Friday, 30 May 2014

Kate Robbins: Promised to the Highlander

A great big welcome back to Kate Robbins!

Kate visited with us last October on the release of her debut novel, Bound to the Highlander, book one in the Highland Chiefs series, published by Tirgearr Publishing.

Before this book was even published, it won the 2013 TARA Award for Historical Romance, and soon after publishing, become an Amazon best seller for Scottish Historical Romance. This book rocketed in sales ranks and has maintained a very respectable popularity.

To say Kate's newest release has a lot to live up to is putting it lightly. But if the advance reviews are any indication, Promised to the Highlander is bound to exceed expectations.

Promised to the Highlander is Nessia Stephenson's story. She's a woman who's future has been planned for her, including the man she'll marry. When she meets Fergus MacKay, brother of her intended, her choices could mean a clan war.

Kate has used her talents as an evocative storyteller to bring to life each character in this story, effectively pulling readers into Scotland's medieval past. Emotions are so well written that the reader will feel them too. Each character so well developed, readers will feel they're leaving behind friends when the story closes. This is another stellar addition to the Highland Chiefs Series that will leave you wanting more!

Kate will be here through the day to answer any of your questions. And Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of Promised to the Highlander to one lucky commenter. So get your skates on and be sure to leave your contact email address so we can get a hold of you if you win.

• • •

Nessia Stephenson's world was safe until a threat from a neighbouring clan forces her to accept a betrothal to a man whose family can offer her the protection she needs. The real threat lies in her intense attraction to the man who arranged the match—the clan's chief and her intended’s brother, Fergus MacKay.

When powerful warlord Fergus MacKay arranges a marriage for his younger brother, William, he has no idea the price will be his own heart. Fergus is captivated by the wildly beautiful Nessia, a woman he can never have.

When the feud between the MacKay and Sutherland clans escalates, Nessia, William and Fergus must make sacrifices for their future. Longing and loss, honour and duty. How can love triumph under such desperate circumstances?

“For a man who isn’t eager to meet his future wife, you’ve got quite a set of nerves there lad,” Fergus said to William.

William straightened his linen shirt and smoothed his tunic as he glared at Fergus. Yet, the comment was absorbed and William ceased his pacing to sit on a chair near the fire. Fergus watched his brother adjust his belt again. The young man wore his usual dress but had taken greater pains today to perfect his appearance. Fergus glanced down at his linen shirt and sleeveless leather tunic. William’s long hair was tied at his nape while Fergus’s was left hanging loose. He recalled having to take extra pains upon his betrothal. Thankfully those days had passed and he needn’t worry overly anymore. A young lass would surely find William’s neat, respectable appearance appealing. He hoped so, but before he could dwell on it further, a servant entered and announced the arrival of Thomas Stephenson, his daughter Nessia and several of their clansmen.

William sprang to his feet and crossed the floor in a few quick strides to greet them. He continued to fidget as Fergus sauntered up from behind.

“Thomas! Welcome. We thought we’d have to send out a search party soon,” Fergus said as the stout man turned the corner leading into the great hall.

“Aye, the road was a bit rough with a wagon in tow,” Thomas said. The man’s brow was streaked with sweat and he looked weary from his travels.

“We’ve had a lot of rains this harvest there’s no doubting that,” Fergus said.

In truth he would have gone searching himself had another hour passed. Earlier that day he’d heard more rumours about Ronan Sutherland. Apparently, the lad had agreed to his father’s suggestion and would commence his campaign in the coming days. Fergus sensed William stiffen beside him as Thomas began the introductions.

“Fergus, William, this is my brother Neville and these three are my sons, Colin, Robert, and Camden my youngest. And this is my daughter, Nessia.”

Fergus acknowledged each man in turn. When the introduction came to the girl and his gaze fell on her, his breath caught in his throat. With black hair and bright blue eyes she stood proud before him with her chin lifted and all the regal confidence of a noblewoman. She displayed no fear or reservation at all, something which was unusual in most men he met, but more so in a woman. The gentler sex usually cowered before him—not this lass.

Fergus stared at the girl, his heart drumming. His guts clenched as if he’d been punched. He had to force himself from moving toward her to touch her hair which looked like spun silk, for surely it could not be real. Fergus remembered his brother then and tore his gaze from her to find William’s eyes wide and his jaw slacked. An unexpected pang ran through him.

When he turned back it was to find her still staring at him, seemingly unabashed for staring openly at a man. A bold one, then. Fergus’s drew his brows together. What did she want?

• • •

Kate Robbins writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance. Her journey into storytelling began with a short screenplay she wrote, directed, and produced which was screened at the 2003 Nickel Film Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She has also written and directed several stage plays for youth.

Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to give readers the most authentic historical romance possible. She has travelled to Scotland and has visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.

Bound to the Highlander is the first of three books set during the early fifteenth century during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name.

Kate is the pen name of Debbie Robbins who lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada with her hubby, the man-beast, and her two awesome boys, the man-cubs.

Find Kate online --

Kate Robbins
Tirgearr Publishing

Can't wait to for your own copy of Promised to the Highlander? Grab your copy now!

While you're at it, pick up a copy of Bound to the Highlander, just 99c/77p through June!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Troy Lambert: One Night in Boise

A hearty welcome back to Troy Lambert!

Troy visited with us in March on the release of his first novel with Tirgearr Publishing, Stray Ally*. Today, he introduces us to the first book in a new series from Tirgearr. First, let's meet Troy again.

A man with a long and interesting past, Troy found his niche in fiction a few years ago with the publication of Broken Bones, a collection of his own short stories. That was quickly followed up by his first novel, Redemption, book one in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series. In relatively quick succession, there was book two in the series, Temptation (book three later this year), and then collaborations in Satanarium, Dragonthology, and the wildly successful, Happily Ever Afterlife. And of course, Stray Ally just this past March.

Not only is Troy a successful author, he's also one of the Senior Editors with Tirgearr Publishing, and Managing Editor for the new series in which his release today debuts.

Busy, busy man. But that's just the tip of the 'berg, as the saying goes. Needless to say, Troy is one of those lucky authors making a living out of what he loves doing best -- writing!

Okay, okay. I know you're anxious to learn more about Troy's latest book. And you should be curious. It's . . . {whispers} . . . erotic romance. {gasp} :-) Well, technically, it's an erotic thriller. And it launches a new series at Tirgearr Publishing called the City Nights Series.

City Nights, as the name suggests, takes place over a 24 hour period in a city somewhere in the world . . . hence each of the book titles starting with One Night in . . . and Troy has chosen Boise, as it's a city he knows well. Until you read One Night in Boise, you'll never have guessed so much excitement could be found in this small city.

As the blurb states, 'Detective Derek Marshek and his wife, Cheri, like to play games.' Pointedly, sex games. And why not? When you've been married as long as Derek and Cheri have, you have to find ways of spicing things up to keep it interesting, right? And the Seven Bells Motel is the perfect location for their latest tryst. Or so they thought. As these nights usually go, Derek closes his eyes for just a moment to rest for round two. A gunshot has him on his feet in a blink. Going into cop mode, he reaches for his weapon but it's gone. And so is Cheri.

Derek is emotionally thrown sideways when he sees the victim's body. He's sure his life has just taken a left turn, and not down a good road. How can he tell his son the news when he doesn't believe it himself?

Alex Marshek and his father had shared some harsh words before Alex walked out. That was weeks ago. When his plans for the evening with Susie, quite possibly 'the one', get interrupted by cops casing local make-out spots around Boise, the only place the couple can find peace for their own union is in his old room back home. He knows his parents are on date night. When he hears someone in the house, he goes on the defensive, expecting his father will have him over the coals again.

