Friday, 29 August 2014

Kristi Ahlers: One Night in New Orleans

We're welcoming back Kristi Ahlers today with a new project.

We know and love Kristi for her Trouble Series and for her Clan Ross Series. Today she brings us something totally new -- One Night in New Orleans, book 4 in the City Nights Series from Tirgearr Publishing.

Kristi is no stranger to New Orleans. Anyone who knows her will tell you she'll high tail it to The Big Easy before she can think to pack a bag. To say she loves this city is an understatement, which is probably why it's shown up in, now, three of her stories. The previous two are in the Trouble series -- The Trouble with Voodoo and The Trouble with Cupcakes (which you should add to your collection if you collect stories set in New Orleans, or if you haven't collected all the Trouble stories yet ;-) )

One Night in New Orleans is part of the City Nights series from Tirgearr Publishing. City Nights is a unique erotic romance series 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.

So, what's it all about? Kaitlyn, or Kaity to her friends, is in the city with best friend Anya to attend an annual fundraising event, and in typical New Orleans fashion, it's a masquerade ball. Thierry is a city native who now lives away from home, but comes home regularly for down time. His friend has wrangled Thierry to help out in a bachelor auction during the annual ball. He reluctantly agrees, and only so thinking about all the pretty ladies who will be bidding on the bachelors, of which he is one. When he spots a mysterious woman in the crowd, he rigs the ball so that she'll win him as her prize. He plans on showing her an amazing night, but doesn't count on falling in love.

In typical Ahlers fashion, One Night in New Orleans will drop you headlong into this story. You'll not only get a taste of the city, but you'll quickly become endeared to both Kaity and Thierry as they work through sudden and unexpected emotions. Ahlers' voice makes this a quick read with witty dialogue and sensual narrative. This is one sexy read which, if I do say so myself, exceeds her previous writings. This is a great way to spend a couple hours reading. It's a great addition to a stellar series.

(BTW, Thierry is pronounced thee-air-ee) ;-)

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.

• • •

Dr. Kaitlyn Burrows and her best friend, Anya, have come to New Orleans to have a little vacation and to attend an annual fundraising masquerade party. Kaitlyn is there to have fun and donate some much needed funds. What she isn’t expecting is to meet Thierry Beaulieu. He’s about to take one night in New Orleans and make it a night to remember.

Thierry Beaulieu is a pilot and has come home to his native New Orleans for some much needed down time, and to support his best friend with the bachelor charity auction. When he meets a mystery woman at the ball and finds he wants to get to know the woman better, he fixes it so she wins the auction. He has one night to prove to Kaitlyn that there is such a thing as love at first sight, and there is nothing wrong with lust being the motivator. He’s going to make sure his Kaitlyn has a night she won’t forget.

Kaitlyn nibbled on the ragged hangnail of her ring finger—a horrid trait she had when she was stressed or nervous—and dubiously watched the tarot reader shuffle before she placed the tatty and bent cards on the black velvet tablecloth. Between her and the other colorful people making up Jackson Square, Kaitlyn felt really out of place.
The woman let her hand hover over the deck and closed her eyes, tipping her head back to the sunlight. Kaitlyn looked at Anya and raised her brow.

Anya smiled and put a finger to her lips in the international signal of be quiet. Kaitlyn countered with narrowed eyes, but turned her attention back to the woman. The tarot reader focused on the cards once again and appeared to know she was doing. Then again what did Kaitlyn know? Nothing, as far as this sort of thing went. But she did think the woman would appear more credible if she abandoned the clich├ęd stereotype and maybe tried to look like a normal person.
Then again normal was relative.

“Stop frowning, Kaity,” her best friend whispered. “She’s the best at this.”

Kaitlyn smiled painfully and cocked a brow. “Anya, trust me, I like surprises, and I don’t need to know the future. How do you know she’s the best?”

The woman looked up and focused on Kaitlyn. “Because I am.”

Oh, okay well why didn’t she just say so to begin with? Kaitlyn was aware their conversation in front of the woman was rude, but hello. Saying you’re the best doesn’t make it so. Then again, what was the standard? Was there one? Gah, this was getting complicated and the tarot wasn’t even spread yet!

The other thing Kaitlyn wouldn’t admit was she found her nerves on total edge. A panicky feeling rushed through her bloodstream. Did other customers feel the sort of anxiety before their future was read? And as to that, if life was all about choices, and you made choices based on the reading of a card, did that seriously alter your life path, and would it change her stars? It was that whole argument of path pre-ordained opposed to free choice.

Kaitlyn rubbed her temple where a headache was beginning to form, and suddenly the beignets and coffee weren’t settling as well as they had before. She hadn’t felt this anxious or sick when she was taking her final medical exam before she graduated.

“Ha, that’s what you think.” Her friend patted her on the arm. “You need a little excitement in your life.”

“And exactly how does having my tarot read going to provide that, huh?”

“Cut zee cards,” The woman across the table said as she indicated the deck in front of Kaitlyn. “Make a wish before you touch them.”

