A Tale of Murder

In August, I traveled with my family to Charleston, South Carolina, a favorite place of mine. We, of course, couldn’t pass on the many ghost tours offered there and chose one that included walking through parts of the old town after dark. We heard many interesting and frightening tales, but one in particular stayed with me. And once I returned home, I did a bit of research to satisfy my morbid (pun intended) curiosity.
Recognized as the first female serial killer in the U. S., Lavinia Fisher was born in 1793.  Her birthplace, maiden name, or her childhood remains a mystery. She married John Fisher, and in the 1800's they opened a hotel aptly named the Six Mile Wayfarer House, as it was six miles outside of Charleston. Men visiting the area began to disappear. Report after report was filed with the authorities regarding these missing men, and it was determined that all of them were last seen at The Six Mile Wayfarer House. An investigation was begun, but there was no evidence found showing the Fishers were involved. And with their popularity with the community, the investigation was dropped
Lavinia was a charming dark-haired beauty, which added to her popularity and her hotel business. It was later learned that she had used those same attributes to help her husband rob and kill many male travelers. As more and more travelers went missing, people began to gossip, and in February, 1819, as group of vigilantes arrived at the Fishers to stop whatever was happening. The Fishers somehow convinced them of their innocence and the mob returned to Charleston. But they left one man, David Ross, behind to keep an eye on the place. The next day, in the early morning hours, he was attacked and brought before a group of men and Lavinia Fisher, whom he asked for help. But instead of helping Ross, she choked him, and then shoved his head through a window. He was able to somehow escape and went to the authorities.
It was near that same time that John Peeples was traveling to Charleston from Georgia. Exhausted, he stopped at The Six Mile House for a room. The beautiful Lavinia warmly greeted him, but told him there was no room available, but invited him in for tea and a meal. Enjoying her company, he ignored the strange way her husband glanced at him and kept talking with Lavinia, answering whatever question she asked. She left the table and returned with tea and let him know that a room had become available. Lavinia poured him a cup of tea. John didn't like tea, but didn't wish to offend his lovely host. When she wasn’t looking, he poured it out. Later he was showed to his room. After thinking about it, he wondered why she had asked so many questions. And why her husband had kept looking at him. He became wary of robbery, after realizing all the information about himself he had provided them. Thinking it safer, he slept in the chair by the door, instead of the bed. A loud noise woke him. Looking about the room, he noticed, to his horror, the bed he should have been sleeping in had fallen into a hole in the floor. Terrified, John jumped out the window, got on his horse and fled to the authorities in Charleston.
The hotel was painstakingly searched and the grounds dug up. It was filled with hidden passages containing, items that could be traced to dozens of travelers, a tea laced with an herb that would put someone to sleep for hours, a mechanism that could be triggered to open the floorboards beneath the bed, and in the basement, as many as a hundred sets of remains.
John and Lavinia Fisher, along with two men they'd been working with, were arrested. The Fishers pleaded not guilty, but were kept in jail until their trial. The two men with them were released on bail.
At their trial in May, the Fishers were found guilty of many murders and robberies and were sentenced to hang. They were housed in the same cell, and fashioned a rope from the jail linens. After John got out, the rope broke, leaving his wife inside. Refusing to leave her, he turned himself in. After that, they were more closely guarded.
In February, 1820, they appealed their conviction, but it was rejected and their hanging was set for later that month. Reverend Richard Furman visited the couple to offer his service. It is said that John begged the priest to save his soul if not his life. But the heartless Lavinia would have nothing to do with him.
 On February 18, 1820, the Fishers were taken from the Charleston Jail to the gallows behind the building. John prayed quietly with the minister whom he'd given a letter to be read, stating his innocence and asking mercy for those in the judicial process who had wronged him. The letter having been read, he pleaded his case before a crowd of nearly 2,000. Before he was hanged, he asked them to forgive him.
Twenty-seven year-old Lavinia, on the other hand, did not go quietly. Wearing her wedding dress, she refused to walk to the gallows. Ranting and raving, she had to be picked up and carried there, where she continued to scream at the crowd, especially the socialites, blaming them specifically for her conviction. She yelled into the crowd, "If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me—I'll carry it." Before the executioners could finish the job, she jumped from the scaffold herself and dangled down into the crowd. People who attended the hanging said they had never seen such a wicked stare or chilling sneer as was on Lavinia's face.

It is said her ghost still roams Charleston. Soon after her death, her face was seen floating in front of the window of the jail where she was held. Several people recently visiting the old jail claim to have seen Lavinia wearing her wedding dress. People have been choked and scratched. A tour guide felt a rope being wrapped around her ankle. A man had his sunglasses knocked from his face. Locked doors are found open, and strange, unexplained sounds are heard often. Is it Lavinia bent on tormenting those she thinks did her wrong?

