Snippet Sunday - "Every Mile of the Way" (WIP) 29/06/14



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The story so far is, Sadie, born and raised in Australia, found her grandma's diary after her mother's passing. Intrigued by the diary and her mother's German background, she's on her way to Germany to meet her family over there. 
 ~~~




“I’m reall–” Sorry, I wanted to say, but the words stuck in my throat. Out of all the passengers, it’s Toby’s sinewy chest I have bumped into.
He stares at me, one brow slightly raised.
“Sorry,” I croak. Though, I’m not completely sure whether it refers to my inappropriate accusation in the airport or bumping into him.
In the semi-darkness, I can only make out a little nod.
Looking up to the toilet sign, I’m giving myself a two-second prep talk and look at him again. “And I’m terribly sorry for what I said earlier. There is just no excuses for it and I’m–”
He puts his fingers on my lips to silence me and at that moment I’m glad I’ve got one hand on one of the seats to hold me up.
“As much as I was annoyed by it, after thinking about it, it made sense. After all, you’ve only known me for a few hours.”
I didn’t expect that coming. But I’m really pleased and relieved.
“Excuse me.” The deep voice behind startles me.
Leaning closer to the seats to let the man go past me, I notice the chance to use the ladies’ room.
“Sorry, but I’ve gotta go,” I say to Toby, and I enter the small little cubicle to do my thing.



Thank you all for your support and kind comments.
 I do appreciate each single one of them!

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May I introduce: Tea Cooper "Lily's Leap"

Lily's Leap
by Téa Cooper
 
It's an absolute delight to have another Australian author visiting today. Please give Tea Cooper a big welcome!
 

1 – You’re described as “Escape’s Queen of Australian historical romance”. What would you say to someone like me, who’s hesitant about reading historical romance, to give it a try?

It’s the bodice ripper tag! Romance might get slammed but historical romance is even worse! All those bare chested, breeches clad … it’s Fabio’s fault. Add to that hours of boring history lessons at school and no wonder people are hesitant. One of the reviewers for Matilda’s Freedom said “I was never much interested in this period of history after a very boring time in school until … much to my amazement they gave the book five stars!
No matter when a book is set, the human condition, the emotions don’t change. In my current WIP the heroine is duped, tricked, falls for a scam. I realised she would feel the same way as someone today caught by an Internet scam or on an online dating website.
Also the dreaded information dump flourished in historical fiction for years and put everyone off. Paragraph after paragraph included, just to prove the author has done their research. That’s long gone. There are so many brilliant historical writers out there today writing stories set in every corner of the world, Jeannie Lin is my current favourite. I’m toying with the idea of the Maharaja and his Bonza Bride (And yes! The word bonza has been used since the 1800s – I just checked.)
My advice to anyone is the same as with any other book—if the blurb attracts you, forget the time in which it is set and give it a go. There are no time restraints on empathy.
May I add a disclaimer? While I was hugely flattered by the tag I think I’m the only person who writes Australian romance for Escape!

2 – We know you spend a lot of time at your local museum, but how much research goes into getting the background to a historical romance?
 
A lot and it is something you should only do if you enjoy it. I’ve decided I’m a researchaholic. You know that feeling when you have moved house and finally get around to unpacking the very last boxes? The ones with the bits and pieces in that you wrapped in newspaper because you ran out of nice clean, white butchers’ paper. You get halfway through and an item in the paper catches your eye. It might be an advertisement, a photograph or an article but you get so caught up in it the unpacking is forgotten. That’s me. Then I have to discover the next link in the chain—and the next. The internet has made it so much easier but there is nothing quite like a day in a museum or Mitchell Library seeped in the past and turning the pages of an original manuscript (with white gloves, of course).    

3 – You live in a “stone cottage on one hundred acres of bush land, just outside the time-warp village of Wollombi”. What makes life in the bush special to you?

Apart rom the space, the freedom and the silence one of my greatest pleasures is walking through my “back garden” convinced I might be the first person to ever pass that way or sit on a certain rock. In the bush you can feel the history of the land and smell the stories. I wake up to this every morning—I can’t imagine trading it in for a garden fence!    

 