Kaitlyn sighed and closed her eyes and made her wish. I hope I have the most erotic night of my life with the man of my dreams tonight. Since she knew there was no way in heck that was going to happen, as the man was literally a dream, she felt a little bad about setting the woman up for failure. Kaitlyn didn’t believe in tarot, or gem readings. Chalking it up to just a bunch of tourist entertainment and nothing more, Kaitlyn sat back and watched as the woman dealt the cards.

• • •

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 -
Facebook -
Kristi's Blog -
Tirgearr Publishing -

Grab your copy of One Night in New Orleans at Tirgearr Publishing today for just $2.99.

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

Friday, 22 August 2014

Mary T Bradford: My Husband's Sin

A great big welcome to Mary T. Bradford. It's our pleasure to introduce another debut novelist and her work to Heart of Fiction readers.

Mary comes to us today from north County Cork in the south of Ireland where she lives with her family.

Notice I said debut novelist. Mary is previously published with a collection of short stories called A Baker's Dozen. She's also ventured into script writing, and some of her work has made it into magazines and newspapers. Today's release, My Husband's Sin, is Mary's first published novel.

Don't let the title confuse you. My Husband's Sin is not a mother's tale of husbandly misdoings. This story is told from the point of view from one of the daughters, Lacey. It's on her mother's death that family secrets are about to unfold, during which time, Lacey learns why her mother had always treated her differently than she did her other children.

My Husband's Sin is a deeply moving story of one woman's journey through her family's skeletal closet. It pulls at all the emotions from loss to acceptance, anger to forgiveness, and dubious past to a future worth looking forward to. Lacey is instantly likable and one can't help but follow her journey as she gets to the truths in her family. Mary's unique voice creates lasting imagery and makes this a quick read. This is a fabulous debut novel. I can't wait to see what's up Mary's sleeve next.

Before we get to that, Mary gave us a little of her time for a quick chat. Join us --

Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Mary, and thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to chat with us.

Tell us, please, as a mother of four and a hectic home life, how do you schedule in writing?
My writing routine is fairly disciplined which surprises me when I think about it! I write in the mornings in my local library where I meet up with my longest writing friend, Daniel Kaye. There, I catch up with emails and social media in general first and then get down to the writing side of things. I work on whatever project is on my priority list. I am lucky because the  staff in the library are wonderful people. They bring us tea and biscuits, and Dan and I chat about all and everything during the ‘break’. Some days there can be many ‘breaks’. I spend three hours, from 10a.m. until 1p.m. most morning’s, at the library, except for Mondays and Sundays when it is closed.
Tuesday is our catching up day for what we did at the weekends and plan the next few days ahead too. So once lunchtime arrives and my writing time is up, I head for home and then tackle the housework, go shopping, catch up with family, prepare dinner, visit relatives that might need to be taken out for groceries etc. Basically everything else in life that is not writing related.
But my day isn’t over yet, after dinner around six thirty, I will tackle some more writing and then finally go to bed to read. I like to hit bed early.
I recently bought a Kindle Paperwhite and I am embracing the world of e-books. My pile of to-read paperbacks sit on my bedside locker and like most writers, I dream about writing that bestseller too!
Sounds like the library is your place of employment. You've set up regular hours, go in five days a week (rain or shine, I'm sure), and you have a co-worker, and office help who bring you tea :-) . Sounds wonderful. You also mentioned writing from home what's that writing space like?
My writing space is filled with light. Like I mentioned earlier, I write in my local library. It is an old disused church so there are magnificent large windows. I work upstairs at one of the many tables provided. It is a place where I have made many friends and have become one of the regulars. I held my book launch, for my collection of short stories there and I also was involved in organising other anthology launches. The library opened in the evenings to accommodate it all.
Of course, I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go for those inspirational moments.
At home, I have created a space for myself in the piano room for my writing. It is a long counter top along one wall with shelving around it. I keep my writing materials there plus my craft materials. There are double glass doors that lead to my garden, so again I have lots of natural light. I can close the timber double doors that lead into the sitting room when I am in there and with no interruptions, have the ideal place to write.
Oh my goodness! When you said library, I envisioned a sterile, modern building. How wonderful that your community repurposed a local church! And your home office sounds lovely too. I love natural light. So, what do you enjoy when you are not writing?
I love being with my family, three of my four children are away from home, one in the England and another in Germany and the other in Galway City, the West of Ireland. So I like to visit them, and I am hoping my fourth child, when he decides to leave home, goes somewhere nice for me to visit, maybe in the USA, fingers crossed!
I enjoy crafting. My mother taught me to knit when I was four, so I am knitting and crocheting when I have spare time for family and friends. I love cross-stitching too.
Of course reading is on my list too. My home is filled with bookcases overflowing with books! I don’t really have a favourite author, I enjoy so many. In fact I’m very forgetful when it comes to author names and book titles and have been known to buy the same book twice, on one occasion, three times! I totally forget I have a copy at home, plus it doesn’t help that my daughters are avid readers too and often take my books to read without telling me. So I think I haven’t bought a copy of a certain book and go out and get another one. So really I’m not to blame, Lisa and Audrey are the culprits.
I walk also, I try to get out for a walk every day, nothing major just a couple of miles. As a heart patient it is important. So there you have it, all my interests and what I get up to.
You have me laughing here about your books and your daughters. I'm sure you're very happy that they're so into reading. I've done the same as you with rebuying books I've already bought or already read. I blame the publisher for recovering books every few years! I generally remember favorite authors but terribly good with titles sometimes. I'm more visual and can tell you if I've read a book by looking at the cover! See what I mean? "Oh, look. My favorite author has a new book. I haven't seen this cover before." :-)

I love that you're so into crafts. I've met many authors who love to knit/crochet/quilt/paint/etc as a way to keep the creativity going while giving themselves other creative challenges.

