Tag Archives: Romance Fiction

Blog Hopping About Bitter Root

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Hello! If you’re visiting, welcome to my blog. If you’re a regular subscriber/reader, so sorry I’ve been conspicuously absent. More about that later.

This is the NEXT BEST THING blog tour. It’s the chain letter of blog tours. I was tagged (invited) to participate by Sandra Brannan (http://www.sandrabrannan.com/blog
) who blogged last week about her NEXT BIG THING, i.e. book project. She was tagged by my buddies, the writing team who is Sparkle Abbey (www.sparkleabbey.com). I’ve invited several of my writing pals. So far, the only one game is Loralee Lillibridge (http://loraleelillibridge.blogspot.com). You will here from her one week from today, January 30. In her post, she’ll tag several more authors, and so it goes.

Now, for my NEXT BIG THING, this is why my blog has been so quiet for the past month and a half. I am deep into research for my next novel, an historical. If you’ve read my Angel Ridge Series, you’ll know that they are a series of small town, sweet romances set in the fictional town of Angel Ridge, Tennessee. I’m five books deep in a six book contract with that series. In short, I’ve been writing this series for the past thirteen or so years given the fact that they started as short stories, moved to novellas, morphed into novels, and went through several publishers before finding a very happy home at Bell Bridge Books (www.bellebooks.com), thanks to Deborah Smith! Long story short, I need a break and thought, hey, let’s write an historical featuring a circuit rider preacher!

What was I thinking????

Sounds good on paper. Execution of same is another thing entirely. It comes out in October 2013. You’ll be the judge of whether I pulled it off or not!

So here’s a bit about it.

1: What is the working title of your book(s)?

My working title is Bitter Root.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

My great-grandfather was a circuit rider for the Methodist Church in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. He was my father’s grandfather and died the year my father was born, in 1933. My dad also was a pastor. I’ve always been fascinated with my great-grandfather, Rev. James Wiley Grace, who traveled Southwest Virginia and Upper East Tennessee on his horse, Blackie, spreading the gospel. So, I thought this would be an opportunity to explore my Grace roots.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Historical Romance

 

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

 

This is a hard question for me. We don’t have good westerns anymore! I see the circuit rider in my story as man with secrets from his past that he wants to remain in his past. I just love characters who aren’t quite who they appear to be on the surface. He has light brown, golden hair and whiskey colored eyes. He’s badass, which doesn’t quite fit with the image of a preacher, but circuit riders had to be tough as they traveled in all kinds of conditions, often had to sleep outdoors, and were frequently attacked during their travels. Maybe Ryan Gosling. Who would you cast?

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After the Civil War ravages East Tennessee, an itinerate preacher travels the countryside doing what he can to unify this divided community and run from his past.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

This book will be published by Bell Bridge Books.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Ha! Still working on that 🙂

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

How about television series? I would say Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and the incomparable Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

 

My great-grandfather.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The book is set in East Tennessee right after the end of the Civil War, 1866ish. Reconstruction was an unsettled time in the South, but East Tennessee fared better than much of the South. 3 out of 4 people in this area were Loyalists who supported the Union. So, when the Union occupied East Tennessee the last two years of the war, things were not so bad for these folks who didn’t do quite as well when the Confederacy controlled the area. Still, the burden of supporting occupying troops was difficult with supplies limited and most men off fighting for one side or the other. After the war, those who survived came home. The confederates didn’t have a warm welcome, but the tone of East Tennessee, for the most part, was to forgive and get on with the rebuilding of the community together. Still, some southern supporters never returned. In their place were investors from the North hoping to invest in a New South.

Featured characters include a raven-haired beauty who was the Captain of the Blount County Ladies Home Guard. A former Union Soldier stationed in Knoxville who is relocating to Maryville as an officer of the government and peacekeeper. He’s also taken with the aforementioned spunky and outspoken lady. There’s another character, a woman who’s relocated to the area from Kentucky. Having lost her entire family in the war, she’s come to Maryville after the war to live with her uncle, a country doctor, and she’s considering converting her mother’s former mansion into a school.

