Excerpt From “Roan Rose” by Juliet Waldron

More like a gangland war for turf and loot than chivalry, the War of Roses disrupted the life of the English common folk for hundreds of years. Roan Rose is the story of one of these commoners, Rose Whitby, born a peasant on the Yorkshire dales. When the Countess of Warwick, decides to take sturdy, gentle Rose to Middleham Castle to be companion and bed-time poppet for a frail daughter, her fate is changed forever.

Rose bonds strongly with Anne Neville, her young mistress. She also meets a royal boy enduring his knightly training — Richard of Gloucester, King Edward’s baby brother. The noble children have illness and accidents as they grow, but Rose remains a constant, always there to nurse and serve.

Rose bears intimate witness to the passions, betrayals, murders, battles and those abrupt reversals of fortune which will shape her mistress’ life — and her own. Anne Neville will briefly become a Queen, and Richard, Rose’s secret love, will become a King, one whose name has become synonymous with evil. Rose, alone of the three, will survive the next turn of Fortune’s Wheel and the invasion of England by Henry Tudor. Returning to her humble existence on the Dales, Rose has one last service to perform.

EXCERPT:

The King of England and I played chess, passing his sleepless hours. After years of struggling with the game, I can say, without exaggeration, that I’d become a formidable competitor, nearly his equal. I will stand firm upon this claim, even though I was a lowly servant—and a female, at that.

Nightly, our forces swayed back and forth across the board, until the birds began a summons to Dawn, calling her, as the harpers say, “from that silken couch where she dreams.”

We sat in a steady circle of candlelight in a small, high room at the palace of Nottingham. From our vantage point, the narrow river, spangled by summer stars, flowed below a single, open window. The distance, I might add, was sufficient to prevent the smell from blighting the view.

Of late, I had won a few these matches. This I credited in part to the King’s growing distraction and exhaustion. By June of 1485, he’d realized that his rule was unraveling around him, and, that he, in no small part, had been the architect of oncoming disaster.

What other choices, however, could my Lord have made? If he had let his nephew come to the throne, his own head would, sooner or later, have become his vengeful sister‑in‑law’s trophy. Either that or he would have been arrested and mewed up by his enemies somewhere, murdered in secret like so many members of his family. Richard Plantagenet knew history and he was not passive. All he’d done in deposing the boy was to strike his enemies before they could strike him.

Men now say otherwise.

There is mystery in the dark hours between two and four. The black and white squares of the board swam before my eyes. I, too, was tired to my very bones. The King’s wakefulness had become his servant’s.  I was ready to make a move when his foot, under a long red robe, touched mine beneath the table. The contact seemed accidental, or was it?

He knows how greatly I love him, how I hunger for any touch. . . .

Concentration broken, I glanced up and met his brilliant hazel eyes, burning deep in hollows of chronic sleeplessness. For an instant, a slight smile curved those thin, mobile lips, but his gaze returned naturally to the board. Our relationship had always been singular. Only recently had it turned—let us say—customary. During the winter, his queen, the mistress I’d served and loved for nigh onto twenty years, had died. That is why his touch distracted me, made concentration falter.

Was the move I’d planned such a good one?

My hand wavered over the few remaining strong pieces. Traps lay on every side. Several, I saw clearly, for I’d been playing chess with Richard since our shared childhood. Whatever coup de grace he’d planned, I feared I’d never see until it was too late.

“That wasn’t fair.” In our secret kingdom of night, titles, and much else customary between master and servant, had been abandoned.

“Check.”

I’d revised, chosen to move my last knight to pin down his king. Of course, I knew quite well that second guesses are nearly always fatal this deep in a match.

“Nothing in this world is fair.”

As his hand went for it, I saw my doom—a lurking bishop.

“Checkmate,” Richard lifted a dark brow in triumph. Extending those jeweled, elegant fingers, his Bishop cast down my helpless king.

“You touched my foot on purpose.”

“What of it?”

It was worth losing any number of chess matches to see him smile. Always glorious—and always rare—it had, lately, become a thing of legend.

“Old Dick” doesn’t smile. This was well known all over his Kingdom. Like a great many other things that are “well known,” there was not a grain of truth in it.

“I don’t mind. It’s only that you used to win by your wits, and now it seems you must rely upon the lowest tricks to best your humble servant.”

He laughed shortly, but it was not an entirely happy sound. Playing with my king now, turning it between ringed thumb and forefinger, he said, “Better for all of us had I learned the game of low tricks at a far earlier age.”

How to reply? Crouching at the back of this night’s wakefulness lay the same old horror.  Where were his nephews?

Everyone knows the pawns are the first to go. In my Lord’s case, crime had brought, as it so rarely does in this wicked world,apunishment not only swift, but apt. In the space of sixteen months, the King had lost his adored son and his dearly beloved wife, my noble mistress.

On this night, Richard Plantagenet had traveled almost to the end of his earthly course, to the haunted land where human tribulation ends. Gazing at the ruin of our board, I believe we both knew it.

***

Juliet Waldron is a grandma and cat mother who decided to finally do something with her long ago BA in English. She’s always loved to read historicals + history, and to make up stories. She has three grandgirls, one who just graduated from college and another who just entered the 8th grade. The youngest is her own little autistic planet, but she takes a mean photograph.

Juliet’s favorite pastimes are hiking, bicycle riding, cat-hugging and gardening. She’s been married to the same guy and riding behind him on his motorcycles for the last 48 years.

Click here to buy: Roan Rose

 

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Excerpt From “My Mozart” by Juliet Waldron

It was said of the enigmatic Mozart that “…’tis unfortunately all too well known that fast living in ill-chosen company shortened his precious days.” My Mozart is the story of Nanina Gottlieb, who meets the composer during her childhood. Gifted, intense and imaginative, Nanina makes the great “Kapellmeister Mozart” her own, personal divinity.

During the composer’s last summer, his wife has left him. In debt and suffering the emotional isolation of genius, he takes refuge with his disreputable Volksoper friends, who want him to write a “peasant opera” for their audience. Nanina, now grown, and still in love with Mozart, is among their number. No one, least of all the composer, understands the depth of her obsession, or how a brief affair will permanently alter her life.

Excerpt:

“Mozart, Ich liebe dich. I love you. Love you.”

“Come here, Nanina Nightingale. Come and give your poor old Maestro some of your ‘specially sugary sugar.”

My mouth on his‑‑the friction produced warmth and sweetness, with a decided undertone of the expensive brandy he liked, flowing from his tongue to mine. I slid my arms across the brocade of his jacket, none too clean these days, and swayed a slender dancer’s body against him.

Let me assure you that my sophistication was assumed. It really doesn’t matter – then, or now. I was young, foolish, and drowning in love. I was seventeen. He was thirty five.

He had once been boyishly agile, doing handsprings over chairs, turning cartwheels of joy at a prima donna’s kiss or a perfect performance of his own celestial music. He was never tall, and was, like most men of his age, working on a bit of a belly. Still, he kept more or less in shape by a daily regimen which included running from bailiffs, dashing out the back doors of taverns to avoid payment, and climbing in and out of the bedroom windows of adventurous (and talented) musical gentlewomen.

I believed he knew everything–that he could see right through me with those bright blue eyes. He probably could. He’d been my music master–and, more–my deity, ever since I’d met him, in my ninth year.

His jacket, now spotted and stained, must have been fine enough to wear in the presence of the Emperor. Bright blue, it perfectly matched his eyes. I can still feel the fabric sliding under my fingers as my arms passed over his shoulders and around his neck.

I can still see him‑‑a woolly frizz of blonde hair, long, aquiline nose–a ram that had once been an angel. Sometimes, when he was loving me in some exquisitely naughty way and joyfully smiling as he did it, I could almost see horns.

So you will understand exactly how I loved him, so that you will know that it was a real passion, I’ll tell you that I adored the feel of him, the smell of him, the taste of him. They’ve tried to turn him into a tinkling porcelain angel, but I’m here to tell you, here and now–he was not.

Mozart’s eyes were big, slightly protuberant, and as I’ve said, so blue. Alarming, those eyes! Once they’d shone with the pure light of genius, radiant and blissful as a summer noonday. Lately, they were simply wasted. My adored Maestro was mostly either drunk or hung over.