Thanks for sharing some of your precious time with us. It was fun learning a little more about you.

As always, there's a free book on offer today. All you need to do is comment with your email address to put your name into the draw for an ebook copy of this book. If you can't wait, just click on the link to grab your copy.

• • •

In the weeks following Lillian Taylor’s burial, her four loving adult children assemble for the reading of her will. For the grieving youngest sibling, Lacey, life is about to come crashing down as a deep secret is revealed. The fall-out affects every member and they struggle to regain the happy family unit they once shared. Each of the siblings, take the reader on a journey as they try to come to terms and learn to handle this huge revelation.

Lacey fled the Sherman and Jones Solicitors’ office in turmoil, only pausing to catch her breath before descending the cold solid steps. The appalling words kept ringing in her ears. How the bloody hell could a mother do this to her child? A bitch, that’s what she was. Lacey should have trusted her instinct all through the years.

The pleasant July day was lost on her. Without thinking further, she sought solace in the bar further down the street. In the dimly-lit pub she was the only woman.

Lacey Turner didn’t drink alcohol this early, but placed in front of her now was a double vodka with bitter lemon. Taking the glass in her trembling hand, she drank swiftly. The sour liquid made her shake her head. God, it was unpleasant. In one corner, two elderly men were sipping their stouts. Another up at the bar was reading the day’s paper.

The barman came over to where she sat and smiled. “A tough morning so far then?” He wiped down the glass-topped table and replaced some beer mats with fresh un-tattered ones.

Lacey didn’t reply. She couldn’t. The shock of this morning’s events was still gripping her tight. Christ, her life had been turned upside down in the stroke of a pen. Her hands still shook.

Looking the barman up and down, she acknowledged he was kind of cute. If times were different, she might even flirt with him; his tight black t-shirt groaned across his chest, but she didn’t have time to daydream. Reality had her gripped in its cold heartless hand.

“Can I have another?” Lacey called out to the bar attendant as he moved on to wiping down other tables. He nodded and went to the bar to get her fresh drink.

Her mind was swimming with horrible thoughts of her mother. Dear Lord, she mustn’t think like that any more. She was Lillian, not Mother. Where do you start to pick up the pieces of your life after something like that? Her mobile phone rang: it was Sally. Lacey snapped at it, turning it off in one quick touch. Bloody family. Her bloody family!

The fresh glass was placed in front of her. He seemed to linger for a moment, waiting for Lacey to make eye contact. She really did not want his company but he wasn’t going anywhere, judging by his stance before her. She looked up at him. Yep, definitely cute.

“You could try talking. This will only lead to a headache and misery.” The guy smiled encouragingly, but all she did was stare back at him, confusion and anger in her eyes. Throwing a twenty on the table, she stood up and paused.

“Maybe misery is what I deserve.”

Her taupe Guess handbag and caramel jacket hung on the chair. She shoved the bag onto her shoulder, took her jacket, and walked out. Kind, attractive barmen were not what she wanted. She desired space and freedom to take in and assimilate the horrible rotten words that she’d heard today. Who would believe it? Who would have thought when she’d wakened this morning at seven, that five hours later her life would have crashed down around her? With her mind troubled, she wandered without direction through the busy streets.

Lacey’s world had stopped, yet around her cars passed by beeping their irritation with the slow traffic, people pushed and chatted without a concern for the young woman in their midst. She strolled along, not fully noticing life around her. Those words, those poisonous words, kept swirling in her mind. The look of horror on her siblings’ faces would be etched on her memory forever. She couldn’t face them right now. What must they think of her?

“Watch it.” The woman grunted at Lacey.

“Sorry.” Lacey didn’t know what she was apologising for, but it startled her into realising she needed to get home. It would be safe there.

• • •

Mary T Bradford has been writing mainly short stories for a number of years now and has enjoyed success with her fiction in many magazines, newspapers and anthologies both in Ireland and abroad. It was because of this success, Mary took the plunge and self published her first collection titled, A Baker’s Dozen (2012) and is available in both print and e-book format from Amazon and other sites. She decided to tackle a novel when one of her stories kept getting longer and the word count continued to climb and so ended up with My Husbands Sin. She has also branched out into writing plays and has seen her work shortlisted and performed.

When taking a break from writing and reading Mary loves to crochet or cross-stitch, crafts in general interest her. Living in County Cork, Ireland, she is married and is a mother of four children. Having overcome open heart surgery in 2008, Mary made the decision to dedicate more time to her writing as her children were almost raised and were starting to spread their wings. Family is important to her and her writing often reflects the ups and downs of life that all families go through daily.

Connect with Mary through any of the links on this page and that is something else Mary enjoys, chatting with people!

