#MedievalMonday16 ~ Conflict in the Joust from Jenna Jaxon

In her book, Time Enough to Love, Jenna Jaxon brings us a classic and well researched example of the joust, a stylized but very deadly form of combat. Please leave a comment for Jenna to let her know what you think of her excerpt.

JENNAjaxonEXCERPT:  Both knights had broken two lances on the torso—their scores were even. In order to win, one would need to either break a lance on the helm or unhorse their opponent. Either feat was possible, but highly improbable, given the lateness of the day and the weariness of the jousters. The best outcome would be for one lance to miss, giving the knight to break a lance victory. Another possibility was a draw if both men broke their lances on the torso. A draw would mean no victor; the debt of honor satisfied without a forfeit. That outcome might be best, but she could not help thinking in that case there would have been a great deal of effort wasted for nothing.

Geoffrey nodded slightly within his helm, as though acknowledging a strategy confirmed. Though the decision was unknown to her, she prayed it would make him the clear winner of the match.

In an instant, Geoffrey streaked down the lists. Alyse gasped at the ferocity with which Saracen raced toward his adversary. Lord Braeton drove his horse fiercely as well, but did not seem to reach the black steed’s breakneck speed.

Moments before the collision, Geoffrey angled his weapon upward slightly, aiming again for the helm and its additional points. Her heart flew into her throat. Should his lance glance off, as it had earlier, she would certainly be leading the first dance with Lord Braeton this evening. That prospect no longer held any delight for her, not after the physical pain this match must have cost Geoffrey—and Lord Braeton—and the mental anguish it had cost her. Had she not seemed so enthralled with the earl, mayhap the challenge would never have been issued. Or would not have been so avidly pursued by Geoffrey. If one of them were injured, it could surely be laid at her feet.

Geoffrey must win. He must.

The impact devastated both knights. Thomas’s lance splintered dramatically along Geoffrey’s right shoulder, twisting him around in the saddle and almost unseating him.

Geoffrey’s lance found its mark in the dead center of Thomas’s helm, snapping his head back with the force of the blow. An immediate cry of pain erupted from his helmet. Alyse bolted from her seat, raced out of the berfrois and onto the field.

*

Thomas managed to pull his horse to a stop, and his squires ran to assist him as he dropped to the ground. Almost as quickly, Geoffrey leaped from his horse, cursing as he ran toward his friend.

’Tis my fault if he dies. I was angered at him. Christ, why did I not aim elsewhere and try to unseat him? Geoffrey could barely hold still as his squire removed his helmet. “Thomas! Thomas!”

Men had lowered his friend to the ground, where he lay motionless.

Dear God! The splinters—

He stared in horror at the long wooden slivers poking out of Thomas’s visor.

Sweet Jesu, have mercy. Holy Mary, mother of God, have mercy.

He fell to his knees beside him, afraid to touch him lest he drive the fragments deeper.

“Fetch the surgeon!” Geoffrey threw the command over his shoulder, his attention fixed on the still body. “Thomas.” He couldn’t be dead.

Blurb: When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.

From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.

As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

Buy link: Amazon  

#Medieval Monday16, Conflict in Silverhawk by Barbara Bettis

Today, author Barbara Bettis visits us with an excerpt from her medieval romance, Silverhawk. Please leave her a comment and let her know what you think of the excerpt.

Silverhawk--new+cover (1)Blurb:  He’s everything a proper lady should never want; she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.

Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape

Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate.  But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them.

Excerpt: Here is Lady Emelin’s first meeting with her brother since he confined her to a convent five years earlier. Now he’s betrothed her to someone without her knowledge.

Ortha had just finished braiding Emelin’s hair when the door burst open. Sir Garley strode in, his bulk filling the space. He jerked his head, and Ortha slipped into the passageway. Emelin shot to her feet, chin raised. The long forgotten fear nibbled at her heart, but she refused to show it.

He loomed closer, looked over the borrowed gown she wore, and picked up a braid. Lips curled in a snarl, he gave it a hard yank before he dropped it. “Too bad we can’t do something about that color.”

Blood-shot eyes narrowed. He grabbed her chin between his forefinger and thumb and forced up her head. She tried to pull away from the stench of his breath, but he pinched harder. “Don’t do anything else to spoil this arrangement.” His voice grated like rusty steel. “I need the payment Langley made for you. I will not return it.”

Garley gave her head a final shake. “Do not interfere in my plans,” he repeated.

