May I introduce: Jo Grafford "Breaking Ties"

I have the pleasure to introduce you all to Jo Grafford, who is celebrating the recent release of her book "Breaking Ties".
Jo also recently moved to Germany - enough reason for me to ask her over for a little chat.

Q: You've only just moved from the US to Germany. Great opportunity and big change. Tell us how you came to move across the Atlantic?
Schloss Neuschwanstein
Hi, Iris! Thank you so much for hosting me today. We moved to Germany, compliments of the U.S. Army last summer. My husband commands a clinic here in Bavaria. It has been a completely awesome education experience for us and our kiddos. We’ve been taking classes to learn conversational German, trying out many new foods like wiener schnitzel (breaded pork chops) and spƤtzle (a popular side dish of pasta served in place of potatoes), and – of course - touring castles. Last week, we took a road trip to the Alps in Garmisch and from there took a bus tour to Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration behind Disney’s Cinderella castle.
(I love Spaetzle! - IB)

Q: What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Communicating with friends, fellow writers, and my publisher Astraea Press back in the States due to the time difference. We are living in the Central European Time zone, which is 6 hours later than Central Time. That means attending my own book release extravaganza online lasted till 3:30 a.m. Also, the “rush hour” for social media in the U.S. – one of the best places to network with fellow readers and writers – starts about 11:00 p.m. here. Naturally when I’m guesting on another writer’s blog, I feel obligated to stay up way past my bedtime to respond to visitor comments. Needless to say, I’ve become quite a night owl since our arrival in Germany.

Q: I miss the German cuisine. Tell us what you like/dislike so far and what it is you miss from "home".

I LOVE the famous German sausage sandwiches, all of their fabulous pork recipes, the Bavarian sweet and sour kraut, the breads and pastry bakeries that dot every corner of town, the miles of aisles of regionally produced wine selections, the best chocolate in the world, and their fresh organic open markets that run all summer long! Every week, I walk through these markets with a basket on my arm and come home with the most delicious raspberries, snow peas, carrots, and handpicked apples.

On the other hand, I greatly MISS ice cubes, free refills, weed and pest control products, and central air. Everything over here is strictly organic, so you have to come up with very creative and natural ways to rid your yard of weeds and moles and to rid your house of fruit flies and enormous spiders. Plus you have to constantly adjust blinds, curtains, and ventilation in your house throughout the day to control the temperature without the aid of an air conditioner.

Q: Last but not least, tell us a bit about your latest release and how you came up with the idea.

The story of the Lost Colonists on Roanoke has fascinated me since I was a child. I never liked the one paragraph entry in our school history textbooks that credited them with “most likely being slaughtered en mass by hostile natives.” I always imagined them as real people who lived and laughed and loved and had a whole “rest of the story” yet to be told. 

As an adult, I finally went on a quest to learn as much about these brave pioneers as I could. I read over a dozen books, pored through original ship manifests and sailing journals, and even took a trip to the Outer Banks a year ago. I got to stand on the same beach they stood on as they watched their ships sail back to England – not to return for three year with their much-needed supplies – much too late to be of any help. 

Then a very exciting event happened last October while I was still writing Breaking Ties. The British Museum released the news of a clue discovered beneath a patch on an original Lost Colony map. After many false leads and rumors throughout the last 426 years, this sketch of a fort located fifty miles inland from Roanoke Island might very well prove to be the first conclusive proof of survivors!  

As a tribute to their courage and heroism, I am dedicating a fundraiser called A Thanksgiving Wish to these First Colonists. Each copy sold in November of my debut novel, Breaking Ties, first book in the Lost Colony Series, will help fund the upcoming archaeological dig of this newly discovered fort site beneath Scotch Hall Preserve in NC.

I am also holding a drawing for three gift cards to Amazon and Barnes and Noble – valued at $50, $25, and $15 - to appreciate my readers.
Visit to enter the Rafflecopter.
 Winners will be announced Thanksgiving Day.



A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and an unforgettable love story. The 115 colonists on Roanoke Island couldn’t GPS, skype or twitter their ultimate destination back to their families and friends in 16th Century England. But modern laser technology has finally uncovered a clue - hidden beneath a patch on an ancient map at the British museum - that leads us to their whereabouts. Considered “lost” for centuries, these brave pioneers finally reveal the rest of their story in Book One of the Lost Colony Series.