4 – Tell us about your current project.    

I have two. I’m bolting to the finish line of a rural historical romance called The Stud Master. It all started when I discovered that Archer, who won the first two Melbourne Cup Races in the 1860s, came from the Hunter Valley. There’s a rural (not urban) myth that he walked all the way to Flemington to compete. It’s been disproved but it caught my imagination. Fortunately I write fiction! And the second project is still in the research stage, working title The Adventures of Miss Abigail Wynter. It’s going to be a series. Abigail is a genealogist in a museum—no prizes for guessing how that idea came about!


Thanks for letting me loose on you blog! - Anytime. Loved your answers, IB



Blurb:
From Escape's Queen of Australian historical romance comes a story about a privileged member of Australian's squattocracy, a bushranger, and a very special horse.

Born into the rough, but privileged society of the Australian colonial landowners, Lilibeth Dungarven finds herself married, widowed, and, much to her distress, back under her father’s thumb, all before her twenty-first birthday. Determined not to forgo her dream of breeding the perfect racehorse, Lilibeth ignores propriety and sets out to restore the family’s flagging fortunes.


When Captain Tom and his mismatched band of bushrangers stumble across a mob of the best horses they’ve ever seen, and the daughter of the famed Dungarven horse stud, they know their fortunes have changed. Their catch is worth a king’s ransom. All they have to do is hold her for seven days. How hard can it be to control the pampered daughter of a colonial upstart?



Author:

Téa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, just outside the time-warp village of Wollombi, NSW Australia. When she isn't writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who provide her with a never-ending source of inspiration.


Personal Links:

Website: www.teacooperauthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeaCooper
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeaCooper1
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/teacooperauthor
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/teacooperauthor/

Purchase Links:
   
Harlequin Escape http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/author/téa-cooper
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00AG3WHRU
iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/tea-cooper/id585948110?mt=11
Kobo http://store.kobobooks.com/en-au/Search/Query?q=t%25C3%25A9a%20cooper&query=T%25C3%25A9a%20Cooper&fcsearchfield=Author

 


Excerpt:

   
Hunter Valley, Australia 1848

Lilibeth Dungarven’s cry of pure pleasure soared skywards as the massive black stallion rose to clear the fallen tree, sending the horrors of the last four years scuttling into the dirt of the ancient land.

Clenching her knees against Nero’s heaving flanks she bent low, ducking the overhanging branches framing the bush track, her cheek pressed to the warmth of his muscular neck. When the erratic pounding in her chest settled she drew Nero to a shuddering halt and pushed the damp curls back from her forehead.

A pair of black cockatoos, disturbed by her madcap gallop, shrieked their annoyance and resettled in the whispering casuarina trees. The crack of their beaks as they threw the mangled nuts to the ground filled the silence. Below her the ribbon of sandstone road weaved its way towards Payne’s Crossing and she shielded her eyes from the sun, searching for her mob of horses.

A glint of reflected sunlight drew her eye to a mounted figure in the middle of the road. Despite the hat pulled low shadowing his face, the stockwhip crack of his words registered deep in her belly.

‘Bail up! Guns down and off the horses.’

‘What do you think you...?’ Constricted by the tension in her throat her words petered out. No one would dare steal such a valuable mob of horses. They were branded. Everyone in the colony knew the Dungarven brand. To lose them was unthinkable. Years of breeding — the first pure Dungarven bloodlines. Months proving herself capable of managing the sale and the trip to Sydney. And now a hold up! It would not happen. Not if Lilibeth Dungarven had any say in the matter.

Snippet Sunday - "Every Mile of the Way" (WIP) 22/06/14



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The story so far is, Sadie, born and raised in Australia, found her grandma's diary after her mother's passing. Intrigued by the diary and her mother's German background, she's on her way to Germany to meet her family over there. 
 
 
 ~~~




