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Thursday, October 26, 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 door banged open behind the three, a gust of icy wind howling in before the tall man who’d entered could get it shut.
Lauralee hugged herself and shivered, then ran to the blazing hearth to the warmth. She eyed the man warily as she crouched before the fireplace.

Julia turned the baby away from the cold, until she heard the door shut behind her.

“What the devil—” the man bit out savagely.

When Julia’s gaze shot to his, her heart sank. This must be Mr. Campbell, her employer. And he was bending the fiercest glare she’d ever seen on Lauralee, who cowered by the fireplace.

Julia quickly gathered herself. Over the past few years, she’d had more than her fair share of life-changing surprises. Her parents had been killed in a runaway carriage accident when she was ten. Her older brother, Jerome, and sister, Helena, had tried to hold onto the family’s holdings, but Jerome’s penchant for gambling had ended up landing them all on the street.

It hadn’t been too much longer before Jerome had been found in an alley with his throat cut—and Helena had had to marry quickly to give herself and Julia a home. Now that Helena was gone, Julia knew she could never be parted from her niece. Helena had provided for Julia when there’d been no one else—now, Julia would keep Lauralee safe from the world—including the likes of the very unpleasant Mr. Devlin Campbell!

“I assume you are Mr. Campbell?” Julia asked uncertainly, as she stepped toward him, extending one hand. She shifted Jamie to her hip. “I’m Miss Julia Jackson,” she continued primly, “up from Savannah way—your new nursemaid for young Jamie, here. And this—” she stepped to the side as Dev took her hand— “is Miss Lauralee Redmond.”

Lauralee, it seemed, had recovered, as well. She had risen to her feet, and stood glaring at the man, her hands on her hips.

He glared right back at her, barely sparing Julia a glance.

We’re not the Debbil! You are!” Lauralee said, pointing at him with an accusatory finger.

Oh, Dear Heavenly Father… Julia’s throat constricted as she stepped forward. They were going to be tossed out into this blizzard for sure! “Lauralee—” Julia began, her heart pounding.

But silence filled the room as her employer took a step forward, causing Julia to lose her voice completely and forget that she needed to chastise Lauralee for her insolence to an adult.

Mr. Campbell hunkered down on the floor in front of Lauralee, studying her. Jamie kicked and smiled, holding out his arms to his father, but the man ignored his son, watching Lauralee intently.

“Well…I supposed you might be right about that, Miss Lauralee,” he finally allowed.

Have you ever had an appallingly embarrassing moment like the one Lauralee created for "Miss Julia Jackson" above? I've had my share, for sure! Please leave a comment to be entered in my drawing for a free digital copy of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON!

THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON is available now for KINDLE, and is available in both digital and paperback as of October 26 (today!). 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!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Questions about writing a series

That is the question which haunts new writers.  I often see people jumping into doing a series, and yet I'm not convinced they have totally considered all the angles and pitfalls.  It’s as if they believe you must write a series—what is expected of all writers—rather than they created a running concept from the very start.  To build a successful series takes a lot of consideration and development.  You should be plotting book three and four before you type The End to book one.  One of the best authors at plotting out a series and sustaining it is Lynsay Sands with her Argeneau vampires—now around thirty books strong!  She actually wrote out three full novels, before pitching the vampires to her editor.

To start, you should draw up an overall outline to guide you in the journey, and you must keep in mind that you need something fresh to express with each book.  It’s simply not enough to give the readers story after story, you have to make them anticipate the second, third and fourth books before they are even written, to have them hungry for more.  I have seen several writers who did series—good writers, with WOW first books.  Sadly, over time they have lost part of their audience because it felt like they deliver the same novels each time, just retold with different names to the characters.  That is the quick path to losing your devoted readers, which  you worked so hard to get. 

Some books are fine as stand-alone offerings.  One successful author, who I have read for about thirty years, wrote dozens of novels, all as stand-alone titles.  I loved her stories, and have reread many of them simply because they were so delightful.  At some point—assuming her publisher thought series were a better marketing tool—she began to do three books to a series.  The problem quickly became apparent that she lacked the ability to sustain the idea over the trilogy.  Her lead book would be her typical utterly witty and brilliant brew.  The second tied up loose ends, and allowed the readers to follow her hero and heroine into a further adventure.  While the second book was interesting, a good read, it was a less dazzling entry.  The last one showed her troubles in sustaining the characters into the third outing.  It was as if she used up all she had to say about them, so she filled up the third one with less entertaining secondary characters, trying to prop up the hero and heroine.  It clearly revealed she was stretching a one-book-concept into three, padding her stories, because the publisher thought a series would make more money for them.

