Time for a Reset

Wow, it’s been a minute since I’ve surfaced in some way, other than sharing some great new book releases. There’s a lot going on around here, including some things literary (which I’ll be sharing details about soon).

I made a decision earlier this month that I need to take a bit of a reset. Real life has definitely thrown some interesting things our way over the past couple years, and I haven’t taken the time to figure out a good balance. I’ve focused on freelancing, which has been great, but at the expense of my own writing.

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I made the decision to scale back my freelancing – a lot – so I can focus on next steps with some of my in-limbo projects:

  • Do one final read-through and edit of my post-Civil War romance and send out queries for it.
  • Finish first draft of the first book in my Sweet Somethings spinoff trilogy.
  • Expand a short story I wrote for an upcoming romance anthology (more on that soon, once I have the details) and prep for self-publishing.
  • Return – at long last – to the Magnum Opus and really dig into developmental edits to update, improve, and maybe, just maybe, move toward self-publishing in the future.

As often happens with my ambitious to-dos, there’s a good chance more than one of those goals will not make it to completion. But that’s the game plan right now.

horse/man by Julia Merritt (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

TourBanner_Horse-Man

horse/man

by Julia Merritt

GENRE: Fiction – Literary

Blurb

What happens when your entire identity revolves around a way of life that is becoming obsolete?

 

In the 1920s, as Canada progresses through the Industrial Revolution, horses are still the rural engines of survival. As a child Adam lives this reality on his family’s farm in the Ottawa Valley, planning to take over one day and have a family of his own. When his parents die during the Great Depression, nineteen-year-old Adam is disinherited in favour of his brother and is forced to move to the city to find work. Without a formal education his choices are few, yet he finds a place to use his horsemanship skills in the dwindling forces of the Canadian cavalry based near Montreal. There he finds pride in being a mounted soldier, and friendship with his fellow dragoons. But the cavalry units are mechanized by the beginning of World War Two, and when Adam is sent to Europe, he must abandon his equine partners for trucks and tanks. In the catastrophic experience of war, he will lose everything once again.

 

Broken in body and spirit, he returns to Canada where he must confront the question of survival in a world that doesn’t seem to have a place for an injured soldier. Full of poetic reflections on what it means to work with horses, horse/man is a powerful story about a man searching for dignity and connection in the face of a rapidly shifting world.

Book Cover_horse-man by Julia Merritt

Read an Excerpt

Adam got onto his knees for a better view, holding on to the side of the wagon.

The car revealed itself to be a shiny Model T. Perhaps the driver, like the horses, could not resist the lure of moving in the sunshine. Adam watched the car bump slowly over the ruts, advancing towards them. Grey smoke wisped behind it.

Ciaran slowed the team to a walk, and they could hear the engine, a hum that grew to a rumble. Pete and Jack jerked their heads as it got close, banging into each other.

“Go on, get up,” Ciaran growled. The horses’ ears twisted sideways and forwards, trying to decide between the driver or the instinct to flee. The wagon’s tongue rattled as their legs jostled.

The car driver slowed and lifted his hand as he passed the wagon. Ciaran raised his hand in response, the other clenched on the lines attached to Jack and Pete’s gaping mouths. When the car had gone safely by, he reached over, picked the buggy whip out of its holder, and smacked each rump with the corded lash.

“Go on, trot!” he commanded, loosening the lines. The team straightened out and carried on with their jobs. Adam stared at the receding vehicle, wrinkling his nose at the stench of the fumes.

Julia Merritt will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the giveaway!

Meet Julia Merritt

Julia Merritt has been captivated by horses ever since she could see out of the car window. Then she grewAuthor Photo_Julia Merritt up and became a public library CEO and certified animal bodyworker. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her thoroughbred horses and smooth collie dogs. This is her first novel.