Find Mary online --

Website -
Facebook -
Twitter -
Pinterest -
Tirgearr Publishing -

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

Or get your copy now at Tirgearr Publishing for just $3.99.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Noreen Wainwright: Treated as Murder

It's my pleasure to introduce Noreen Wainwright to Heart of Fiction. While not a debut author, Noreen is celebrating today with her first published novel.

An Irishwoman by birth, Noreen now calls Staffordshire, England home. She and her bestie, Margaret Priestly, have collected, baked, created, tested, and tasted a year in the English countryside, and recently compiled it into not only a fabulous blog, but also a book called, A Homespun Year.

Today, Noreen joins us to talk about her first novel, Treated as Murder.

Former nurse with the VAD, Voluntary Aid Detachment, Edith Horton is now home from the war. As a nurse assisting in the wartime effort, mostly in the field, Edith has seen her share of horrors. She had hoped when she returned home to settle down into a much calmer and tranquil life. Unmarried and without work, her brother, the local doctor, is kind enough to take her in until she can get on her feet. It's not long before her past catches up with her and inner demons threaten to destroy her. But when her brother is accused of murdering one of his patients, Edith must find out who the real murder is to keep her brother out of prison.

Treated as Murder is a wonderful cozy mystery. Edith's plight is palpable and we quickly become endeared to her from page one. Noreen's fabulous author voice pulls is into 1930s England, a time between World Wars but still showing scars from what has become know as The Great War. This was a time when men and woman alike returned home with emotional scars that were tough to heal. Noreen shows us this period of history with wonderful description, language, and characterization. Her storytelling ability is smooth which makes for quick reading. As a first novel, this story a wonderful introduction into what can only be a great career in fiction. A must read.

As always, there's a free book on offer today. All you need to do is comment with your email address to put your name into the draw for an ebook copy of Treated as Murder. If you can't wait, just click on the link to grab your copy.

• • •

Set in 1931, Edith Horton is a former VAD who finds herself not only struggling with her inner demons, but with the presence of evil in her village in the Yorkshire Dales. Her brother is suspected of murdering an elderly wealthy widow, and sins of the past have echoes in her life and the lives of those close to her.


The heat of the sun was intense, the village’s main street still and waiting. The absence of young men and the heavy burden on those remaining here had changed everything. That time before the war was a distant, innocent land, often dreamt about, but as out of reach as the silver-white clouds billowing in the intensely blue sky.

Hearts plummeted and breaths quickened at the sight of the post-boy. The surge of relief at seeing that he was going elsewhere was short-lived. It didn’t do to tempt fate. No one knew the hour the news might come to their own doorstep. The realisation that it may well come was sinking in. Even young people had ceased talking of excitement and adventure. Many hearts were questioning patriotism and honour, however fervently they upheld them in public.

It is all wrong, she thought, a servant bringing me such a thing as this on a silver plate. Because she knew, of course, in that few seconds of suspended time, before she opened it. Nothing would ever be the same again. And then she read the words, and did know. In an eerie echo of death, she really did feel as though she stepped aside from her body. She, with an almost cold detachment, witnessed herself walk across the hall and into her sitting-room.

No-one knew but her and then her husband. But soon, as is the way in these country places, everyone knew. The other woman heard it in the shop. The Sowerby sisters served here, and gossip rose and fell and whispered amongst the flour and loose biscuits, the mops, buckets, carbolic soap, tea and stamps. She held back the howl of anguish as she slipped out without her shopping, and lurched her way home.

The door shut tight behind her, in the empty house, she let herself slide to the floor. She doubled over, her knees drawn to her chest, her arms over eyes, and wailed at her loss.


There. She ticked the name off her list. The handwriting on the page was as devoid of any defining characteristics as she could make it. She had written the words in blunt, fat capitals. She re-read the letter, and smiled. Not perfect, but it would do. The main thing was the feeling she had now, satiated, warm and at peace. The trouble of course, was that the feeling would not last.

But she was keeping a tight check on herself. One letter a fortnight was the bargain she had made. With whom she wasn’t sure. Herself? God? She had read somewhere about anonymous letter writers who cut letters out of magazines and papers and glued them to the page. There were also others, apparently, who took journeys to all sorts of different places, so the postmarks would confuse. Yet, all that seemed too elaborate. It would be like cheating.

And, if she was discovered? It would, at least be fair and square. She took precautions, but nothing excessive. After all, this was never meant to be safe, was it? She had left the need for safety behind her, years ago. There was only one good thing that came from no longer caring, and that was the liberation of not needing to mind yourself all the time.

Finding things out had been heart-hammering at the beginning, now it had become second nature. She had turned herself into a trained observer. It was a truly fascinating occupation. Immersion in the lives of others had been the only medicine that finally managed to soothe her jangled nerves. Wielding the power of knowledge, had been a bit of payback for the bad hand she had been dealt.

• • •

Noreen is Irish and now lives in the Staffordshire Moorlands with her husband, a dairy farmer. She works part-time as a mentor at Staffordshire University and the rest of her time is spent writing. Many of her articles and short stories have been published and she has co-written a non-fiction book.

She loves crime fiction, particularly that of the “golden age” and that is what she wants to recreate with Edith Horton’s world.