He’d fallen from grace. Everyone knew it. Creditors hounded him. There were too many wild parties, not enough money. His wife had given up coping, had gone back to the Baden spa where she had an on-going romance with a big, handsome Major.

And who could blame her? Pretty Constance, in the last ungainly stages of yet another pregnancy, fleeing Vienna after a winter of freezing and begging for handouts…

Even a seventeen year old idolater could recognize her defection for simple self‑preservation. I didn’t judge her. I didn’t judge myself. I was simply glad to have her out of the way. When she was gone, he was restless, at loose ends, spending most of his time hanging around our theater. Of course, nothing could have suited me better.

Oh, I can still hear my painted Mama lecturing, telling me all about Wolfgang’s debts, his drinking, and his wife. If I must go whoring, why couldn’t I be sensible, make it pay?

Naturally, I knew that the lady who filled his mind was one of his damned piano pupils. She was struggling with a very real fear of her husband and with her own natural chastity. Dear Mozart always imagined that if a lady played his music with “taste and feeling”, she belonged to him in a deeper and more complete sense than she could ever belong to a mere husband. The notion proved in every case disappointing, and, in the final exercise, fatal.

He often held forth upon “acting like a Kapellmeister/ dressing like a Kapellmeister”, long after he’d been ejected both from the court and the wider world of gentlemanly convention. When sufficiently drunk, he used to amuse everyone at The Serpent, clowning with a violin like some impoverished, itinerant musiker.

One night, a pair of Englishmen who’d been dining there dropped a handful of kreutzers and asked in broken German if he knew the way to “the house of Kapellmeister Mozart.” As the regulars roared, Mozart answered with the filthiest English curse he knew and haughtily stalked away, leaving the money on the floor. The waiter, Joseph Deiner, God bless him, scooped it up and applied it to Mozart’s perennial bill.

* * *

It’s hard to tell how you will like a true story, but to my mind, all the best tales grow. Have patience. This, I assure you, is a love story.

* * *

I was born a musiker, a poor, pretty, talented girl who could have become an actress or a singer, a dancer or a prostitute. When I was seventeen, with no parents and working for Emmanuel Schikaneder, I’m afraid the latter was the fate most likely.

Today my beauty and voice are gone. Memories are all that remain. Except for my old friend Joseph, it was lonely for a very long time, but lately troops of well meaning Volk have been knocking on my door, bringing little presents and asking questions about the old days.

“Fraulein Gottlieb,” they say, “you were the Magic Flute’s first Pamina. Tell us about the way it was. Tell us about the great genius, Mozart.”

I hardly dare speak. Once well begun, this old woman might ramble straight through from beginning to end. My adored, long dead Maestro has become famous, a kind of Martyr to Art. I have no wish to stain the marble purity of the image that his wife, with so much skill and determination, has spent the last thirty years creating. I understand the theater of life, this proscenium beneath the arching sky. Sometimes–paradoxically–honor requires a lie.

So, to such visitors, I say the obvious, about how poorly his talent served him while he lived. Then they reply, as if this makes up for the pain: “His music survives.”

For a performer like me, it’s the opposite. In that most present of present moments, we are the lark of song, the erotic geometry of dance, the drum beat of declamation. For a performer there’s nothing beyond the flashing now, and when we grow old all that is left for us is the rusty rumination of some aged member of a long ago audience.

This being so, I’ll tell you who I am, or rather who I was: Fraulein Anna Gottlieb, Nanina to my long dead friends. I was a performer once admired, first as a dancer, then as a singer, and last, when I grew older, as a comedienne who had learned all about getting belly laughs from those two great clowns of the Volksoper stage, Barbara Gerl and Emmanuel-The-Devil-In-Human-Form Schikaneder. I was the darling of the fickle Viennese for years.

* * *

My parents performed in Vienna and died there, and I grew up in that city a performer, as close to a free woman as it was possible to be. Papa was a violinist; Mama was a dancer. Their marriage was the kind often made in the “immoral” last century and quintessentially Viennese. It was a marriage of convenience.

Mama had, for a few shining years, been a star of the Court ballet. She said quite frankly that of all the men who had been sleeping with her, Papa had been the only one willing to marry her when she’d discovered she was pregnant. My mother, once a member of the elite Court Figuranti, claimed my birth ruined her career.

“After you have a baby, it’s as if you’ve been anchored to the ground,” she’d complain. “You just can’t do those floating leaps anymore.”

Whenever mother told me this, she’d run her long hands reflectively down her sides. She was not, by any stretch of the imagination, fat, but she was continually in mourning for some lost, youthful perfection.

“Poor child!” She’d stroke my dark curls, so unlike her own. “Of all the rich Papa’s you might have had! Instead, the capricious womb opens for the seed of a poor musiker, a fellow I lay with in pity.” Clearly the Fate in control of my destiny had done right. I loved my Papa and he loved me.

I think he would have loved me no matter who had fathered me, but happily for both of us, I strongly favored him. We were both small, slender, pale brunettes, with thick, curly hair. To Papa, I was always “Princess.” Like all young creatures, I was pretty enough, although I didn’t have the particular flash that Nature gives to blondes.

A woman the world judged beautiful, my lovely Mama could make conditions. She was quick to slap, quick to scream and scold.

If Papa overheard that remark about “the capricious womb,” he’d retort “Fool that I was to think that real devotion could reform a public woman.”

And then I would hide somewhere, for that was always the start of a battle. Mama would scream about Papa’s lack of money while he detailed her infidelities.

* * *

My god, Mozart manifested on a beautiful June day, when the sun blazed in the bluest of skies.

Mama hated dancing at garden parties. There were grass stains and insects, but to children summer was the best party time. We could run in gardens and make our own ballets and plays. It was a treat to be out of the hot, smelly streets of the summer city. There were always other children present, theater brats, just like me. Parties were an important part of our education, for this was the way we too would someday earn our bread.

We could run through great halls or hide behind the tapestries. On bright summer days, we could romp through gardens big as city blocks. Unattended food was everywhere. As long as we didn’t get in the way, break or steal, no one cared what we did. The first thing was always to extract a glass or two of wine from the tray of a passing servant and share it out. Then, enjoying the pleasantly giddy sensation that followed, we’d wander out into the garden.

***

A lifelong passion for historical fiction set Juliet Waldron’s feet on the writer’s path twenty years ago. Mozart’s Wife won the First Independent e-Book Award for fiction. My Mozart, recently published as an e-book, is the companion story, seen narrated by a sensitive, talented teen musician. Genesee and Independent Heart are another pair, each set during the Revolutionary War in frontier NY. The former won an Epic Award for Best Historical, and received five stars from Affaire de Coeur and Romantic Times. Red Magic is a newly pubbed Kindle book, a fantasy romance with a hero who was a supporting character in Mozart’s Wife — one of those who wouldn’t “go away” until he got a starring role.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Mozart-ebook/dp/B0089F5X3C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1340567219&sr=1-1&keywords=My+Mozart

http://julietwaldron.com

http://cronehenge.blogspot.com

 

Excerpt From Genesee by Juliet Waldron

Born to a runaway teen and an Iroquois warrior, abducted as an infant and brought to a frontier town by her Dutch uncle, black haired, black eyed Genesee van Cortlandt is caught between two warring cultures.

When the American Revolution explodes the uneasy peace of the New York border country and Genesee is carried into captivity, will a new found love prove strong enough to bring her home again?

–Winner, EPIC Best Historical Novel

CHAPTER I

Albany, May 1776

“Genesee van Cortlandt,” her cousin giggled. “Good Lord! What are you doing? You’ll break your neck.”

The prettily rounded figure of a young Dutch woman with rosy cheeks and an enviable head of tumbling honey brown curls leaned out an open window. Close by the substantial two-storey brick house a huge tree grew, an apple tree with spreading limbs, a tree her father had been so fond of that he had put his workmen to the trouble of enduring its presence while they built the house.

The speaker was in fashionable undress – a shift and stays covered by a crewel stitched morning gown that had, in quieter times, come from London. Behind her a couple of well dressed and well fed Black girls crowded, peering out the window and adding their exclamations to hers.

“Look at Miss Jenny,” one of them cried. “Just like a cat!”

