current owner of the Bridgeport Inn. According to him, the White Lady is known to appear only in Room 16. Room 16 is in the front north corner of the old Leavitt House. When the inn was first built, this room had two windows, one on the side that faced north. That window is still seen in the Bridgeport Inn as it exists today. The pink arrow shows the window facing north and the green arrow points towards the Bodie Chapter E. Clampus Vitus historical marker.

However, the other window facing east towards the Bodie Hills and Nevada has been removed and an extension added to the front of the building. This photo displayed in the “Gentlemen’s Parlor” of the Bridgeport Inn (behind the current bar) and used with permission was taken a few years after 1884. The pink arrow marks the location of the Room 16 window facing east.
Leavitt House late 1880's, courtesy of the Bridgeport Inn
Mr. Peters comes from Southern California where he works in the entertainment business. He told me in the first year after he purchased the Bridgeport Inn, and before he and his wife bought a house in the area, they stayed in Room 16 when they came to Bridgeport to oversee the management of the hotel. Local residents often asked him if he has ever seen the White Lady. He told me he has never seen the ghost himself.

Mr. Peters has a copyrighted story online about the spirit known as the White Lady. He graciously gave me permission to use elements of his story as part of my novella, Haunted by Love

When I first wrote my novella, I used his story about “Sarah” in Room 16 of what was then the Leavitt House as part of my story of Hazel's arrival in Bridgeport. However, at the last minute, I pulled that version from my publisher because of my concerns about the suicide element. 

When I shared my plans to write a story about a woman who had committed suicide, I quickly learned the subject touched a lot of hot buttons. I was consistently asked to be sure to be non-judgmental and compassionate as I portrayed my spirit who had felt driven to taking her own life. I did my best to write that portion of my story in a sensitive manner. However, knowing how often my mentioning this aspect of the story upset those with whom I spoke and feeling the subject of suicide is upsetting to some of my readers, I chose instead to create a story about “Charlotte” as the White Lady. Her story is closely related to a ghost reported to haunt the City Hotel in Columbia, California.

Mr. Peters's story of the White Lady may be found by searching the internet for information about the Bridgeport Inn in California.

The sightings of the White Lady in Room 16 have been numerous enough and the tradition has existed long enough that there is a historical marker outside the Bridgeport Inn that mentions her. When you are in the area, be sure to eat at the Bridgeport Inn restaurant, perhaps spend the night there, and ask if you may visit Room 16. (Room 16 is also known as the Mark Twain room. At some point he stayed in the inn, although it is not known if he actually was a guest in Room 16 or if he saw the White Lady during his visit.)

Until you find the opportunity to visit the Bridgeport Inn, I hope you will enjoy reading my story of the White Lady in Haunted by Love which is available on Amazon. 

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. The first four novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine, A Resurrected Heart, Her Independent Spirit and Haunted by Love were published by Prairie Rose Publications. The fifth book in the series is due to be released in the near future.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Release — CAMELOT’S DESTINY by Cynthia Breeding — Giveaway!

Britain, 6th century AD…a place of Pagan magic and Christian piety, a place of mystery, treachery, and dark enchantment.  Here the legend of Camelot is born and, with it, bold passions and forbidden desire.

Young, lovely, and willful, fiery-tempered Gwenhwyfar is chosen by Arthur to be his wife and queen…an honor she reluctantly accepts.  Soon, however, she cannot ignore the awakening passion Britain’s new king ignites.  He is a lover who delights her with his touch, yet whose desires are not shared with her alone.

Seared by the forbidden kiss of Arthur’s most-trusted warrior, Lancelot, Gwenhwyfar is swept into a world of passion, torn by loyalty and love to a husband who betrays her and a man she cannot have.

But in a time where good and evil clash, where magic and chivalry reign, love will prove a weapon as powerful as any sword.