Connect with Julia Merritt

WEBSITE http://www.juliamerritt.ca/

FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/firehorseperformancebodywork

INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/j.a.merritt/

TIKTOK https://www.tiktok.com/@j.a.merritt

GOODREADS https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60353574-horse-man

Get your copy of horse/man   

AMAZON.COM https://www.amazon.com/dp/0228856566

AMAZON.CA https://amazon.ca/dp/0228856566

INDIGO CHAPTERS https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/horse-man/9780228856542-item.html

BARNES & NOBLE https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/horse-man-julia-merritt/1140954662

BOOK DEPOSITORY https://www.bookdepository.com/horseman-Julia-Merritt/9780228856566

SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1129973

Ella (Virtual Tour & Giveaway)

TourBanner_Ella

Ella

(Prairie Roses Collection)

by Nancy Fraser

GENRE: Sweet/Inspirational Western Historical Romance

Blurb

To get away from her late husband’s questionable deeds, Ella Winslow takes her three children and heads west to the unsettled Washington Territory to claim land she believes she’s inherited from her father.

Tucker McAlister was fired from his position as deputy marshal for arresting the mayor’s brother-in-law for spousal abuse. His mentor has found him another job, first escorting the wagon train going west, and then as the new marshal in the growing town of Tacoma, Washington Territory.

The trail is long and hard, yet Ella is more than up to the task. Still, Tuck feels the need to watch over her and her children, whether she wants him to or not. It isn’t until they arrive in Washington that he realizes his protection will now need to extend even further than the wagon train itself.

Will Ella’s faith allow her to trust again and make a safe home for her family, while welcoming Tuck into her heart?

BookCover_Ella_Final

Read an Excerpt

Whispering Willows Farm

Maryvale, Missouri

April 16, 1870

Ella Winslow turned toward the kitchen door, the loud crash of wood on wood causing her to startle. Raising her head, she met her brother’s angry glare.

“What the devil are you thinking, Sis?” Connor Miller asked. “You can’t just up and take off with your children. And crossing the country in father’s prized possession, no less? Have you lost your senses?”

“I’ve never understood why everyone claims it’s women who are moody, hysterical even. We can’t hold a candle to a flustered man.” Narrowing her gaze, she gave Connor the same no-nonsense look she often used on her daughter and two sons. “It’s my decision to make. With my husband dead and buried, there’s nothing holding me here. As a matter of fact, given the legacy Peter Winslow left behind, I’d say taking my children away from this town is the right thing to do.”

“So, I’m nothing, am I?” Connor asked angrily.

The hurt she could see in his eyes caused her a small niggle of pain, a moment’s pause.

“Of course, you mean the world to me. You’re my brother, the only family I have left, other than my precious children.”

“Then, why are you leaving?”

Her shoulders heaved on a deep sigh. “You know why. I’m tired of having the good people of Maryvale stare at me with pity, while gossiping about me behind my back. Not to mention the way the children have been teased in the schoolyard.”

“This whole mess will blow over soon enough.”

“I’d like to believe you… that the people I’ve known my entire life will come to their senses and realize I had nothing to do with Peter’s abhorrent business dealings. And, his…” Her voice lowered before trailing off. She couldn’t bear thinking about all the secrets her late husband had harbored. All the evil deeds he’d done.

“He was a liar, a cheat, and—assuming the reports from the marshal’s office are accurate—a cold blooded killer. His actions were his own. You had nothing to do with them.”

“Tell that to the townsfolk who treat me, and my children, like steamy piles of horse dung.”

“Now who’s being hysterical?” Connor teased, his familiar grin firmly back in place.

“Not hysterical, just fed up with being treated so poorly.” She dipped her hand into the pocket of her apron and produced a piece of paper, waving it in the air. “The farm, the last of father’s workshop projects, and this… it’s all that’s left of any value.”

Connor snatched the deed from her grasp and unfolded it, scanning the page for what was likely the hundredth time.

“You don’t even know if this paper is valid. Didn’t you say the land office never responded to your letters?”

“No matter,” she insisted, swishing her hand in the most dismissive way she could manage given her own doubts. “The solicitor who handled the sale of the house and the disposition of claims against Peter’s estate said it’s a legal document. And, thankfully, never part of Peter’s holdings so it couldn’t be used to cover his debts.”

Connor’s voice softened. “You and the children are welcome to stay here with me and Millie.”

Ella reached up and cradled his cheek in the palm of her hand. The threat of tears warmed her eyes. “You’re sweet to offer, but you and your new wife don’t need us hanging around when you’re just starting out. The children and I will be fine.”