Gwyn Brodie

After her clan's castle falls under siege, the fair-haired Lady Jillian MacRae finds a way to escape with her four-year-old brother, seeking help from the handsome Kade MacLachlan, laird and master of Ravenskull Castle. Four years past their love had been strong—until her father betrothed her to another man who was later killed. Now, it is Kade she turns to for help in regaining control of her own castle from the wicked man who has taken over and intends to marry her.  Once she is again face-to-face with Kade, she realizes the love she thought she'd put aside is alive and thriving.

Kade is speechless when the beautiful Jillian offers herself to him in exchange for protecting her young brother and banishing the intruders from her castle—an offer he is more than willing to accept. He has no intention of allowing her to slip through his fingers again. And when her life hangs in the balance, he will not let anything—or anyone—stop him from saving her, even as his own life dangles by a thread.

Kade poured himself a second dram of whisky and drained the goblet. He couldn't get Jilly off his mind. She'd walked into Ravenskull two days ago and taken him over, both mind and body. Not only that—she'd taken over his dreams. When she'd shoved the cloak from her head, she’d taken his breath away. Her beauty had hit him like a kick to the gut. She'd always been a pretty lass, but she had blossomed into a young woman of tremendous beauty. Her eyes were the same color as a still loch reflecting the blue sky above. How he ached to run his fingers through her long, blond hair, and bury his face in it. It would smell as sweet as a Highland rose—Kade was certain of it. He'd noticed the intoxicating scent the moment he'd sat down on the settle beside her. And those full lips of hers. They were perfectly made for kissing, and he wanted to be the one to kiss them. Kade stood up from the chair. 'Twas late, but no matter. He had to see her.
Jillian had just crawled into bed, when someone softly knocked. Perhaps 'twas her mother come to tell her good-night. She opened the door. Kade.
He stood in the doorway, the scent of whisky on his breath. "Might I come in?" he asked, his voice low.
She hesitated. No man, other than her father, had ever stepped foot inside her bedchamber.
"I ken 'tis late, Jilly, but I must see you. I promise it won't take long."
The look in his eyes begged her to allow him entrance. She couldn't refuse. Jillian stepped aside.
He hurried into the room, locking the door behind him.
"If my father finds you in here, there's no telling what he might do."
"Aye." He nodded, but I had to see you."
Jillian shivered.
He moved closer to her, his gaze settling on her lips. "Jilly, you make me daft. I'm as a thirsty man in need of a drink, and I'm afraid the only thing that will quench my thirst is a taste of you."
Her knees trembled and her heart raced.
He leaned down and gently brushed his lips over hers.
She closed her eyes, savoring the amazing sensation. Then he covered her mouth with his, devouring her. He tasted of whisky and smelled of sandalwood.
Slipping his arms tightly around her, he pulled her closer, softly moaning.
Her whole body feverish, she clung to Kade's shirt as she returned his kisses. His muscles felt hard beneath her fists and she yearned to touch him. Jillian let go of his shirt and ran her hands over his chest, his shoulders, his back. What was wrong with her? She could barely breathe.

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Sweet Deals and Giveaways!!

Hey guys!!

I went straight from editing to promo'ing like mad. :) I've got some killer deals/contest going on right now and I want to get the word out.

First off, The Awakening: Britton released on Monday. YAY!!!!! This is the final for now installment of the The Awakenings series. The Entangled Covet imprint is running a huge Black Friday special for this week ONLY. All the Covet books that released on Monday are only .99. For me, that wasn't all. Since Britton is the third book of the series, Entangled decided to offer Aidan (the first book of the series) for .99 also. Super cool, right? This means that you can actually get the entire series for under $5. I don't know about ya'll, but my budget always needs a great deal and this is a killer one. So if your looking for a way to stock up on your digital library, the books are available at that price at ALL retailers.

Here is the blurb for The Awakening: Britton:

"I would lick that man up one side and down the other."

Half-shifter and lead SPAC agent, Val Calhoun, has listened to women gush over the Don Juan of the precinct for the last four years. Yeah, Detective Britton Townsend is hot and has stunning blue eyes, but that foul mouth he saves only for her? What a waste of good looks. And no way does Val want that mouth anywhere near hers.

When the shifter community is threatened, Val is assigned to the case…and fails. So the High Council turns to the rogue shifter they'd sentenced to twenty years as a human--that same obnoxiously sexy Detective Townsend. And sends the two arch-enemies deep into the North Carolina Mountains-—together, and alone.