I let out a big sigh. The couple next to me is awake, so I take the opportunity to get up and stretch my legs. As I wander along the aisle and to the toilets, I keep my gaze firmly on the ground. After spending the last hour reminiscing my time with David only to curse him for leaving me because I’m apparently not mature enough (highly overrated anyway, if you ask me), I don’t really feel like finding Toby and have some guilt dumped on me as well. I look up for the toilet signs and curse some more as they’re all occupied. I do some quick maths in my head – I’m leaning against a seat in row thirty-eight, three seats each side, four in the middle ... nope, it’s not working. My head’s aching from the lack of sunshine, fresh air and some decent food. Point is, though, eight toilets (or are there some hidden ones?) are just not enough for an airplane this size.

When I lean back to check the “occupancy lights” again, I bump into a hard chest.

 
 

 
Thank you all for your support and kind comments.
 I do appreciate each single one of them!
 
 
 

 
 
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May I introduce: April Klasen "Blair: Salem's Daughter"

 

Blair: Salem's Daughter
by April Klasen

My guest this week is April Klasen .... Please make her welcome ! :-)
 
1 – Your book’s about vampyre and a shape-shifting cat. Tell us why you like this genre.
I love adventure and fantasy stories, anything could happen and anything could exist including a vampyre and a shape-shifting cat leading a teenage girl into a strange land on a suicide quest. Which might be why this story multiplied into a trilogy, the dragons are coming in the second book.
 2 – You started writing when you were seventeen. What was the ‘trigger’ to start putting stories onto paper? (or the screen)
My writing trigger was one of my friends. When we were fifteen sitting bored in class I started making up a silly story to tease her with (I think it was something about her boyfriend doing a strip tease and being caught by her mother, I think), once we’d finished giggling she told me “April, you should be a writer when we grow up.” Two years later I still had nothing on paper, which was frustrating especially when my friends were all working towards their futures. But then I heard about National Writing Month. I knew, no matter what I wrote (and it was horrible) that if I didn’t finish it I would never be a writer and have to think seriously about finding a serious job. Luckily I finished the story (and buried it deep under the bed).
 
3 – Tell us about your current project.
I’m trying not to procrastinate (ohh, shinny things) and start editing (sniffle). Or maybe I’ll just write another novella and add it to my unedited pile. Nope, I’m definitely editing my new-adult novella The Annual.
The annual hunt is very important to the fey, during the autumn equinox, generally a mortal but in the past it has been fey creatures, someone is selected to be hunted. For twenty-four hours the hunted must do all they can to survive, they are always selected for some sort of strength or ability, it makes for great sport. Grace Logan has to fight, even if she didn’t have a chance.
I’m hoping to independently publish the story by the end of the year

 

Blurb:

Blair Fitzpatrick is an ordinary fifteen year old who doesn’t chase a white rabbit in a waist coat down a hole. Instead she follows an old man, a vampyre and a shape-shifting cat through a gate and into a fantasy land.

Her mission is to reunite the hilt of the Nameless sword with its broken blade buried within a sleeping dragon, learn to control her dormant magic and not die in the process.
 
~

“Okay, now. No worries,” I whispered, even though I felt like I was going to be sick and just wanted to run away because something was wrong, something was going to be really wrong if I did this.

I slid the sword hilt into the crack.

 

 Author:

April Klasen is twenty-two, single and living at home (what a catch?!) she wrote her first novel at seventeen and her brain hasn’t shut up since. 

www.aprilklasenauthor.com 

 

Purchase Links:

Paperback

http://www.lulu.com/shop/april-klasen/blair-salems-daughter/paperback/product-21562492.html

E-book

http://www.amazon.com/Blair-Salems-Daughter-April-Klasen-ebook/dp/B00JTO2Z8I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398133567&sr=8-1&keywords=april+klasen

 
 


Snippet Sunday - Every Mile of the Way (WIP) - 15/06/14



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The story so far is, Sadie, born and raised in Australia, found her grandma's diary after her mother's passing. Intrigued by the diary and her mother's German background, she's on her way to Germany to meet her family over there. 
 