 

I hope this has peaked your interest. Visit my blog again to follow my progress on this project, and please visit my website, http://www.deborahgracestaley.com. You can follow me on Facebook. My Twitter handle is @debgstaley.

Tag, Loralee. You’re it!

 

–Deborah

Why Baby Why

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Why Baby Why

 

I don’t know about you, but I get hung up in the why loop. I think this peculiarity is what made me a writer. I always wonder why. Why things are the way they are. Why people are the way they are. Especially why people are the way they are. Why do some people like being around other people, and why are others more introverted and struggle in crowds. Why do some people love the holidays while others don’t? Why do some people like to cook and others prefer to not. Some people have tons of motivation; others don’t. Why?

But here’s where I can really get hung up. Why do I feel like I do? Why do I think the way I do. Why can’t I get excited about that holiday gathering? Why do I have days or weeks where there’s much that I am thankful for and excited about followed by days or weeks where I struggle to get excited about anything. The things I enjoyed last week don’t interest me now. Highs and lows. I think highs/excitement suck my energy and the lows naturally follow. It’s ebb and flow, right? Don’t get me wrong; they’re not debilitating lows. It’s just a kind of ambivalence for everything. But it passes. When the lows don’t pass, I know I’m in trouble.

I watch other people when I’m ambivalent. I’m interested in people who are upbeat all the time. These are my favorite people. They fascinate me. They are the perky cheerleader types. They are encouragers. They decide they’re going to have a positive outlook no matter what. But I think all that energy they put into being positive affects their productivity, because they don’t seem to get much done. But I do appreciate the encouragement they spread. Some of us really need it!

And then there are the driven people. I used to be driven. I was determined that I could achieve my goals. I set some high ones. I wanted a college education. Check. Then I wanted a masters degree. Check. I wanted a career. Check. I’ve had several. I wanted to be a published author. People used to ask me, do you really think you can be published? Honestly, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be published. So add another check. And boy, has this led me down a rabbit hole where I have absolutely no control over many, many aspects of this beast called publishing.

For example, I can write a really great book. And that’s pretty much it. The rest is not up to me. I can’t make a publisher want to publish it. I can’t make them want to market my books. I can’t control whether people will buy the book. I can’t control whether they’ll like the book if they read it. And Oh Mercy, when there is a promotion going on, like this month where two of my titles are 1.99 on Amazon, I can make myself nuts watching the numbers. While I’m so grateful that the publisher is doing a promo for me, it makes me crazy. I can’t NOT look at the numbers and wonder. Why is my book doing just okay while others are doing great? What ramifications will an average promo have for me? Why can’t I just be grateful that people are buying my books? I am grateful people are buying the books, but there’s so much other stuff going on in my head that sometimes the grateful gets crowded out.

So, yeah. I used to be driven until I realized that I’m no longer driving. Nope, I’m just along for the ride, wondering where I’ll wind up. Is there going to be a spectacular crash or is there a sweet little luxury car that will take me into the future? I, of course, am hoping for the latter!

Which brings me back to why people are the way they are. Clearly, I overthink things. And often my thinking is wrong. That, they tell me, is part of depression. So, I try to recognize it. I even do that self-talk thing where I say to myself, “Stop thinking that way. Think another way.” Usually it helps.

Mostly I wonder, why baby why?

 

Debbie

Help Feed My Insanity, Buy a Book

A Home for Christmas and What the Heart Wants

Both Still 1.99

BUY NOW

Unforgettable, The Next Angel Ridge Novel, Excerpt No. 4

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Amazon Link

Unforgettable 

The Fifth Angel Ridge Novel

Available from http://www.bellebooks.com

October 2012

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NOW AVAILABLE IN TRADE PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

Excerpt No. 4

            Frannie ripped her glasses off her face, breaking them and shattering the memory. She tossed the pieces at the angel monument.