To say anymore will give away too much. Needless to say, One Night in Boise is full of twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Troy leads us down an erotic path that quickly turns dangerous and tragic. He pulls out all the stops here as we follow Derek from an erotic tryst with his wife to the tragic crime scene. Readers will witness how quickly Derek's life changes and falls apart before him. How quickly one night in his city can change a man. This is a fabulous story in which Troy's storytelling excels. Anyone who likes erotic romance and romantic suspense will want to read this book.

Before we get to an excerpt, be sure to drop Troy a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of this book.

* Regarding Stray Ally, as above, Tirgearr Publishing has marked down this book to just 99c/77p through June to celebrate the release of One Night in Boise. Be sure to grab your copy at this fabulous price.

• • •

Detective Derek Marshek and his wife, Cheri, like to play games. It’s not that they don’t have a great sex life, but Cheri came up with the idea to keep things even spicier. Suddenly, events at the Seven Bells Motel reveal she may have had other motives.

Their son Alex, now in college and seeking to escape the shadow of his father has a new girlfriend. In their efforts to find privacy, he is drawn back into his parents’ lives, and sees a new side of Susie. Could she be the one?

On this night in Boise, will lives be ruined, hearts be broken? One thing is certain. It’s a dangerous game they all play.

Seven Bells Motel. 7:05 pm

It’s a dangerous game we play.

We like to play year round, but the snow, the cold has us turning to other games to pass the time in the winter. Tonight, though it is not yet spring, it is warm for early April, and we are both ready.

The yellow streetlights emit tight yellow pools of light that she avoids carefully. I circle the block, seeing if I can spot her in the shadows. When she spies the old Caprice, she steps to the curb.

She wears red leather. My favorite. A tight mini skirt, thigh high boots, and a laced corset envelop her curves. Her scarlet lipstick matches a bow wrapped in her brunette hair, completing the look.

She’s not as young as she used to be, but then neither am I. When I look at her though, I still see the girl I married over 20 years ago. Other guys try to pick her up whenever we play, and once she even had to explain the game to a passing undercover officer, one of my colleagues. It cost me a $150 bottle of scotch to sweep that one under the rug, but it was worth it.

I pull alongside and roll down the passenger window. “Hey there.”

“Looking for a date?” She blows little bubbles with the gum she chews, popping them with her teeth. Oh, God those teeth, those lips, that mouth.

“Yeah baby, how much?”

Her gaze crawls over me, evaluating, craving. “For you, $20 for a blow, half and half for $40, and all the way for $80.”

“It’s a deal. Get in.”

Opening the door, she drops into the passenger seat. The skirt rides up, and her lace panties peek out at me. She tugs the skirt down seductively, but not before I spot the wetness at her crotch. I can hardly sit still, and wonder how my erection is not interfering with the steering wheel. Jesus, she turns me on.

She puts her gloved hands on my arm, and the hairs there stand to attention. “You have someplace we can go?”

“Sure do,” I say. She shuts the door, and I drive to the Seven Bells Motel at the end of the block.

• • •

Troy began his writing life at a very young age, penning the as yet unpublished George and the Giant Castle at age six. He grew up in Southern Idaho, and after many adventures including a short stint in the US Army and a diverse education, Troy returned to Idaho, and currently resides in Boise.

Troy works as a freelance writer, researcher, and editor. He writes historical site characterization reports for those performing remediation on former resource extraction sites, software instruction and help guides, and edits the research of others as well. His true passion is writing dark, psychological thrillers. His work includes Broken Bones, a collection of his short stories, Redemption the first in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, Temptation the sequel to Redemption, along with the horror Satanarium, co-authored with Poppet, a brilliant author from South Africa and published by Wild Wolf Publishing. He has stories in several anthologies including the partially for charity Happily Ever Afterlife published by Untold Press.

Troy lives with his wife of twelve years, two of his five children and two very talented dogs. He is a skier, cyclist, hiker, fisherman, hunter, and a terrible beginning golfer.

Find Troy Online --

Tirgearr Publishing

Where to buy -- Kindle USKindle UKSmashwordsSmashwords Series Link

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Romy Gemmell: The Adonis Touch

It's our pleasure to welcome back, Romy Gemmell. Romy is no stranger to Heart of Fiction. She first visited with us last year when she released the first book in a new series, The Aphrodite Touch. Since then, she has also released Midwinter Masquerade. Romy is a prolific writer with several houses, but both of these books are published through Tirgearr Publishing.

Today, Romy joins us again with her latest book -- The Adonis Touch, book two in the Aphrodite and Adonis Series.

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite and Adonis are the gods of love, beauty, pleasure, desire, and procreation. No better pair to meddle in the love lives of visitors to their country! We first met Aphrodite in The Aphrodite Touch, where she involved herself in the relationship between Carla and Jamie. And today we meet Adonis, as he plies his trade in the effort to bring together Kate and Mike.

Katie Murray lost her husband, Paul, to an untimely death. Once things have calmed at home, Katie decides to holiday on the exotic island of Cyprus, hoping to finally put her sadness behind her. When she meets Mike, new feelings awaken in her, but she still finds it difficult to put the past behind her. Not only because she still has feelings for her late husband, but because she's only ever known Paul's intimate touch. Allowing herself to fall for Mike opens up the reality that if things go far enough with him, he'll want an intimate relationship. As much as she wants that too, and to move on with her life, her past keeps her rooted in place.

Then Katie meets Dita and Donas, Cyprian locals, who befriend her. With their friendship and sage advice, Katie is encouraged to give Mike a chance. Little does she know, Dita and Donas are the Greek gods of love!

As with The Aphrodite Touch, Romy has spun a lovely tale with The Adonis Touch. We're brought into Katie's life and feel the pain of her loss and her hopes for a new future. We feel her apprehension at opening herself up to another man. This is a sweetly passionate story which will have you sighing on one page and chuckling on the next. Romy has also managed to bring Cyprus to life on the page -- one can nearly feel the sun on the skin and hear the lapping of the waves. This is a delightful story and a wonderful sequel to book one. A must read!

Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, remember that we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address for contact.

• • •

When thirty-something Katie Murray agrees to go on holiday to the romantic island of Cyprus with the man in her life, Mike Sinclair, it’s on the understanding they are only friends. Much as she enjoys Mike’s company and hopes it might develop into something more, she is still not over the untimely death of her first husband and only lover, childhood sweetheart, Paul. Can she put her sadness behind her, let go of her inhibitions and learn to love again?

On Cyprus in spring time, Aphrodite and Adonis are reunited after two seasons apart and in between renewing their love for each other they watch the influx of tourists to Paphos, choosing the next couple to benefit from their special help. Recognising the sadness in Katie’s eyes and the love Mike waits to share, the mythological couple are determined to do all in their power to ensure the two humans discover the joy that awaits them.

“Do you never become bored with our games, sweet Aphrodite?” Adonis plucked a bloom for the grass and inhaled its perfume while watching his lover.
Aphrodite turned her gaze from the taxis and buses depositing a new intake of guests at the low-level hotel, and smiled through narrowed eyes.

“But it is such fun helping these humans to open their hearts and lives to love. And so many need our assistance.” Leaning across the short distance between them, she took the flower and crushed it in her hand.

As Adonis was about to protest, she silenced him with a kiss. When they drew apart, she held out her hand. “That is how easily they bruise. Why not take what is offered while they have a chance? As we do.”

Adonis watched another couple alight from a taxi as he nodded at her words. Nothing focused the heart as much as the threat of being parted.