So from the start, if you hope to create a series and keep your readers enthralled, you cannot write manuscript one and then say, “What do I do next?”  You need to look beyond.  Where would you like to go after book one?  After book two?  Are you planning to follow one set of characters into other adventures, or are you pairing various characters that will be connected by a common theme—a town, a period or a special setting?  You have to map ahead and be farseeing to plan where you are going to take your series, or you might find yourself struggling to sustain your passion for the series—and so will the readers.

Another tricky problem that comes to mind—will each book be a stand-alone title—meaning you can pick up any title in the series and not have to read the previous  novels to understand what is happening?  Or, will you do a world-building project?  Think of Game of Thrones.  JRR Martin has built a whole world with heroes and heroines, villains, races, myths, legends, wars, towns, and countries!  However, if you pick up A Song of Fire and Ice without first reading A Clash of Kings you might find yourself struggling to make heads or tails of much that is happening.  Each style has their own rewards and their own risks.  By asking these questions, you can figure out what is best for you and your aims.  Books take time to write.  People are still waiting for Martin’s latest saga—for nearly a decade!  The television series has run into eight seasons and he hasn't produced his latest title in that period, leaving the television writers to decide the fate of his characters as the series comes to a close!  Interlocking novels can capture your readers and pull them along from book-to-book.  Only remember, stand-alone versions offer the readers the opportunity to pick up book four of a series of seven, and not feel like they are missing out on half of the story by coming into the "middle of your world”.  As a previous bookseller, I often heard customers say, “Oh, this is book three?  I haven’t read the first two.”  They either wait to buy the newest book until they can find the previous copies of the others, or they might forgo the purchase entirely.  Thus, accessibility of jumping into the series might be something you wish to consider.

You will also face another conundrum— how much information do you include in the sequels?  If you are reading a series front-to-back, you don’t want to bore those loyal readers with repeating the same information dump in each book.  When you have a mythos to your storyline you need to remain true throughout, yet you can run into slowing down the action of your plot by repeating the premise found in each novel.  Your readers will complain, “Yeah, yeah, we already know that. . .get to the story!”  And we all know boring the reader is a big no-no.  On, the other hand, if you don’t ground each book with your core codex, a reader who comes into the series through book three or four will be scratching their head and not knowing what went on before that started the whole journey.  

One of the biggest mistakes series writers can make is failing to maintain a “bible” —i.e. a chart, log, etc. that covers each character or important details.  Most traditional publishers run style sheets, which carry specifics of each character—what they look like (hair, eyes, height, flaws, scars, birthdays. . .anything that might show up again).  I even run a calendar for each book.  On what day is something happening?  What month?  These are particulars that you are positive you will remember.  But will you?  Six years down the road, you might be surprised what you have forgotten.  Did your hero have blue eyes or green?  I recall years ago one author was asked to write a trilogy, based on the daughters of a series she had penned ten years before.  She had trouble recalling the hair color of her original ladies!  Worse, this was back before eBooks and computers.  The original novels had been out of print for years, so she had trouble finding a copy to revisit to get details correct.

So, to avoid the snares of series writing, you really should do some serious thinking upon why you want to write a series way before you finish that first novel.  To recap:  1) Figure out if you really need or wish to write a series.  2)  Once you set out on that determined path—learn to maintain your bible with all the details that will root your world  3) Decide which style of series you plan on doing—stand-alone novels that are connected by a common codex, or a series that follows a character(s) through different adventures.  

Once you figure out those hurdles, you will have a better handle on confidently creating an engaging series that will keep your readers begging for more, and you looking forward to penning the next one...and the next.

© 2017, All Rights Reserved
Currently has two series in production—Medieval Scottish Historicals for Prairie Rose Publications —The Dragons of Challon™, and Paranormal-Contemporary romances for Montlake Romance at Amazon Publishing Sisters of Colford Hall™ and is launching a new Medieval series for Prairie Rose PublicationsHell Knights: Knights of Hellborne™ 
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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
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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.