“There’s a fine for littering around here.”

Frannie glanced up to find Patrick Houston staring down at her. She sighed. If she’d thought he’d follow her, she would have avoided Town Square. Really must remember she lived in a small town now.

He glanced at the empty space on the park bench and said, “May I?”             Wanting to look anywhere but at him, she stared up at the statue of the warrior angel. “It’s not advisable.”

“I’ll take my chances,” he said and sat.

“You were warned.”

“I must say, it’s not everyday a beautiful woman storms out of my office. I admit it was rude of me to be late to our appointment. I should have apologized.”

“But you didn’t, and still aren’t.” And he had so much to apologize for, yet he continued to act like he didn’t know her. Like he didn’t remember. Maybe he didn’t. God, she was so naïve when it came to men. He probably had picked up so many women in bars that he couldn’t keep them all straight. Still, confusion had not been a problem the morning after in the diner. He’d looked guilty as sin and like he had the devil of a hangover.

“Help me out here.”

“Let’s drop the games, shall we? If you think I’m going to be humiliated in the retelling of what happened, I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you.”

He leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees, palms up. “I’m at a complete loss. Have we met before?”

She turned away and laughed. What an ass.

“Ms. Thompson . . . Frannie, I apologize. It’s not my intent to upset or humiliate you in any way. I respected and admired your sister a great deal. I do

understand how difficult it is to lose someone close to you.”

Frannie wondered how long it would take before people stopped bringing up “her loss” in that sympathetic manner that made her want to scream. No one knew how she felt. No one.

She leaned in as she spoke. “You’ll have to excuse me if I’m having a bit of trouble here reconciling your two personas, the upstanding mayor and the drunk. The drunk disgraced himself that night in the bar and took me unwittingly along for the ride.” She spoke softly, “Clearly, I was just one of many.”

He frowned. “Bar?” He tilted his head, his gaze sweeping her face, her hair, his pale eyes bore into hers. “I’m sorry to say that I used to drink heavily. There are periods, gaps of time, I don’t remember.” He looked away, but not before she saw the familiar pain flooding his expressive eyes.

He didn’t speak for several moments. Didn’t look at her. “I’m wracking my brain here. I used to go to a place outside of town to drink. Did I run into you there? I must have,” he said to himself without waiting for her to respond.

Frannie crossed her arms and drummed her fingers against her forearm. She should leave. Just get up and walk away, but for reasons she refused to analyze at the moment, she didn’t.

“Oh, God,” he murmured. “Did I . . . I didn’t—” He raked a hand through his hair, and the memory of her hands doing the same rocked her. It was lightly

streaked with gray now. Maybe it had been there before, but she hadn’t noticed it in the dimly lit bar.

He sighed, looked around, then leaned toward her. The scent of his cologne brought back more memories. It had clung to her skin that night, after.

“Jesus, did I—did we . . .”

She felt her face flush and placed a hand against her neck.

He glanced back at her, then away again. “Oh . . . the night of the blizzard.

You were the woman at Jimmy’s.”

“Yes,” she confirmed. So he remembered after all. Well, at least he’d

admitted it. “I thought I’d never see you again.”

“But you did, the next day at the diner, and then there was my sister’s

funeral. So, technically, you’ve seen me twice.”

“Right,” he agreed. “But Jenny’s been gone six years now. You see, I

remember because that’s about the same time I found out my wife was seriously ill. I’m afraid I didn’t handle getting the prognosis well.”

“The relative point is that you were married, something you didn’t bother to share with me, and I couldn’t have known since I’m not from Angel Ridge.” No way was she letting him off the hook for what he’d done. The fact that

he was drunk because his wife was sick did not excuse his behavior. “Look, this is not the place to be discussing this. Anyone could walk by and overhear or see us. What if someone tells your wife?” she whispered. “What if she sees us?”

She gathered her purse and briefcase and would have stood, but his hand on her arm stopped her.

“Frannie, my wife—” He cleared his throat. “She’s gone.”