“I think we may have found our latest project,” he said. “What do you make of them?”

Aphrodite sat close beside him and followed the direction of his glance. She examined the man and woman paying the driver. “There is a distance between them, yet I feel only warmth and affection from them.”

Adonis continued to study the couple before replying. “The woman, she holds great sadness in her heart, as though something is missing from her life.”

“Or someone,” Aphrodite suggested. “I like the way the man takes her arm and pays her great attention. As a pretty woman deserves,” she added to her lover. “But I sense she is hesitant for some reason. Perhaps they are not yet lovers?”

Adonis scrutinised their every mannerism as the couple walked toward the hotel entrance. “I think you are correct, my love. And I like the woman with the sad eyes. How I should like to fill them with joy again.”

“Ah, my Adonis, remember you always tell me to be careful of their sensitive feelings. But I, too, wish to help this couple. Perhaps we could gently encourage them to explore the pleasures of love on our island.”

Standing with one movement, Aphrodite and Adonis reached the man and woman as they manoeuvred their cases, ready to enter the hotel. The woman saw them first, and Adonis noticed she paused as she watched them approach.

“Good day, and welcome to our island,” he said, holding out his hand to the woman.

Glancing at her companion, whose gaze was fixed on Aphrodite, the woman hesitated. Then, smiling, she placed her hand in his. “Thank you.”

She continued to stare at Adonis as he placed his other hand on top of hers for a second, before raising her small hand to his lips. Adonis felt the quiver of delight that flowed between them and he released the hand. It was enough for now.

“We wish you a love-filled holiday,” Aphrodite said, as she handed a perfect little white flower to the man, before stepping back.

“Thank you for the friendly welcome,” the man said, glancing in puzzlement at the woman beside him.

Adonis opened the door of the hotel as though he was used to ushering guests in, and the couple gathered their cases and stepped inside.

As the door closed, Aphrodite and Adonis turned away from the hotel and returned to their vantage point on the hills.

“That was well done, my love,” Aphrodite said, as she sat beside her lover. “Even I felt the physical jolt of desire that emanated from you when you touched the woman’s hand to your lips. And it must now be assuaged at some point.”

Adonis laughed as he caught her hand and brought it to his lips, slowly kissing each finger. “It is good she has strong feelings inside, although something holds them in check. Do you think the man will release them?”

Looping her hands around the back of his neck, Aphrodite guided Adonis toward her. “I think he truly loves the woman and is trying to convince her of that so they might move on together. But she might need a little more encouragement to find fulfillment with him. Talking of which…”

Aphrodite stopped speaking as Adonis claimed her lips, and they lay entwined on the quiet hillside, exploring their own deepest desires.

• • •

A freelance writer for many years, Romy Gemmell’s short stories and articles are published in UK magazines, in the US, and Online and she has won a few short story prizes over the years. Her first historical novel, Dangerous Deceit, was published by Champagne Books in Canada in May 2011 (as Romy), and Victorian novella, Mischief at Mulberry Manor, was published on kindle in December 2012.

First tween novel, Summer of the Eagles, was published by MuseItUp Publishing in Canada in March 2012 (as Ros) and The Jigsaw Puzzle is now released in April 2013. She describes herself as a butterfly writer, as she writes in so many different genres and different styles. Rosemary is a member of the Society of Authors, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She indulged her love of literature and history by achieving a BA hons followed by a Masters in Humanities degree as a mature student. Happily married with two grown-up children, she loves to dance!

Find Romy online --

Reading and Writing
Romancing History
Amazon US
Tirgearr Publishing

Grab your copy of The Adonis Touch at Tirgearr Publishing today for just $1.99.

While there, grab a copy of The Aphrodite Touch for just 99c, on sale through June. This is book one in The Aphrodite and Adonis Series.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Kristi Ahlers: The Trouble with Surfers

The trouble with Kristi Ahlers (see what I did there?) is that she's visited with us so often that it's hard to find a new welcome intro for her. ;-)

Really though, this is a woman who doesn't need an introduction, because her reputation as Tirgearr's most prolific author proceeds her. While Kristi doesn't place all of her eggs in one basket, per se, she has invested much of her work in Tirgearr Publishing. As one of the company's first contracted authors, going back to the company launch in February 2012, Kristi has managed to secure a strong foothold. Let's revisit some of those steps.

Currently, Kristy has two dedicated series with Tirgearr, and soon, a standalone novel in the company's new City Nights series --

Clan Ross Series -- His Heart's Desire and Her Highland Rogue (rumor has it, book three is on the way!)

The Trouble Series -- French Kisses, Pilots, Voodoo, Cupcakes, Mistletoe, Beaches, Vineyards, Halloween, Holly, and now, of course, Surfers. (rumor has it, three more are due before the years' end)

City Nights is a unique erotic romance series from Tirgearr Publishing, with authors contributing to the collection. Each book title starts One Night in . . . and takes place within a 24 hour time frame in a city somewhere in the world. It should come as no surprise that when this series was first launched amongst the Tirgearr authors that Kristi leapt up to claim New Orleans as her city for the series. We've already seen two Trouble books set in NOLA (Voodoo and Cupcakes), and anyone who knows Kristi knows it doesn't take much arm-twisting to get her down to Bourbon Street. Forget that she lives no where near the city.

See what I mean about preceding reputations? ;-)

We also know Kristi's own heart's desire is California. A California girl at heart, she does best when living by the sea. Her love of her homestate and the Pacific shine through in several of her Trouble stories too. And today's latest release is a wonderful addition to the Trouble collection.

The Trouble with Surfers is set in Hawaii, and you guessed it, deals with surfing. Sophia Drake takes a well-earned and well-needed vacation and heads to Hawaii. Trying to let loose, to remember what it was like before her life as a prosecutor took over and she stopped having fun, she decides to take surfing lessons. When she suddenly finds herself on a board in the sea by herself, her instructor having disappeared, panic sets in that she'll be eaten by sharks before she can find her way to shore. Then, in steps hunky surf pro, Brandon Joffery, to teach her the art of hanging ten. Suddenly, a whole new problem arises for Sophia -- how can she pay attention to the lesson when all she can focus on is Brandon?

Like the nine Trouble books before Surfers, this story is full of giggles and sighs, as the reader follows this couple from the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean into the deeper waters of love. Typical of Kristi's writing, readers will be pulled by emotions as they read. Her wonderful voice carries through from previous books in the series to this story. Kristi's ability to bring her characters to life will leave readers feeling as if they're leaving friends behind when they turn the final page. And I'm betting Kristi's ability with setting will also have people ringing their travel agents to book flights to the islands. The Trouble with Surfers is a great story and a wonderful addition to a stellar series. The trouble I find is that the stories just aren't long enough, but we know Kristi has a few more up her sleeve. Watch this space next month!

Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, remember that we're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address for contact.

• • •

Sophia Drake is a prosecutor who works way too hard and has lost the ability to have fun. When she has finally decided she needs a break and needs to live a little she doesn’t think twice, flies to Hawai’i. When she meets surf instructor Brandon Joffery and he talks her into lessons, she knows there is going to be no way she can focus on keeping upright on a board when the surfer is too amazing and yummy for words. This trip is going to go on the record books. And paradise might just offer more than relaxation. She might just learn to love and live.

Brandon Joffery has left the hustle and bustle of NYC behind and is living the dream in Hawai’i teaching the tourist to surf and enjoy life. When he spots pretty Sophia bobbing on the water looking totally lost and then learning she has no idea how to surf he offers her free lessons. She’s clearly scared to death of not only learning how to surf but also afraid of life and for the first time in his life he wants to protect a woman and get to know her. She’s quirky and funny and perfect. Maybe he will be able to talk her into surfing more than just waves, maybe he’ll be able to talk her into taking a chance on him.