Find Noreen online --

Facebook -
Blog -
Tiregearr Publishing -

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

Or get your copy now at Tirgearr Publishing for just $3.99.

Friday, 15 August 2014

SL Kotar and JE Gessler: Audition for a Legend

We always enjoy welcoming back the amazing writing duo that is S.L. Kotar and J.E. Gessler. We first met S.L. and J.E. back in January when they released their first novel, Pirate Treasure, book one in the Kasas Pirates Saga. Book two in that series, Strawberry Fields, was then published in July.

Before that though, in May, we saw the launch of their new series, The Hellhole Saga, with book one, First Draw.

Today we welcome a second book in the Hellhole Saga -- Audition for a Legend.

Let me just recap who S.L. and J.E. are --

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, S.L. and J.E. are slowly revealing some of these gems.

Which brings me back to Hellhole and Audition for a Legend.

Hellhole is the name of this Kansas town, and legend has it, other lawmen refer to it as the place where lawmen go to die! In fact, Hellhole's previous marshal, Jack Duvall, hadn't been marshal long when he was gunned down by a man seeking to make himself a reputation by killing one of the fastest guns in the states. Only Duvall didn't count on losing his own life as quickly as he had. Claw Kiley, hero of this series, has now taken up where his mentor left off.

Still struggling to earn the trust of Hellhole's townspeople, Claw has managed to gain a few friends. He'll be calling on them to help him through some tough times ahead, when a gang of mountain men from West Virginia come to Hellhole seeking revenge for a woman who had been brutally attacked back home. Claw must make it clear to these men that he's the law in this town and that when the ne'er-do-wells are captured, The Law, will see justice done, not a band of hot-headed vigilantes. Claw finds himself in a similar position as his mentor -- facing down the barrel of a gun. If he survives, he becomes a legend in Hellhole. If he doesn't, he's just one more body in a grave on Boot Hill.

What more can I say about S.L. Kotar and J.E. Gessler that I haven't said before? From book one, page one, word one, I have been impressed by the accurately detailed plots they write. Instant visuals come to mind on reading, catapulting readers right back to post-Civil War Kansas, and to a time when folks were trying to get their lives back to normal, and a time when the Old West was just coming to life.

Claw Kiley is a wholly believable character for his time, one who could have definitely leapt out of the TV screen. He's James Arness, James Garner, Dale Robertson, and the rest all rolled into one man. Claw takes no guff from any man. He lives by the book, protects with his badge, and keeps it within the law, even when he's bending it to capture the bad guy. Certainly perfect hero material, and a character readers will like from the get-go.

Audition for a Legend is the perfect title for this book too. After all, if he can survive the toughest outlaws who ever set foot in Hellhole, he'll be a legend. And his stories will be come classics, just as those which came before from legends like Zane Grey, Max Brand, and Louis L'Amour.

As always, there's a free book on offer today. All you need to do is comment with your email address to put your name into the draw for an ebook copy of Audition for a Legend. If you can't wait, just click on the link to grab your copy.

And on special offer from Tirgearr Publishing, S.L. and J.E.'s previous book, First Draw, is available through August for just 99c at Kindle!

• • •

The post-Civil War era in the American West was a troubled, turbulent time. With hatreds still seething, men often took it upon themselves to enforce their own brand of justice. When they did, it brought them in conflict with those few who attempted to apply a standardized set of rules and regulations to a rawboned civilization.

Convincing men who did not fall into the category of outlaws but who were, rather, self-appointed vigilantes to follow the law was not a simple task, yet that was what Marshal Claw Kiley faced when he confronted a gang of mountain men from West Virginia, out to punish renegades for dishonoring a woman. Not unsympathetic to their cause, yet well aware how easily vengeance turned to slaughter, Kiley was forced to risk his life in order to let the law judge and sentence the guilty.

To survive past the one-year life expectancy the Federal men in Topeka had given him, the marshal will need all the help of trusted friends. Not only did he face the task of keeping peace in the brutal environs of Hellhole, a town existing solely as a half-way point where buffalo hunters gathered to sell their hides to Back East buyers, but he also faced the threat of drifters, gunfighters, and outlaws, all eager to try their hand at bringing the new "Badge" down. If Kiley lived, he would become a legend; if they gunned him in the street, he would fill a grave on Boot Hill – next to those who had come before and failed.

“It’s hot enough to fry eggs in sand.”

She could hear him say it. Right down to the peculiar emphasis he put on the word, “fry.” It conjured up images of grease-darkened frying pans, sand blowing so hard it pried the eyelids open, eggs costing two dollars a dozen and not having a dime to her name.

Those were the good memories.

In truth, there was only one bad memory associated with that statement.

The man who originated it.

The man she had heard repeat it, time after time. One thousand times. Until she was so tired of hearing him utter such nonsense, she told him if he said it once more, she would leave him.

Which was a lie.

It was he who ended up leaving her.

For a grave on boot hill.

Lowercase “b,” small “h.”

Not a famous cemetery, not in a notorious cow town.

In a no-name graveyard, in a town that would not outlive the railroad tracks bypassing its borders.