On a broad limb of the tree, a limb which had been rudely cropped in order to keep it from intersecting with the wall of the house, her long straight black hair held with a scarlet ribbon, without a cap and dressed only in a fine white muslin shift, was a slender, supple girl. For a heartbeat, she steadied herself and then proceeded on small brown bare feet along the mottled limb.

Genesee didn’t acknowledge the others. All her attention was focused on balancing. There would be a whipping descent through a lattice of branches to a bone-snapping conclusion if something went wrong.

Jenny knew what she was doing was foolhardy. Still, it was always fun to play the wild frontier woman and shock her elegant Cousin ‘Nelia.

When she reached the trunk, Jenny smiled triumphantly. A flash of even, healthy white glowed against nut-brown skin.

“And where are you goin’, Miss Jenny?” asked one of the slaves, her round face and beribboned cap bobbing beside that of her young mistress.

“Down,” came Jenny’s casual reply as she indicated the grass, “and then I shall climb back up again.”

“Never!” her pretty cousin declared with a giggle of disbelief.

“Wait and see.” Jenny caught a lower branch and swung boldly down onto the limb below. The ease and daring of the maneuver led to gasps from the onlookers and a shower of apple blossom, for it was that time of year.

Although this descent was taking place by the window of an untenanted bedroom, Jenny was low enough now for caution to be in order. She didn’t want one of the housemaids to catch sight of her.

Cousin Cornelia had accepted a proposal of marriage from a man her father, wealthy Stephan van Cortlandt, deemed unsuitable. Hence for the last month, she had been imprisoned in her bedroom. Only ‘Nelia’s maids and a few female relatives were allowed access.

No one will ever lock me up, Jenny thought.

“You know Papa’s going to have an apoplexy if he finds you downstairs,” Cornelia exclaimed. Her pretty face expressed a most unfilial pleasure at the idea.

Wrapping her arms around the trunk, Jenny stared into the spiral of limbs below. Perhaps if she went sideways she could see where next to go. It was still too far to risk jumping.

That was when two young men in the blue and buff uniforms of the Continental army came rapidly around the corner. Their gaze was aimed to the upper window, as if they had come expressly to speak with the lady imprisoned there. As soon as they spied Cornelia, they removed their hats.

“Do I have the honour of addressing Miss Cornelia van Cortlandt?” The shorter and fairer of the two politely queried the lady high above as she languidly leaned upon the sill.

“You have, sir,” ‘Nelia replied, coolly withdrawing her gaze from the limb upon which her cousin stood, imperfectly screened by white blossom and new leaves. “And who might you be?”

“Captain Alexander Dunbar of the Army of Independence, at your service, Miss Cornelia.”

The taller officer kept looking over his shoulder, as if he were expecting to be caught. The speaker appeared unconcerned. His blue eyes were fixed upon the buxom girl framed in the window.

Jenny, peering down through the branches, saw a perfectly erect and slender young man of medium height. His fair skin and rosy cheeks gave him a china doll beauty.

Many young officers defied regulation with flowing locks, but in this case the cut was military, shorn close to the head. Alexander Dunbar’s coppery hair was curly, doing its best to defy the extremity that had been worked upon it. There was only one nod to fashion, a thin braided queue which made a bright rat’s tail down the back of his neat blue jacket.

“I would love to make your acquaintance further, Miss Cornelia, myself and Captain Troup,” he gestured at his tall friend, who smiled and inclined his head. “For tales, not only of your beauty, but the charm of your conversation have reached our ears.”

“Get to it, Alex,” the other man urged.

“Miss Cornelia, I have been entrusted by a mutual friend with billets doux.”

At this, Cornelia bounced like a puppy and clapped her smooth hands together. Both of the young men grinned, and theatrically raised fingers to their lips.

Jenny was praying that they would keep their eyes on Cornelia and not look into her tree. Beneath her shift was nothing at all. The faint breeze of this warm spring day was gently tickling bare flesh.

“Are you a good catch, Miss?” curly headed Dunbar inquired.

“Saucy!” Cornelia was merry, choosing to misinterpret. She tossed her curls. “What do you think?” She had missed flirtation dreadfully ever since she had been locked up.

“In two minutes’ acquaintance you have taken his measure, Miss.” Captain Troup wore a big grin.

Dunbar took what looked like a tennis ball from his pocket and waved it at Cornelia. “Ready!” he called, missile in hand. As he prepared to throw, he moved back, seeking a better angle. The black maids giggled in anticipation.

They were interrupted by the blowing approach of a hard ridden horse. Without so much as a by-your-leave, Captain Dunbar and his friend ran the other way.

Above, Cornelia wrung her hands. Jenny crouched, still as a hunted cat.

The horseman now in view was a fat young man who reined in his sweating animal just beneath the window.

“Still playin’ Juliet?” he shouted. “If you’d say yes to the right fellow, you know, you could get out of there.”

“Say yes to you, I suppose you mean, John de Laet,” Cornelia retorted with a disdainful toss of her curls.

“Of course,” the interloper replied. “What do you know about this Gray fella anyway?”

Jenny leaned her dark head against the tree, studied the top of de Laet’s hat, not many feet away, and prayed he wouldn’t look up. John would not only report to her uncle, but, she knew, do his best to see under her shift.

“Mr. John Gray is a gentleman of Oxfordshire,” Cornelia retorted. “His family is not only high born but probably twice as rich as yours.”

“Oh, that I doubt very much,” cried de Laet, much nettled. “Why hasn’t he proved it to your father?”

Cornelia didn’t deign to reply. Instead, she scornfully flounced away from the window.

“Gotta talk to Miss Cornelia nicer den dat, Mr. John,” advised Black Betty with an impudent white grin.

“‘Nelia! Please!” The fleshy lover rose in his stirrups and gave a pitiful wail.

Another horseman rode up. This, Jenny saw, was ‘Nelia’s younger brother, Nick.

What luck, she thought. There had not been a soul around until she had climbed out here. Now it was like a market day.

“Do stop bawling,” Nick chided. “You sound like a calf who has lost his mother. Come on, old fellow,” he added a little more sympathetically. “If you dine with us, Papa will make her come down. Then you may gaze at the capricious creature to your heart’s content.”

Not waiting for a reply, Nick tapped his horse and trotted away. After a final yearning glance at the window, John de Laet sadly followed.

Cornelia reappeared hopefully. Jenny looked left and right, wondering what was next. The officers had, after all, dodged away in the direction of the heavily trafficked kitchen wing. If Mrs. van Cortlandt caught sight of them, they would be warned off, for ‘Nelia’s Mr. Gray was in the Patriot army too. Any blue coat near the rear of the house was suspect.

Catching hold of the limb above, Genesee began to pull herself up. Retreat, at this point, seemed prudent. It was impossible to know when or if the messengers would return.

She ascended a level, but wished that she hadn’t. Here, hunkered down among the leaves and glowering from a nest, was an anxious mother robin.

At a near run from the back of the house, the blue coats made a rushing return. Jenny stood rock still, and pretended, to the bird and to herself, that she wasn’t there.

This time with only the preamble of a wave, Captain Dunbar tossed the ball. The missile flew unerringly.

The smack of the landing was greeted by a muffled shriek of laughter. The young men took several judicious steps backwards, taking cover beneath the spreading limbs of the apple.

That was the moment the robin decided Jenny was not to be tolerated. Taking wing with a squawk, she made a swooping dive straight at her shiny black head.

Jenny, who had spent enough time tree climbing with her brothers to have felt the wrath of disturbed nest sitters before, instinctively flung up a hand to ward off the bombardment.

The gesture threw her off balance. Accompanied by a gasp of surprise and a rip of muslin, she fell.

Captain Dunbar, head up at the last minute, gallantly tried to catch the girl accelerating towards him. In the next instant they were sprawled upon the ground, the young officer on his back, Genesee across him.

For a dazed instant, Alexander Dunbar was drowning in a cascade of night, of black shining hair thick as a pony’s tail. The girl, with a wild toss, threw it back over her shoulder.

The eyes that gazed into his were black as her hair. Though her features were delicate, he thought she was too brown, too all over dark, to even be Spanish.