Frannie couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. Then, she said, automatically, “I’m sorry.”

He turned to face her. “So am I.” Then he surprised her by squeezing her

hand. That look. That tortured look, mingled with a longing for all he’d lost and regret for mistakes that couldn’t be undone, inexplicably made her heart constrict.

Another moment of silent communication passed between them before he stood and walked away.

© 2012 Deborah Grace Staley

Excerpt No. 3, Unforgettable, The Next Angel Ridge Novel

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Unforgettable

The Fifth Angel Ridge Novel

Available from http://www.bellebooks.com

October 2012

The files have been uploaded! Be looking for it on Amazon as a Download. It should show up any day!

Excerpt No. 3

As she stepped out of the courthouse into the bright morning sunshine, Frannie slid oversized dark glasses onto her nose. She walked briskly across Town Square to a park bench near the tall, bronze angel monument standing sentinel on a brick pedestal. She sat, dropping her purse and briefcase onto the damp grass.

Anger roiled up inside her, teasing the edges of a full-on anxiety attack. She took a deep breath, in through her nose, out through her mouth on a slow eight count—just like the therapist had taught her. She gave up after losing track of how many times she’d repeated the technique. Her anger still simmered, but the panic had subsided.

She’d been in and out of town now for months and hadn’t once run into the man from the bar that night. It had been a full-on blizzard and just after her sister had gone underground. They must have been the only two people crazy enough to venture out in the weather, because it had just been the two of them there. He’d been drunk, and she’d been three whiskeys on the way there. His kiss, like the liquor, was a distraction from the pain of losing her sister. But in the sobering, bright light of the next day, she’d run into him at the town diner. Not only had she learned that he was married, but also that his wife had just been diagnosed with cancer.

She closed her eyes. Big mistake. The memory was there, raw and vivid, as if it had just happened. That night Frannie had to swipe at the tears as she drove the icy roads. Visibility had been bad enough without her blubbering. Staying at Jenny’s house, instead of feeling comforted, she’d felt closed in by her things, claustrophobic. She’d missed Jenny so much, and Frannie just wanted her sister back. How could Frannie go through life knowing Jenny was out there somewhere all alone?

Ahead, a sign glowed in the darkness through the snow. Frannie slowed and pulled over. Jimmy’s Bar. Perfect. She could use a drink. In fact, getting smashed held great appeal at the moment. Anything to not feel for a while.

The windowless metal door swung inward. The interior was dark and sparsely populated, which suited her fine. She sat at the bar.

A thin man with a face that said it had seen more than he’d care to recount asked, “What’ll you have?”

“Jack and Coke.”

The man turned away to get her drink. Frannie put her purse on the bar, and the folder the lawyer had given her slid out. The words “Last Will and Testament of Violet Jennings Thompson” glared at her. What a lie she was living. When the man had heard she was in town, he’d hiked through the snow to Jenny’s house to bring it to her, instructing her on the probate process she wouldn’t be able to begin. Another thing she’d have to discuss with the sheriff when the weather cleared. How was she supposed to deal with all this when she was still grieving for her sister?

She shoved the file back into her bag and shrugged out of her coat. Before she could unwind the long, green scarf her sister had gotten Frannie for her birthday, the last birthday they’d ever spend together, the man returned with her drink then went back to watching the basketball game on the television that sat in the corner of the long, narrow room. No conversation. That suited her, too.

She tossed the dark straw on the wooden bar and disposed of half the beverage in one long swallow. A man sitting four chairs down from her watched. She didn’t much care; let him look. The initial burn of the whiskey spread a delicious warmth through her chest and lower. She downed the rest, and her fingertips started to tingle. She set the heavy tumbler down with a satisfying thud.

“Another.” Screw the niceties. Her sister had been taken from her. There was no room for nice in her world.

The man took the glass and made her another drink.

