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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#NewRelease--MIRACLE RIVER by Judi Seggel--#Giveaway

Like Penelope, I grew up in rural Virginia.  Television reception in those days was sporadic at best, and I couldn’t spend all my time in the barn.  So, I read – just about anything and everything, but mostly the romance novels of Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, Mary Stewart, and Phyllis Whitney.  During my years as a nurse, I’ve often remarked that I should write a book because no one would believe some of the things that happen in emergency rooms and intensive care units.  Recently, Prairie Rose Publications issued a call for submissions for their July 4th anthology, and my dear friend, author Kit Prate, challenged me to write a story for possible inclusion in the anthology.  My response was, “Okay, Kit, what exactly do I write about?”  Knowing my passion for Civil War history, her response was simple.  “Battle reenactment.”  Out of that conversation my first story, Miracle River, was created, combining my love for romance novels, nursing, and history.  I would be remiss if I didn’t offer kudos to my editor, and another dear friend, Karen Fedderly.  Miracle River is the first of what I hope will be the opportunity to write many stories, and it wouldn’t have blossomed without the nurturing of these two very special women.

Penelope Canby is happy with her life. Newly married to the man of her dreams, her world is comfortably predictable. Surrounded by familiar people and places, she can’t imagine living anywhere else—until the day her veterinarian husband decides to pursue his career halfway across the country.  Thrust into life in the small town of Rio Milagro, Texas, Penelope risks losing her sense of self as she dutifully supports her husband’s dreams of life in the West. Fireworks loom on the horizon as the town prepares for its annual Fourth of July battle reenactment and barbecue.  Disturbed by a local divorcee’s obvious attraction to her husband, Penelope is left to wonder whether Steve is really working late all those nights. Will she lose all she holds dear, or will Rio Milagro—Miracle River—prove to be a real home, a place of healing and new life?

    Steve loved to tease her about that first date.  He confessed he’d fallen in love with her the moment she’d stumbled in the door, breathless from her run, and trying unsuccessfully to look cool and composed.  Within weeks, they’d settled into a comfortable routine.  Either he’d make the trip up the interstate to Charlottesville, or she’d drive down to Blacksburg for the weekend.
    Dad had sized him up quickly and had, somewhat grudgingly, admitted he approved.  “Can’t say I expected you to pick a boy from New Jersey, but I ’spose he’ll keep,” he’d said.
    “You didn’t expect me to fall in love with a damn Yankee,” she’d countered, laughing.
    “Now, Pen…”
    “I’m kidding, Dad.  We all know damnyankee is one word around here.”
    “Well, yes, but if he’s the one…”

Remember to leave a comment to enter the drawing for a free copy of Judi Seggel's novella, Miracle River.

BUY LINKS:   Barnes and Noble Nook        Smashwords         Kobo

Friday, June 19, 2015

CTRL+F Is My Editing Friend: WAS

Last month I talked about usng CTRL plus the letter F to bring up the search box in order to help me identify all the times I use the word "that" in a sentence. I have found I can eliminate the word that most if not all of the time in a manuscript and end up with the same meaning. Doing so often results in a better crafted sentence.

Another word I now look for and attempt to change is the word was. Why? It is a passive verb. It is a wimpy verb. Sometimes, nothing but the word was will do. However, many times my sentences are enhanced and my storyline improved if I can eliminate the was and substitute an action verb.

Example:  Change "I was sad." to "I felt sad." Easy.

I recently read a novel series published about ten years ago by a well-known publishing house. The number of times the author used passive verbs including the word was rankled. I wanted to reach right through the page and line edit the book for him to say, "Hey! Look how much more effective this will read if you switch to these action verbs. I got past all the times I read was -- barely -- because the storyline engaged me.

Here I use was a lot:

I was late today getting this blog post online. I was at my ninety year-old friend's house helping her with a garage sale. She was thinking it was better for her to move closer to her family, so she was clearing out items she wasn't planning to take with her. She was happy with the success of her sale.

Here is my rewrite. Can you feel the excitement? I challenge you to do even better:

I posted this blog article late today. My ninety year-old friend asked me to help her with her garage sale this morning. She decided to move closer to her family and planned to clear out items she no longer needs and does not want to take with her. She felt elated over the success of her sale.

Robyn Echols writes using the pen name, Zina Abbott. Her novel, Family Secrets, has been published by Fire Star Press and is now available on Amazon HERE and on Barnes & Nobel for Nook HERE

Also available from Prairie Rose Publications:

Big Meadows Valentine, on Amazon Kindle HERE and on Nook HERE . The second novella in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, A Resurrected Heart, is available on Amazon Kindle HERE and on Nook HERE.

Monday, June 15, 2015

#NewRelease--Summer Flames by Vella Munn--#Giveaway

Vella writes for many reasons, often because she’s fascinated with why people do the things they do.

Case in point: for several years now her youngest son has spent much of his summers (he’s a teacher) fighting fires. He grew up surrounded by Oregon forests which she believes has a great deal to do with his determination to protect the wilderness. Yes the money is good but that doesn’t make up for the taxing physical work and occasional danger. When asked why he takes the risks he does, he simply says it’s a job that needs to be done and he can do it.

Vella gave her son’s dedication and passion to Kade Morgan, the hero of Summer Flames. Like Vella’s son, Kade lives and breathes evergreens and wildlife. Neither of them has any interest in city living and willingly spend countless hours in the mountains. The mountains speak to them. Own them even. The more Vella thought about what drives Kade, the more she wanted to introduce him to a woman who feels passionately which is why she brought Chera James into Kade’s world.