Dunbar knew about more than what was normally exposed – face, neck and arms – because the loose fitting white shift, not held in place by stays, had slipped off her shoulders. The fine brown of her skin was the same everywhere, right down to one pert, girlish breast.

“Miss – ah – are you all right?” Alexander, still flat on his back, attempted a formal inquiry. He rested a hand upon one delectable bare silken shoulder.

He did not obey his impulse and seize the girl. He did not press his lips against that tender new-budded breast. He was a perfect gentleman, although a lusty voice inside was calling him a thousand kinds of fool for not taking advantage of the situation.

Stunned by the fall, Jenny stared at the young man beneath her. Apple blossom dotted his close-cropped head like confetti.

The cue came from his exotic eyes, a kind of hot spring blue flooding with black. Truth was felt and seen at the same time. The breath of this bright spring day – and of the young officer – warmly touched her nakedness.

Yanking her shift into place, embarrassed to her soul, she slapped him. Then, with a leap and a flashing flurry of white muslin and brown bare legs, Jenny dashed into the high grass of the orchard and vanished.

“Wait till I tell McHenry about this!” Troup grinned from ear to ear as he extended a hand to help his friend up. Alex took the offered hand, but not before pocketing a scarlet ribbon this Beauty had left behind.

From above there came a chorus of choking laughter.

“I didn’t mean to offend your servant, Miss Cornelia,” Alexander offered, stepping out from under the tree.

The lack of clothes and shoes – and especially the brown skin – all signaled this was the station of the pretty creature that had fallen upon him. Captain Dunbar was West Indian bred, a place where dark skin and servitude naturally went together.

“Even if she was climbing a tree in her nightgown, she’s Miss van Cortlandt too, you wicked impertinent fellow!” Cornelia cried passionately, shaking a finger at Dunbar like a schoolmistress. “How dare you insult my cousin? ‘Tis shameful behavior in one – one who professes to be a gentleman.”

“Please – ah – excuse me, Miss Cornelia,” Alexander replied, stammering with astonishment. “I – I did not know.”

‘Nelia spun away from the window, and then executed a sweeping return, for she’d remembered the precious letter.

“Nevertheless, Sirs,” she amended in a voice that had gone sweet, “I owe you all my thanks for the treasure you have so trustily delivered.”

Summarily, long pale hands pulled the shutters closed. The two men were left staring at each other in a shaft of light and idly drifting blossom.

“God, Alex, how ever do you merit such adventures?” his friend exclaimed, slapping him on the back. “Still, at least I was privileged to be your witness. A pretty, nearly naked lass did actually fall out of that tree. A gift better by far than an apple.”

Alex, grinning, didn’t answer. Instead, he bent his head and concentrated upon brushing petals from his hair.

“That must have been,” Troup muttered, “the half-breed Miss van Cortlandt I’ve been hearing about.”

“A half-breed Miss van Cortlandt?” Alexander asked, straightening.

They started a leisurely stroll towards the front of the house. The message for their friend Gray delivered, they could now present themselves to the master of the place, Stephen van Cortlandt. They actually had business, having been sent to discuss some matters of provisioning by their commander, General Schuyler.

“Odd that Gray didn’t say anything about her,” Alex remarked.

His mind was full of the girl. Those beautiful eyes, those white teeth, the spicy fragrance, the elastic feel of her body, had been violently arousing.

“Well, Gray did most of his courting before the war started, in New York City,” Troup explained. “He and Miss Cornelia danced together for an entire winter season at the Governor’s house. Then the war began and her Papa called her home, and a good thing, too, the way things are going.”

“And Gray is still a gone man,” Alex observed.

“A wealthy English Tory converted to our Cause – and all because of a fair Patriot lady,” Troup agreed. His grin showed that he enjoyed the irony.

“Yes, the lady above is indeed fair,” Alexander agreed. He unabashedly adored the fair sex, fell in love with comic whole-heartedness, a kind of pratfall of passion, like an unwary walker stepping into a hole. The ladies wholeheartedly returned the compliment, for Alexander was not only handsome and well made but utterly charming.

Still, most of these recent plunges had stopped well short of consummation. Since coming from Saint Thomas to a more puritanical New York to attend college, Alexander had sternly controlled this side of himself. It hadn’t been easy, for he had a sensual nature and his schooling in the arts of physical love had been thorough, but he was too poor to marry and he had too much care for himself to join his college friends when they went to the New York brothels.

“So,” Alexander asked, “did some van Cortlandt gentleman take an Indian wife and keep the child?”

“Well, it’s something of a scandal, I gather, for everyone goes deaf and dumb any time she comes up,” Bob replied, “but I’d assume she’s a souvenir of someone’s fur-trading days.”

Alex nodded thoughtfully. The sun was high, warming him through his jacket. He had been in New York for four years, long enough to know that days like this were rare in an upstate spring.

He threw a wistful glance at the orchard. He wished he could see the girl again.

A fantasy was spinning, one in which he gave chase, caught her in his arms. He’d start by kissing her soft fragrant mouth and quickly move to taste that high breast, to savor the all over sweetness. Then, when she was panting and trembling, there’d be a paradisiacal struggle, ending in a hot, spilling conclusion.

Troup noticed the far away expression. “What’s the matter, Alex?” he teased. “Did you think that was a pretty slave girl they’d thank a handsome fellow like yourself for jumping?”

“What do you take me for?” Alex grumbled. His friend’s words had sent the fantasy up in smoke, not the least because it reminded him of things he wanted to forget, like the day his Master, Peter Cruger, had sold Diana off the island.

Fiercely, he thrust the bitter memory away. That he had been young, that he had been poor, that he had been unable to rescue the first woman to whom he had ever given his heart, did not bear thinking about.

“Oh, you don’t fool me,” Troup continued with a broad grin. “I know your taste for brown skin, Dunbar. Today, I think, you were tumbled upon by the queen of them all, a veritable nut brown maid, just like the old song.”

“She was indeed a most beautiful girl. Her skin was like satin.” Alex stopped himself from saying more. It was hard not to confide at least a part of what the encounter had stirred.

Troup looked knowing. “I believe I’ve heard she has a dowry,” he offered. “Nothing like Miss Cornelia, of course. It’s wild land I think, somewhere down the Mohawk where it’s touch and go to keep your scalp.”

“As you know,” Alex retorted, taking a deep breath and attempting to chivvy himself back to sanity, “a poor man can’t fool about with country virgins ‑no matter how delectable. My destiny, Sir, is a widow with a house in town.”

***

Bio

A lifelong mad passion for reading history led Juliet Waldron to research and write twelve novels. At the 2001 Virginia Festival of the Book, Mozart’s Wife won the First Independent e-Book Award for best e-published fiction. Hand-me-Down Bride, set in German Pennsylvania just post Civil War, has been published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC.

Genesee, set during the Revolutionary War in upstate NY, won the 2003 Epic Award for best historical novel, as well as succeeding as a romance, receiving five stars from Affaire de Coeur. http://julietwaldron.com/genesee/index.htm

Genesee is available in Kindle format at Amazon!

Excerpt From “Red Magic” by Juliet Waldron

Red-headed Caterina von Velsen, a tomboy and superb horsewoman, detests her older sister’s husband-to-be. Christoph von Hagen is handsome and brave, but he is also a Casanova, a man with a reputation that stretches from his mountain manor all the way to Vienna. When Caterina’s older sister dies in a riding accident only a week before the wedding, she is forced to take her place. Now Caterina belongs to the very man she believes to be “a cold-hearted rake.”

Set in 18th Century Germany, RED MAGIC tells the story of a young woman’s transition from rebellious girl to adored–and adoring–wife.

Excerpt:

“Ha! See her coming out of the pines over there?” Christoph von Hagen, his hazel eyes narrowing, lifted a muscular arm to point. “Just as I thought. She went through the rocky thicket south of von Beilers’s woods. Now she’s angling this way, the crafty vixen.”

The red Arabian mare with the taffy colored tail had begun a wild gallop across the pasture. The breakneck daring left no doubt that a superbly confident rider was astride.

It was a game, a game played by young aristocrats, a wild and dangerous game of “Fox and Hounds.” Several “Foxes,” given a head start, must reach the safety of a goal, riding across rough country, while the “hounds,” rode after them in hot pursuit.