“Please don’t let there be sharks in the water.” Sophie Drake looked around as she bobbed in the Pacific while straddling a surf board and trying to spy the approach of a dorsal fin.

Something brushed up against the bottom of her foot and she squealed and tried to yank her foot out of the water, but instead started to wobble back and forth on the board.

“Oh, please don’t be a shark.”

“So are you going to just sit here and bob for the rest of the afternoon or do you plan on riding some of these waves? You’re really missing out.”

Sophie turned her head and placed a hand over her eyes to shade them so she could see the guy beside her. Her eyes settled on cut abs she only thought possible after some severe Photoshop touch ups and she swallowed, trying to wet her overly dry mouth. He was every hot Hollywood guy rolled into one smoking specimen of male perfection. She mentally gave her head a shake. Yeah, she really needed to give up reading the romance novel she’d picked up at the airport on a whim; she was now waxing poetic about strangers when she really needed to worry about getting back to dry land.

Preferably before she became lunch for a cranky and hungry shark.

“Ah…” Sophie jerked again as something else brushed her foot.

“There have been some really great sets you’ve missed while you’ve been…doing whatever it is you’ve been doing.”

Something else brushed against her leg, and she shuddered while trying to swallow the scream building in the back of her throat. At the same time she curved her mouth into what she hoped was an “I’ve got this” smile.

“You sure are a twitchy little thing.” Her companion smiled. “So first time surfing Hawaiian waves?”

“Yeah, more like first time surfing period.” Sophie waved her hand toward the beach. “My surf instructor had to go do something…”

“And left you alone out here by yourself?”

“It would appear so.” Sophie kept scanning the water for the apex predator she just knew was lurking in the depths ready to gobble her up whole.

“What are you looking for?”

Sophie sighed. “Well, if you must know, sharks. I’m looking for sharks.”

The guy beside her cocked a brow and rubbed his hand over his mouth. “Ah, I see. As in you’re looking for them to…study for some scientific purpose maybe?”

Sophie frowned. “No, more like so I can avoid becoming their lunch. Duh.”

The stranger tipped his head back and let loose a laugh that was both sexy as hell and insulting. No woman wanted a man who looked like he did laughing at them.

“What’s so funny? Do you not watch Shark Week?”

“No, I can’t say that I’ve tuned into Shark Week. So the buggers get a whole week of television all to themselves huh?”

“Yes, it’s very informative and I would think someone like you would want to be aware of the dangers found in these waters.”

“Darlin’, there is danger just walking down the street.”

• • •

 Kristi Ahlers is a California girl! She grew up in Northern California in a small city called Yuba City. Since then she's lived in Brussels, Belgium, and England along with a myriad of other locations. A former flight attendant, she was able to continue to feed her love of travel. This has greatly influenced her writing, allowing her to pen stories about places she's managed to visit and things she's experienced.

Kristi loves to hear from her readers.

Find Kristi online --

Kristi Ahlers
Kristi's Blog
Tirgearr Publishing

Grab your copy of The Trouble with Surfers at Tirgearr Publishing today for just $1.99.

While there, grab a copy of The Trouble with French Kisses for just 99c, on sale through June. This is book one in the Trouble Series.

Friday, 16 May 2014

David J. O'Brien - Leaving the Pack

Le do thoil cabhrú liom fáilte a chur roimh, David O'Brien, leis an Chroí Ficsin.

Did I get that right, David? :-)

See what I did there? I broke out a little Irish to welcome our latest guest.

David hails from Ireland, but has spent many years teaching in Boston, MA and Madrid, Spain. He and his lovely wife now call Pamplona, Spain home, where they live with their gorgeous little daughter. Still teaching, David's passion has always been writing.

His first published works were poetry which were published in various publications in his mid to late teens. It was in his late teens he turned his hand to novel writing.

Let's back up a little. David is Irish, hailing from the oldest established town in Ireland, Dun Laoghaire (est 497AD), which was founded by Norse pirates. For the Anglophiles, that's pronounced Dun Leery. With such a rich history at his doorstep, it's no wonder David's imagination kicked off early. And being Irish, the poet in him found an easy exit. But David's interests run deep. A graduate of UCD (University College Dublin), David studied environmental biology, and later studied deer biology for his PhD. Yep, we'll call him Doctor David :-) He also holds a deep passion for wolves and predator-prey interactions.

Which brings me full circle back to Leaving the Pack. David has pulled in many of his interests in writing this story, including his love of wolves, predatory-prey interactions, biology, his poetic voice, and his genetic Irish makeup of telling a good yarn.

Leaving the Pack is Paul McHew's story. The intro to the story blurb hits the plot right on the head -- 'Nobody believes in werewolves. That's just what Paul McHew and his friends are counting on.' Blam! There it is. Paul's a werewolf, and you know his friends are part of a greater pack of werewolves living in the city. They walk among us, unknown . . . until the full moon. But their kind are racing toward extinction so they're now forced to marry outside their race if they're going to survive. When Paul meets Susan, the issue of just marrying to procreate flies out the window. His heart gets involved. But can he trust her with is secret, and will she still want him once she knows what he really is?

Leaving the Pack will appeal to a variety of readers. As a horror romance with urban-gothic undertones, David hits it on the first strike with a gritty thriller running right along side an emotional romance. This story is more than romantic suspense, more than horror with a minor love interest, more than a contemporary paranormal. It's all those things, and then some. David uses his poetic voice to pull readers into the story quickly through instant imagery which continues throughout the story. His characters are very well developed, leaving you wondering, do werewolves really walk among us? And that's the point of a really good story . . . to make you wonder, even as you close the book, right? Leaving the Pack is a fabulous start of the Silver Nights Trilogy. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us in book two.

Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, we managed to corral David for a quick chat.

Remember, we'll be giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter, so be sure to leave your contact email address so we can reach you if you win.

And be sure to buy a copy of this book, as David has promised 10% of the profits of this book to the World Wildlife Federation! Wolf preservation, no doubt! ;-)

• • •

Welcome, David, and thanks for taking time to chat with us today. Just reading your bio makes my head spin. You're one busy man. How do you fit all of your interests in with your busy work schedule and family life? Do you grab what you can as you can, or do you work by a set schedule? What's your daily writing routing like?
Erratic. This is the first year I haven't been working as a teacher, so I have more time now. Before, I wrote when I was done with correcting in the evening instead of watching TV. On weekends I usually tried to sit down for a couple of hours, but it was slow going. Now I only work part time, but I don't have a very disciplined routine. If I have the morning free I usually sit down once my wife goes out to work and I get myself together. I work for an hour or two and then do errands or the other way around. I collect my daughter from her creche, and go home for lunch, then back to the creche and off to work. I always have a notebook with me, so if I am in the park or wherever, I scribble away. In the evenings I sit down with the laptop and type up notes and if I have the brain power left, do some writing. On the weekends I still try to make a few hours for myself, especially if we go to my wife's family's house in a small village called Amatriain in a part of Navarra nicknamed the Tuscany of spain.
Wow, you do sound busy, but what a place to live in to write! Look at the Amatriain fields! Would it make you homesick to know the rapeseed fields are in bloom here in Ireland too?