Connor shook his head, pulling away from her caress, and dislodging his thick dark curls until they fell across his forehead. “It’s not safe, setting out in a wagon train all alone. Four months—maybe more—on a dusty trail is no way for a lady to travel.”

“I won’t be alone. I’ll have my children, and at least seven other wagons.”

“What if they’re not all going as far as you are? You may be the only wagon on the Naches Pass Trail. You should wait for a year or two, until the railroad is finished. They plan to reach Olympia and Tacoma by 1872.”

“They haven’t met their previous expectations, what’s to say they’ll make this one?” Ella asked. “I don’t want to risk losing out on my claim once the population starts growing.”

“You can’t live in a wagon.”

“According to our father’s notes, he… they… built a small cabin on the property.”

“I wouldn’t be putting any faith in the jabbering of that old fool.”

She gave Connor’s cheek another pat. “Sometimes, dear brother, faith is all we’ve got. I trust the Lord will protect us on our journey.”

Nancy Fraser will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the giveaway!

Meet Nancy Fraser

Nancy Fraser is a best-selling and award-winning author who happily jumps across multiple romance genres with gleeful abandon.Nancy Fraser Avatar

She’s also the granddaughter of a Methodist minister known for his fire-and-brimstone approach to his faith. Nancy has brought some of his spirit into her Christian romances. And, her own off-beat sense of humor to her clean & wholesome books.

When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.

Website: www.nancyfraser.ca

Blog: https://romancesweetreads.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/nancyfraserauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nfraserauthor  @nfraserauthor

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B09FTH655Z

Bookbub: http://bookbub.com/profile/nancy-fraser

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3gC68iMStwKCr4v_S6fMIA

Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/bxkKvD

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7206382.Nancy_Fraser

The Royal Fifth (Virtual Tour & Giveaway)

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The Royal Fifth

by James Peyton

GENRE: Adventure Thriller

NOTE: The book is on sale for $0.99

Blurb

The Royal Fifth: The amount of stolen treasure Conquistadors were supposed to give to the Spanish Crown.In a world corrupted by its past, what could turn a sensitive artist into a killer?

 

Young Santa Fe artist, Martín Cortés, is devastated by the deaths of family members and the loss of a huge emerald that once belonged to Hernán Cortés.

 

Colin Glendaring, a disgraced archeologist with an insatiable passion for pre-Columbian artifacts, is responsible. Martín learns that another family descended from the Spanish Conqueror lives in Oaxaca. Rather than kill Glendaring, he heads south. He discovers an unconventional household that includes Ilhui, a beautiful young woman with a dangerous political agenda.

 

Martín is stunned when he learns how the family manages to live so well…then alarmed when he discovers that Glendaring is on his way to Oaxaca. Martín and Ilhui are soon accused of murder. On the run, they are betrayed, and Ilhui is kidnapped by a guerilla leader known for recreating grisly Aztec rituals.

 

With time running out, Martín makes a pact with a ruthless army officer and a crooked federal policeman. Will it be a deal with the devil, or can he do what has to be done to save his new family and love?

BookCover_TheRoyalFifthPeyton_G-Fish

Read an Excerpt

MEXICO, 1531 A.D.

Spanish Captain Federico Alvarado pulled his horse to a halt. Directly in his path, the boulder-strewn mountain seemed to rise forever into the robin-egg sky, like a giant’s stairway to heaven. He glanced behind him at the eighteen men in peaked iron helmets riding stout horses and the ten mules laden with the captain general’s treasure. What exactly they carried, Federico did not know. Only six of their burdens weighed enough to indicate gold or silver. Based on the amount of the one-fifth promised payment—the royal fifth—that was normally sent to the king, the others obviously held something of great value. Possibly some of the priceless emeralds he’d heard Cortés had taken from the Aztec king.

Over the last two days they’d lost six men to Indian attacks and were dangerously low on food and water. But he calculated they were no more than a day from their destination, the valley of Huaxyacac.