     “I will not marry Arthur!” Gwenhwyfar suddenly lost her appetite for the still-warm bannocks and freshly churned butter. She pushed away from the table in the private dining quarters of the Romano-Briton villa and stomped across the blue mosaic tile, her boots clattering, to the window overlooking the bailey. She pressed her head against the frame. Her father didn’t know about the tall, dark-haired fantasy man who had visited her in her dreams for years. That man was definitely not Arthur.
     Outside, her father’s people went about their early morning tasks, scurrying across the dusty courtyard. The dairymaids lugged warm pails of milk to the kitchens, the field workers were past the gates, the potter had his kiln’s wheel humming. Their lives were structured, routine, and secure. They knew Cameliard would provide for them.
     Leodegrance sighed and leaned back in his oaken chair. “Daughter, the messenger said that Bedwyr and Arthur would be stopping to discuss a permanent alliance to protect the land north of Eboracum. The last time Bedwyr visited, he said Arthur was thinking of settling down. What else could it be?”
     Gwenhwyfar snorted. She turned away from the window and saw her father wince. “Let him marry Elaine, then,” she said more gently. “Ever since she has lived with us, she’s prattled on about how much she wants to be married. Pelles’ lands would offer Arthur even more protection from Pictish barbarians.”

Be sure and leave a comment to enter your name in a drawing for a Camelot's Destiny ebook.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ghostriders in the Sky and The Gunfighter's Woman by Kaye Spencer

My new release, The Gunfighter's Woman, is a paranormal western romance inspired by the old cowboy song, Ghostriders in the Sky, (Stan Jones 1948).

There are a plethora of recordings of this song including those by Vaughn Monroe, Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Christopher Lee (the actor), Eddie Arnold, Peggy Lee, Gene Autry, Burl Ives, Sons of the Pioneers, Judy Collins, Roy Clark, Lawrence Welk, Baja Marimba Band, Slim Whitman,Tom Jones, Boston Pops Orchestra, Elvis Presley, Chris LeDoux. Blues Brothers,  Dean Martin, and my favorite, Marty Robbins.

The legend of the ghost rider has its roots in Europe, particularly Britanny, Ireland, Wales, Scandinavia, Spain, France, and Germany. Jacob Grimm of the fairy tales Brothers Grimm, developed the idea of the 'wild hunt' through comparative mythology that he published as Deutsche Mythologie (1835) " a folkloristic survival of Germanic pagan tradition, but comparable folk myths are found throughout Northern, Western and Central Europe...The Wild Hunt is an ancient myth of a spectral or otherworldly hunting party that sometimes appears at night."*

The Wild Hunt: Asgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo**
 The warrior-leaders most associated with some form and version of the Wild Hunt are Wodin, Wodan, Odin, Herne the Hunter, King Arthur, and Old Nick. A few modern works of literature that use the Wild Hunt myth as part of the story are Sir Artur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, William Butler Yeats' 1893 poem The Hosting of the Sidhe, and Susan Cooper's 1973 book series The Dark is Rising. There are also comic books, movies, and operas with the wild hunt/ghost rider theme woven throughout or as the predominate story line. I've read that Ghostriders in the Sky was the inspiration for the song Riders on the Storm by the Doors.

I incorporate the wild hunt in the form of the cowboy ghost riders in The Gunfighter's Woman as a motivating force in the hero's life to change his ways. This story was originally published in 2006 as a novella, and now, nine years later and with a significant amount of plot added to the story, it is novel length with a deeper romance and a nastier villain. The ghost riders still want to claim the hero's soul, but he's not going down without a fight now that he's found the love of a good woman.


When beautiful widow Brenna Gérard comes upon semi-conscious gunfighter Matt Caddock, all hell is about to break loose. An unholy storm’s a-brewin’, and Brenna makes a split-second decision to save Matt from the spectral fire-eyed cowboys who forever chase the devil’s herd—and pick up lost souls along the way.