 
 ~~~

David.

My partner of three and bit years. He was the love of my life, or at least so I thought. I was twenty-four when I moved from Tasmania to Sydney. I had applied for a job as an events manager, not believing I’d have a chance. But I got the job. Same day I got the good news, I was so excited I missed the bus. It was pouring rain. And that was when I met David, when he offered me half of his umbrella. Yes, that’s the kind of man he was. Well, I assume still is. Just not with me anymore, but with the other woman. Apparently, the one who’s more organised and more mature than me.
 
Sad.

More so, because I really miss him. I did love him and without wanting to admit it to myself, I still do.
 
 

 
Thank you all for your support and kind comments.
 I do appreciate each single one of them!
 
 
 

 
 
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May I introduce: M Kircher "Dream On"

Dream On
by M. Kircher
 
How could I not invited M. Kircher on my blog when her book is all about dreams. I love the blurb and I will definitely read the book. It's so right up my alley.
 

1 - Dreams are important to me and the idea to explore dreams while asleep sounds wonderful. How did you come up with the story line?
That's a great question, Iris! Dreams are actually a huge part of the books I've written so far and will be in the ones I write in the future. I'm a vivid dreamer and have been ever since I was a child. I can remember many of my dreams, and while I was in college I began writing some of them down. Believe it or not, but some of my dreams have actually come true. I've had dreams about old friends being in trouble, called them and found out that what I had dreamed about them had actually happened in real life. I once dreamed about a job opportunity for my husband falling apart and the very next week it did. Creeee-py!

But most of my dreams don't make much that much sense. Many of them are frightening and many are beautiful, so beautiful that I don't want to wake up. The idea for Dream On came about one day as I was sifting through my dream journal. For some reason I thought about the legend of Rip Van Winkle, the lazy man that fell asleep for twenty years and escaped the hardships of the American Revolution. Out of that pondering came the idea for a futuristic gene mutation that allowed the female line of one family to hibernate and wander around in their dreams, escaping the harsh realities of life if they chose to. I used threads of old dreams as the basis for some of Emily and Lily's dreams in the book, and some were purely fun fabrication. What's really special about this novel was that I got to explore a side of myself that I don't really talk about that much, but that is important to me. I can't tell you how many story ideas I have lying around because of things I've dreamed! 

 
2 - You say "I believe that stories can change the world". When did you start writing and what triggered it?
I think there's always been a writer's soul floating around inside me, but for most of my life until now, I've simply been a fanatical bookworm. To say that I love stories is an understatement. My parents used to bribe me to have friends over, but I'd turn them down. "I just want to go to my room and read," I'd tell them. That love of fiction has stayed with me into adulthood. And I enjoy a well-crafted movie just as much as a good book. There is something about an expertly woven tale, whether in word or visual form that speaks to me. 

Can't you feel that humming, tingling sensation when you read or watch a story that really moves you? 

For a long time I was a painter and I tried to tell stories with paint. But I just couldn't find my voice. I couldn't find a "genre" if you will. Then one day a friend of mine and I were discussing our latest book obsessions and she looked at me and said, "Melissa, you have to write a book. You just have to." And for some reason I decided to take her advice. I went home and did something I never thought I could, I wrote my first book, The War Inside—a YA paranormal dystopian novel about hope and the world getting a second chance.

And a wonderful thing happened; I found my voice. I painted with words and my soul found its "genre". I read YA like a fiend and writing it felt like coming home. I don't know if I'll ever stop writing stories now that I've discovered how much I love doing it!

 
3 - Tell us about your current project. Can we expect more dreams?