If it had been for another woman, she would have forgiven him. If he had tottered away under the influence of too much red-eye whisky, she would have understood. If lightning had struck him, she might have accorded such as the Will of God.

If he had developed fever and withered away under its burning tortures, she would have nursed him to the last, without question. If he had been trampled on in a stampede, thrown from the back of a wild mustang, been crushed in a rock slide, she could have borne her grief with dignity.

If he had died of old age, she could have accepted his passing with grace.

Of all the ways to die on the frontier, only the last was improbable.

Which caused her to laugh. The first mirth she had expressed in years.



Her man had been a lawman. He had worn the Badge.

Uppercase "B."

For “justice,” he said.

The irony was, he meant it.


Justice of acquittal for men accused of crimes they did not commit. Justice of the rope for men who used guns without giving a damn who they shot, or why.

Justice for homesteaders driven off their land; justice for Wells Fargo, recovering cash boxes filled with other people’s gold.

Justice behind bars for swindlers, card sharks, brawlers and water witches.

The only one not accorded “justice” under his system of law and order, was his wife.

She was expected to understand.

Fairness was for others.

That was part of the deal he made for both of them when he pinned that “tin badge” on his chest.

“For better for worse.”

She could hear him say that, too. He had only said it once. It was enough to sear the sentiment into her breast.
Closer to her heart than his head lying on her bosom.

He stood tall that wedding day, a brave man sweating under the burden of the oath he was about to take. Comfort. Honor. To love and to cherish. He had nodded gravely at each word, pledging his troth with a stiff nod and a firm, resounding “I will.”

He swore to love, to have and to hold, to keep himself only onto her, “as long as ye both shall live.”

He was not generally a swearing man, but he took that oath, kissed her on the lips and paid the itinerant preacher ten dollars in gold for his trouble.

He said afterwards, it was the most expensive swearing he had ever done in his life.

She asked him once, what oath he had taken when he first put on the badge. He knew what she meant and did not answer her.

Their marriage had many silent days, many cold nights.

If his death had a purpose; if it had made a difference; if anyone had cared, the widow might have been left with a memory warm enough to sustain her one single night.

It did not seem too much to ask. One night. Eight hours.

She did not get five minutes.

Nor five seconds.

Where was the justice in that?

To be sure, there were the graveside testimonials, the two-paragraph obituary in the weekly, out-of-town newspaper, condolences from his superiors in Topeka. The governor had sent a hand-written letter, penned by an anonymous aide.

Nowhere was the word “justice” mentioned.

Which, in its own ironic way, was a form of justice.

Without meaning, without empathy.

No one could understand her loss. She was expected to grasp the meaning without being told. She was a woman of the world.

A world exactly ten feet deep and four feet wide.

There had been no money for a headstone. Someone from town carved his name on a wooden cross.

The gesture held no meaning for her.

He was dead. That was the only fact she understood.

• • •

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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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Tegon Maus: The Wishing Stone

It's always wonderful having Tegon Maus back on Heart of Fiction. And today he's here promoting the latest book in his series, The Eve Project -- The Wishing Stone.

In book one, Machines of the Little People, we met Ben Harris. Ben has a rare medical condition called Bio-Chemical Electrical Discharge, or  B.C.E.D. for short, which is a crippling condition that, in an unchecked state, can become lethal to anyone he touches. Not only that, when he goes around electronics, they go on the fritz. Not exactly a handy affliction to have when operating in a modern world.

When Ben's sister, Kate, passes away, her husband, Roger Keswick, is mysteriously absent from her funeral. Roger in an unparalleled genius and has become known as the Thomas Edison of our time. His work and Kate are Roger's only loves in this world, so it's highly irregular that he'd not show up for his wife's funeral.

It's not until three years later that Ben is pulled back in to Roger's life, only to find that he's moved on. His new wife may be called Jessica, but she's the spitting image of Ben's sister. Ben wonders if his former brother-in-law has a screw loose when Ben insists that there's a large factory under his house run by little people called the Katoy. The screw loosens a bit more when Jessica is found murdered . . . and Roger has disappeared again.

Great start to the series, right? Grab your seat and hold on.

In The Wishing Stone, we're back with Ben Harris. As children, he and Kate had found a river stone one day while camping. Ben says it looks more like a potato than anything else, but that Kate had loved it and became its guardian. To Kate, it became a magic stone, one which she cast numerous wishes upon. To Ben's surprise, more wishes than not came true. But over the years, things get forgotten and lost, as had the wishing stone. But then it suddenly reappears, and when Kate is diagnosed with cancer, a wish is made for her recovery. Kate died later that day.

Fast forward three years and Ben still struggles with his affliction, but Roger has been 'helping'.

Roger works for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (D.A.R.P.A.) and unbeknownst to Ben, has an agenda of his own. Roger's research has propelled Artificial Intelligence . . . memory transfer . . . in living machines to new, unprecedented heights. Ben's bio-electric production is key to the research's success, and Roger has known it for years.

Ben's problem begins to worsen; Roger fits him with inhibitors, making arrangements to take him to Maryland . . . to Warwick . . . a D.A.R.P.A. research facility. Once there, Ben learns his inhibitors are not what he thought at all, but are actually exasperating the problem. His power is growing exponentially. Roger is using him to complete the crowning achievement of his life's work . . . the creation of a robotic copy of his dead wife and Ben's sister, Kate!