Being stuck in a tiny honeymoon cabin with Miss Castration and only one bed is definitely not Britton's idea of a good time. But the High Council doesn’t take no for an answer. After his shifter abilities are restored, Brit is once again susceptible to the dreaded, irreversible bonding instinct, the Drall. Thankfully, all he’s ever felt for Val is intense loathing, no reason to worry. Right? All he has to do is solve this case pronto, and he can go back to his footloose Casanova ways. That is, if they don’t kill each other first. Or worse...fall in love.

Reviewers are saying this one the best in the series, and I'll even have to admit that Britton ended up being extremely special to me. I always thought it would be Liam, but Britton came and smacked me upside the head hard and burrowed deep into my heart.

Amazon   B&N    Kobo    iBookstore

AND I do believe I said something about a GIVEAWAY. I'm running a HUGE one on my website right now for a pre-release celebration for FIGHTING LOVE. It will run through the entire month of December and I'm offering up a $100 giftcard. Winner's choice between Amazon or Barnes and Noble. To enter go HERE. The contest is open internationally. So go...have fun :) Here is the cover and blurb for FIGHTING LOVE.

Talk about kicking a fighter while he’s down.

Former Middleweight champion and confirmed bachelor Tommy “Lightning” Sparks has lost it all: his belt, his career, and now his home. After the devastating fire, he moves in with his drama-free best friend, Julie. One encounter changes everything and Julie is no longer the girl he’s spent his life protecting but a desirable woman he wants to take to his bed. Knowing his reputation, he’s determined to protect Julie more than ever—from himself.

Veterinarian Julie Rogers has been in love with Tommy since she was ten, but would love to get over the man. She’s quiet nights at home and a glass of wine. He’s clubbing all night and shots of tequila. As friends they work great. As a couple? No way in hell. She just can’t get her heart to agree. When she starts spending time with another fighter, the man who’s always treated her like a sister is suddenly not being very brotherly and enflames her body like never before.

Can two childhood friends make a relationship work, or will they lose everything because they stopped FIGHTING LOVE.

Guest: David Meredith & The Reflections of Queen Snow White

Welcome, David! Please tell us about yourself.
I am an independent author living in the Nashville Area where I also teach English. Prior to this I taught English in Japan for nearly a decade. 
Q: Japan... how interesting! Please tell us about your new release.
A: The Reflections of Queen Snow White is a very personal book for me. It is based on an award-winning short story that I wrote back in 2006. It is about an aging, unexpectedly bereaved Snow White struggling with grief and trying to sort through her own difficult past to find direction and hope for the future. It attempts to answer the question: What happens after “happily ever after” has come and gone?
 I think that it deals with a time in life that most of us would rather not think about, but that half of us or better will definitely live to see. Reflections… is unique in that your average romance or fantasy/faerie tale novel tends to deal with the struggles of relationships at the very early stages - all the awkwardness and uncertainty associated with really feeling out a brand new person who you think you might kinda, sorta like and want to be with. Then the characters fight for then succeed in loving and having their love returned. My novel is at the other end of that journey. Snow White and Charming have already shared a lifetime of deep and sustaining love. The Reflections of Queen Snow White explores what happens when you've had all of this wonderful, perfect time together, then suddenly one day, it's all over.
At present it rates 5 stars on Amazon. :)

Q: That's fantastic! What inspired this story? What is the story behind the story?
A: Well, I think to properly answer this question, you should really know something about where I was emotionally back in 2006 when I originally wrote the source short story. In the space of about three or four months, both of my grandfathers died unexpectedly. During the same period, my wife also lost a grandmother and a grandfather, so there where a lot of funerals going on over a very short amount of time. Now funerals, by their very nature lead to a certain introspection about one’s own mortality, but particularly with the sudden passing of both grandfathers and, as a consequence, how hard my grandmothers took their deaths, it led me to wonder on their behalf  – “So… What now?”
They had both had wonderful, loving relationships – many long, happy years together (both had been married over 60 years). In the case of my maternal grandmother and grandfather, they had never loved anyone else, having married straight out of high school. There was no question in my mind, nor indeed anyone who knew them, that theirs had most certainly been a real-life “happily ever after”. Now it was over. It made me wonder, “When your life has been so closely tied up with and centered upon one other person for so long, what do you do when they are no longer a part of your life? Where do you go from there?” That was the original kernel of the idea for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