You can definitely expect dreams to be a part of future books! I'm working on two novels right now. The first is the sequel to The War Inside called The Gray Horizon, and that book comes out in August 2014. I'm also working on a YA anti-superhero novel. That one is in the drafting stages and I'll be shopping it around sometime this fall.

 
 
Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old dreamwalker, Em, might have to choose—leave her mother forever in the dreamworld or save the life of hot, rebel Gabe.
Emily Dal Monte and her mother, Lily, are special. They’re humans with a glitch in their genetic code that allows them to explore the fantastic, and often terrifying, world of their dreams for as long as they choose to remain asleep. But when Em’s father is killed in a tragic accident and her distraught mother loses herself more and more in the dreams of her crumbling mind, Em is forced to support the two of them the only way she knows how, by writing down her mother’s amazing dreams and selling them as books. Enter Gabriel Sobel, the punk newcomer at Em’s high school who realizes Em is the daughter of his favorite, reclusive author. Gabe can’t figure out why Em keeps brushing him off and makes it his mission to find out what’s really going on at the Dal Monte household. He stumbles upon their shocking family secret just as Lily takes a turn for the worse. It’s up to Em, Gabe, and one very nosy book editor to hop from one extraordinary dream to the next, to find Lily and convince her to wake up before she loses her mind…and before Em loses her first chance at love.
 
 
 
Author:
M. KIRCHER graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from Gordon College. She devours YA, science fiction, fantasy, and romance on a regular basis and is immensely happy to pour her time and energy into creating stories for other people to enjoy. Bob Ross and J.R.R. Tolkien tie for her two favorite people of all time.
M. Kircher lives in Connecticut with her husband, energetic son, and new baby girl.
 
Website: http://mkircher.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mkircher83
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MKircher83
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7202354.M_Kircher
Amazon Author Profile: http://www.amazon.com/M.-Kircher/e/B00E8AKEGI
Wattapad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/MelissaKircher
 
 
Purchase Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dream-On-M-Kircher-ebook/dp/B00JUA2ICY
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dream-on-m-kircher/1119280434
 
Excerpt:
 
 Tiny shafts of sunlight stream down from the treetops above us, forming small rings that illuminate the red pine-covered ground below. It’s weird how quiet it is here. There are none of the sounds you’d normally associate with a forest, like the scurrying tread of small animals or the soft breeze rustling through the trees. Everything is completely still.
I rest my forehead against the warm bark of the tree and try to calm my racing thoughts. How do I get us out of this mess? Mom and Evan aren’t here with Gabe and me. At least, as far as I can tell, they aren’t here, and we don’t have any time to find them. Evan and Gabe need to wake up now, or they could die. It’s so simple, yet so complicated. Do I save Gabe’s life? Or do I continue to risk killing him and try to save everyone? If I pull Gabe out, I could risk losing both Mom and Evan inside this dream. I have no idea if Mom’s recognition of me was a moment’s clarity, or something more lasting. I might never be able to locate her and Evan again.
A sob rises in my throat. I can’t help it. I’m so tired and overwhelmed, and we’re all so deeply in trouble. Despite my best efforts, the sob escapes, and then I can’t seem to stop another one from bursting out of my mouth. And then another one. Huge, wrenching cries tear through me, and I double over, my face in my hands, as the tears stream through my fingertips.
It’s all just too much.
I hear Gabe come to stand beside me, and before I can protest, he draws me back into his arms. I can’t seem to stop crying. I’m so embarrassed, but I just can’t stop.
His rough fingers catch the bottom of my chin, and slowly he tilts my face up toward his, so we’re gazing into each other’s eyes. My breath hitches, and it’s not just from all the crying.
“I’m sorry, Em,” Gabe whispers, his soft words loud in the silence surrounding us. “But there’s no one I’d rather be with right now than you.”
 
 
 
 


 

Snippet Sunday - My current WIP "Every Mile of the Way" 08/06/2014