Hopefully, Vella says, readers of Summer Flames will fall in love with Kade as Chera did.


School teacher Chera James wants only one thing from rugged forester Kade Morgan: permission to explore the acres of wilderness he owns. Walking the pristine land that holds her own family’s roots stills the restlessness that has long consumed her, but it also holds the key to grant funding that can mean a huge difference to her professionally.

Kade is all man…fiercely independent, and willing to sacrifice everything—even his life—to protect his mountain. Danger lurks everywhere—and Kade realizes they’re not alone in the woods…someone else is there, watching them. It’s life or death—can he trust Chera? Or is she part of the set-up to take everything he’s worked so hard to build?

Every moment Chera spends with Kade makes her blood race and her heart beat like a wild drum. But trust doesn’t come easy. Kade wants the truth, but Chera makes him forget the rules of survival he’s always followed. Now that she’s come into his life, will they both be consumed by SUMMER FLAMES?


    Fire! Five desperate minutes ago she'd seen flames heading away from the narrow logging road at the bottom of the mountain. The flames were licking their way toward summer dry brush and evergreens.   
    "Lady! What the devil–"
    "Fire!" she screamed up at the man who suddenly appeared. "There's a fire. It–"
    Twin vises clamped around her upper arms and she was pulled within an inch of a big, broad male chest sheathed in overworked flannel.
    "Where?" he demanded.
    Although he continued to grip her so tightly she was rapidly losing circulation in her arms, she managed to jerk her head in the direction she'd come from. "On the flat. Just after the turnoff to this road."
    "We don't have time to talk," she interrupted. "We have–"
    He released her and spun away, yelling for everyone to jump into their rigs and haul down the mountain. As the men responded to his command, he whirled back around.
    She saw his leathered hand snake toward her but didn't have time to do more than think about shying away before he again imprisoned her. He began dragging her with him.
    "Wait!" She planted her heels. At least, she tried to. In truth, she felt like a small dog being pulled behind an impatient master. "What are you–"
    "You're coming with me."

Be sure and leave a comment for Vella Munn to be entered in a drawing for a free copy of Summer Flames.

BUY LINKS:    Barnes and Noble Nook       Smashwords           Kobo

Monday, June 8, 2015

Triple Crown! by Vella Munn

I feel as if I have scored the post position for the Belmont horse race.
Let me explain, please. A week or so ago I volunteered to write a monthly blog for Prairie Rose Publishing and chose the second Monday. Little did I know that two days before my blog was due American Pharoah would win the Triple Crown of horseracing and thus thrill millions of horse lovers.
The race and its incredible winner (yes I'm gushing) has given me the perfect opportunity to wander down memory lane about my love of horses. I have an early memory of sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table with a collection of small plastic horses in a variety of poses. As I moved them about the table I imagined my tiny steeds racing with the wind. Some belonged to Native Americans, some to pioneers. Some were valuable because of their speed while others pulled covered wagons or helped plow fields.
Another memory: my sister and I are straddling the wooden railing on Grandma's front porch pretending we're on horseback. Those particularly horses weren't comfortable to sit on which made fantasizing about racing them difficult. Maybe that's why we came to the absolutely logical conclusion that we WOULD own and run a large thoroughbred farm once we were grown up. We glossed over the financial considerations and our laughable knowledge of how to train a race horse because we were convinced that our love for the animals was all we'd need.
A very few years down the road we actually owned a mare—or I should say she owned us. As I recall, our mother used a $25 savings bond to buy a three year old mare 'guaranteed' to be gentle and broken to ride. Not. Of course we in our ignorance didn't know we were being scammed. My mother was overwhelmed, my sister afraid of the big beast, and me enthralled. I was also nervous, not that I let them know.
Love didn't win the day with Trixie—so named because she loved to pull a fast one on us. She hated to be caught, either that or she knew she held the upper hand in the game, but once I'd finally gotten my hands on her halter, she pretty much did what I wanted her to. Unfortunately I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Because I fancied myself an Indian of course I wanted to ride bareback and often barefoot. One of her favorite tricks was to clamp the bit between her teeth, take off at a canter, and head right for the low-hanging branch on an oak tree in her pasture that she used to scratch her back. Off I went. Repeatedly.
About the barefoot—I was leading her along the country road where we lived when a car pulled around us. Either Trixie was startled or I pulled on the rope to get her closer to the side. Whichever it was, she stepped down on both of my feet. Crying, I shoved and shoved until I got her to move. Then because I knew I had several broken toes, I clumped along on my heels guiding her to a wooden fence and used that to climb on her back. About the only good thing that came out of that accident was that I had a perfect excuse for going to school scans shoes for several weeks.
Of course my sister and I wanted Trixie to have a foal so we kept after Mother until she agreed to have her bred. We weren't allowed to watch the deed being done but it took, and eleven months later Beauty was born—the most loved-by-girls-filly the world has ever known.
Two days later Beauty was dead. I found her in the pasture on Valentine's Day. Trixie grieved as much as we did and went into what I'll inelegantly call major heat. The leader of the local 4-H group brought a stallion to Trixie and Trixie just about ravaged the stallion. My sister and I got a lesson in the birds and bees that day all right.
Eleven months later Misty came into our lives. We nearly lost her to what we called joint evil but the three of us took turns being in the stall with Trixie and Misty, getting the little filly on her feet and supporting her every few hours so she could nurse. Misty never got as big as her mother and wasn't solidly built but she considered my mother, sister, and me part of her family and loved us as much as we loved her.
Maybe that's why I watched American Pharoah cross the finish line with tears in my eyes.