The well‑to‑do players wagered among themselves on every possible outcome, but the prize for any fox who escaped was largest, particularly because it so rarely happened. Today escape was to be rewarded with a spirited yearling colt.

“But,” the speaker went on, a wry smile on his handsome face, “no one will ever catch that whirlwind of hers on the flats.”

Christoph von Hagen and his cousin Max had ridden fast, intent upon getting ahead of the hunt and setting an ambush for the last uncaught ‘fox’ at a steep hill just before the goal. Sitting easily on a powerful bay, Christoph was an Austrian nobleman in his middle twenties. He was tall, erect, and, under the fine tailoring of his elegant clothes, muscular. His dark, curly hair was captured in a black queue ribbon, and his large eyes flashed with intelligence and humor.

Along with an exceptional body, men and women alike agreed that von Hagen was good looking. Men described his face as “open” or “forthright.” The praise of the women was a good deal warmer, tending towards the classical. “Like some pagan god” was the phrase most frequently whispered behind fluttering fans.

Von Hagen’s companion shaded his eyes with his hand, trying to get a better look at the horse blazing across the flower dotted green below. His more ordinary blonde good looks were diminished by proximity to the dark giant.

“Hers? A female? Riding like that?” Fox and Hounds was considered too dangerous for the gentler sex. And wasn’t this fox astride? Astride and wearing trousers?

“The Devil,” the smaller man abruptly exclaimed. He’d answered his own question. “It’s Caterina von Velsen and her red Moroccan.”

“And you know how well that rascal rides.” Christoph said with a broad grin. “Besides, there’s not a horse around that can catch that mare of hers over the flat, not even my Brandy.” One strong hand gave his mount’s glossy, sweating neck a pat.

“We’ve got to get her, Max. Right now.”

As if he understood the urgency, the bay stallion reared. In the next instant horse and rider were plunging down the hill, showering earth and green grass behind.

“Christoph,” called his companion, hurriedly spurring after. “The dike! You can’t go that way!”

If von Hagen heard, he paid no attention. The big bay, black mane and tail flying, continued on course straight towards a lethal looking heap of broken stone. It would have to be taken in one leap, for landing atop it, would certainly break the horse’s legs.   No one had risked his mount across von Beiler’s dike in a generation. Max could hardly believe Christoph would. Cousin von Hagen’s horse was a rare Prussian, bred in the stables of the warrior Elector Frederick, and worth a small fortune.

As he came parallel to the dike, Max reined in to watch the impossible. First came the gathering of the powerful burnished hindquarters of the Prussian, then the breathtaking leap as the bay tucked up his high black stockings and rose skyward.

Max gave a whoop as giant horse and rider flew over the murderous pile with all the elan of a bird of prey. The clean landing on the other side led at once to a resumption of the same regular hoof beat thunder, a relentless charge. Giving another sportsman’s cheer, Max kicked and used his whip, beginning a hasty circumnavigation of the dike.

As he rode forward, he could see the hurtling fox‑-‑Caterina von Velsen‑-‑speeding on a parallel course. Her mare was fully extended, never more than one foot on the ground. The girl’s hat, which she’d worn to hide her hair, had blown off and now her thick braid writhed like a red snake behind her.

More riders, a troop, boomed over the hill. Throwing a glance over her shoulder, Caterina knew that of two foxes, she must be the only one left.

There was a momentary flash of triumph. The yearling would be hers, and how proud Papa would be!

On the other side of the willow banked river she could see the beginnings of the manicured grounds attached to the von Beiler’s Schloss. Anticipating the bridge‑‑the goal, the ground on the other side‑‑Caterina’s gaze swung ahead. That was when she saw a rider coming towards her from an impossible direction, the other side of the insurmountable stone dike.

Gottesblut!” Cursing was unladylike, but it was precisely what she felt. She had at once recognized the big Prussian bay and his equally imposing rider.

Christoph! The only one with the horse, the skill and the guts to try it…

Both horses thundered towards the bridge. For a moment it looked as if they would meet head on. Caterina reined her red mare hard. An impossibly sharp turn later, horse and rider plunged off the high bank, landing with a huge splash in the river.

It was deep here, perhaps deeper than Caterina expected, for it had been awhile since she’d been hunting around von Beiler’s. Her mount came up swimming. Swollen by a recent rain, the water was rushing, carrying them swiftly downstream beneath the bridge.

“Come on, Star,” she urged, grasping the mare’s flowing mane. The bank was lower on the goal side; the water was shallower. It would be easy to get up. She could still win.

As horse and rider swept beneath the bridge, there was a drum roll of hooves above and then an overwhelming deluge. Caterina was still blind and gasping when a man’s big hand came out of the water and seized her braid.

“Got you! Got you, Fraulein Fox.”

“Ow! Let me go! You cheat!”

Furious, struggling with him in the water, she let go of the horse and began to lash at him with her riding crop.

“Hey! Foxes don’t carry those,” he cried, wrenching it out of her hand. “And I didn’t cheat. Brandy jumped the dike fair and square.” Firmly putting one big hand on the top of Caterina’s red head, he dunked her.

In the meantime, the mare had continued her push to the bank. When Cat came up again, choking and sputtering, the first thing she saw was Star scrambling out, her flaxen tail a darkened, dripping tatter.

Christoph, so tall, soon found the bottom as well. With an arm around his coughing quarry, he breasted the water. In another few minutes, he dumped Cat unceremoniously onto the bank.

“Bully! You didn’t have to drown me.”

Grinning, von Hagen threw his considerable length onto the grass beside her. He was equally sodden, but his expression was one of complacent satisfaction.

“You hit me with your crop, so I defended myself. Don’t be a poor sport, Caterina. You were a clever fox, absolutely the best I’ve ever chased.”

“Why did you have to come back from Vienna? And what are you going to do now that you’re here‑‑tell Wili more lies and then let her down again?”

“Scratch, scratch, fierce Cousin Cat.” Christoph pinched her nose. “You know your sweet sister always forgives me. Some day you’ll fall in love yourself and then you’ll be some fellow’s pretty toy too, Stork Legs…”

***

Available from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Red-Magic-ebook/dp/B00774BXDA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329195754&sr=1-1

Introducing the Authors of Second Wind Publishing

I thought a fun way to introduce the authors of Second Wind Publishing, LLC (or at least the ones who wanted to be introduced) would be to have them answer three simple questions so you can see how different authors perceive themselves and their writing. The questions:

1. What is writing like for you?
2. What is the most thrilling thing about getting published?
3. What is the most humbling thing about getting published?

Nancy A. Niles, author of Vendetta:

1. Writing is something that I can’t not do. It’s my best friend, sometimes a pain in the neck, but most times just something that I need to do for my own peace of mind.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the encouragement it has given me to keep writing and keep allowing myself to express more freely and deeper.  I think all those rejection slips had an effect on me and now being published is having a strengthening and very positive effect on my writing.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is knowing that for a few hours the people who read my novel will be taken away from their problems and be in my world. It humbles me to know that for just a short time I can give them a little escape from their troubles. It is quite a blessing.

Nichole R. Bennett, author of Ghost Mountain:

1. Writing is in my blood.  I don’t mean that I come from a long line of authors, because I don’t.  But I have to write.  I have to get those words out of my body and onto paper.  Some days those words flow and there is no stopping them.  Other days I struggle over each and every letter.  Either way, writing is something I have to do.  Just like eating or breathing.

2.  The most thrilling thing is knowing that I am living my dream.  Yes, it can be hard, but this is what I want to do and I’m doing it.  How many people can truly say they get to live their dream?
3.  I’m not sure there’s a humbling moment for me.  I knew going in that writing would take some thick skin and hard work.  I knew not everyone would like my work or appreciate the time and energy that it took to get where I am.  That’s okay.  I’m just grateful for the opportunities I have had and that there are people who do like it!

J. Conrad Guest, author of Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings and One Hot January:

1. I haven’t found anything that provides the level of satisfaction writing provides me—the highs of crafting a perfect sentence, of self-discovery and exploring the universal themes of love and loss, dying and death, salvation, redemption, and keeping my parents alive and making them proud.

2. As writers, I think we all believe our work is the greatest since Hemingway, and seeing our work in print is affirmation, a thrill, that our work has merit—even if it isn’t really as good as Hemingway.