The other lone customer was still looking at her, so she looked back intending to say, “What?” but when she met his gaze, she stopped short. From the glassy look in his clear gray eyes, she’d say he’d had a few himself. He lifted his glass, took a drink, and hunkered down, forearms on the bar, his focus returned to the liquid in his glass.

At some point during the silent exchange, the bartender had brought her drink—minus the straw—and disappeared. He’d also left a bowl of pretzels. Her gaze swung back to the man with the empty eyes, but he’d obviously forgotten about her and returned to his own personal hell. She wondered what was going on at home that prevented him from getting drunk there. Maybe he was from out of town like her. She chuckled and took another drink. She couldn’t imagine why anyone would be traveling the back roads of East Tennessee in a blizzard.

He shifted his gaze to hers.

She looked back. He was good looking, in a disheveled, dark-whiskered, shaggy-hair-that-needed-a-trim sort of way. It fell in waves around his face. He shoved a hand into the mass and pushed it back toward his crown, then stood, stumbled and found his balance before moving her way. She turned away and took another long draw on her drink, not sure she wanted company, but nevertheless intrigued by the dark stranger whose high-end, designer clothing said he didn’t fit in a dive like this. She chuckled again. She supposed she didn’t fit either, but the selection of bars in the heart of the Bible belt was not wide or varied.

He sat next to her without asking her permission. His empty glass had been abandoned at his previous spot at the bar. The bartender set another in front of him without asking, making Frannie reassess. The guy must be a regular.

He swallowed half his drink, set the tumbler down and said, “What brings you to a place like this in a snowstorm?”

Frannie took a drink as well. Her whole body was warm now. “I could ask you the same question.”

“If you were from around here, you’d know.” He had another sip of his drink and turned back to her. He took his time looking at her. “You don’t belong here.”

Emboldened by the whiskey, she looked her fill of him as well. The warmth radiating to the rest of her body from her midsection shifted lower. “Where do I belong?”

They were sitting close, too close, but she noted the fact too late.

“Is this a guessing game, then?”

“I don’t play games.”

“Everybody plays. Not everyone wins.” He swallowed the rest of his drink. “What’s your name?”

She considered for a moment, then said, “Frannie.”

“I’m Patrick.”

He held out his hand and she stared at it, then twenty-seven years of

breeding kicked in, and she offered hers. His fingers were warm and well-shaped. This wasn’t a man who worked with his hands. He was a professional of some sort. Maybe he was a lawyer, too. He had that air about him, like he’d stripped off a jacket and tie and left them in an expensive car before coming into the bar.

“You have nice hands,” he said, still holding hers. He brushed his thumb across the ring she wore. Her college ring. She didn’t miss his glance at her other hand to see if she wore a diamond or wedding band. “What brings you here, Frannie?” he asked, his thumb now moving back and forth across her knuckles.

Her hand felt good in his; human contact felt good after so much loss and emptiness, so she traced the lines of his palm with her fingertips. “I needed a drink.”

He chuckled. “I think you had two, not that I’m counting.”

She smiled. “And I’m still not drunk, so I think I need another.”

He lifted his chin, looking at the bartender, taking care of her request. She

brought the drink to her lips and downed it in one swallow. She resisted the urge to cough and ruin the effect.

“Impressive,” he noted with a raised eyebrow. “Better?”

She smiled, but her hair fell like a curtain, separating them. He pushed it

back, leaving her face and neck exposed and vulnerable. He leaned in, his bourbon-laced breath warm on her cheek, his dark stubble not unpleasantly rough against her cheek. He sighed and nudged her ear with his nose; his warm lips caressed the lobe.

She should move away, but the whiskey and the sadness pressing on her soul interfered with her ability to act like the proper young lady her mother had raised her to be.

“Tell me to stop,” he whispered, but pressed another kiss to the vulnerable spot behind her ear. He put his arm along the bar in front of her and slid the back of his fingers along her jaw until their gazes locked again.

Raw pain had flowed between them. They’d both wanted to feel something else—needed to feel anything else. So she’d leaned in and tasted his lips.

© 2012 Deborah Grace Staley