When you're home, wife is at work and daughter in creche, and it's your day off teaching, what inspires you to write? Do you have a dedicated space? With the image of the above field, you have a lot to live up to here. Tell us about your writing space.
Readers -- Click on the photo to enlarge to see the
clothes line next door.
I have lots, since I write on a laptop, that is never far from me. I have an office with an old desk that was taken from a closing down school. It's a cosy place in winter and evenings as it's the smallest room in the house and heats up quickly. In the spring and summer, though, the light is much nicer in the living room and kitchen. The views are nicer too! We live in the centre of the old town of Pamplona. From my office I have a view of the neighbour's balcony about 6 yards away, where they hang their clothes to dry, and boy do they do a lot of laundry (there's around 5 kids, plus grandparents living there)! 
Readers -- Click on the photo to enlarge to see
the lovely church windows. Also note the
artwork on the wall -- "food and water around
the corner, kitty." :-)
However, we have, from the back of the house, views of the refectory of the cathedral and some old buildings from the archdioceses, and beyond a large garden, the hills east of the city and the Pyrenees beyond (but you have to stand on tiptoe to see them!) Depending on the light I'll sit either by the kitchen window or the living room balcony door and in between sentences I usually gaze out there and watch the birds fly by. The walls of the city are just 100 yards away and below them is a river valley which isn't really built up too much, so in addition to the usual pigeons and sparrows in the city, we have blackbirds and titmice (chickadees) and also kestrels, and there's often some big birds like storks and vultures stuff flapping past over the valley.
Readers -- Click on the photo see the calf. Love the dairy
bell on the heifer. Very quaint!
In the village, I have another old desk in my bedroom, but I usually write in a common room with a balcony door where I can look across the valley, past the horses and cows under the house. If it's cold (and believe me, Chicago has nothing on this village for being windy) because the house is only used at weekends, I'll sit downstairs at the dining room table, with the same view but an open fire at my back (and more distraction from people coming and going, but since most of them can't read English and they're used to me correcting schoolwork, they usually ignore me!). 
If I'm writing poems, I often take a stroll to the city walls and sit there looking at the mountains. I don't spend as much time in the nice cafes around town as I think a fan of Hemingway should because I bring better tea from Ireland than they serve there! 
Hang on a second . . . Sorry, just checked Aer Lingus for flights to Pamplona. Booked out! Too bad, I was ready to pack my bags. What a wonderful location you live in, and are able to write from. So much inspiration. Seems like it would be difficult to keep you indoors for too long, even if you're writing. What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
I love just being out in the natural world, watching wildlife. In Ireland my hobby was deer hunting. I still hunt when I am home in season, but here I just take my camera out and try to get snaps and video of the roe deer and wild boar around the village. It takes the same skills, but it's not quite as exciting, and I miss the venison. I cycle everywhere and have a mountain bike in the village to go for long cycles around the hills, which are really picturesque. I have been doing less of that lately, though, since I am trying to be more disciplined in getting writing done. I would like to do some fishing, but again, I'm too attached to my pen right now. I read, of course, and listen to books on MP3 which saves lots of time, since I can get through much more while I do other things.
Sounds like you have the ideal life of a writer. You've really made me yearn to see an area I never knew about. But I shouldn't have been surprised. You have a way with words in your book. It had to have come from somewhere . . . the poet living deep within you!

Thank you so much for coming indoors for a while to chat with us, and for hanging out today to chat with readers who may stop by.

Readers, as a reminder, David is donating 10% of his royalties on the sale of Leaving the Pack to the World Wildlife Federation. That's 50c for every book you buy, so get ta clicking! Start here.

And don't forget that your comment could net you a free copy of this book. Be sure to leave your contact email.

• • •

Nobody believes in werewolves.

That's just what Paul McHew and his friends are counting on.

They and their kind roam our city streets: a race of people from whom the terrible legend stems; now living among us invisibly after centuries of persecution through fear and ignorance. Superficially Caucasian but physiologically very different, with lunar rhythms so strong that during the three days of the full moon they are almost completely controlled by their hormonal instincts, you might have cursed them as just another group of brawling youths or drunken gang-bangers. Now at the point of extinction, if they are to survive, their existence must remain restricted to mere stories and legend, but, paradoxically, they also must marry outside their society in order to persist.

The responsibility for negotiating this knife-edge is given to Paul, who runs the streets with his friends during the full moon, keeping them out of real trouble and its resultant difficult questions. Having succeeded for years, he finds his real test of leadership comes when he meets Susan, a potential life-mate, to whom he will have to reveal his true identity if he is ever to leave his pack.

“God, I love this town!” Paul McHew said. He gazed from the window of his sixth-floor apartment out across the city and the foaming sea beyond. The sun was setting and the rooftops of the neighboring buildings were cast in shadow, their grime and decrepit state obscured. Farther off, the skyscrapers that housed the downtown banks and financial institutions were bathed in the last crimson rays of sunlight. Behind the city, sitting just below the eastern horizon, a pale yellow moon was slowly rising up over the sea into the darkening sky.
Unseen, between the run-down constructions that spread out from Paul’s ancient redbrick building and the better kept houses and shops a mile off, the Wilneff River ran south, narrow and fast as it rushed from the mountains far behind his loft apartment. It turned east to the sea and was now visible as a dark line devoid of street lights, widening as it flowed into the harbor. It separated the tall business district on the south bank from the lower warehouses and factories that spread out from the riverside docks on the north side. These merged with houses near the shore, a few miles north of his vantage point and closer to the river before it curved east, while south of downtown, shopping malls turned to apartment blocks and suburban housing estates nearer the coast.

Clad only in black jeans, he’d opened the chipped and rotting wooden window frame to feel the warm wind rush across the skin of his muscular torso and dry the last of the water droplets from the shower he’d just taken, which clung to the thick mat of coarse hair that covered his body. The gusting air played with his damp, shoulder-length hair as it forced its way into the loft, but it showed little tendency to take up much more moisture. It was already almost saturated. Paul could smell the rain that was on its way. The clouds were quickly building up as the air temperature dropped after a sultry day.

On the brick windowsill, a few white flakes of paint had fallen from the frame, as they did every time he slid up the window. As he deeply inhaled the humid breeze, the bits were blown onto the corrugated iron roof of a dilapidated lean-to in the dingy back yard five floors below.

The sight of the rising moon exhilarated him. As he put his head and torso outside the window and let out a long, ear-piercing howl, he felt his heartbeat begin to quicken, ever so slightly. When he could exhale no more, he banged the glass above his head and grinned.

He gulped another lungful of air, sucking in the feeling of the coming night, and reveled in the excitement of what would happen when the sun died completely.

It had been many years since his first foray into the silver light that would soon bathe the streets before him. Uncountable nights under the full moon, striding up and down each street and thoroughfare, exploring every alley and back parking lot, he’d spent the hours of darkness searching out sensations. He’d seen so many sights, snatches of lives, experienced a host of situations, heard unutterable whispers, caught looks and felt touches from a multitude of inhabitants and new arrivals to the city, that some would have forgotten most of them. Paul kept them all within easy reach of his memory, catalogued chronologically, as if his strolls through the city were a story – one which kept him orientated within its walls. Some things had changed over time, as even in eternal cities they are wont to.

• • •

David J O'Brien was born and raised in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. He studied environmental biology and later studied deer biology for his PhD, at University College Dublin. Instead of pursuing his life-long interest in wolves and predator-prey interactions, after completing his doctorate, he taught English in Madrid, Spain, for four years while his girlfriend finished her doctorate in molecular biology. They married and moved to Boston, where they both worked for a time. A short time before their daughter was born, they moved to Pamplona, his wife's hometown, so she could set up her new research group.