The Wishing Stone is another wonderful inclusion in this series. Readers will be pulled back into Ben's story from page one, and will want to read this book in one sitting. Ben's rare affliction is a curious thing, and one can't help but be curious at the extent it controls Ben's life, and what he's willing to do for a cure. Roger seems to have all the answers, and we're drawn into his work with D.A.R.P.A., but we're also drawn into his own personal narcissism. Both characters are drawn so well that the situations in the story become wholly believable. And that's the benchmark of any great story, isn't it -- believability.

Tegon has set the bar high with this series and continues to clear it with each new story. He packs in action and adventure, science and technology, creationism and technological evolution, and even some love and romance. The Wishing Stone is an awesome story and I can't wait to read book three -- The Cordovian Effect! And next time I'm out walking, I'm going to look for my own Wishing Stone.

As always, there's a free book on offer today. All you need to do is comment with your email address to put your name into the draw for an ebook copy of The Wishing Stone. If you can't wait, just click on the link to grab your copy.

And on special offer from Tirgearr Publishing, Tegon's previous book, Machines of the Little People, is available through August for just 99c at Kindle!

• • •

During that last summer, as if in punishment for being happy, Kate was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The last time we used the wishing stone was at the hospital the morning she died.

On that day, all three of us made a silent wish, certain the others had wished the same. Kate died that afternoon and I never thought about it again.  It was the last time I believed in magic, in love or in the existence of God.

Then, after three miserable lonely years, the unthinkable, a second chance . . . Warwick.

A river stone smoothed with time and endless amounts of water, it was really nothing more than a regular rock. We found it on a camping trip to Deep Creek as kids. No more than four or five inches long and a dull tan with black freckles it looked more like a potato than anything else. Kate took it everywhere. She would close her eyes and stroke it three times before making a wish.

It started just before we returned home. She wished for the folks to stop and get us an ice cream for the ride home and they did.

The following week, she wished for a new notebook for school and the next day it appeared in her room. It didn't happen every time, but it did more often than not so it became our wishing stone. As we grew older it became the conduit between us. We would take turns holding it, vowing on our very lives to only speak the truth while it was in our possession, talking for hours before making our wish.

Kate was its guardian, swearing to use it only for good and only when the two of us were together. It became a regular ritual between us. We wished for things large and small, all with equal desire they would come true. Once a week, it gave each of us an opportunity to vent our frustrations and express our desire to make things right with the world.

Slowly, as I grew older, my interest began to wane. My wishes became more trivial and I had less and less time to share with her so I concentrated on making her wishes come true. It made me feel good to secretly fulfill her modest desires. The stone had changed from sharing secret dreams to open communication between us.

Eventually, we gained new obligations, leaving little time for the wishing stone. Kate went off to college and I dropped out. We saw each other at least once a month, until our parents died. She looked after me far more than I did her and the wishing stone became a thing of the past. From that moment to her last, we were joined at the hip.

Two years after our parents' death, on New Year’s Eve, it reappeared. I thought it had been lost long before and was surprised by its return. We spent the night talking, endlessly talking, and it made me feel like I was no longer lost in my grief, no longer alone.

At midnight we made our wish. Hers came true eight months later when she met Roger. I am still waiting, nursing a flicker of similar hope.

For the next twenty years, each year on New Year’s Eve, the wishing stone was passed from hand to hand, first to Kate, then Roger, then me.

During her last summer, as if a punishment for being happy, Kate was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The last time we used the stone was at the hospital the morning she died.

On that day, all three of us made a silent wish, certain the others had wished for the same. Kate died that afternoon and I never thought about the stone again. It was the last time I believed in magic, in love or the existence of God.

• • •

Married forty-three years to a woman he calls Dearheart, Tegon Maus lives a contented life in a small town of 8,200 in Southern California. By day, Tegon is a successful home remodeling contractor, but his passion is storytelling.

Tegon's progatonists are frequently wedged between a rock and a hard place, but manage to work things out through the story. Like most when pushed into a corner, it only brings out the best in his characters and become the unstoppable force of a reluctant hero. Tegon's signature style is creating characters who are driven and believable, and who strive to find happiness.

Tegon is the author of The Chronicles Of Tucker Littlefield series.

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The Wishing Stone
The Eve Project, book 2
Buy it here for just $3.99

Machines of the Little People
The Eve Project, book 1
Buy it here for just 99c through August!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Betsy J. Bennett: A Gargoyle's Vow

A big, big welcome back to Betsy J. Bennett.

Today, Betsy introduces readers to another wonderful story in the Dragon's Roost series -- A Gargoyle's Vow.

First, a little back story. Dragon's Roost is a B&B. Not just any B&B, but one with secrets! Run by Jan Pikorski, readers are about to meet a wonderful cast of characters, the heroes of which are totally hunky!

In the first book, A Dragon's Tea, we met Lori Lawrick, Jan's niece. Lori needs some time away and decides to visit her aunt and stay in her lovely B&B. There, she meets Byron, a man who lives between worlds as a dragon shifter.