Emelin jerked back. Rebellion overpowered the hurt, and she spoke without thought. Again.  “Or what? You’ll immure me in a convent? I believe we’ve done that already.”

Garley’s slap caught the side of the face, sent her staggering onto the bed. “Keep your mouth shut.” His voice held no trace of emotion as he strode to the door. “At least until after the wedding. Then you’re his problem. Just remember, there’ll never be a place for you at Compton. Give the old man a son, and you’ll want for nothing. Fight him and you may find yourself back at the convent—if you’re lucky.”

Amazon has surprised me by running a 99 cent sale for Silverhawk.

US Veteran Kayelle Allen

Kayelle Allen's LogoAside from being a terrific story teller, a veteran, and a friend, Kayelle Allen is one of the most generous, hard-working people I know. Please welcome her to Author Travels and let her know how much you enjoy her visit by leaving a comment. Also, leave a note for an active duty soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. I’ll make certain the notes get to the right service member. Now, here’s Kayelle to tell you a little about herself and her newest book, Bringer of Chaos.

First, I’d like to thank Rue Allyn for the opportunity to share what being a veteran means to me. Opening her blog to fellow RomVets (female veterans who write romance) is an action I wholeheartedly support. I have a similar program on Romance Lives Forever, my guest blog, on Veteran’s Day every year.

When I joined the US Navy back in 1973, I was a single woman. I had lived in the Las Vegas metro area since I was twelve years old. There were few jobs that didn’t relate to one or more parts of the gaming or hospitality industries. I wanted more. To find it, I entered the military. When I was transferred to a training base in Memphis, I had no idea that I’d meet my future husband. We’ve been together ever since.

The one thing I’d like others to know about being a veteran is that when you raise your right hand and swear to uphold the constitution of the United States, you are doing more than serving your country. You are embarking on a journey that will change you forever.

When I joined, I had no idea how much risk I was undertaking. It’s only years later that I’ve come to understand how much I laid on the line to protect my country. When you’re in the midst of a situation, you are too busy dealing with the details to look around and grasp the significance of each action. That comes later, after the smoke has cleared and you have time to think about it.

Bringer of Chaos, the Origin of Pietas

I was never in combat, and I was put into no life-threatening situations. However, because I was on active duty, I agreed to be willing to go. That willingness came out of my desire to serve. I was twelve when President John F Kennedy was assassinated. His death had a profound effect on my life. I had heard him speak in person only a few months prior. My parents had been big supporters of his campaign. When he died, I swore not to ask what my country could do for me, but to ask what I could do for my country. When the opportunity to join the military came, that was my chance to fulfill my oath. I have never looked back with regret.

Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas is military science fiction set in the far future. Two enemy warriors: one human, one immortal. Different in belief, alike in spirit, marooned together on an alien world. Traitors took everything. Except their honor.
Excerpt     Amazon   Print

About Kayelle Allen

Kayelle is a best selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr. She writes in multiple genres and non-fiction. She is founder of the author-mentoring group Marketing for Romance Writers, manages the successful Romance Lives Forever blog, and is a member of RomVets. Kayelle is married, has three grown children, and five grandchildren.

Join Kayelle’s Romance Lives Forever Reader Group and you’ll get sneak peeks of new books, plus find out about special contests just for members. Want other options to know when a book is released? Join AuthorAlarms and get one email when a new book is out. Follow Kayelle on Amazon. Visit her homeworld, or follow on Twitter and Facebook.

#MedievalMonday16 Conflict in Dragon Knight’s Shield by Mary Morgan

Cover Art for Mary Morgan's Dragon Knight's ShieldThis week’s #MedievalMonday16 guest is Mary Morgan giving us a sample of conflict from her newest release Dragon Knight’s Shield.

“Never have I seen a woman command men as she does,” commented Robert coming alongside him.

Angus kept silent. He knew his friend had set his sight on the woman as well. He had flirted with her outright at the table last evening, stirring the outrage of Hugh. The man dared to tempt fate to the edge of his life, and Angus wanted to slice out Robert’s tongue with a blade.

Rubbing his hands together to ward off the chill, Robert removed his cloak. “I believe ’tis my turn at a lesson or two.”

Without thought, Angus blocked his progress with an outstretched hand. “Nae. My turn.”

The man raised an eyebrow in amused contempt and took a step back.