Once they reach the safety of the ranch, Brenna cares for Matt’s wounds and makes him welcome—no questions asked. But Matt must learn to accept the fact that Brenna is being guarded for a while longer by her deceased husband’s spirit—and he’s not leaving her just yet.

Though Matt and Brenna are fast falling in love, there’s the matter of a fortune in gold that stands between them—gold that Matt never wanted, but now must find and use to keep Brenna’s ranch from failing. Archer, an outlaw who Matt once partnered with, wants that gold just as badly—and he’s prepared to kill for it.

Can Matt settle the score with Archer and keep Brenna safe? And when the ghost riders return on the next lightning-laced storm, will they be taking Matt with them? Or will the love of THE GUNFIGHTER’S WOMAN be enough to ensure the future they hope for together?


“Brenna!” Matt left the bed in one frantic heart-pounding leap, sending the bedside table crashing. “Brenna!” With a Colt clamped in his fist, he stood with his back to the far wall. Raking his gaze over every inch of the moonlit room, he searched the shadows and corners.

The door flew open. “Matt! What—” Whirling out of modesty, she put her back to him.

Matt made a catapulting leap onto the bed, snatched up his trousers, and grabbed Brenna’s arm on his way out of the room. Hustling her along through the kitchen, he hit the porch door with such force it wedged open and ripped the cheesecloth from the upper half.

Words came fast as he pulled on his trousers while clutching his revolver. “Someone… A man. There was a man standing at the foot of my bed. One second he was there and the next he was gone. Just gone. What in hell fire was that? Who was that?”

Brenna’s smile turned to giggles. “Gregory.”

Comprehension arrived on frowning silence. “But…he’s… Hell, you said he was dead. How could he be in that bedroom?” He shook his gun toward the door.

“That was our bedroom, and he died there. I changed bedrooms after he started visiting me in the night. I didn’t think he would return to that bedroom once he began rocking in his chair by the fireplace. Obviously, I was wrong.”

Matt stepped back, his gun arm lowering. “He rocks in a chair?” He blew out a slow, hard breath. “That’s plumb crazy.” Wagging a finger at her, he accused, “I think you’ve been alone out here too long. You’ve got a case of prairie madness.”

Brenna crossed her arms. “Then we’re both crazy. You saw him, too.”

Matt opened his mouth then clamped it shut. “Damn.” Shoving his Colt into the waistband of his trousers, he went to the edge of the porch and stood in the doorway...

Available on Amazon - KindleUnlimited and Purchase - The Gunfighter's Woman

I'll give away two digital copies of The Gunfighter's Woman from comments left on this post. Please leave your contact information with your comment, so I'll have a way to contact you in case I draw your name. I’ll keep this comment-to-win opportunity open until 6:00 p.m. MDT October 15th, 2016.

Until next time,

Writing the West one romance upon a time


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Haunted Route 66 in Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

Established in 1926, Route 66 was one of the main highways in the U.S. Highway System. Sometimes called the Will Rogers Highway, it became one of the most famous roads in America, running from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. Stops in between included St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Winslow (Arizona), and Barstow (California). Decommissioned in 1985, sections of the highway have been designated a National Scenic Byway of the “Historic Route 66.”

After World War II, Route 66 became the ultimate road trip for intrepid travelers, leaving a lasting impression in life, and perhaps even in death.

The Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff has many ghostly sightings. John Wayne—a guest while filming in Monument Valley—believed he encountered the Phantom Bellboy, who knocks on doors and announces, “room service.” Other spirits include a bank robber who haunts the lounge where he bled to death, an elevator attendant who assists guests, and a woman who stares out the window of Room 305. It’s also been reported that a ghostly Alan Ladd once approached Room 309, which is named after him.

The Red Garter Inn, a former saloon and bordello in Williams, has reports of doors slamming and footsteps when no one is around. Many believe the culprit is a young Hispanic woman named Eve, although no one knows why. Other ghosts include a man who was knifed on the staircase leading to the brothel and an old man who committed suicide.