David has loved writing since his teens. He began with poetry and had one of his first poems published in Cadenza, a small Dublin poetry magazine at the age of fourteen, and others followed. He began writing fiction in his late teens. While living in Madrid, he wrote some non-fiction articles for the magazine Hot English, and while in Boston for the newspaper, Dig. There, too, he took a feature-writing class in Emmanuel College. Though his academic writing has taken precedence, David continues writing fiction in his spare time.

An avid wildlife enthusiast and ecologist, much of David's non-academic writing, especially poetry, is inspired by wildlife and science, and he sometimes seeks to describe the science behind the supernatural. He has written a little bit of everything: to date a four-act play, a six-episode sit-com, various short stories and four more novels.

David is currently working on a long novel set in the pre-Columbian Caribbean, and a non-fiction book about the sociology of hunting. At the same time he is looking for outlets for his other works: two contemporary adult novels -- one set in the west of Ireland and the other set in Madrid -- as well as a young adult ghost story set in a town outside London, and a children's novel about a boy who can see leprechauns.

Find David online --

Website -
Facebook -
Google+ -
Tirgearr Publishing -

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Cathy Mansell - Galway Girl

A big welcome back to Heart of Fiction to the lovely, Cathy Mansell.

Cathy was a 2012 Finalist for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award with her first book, Shadow Across the Liffey. Her book, Her Father's Daughter, earned Cathy the 2013 Novel of the Year Award at the Leicester Writer's Group in the UK.

Today, Cathy introduces us to her latest tale, Galway Girl. This book follows in the wake of the previous two, with her protagonist crossing the Irish Sea between Ireland and England, as this story develops.

Tamara Redmond is a member of Ireland's gypsy community, an interesting community of Irish traveling people who live by their own laws and within their own community. Men of the family are the head of household, and women do what they're told.

At the tender age of 16, Tamara overhears her parents making plans for her arranged marriage to a powerful community member who is hated and despised by many -- Jake Travis. A young woman with ideas of her own for the man she'll marry, she leaves her family and everything she holds dear, as she makes her escape from Travis' wrath. She stows away aboard the ship, Maryanne, but is discovered and thrown into prison when the ship docks in Liverpool. Once released, Tamara joins a traveling circus. What better place to hide?! It's not long before she falls in love with the daring trapeze artist, Kit Trevlyn. But when she's kicked out of the circus, accused of stealing, all of her fears re-awaken that Jake Travis will find her. Living rough in Covent Garden is no place for a young woman on her own. And when Travis finally tracks her down and kidnaps her, all hope for a future on her own terms spiral out of control. Secrets surround Tamara, and when she learns a harsh truth, not only could things change for her, but they could be catastrophic for her entire future.

Galway Girl is a gripping page-turner of a read. Tamara's character practically leaps off the page as we follow her back and forth across the Irish Sea. We see what a strong willed and courageous woman she is, even as the story begins in her 16th year. Cathy's way with words awakens a vision of Ireland at the turn of the last century, and of England. It's not difficult to hear, in Cathy's words, the creak of the ship's hull as it sails across the sea, or the jangling of harnesses in the confines of a circus tent. This is a deeply engrossing story which draws readers in on many levels, letting us experience the life and times of the early 20th century Ireland and Great Britain . . . a time shortly before Ireland's Easter Rising, when tempers were hot, cultures clashed, and in the background, and oft-forgotten segment of the Irish population made their own laws. I dare say, Galway Girl is Cathy's best story yet!

Before we get to an excerpt, be sure to drop Cathy a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of this book.

• • •

Feisty Irish gypsy girl, Tamara Redmond is just sixteen when she overhears her parents planning her wedding to the powerful and hated Jake Travis. In desperation, she leaves Galway, a place she loves, and stows away on a ship with disastrous consequences. On her release from a cell in Liverpool, she takes refuge in a travelling circus and falls in love with Kit Trevlyn, a trapeze artist.

Accused of stealing, she is thrown out. She sleeps rough in Covent Garden where her fear of Jake Travis finding her dominates her waking hours. When he kidnaps her and keeps her captive, her life spirals downwards. Then Tamara hears a truth, a truth that will change her life and her very existence forever.


The girl lay in the sand dunes, her green cape camouflaged by the tall grasses. Her breath came in gasps. She was lucky to have come this far. The gypsy camp was only a couple of miles behind her. It wasn’t far enough, and if her escape failed, she wouldn’t live to see her seventeenth birthday.

She could hear the sea lapping the shore, taste the salt spray of the waves lashing the rocks below. Seagulls screeched overhead. Black-horned rams roamed the hilltops. Turf smoke curled from chimneys in the stone cottages in the nearby village. Straining forward, she looked down at the deserted beach. She watched and waited.

The September sun faded and a bitter wind blew in across the bay. She drew her cape tighter around her shoulders when the vessel came into view. The sight of its white sails made her excited. She turned her head as the ship moored alongside the pier and anchored in the bay. She could hear the raucous laughter of the men. They climbed from the vessel and strode towards the beach, their boots crunching the shingle.

They passed by with jute sacks slung across their shoulders. Two bearded and bareheaded, the rest wore caps and rough sea-jackets. She knew they were on their way to the tavern in the village.

The moon was rising over Claddagh; a sight she would never tire of, a place she loved but doubted she would ever see again. Listening to the tide receding, she waited until dark. Then, with one last look at the wild coastline and the misty shapes of the Aran Islands in the distance, she scrambled down the slopes, slipping and sliding in her haste. Her legs stung from nettles, and her bare feet were numb and bleeding. She stepped across the uneven pebbles, her feet squelching the seaweed, her cape billowing, and her red curls tumbling around her shoulders. Making sure no one saw her, she lifted her long skirts and waded through the water. The sea was cold as it rushed over her bruised feet and ankles. Close up, the ship was not as big as she had thought, but it was the only one moored that night.

Without a moment’s hesitation, she used her hands and feet to clamber onto the pier. Her feet slipping on the wet stone, she raced along the jetty, only pausing long enough to read the name, Maryanne, on the side of the ship. She climbed down onto the deck of the cutter with no idea where it would take her; she had nothing but the clothes she stood up in and a small bundle under her arm. In it, she carried a change of clothes, a hairbrush and a copy of Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, given to her by her grandmother when she first learned to read.

• • •

Cathy Mansell writes romantic fiction. Her recently written family sagas are set in her home country of Ireland. One of these sagas closely explores her affinities with Dublin and Leicester. Her children's stories are frequently broadcast on local radio and she also writes newspaper and magazine articles. Cathy has lived in Leicester for fifty years. She belongs to Leicester Writers' Club and edited an Arts Council-funded anthology of work by Lutterworth Writers, of which she is president.

Find Cathy Online --

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw!

Friday, 9 May 2014

DW Carver - Birth of Evil

It's our pleasure to welcome D. W. Carver to Heart of Fiction.

A seasoned author, D. W. draws from years of experience preparing self-help literature from his work as a counselor, and from field testing other documents. When he turned his hand to fiction, he found his niche in fantasy, having penned, so far, the well-received start of the Smithson Series, Nightmares and Other Therapy.

Today D. W. launches a new series called the Albany's End Trilogy, the first book, Birth of Evil.

This is no light read, but a dark fantasy that will draw you in. D.W.'s protagonist, David, is on the run lest he be executed as a daemon. He meets Toria who's a young priestess who was banished by her tribe. David joins her on her quest to protect the forest spiryts from an evil threat. With the knowledge that he's being pursued from his home, he figures, as heroes do, that if he's going to die, it's going to be under his terms.

David is a wholly believable character, one which readers will sit on the edge of their proverbial seats as they follow his adventure with Toria to protect the spiryts from harm. Toria is a wonderful secondary character who helps David in her own way to protect him, too. Evil is all around, giving this story the knife edge suspense a dark fantasy requires. For anyone who loves fantasy and paranormal stories, this is a great addition to anyone's collection. There are two more stories in this stories which I can't wait to read. Well done, D.W.