Q: Sorry to hear about your loss. Why do you choose to write romance?
A: I actually write mostly fantasy, although much of what I write would probably be considered romance/fantasy crossover. I like fantasy because I feel like it gives me more creative freedom to tell a story unconstrained by many of the limitations we experience in the real world. However there is almost always a significant romantic element included in my writing.
I think that there really are two absolutes in the human existence. First is the knowledge that we will one day die. The idea that we have a limited amount of time can and should inspire us to make the most of each and every day – to strive for something more or better in our lives. In that struggle can be found great emotion, which is by its very nature a great resource for story-telling.
The other absolute is the basic human need to love and be loved. Life is about relationships (friends, family, lovers, co-workers, even chance encounters with strangers!) and most of the joy and/or drama we experience in our lives can generally be traced back in some degree to whatever is happening within those many relationships. Therefore I think relationships and romance absolutely MUST be a focus of good story telling.
Taken together these two truths – recognizing our own mortality and seeking to share our limited days with people who love us are significant motivators in almost any story – real life or fiction. Stories that delve into these great human longings or really bring out these commonalities of the human condition that we all share, tend to touch us in ways that really make stories and characters meaningful and personal. Whatever the genre I happen to be writing in at the moment, that’s what I want people to get out of all my writing – I want readers to FEEL something and who do you feel more strongly about than someone you love?
Q: I agree! Why did you choose your setting and why was it perfect for your book?
A: First, I think that the decision to tell a story about Snow White sort of chose the setting for me. However, having said that, I felt like the whole faerie tale feel was important to help the reader immediately connect with Snow White. I think the idea of “it really happens to everyone, even someone like her” was instrumental for telling this story. I also believed that making it feel like as natural a transition as possible from the original Brothers Grimm tale was vital to the emotional connection and impact I wanted the reader to have.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: Except for Snow White herself, all of the other characters either have traditionally German names (like Stina the chamber maid or Queen Bemadette, Snow White’s mother) or they are adjectives in German (for example, Erfruet, Snow White’s last surviving dwarf, translates as “Happy” and the portly Lord Stolz is described as “The Earl of Schweinefett”, which basically means “Earl of Pig Fat” or “Earl of Lard”). It’s a German story anyway, so I thought I’d have a little fun with the names.
Q: How cool and funny! Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A: Yes, I chose it. I knew the magic mirror would be central to the story. Also the introspective nature of Snow White’s journey made the title seem obvious to me.
Q: Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
A: This story is very much an introspective told almost exclusively from the perspective of an elderly Snow White. I understand upon initial examination, she might seem a little bit vanilla as a choice. After all, she is probably the first faerie tale princess that comes to our minds when we think of the faerie tale genre. She’s been nearly exploited and merchandised to death by the Disney Company. There have already been almost innumerable retellings and riffs on her story in modern media – TV, movies, other novels, short stories, and even an old Rammstein music video. Who doesn’t know Snow White?
However, I felt like this intimate familiarity we all have with her actually works perfectly in helping the reader connect with her older self in Reflections... To me, it felt rather like catching up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in years and years and just like friends from childhood, I think people still care about her.
Having said that, I think what really makes the story is the fact that she is so caught up in herself - her own misery, her own pain and grief, her own loneliness and depression - that she fails to see all of these wonderful people around her who could really make her burden less and her life better. In that respect, I suppose my vote has to go to the whole supporting cast.