3. I find nothing humbling about getting published (I write with publication in mind), save for the process. By the time I receive my first proof copy, I’ve gone over my manuscript a dozen times or more and have probably a half-dozen drafts. An editor has gone over it, found several typos I’ve missed, and made suggestions for changes—some with which I agree, but most I discard. So I find it maddening and, yes, humbling, when I start reading my proof copy and find ways to improve the narrative, to rewrite a passage and, worst of all, I find a typo! I’m a perfectionist, so, yes, it’s humbling to learn I still can improve upon the process.

Eric Beetner, co-author of One Too Many Blows to the Head and Borrowed Trouble

1. Writing is lonely and tiring. Even writing as a part of a team like I do with Jennifer is still lonesome. We live on opposite coasts and only communicate through email. I never show anything to anyone for critique. Never let early drafts out to the public. So having her around is also an act of real trust. We show each other our naked first drafts and still expect that we’ll respect each other in the morning.

2. I find that it is too easy to only hear from a friendly audience of family and friends so the biggest thrill for me is when a total stranger says or writes something good about my writing. I know it is genuine. Being published lets that person have exposure to my work and find something in it that resonates or entertains. That’s why we’re here, right?

3. Oh, brother, what hasn’t been? I’ve had signings at book stores I respect (and where I shop) I’ve been in panel discussions alongside authors I admire. I’ve met writers as an equal – a fellow published author, not just a fan. All that has made me feel grateful beyond words.

DCP_0851-136x150Lazarus Barnhill, author of The Medicine People and Lacey Took a Holiday:

1. A few years ago I came back to writing fiction after a self-imposed twelve-year period during which I did not write, and found about twenty ideas of books rattling around in my head. My first official act was to get a notebook and list the novels, outlining them to the degree they had “marinated” in my imagination. For me, writing is getting out of the way and allowing those stories that germinated so long ago to take root, flower and bear fruit.

2. The thrill comes from somebody you don’t personally know buying a book, or seeking you out intentionally at a book signing. It’s also thrilling when someone asks you a question about your story in such a way that you know they have read it with comprehension.

3. A couple things strike me right away. First is the praise I often get from my colleagues. When another writer whose work I admire compliments my work in a way that reveals I’ve accomplished precisely what I set out to do in the story—that is humble. The second thing is when people I know hunt me down and pester me until I get them a copy of one of my books. And sign it to them personally. I’m not accustomed to adulation.

lucy_balch-113x151Lucy Balch, author of Love Trumps Logic:

1. Writing is like I’m in a time machine. I can work for hours on a story and it always feels like much less time.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the knowledge that, finally, I’ll have something to show for the five years I’ve put into this obsession. Maybe I haven’t been selfishly squandering huge amounts of time?!

3.The most humbling thing about getting published is the realization that so many good writers have not yet been given the opportunity to publish. Is my book worthy of the privilege? As an unpublished author, I can always tell myself that my book will be well received when given the chance. The reality might be different. I hope not, but it’s a possibility, and once a book bombs there is no going back to the fantasy of it doing well.

jwcomputercatmail2-133x157Juliet Waldron, author of Hand-Me-Down Bride:

1. I write historicals, so writing for me is like entering a time portal—or, sometimes, like stepping out of Dr. Who’s callbox after accidentally pushing the wrong button. I have an idea of what may be there when I first look around, but I often find the world I’ve entered to be surprisingly different from my preconceptions.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting/being published is having someone you don’t know leave a message or write a review that totally “gets” the book. Shows I wasn’t as off-base as I sometimes—in those dark 3 a.m. moments—imagined.

3) The most humbling thing about getting/being published is that we have so much competition, and that there is a great deal of good writing out there. After publication there is the (IMO) far less agreeable marketing to do. The playful creation is now complete.

TracyB_3-134x150Claire Collins, author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny:

1. For me, writing is a journey. I don’t always know the final destination until I start traveling, but it’s always a rewarding trip.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is when people read what I’ve written and they like it. I write for myself because writing is almost a compulsion for me. Readers enjoying my writing is a bonus.

3. The most humbling thing? All of the work it takes to get the books out and maintain a normal life while still trying to write. I realized pretty quick that I wasn’t superwoman. I’m still trying, but someone keeps standing on my cape.

mickeypic_1_-124x149Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies:

1. For me, writing is like being in that space just after you woke up from a dream but you only remember half of the dream and you spend all your waking moments trying to flesh it out.

2. I had some stories to tell and now I feel like they’ll be heard. And it really is thrilling. I feel like I’m white water rafting and I don’t need a boat!

3. I’ll be awed that anyone would take the time to read what I’ve written when they could be doing something more valuable with their time.

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford, author of Staccato and Snare:

1. I am an entertainer. I don’t write for a cause or to pose my own thoughts or impressions on issues. My only function is to provide a suspense-filled, exciting ride the reader won’t want to stop until they reach the very last word.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is seeing the words I’ve worked so diligently to craft actually in print. If what I present happens to be worthy enough for readers to tell others about Staccato, that’s all I could ask for.

3. Everything about being published is humbling to me. That readers would seek out Staccato, then take the time to escape from their lives for a while, makes me more grateful than anyone could possibly know.

Sherrie_-_book_2-120x154Sherrie Hansen Decker, author of Night and Day, Stormy Weather, and Water Lily:

1. For me, writing is like a dream vacation – a chance to escape the realities of my everyday life and travel to some faraway world where I can see the sights and meet new people.

2. For years, I wrote and wrote, wondering if anyone would ever read my words. What a wonderful feeling to be writing for readers who are eagerly awaiting my next release!

3. Every time I think I have a perfect draft, I find more errors glaring out from the pages of my proof. Very humbling . . .

Norm2-140x151Norm Brown, author of The Carpet Ride:

1. As a retired computer programmer, I see a lot of similarities between writing a novel and creating a complex software program. Both processes require an enormous attention to detail. All the little parts have to tie together in a logical way and a good flow is critical. And it’s hard work to get all the “bugs” out of a book, too.

2. The most thrilling thing for me was pulling the first copy of my book out of the box and holding it in my hands. It was exciting to see something that I actually created.

3. The most humbling thing for me about being published was discovering how much I have to learn about promoting my book. I’m still learning.

biopicsmall-136x139Jerrica Knight-Catania, author of A Gentleman Never Tells:

1. Writing for me depends on the day. Some days it’s the most wonderful romp through my dream land and other days it’s like getting a root canal.

2. Knowing that someone else believes in your work enough to put it in print is just about the most thrilling feeling. It’s great to hear friends and family say how much they enjoyed my work, but to have it validated by professionals is a whole ‘nother ball game!

3. I’m not sure I’ve been humbled at all! Haha! But I’ve never really had unrealistic expectations of myself or my work. . . . I’m prepared to correct mistakes and make cuts/edits as needed. I’m just grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve been given.

Lindlae_Parish_photo-129x151Dellani Oakes, Author of Indian Summer and Lone Wolf:

1. Writing is like a discovery process. I start with a beginning line, an idea or even just a character’s name and watch as the characters lead me where they want me to go.

2. I loved the fact that I finally was validated. Someone did think I was worth publishing and I wasn’t just “Wasting time with all that writing.”

3. Humbling? Wow, I think the most humbling – perhaps humiliating – step in the publishing process is all the rejection you get until someone finally says “Yes, we want you!”

Margay_touch_up-129x150Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora’s Soul:

1. For me, writing is like creating a baby. There is the conception (what a wonderful idea!), the writing/rewriting period (gestation, anyone?) and the birth (I can’t believe it’s finally here!). And then you nurture it for the next couple of years as you slowly introduce it to the public – and hope they don’t think it’s an ugly baby.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the sense of accomplishment when you see it in print for the first time and you discover that people actually like it!

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing the book in print for the first time and realizing that all of those years of struggling, writing, rewriting, submitting – all boil down to this one little book that you can hold in the palm of your hand.