Before we get to an excerpt, be sure to drop D.W. a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of Birth of Evil.

• • •

David, running for his life to avoid being executed as a daemon, meets Toria, a young priestess banished by her tribe. She is on a quest to help the forest spiryts against an evil presence they claim is near. David joins her, determined that if his life is to be forfeit, his death will be given some meaning in her company.

503 AD in the region of Britania, known to the Romans as Calchfynedd and Caer-Gloui; later to the Gaulish tribes as Mercia of Angle Land is known today as the central counties of southern England.
The mercenaries were fifty paces away; four men closing fast. David Ap-Gwri experienced their hatred like a belt tightening around his head and knew it would grow worse. That, combined with the unearned village beer heavy in their bellies and the weeks of laziness dragging on their legs gave no hope of escape. He looked at his shaking hands. He realised after falling the second time the men’s combined emotions were more than enough to weaken his limbs and make out-running them impossible. Stopping here felt like a slim chance a few heart beats ago if they chose the wrong path, but they hadn’t.

He shivered and pushed deeper into the thin bushes, praying again that the leaves and grass stuck to his tunic would camouflage him enough so they would pass by. He glanced up. If the flies didn’t bring them straight here. He risked waving a hand and the fat green bodies swung away then returned, dancing around his face, buzzing louder. Shit, no doubt now, he thought. The mud he’d mixed with his own blood for glue had been more animal waste than earth.

David flinched suddenly as pain jabbed his mind. For a moment he couldn’t decide if he had heard speech or simply experienced the man’s feral pleasure. Then it came again, a voice much too close.

“Over here, Look!” David heard the sound of a heavy blade on wood. “”Finger marks still filling with water. He’s close.”

David cursed silently as another voice whooped delight in some hard edged language and he tried to shrink further into the bushes, but the thick stalks had given as much as they were going to. He looked round, fighting the need to spring up and run, telling himself even a normal man, weak from shock, pain and lack of food, would have no chance. Then he caught himself murmuring, “Gods…Gods…Gods,” and stopped, closed his teeth on the words and wondered who he thought might be listening after so many years of silence.

The same voice called again, “This way! Fresh broken twigs here!”

A different voice said wearily, “They don’t pay me enough for this. Chase him down yourself. My guts hurt.”

“Then the half-silver’s mine, you pig,” the excited man said.

“A full share is mine whoever brings the magician down,” a deeper voice with a heavy British accent interjected.

The weary voice declared, “You’ll lose it back to him at Stones, you stupid ox.” David heard sudden movement and the same man yelled, “You over grown freak, that hurt!”

From the deep voice: “You unsheathe that piece of rusty junk, I’ll kill you.”

The weary man, alert now, said, “No offence, Lauf, just a friendly joke.”

The deep voice made cackling noises. “I enjoy, see me enjoy your humour? I will enjoy it more when I split your lumpy head, Saxon.”

“This isn’t getting us the bounty. Where’s Thom?”

Cold iron touched David’s neck and a voice whispered, “Right here.” David nearly screamed before a muddy hand clamped over his mouth. On the edge of his vision, almost out of focus, he saw long hair, red where it wasn’t thick with dirt. He recognised the man who had almost spitted him with a short-spear as he fled the village. Tensing for the knife thrust, he thought he deserved to die like a butchered animal if he couldn’t sense this stinking lout creeping up on him after so many years of practice.

Thom pressed a thumb agonisingly against David’s nose and whispered, “Look at me, boy.” He smiled and jerked on David’s head. “Where are your spells, magician? Where are your filthy daemons, now it’s time to die?” He giggled, hawked and spat in David’s face. “Magic that away, boy. Put a spell on me if you can. Call on a daemon to rip out my heart.” The knife point searched along David’s jaw bone. “Do you deserve a quick death? Do you bleed out with a cut here, or do you drown in your own juices with a dig and twist there?” He jerked David’s head up and stared into his eyes. “Do you want to beg? Maybe you can persuade me not to kill you.” He drew the knife back, adding, voice full of hate, “No? Then die daemon!”

• • •

DW is an Englishman, married with three adult sons and lives in a London suburb. Once upon a time, he was a community mental health counselor in East London. Part of his job was to prepare self-help literature for clients, some of whom didn’t read from choice. He used to field test the books and booklets and found this was a great way to learn the craft of writing.

Find D. W. Online --

Tirgearr Publishing

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Kotar & Gessler: First Draw

It's our pleasure to welcome back the writing duo, SL Kotar and JE Gessler. We first met SL and JE back in January when they released their first novel, Pirate Treasure, book one in the Kasas Pirates Saga. Today, they introduce readers to a new series, which I'll get to in a moment. First, let me tell you about this dynamic writing team.

S.L. and J.E. wrote for Hollywood. One of their earliest sales was to the Gunsmoke franchise -- Kitty's Love Affair just celebrated it's 40th anniversary of its first airing, 22 Oct 1973. What makes this episode so important is that it was the first time ever in which a kiss was shown on screen for this series. Until then, hand holding was as steamy as Gunsmoke ever got. It was a good old shootem up western, not a romance. But we all know, Kitty and Matt had a thing between them since the series first aired in 1955. Kitty's Love Affair also earned the franchise their highest ratings ever! Well done, ladies.

S.L. and J.E. went on from there to write pilots for William Shatner, who gave S.L. her nickname, Captain. They've both written for a number of magazines and periodicals, and as medical professionals in their 'day job', the pair have also written some very important medical texts which are used in universities today -- Smallpox: A History; Cholera: A Worldwide History; The Complete Guide to Ambulatory Cardiac Monitoring and Full Disclosure Telemetry; and their book, Yellow Fever: A History, is due out later this year.

If that wasn't enough, S.L. and J.E. also wrote and published historical nonfiction -- The Steamboat Era: A History of Fulton's Folly on American Rivers, 1807-1860; Ballooning: A History, 1782-1900; The Rise of the American Circus, 1716-1899; and Riverboat: The Evolution of a Television Series, 1959-1961.

AND I hear-tell they have about 150 novels in a shoe box under the desk! Fortunately for their publisher, Tirgearr Publishing, S.L. and J.E. are slowly revealing some of these gems.

Which brings me to First Draw and the new Hellhole Saga.

If you want to get catapulted into the old American west, put your butt in the basket and open the cover on this book. From page one, you'll find yourself immersed in post-Civil War times, the 1860s, in the state of Kansas where tempers are still flaring over who won this war. And most people ain't too happy, neither! Let me explain how this begins --

Hellhole is the name of this Kansas town, and legend has it, Hellhole is not a very friendly place. In fact, other lawmen refer to it as the place where lawmen go to die! And we're not talking about a retirement home. Hellhole's previous marshal, Jack Duvall, was gunned down by a man seeking to make himself a reputation by killing one of the fastest guns in the states. Only he didn't count on losing his own life as soon as he did.

Claw Kiley was practically raised by Duvall, so when his mentor was gunned down, Deputy Kiley took it upon himself to bring the miscreant into custody. Only Claw was drawn on and that ended that. Now Claw has been made marshal of Hellhole and takes over his mentor's roll as peacekeeper. But as soon as he takes the job, three things become abundantly clear -- the good people of Hellhole are still seething over the outcome of the War Between the States; outlaws hold no respect for the Law; and a girl working at the Lowdown Saloon is a serious distraction he doesn't need.