In 1927, Walter Peck discovered the Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs. He offered tours to Route 66 travelers, pointing out the remains of “cavemen” who later proved to be the skeletal remnants of Hualapai tribesman. Visitors to the caves, especially those who stay overnight, report hearing moaning sounds, seeing shadowy figures, and having rocks aggressively thrown at them from the area where the skeletons were removed. The bunkhouse is also allegedly haunted.

The El Trovatore Motel in Kingman reports that many guests have heard children talking in the parking lot. This has been an ongoing phenomenon for many years. The children are never seen and seem to come from a gorge where Native Americans used to live behind the motel.

La Posada Hotel, located in Winslow, Arizona, was one of the last hotels built for the Fred Harvey Company and designed by the famous Southwest architect Mary Jane Colter. It is said there are ghosts on the property, confirmed by several ghost hunters, but none appear to be malicious. Instead, it’s believed they are the spirits of people who want to return to the most exciting trip they’d ever taken.

Route 66 runs along Interstate 40 in Arizona, and this 158-mile stretch is the longest remaining intact section in the nation.

Have a happy and spooky October.

Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. She’s the author of several historical western romances, all set in the American southwest. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two chocolate labs, and whichever of their four teenage children happen to be in residence.

Connect with Kristy

Read these spooky western romances for FREE in Kindle Unlimited.

Monday, October 10, 2016


That title sounds rather like a Peter, Paul and Mary tune, doesn’t it?  It’s also the truth. Fall is here and winter is not far behind.

It’s the time of changing colors, mums, football and sweaters. Four our great-grands, it would have been harvest time. That means canning and smoking meat and cutting firewood and… The list must have felt endless, even to them.

I am a farmer’s granddaughter. Though by the time I was five, the farm was sold and my dad’s folks were living in town, I remember the stories. Grandma still canned and made bread five loaves at a time—she fed a large extended family on the farm--and scrapple. 

[Scrapple is made with leftover scraps of pork. Since Grandma used everything but the oink, she also took the bits of available meat from the pig’s head. I’ll never forget the “Godfather” moment of coming face to snout with the porcine cranial unit sitting on ice in Grandma’s utility sink. Almost put me off scrapple… Almost.]

I wonder if all the stories of all that work are why I almost always set my stories in spring or summer? March, April, June… There was still work, but not the kind that would mean eating or starving over a long, cold winter.

Even HER SANCTUARY, my latest release included in the boxed set, A KISS TO REMEMBER, is set in March.  In the first draft, the story was a Halloween tale, but it ended up at Easter time instead. Oh, well. There’s always next time.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

New Release -- THE GUNFIGHTER'S WOMAN by Kaye Spencer -- Giveaway!

When beautiful widow Brenna Gérard comes upon semi-conscious gunfighter Matt Caddock, all hell is about to break loose. An unholy storm’s a-brewin’, and Brenna makes a split-second decision to save Matt from the spectral fire-eyed cowboys who forever chase the devil’s herd—and pick up lost souls along the way.

Once they reach the safety of the ranch, Brenna cares for Matt’s wounds and makes him welcome—no questions asked. But Matt must learn to accept the fact that Brenna is being guarded for a while longer by her deceased husband’s spirit—and he’s not leaving her just yet.

Though Matt and Brenna are fast falling in love, there’s the matter of a fortune in gold that stands between them—gold that Matt never wanted, but now must find and use to keep Brenna’s ranch from failing. Archer, an outlaw who Matt once partnered with, wants that gold just as badly—and he’s prepared to kill for it.

Can Matt settle the score with Archer and keep Brenna safe? And when the ghost riders return on the next lightning-laced storm, will they be taking Matt with them? Or will the love of THE GUNFIGHTER’S WOMAN be enough to ensure the future they hope for together?