As Angus stepped into the clearing, he saw Deirdre’s eyes go wide in surprise. As he gave the others a passing glance, they understood his meaning and retreated to the trees. Removing his cloak, he faced her.

“There is nothing I can teach you, Angus. I’ve seen you fight.” She rubbed her hands down the sides of her gown, and he took this as a nervous gesture.

His steps slowed as he circled her, making her turn as he did. “Ye show the others. Why not me?

“Because there are some techniques…umm ways…to improve…and they asked, since they believe me…”

“Ye are rambling. Not good for a hunter.”

“I’m not playing this game, MacKay,” she hissed.

“This is no game we play, Flanagan. There is a real danger that cannae be fought with strength alone.”

“Then you’re the fool if you don’t think I understand. The Fianna have told me about the magic of this evil druid. But what they haven’t told me is why he wants to claim the relics of the Dragon Knights.”

Angus clenched his fists. They had no right discussing his past with her.

“Does that upset you?”

He continued his spiral movement around her. “Why would it?”

“Because it shows in your eyes. They go from light brown to blazing amber.”

His smile became predatory. “Ye are a keen witness.”

“Tell me about your relic, Angus?”

Chuckling softly, he kept silent. Her gown twisted as her steps faltered, and he realized she had not mastered moving in the clothing.

She stomped her foot in anger. “Stop moving!”

In one swift move, he had her hands behind her back with his face mere inches from the lips he wanted. “Ye have now become my prey.” He could feel the rise and fall of her breasts with every breath she took, and he fought to control his body. By the gods how he wanted her. She smelled of the woods, wild and untamed.

She blinked and he found desire staring back at him. Twisting her head away from his, she spat out, “Let me go.”

If the others were not around, Angus feared he would have claimed her right there in the snow. He shook his head of the blinding lust and released her. “Ye are correct, Deirdre. There is naught ye can teach me.” Turning slowly, he started to walk away when he felt the blade at his back.

“The first lesson, Angus, in any battle is never to turn your back on the enemy. You have forgotten the basics in defense.”

He held his arms out wide. “Then strike for the kill, Deirdre and pray ye have the strength to aim true.”

She punched him hard in his lower back, causing him to stumble a few feet. “Trust me, I have the strength.” Her words sent a chill down his spine, and the beast became unleashed.

As Angus whirled around, he reached for the arm that held the blade. Her gown twisted and she slipped, bringing them both to the ground. Wasting no time being so close to her heated body, he stood. Shoving a hand through his hair, he then pointed to her bunched up gown. “And the first lesson ye should master is to fight in your clothes. They will be your undoing.” Hissing out several curses, he stormed off to the trees, whistling for Artair.

As he passed one of the pines, a blade flew past his head and landed with a loud thump into the wood. The fire danced off his fingertips, but he made no move to turn around. “Ye missed.”

Blurb:

Angus MacKay, leader of the Dragon Knights, failed his brothers and his clan upon the death of his sister. Now he must fight the darkness of despair tempting his soul. Back on Scottish soil, he comes face to face with Deirdre who can wield a sword as mightily as his warriors, and he takes her captive. Yet, with each passing day, the fire dragon inside him roars to claim the one woman fate has destined for him.

Famed mystery writer, Deirdre Flanagan, is unprepared for the next chapter in her life. On a vacation to Scotland, she steps through the mists and enters into a skirmish alongside a Highlander. However, the fight has only begun, and now she must battle Angus as well as evil in order to claim the love of this Dragon Knight.

Will their love be powerful enough to shield them from danger, or burn them to ashes?

Buy Links:

Amazon  Apple iBooks   Barnes&Noble Nook   Kobo   The Wild Rose Press

R & R & R–Relaxation, Recreation, and Research

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Ah the life of the traveling author. 🙂 This past weekend, I had the privilege of visiting one of the Mid-west’s most highly regarded museums. The reputation of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways is well deserved. The displays are accurate and fascinating as are the voice-overs for each life-size diorama, which are given first in the native language and then in English. The history of the Anishinabe peoples is populated with truly remarkable prophecies, many of which have already come to pass. I can’t wait to finish my current WIP to find out what story is brewing in my head from this inspiring place and the people who created it

Journey to “The Star World Colonies” with Author, Catherine E. McLean

CatherineEMcLeanKIFEL SPACE STATION

“The Jewel of Sol”

“The Gateway to the Star World Colonies”

In the vacuum of space far from Earth, beyond the colonized Centauri Star System, between the feared Dethramossan Territory and the mineral-rich Empire of Triangulum Australe, hovers Kifel Space Station, guardian of a galactic portal (a star gate jump point).