Chris2-132x150Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River:

1. Writing is multi-faceted for me. It is a joy, but also pretty hard work at times. I do much of my writing in my mind and when I finally sit down to get it on paper, it often comes out differently. I spend more time mentally forming plots and picturing scenes than I do writing them. I love having a whole day here and there to sit at my computer and concentrate on writing. If I have problems with a scene, I skip ahead to the next one so I don’t get frustrated.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is getting my books out of my house and into readers’ hands–hoping people get some enjoyment reading them.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing mistakes and typos in what I thought was an error-free manuscript!

Amy_12_1-113x151Amy De Trempe, author of Loving Lydia and Pure is the Heart:

1. Writing for me is like unmapped journey, I never know what turns, obstacles or excitement is about to unfold.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is seeing my name on a book cover.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is finding out how supportive and happy my friends and family really are for me.

maggiemed-138x150Mairead Walpole, author of A Love Out of Time:

1. In some ways, writing is a form of therapy. Not from a “work out my issues” standpoint, but rather it allows me to escape from the day to day stresses of the world. I can let the creative, sometimes a little off-beat, imaginative part of my soul off the leash and let it run. Some of my very early writing did dip into the realm of “working out my issues” and those stories will never see the light of day!

2. Can I channel my inner Sallie Fields and run around saying, “They liked it, they really liked it…”? No? Darn. Seriously, I think it is the whole – I did this – aspect. Someone read the book and thought it was worth publishing. That is pretty cool no matter how you cut it.

3. Opening yourself up to criticism, being vulnerable. Sure, you know that not everyone is going to love your book, and intellectually you know that some people will hate it and think you are a hack, but when someone actually expresses that to you it is a whole new experience. It can be very humbling.

IMG_4132-use-115x154Suzette Vaughn, author of Badeaux KnightsMortals, Gods, and a Muse, and Finding Madelyn:

1. I’m like a humming bird on too much caffine. I write in waves. When the wave hits I can put out several thousand words in an unbelievably small amount of time. Then when I’m not in humming bird mode I edit.

2. The most thrilling is probably the fact that there are people out there that I don’t know that have read my book and liked it. I had the pleasure a few times of meeting them and there is some twinkle in their eye that is amazing.

3. My son is always humbling. I recieved my proofs in the mail and my then seven year old son didn’t fully understand what it meant that I’d written a book. He flips through the pages looking for hand-writting. “I get in trouble when I write in books.”

jjdare-139x150JJ Dare, author of False Positive and False World:

1. Writing is like being in a triathlon for me. I power write for days or weeks at a time, then crash for awhile with the help of Tylenol and chocolate. Writing is a scary, exciting roller-coaster. It is exhilarating and draining, and Iwouldn’t do it any other way.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the very act of being published! Something I wrote is out there, available for anyone to read. Holding the hard copy of my book in my hands gives me the good shivers. The other thrill is the pride in my family’s voices when they introduce me as “The Writer.”

3. The most humbling thing is feeling responsible for the places I take my readers. During the time they’re walking with and living the lives of the characters in my book, my readers are taking the same roller-coaster ride I took to write the
book.

pat-135x150Pat Bertram, author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I:

1. For me, writing is like the world’s longest crossword puzzle, one that takes a year to complete. I like playing with words, finding their rhythm, and getting them to behave the way I want. I like being able to take those words and create ideas, characters, and emotions.

2. Someday perhaps, I will find the thrill of being published, but to be honest it was anti-climatic. I am more thrilled at the thought of what the future might bring now that my books have been published.

3. I had no intention of answering these questions. After all, I was the one who collated all these mini interviews, but a fellow author said, “This is your party, too. People will tune in because of you. They want to know more about YOU. Don’t cheat your fans and followers.” Now that’s humbling.

Click here to read the first chapters of all Second Wind novels: The Exciting Worlds of  Second Wind Books

Introducing the Authors of Second Wind

I thought a fun way to introduce the authors of Second Wind Publishing, LLC (or at least the ones who wanted to be introduced) would be to have them answer three simple questions so you can see how the different authors perceive themselves and their writing. The questions:

1. What is writing like for you?
2. What is the most thrilling thing about getting published?
3. What is the most humbling thing about getting published?

DCP_0851-136x150Lazarus Barnhill, author of The Medicine People and Lacey Took a Holiday:

1. A few years ago I came back to writing fiction after a self-imposed twelve-year period during which I did not write, and found about twenty ideas of books rattling around in my head.  My first official act was to get a notebook and list the novels, outlining them to the degree they had “marinated” in my imagination. For me, writing is getting out of the way and allowing those stories that germinated so long ago to take root, flower and bear fruit.

2. The thrill comes from somebody you don’t personally know buying a book, or seeking you out intentionally at a book signing.  It’s also thrilling when someone asks you a question about your story in such a way that you know they have read it with comprehension.

3. A couple things strike me right away. First is the praise I often get from my colleagues. When another writer whose work I admire compliments my work in a way that reveals I’ve accomplished precisely what I set out to do in the story—that is humble.  The second thing is when people I know hunt me down and pester me until I get them a copy of one of my books.  And sign it to them personally.  I’m not accustomed to adulation.

lucy_balch-113x151Lucy Balch, author of Love Trumps Logic:

1. Writing is like I’m in a time machine. I can work for hours on a story and it always feels like much less time.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the knowledge that, finally, I’ll have something to show for the five years I’ve put into this obsession. Maybe I haven’t been selfishly squandering huge amounts of time?!

3.The most humbling thing about getting published is the realization that so many good writers have not yet been given the opportunity to publish. Is my book worthy of the privilege? As an unpublished author, I can always tell myself that my book will be well received when given the chance. The reality might be different. I hope not, but it’s a possibility, and once a book bombs there is no going back to the fantasy of it doing well.

jwcomputercatmail2-133x157Juliet Waldron, author of Hand-Me-Down Bride:

1. I write historicals, so writing for me is like entering a time portal—or, sometimes, like stepping out of Dr. Who’s callbox after accidentally pushing the wrong button. I have an idea of what may be there when I first look around, but I often find the world I’ve entered to be surprisingly different from my preconceptions.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting/being published is having someone you don’t know leave a message or write a review that totally “gets” the book. Shows I wasn’t as off-base as I sometimes—in those dark 3 a.m. moments—imagined.

3) The most humbling thing about getting/being published is that we have so much competition, and that there is a great deal of good writing out there. After publication there is the (IMO) far less agreeable marketing to do. The playful creation is now complete.

TracyB_3-134x150Claire Collins, author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny:

1. For me, writing is a journey. I don’t always know the final destination until I start traveling, but it’s always a rewarding trip.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is when people read what I’ve written and they like it. I write for myself because writing is almost a compulsion for me. Readers enjoying my writing is a bonus.

3. The most humbling thing? All of the work it takes to get the books out and maintain a normal life while still trying to write. I realized pretty quick that I wasn’t superwoman. I’m still trying, but someone keeps standing on my cape.

mickeypic_1_-124x149Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies:

1. For me, writing is like being in that space just after you woke up from a dream but you only remember half of the dream and you spend all your waking moments trying to flesh it out.

2. I had some stories to tell and now I feel like they’ll be heard. And it really is thrilling. I feel like I’m white water rafting and I don’t need a boat!

3. I’ll be awed that anyone would take the time to read what I’ve written when they could be doing something more valuable with their time.

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford, author of Staccato:

1. I am an entertainer. I don’t write for a cause or to pose my own thoughts or impressions on issues. My only function is to provide a suspense-filled, exciting ride the reader won’t want to stop until they reach the very last word.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is seeing the words I’ve worked so diligently to craft actually in print. If what I present happens to be worthy enough for readers to tell others about Staccato, that’s all I could ask for.

3. Everything about being published is humbling to me. That readers would seek out Staccato, then take the time to escape from their lives for a while, makes me more grateful than anyone could possibly know.

Sherrie_-_book_2-120x154Sherrie Hansen Decker, author of Night and Day:

1. For me, writing is like a dream vacation – a chance to escape the realities of my everyday life and travel to some faraway world where I can see the sights and meet new people.

2. For years, I wrote and wrote, wondering if anyone would ever read my words. What a wonderful feeling to be writing for readers who are eagerly awaiting my next release!

3. Every time I think I have a perfect draft, I find more errors glaring out from the pages of my proof. Very humbling . . .