While still wet behind the ears with his newly elevated status, and harboring what some might call naive expectations, Claw puts his priorities in order -- First off, finding a way to get the townspeople to put aside their differences and accept the new political climate they live in and to respect each other. Next, he sets out to get to know Miss Cougar Bradburn a little better, against his better judgement. And last, to survive. In this day and age, men with guns take what they want and revel in a certain power that lends. His actions will not only determine his own fate as the new marshal of Hellhole, but also how the law of the land was to be carved out of Hell.

Here's a reminder. S.L. and J.E. used to write for Gunsmoke, so it won't be difficult to image that they'll bring the same imagery and engrossing storytelling to First Draw, and indeed the Hellhole Saga. From page one, you can smell the dirt paves town streets, the old saddle leather and horse sweat, and gunpowder from outlaw pistols. From the clank of the farrier in the stable, to the bottles tipping hooch into shot glasses, and the distinct click of the hammer being cocked on a Smith and Wesson, sounds of the old west comes alive on the pages.

Claw is a wonderful character, too. Young but certainly not dumb. A little naive, but his heart is in the right place. He wants to make a difference. It will be up to readers to determine if he has. This is an excellent start to this new series by a well-seasoned pair of writers. Well done!

Before we get to an excerpt, be sure to drop S.L. and J.E. a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of First Draw.

• • •

Hellhole, Kansas, was no ordinary town. Like other places, it was comprised of desultory businesses, saloons, livery stable, bank, and clapboard homes, clinging to life by their figurative fingernails. What set this hider town apart from other post-Civil War outcroppings of civilization was that it also housed a United States Marshal's office. Hellhole was known to the authorities in Topeka as the place where lawmen went to die.

Claw Kiley had served in the Union Army during the Civil War, being discharged, as he had entered, a private. That fact hardly qualified him for a Federal position, yet he knew something about deputing, having served under the legendary Marshal Jack Duvall before the War. Duvall was widely regarded as the best man ever to wear the badge, yet he had been gunned down on the street of some unnamed town by a man seeking a reputation. Kiley had been the youth who outdrew the man who killed Jack Duvall. That alone made his resume worth considering, and as his life expectancy was deemed to be short, the government agents offered him the job on the expectation he could do little harm in the time he served in the position.

Bright-eyed and with faith in the almost mystical power of the badge he wore, Marshal Kiley drew three rapid conclusions about his new town: the residents of Hellhole still seethed over the outcome of the War Between the States; a girl working at the Lowdown Saloon would become very important to him; and outlaws held no respect for the Law. His first order of business was to teach the citizens to put the late conflict behind them and develop a respect, if not a friendship for the Federal man. His second, get to know Miss Cougar Bradburn; the third, to survive against those who took what they wanted by the power of guns and sheer audacity. How he succeeded would determine not only his own fate, but how the law of the land was to be carved out of hell. 

“What’s your name?”

The bright blue eyes of the tall man darted from the paper he had filled out two days earlier to the inquisitor’s face. If he thought the question superfluous, he did not say so.

“Kiley. Claw Kiley.”

“Claw?” Thomas baited.

“Claudius,” came the polite, almost embarrassed correction. The challenge had gone unanswered.

“How old are you, Mr. Kiley?”

“Twenty-three, sir.”

There was an air of military training about him, and more. An innate tact, a respect reserved; the trust it would be reciprocated.

“You wrote here that you deputized with Jack Duvall.”

“Yes, sir.”

“When was that?”

“Until the time of his death.”

“Know him well?”

“He was like a father to me.”

No mistaking the sincerity in the avowal. It made the government man want to ask him more.

He saw no sense denying himself the pleasure of speaking to someone who had known Marshal Duvall. Which did not mean he intended to offer him the job, or that he actually believed the startling assertion.

“Were you there when he died?”

A hesitation.

“Yes, sir.”

“He was gunned down in the street, Mister Kiley. In the performance of his duty. You see the fight?” Kiley nodded. “Was it 

No pause, yet behind the curt nod a regret, a hurt. A remembrance of helplessness.

“It was a fair fight.”

“Jack Duvall was the fastest gun alive.”

“He thought so.”

Kiley left the “sir” off the end of his sentence. Thomas noted it.

“The man who killed him was a gunfighter. Red McGee.” The verbalization of the name after so long jogged Thomas’ memory. His mouth went dry and he licked his lips with unaccustomed nervousness. “What happened to him?”

“He was gunned down in the street.”

“Not gunned down, Kiley. Not from what I heard. Called out. Wasn’t that the way it happened?” Kiley shrugged. The fingers of his right hand twitched, as though seeking the feel of a trigger to wrap around. “Called out on the street and shot down. The gunfighter who outdrew the fastest gun alive never lived to tell the tale.”

“Something like that.” An uncomfortable admission.

“Seems as I recall it was the deputy who shot McGee. You were that deputy, Kiley.” Not a question now, but a statement.

“That’s how rumors get started, sir.”

“Red McGee killed the man you thought of as a father, and you challenged him. Wasn’t that how it went?”

“I didn’t say so. Sir.”

“You had an axe to grind.”

Irritation egged him on. Thomas wanted to hear it all. He wanted the tall youth before him to speak. To brag of his extraordinary accomplishment.

“No, sir.” Silence hung over the room long enough for Thomas to plan his next sentence before the youth finished. “I don’t even own an axe.”

Blatant audacity. The Federal man from Washington slapped a hand on the desk.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Claw Kiley.”

Not ‘Claudius Kiley.’ Not ‘The man who outgunned Red McGee.’ Just ‘Claw Kiley.’

“You’re a gunfighter.”

“I can handle a gun.”

“You think that’s the way to tame a town?”

“I think it’s a middle road.”

“What’s the beginning?”


If Thomas had been smoking a cigar, it would have dropped from his mouth.


“Yes, sir. The duty of a law man is to uphold the law fairly; to see the rules apply to everyone.”

“Is that what Jack Duvall taught you?”

“Among other men.”

“What others?”

Another silence, this one longer, before Claw Kiley answered the interrogative.

“Jim Bennett, Dan Cord. There were more. What difference does it make?”

Claw did not want to discuss his past with these men: not coldly, not unemotionally. Duvall, Bennett, Cord. He could have named a dozen others. If ever a man could claim to have twelve fathers, Claw Kiley was that man. Each, in his own distinctive way, had raised him. Molded him. Made him what he was.

• • •

S. L. Kotar and J. E. Gessler's first writing success was an episode of the television series GUNSMOKE. The episode, "Kitty's Love Affair," guest-starred Richard Kiley as a gunfighter who saves Kitty's life and then becomes romantically involved with her. This was the highest-rated episode in the series' 20-year history. They published an iconoclastic Civil War magazine called "The Kepi" for many years, specializing in new historical perspectives of the battles and leaders as well as presenting detailed articles on life in the 1860's. Their published works include a detailed account of the series starring Darren McGavin, "Riverboat: The Evolution of a Television Series, 1959-1961" and historical non-fiction texts including, "The Steamboat Era: A History of Fulton's Folly on American Rivers, 1807-1860," "Ballooning: A History, 1782-1900," "The Rise of the American Circus, 1716-1899," "Smallpox: A History," and a cardiology textbook, "The Complete Guide to Ambulatory Cardiac Monitoring and Full Disclosure Telemetry." Their book, "Cholera: A History" is due out later in 2013 and they are currently working on "Yellow Fever: A History," due out in 2014. Outside of writing and cardiology, their main interest is baseball; they are close friends with Whitey Herzog, the great Hall of Fame manager, who inspired them to move to St. Louis and they have rooted for the Pittsburgh Pirates for many years.

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