Kifel is also a city, a commercial port, a pseudo pleasure palace, and a military fortress. The space station is the gateway for thousands of maritime space traders and colonists seeking their fortunes and a new way of life. But some say the station is a taskmaster to the crews that man and maintain her.

In truth, there are a million stories to tell of those beings, human and aliens, who pass through the portals and walk the labyrinths of Kifel Space Station.

The above was jotted down in 1993, when I first conceived Kifel Space Station for a short story. Over the years, and several short stories and novels later, I ended up with a three-ring binder for all things Kifel that included: the history of why, who, and how the station was built, sketches of deck layouts and compartments (which are crude because I’m no artist), the personnel requirements, the caste system of jumpsuit colors used by workers on the station, and whole lot more.

That binder is my “bible” that keeps things consistent when I write a new story. And, yes, new stories sometimes add things to Kifel or makes me rethink areas. The binder also allows me to update the oldest stories so they are consistent with the published ones.

A writer is told to write what they know, but that’s difficult when you’re writing about the future and outer space. Yet, there is a trick a writer can use to extrapolate a future that seems believable to a reader. That trick is to base the future world, in this case, a space station, on what currently exists or will exist in the near future. To get an idea of the size and look of Kifel, I did research. I extrapolated data from cargo container shipping yards (and how much room they needed to store, stack, and move containers about). From city layouts, I got various ideas of infrastructure. Cruise ship layouts showed me how compact compartments were and how many quarters could fit in a given area. Then there were the waste management-recycling facilities, hospital-emergency care facilities, hydroponic farming, and a whole lot more. The results kept making the space station bigger and bigger. I even took a look at the Star Trek technical manuals (the ones done by real engineers), but I did not use them for designs, only verification that what I was doing was feasible, realistic, believable.

As to the shape of Kifel Space Station, I knew from my engineering husband that circles were most efficient in space and so Kifel ended up being a circle divided into twelve pie-shaped wedges, with a center core through which energy (power, etc.) flowed. Beacons, communications dishes-antennas, scanners, etc. were necessary and went at the top and bottom of the station. Other communication and scanning devices were also needed about the landing-departure decks and for the military.

Then I started from the top and went down a sheet of paper listing one item per line that represented appropriate footage. For the massive warehousing and freight decks, I put in additional lines proportioned for their heights. When I was done, a pattern had formed on the page of an elongated “diamond” – like a kite.

I could envision that “diamond” glittering with all its exterior lights as it spun in the blackness of space to maintain its gravity— like a diamond in the sky.

And thus was born the phrase “The Jewel of Sol.” Sol being a poetic term for Earth’s star, the sun.

A lot of romance writers gloss over setting details in their futuristic/sci-fi worlds because the plot of the lovers journey is more important. However, a writer should take the time to look at, sketch out, and find the little things that bring their setting to life for the reader so the reader suspends disbelief.

Like Marlee and Deacon, when you read HEARTS AKILTER, you’ll feel right at home on Kifel Space Station.

Hearts AkilterHeartsAkilter_w9882 high resolution

Love, vengeance, attempted murder, and a bomb…No reason to panic.

When a medical robot insists he’s having a heart attack, Marlee Evans, a pragmatic maintenance technician, has every reason to panic. There’s a bomb inside him.  Since Marlee can’t risk the bomber discovering she’s found the device, her only option is to kidnap Deacon Black, an unflappable bomb expert, and secretly convince him to disarm it.  Things go slightly awry when Deacon sets a trap for someone who is trying to kill him, and inadvertently captures Marlee instead.  Instantly intrigued by her refreshingly forthright and gutsy attitude, he’s smitten.  Unfortunately for Deacon, Marlee recently hardened her heart and swore off men, especially handsome ones with boy-next-door grins.  But as Marlee and Deacon attempt to identify and prevent the bomber from detonating the device, they discover that love may be the most explosive force of all.

Available Now

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1faTnHp

Nook: http://bit.ly/1HDMrii

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1fhzVIp

All Romance eBooks: http://bit.ly/1GvpqqT

The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/1HDhwAT

About Catherine E. McLean

Besides Catherine being a wife and mother, she has ridden and exhibited Morgan Sport Horses. She’s an avid clothing and costume designer, an award-winning amateur photographer, a 4-H leader, and a Red Hatter who loves bling.