Today we're introduced to Brenda and Milton.

Brenda has come to Au Sable to visit her aunt. She had spent some of her childhood at her aunt's B&B, and has vivid memories of monsters in the basement. They've haunted her for years and now she's back to put her fears to rest. If they're childhood nightmares, there's nothing to worry about, right?

Martin is a very old soul. He committed a grievous sin early in his life and was punished for it by being given the horrifying looks of a gargoyle.

Brenda needs Milton's help, but it will come at a cost for her -- marriage to Milton. But what happens when Milton is forced to honor a quest he's been put on and Brenda's life is on the line? Will his marriage vow become more important than regaining his life as he knew it?

As with any book Betsy writes, there are twists and turns throughout A Gargoyle's Vow. The vivid imagery drops readers right into the story from page one, and her characters are likable as soon as we meet them. And of course, the adventure Betsy takes us on through Au Sable and the many secrets to discover in Dragon's Roost B&B are incredible. This book is an excellent addition to the Dragon's Roost series. It's fast paced and an easy read. And we can't help falling for Milton. Another great story, Betsy!

As always, there's a free book on offer today. All you need to do is comment with your email address to put your name into the draw for an ebook copy of A Gargoyle's Vow. If you can't wait, just click on the link to grab your copy.

And on special offer from Tirgearr Publishing, Betsy's previous book, A Dragon's Tea, is available through August for just 99c at Kindle!

• • •

Brenda thought her Aunt’s Bed and Breakfast a house of horrors
As an eight-year-old child Brenda was bitten by a monster chained in the basement. Now 17 years later she returns to face her fears.

He looks like a monster
With claws at his hands and feet, broad wings, horns and a massive snout, Milton terrifies Brenda. Centuries ago, before the Earth was even formed, Milton committed the worst sin imaginable and as payment for this sin, he is forced to look like an evil gargoyle.

Now she needs his help
Milton offers to help Brenda’s infant nephew, but only if Brenda agrees to marry him. While she agonizes over her decision, Brenda learns that he is not evil as he appears. But she also realizes if she marries him, she will not be first in his life. He must complete his quest, even if it means sacrificing her.

How can her growing love survive under those conditions?

“I don’t know how you do it,” Sal DeLuca said.

“Me?” With a casual hike of her eyebrow Brenda Larwick pretended she had no idea what her partner was talking about. She knew him better than to give him the canned “Police officers work as a team,” liturgy, yet by the same token, she wasn’t about to provide him with the truth. Or rather, she would willingly offer up the truth, if she had any idea what that was.

She wasn’t a big fan of lying and her relationship with the man riding in the passenger seat had always been based on mutual respect and trust. Since she didn’t understand what was happening, she didn’t want to tell him what she suspected and thereby come across as some raving lunatic. Instead she said “We’re in this together.”

“Yes, darlin’ that’s true.” DeLuca had Southern Alabama roots, although he’d been cruising the streets of New York’s capital city for decades. He was hard, tough and coarse, and the drawl was selective. It only appeared when he knew it would rile her most. She looked over at him, her eyes hard for the moment, a biting retort sizzling on her tongue, but his eyes twinkled back at her, and instead of taking offense, she flipped back her head and laughed.

“You are so annoying. I don’t know why I put up with you.” At even intervals they passed under street lights, the illumination brightening the interior of the patrol car before shifting them back into shadow. “Are you sure you’re not ready to retire?”

There had been no sexual connotations to his ‘darlin’, but she loved him desperately, this grizzly old man over thirty years her senior. He was wise, street-educated and his reflexes were honed. He was everything she wanted in a partner.

He chewed a fresh piece of gum a bit, then met her gaze. “If I retire, who will watch your back?”

“Who indeed,” she whispered, and suppressed the shiver that crept down her back. With her gaze alert, Brenda scanned the dark alleys, the hidden recesses, the parked cars looking for anything suspicious, anything warranting further investigation. Although the area was quiet, she had learned her lessons the hard way: danger could erupt from anywhere.

They were on routine patrol, no destination, just driving, keeping the streets safe by showing off the black and white squad car. He looked out the window toward the street well on its way to becoming part of a neighborhood. “You’ve got the touch.”

Brenda wasn’t certain all police officers were as superstitious as Sal DeLuca, but “the touch” to him was the highest of compliments. It was a second sense, a knowing of when danger lurked.

Brenda would have argued, but how many major busts had her name on them as arresting officer? She was beyond lucky, she was phenomenal, and lately it looked like criminals from as far away as New Jersey were driving up to Albany, just so they could be arrested by one tawny haired cop and her disbelieving partner.

• • •

Betsy J. Bennett lives in Michigan with her husband, two adult daughters, three obnoxious cats and an English bulldog. She has five grandchildren. She collects dragons, creche's and Santas. She has always believed in Christmas and in Santa, and although she has yet to meet the real Santa, she has hope that with the publication of this book he'll seek her out. She is currently at work on her next novel.

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A Gargoyle's Vow
Dragon's Roost, book 2
Available here
A Dragon's Tea
Dragon's Roost, book 1
Available here
A Wizard's Spell
Dragon's Roost, book 3
Available here