For a moment Federico reflected that if this mission ended well his star could rise like lightning in reverse. A grand home would replace the mud hovel where he lived with his Mexican wife. They could afford a servant and help her family. But gazing at the seemingly impassable range, he wondered if his commander had understood the conditions on the ground.

James Peyton will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the giveaway!

Meet James Peyton

Award-winning Author James Peyton infuses his novels with stranger-than-fiction encounters and true-to-life characters based on his extensive travel and research. Realism in his plots and action comes from that background and his experience in martial arts and tactical firearms.author image

The Royal Fifth is based loosely on historical events surrounding the Conqueror, Hernán Cortés, brought into the present time. It will be followed by a mystery-thriller series featuring federal policeman, Artemas Salcido. Artemas is the illegitimate son of a Mexican governor and his Yaqui servant. Following his mother’s suspicious death, he was sent to be raised by the village priest. He attended Harvard on a scholarship and returned to Mexico vowing to fight corruption—only to receive his real education, where the grade is often life or death.

Website: jameswpeyton.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/216986.James_W_Peyton

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/James-W.-Peyton/e/B001K7XKJA

One April After the War (Virtual Tour & Giveaway)

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One April After the War

by G.S. Boarman

GENRE: Historical Fiction

Blurb

When Mary Warner is requested to attend a meeting with her estranged godfather, President Ulysses S. Grant, she quickly finds that an invitation from the office of the President is an offer she can’t refuse.

 

Fresh from concluding a counterfeiting sting in Cincinnati, Secret Service agents Merritt and Argent are tasked by the President to convince Miss Warner to return with them to Washington, D. C. For the two Treasury agents, this simple assignment to escort the socially awkward and willful young woman on an 800-mile railroad journey from Louisville, Kentucky to the White House proves far more interesting and difficult than the men could have ever thought possible. And, in the face of danger, it may just turn out that Mary is more of an asset than a problem for the two agents.

 

For Mary Warner, the trip begins to take on a sinister meaning as she finds herself virtual prisoner to Merritt and Argent. Madness, morality, and murder all swirl in a strange April storm at midnight turning this odd odyssey into something so much more than a mere trip between cities.

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Read an Excerpt

The jailer languidly unlocked the cell door, calling to Miss Warner, “Your custodians have come to claim you. Up with you.” Miss Warner remained unmoved. The jailer turned to Merritt and Argent. “This is how she has been all afternoon. What she needs is a good thrashing to bring her to a proper sense of respect.” Miss Warner’s plain dress, a work dress with none of the frills and fineness of a woman of any means, was not the only barometer by which the jailer measured her: she did not even carry with her a handbag, nor did she wear a hat or cloak or gloves. She gave all the appearance of a woman of the lower classes, and therefore not worthy of any special consideration.

The sheriff had accompanied the jailer to Miss Warner’s cell, mildly curious as to all this fuss over such a woman as she. He had, in fact, delayed sending the message that Miss Warner had asked him to send; he simply did not believe a woman of her apparent stature and committing such a crime could claim patronage at such high levels of Cincinnati’s judicial system or of the federal government.

G.S. Boarman will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to enter the giveaway.

Meet G.S. Boarman

After the death of G. S. Boarman, a great niece cleaned out the old Kentucky family farmhouse and in the attic, amid the rusting coffee mill, the rickety outdated furniture that was still awaiting repairs, and the stacks of vermin-eaten Harper’s Weekly’s and Police Gazette’s, she found a curious box marked simply “M”.

On the kitchen floor, the metal hasps were flipped back and the top pried off. Lying on the top of a very neat and orderly collection of things was a scrapbook and lying loose inside the scrap book was a note that said simply, “Please finish the story.” The scrapbook itself contained a rough outline of a narrative with sometimes undecipherable glosses and cryptic references to mysterious sources.

From letters and notebooks, ledgers and calendars, train schedules and stockholders’ reports, the story was slowly extracted and pieced together, and the small treasures, carefully wrapped and preserved in the box, took their place in the narrative.

Boarman’s will had already been read, probated, and executed, but the niece, as executrix, felt obligated to fulfill Boarman’s last wish — to breathe life into the long-ago story of a woman who held some importance to Boarman.

Website: https://www.gsboarman.com/