     It wasn’t the first time her husband had returned since his death. A few weeks after his funeral, she’d awakened to find him standing at her bedside, a silent, oddly comforting presence, yet a disconcerting one all the same. Gregory had been as easy to talk to as he was a considerate listener, so she’d asked him why he was there. His voice came to her as a distant, hollow whisper on a breath as fleeting as butterfly wings in flight.
     I’m watching over you until he arrives.
     She knew well of whom he spoke. How often this mysterious man had come into her dreams, she couldn’t say. She didn’t know his name or his face, and he never spoke, but she knew his eyes—eyes as wild and untamed as the man himself. When he visited, he arrived from nowhere and left the same way, lingering just long enough in her sleeping mind for her to know he was waiting for her. There was strength and love in his heart, and she felt safe and satisfied whenever she dreamed of him. She couldn’t explain why, but Gregory had felt it, too, for the man had wandered into Gregory’s dreams not long before his death. He’d taken it as a portent of her future well-being and happiness, and because believing in this man gave him peace, Brenna accepted it, too.

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a free ebook of The Gunfighter's Woman.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How I Introduce New Characters In A Series by Sarah J. McNeal

I like to give readers a preview of a character whose story will be coming up either next or somewhere close down the line in my Wildings series. I want to give them enough about an upcoming character to make them familiar with the character and maybe even know a flaw or weakness in the character’s personality to get the reader’s attention. Occasionally, I’ll even set up a tiny piece to show the reader a situation with the new character that may cause the character pain or shed light on a danger or problem they face.
I’ve noticed how some of my favorite authors introduce characters, especially family members, in a story previous to their own that gives an indication of their personality, flaws, or desires. Linda Lael Miller will often have 3 brothers, 3 sisters or friends with a shared circumstance at the beginning of a series. I like how I anticipate that next character’s story after reading tidbits here and there in the present book. My interest gets roused by something the character says or does that tells me something’s up with that guy and I want to know what it is.

In the short story, UNEXPECTED BLESSINGS, I introduced the next heroine, Lucille Thoroughgood, a straight-laced woman who speaks her mind and works as a social worker at the orphanage…a job she takes very seriously.
Lucille Thoroughgood:
Miss Thoroughgood’s eyes darted away for a moment and her pale skin pinkened. “I’m sorry. Like you, I wanted to place them all in the same home, but you must know how difficult that is. Not many foster homes are willing to take on so many children at once. Even the few that are willing, don’t have enough room to accommodate so many children, especially if they already have children in the home.  Surely you can understand how difficult it is. Believe me, it’s all for the—“

From THE BEAST OF HAZARD I introduced “the frowner”, Hank Wilding who would become the hero in HOME FOR THE HEART.
“Well, hang on, let’s hear what Joey has to say about it. What do you think, cousin? Is this a hell hound, or something like a bear or other big predator?” Hank spoke in that deep, commanding voice that made people listen.
*  *  *
“I agree. This thing has been mighty brazen so far. It could decide to attack humans.” Hank knelt beside Joey and lowered his voice. “It’s got you puzzled, too, doesn’t it?”
“I have to say, I don’t have any quick answers here.”
“I think it’s one of them freaks from the circus that just come to town. Nothing happened ‘til they came,” one of the ranchers declared.
Joey and Hank exchanged a look. Joey stood and faced the ranchers. “I’ll ride over to the fairgrounds in the morning and see if they’re missing one of their animals. Meanwhile, let’s get this mess cleaned up before it attracts more predators.” He glanced at his cousin. “I’ll meet you here tomorrow after I’ve seen to the clinic animals and we’ll search the area. Maybe Sam and Kyle can come along.”