Rose Payne’s world is left in tatters after a disastrous betrothal, making her an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Using every cent she has, Rose sails for the New World and a fresh start, vowing to never again fall for a wealthy man.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties. 

Author Bio:
Jo Grafford is from St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author at Astraea Press, Jo writes historical fiction to spotlight unsung heroes and unsolved mysteries. She published her first poem in junior high, edited her high school newspaper while typesetting for a local news journal, and has been writing ever since.  She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter.  The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.

Buy Links & Contact Info:

Twitter: @jografford




     Sometimes murder isn’t as messy, up-close, and personal as many people imagine it to be. Sometimes it is distant and impersonal – as simple as crossing a line through a name on a sheet of paper. Or one hundred and fifteen names in our case.



Portsmouth, England, April 26, 1587

     “Yer bum’s hanging out the window!” My brother banged his empty mug on the inn table. He ran both hands through his hair, as red as my own, standing each flaming lock on end.

     My lips turned up despite the heaviness in my chest. It felt good to hear him lapse into the Gaelic brogue of our childhood. “Och, Donnen!” I reached across the table to clasp his large hands and grimaced at the stench of salmon and sweat hanging in the air. “I dinna bring ye here to quarrel. ‘Tis my first job offer in weeks.”

     I dared not share my other reason for leaving.

     “Nay, ye can stay with me till ye find a different job. Crossing the Atlantic unwed is bad enough, but these—” He shook my upraised palms, “are ink stains. Blast it all! Ye’re a clerk, not a sailor.”

     “Indeed?” Saints alive, he acted as if I was still twelve instead of nineteen. “Well, good news. I shall be accompanied by other women – whole families of people, for that matter – and ‘tis a clerk they need.”

     “Only because—“ Donnen glanced around the room and lowered his voice. “The last one left in a frightful hurry along with half the crew all in the same night.” His glare was fierce. “Rumor has it the entire fleet is bound straight for Jonah’s watery vault. I don’t suppose that came up during the bloomin’ interview?”



     "You want my help." 'Twas an accusation.


     His eyes darkened. "I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage." He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.

     I stumbled back.

     "You give nothing in return," he snarled. "You only ask for more."

     "I would had I something to offer," I whispered. "But I have nothing. I am nothing."

     "Then what use are you to me?" He wheeled away.

     I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.

     Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. 'Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.

     "I know our location." His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. "I could swim ashore from here."

     "Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?"

     "Governor White gave his word to deliver me home."

     "We are going to starve, Manteo. 'Tis only a matter of days now."

     "Nay. You alone starve. The others eat."

     "I have no appetite."

     "You act as one already dead."

     I straightened my back. "I accept what I cannot change."

     "And I change what I cannot accept." He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.

     I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. "'Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you."

     "Very well."

     My eyes flew open. "Ye will do this for us."

     "For you." His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.

     I smiled tremulously. "I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is." The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.

     "I have yet to name my price."

     I stared, confused.

     He grunted in disgust. "You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services."

     I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.

     "I will entreat the Dares for payment."

     "Nay. You are the one in my debt."

     I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.

     "You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too."

     "Ye would hire me as clerk?" Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.

     "My people have no clerks." His eyes narrowed. "We have slaves."

     My breath hitched. "Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?"

     "Nay, I only wish to marry you."

     I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.


     "Say no more. I will do it. 'Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.

     Exultation flickered briefly across his face. "You would give up your freedom to save your friends?"

     "Without question."

     "Swear it," he said grimly.

     "I swear it."

     His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly 'til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.

     "Now you will eat," Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.


     "I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations." He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.

     I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.
     "And send for Anthony. I have need of him."
     I glared at his back. Faith, should I press my face to the floor as well? "Aye, master." I bit the words out and fled.


  1. Jo, you seem to have adjusted well to the changes in your life. What a great adventure for you and your children! Best wishes on your fund raiser!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Patty! :-)

  2. Thank you for stopping by, Patricia! Yes, we are truly enjoying our tour of service in Germany. It's a gorgeous slice of country with so many amazing sites to visit. For the kiddos, it's like stepping into history and experiencing it live. Wishing you the best on your newest release. :-)

  3. And thank you so much for hosting me, Iris! Tschuss for now, Jo :-)

    1. Absolute pleasure ... look forward to many many more tales from the "Homeland" :-)