She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal stories where a reader can escape to other worlds for adventure and romance.

Her short stories have appeared in hard-copy and online anthologies and magazines. Besides having two novels published, soon to be released is her lighthearted fantasy/sci-fi romance HEARTS AKILTER. Catherine also gives writing workshops, both online and in-person. A schedule is posted at http://www.writerscheatsheets.com/workshops.html

Catherine’s website for writers is  http://www.WritersCheatSheets.com and she blogs at http://writerscheatsheets.blogspot.com/

Hub Website: http://www.CatherineEmclean.com

Connect with Catherine at: http://www.catherineemclean.com/contact-me.html

Or on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatherineMcLea7

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/catherine.e.mclean.5

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/catherinemclean/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1Ievnjp

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1I64GqK

DOWN UNDER SIDE TRIP

Please welcome fellow author, Iris Blobel visiting from Melbourne Austrailia to tell us about her book, Fresh Beginnings. Iris is very well traveled, as her bio indicates, so ask her lots of questions, please.

Fresh Beginnings Cover ArtFRESH BEGINNINGS

By Iris Blobel

The small town of Hobart in Tasmania has witnessed many beginnings in recent years. At yet one more beginning, the wedding of a friend, Jared Fraser decides it’s time for some fresh beginnings to come his way… And he sets out for a holiday to the US to travel along the Route 66 in a motorhome.

Ivy Bennett thought leaving her boyfriend would be the hard part. It doesn’t take long to figure out how wrong she was. As she struggles with making a new start in her life, the last person she expects to lead her to happiness is a laid-back Australian on holiday.

Then the arrival of family friend Mia Levesque and her boyfriend, Josh, turns Jared’s holidays upside-down when he’s forced to play arbitrator between the two teenagers.

Scroll down to find an excerpt.

 

About Iris Blobel: Iris Blobel 2013BIOpic

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

Buy Links:

Amazon Australia: http://bit.ly/1y0N4bo, Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1s7xTiq, Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1pBrpEY

Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/1nqaT6t

Where to Find Me:

My Blog: www.iris-b.blogspot.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/irisblobel, Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel, Twitter: @_iris_b,

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/iblobel/, Google+:  https://plus.google.com/107759085454255573026/posts

Excerpt:

“G’day!” He stared at her and for some reason something tugged at his heart. Not that he wanted that. He had no room for women, let alone American ones. They all were on earth to make life complicated. Mark was constantly running around for Sophie or Hope, even though Mark’s wife was one in a million and little Hope was simply adorable, especially when she was asleep.

“Ya know it’s dangerous to hitch a ride,” he finally said when she was still quiet.

She stared at him for a moment, but then replied with the typical American twang in her voice. “I know you said something, but I have no idea what.”

He chuckled. “It is dangerous to hitchhike,” he repeated with exaggerated pronunciation.

The woman stepped a bit closer to the window. “Are you from Austria?”

He laughed aloud.

“Australia, I meant,” she added, seemingly embarrassed by the mistake.

“I am indeed.” He watched her looking ahead towards the horizon. “So you wanna hitch a ride?”

Jared had a feeling she didn’t want to, but her current situation didn’t give her many choices. There they were in the middle of nowhere, with the next place a fair few miles away.

“Name’s Jared,” he said and then he opened the door and walked around the motorhome. Leaning against the vehicle, he looked at her. She was pretty. Thin, but pretty. When her brown eyes met his, he experienced another one of those heart tugs and wasn’t impressed at all. He tried to look right past her. It wasn’t happening though. They were like magnets.

“Jared,” he repeated and held out his hand.

Her look went right past him into the distance, and he assumed she was fighting with herself, part of her wanting to get off the road, the other part being worried.

“Anybody else travelling with you?” she asked quietly.

He shook his head. “Nope.”

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and, after a brief moment, reached for his hand. “Nice meeting you.”

Acknowledging that she wasn’t much into sharing details like her name, he opened the door for her. “Where are ya headin’?” he asked.

A smile started in her eyes and played with the corner of her lips. He felt himself smiling back. There was an appreciation in her smile.

“Could you drop me off at the next stop?” she asked hesitantly.

“Most certainly, but where are ya headin?”

She shrugged. “Kingman?”

“Is that on this road?”

Nodding, she said. “Yes, it is. It should be less than a hundred miles along this highway.”

“Then hop in.”