~~~

 
The story so far is, Sadie, born and raised in Australia, found her grandma's diary after her mother's passing. Intrigued by the diary and her mother's German background, she's on her way to Germany to meet her family over there. 
 
 
 ~~~


About an hour later I sit back in an airplane going through all the same procedures as twelve hours earlier – storing away my on-board luggage in the overhead locker after taking out all the things I need right next to me and trying to make myself comfortable in my tiny seat next to the window (which is useless because it’s midnight and there’s not a thing to see in the distance). I steal a couple of glances around, but there’s no Toby.

He excused himself as we walked to the boarding gate. I assumed he had to visit the little boys’ room. One could say, that’s when I lost him, but I suppose Mum would argue I’d lost him when accusing him of picking up girls.

Mum! Pain cuts right through my heart and a sudden longing for her rises within me.

Have my words been plain rude? Or did I just freak out because a man, other than David was flirting with me?

 

 
Thank you all for your support and kind comments.
 I do appreciate each single one of them!
 
 
 

 
 
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May I introduce: Heather Gray "Redemption"

 
Redemption
by Heather Gray

 
 
Welcome back, Heather Gray. She's one of the wonderful "www" friends everyone should have. On her websites she states "Years ago, I decided it would be better to laugh than yell."

How can one disagree.

Glad to have her back on my blog!

1 - You're releasing one wonderful book after the other. Tell us the secret of your time management.

Time management...that's easy!  Don't do the laundry or dishes.  Don't mow the lawn or clean the house.  And, above all, don't have a life!  :)  Honestly, I'm a really structured person.  I spend the morning catching up on correspondence, doing any marketing I plan to do, handling blog posts, etc.  Then I take a break to eat lunch and clear my head from whatever I was dealing with that morning.  As soon as lunch is over, I start writing.  I get a couple hours in each afternoon and then more time in the evening after everyone's in bed.  When I'm not writing a story, I'm thinking about the one I want to be writing.  Often, by the time I sit down to write a story, I've got most of it worked out in my head.  My downfall is always editing.  Writing is fun.  Editing is...not so much.  I tend to procrastinate that more than I like to publicly admit.  :)

 

2 - You write inspirational Fiction. How would you classify it and what draws you to that genre.

Inspirational Fiction is a wildly varied market.  For me it means writing stories that keep a Biblical worldview.  What that looks like varies by time period.  My westerns have a much stronger Christian theme because it was a huge part of daily life for people at that time.  My Regency novels are more likely to have a passing conversation or a couple of quiet prayers.  My contemporary novels fall somewhere in the middle.  Some of my characters have a strong faith from page one, while others travel a journey of spiritual discovery.  Ultimately, though, it's about writing compelling stories with well-developed characters.  I guess you could say faith is the canvas on which those stories are painted.

 

3 - Tell us about your current project ... or should I say projects ;-)

Gah!  I've been procrastinating lately, and you're going to make me feel guilty about it!  I have a new contemporary series I'd like to launch sometime this year, but I need to do some more editing before I can consider submitting them anywhere.  I've got the first two manuscripts written (first drafts only), so I'll be cleaning those up over the next month and hopefully turning them into solid stories.  I am also hoping to get a Christmas Regency novel...but since the deadline for that is just around the corner, I may end up missing it.  We'll have to see how the editing on these other books goes!  :)

 
Blurb:
Murder, mayhem, marriage, and a horse named Mutiny…
Minnie's impulsiveness has been getting her into trouble her whole life.  She never expected it to land her on a suspect list for murder, though.  With nothing left but a few trunks of possessions and her own defeat, Minnie leaves San Francisco behind and returns home.  In an effort to protect her family and friends, she keeps them in the dark about the ongoing investigation and the possibility that danger may have followed her to Larkspur.  When events force her to trust someone with her secrets, she turns to the sheriff and finds both a friend and an ally.
It may have been four years since he last saw Minnie, but how could he ever forget her?  When Art finds her sneaking through a back alley in town, he knows something's wrong.  The once vivacious Minnie is a mere shadow of her former self, all sparkle gone from her eyes. Art knows that time spent with her will be dangerous to his heart, but he can't turn Minnie away.  Even if it means protecting her from her own impetuous decisions, he vows to keep her safe.