Norm2-140x151Norm Brown, author of The Carpet Ride:

1. As a retired computer programmer, I see a lot of similarities between writing a novel and creating a complex software program. Both processes require an enormous attention to detail. All the little parts have to tie together in a logical way and a good flow is critical. And it’s hard work to get all the “bugs” out of a book, too.

2. The most thrilling thing for me was pulling the first copy of my book out of the box and holding it in my hands. It was exciting to see something that I actually created.

3. The most humbling thing for me about being published was discovering how much I have to learn about promoting my book. I’m still learning.

biopicsmall-136x139Jerrica Knight-Catania, author of A Gentleman Never Tells:

1. Writing for me depends on the day. Some days it’s the most wonderful romp through my dream land and other days it’s like getting a root canal.

2. Knowing that someone else believes in your work enough to put it in print is just about the most thrilling feeling. It’s great to hear friends and family say how much they enjoyed my work, but to have it validated by professionals is a whole ‘nother ball game!

3. I’m not sure I’ve been humbled at all! Haha! But I’ve never really had unrealistic expectations of myself or my work. . . . I’m prepared to correct mistakes and make cuts/edits as needed. I’m just grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve been given.

Lindlae_Parish_photo-129x151Dellani Oakes, Author of Indian Summer:

1. Writing is like a discovery process. I start with a beginning line, an idea or even just a character’s name and watch as the characters lead me where they want me to go.

2. I loved the fact that I finally was validated. Someone did think I was worth publishing and I wasn’t just “Wasting time with all that writing.”

3. Humbling? Wow, I think the most humbling – perhaps humiliating – step in the publishing process is all the rejection you get until someone finally says “Yes, we want you!”

Margay_touch_up-129x150Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora’s Soul:

1. For me, writing is like creating a baby. There is the conception (what a wonderful idea!), the writing/rewriting period (gestation, anyone?) and the birth (I can’t believe it’s finally here!). And then you nurture it for the next couple of years as you slowly introduce it to the public – and hope they don’t think it’s an ugly baby.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the sense of accomplishment when you see it in print for the first time and you discover that people actually like it!

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing the book in print for the first time and realizing that all of those years of struggling, writing, rewriting, submitting – all boil down to this one little book that you can hold in the palm of your hand.

Chris2-132x150Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County and Buried in Wolf Lake:

1. Writing is multi-faceted for me. It is a joy, but also pretty hard work at times. I do much of my writing in my mind and when I finally sit down to get it on paper, it often comes out differently. I spend more time mentally forming plots and picturing scenes than I do writing them. I love having a whole day here and there to sit at my computer and concentrate on writing. If I have problems with a scene, I skip ahead to the next one so I don’t get frustrated.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is getting my books out of my house and into readers’ hands–hoping people get some enjoyment reading them.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing mistakes and typos in what I thought was an error-free manuscript!

Amy_12_1-113x151Amy De Trempe, author of Loving Lydia and Pure is the Heart:

1. Writing for me is like unmapped journey, I never know what turns, obstacles or excitement is about to unfold.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is seeing my name on a book cover.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is finding out how supportive and happy my friends and family really are for me.

maggiemed-138x150Mairead Walpole, author of A Love Out of Time:

1. In some ways, writing is a form of therapy. Not from a “work out my issues” standpoint, but rather it allows me to escape from the day to day stresses of the world. I can let the creative, sometimes a little off-beat, imaginative part of my soul off the leash and let it run. Some of my very early writing did dip into the realm of “working out my issues” and those stories will never see the light of day!

2. Can I channel my inner Sallie Fields and run around saying, “They liked it, they really liked it…”? No? Darn. Seriously, I think it is the whole – I did this – aspect. Someone read the book and thought it was worth publishing. That is pretty cool no matter how you cut it. 

3. Opening yourself up to criticism, being vulnerable. Sure, you know that not everyone is going to love your book, and intellectually you know that some people will hate it and think you are a hack, but when someone actually expresses that to you it is a whole new experience. It can be very humbling.

IMG_4132-use-115x154Suzette Vaughn, author of Badeaux Knights and Mortals, Gods, and a Muse:

1. I’m like a humming bird on too much caffine. I write in waves. When the wave hits I can put out several thousand words in an unbelievably small amount of time. Then when I’m not in humming bird mode I edit. 

2. The most thrilling is probably the fact that there are people out there that I don’t know that have read my book and liked it. I had the pleasure a few times of meeting them and there is some twinkle in their eye that is amazing.

3. My son is always hummbling. I recieved my proofs in the mail and my then seven year old son didn’t fully understand what it meant that I’d written a book. He flips through the pages looking for hand-writting. “I get in trouble when I write in books.” 

jjdare-139x150JJ Dare, author of False Positive and False World:

1. Writing is like being in a triathlon for me. I power write for days or weeks at a time, then crash for awhile with the help of Tylenol and chocolate. Writing is a scary, exciting roller-coaster. It is exhilarating and draining, and Iwouldn’t do it any other way.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the very act of being published! Something I wrote is out there, available for anyone to read. Holding the hard copy of my book in my hands gives me the good shivers. The other thrill is the pride in my family’s voices when they introduce me as “The Writer.”

3. The most humbling thing is feeling responsible for the places I take my readers. During the time they’re walking with and living the lives of the characters in my book, my readers are taking the same roller-coaster ride I took to write the
book.

pat-135x150Pat Bertram, author of More Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I:

1.  For me, writing is like the world’s longest crossword puzzle, one that takes a year to complete. I like playing with words, finding their rhythm, and getting them to behave the way I want. I like being able to take those words and create ideas, characters, and emotions.

2.  I wasn’t thrilled at seeing the first printed proof copy of my first book because I knew it was just a proof copy — more work for me on the road to publication. By the time I saw the finished book, I’d gone through at least five proof copies, and was so sick of the sight of it that I took a quick look and put it away. Someday perhaps, I will find the thrill of being published, but to be honest it was anti-climatic. I am more thrilled at the thought of what the future might bring.

3. I had no intention of answering these questions. After all, I am the hosting the authors of Second Wind, but a fellow author said, “This is your party, too. People will tune in because of you. They want to know more about YOU than anyone else. Don’t cheat your fans and followers.” Now that’s humbling.

Cirque de Squirrel-lay by Juliet Waldron

Juliet Waldron has recently come back to through the Time Tunnel from the 18th Century, the place where most of her books are set. She’s a writer, Grandma and Cat Mother, author of Independent Heart and Mozart’s Wife.  Juliet wrote this wonderful article, and I wanted to share it with you. Juliet writes:

squirrel2Cute, squirrels-and don’t get me wrong, there’s almost nothing more adorable than a litter-or whatever they are called–of babies, practicing their acrobatics, rejoicing in spring and the abundance of seedy snacks falling from the maple trees. One spring, my best buddy and I were having a cuppa tea and watching the antics of a troop of young ‘uns as they chased, rolled, and swung from impossibly small branches like trapeze artists, when she came up with the best quip of all time: Cirque de Squirrel-lay!  which described their play-time to the letter.

Yes, and squirrels are smart, too, and creative–but just hell on my birdfeeders and on my flowerpots. It’s really a drag to come out onto your porch to see flower sets you just planted tossed or leaning at odd angles because some tree rat has decided he needs that pot for his storage. It’s easier to dig up nice soft potting soil than our hard clay yard. Frankly, I’ve never lived anywhere with such aggressive squirrels. These guys have a look in their eyes that makes me feel they are planning a mugging. Perhaps it’s that we live in a semi-urban area where annoyed gardeners can’t use them for .22 practice as they might in the country, but we do seem in need of a predator.squirrel3

I’m not exaggerating about the mugging. These squirrels do mug my housecats. Of course, cats are not the nicest animals on the planet, either, if you are a chipmunk or baby rabbit. My dear soft little orange Elizabeth loves to find a new bunny nest and eat them, one by one. I’ve started to curtail her a.m. forays out-of-doors during bunny nesting period, because once she has located a hiding place, she is remorseless.

These squirrels, however, are too much for her. They jump on her back and hang on if she stalks them-and so, wisely, she doesn’t anymore. (I wouldn’t want to be chomped on by teeth which can piece walnut shells either!) As a result, my yard, garden, birdfeeders and flowerpots are under constant siege from these furry pests.