She turned to get into the motorhome, and he took in her small stature and the narrow shoulders which seemed even smaller in her tight, red T-shirt. Jared noticed her cargoes were just hanging onto her hips. A nice steak wouldn’t go astray on these hips. Suddenly she stopped and moved to look at him. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“No worries mate.”

Jared held her gaze and wasn’t sure what to say or do. She simply stood in front of him like frozen.

“My name is Ivy,” she said after a long moment.

“Hedera. An evergreen climbing or ground-creeping woody plant in the family Araliaceae.”

With a frown, she stared at him. “I really didn’t understand that one.”

He laughed. “Sorry, mate. I got carried away. I’m a landscaper. Ivy is a climbing plant.” Scratching the back of his head, he added, slightly self-conscious, “And, of course, a beautiful name.”

There was a small laugh as she stepped into the motorhome. He went around and slid behind the wheel before driving back onto the road. There was a long silence, and Jared wasn’t really sure what to do or say. Usually, he was good with silence. Actually, he loved it. But at that moment, the silence made him uncomfortable.

“So, what brings ya out into the middle of the sticks?”

When there was no reply, he turned and looked at her. There was a big frown on her face, and he sighed.

“I thought you all speak English as well?”

“We do,” she said with a slight giggle. “But I’m not so sure about you Australians.”

With a grin he replied, “Now, don’t be cheeky, Ivy.”

“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, my mom always said.” She laughed. “No way would I make fun of you.”

“So, you’re expectin’ a meal as well?”

There was a moment of silence again, and he glanced over. The smile was gone and panic was written all over her face.

“I… I didn’t—”

Quickly he reached out for her hand. “I’m pulling your leg.” And when she didn’t reply again, he muttered, “This thing with you Americans not understanding English is turning into a problem. I was kiddin’.”

“Pulling your leg?” She shook her head. “Never heard of it.”

A bark of laughter filled the small space. “Anyway. Talkin’ about food. There’s a small place ahead. Want some lunch?”

SUITcase

So this blog is changing and changing a lot. The name and URL–authortravels.com, The purpose–a place to share and dream for all who love travel and traveling. The focus–personal adventures and fictional settings. As an author, I am always traveling. Every setting (past, present or future) is a journey that I take both before I write and with my characters as a story develops. After my family, writing and traveling are my passions. So please join me on my travels, and we’ll tell each other stories along the way.

When will the change happen? Could be any day now. A few technical matters must be addressed, but we’ll definitely begin the voyage before August 01, 2015.

Where are we going? Our first destination is Northwest Scotland the setting for my current work in progress. Then we’ll be off to Italy and a brief stop in Northumbria to celebrate the release of my new medieval romance Knight Errant.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Cover Reveal and Drawing for Becky McGraw’s COWGIRL CRAZY

cowgirl-crazy-coverTwyla Taylor is one frustrated cowgirl.  She’s not winning at barrel racing or in love.  She’s spent ten years nursing a crush on her brother’s best friend, Ryan Easter, who thinks of her as no more than his little sister.  When Twyla catches Ryan with yet another no-good buckle bunny, and calls him out, he tells her to get a life, and that is exactly what she decides to do.  One that does not include a buckle-bunny-chasing cowboy with a bad attitude, or an overbearing older brother.

Ryan Easter is one frustrated cowboy.  He’s winning every night at bronc riding, and has a different woman in every city.  Mostly so he can keep his best friend’s fiery little sister, and his desire for her, at bay.  Since she grew those proud little breasts of hers, and mile-long legs, Ryan has had to fight his attraction to her.  If her brother knew what he was thinking, he would kill Ryan, if her daddy didn’t first. Ryan valued the surrogate family the Taylor’s provided him with too much to ever go there with their youngest member.

His diversion techniques work like a charm, until one night he pushes her too far, and Twyla takes off.  Ryan knows he has to find her quickly and apologize, or face his best friend’s wrath.  He finds Twyla in Dallas and decides she’s definitely gone cowgirl crazy.  He barely recognizes her, because his barrel-racing tomboy is wearing makeup that looks like it was put on with a putty knife and she’s working at a bar which borders on a cowgirl strip club.  When she isn’t serving shots off of her stomach, she’s shaking her round ass for any man with a dollar to shove into the waistband of her barely-there shorts.

Twyla refuses to leave with him, and Ryan knows he better make his final arrangements, or come up with another way to convince her and fast.