In her attempt to take responsibility for her own choices, Minnie shut out her friends, family, and God.  An unsolved murder isn't all that's chasing Minnie, though.  Will she find her way back to the heart of her faith before it's too late?
 
 
 
Author:
Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order Man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  Other titles include Ten Million Reasons, His Saving Grace, and Nowhere for Christmas – everything from Regency England to modern-day America.  Aside from a long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys are her relationships with her Savior and family.  She decided years ago that she'd rather laugh than yell.  This theme is prevalent in her writing where, through the highs and lows of life, her characters find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her. 
 
My Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+heathergraywritingnow
Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/LaughDreamWrite
 
 
Purchase Links:
 
Excerpt:

August 1882

Minnie needed to get home quickly. It was imperative. William would be displeased if she was away too long. He was not kind when angry.
She rushed around the corner only to be stopped by the familiar sight of police gathered outside the tenement building where she and William rented a room. Given the area they lived in, seeing police was a matter of course. The sheer number of officers present, though, was anything but routine.
At the time she’d married him, Minnie had expected to have a grand life with her husband. She was but the daughter of a small-town mayor, but William, why he was a gifted and recognized journalist. Her dreams of that happy life of travel, investigation, and collaboration had evaporated within their first month of marriage. The wonderful man who had courted her, caressed her with silver-tongued words, and danced into her heart had disappeared.
He'd left in his place a man who was bitter and angry because she, while the daughter of a politician, had no wealth to her name, no grand dowry to finance the illicit habits he had kept from her during their brief courtship. She'd had to adjust to a life far removed from her dreams, a life where the only thing more common than police at their building was the stench of squalor in the air.
Minnie hurried through the gathering of policemen and rushed up the stairs, hoping that William would still be asleep and wouldn't realize she'd been out. As she approached their room, she saw an officer standing in the hallway by the already-open door to the small space she shared with her husband. "Pardon me, ma'am," the officer said, "are you Mrs. Drake?"
Nodding, she craned her neck to see around the officer. He tried to block her view, but she caught a peek inside. A strangled gasp escaped her lips. With strength out of place in her small frame, she shoved past the policeman and dashed into their quarters. Her husband of not quite three years, William Drake, lay in a pool of blood, almost unrecognizable. His corpse lay there beaten – nay, bludgeoned – to death. His lifeless eyes stared off into the distance. "W-what happened?" she asked, her voice hoarse.
"Mrs. Drake." The man speaking wore his somber expression as comfortably as he wore his suit – both were threadbare from too much use. "I need to ask where you've been these past two hours."
Trying desperately to pull her eyes away from her husband's corpse, she fought to speak. "An errand." The words felt as if they were being pulled from her throat. "I had an errand to run."
"Where, Mrs. Drake?"
About a year into their marriage, William had stopped pursuing his journalism career. He was always either deep in his cups or giving up their every possession at the gaming tables. Going to work had become necessary, but she wasn't sure how she felt about exposing that part of her life to the man in the suit, a virtual stranger. It had been easy enough to step into Will's shoes and take over his position at the newspaper. She did her writing in secret, and everything was published under the name Will Drake, the byline her husband had used.
Minnie didn't know how to explain her job to these men without feeling the shame and embarrassment of having to admit both facts – that her husband was a sluggard who'd forced his wife to support him and that most of San Francisco believed her to be a man. Little encouragement was to be found in the stern faces of the officers, and she began to question whether either claim would be believable.
Looking into the eyes of the suited man, she saw something dreadful. Minnie lifted her hand to her throat in foreboding. "You suspect me, then, in my husband's death." It wasn't a question. She could see the truth of it on the detective's face.
"Answer the question, Mrs. Drake. Where have you been?"
"Everywhere but where I should have been, it would seem," she said softly.