Q: Which element of story creation is your favorite?
A: I think it has to be the characters. As a reader, I love stories where you get caught up in the characters’ lives – when they start to feel like people you know. With really well-written characters you share their successes and failures, their joy and their pain. If a character is especially engaging, it almost doesn’t matter what happens to them, because you’re already hooked. That is not to say that plot and setting are not important, but if your characters aren’t enticing and interesting to your reader, the story is likely to fall flat.
Q: That's true! Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: I’ll include a little bit of a spoiler warning up front, so anyone who is afraid I might give away too much might want to skip ahead, but…
To be honest, it was Snow White and Charming’s Honeymoon scene. It’s the first really graphic sex scene that I’ve ever put in a novel, and it took me a while to get comfortable with it. I suppose I could have gone with a door closing and fade to black type nudge, nudge, tee hee they’re having sex now but we just won’t talk about it, kind of gimmick, but I came to feel strongly like the scene was necessary to the telling of Snow White’s story. These are Snow White’s private, introspective musings! Who censor’s their own head?
It needed to be explicit to make the reader really believe that they are right there with Snow White getting an intimate look at her internal dialog. I also wanted readers to understand the depth of Snow White and Prince Charming’s relationship, particularly from Snow White’s point of view and how significant Charming was to her. It needed to be graphic to illustrate how hard she falls for her husband, how profoundly miserable Snow White becomes after his death, and why. At the same time, I didn’t want it to come across as voyeuristic or seedy. Making it graphic, but not come off as trashy and cheap was a challenge, but I think I got it.  J Maybe “graphic” isn’t even the right word. Perhaps I should just call it “truthful”.
Q: What inspires you? What motivates you?
A: Having a vision and sharing it with others. Making people feel something through my writing gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Discussing it with me is just an added bonus – at the risk of coming across as narcissistic, I could do that forever!
Q: Please tell us about your other books.
A: As a matter of fact, I have a HUGE project I started WAY back in 2004 that is nearly complete. It is a fantasy series based upon Japanese myth, legend and folklore, rather than the European model that is so prevalent in fantasy literature today. Originally it was a 406,000 word behemoth, but I've edited it down to three volumes that are between 95,000 and 120,000 words each. Here's a synopsis:
On the happiest day of the year, Taro’s world ends. His people and his family are slaughtered. His lands are brutally laid to waste by merciless, imperial forces. Taro is certain that neither he nor the ghosts of his lost loved ones can rest until he has visited the same devastation tenfold upon the heads of the vile collaborators. Consumed with grief for the fallen and guilt at his own survival, he gathers his scattered people and solemnly vows bloody revenge on the allies of the Emperor in the neighboring barony.
At the same time, young Naomi, cherished daughter of the doting Lord of Numanodai, is blissfully unaware of the chaotic world spinning out of control all around her. She fervently studies the arts of dance, music, and poetry as she dreams of being accepted into the distant imperial court. However, when disaster visits her very doorstep and she loses everything that she holds dear, Naomi must learn what it truly means to be a woman and a ruler. She must come to grips with her own gnawing grief and paralyzing doubt if she is to have any chance of saving her beaten and bedraggled people from Taro’s unreasoning fury.
In the process, both she and her pursuer discover a magical world of vengeful akuma demons, fierce kitsune fox-people, droll tanuki badger-folk, and the mysterious, arcane power of the ikioi. Taro and Naomi must decide whether to use this power for healing or destruction, revenge or redemption. They must choose whether to react to their pain and loss with wrath or with love. In the end, both must come to understand that the only thing that really makes them different is the choices they make and what they are willing to sacrifice in attaining that which they desire.
I'm hoping to release the first volume, Shirobara Falls, sometime next year.
Q: Sounds very interesting and creative! When did you know you wanted to be an author?
A: I think I had always had a little bit of the "writing bug". I made some false starts in high school - wrote some fan-fic, started several ill-conceived novels that never got finished, (Reflections was actually my 7th attempt at writing a novel). I wrote a few successful and well-received short stories, but I think it was a combination of my time in Japan and all the writing I had to do for my Master's Program that finally pushed me to get serious about it. I had always been a reader, but while I was in Japan, English language novels were hard to come by. Combine that with my graduate experience of having to write 5-6 thirty-plus page research papers a semester and all of a sudden I had run out of excuses. I had both the time and the ability to stick with a subject over the long haul and get through to the end. It was a gradual thing though and took a number of false starts and failures in the process with many long periods of no writing at all sprinkled in between.

Q: What is your writing process or method?
A: I keep a little black book with me. If I have an interesting idea or random thought, no matter where it occurs, it gets written down. Some of them turn into stories. I do some outlining, but I’m not religious about it. Generally, I rush and try to get the first draft of a novel down on paper in a hurry, bad grammar, mistakes, plot holes, and inane dialog notwithstanding, then spend a whole lot of time with revision and editing. In fact it always takes me at least two to three times longer editing and revising my work than writing the initial first draft.
Q: If you are self-published, why did you choose that route? Do you love it or what would you do differently?
A: The motivation was frustration mostly. Buried under sheaves and sheaves of rejection letters after waiting 6-8 months for each one, I started to really question if that was the only way to get my writing in the public eye. I knew I could write. Lots of people I trusted not to simply stroke my ego said so. I was, I think, fairly well-read myself. I’d even got a number of what I’d characterize as “Good Rejection” letters that were personalized and offered concrete suggestions for improvement. I have not totally written off traditional publishing (self-publishing is a HUGE amount of work). I just wanted to see if it was a viable option for me. I figured I would learn the answer to that question best if I just did it.
Q: Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
A: First and foremost, mind your craft. Make sure your writing is excellent and always strive to make it better. Don’t be in a rush to publish. Rather, make sure what you publish is worth publishing. Get the feedback of people you trust not to simply pat your head and stroke your ego and then respond kindly to criticism and take it constructively.
Second, be prepared to WORK if you want to be successful. Everyone and their brother can self-publish now, but that doesn’t mean everyone should. Reviewers and even consumers are inundated - buried under the huge volume of titles - so even really good writing has a tendency to get lost in the free-for-all. If you want to be successful at it you have to be ready to spend nearly every spare moment just trying to get your writing noticed – just to convince a few people who might have a little influence to give it a chance and maybe tell others about it - and there’s still no guarantee. It’s a different path than traditional publishing, but I’m fairly well convinced at this point that it is certainly not any easier.
Q: What’s next for you?

A: The next big event (I’m thinking probably March or April) will be the very limited release of the physical book. Probably not more than about 500 copies in the initial run (printing isn’t free), but keep checking back on my website and Facebook page for details. Then of course, I’m looking forward to the release of Shirobara Falls in 2014 as well. I’m not sure if that will be traditional or self-published yet, but either way it’s coming. Stay tuned!
Fantastic! Thanks so much for being our guest today! David is giving away a copy of his book to a commenter! Please leave your email or a way for us to contact you along with your comment. Thanks!

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The Little Guy is 1 Year Old!

"How did that happen?" "Where does the time go?" "He's gotten SOOOO big!"

Just some of the real life dialogue flying around Saturday night during my grandson's first birthday party. I know, it seems like just the other day I was sharing 6 month pictures or even 1 month pictures. First baby pictures. But here I am, sharing 1st birthday pictures of the little guy for your enjoyment on your Monday morning.

Here's the birthday boy. The hat didn't stay on for long! In fact, grabbing pics of him isn't that easy anymore. He's always on the move!

He's a big fan of the movie, "Cars" and the cake was perfect. Almost too cool to cut.

Back with my kids were little, we didn't have special "smash cakes". We just gave the little one the first piece and let him have at it.

"Happy Birthday to yoooooou."


Then come the presents. Mommy had to help him get the hang of ripping the paper. He'll be all set now for Christmas.

His uncle gave him Spiderman and Superman pjs. Tonight he got to be Spidey.

Having fun! Vroom. Vroom.

Have a great week. And for our readers in the U.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

Her Royal Masquerade - available now
Her Royal Bodyguard - coming early 2014
Playing for Real - coming Feb 4th - pre-order now

The 21st Century Thanksgiving Turkey

The holiday season can be very stressful. But before you start thinking of having to get up at 6am on Thanksgiving day to start cooking that 20-pound turkey with all the fixings like stuffing, yams, etc,  have a good laugh by taking a look at the holiday from the bird’s perspective: http://images.businessweek.com/ss/05/11/egreetings/image/01.swf

Happy Thanksgiving!




At this time of year, many folks post about what they are thankful for, some even doing so the entire month of November until Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for much in my life, especially since I know how quickly life can change. However, I think it's healthy to explore the other side, the side no one ever talks about. The ungrateful side...

What are you not grateful for?

I know that I tell myself I'm grateful for co-workers who make my job harder because I learn to be stronger and more resilient because of them. After several years of this, though, I can't even convince myself this is true. No, the truth is that I'm not grateful for colleagues who make my work life harder. It would be much better if I didn't have to deal with them. I could accomplish something, anything, and feel satisfied in my work environment.

Another thing I'm not grateful for is really bad entertainment. Yeah, I know that it could be worse. I could be watching ancient Norwegian scream-singing in my front yard, but that doesn't make me feel any better when I have some well-earned veg time and can only find "Say Yes to the Dress" in all its nauseating variations dominating every cable channel on the planet.

Flu shots. Yes, they help me avoid getting the flu. No, I'm not 100% grateful for them, especially when they make my arm swell and give me light flu symptoms. Bah.

I'm also not grateful for slow Internet connections, no matter where I encounter them. Yeah, I know that my forebears had to chisel out letters to their families on rocks and carry them to the catapult to be delivered. However, it still ticks me off that my connection sometimes makes me wait two seconds to do what it could have done in one millisecond if my boss' bosses hadn't been too cheap to get a good ISP with service provided in some other manner than gerbils running on a treadmill.

Finally, I'm not grateful for some online articles. You know these articles; most of them are on Yahoo. They are the ones that use really catchy headlines that give hints about Mr. Famous So-and-So's bad onion-eating habit destroying his marriage and then once you click on them you realized Mr. Famous So-and-So isn't even married and the article is about his favorite recipes or what might happen if he were married. An article titled, "Republican and Democratic Senators Marry; Sparks Fly," might sound like it's about a great romance when, in fact, it's about a fire starting during the nuptials of two Congresspeople because someone parked his cardboard bicycle next to a candle. Yahoo's headlines are notoriously bad about this, and I'm not grateful to have to plow through tons of gark to find a bit of news.

What about you? What are you not grateful for?  Do tell in the comments section.

Guest: Sherrie Hansen - Scottish Doors

I have a confession to make. I've never been to Dorney. I've been as close as Eilean Donan Castle, but I was in a hurry to get to Fort William, and I never thought to go up into the village. Now, I'm writing a book called Shy Violet, the main characters are living in Dorney, and I'm left wishing I had walked a bit further and scoped out the town with my own two eyes.
That's the way it is with doors. We choose to walk through them, or we skip on by, oblivious to what might be inside.
I've always been fascinated by doors, so when we started exploring Scotland, it came as no surprise that all kinds of unique and intriguing doors caught my eye.
 Sometimes, when we get to a door, we're hesitant to open it. Because doors can lead to places you'd rather not go.

 Sometimes, when you see a door, you're consumed with curiosity about what's on the other side, and you can't be happy until you know.

 Doors can be a bit daunting - after all, one can never be quite sure what you'll find when you open them. 

 Doors can be portals to a make-believe world.

 The sights you see through an open door can make your imagination soar.

 Doors can lead you deeper and deeper into a mystery that will take you who knows where.

 Doors can lead to an alternate reality - perhaps one from which you will never escape.

 Doors can open up to adventures you've never even dreamed of.

 Doors - and the places they lead to - can inspire overtures and epic poems and all kinds of artistry.

 Doors can be common, comforting, familiar and welcoming.

 Doors can be austere and foreboding.

 Doors can be pretentious affairs.

Doors can be plain and functional.
 When a door opens, light floods into the dark corners of you mind and enlightens every last nook and cranny.

When you unlock a door, you never know what secrets you'll uncover.

 When a door shuts behind you, sometimes you wonder if you'll ever go home.

Sometimes doors are a nice fit. Not too big, not to small.

 Although it's always wise to mind your head.

Sometimes doors dwarf you, and you wonder, who were these doors made for, giants?

Some say that when God closes a door, he opens a window.

But we all know that when a door is closed, you can get left standing outside in the cold.

Next time you go in or out a door, I hope it leads to somewhere you want to be - maybe even Scotland - and that someone you love is waiting on the other side.

About Sherrie Hansen  

Twenty-one years ago, I bought a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa so I could move home and be nearer my family. I rescued an amazing but very run-down old house from the bulldozer's grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Since then, welcoming guests, running the business and cooking wonderful food has consumed the largest chunk of my life.

Before that, I lived in Colorado Springs, CO, and before that, Augsburg, Germany. I attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and spent one life-changing summer in Bar Harbor, Maine. I grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota.

After 12 years of writing romance novels late at night when I couldn't sleep (mostly because I was so keyed up from working 12 hour days at my B&B), I met and married my real-life, romantic hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. I enjoy playing the piano with the worship team at church, needlepointing, photography, renovating and decorating historic houses, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with my nieces and nephews.
I live in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and write on the run, whenever I have a spare minute. “Wild Rose” is my sixth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing.

Please visit Sherrie online:

Thistle Down (a novella length prequel) and Wild Rose

Wild Rose is the first of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, to be followed by Blue Belle early next year and Shy Violet later next year. Thistle Down, an eShort prequel, is currently free or 99 cents online.  

Thistle Down:  Can tenderhearted Pastor Ian MacCraig keep a pair of prickly sisters from marrying the wrong men?

Emily Downey has found the perfect groom. If only she loved the man... Chelsea Downey wild about her boyfriend. Trouble is, he’s two-timing her and everyone sees it but her.

Their thorny situation gets even stickier when the church ladies come up with a plan.

Can Pastor Ian MacCraig weed out the thistles and get to the heart of the matter in time to save the day?

Wild Rose:  When Ian MacCraig tries to capture the thief who is stealing artifacts from his kirk in Loch Awe, Scotland, the last thing he expects to find on his video is a woman engaging in a passionate romp under the flying buttresses.
Rose Wilson is mortified to learn that Digby, the online friend she met for what she thought was a harmless rendezvous, is a common criminal.
Now that Ian, the board of Wilson Enterprises, the constable, and half the town have had a glimpse of Rose in all her naked glory, it seems even her family looks at her differently. What remains to be seen is how far Ian will go to defend Rose's honor and if the church ladies will forgive Rose now that they know who she really is... and if Rose can believe she's worthy of someone as good and kind as Ian MacCraig.
Wild Rose and Pastor Ian MacCraig... a match made in heaven or one hell of a predicament?


Rose Wilson turned away from the wind that whistled across Loch Awe in a futile attempt to keep her hair from being blown into a tangled knot.
Something nipped at her ankle and she reached down to swat it away. Pesky midgies. 
Ouch! Her hand scratched against the thorny stem of a thistle. One more thing. As if the sticky wicket she’d gotten herself into hadn’t already worked her into enough of a dither. She glanced up at the lofty spires of St. Conan’s Kirk. If she were at all religious, she might think God was trying to tell her something.
Where could he be? It had been nigh on three years since she’d stood waiting, and waiting, and waiting at Robert’s and her favorite restaurant. When he never showed up, she’d been angry – thought he’d gotten too busy at work, forgotten she was waiting, or, worse yet, remembered and blown her off.
How could she have known he was dead?
Here she was again. So it was a kirk and not a restaurant. A man she didn’t know all that well instead of her husband. The emotions felt the same. She was peeved. So peeved she could almost forget what it was like to feel abandoned, to hurt so badly she could barely keep her head about her.
She took a deep breath and tried to relax. Would she ever get over being scared that something horrible had happened every time someone was a wee bit tardy?
He was almost an hour later than he’d said he’d be. She peeked through the hedge and tried to see round the bend that led to the village.   
What were the odds that two men she was supposed to meet would die en route to their rendezvous point? She paced up and down the path that led to the kirk, squelching her nervous energy only long enough to look at a bee dipping into a rhody that was a lovely shade of lavender. And then, she was back at it, scanning the roadside for Digby’s car, checking the time on her mobile every few seconds, and imagining the worst. 
She’d been waiting for an hour – plenty long enough for Digby to get there even if he’d been temporarily detained at work, gotten a speeding ticket, or stopped by the mini-mart to buy her flowers. Besides, the man had a mobile.
She clicked hers open and pressed the green button twice. Still no answer.
Where could he be? And why now? Was it because she’d been too intimate with him? Not intimate enough?
“Excuse me, ma’am.”
She blinked and looked in the direction of the voice, but the sun was in her eyes, and all she could see was a soft sheen of light backlighting the silhouette of a very tall man. Too tall to be Digby. She raised her hand to her eyes to shade the light but the sun was still blinding, clinging to his head like a halo.
“Forgive me,” the man said, just as she saw his collar, the white square gleaming brightly between the black, and thought, shouldn’t it be me saying that?
“Sorry to intrude,” he continued. “I couldn’t help noticing that you seem to be looking for someone.”
So much for her and Dig having the place to themselves. Of course, as of this moment, there wasn’t a “them” anyway, so it mattered little if they had privacy. Besides, she had been going to tell him that they couldn’t do it again, that it was too soon, that what had happened shouldn’t have. Not yet. That didn’t mean she didn’t want to be alone with him, to do something. She probably did, eventually. Just not so much, or quite so fast.
“I’m waiting for a friend,” she said.
“You’ve still plenty of time,” he said. “Worship doesn’t begin for another half hour.”
The sun wasn’t in his eyes, but behind him, illuminating her face. She knew, even without being able to see his eyes, that he could read hers perfectly.
“I didn’t realize...”
“We’ve a small but active congregation,” the man said, extending his hand. “Ian MacCraig. St. Conan’s pastor.”
He nodded at a stone cottage with windows rimmed in tiny stones. It was mostly overgrown with creepers. She had assumed it was unoccupied.
She gave her hand, took his, and was surprised by his warmth. “Rose Wilson.” Her hands had been perpetually cold ever since Robert had died. The only reason she’d come to meet Digby in the first place was to get warm. But holding hands with Digby didn’t even compare to the heat this man radiated.
“I’m not from Lochawe. Just up for the day from Glasgow.”
She turned just enough to get the sun out of her eyes and looked up into his face. And started to melt. Warm times ten. Honest, intelligent eyes, longish hair the color of butterscotch. Wide shoulders perfect for shielding a companion. A genuine, concerned smile tinged with the slightest whisper of what? Guilt? Her mind flipped back a page. Forgive him for what? For startling her? For intruding on her reverie? For being concerned enough to acknowledge her presence? To see if she was in need of someone to talk to?
He had such a beautiful aura about him. So serene. So utterly masculine. She felt like she was in a dream, or starring in a film. She resisted the urge to pinch herself. The vicars she knew were old and gray – most, gone completely bald.  This one – Ian, wasn’t it? - didn’t fit any of the pastoral images she held in her mind.
Pastor Ian’s eyes blinked wide open a split second before she felt a movement to her left. A stream of men streaked towards them, guns drawn. She could see them out of the corner of her eye. What the devil was going on?
 Wild Rose by Sherrie Hansen

Wonderful excerpt, Sherrie! Thanks so much for being our guest today!