Author Links:

www.beckymcgraw.com

beckymcgrawbooks@gmail.com

facebook.com/beckymcgrawbooks

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6427599.Becky_McGraw?from_search=true

Giveaway:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1b4f5c3/

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The Stuff in My Office—5

BKSHELF1Yep, I’ve got even more stuff to tell you about now that our short pause is over. The four pictures in this blog are of the wall length bookshelves opposite the corner where my desk sits (desk stuff in a later installment). There are six shelves (I couldn’t fit the top self into the camera frame, each roughly 10 feet in length and completely filled with paperback romance novels (and yes, those novels absolutely get included on the list of stuff I like that makes me happy). I won’t describe any of the books, but I will mention some of the other items.

In the foreground of the picture at the left you can see a couple of the items I discussed in the 4th installment of this series. You can also see part of the floor lamp that stands between the table (see installment 4) and my reading chair (also installment 4). I love that shade because it turns this lovely glowing gold color when the bulb is on, and it gives terrific light for reading.

Moving on to the next picture (below right) you see the rest of the lamp. The small needlework pillow peeking out from behind the lamp is another gift from my mother in law. That pillow was sitting on her royal blue sofa in her living room the first time my sweetheart brought me to their home for dinnerBKSHELF2 and to meet his folks. I was scared spitless because I knew about her upper crust Boston background. Mom was everything that is gracious. Nonetheless it took me several years to get over being intimidated, mostly because of my personal fears. I like to think that we now have a very friendly relationship. She certainly remembered that first visit, because one of the few things I managed to say was how lovely the pillow was. Who wouldn’t like a pillow with irises (Mom used to grow award winning Iris blooms) in varying shades of blue, including cobalt. On the shelf above the pillow are four framed covers from my books. Below those is yet another gift from my mother in law. This gift is more recent (just this past Christmas), yet I treasure it almost as much as the pillow. The seascape set into the tray is one of my favorites, and since I love the sea (add that to the list too) I keep the tray where I can see it.

The third picture (at left) shows the enBKSHELF3tire tray, and above that the remaining four covers from my books. If you look closely you can see a small two-tone brown box at the end of one of the shelves. That is a recipe box that my own mother gave me. It holds my grandmother’s recipes for Swedish coffee bread, dream cookies, and depression era frosting (made with flour, milk, butter and granulated sugar). The confectioner’s type of sugar that is usually used in frostings was nearly impossible to get during the depression, so flour was substituted. Even granulated sugar was expensive, so frosting on cakes was a real treat. The Dream Cookies are another depression era recipe, requiring only flour, granulated sugar and butter. Preparing Dream Cookies requires careful attention because the butter must be melted and browned to a point just shy of burning. The caramelized bits in the melted butter create the delicate flavor of these cookies. Once baked they have a very crumbly texture. My grandmother called them dream cookies because they practically melt in your mouth and disappear so fast that you feel as if you imagined eating them. Dream Cookies (along with homemade pecan sandies) are my favorite cookies, so they go on the list too. I’ve made the Swedish coffee bread—which is an all day project. Grandma used to fill hers with citron (candied dry fruit). I prefer un-candied dry fruit and more nuts—especially pecans. The bread was a daily item in my life while I was in school during the years when my grandparents lived with us (they moved into a small apartment in our house once neither of them could drive). I would come home from school and Grandma and my mother would be sitting at Grandma’s kitchen table having coffee and buttered coffee bread. They always had at least one piece waiting for me. I’d savor the bread and listed to Grandma and Mother share memories of their early lives. That’s how I learned about depression frosting and the origin of Dream Cookies.BKSHELF4

The last image (at right) shows the end of two more shelves, one of the two windows in my office and the stuff that sits below the window. I’ll write about the window stuff next time. Right now, I want to mention that the elephant bookends were a gift from me to my own mother and probably one of the first purchases I made with money I earned. I got elephants for her overflowing bookshelves so she would never forget where they came from and how much we both loved reading. The elephants came back to me when Mother passed away. Below those sits a small basket containing old checkbooks. I don’t know where the basket came from, but I like open containers. I tend to forget things when they are out of sight. I want the checkbooks in plain sight so I remember to throw them out when I no longer need them as tax records.

So those bookshelves contain a lot of stuff ranging from the treasured to the mundane, and as always a host of memories. Do you have memories of your parents and grandparents; stories and/or recipes that have been handed down and treasured for generations; little knick knacks that hold meaning only for you? Please share with a comment.