As I wrote Lucy and Hank’s story in HOME FOR THE HEART, I showed how Hank’s twin, Kit, suffered with “battle fatigue” or PTSD as we call it today and his unlikely love interest, June Wingate. June is a spirited young teacher who is impulsive and sometimes reckless. Kit knows there is something off about June’s family and, whatever it is, he is determined to help her through it.
June and Kit:
Another vehicle pulled up beside her and screeched to a stop. That would be Lucy’s friend, June, a teacher who volunteered at the orphanage. Hank’s twin brother, Kit, sat beside her in the passenger side. His eyes were wide and his hands clung to the dashboard as the dust settled from the sudden stop. June was not a great driver, but that didn’t stop her from loving to drive, or from laying on the gas.
“I’ll drive us back to the orphanage when we finish,” Kit growled as he disembarked from June’s automobile.
Lucy noticed the pallor of Kit’s face and the beaded line of perspiration on his upper lip. His hands shook and his eyes had a wild, dilated look to them. She’d seen it before with soldiers who suffered emotional trauma during the war. Some called it shell shock. Whatever it was, she knew that it could be paralyzing to those who experienced it. She decided to ask Hank about his brother later in private.
June stepped out of the car and glanced at Lucy. Her brows pulled together above the bridge of her nose in a worried furrow. She hastened her steps toward Kit and took his arm to stop him. Lucy couldn’t make out everything June said, but she did hear the words, “I’m sorry”, and then something like, “I didn’t mean to make you fear for your life.” Some other words followed and then Kit halted his steps, and turned to face June.
His words were clear. “I didn’t fear for my life; I feared for yours. You’re reckless with it as if you have no end of tomorrows.” He pulled his arm from her grasp and took long strides toward Hank who watched the scene between Kit and June unfold with a solemn, thin-lipped grimace.
Lucy greeted her impulsive friend and Kit warmly and waved to Hank before she went to help the rest of the children out of the car.

I also showed more of Kyle Red Sky’s struggle with his Lakota heritage. Kyle is a cousin to the Wildings. He has played a secondary character in several stories leading up to his own. As he deals with the prejudices against his Lakota heritage, the mysterious new owner of his mother’s dress shop comes to town. She hides half her face behind a mass of red curls and keeps her own counsel. Kyle has dreamed of her and knows she has faced danger with a courage he admires, but he also knows she is still in danger. When she moves into his old apartment above the garage, they begin to exchange notes on the refrigerator. Through the notes, a bond is forming between them, one that may get one or both of them killed.
“I’m afraid so, honey. I like you, Lucy. As a matter of fact, I like you a lot. I don’t want to see you get hurt or just end up with nothing but a broken heart.”
She saw the look of genuine concern in Kyle’s eyes. His words had pierced her heart, but she knew he meant well. He didn’t want her to have unrealistic expectations of a future with Hank or see her get hurt. “I know, Kyle. But I don’t think we get to choose who we fall in love with. It’s true, I may end up an old maid if Hank never loves me back, but I can’t imagine loving someone else. I’d rather have his friendship than nothing at all.”
“That’s a mighty sad way of thinking. Hank might fall in love against his will I suppose, but that doesn’t mean he’d ever let the woman know his feelings, let alone ask her to marry him.” A wide grin broke out on his handsome face. “Just in case you decide to give up on Grumpy, I volunteer to be your backup plan.”
Lucy could not suppress her laughter. “You crazy, wonderful man. I can hear all the hearts breaking all over town the day you fall in love and take a wife.”
His grin disappeared and, for an instant, Lucy noticed a fleeting shadow cross Kyle’s face. “I sincerely doubt that, Lucy girl. Women may want to flirt with me, get my attention, or even roll around in bed with me because they think I’m handsome—and I am you know.” He gave her a teasing grin. “But most of them would never consider me for a husband because I am part Lakota.”

I’ve learned so much about writing a series through personal experience and through reading series books by other authors. When it’s done right, it is such a joy to read serial books. To learn more about my Wilding stories, click onto “The Wildings” in my signature.
Have you written a series? How did you project interest for the next book in the series? Did you have the next hero or heroine play a secondary role in the previous book?
As a reader, do you like to read books in a series? Do you like to have a hint about an upcoming character in a preceding novel or story? Do you like having an idea of who the characters are, or do you want them to be a complete surprise to you? 

Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media: