Horror Short Story: Unmarked Graves

Check out my “other” blog, OlDogandMe.com for new short story series, The Lost Highway – beginning with a free read, “Unmarked Graves”. As you may (or may not) know, I’ve embraced LostHighwayCoverthe nomadic life. Hubby, dog, cat and me are wandering full time in an RV. I research local history and lore along the way, converting those tidbits into short stories that will eventually find their way to a novel length anthology. In the meantime, I’ll post a few shorties on my travel blog along with posts about our travels.

I’m still working on my other novels: Book 2 in the Daisy Red-Tail Novel series, a thiller – Dark Mountain, and by request – Book 3 in the Clans of Tagus paranormal fantasy series. Until then, enjoy this short tale about “Unmarked Graves”.

http://oldogandme.com/the-lost-highway-tales/unmarked-graves/

 

Dead Men Don’t Talk – 5 star Review at Reading Alley

Every author anxiously waits for readers to weigh in on their novels. Even though many books are read in a matter of hours or days, the writer may have spent months…even years…penning those pages. It’s no secret most creative souls are neurotic.and self-doubting. We want, NEED DeadMenFinalvalidation that someone found it worthwhile.

I received mine from a gracious reader at Reading Alley….FIVE STARS! Thank you for making my day!

https://www.readingalley.com/book/view_review/2d3d4753/1/da3245a3/

Available at AMAZON

Turn On The Air – It’s About To Get HOT! DEACON by Cheryl Douglas

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Deacon Banner 851 x 315

Deacon

Starkis Family – BOOK 1

Cheryl Douglas

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Date of Publication: June 15th, 2015

Number of pages: 158

Word Count: 74k

Cover Artist: Fantasia Frog Designs

Deacon Teaser 6Book Description:

When Deacon Sarkis sets his sights on the gorgeous young model gracing the pages of his glossy catalogue, he knows he has to have her. One problem. She’s not available. But that won’t stop Deacon. He’s a man used to getting what he wants and he wants Mia.

Mia is stunned when she receives an email from the elusive billionaire who owns the lingerie company she models for. He tells her he’s intrigued. He’s not the only one. But she knows she’d be a fool to throw away an eight year relationship for a brief affair with the head honcho. He doesn’t do relationships and she doesn’t do casual sex. It seems they’re at an impasse.

Who will come out on top in this battle of wills? The dominant one or the woman intent on teaching him the meaning of submission?

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/QxVASAZvtqQ

Deacon coverEXCERPT:

I barged into Deacon’s office at eight o’clock that evening. Since his silver Lamborghiniwas one of the few cars left in the parking lot, I wasn’t too concerned about interrupting a meeting. He looked up from his computer when I stormed in, and a smile quickly replaced his scowl.

“They let you in without clearance?”

I plopped down in the seat across from him, trying not to notice how tempting he looked with his sleeves rolled up and no tie on. “The receptionist who usually guards your castle left for the day, and the security guard at the front desk has a crush on me, so he didn’t ask any questions.”

He frowned. “Which security guard is that?”

I spotted a stress ball on the corner of his desk. I doubted he used it; it looked like a promo item Alabaster’s gave away. I whipped it at his chest. “You’re not serious.”

He laughed, catching the ball before it hit him. “You have a pretty good arm.”

“Shut up, Deacon!” The nagging voice in the back of my head reminded me I was talking to my boss, but I told her to mind her own goddamn business and go back to sleep. “I’m pissed at you.”

He leaned back, kicking his feet up on the desk as he tossed the ball from one hand to the other and squeezed it. “Do tell.”

“You told Eleni about us.”

“So?”

“So you had no right to do that!” He seemed totally unfazed by my anger, which only incensed me further. “She’s my friend. I should have been the one to tell her, when—or if—I decided there was anything worth telling her.” That got his attention.

When he pinned me with that hot gaze, I feared he would demand I bend over the desk and take my punishment like a brave girl.

“I asked you not to tell anyone, including Eleni. You didn’t, and I appreciate that. Now that you’re single, I’ve decided it’s time your best friend know about our… relationship.”

The way he said relationship made me feel as though he had been seeking a different word but come up short. Arrangement, perhaps? Was that what this was to him?

Not willing to let him have the last word, I said, “We’re not in a relationship. We’re still getting to know each other. If I like what I see, I might agree to date you, though not exclusively. I’ve been tied down too long to get serious again so soon.” I swallowed, averting my eyes when the thin skin across his knuckles turned white from the pressure he was inflicting on the ball.

“Let me get this straight. You might agree to date me—though not exclusively?”

I was almost afraid to push him further, but if I backed down, that would set a precedent for all future arguments. “That’s right. If you have a problem with that, we can part ways now and—”

He planted his feet on the floor and made his way around the desk slowly, like a panther preparing to devour its prey. He gripped the armrests of my chair, his face a fraction of an inch from mine. I held my breath—waiting, praying, and trying to predict what he might do next. Pushing him had been a very bad idea.

“You really think that’s an option?” he whispered.

cherylAbout the Author:

When one door closes, another one opens. I closed the door to my business for the last time in 2011, which left me with a decision. What now? Find another location and move my nutrition business, go to work for someone else, or take a chance on my dream? I chose the latter and I’ve never looked back!

I’ve always loved reading and writing, but it wasn’t until I jumped in with both feet and decided writing would be my career, instead of just a hobby, that my muse woke up from her deep slumber.

It was like someone flipped a switch inside my head and stories just came pouring out. At the end of the day, I would often look at the keyboard and wonder, ‘Who the heck wrote that? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me!’

I don’t write books. I tell stories, or rather, I allow my characters to tell their stories through me. I’m not a plotter, never have been, never will be. Why? Because I have no idea how the story will evolve and it’s not my place to manipulate it. My job is to get to know these characters, figure out what makes them tick, then follow their journey wherever it takes me.

When I’m not writing, I’m daydreaming. Thankfully, I have an understanding husband and son who know I’ll re-join the land of the living just as soon as my muse decides it’s quitting time. I don’t work for myself. I work for her. She’s the boss. And I’m okay with that.

Website: http://cheryldouglasbooks.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cheryldouglasbooks

Twitter – https://twitter.com/CherylDouglasNN

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5761770.Cheryl_Douglas

Release Day: Amber Prelude by Kevin B. Henry

amber preludeAmber Prelude

Amber Gifts

Prequel

Kevin B. Henry

Genre: Fantasy, Time Travel, Science Fiction, and History

Publisher: Burst/ Champagne Books

Date of Publication: June 01, 2015

Word Count: 20,000

Formats available: eBook, PDF

Cover Artist: Ellie Smith

Book Description:

Mitchell didn’t really believe the story the Man told him, Just take a sip and speak a year. He whimsically chose a historic event to witness. Little did he know he would become part of that history. Faster than you can say Teithwyr Amser our man Mitchell is chasing a bona fide assassin not only across America but across time.

Amber Prelude will require Mitchell to travel from the America he knows to France and Africa. He will travel to decades and centuries he is unfamiliar with. Mitchell will chase authentic villains and make historic friends, all in an attempt to set history back the way he remembers.

Amber Prelude RDB Banner 851 x 315

Excerpt Chapter One 

1963: New Mexico

It had started simply. I uncapped the vial, drank the liquid, and spoke the year I had chosen aloud. The room spun. I dissolved.

I anticipated nothing happening. I began by sitting at the old wooden table feeling numb. My expectations extended to looking for shelter the following morning. Maybe I would move under a bridge for a short time; maybe I would do something much worse to myself.

I’d experienced severely morbid thoughts for months. Moving often transformed me.  A nightmarish combination of a manic and depressed person was all I had been until the vial. It continued for months, and I expected it to continue forever. What I didn’t expect was a twisting feeling in my chest and lower abdomen. It wasn’t painful, just an unusual feeling. I didn’t expect the room to blur. I blinked several times, but it wasn’t my eyes; the room was blurry. Soon the room ceased to exist.

I had not spent long hours considering the year I would move to. I flippantly selected 1963. It would give me almost ten years before my birth moment and I vanished from the universe forever. The Man was specific about not existing past my birth moment. It would give me a chance to see some of the most tumultuous years in America, civil rights marches, hippies, the moon landing. My choice of year would give me a chance to stand at Dealey Plaza and personally see if there was a second shooter. It was a shallow choice, but it was the best I could come up with.

My first thought as the world congealed around me was that I had said something wrong. Had I said 1863? It was night. The stars above me were crisp and clear. Sagebrush surrounded me in all directions. Gone were the smells of the city. My senses absorbed a clean, fresh smell. This was how I remembered the world use to be. A scrub oak blended with the evening shadows just a few feet to my right. To my left was a light in the distance, a campfire. The flames created dancing shadows on the two trees surrounding the fire. Someone sat next to the fire, stirring the flames, sparks rising into the starry sky.

I walked toward the fire. I didn’t see that I had any choice; every other direction was pitch-black. Halfway there he rose from his place at the fire and raised his left hand above his head.

He sparkled. It wasn’t anything residual from the fire. His whole body twinkled and sparkled. It was disturbing.

“About time, Mitchell,” he yelled. “I’ve been waiting here for damn near three days.” “Come on in. I’m sure you have questions, son.”

I got over my initial anxiety of the twinkle man and sat on the far side of the fire. We had been sitting before the fire for fewer than five minutes. I was dazed, confused, and overwhelmed. Less than an hour ago, I was sitting in a dingy, two-bit hotel room.

Now, here I was, in some large expanse of desert in the company of someone who looked like Ray Teal, that quintessential sheriff on so many TV westerns and movies. He wore standard blue jeans, a simple button-front dress shirt, and a light-gray jacket. This twinkle man had a slouch hat, not exactly cowboy, but not a fedora either. He was half a foot shorter than me, stockier, and a minimum of twenty-five-years older, if I had to guess his age. There was salt and pepper stubble covering his face. His voice was deeper than mine, but not so deep that I envied it.

“Okay,” I began. “Where am I?”

“New Mexico,” he answered without hesitation. “You’re about three miles east of Tucumcari.”

I considered that answer. “When am I?”

“It’s November, 1963.”

“What’s the date, the day?” It concerned me I might miss my reason for picking this year.

“It’s the sixth.” A wave of relief swept over me. I wasn’t too late.

His answers were rapid-fire, no pauses or measurable moments that I would have considered creative thinking. He was either telling the truth or extremely well prepared for my random questions. I tried to think of the relevant questions I should ask. The standard ones, who, what, when, where, seemed a good place to start.

“How did I get here?”

“Well now, that’s an obvious answer to a poorly considered, ill-thought out question.” He shook his head. “You took a drink from that vial you have tucked away in your jacket pocket.”

A sudden gust of wind caused me to wrap my windbreaker tighter around my body. Maybe it wasn’t the night air. I was a little hurt. It wasn’t an attempt at sounding stupid; just understand what had happened to me.

“How did you know I was coming?” Maybe that question would seem less inept.

“Now that’s complicated.” He answered this question more slowly. He was thinking more and not just responding. “My name is Gil, Gil Seward. I got a letter just a few days ago. It asked me to come here and see if you’d appear. The letter said to just wait here a while and see if you drank from the vial or not. If you did, I’m supposed to help you out a little. Get you started and send you on your way.”

“Asked by whom? That guy who gave me the vial?”

“Yeah” was his only response. I hate one-word answers.

“Who was he? Why did he give me this vial?”

“He was someone I owed a favor. I haven’t seen him for a long time. He isn’t someone you need to know. Forget him. I don’t know why he decided to give you his vial. He just did.”

He paused for a while, stirring the fire with his stick, a small branch from one of the nearby trees.

“One last question for now,” he said. “Make it a good one.”

“Okay, Gil,” I said, using his name for the first time. “Why the hell do you sparkle? You look like some creation by Industrial Light, a special effect in a vampire or science fiction movie.”

“Forgot all about that,” he laughed. “You sparkle too. You just can’t see it. You started as soon as you drank from the vial. All Amser will sparkle.”

“What’s an Amser?”

“Sorry, Mitchell, You’ve reached your limit on questions for now. It’s my turn to ask some.”

I started to say something, but the look on his face made me stop. I hoped that ‘for now’ meant there would be more answers in the future.

“What made you pick this year?”

“It wasn’t a rational decision. Who would believe this would really work? I figured I’d see something special, something historic. Dallas and the Kennedy assassination was a significant event in my life. All the other conspiracy theories I remember while growing up could never surpass this one event. Standing on the grassy knoll and knowing beyond a doubt if there was or wasn’t a second shooter seemed as good an idea as any.”

“With all of history to choose from, you wanted to watch somebody die?”

“That wasn’t my motivation.” I said “I thought of it more as watching a documentary on TV.”

“We’ll see what you think of your documentary as you watch it live. Did you have plans afterward?”

“I don’t have many concrete plans. Just live out the next decade before I die.”

“Why would you want to die?”

“The Man said I couldn’t live past my birth moment. That was another reason I came here. That gives me several years to live before that time.”

“He didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“You have it all wrong, Mitchell. You can use that vial repeatedly. Just refill it. You can travel to any year, any time, as often as you want, as many times as you want. You’re not stuck in this year or decade forever.”

I’m not sure my mouth actually fell open, but that is how I remember it.

About the Author:Henry

From an early age, Kevin B. Henry was a voracious reader. His collection of science fiction, fantasy and mystery books bring tears of envy to the eyes of many small community libraries.

Kevin has worked as an educator, technology specialist and day laborer most of his adult life. During all that time he lived the life of a frustrated author. That it took 30 years for him to piece together the series, Amber Gifts is a testament that the best meals need slow cooking to bring out the flavor.

The Amber Gifts Series begins with Amber Gifts. The second story, which is really the first, is Amber Prelude, and is available now. The third story, Amber Legacy continues where Amber Gifts left off. It will be available in November 2015. All are published by the wonderful folks at the Champagne Book Group. A fourth story is in the process of being written.

Kevin is a natural story teller, so it’s logical that he lectures occasionally. Topics range from the implementation of cutting edge technology hardware to the creation, modification and use of e-books within education. He constantly pursues research to expand his range of possible topics. His most recent research revolved around the aerodynamic properties of reindeer. He’s also been known to include little known facts and trivia within his presentations. Did you know just 146 years ago today the Union Army marched into Atlanta. It took longer than anticipated. They were delayed by a traffic jam on I-75 and the toll booth on Ga. 400

He continues to live in the Mid-West without human or domesticated mammal companionship.

Blog/Wesbite: www.ambergifts.blogspot.com

Twitter:       @Kevin_Henry

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmberGifts

Dreamin’ My Life Away . . .

Day dreaming. Visualization. Manifesting. Law of Attraction. Goal setting. Believe it and see it.

All of those terms describe a similar process – achieving one’s ambition or desire. 20150502_172043

The trick is transforming thought into action. Everyone “dreams” about the pot at the end of the rainbow. That pot might contain a winning lottery ticket, a cabin in the woods far removed from civilized society, an endless beach on an obscure island, or the funds to enable your family to pay the bills and sock a little extra away for a rainy day.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Not so easy to attain.

There are few things we can count on in life. One is change. The winds of time ensure we will always encounter shifting sands. The other is disappointment. Humans have a tendency to want what is just beyond our grasp. This means living in a constant state of unhappiness because expectations are seldom achieved, and when they are, the end result often does not meet our glamorized vision of what we anticipated.

And therein lies the key to happiness. Expect nothing. Enjoy whatever happens.

It is an impossible task for most people because societal influences dictate what we need to be “happy” – unless you’re a dark horse like me. Some days I think I’m on the cusp of enlightenment – but only by a hair.

You see, life has thrown so many curve balls in my path, so many rotten lemons too sour for lemonade, that I almost stopped believing in purpose. I lived to work. I worked to pay bills. I watched from a distance as others enjoyed lifestyles I would never experience. They were happy. They had the things everyone strives to achieve. They were blessed. Or so I thought.

89923b5cbb4c896d7c96018026b39241Someone once told me this was life. Accept it. And yet there was always a minuscule thread of rebellion refusing to accept the status quo. Sure, life might suck today but what about tomorrow? I suppose it could be defined as hope . . . which makes me a hopeful romantic. Without hope . . . without the possibility of improving one’s lot in life . . . how can anyone go on? If you take away the dreams, visions of a better existence, what’s left? Is strife, pain and disappointment worth the challenge?

Today I can answer that question with a resounding “YES”!

I’m about to embark on a great adventure. Full time RVing. Some naysayers consider this the ultimate personification of narcissism. Others snarkily refer to my upcoming lifestyle as irresponsible. A few scratch their heads at my gypsy free spirit, applying labels like black sheep, hobo, vagabond, poor relative, lights are on but nobody’s home friend/relative. They curl their lips and turn their backs because giving up material “stability” to embrace a simplistic, nomadic journey borders on insanity. These are the same people who drive 80 mph to reach an overlook, take 5 minutes to sigh, then jump back in their cars and head home to Tivo, Xbox and YouTube.

I get it. Life on the road is not for everyone. I’m happy my critics can enjoy their homes, green lawns, finger tip technology and gas grills. It all boils down to a square peg in a round hole. But which is right? The square or the round? I think both are right. It’s a personal choice.

I love the great outdoors. Always have. I’m grounded in the wilderness or wandering aimlessly on a deserted coastline. Awestruck by the beauty of this great planet. Connected to the energy of every living creature when all you can hear is the wind in the trees. My heart fills with such joy, such love, such wonder that words can’t possibly express what I’m feeling. It extends outside this feeble vessel called Deb Sanders to something greater than all of us.

There are a few people who say, “Wow, I’ve always dreamed about traveling.” “I’ve always wanted to RV full time.” “I’ve always . . .”seahorse-1

Suddenly, this crazy, disjointed, unorganized life I was dealt is coming full circle and enabling me to live the dream. I haven’t owned a home in years. I’ve relocated so many times that material possessions are meaningless. Sentimental relics from my past have been farmed out to those with more “stable” lifestyles. I’m happy. They’re happy. It’s a win-win.

June 21st is the first day of the rest of my life. I saddle up and ride off into the sunset. Until then, I’m living vicariously in my dreams content in knowing the only difference between dreams and reality is action.

 

“Scent of the Soul” Is A Summertime Must Read

ScentcoverI reviewed Scent of the Soul by Julie Doherty in April but it’s such a good book I wanted to issue a reminder to add it to your summer reading list. Julie a talented writer with a savvy book campaign. Take note, authors: this lady not only wowed me with her novel but also surprised me with an unexpected and unsolicited token . . . custom handmade soap. Perhaps the reason I was so taken with the gift is because I also make my own soaps and appreciated the quality of ingredients. However, I never thought about putting the cover of a book on the face as Julie did – a unique and clever promotion for her novel.

I love creative marketing. As a reader, I admit to being jaded by the “usual” trends and marketing techniques. Julie’s soap caught my eye with its fresh approach. As an author, it motivated me to search for new ways to promote my own novels.

I wish I could add the scent to my post. The fragrance is a heavenly blend of ginger and clary sage in a luscious creamy base. In fact, it’s a scent that is unisex. I love it . . . and so does my husband! I had to hide my little treasure to keep him from snatching it away – and I don’t feel guilty one bit.

Read on for more information about Scent of the Soul and enjoy the tantalizing excerpt. It’s a rich, satisfying tale that should please even the most discerning reader.

20150526_204206_Richtone(HDR)        20150526_204131_Richtone(HDR)

Scent of the Soul

Julie Doherty

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Date of Publication:  February 11, 2015

ISBN:  978-1-61935-705-1

ASIN: B00SZ0SKUE

Number of pages: 288

Word Count:  91,000

Cover Artist: Leah Suttle

Book Description:

In twelfth century Scotland, it took a half-Gael with a Viking name to restore the clans to their rightful lands. Once an exile, Somerled the Mighty now dominates the west. He’s making alliances, expanding his territory, and proposing marriage to the Manx princess.

It’s a bad time to fall for Breagha, a torc-wearing slave with a supernatural sense of smell.

Somerled resists the intense attraction to a woman who offers no political gain, and he won’t have a mistress making demands on him while he’s negotiating a marriage his people need. Besides, Breagha belongs to a rival king, one whose fresh alliance Somerled can’t afford to lose.

It’s when Breagha vanishes that Somerled realizes just how much he needs her. He abandons his marriage plans to search for her, unprepared for the evil lurking in the shadowy recesses of Ireland—a lustful demon who will stop at nothing to keep Breagha for himself.

Book Trailer:  https://youtu.be/dBuB3WC3FGU 

Available at   Amazon    Amazon UK    Amazon Canada

Excerpt:

As Godred’s oarsmen shoved off from the jetty, Somerled wondered if there was any man less suitable to deliver a marriage proposal. Godred of Dublin was coarse, marginally Christian—indeed, marginally sane—and easily riled. Nevertheless, King Olaf liked him, and for that reason alone, Somerled had selected him as his envoy.

“No side trips,” Somerled shouted before Godred was too far away to hear. “Ye have three places to go and that’s it: the Isle of Man, your clan, and back here.” Godred was prone to unscheduled detours.

Unless bad weather or the scent of easy plunder pulled Godred and his thirty oarsmen off course, Somerled would have Olaf’s answer in a few days. If Olaf agreed to the marriage, Somerled would add a wife to the items decorating his new castle at Finlaggan and eventually, the Isle of Man to his expanding area of influence.

The nobles would respect him then. Half-breed or not.

Behind him, a door squealed on one of the two guardhouses standing sentinel over the Sound of Islay. The small building spat out Hakon, his chief guard, another man of Dublin birth and temperament. Hakon strode the length of the jetty to join him. “I have every confidence the Norns will weave Godred a successful journey, my lord king,” he said, his words puffing white clouds above his tawny sheepskin cape.

“If your goddesses have woven anything, it’s an unfortunate headwind,” Somerled said. “Godred is forced to tack.” He closed his cloak and secured it at his throat with a brooch he once plucked from a Viking who no longer needed it. “The wind promises hail. My proposal will be delayed.”

“Aye, likely,” Hakon said, his hair and beard whipping into copper clouds, “but it will hasten Olaf’s reply. Do not despair, my lord. Ragnhilde will marry ye soon enough.”

Despair? Somerled stifled a laugh. Did Hakon think he had feelings for a lassie he had never met? He was about to tease his guard about being a romantic when Hakon stiffened.

“Another ship,” Hakon said, looking past Somerled’s shoulder.

Somerled spun around to inspect the northwestern waters of the channel separating Jura and Islay—the jewel of the Hebrides and the island that served as the seat of his burgeoning kingdom. “Where?” he asked, squinting.

Hakon thrust a finger toward the fog bank blanketing the horizon. “There, at the promontory, in that pale blue strip of water. See it?”

At first, Somerled saw nothing but swooping terns and ranks of swells. Then, an unadorned sail appeared. It crested on a wave, dipped low, and vanished.

“Should I sound the horn?” Hakon asked.

Somerled raked his fingers through the coarse, wheaten mess slapping at his eyes and held it at his nape while he considered his response. Behind them, the signal tower on Ben Vicar was smoke-free. Across the sound, the towers on the frosty Paps of Jura were likewise unlit, although clouds partially obscured their peaks. The Paps had a commanding view. If a signal fire blazed anywhere, the men stationed there would have seen it and lit their own.

“My lord king, should I sound the horn?” Hakon impatiently palmed the battle horn dangling at his broad chest.

Men began to gather on the jetty.

“Let us wait. It is only one ship, and it looks to be a trader. The signal fires would blaze by now if it were someone worthy of our concern.” Somerled glanced back at the mud and thatch cottages shouldering against one another. At their doors, the bows of half his impressive fleet rested on the shoreline, a sandy slip extending well into the distance. The rest of his ships sheltered at the far side of Islay, in Loch Indaal. A signal fire would deploy them quickly and, perhaps, needlessly.

“Alert the village. Have Cormac ready Dragon’s Claw,” he said, “but send only the nyvaigs for now.” The nyvaigs were smaller, but no less deadly. They would be out and back quickly.

Hakon sprinted through the gathering crowd and past the guardhouses. He leapt over a pile of rocks with surprising agility for a man of his years and size. In no time, specialized warriors and oarsmen were boarding the boats. A pony thundered inland, its rider instructed to warn, not panic, the people of Finlaggan.

Though Somerled carried his mighty sword, he had dressed for warmth, not battle. His mail shirt, aketon, and helmet hung in his bedchamber, two miles away in Finlaggan. He singled out a boy in the crowd. “Lad, find me a helmet and a shield, and be quick about it.”

The boy shot like an arrow toward the cottages.

Somerled held his breath as he watched the nyvaigs head out. At the first flash of steel, he would blow the battle horn. His men would light the towers and he would board Dragon’s Claw. The foreigner would be sorry he entered the Sound of Islay.

The ship’s features were barely discernible, but he could see that its high prow lacked a figurehead. He was trying to identify the banner fluttering on its masthead when the ship’s sail dropped and scattered gulls like chaff in the wind. His heart hammered against his chest as he waited for the foreign vessel to sprout oars; it didn’t. It stalled—a sign its crew had dropped anchor.

Dragon’s Claw bobbed next to him at the jetty, her top rail lined with colorful shields and her benches holding sixty-four of his savage warriors. Cormac gripped the tiller, but he would move aside when Somerled barked the order to do so. He would serve as his own shipmaster in the face of an enemy.

Low and curvy with a dragon’s head exhaling oaken flames from her prow, Dragon’s Claw was his favorite vessel, not because she was new or particularly seaworthy, but because he had wrenched her from the last Viking to leave his father’s lands.

The memory of that battle warmed him and occupied his thoughts while the nyvaigs swarmed around the foreigner. Then, they swung about, furled their sails, and rowed for home like many-legged insects skittering on the water’s surface.

When the boats reached the beach, Hakon jumped from his nyvaig and jogged through ankle-deep water, apparently too impatient to wait for his men to haul the vessel’s keel onto the sand. “Well, my lord king,” he said, “it seems to be the day for marriage proposals. It is an envoy from Moray, who comes at the behest of Malcolm. He asks to speak with ye regarding Bethoc.”

“Malcolm MacHeth . . . the Malcolm MacHeth . . . wants my sister?”

He had met Malcolm MacHeth only once, at King David’s court, on a night spoiled by ill-bred lassies who had mocked his foreign garb and speech. Malcolm, a bastard nephew of the Scots king, had observed his humiliation and pretended not to notice.

Yet here was Malcolm of Moray, a claimant to the Scottish throne and a known rebel, seeking Bethoc’s hand in marriage. Tainted bloodline or not, Somerled was apparently worthy of notice now.

JulieDAbout the Author:

Something magical happened in the musty basement of Julie Doherty’s local courthouse. She went there intending to research her ancestry, not lose herself in a wealth of stories, but the ghosts of yesteryear drew her into the past and would not let her go. The trail left by her ancestors in those yellowing documents led her from rural Pennsylvania to the Celtic countries, where her love of all things Irish/Scottish blossomed into outright passion.

She became particularly interested in Somerled, self-styled “King of Argyll” and progenitor of the Lords of the Isles. In 1164, he led a fleet of 164 galleys up the River Clyde in an all-or-nothing attempt to overthrow the Scottish crown. What would lead a man of his advanced years to do such a thing?

Of course, history records he did so because the king demanded forfeiture of his lands. But the writer in Julie wondered …what if he did it for the love of a woman?

Those early ponderings led to SCENT OF THE SOUL, Julie’s first novel, coming soon from Soul Mate Publishing.

Readers will notice a common theme throughout Julie’s books: star-crossed lovers. This is something she knows a bit about, since during one of her trips to Ireland, she fell in love with an Irishman. The ensuing immigration battle took four long years to win. With only fleeting visits, Skype chats, and emails to sustain her love, Julie poured her heartache into her writing, where it nourished the emotional depth of her characters.

Julie is a member of Pennwriters, Romance Writers of America, Central PA Romance Writers, The Longship Company, Perry County Council of the Arts, and Clan Donald USA. When not writing, she enjoys antiquing, shooting longbow, traveling, and cooking over an open fire at her cabin. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, who sounds a lot like her characters.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/532434.Julie_Doherty

http://twitter.com/SquareSails

http://www.facebook.com/juliedohertywrites

http://www.juliedoherty.com

Get Cozy with DEAD MEN DON’T TALK

Well, how remiss of me. I released a new novel and didn’t tell you!

My cozy style mystery is now available on Amazon. It offers a little humor, a bit of romantic banter, some misguided sleuthing, a possible ghostly encounter and of course, the dangerous element. Take all that, combine it with a cast of quirky characters and you have the first Daisy Red-Tail Novel – DEAD MEN DON’T TALK.

DEAD MEN DON’T TALK

A Daisy Red-Tail Novel

DEB SANDERS

Words: 65,000

AMAZON

COMING FALL, 2015: Book 2, DEAD MEN CAN’T DANCE

Book Description:DeadMenFinal

A cozy style mystery with a lot of charm.

When  feisty Southern Belle and caterer, Daisy O’Connor is drawn into the search for a missing person on a Native American reservation, she realizes it will take more than Sweet Tea to make the locals talk.

Daisy swore she’d never return to Piney Creek Indian Reservation after her step-father tried to kill her, and she kept that vow for fifteen years – until her adopted Lakota grandfather summoned her to find his missing grandson. Upon arrival, Daisy uses her Southern charm to dig for information, and finds it works exceedingly well on everyone . . . except John Greyhawk, Deputy Chief of Tribal Police.

Greyhawk proves a thorn in her side as Daisy attempts to unravel the mystery behind Eddie Black Crow’s disappearance, A few “white lies” and a slice of Chocolate Cola Cake later, she determines the big brute’s heart is as cold as a frog’s behind . . . and just as unpleasant. Things turn dark when her investigation uncovers a more sinister situation, one that might send her home – in a body bag.

Added Bonus!!!
Recipe for Daisy’s Chocolate Cola Cake

Excerpt:

She stared up at the swath of twinkling lights and sighed. Atlanta’s artificial glow obliterated any chance for star gazing, making her forget how big the night sky could look.

Harry sat up, staring into the darkness. A low growl rose from his throat.

Daisy remained motionless though every muscle in her body tensed. Someone or something was out there. A form moved near the road but it was hard to see what it was in the dark. “Hello? Who’s out there?” She’d never been one to back down from a confrontation and tonight was no exception. The sound of crunching gravel alerted her to the stranger’s approach. Harry growled again, this time louder.

“Daisy Red-Tail.”

She squinted, peering into the shadows. “Yes?”

Wes Spotted Pony stepped into the dim light emanating from the window. “You used to live here. On the rez.”

She remained seated as her pulse quickened with a warning. “I did – a long time ago.”

He stepped closer. Daisy tightened her hold on Harry’s neck to keep the dog from lunging. “Where’s your car?”

“I had a flat. It’s been towed to town.”

“Too bad. You gotta be careful on the rez. It can be dangerous for a white eyes.”

“Yeah, I know. What do you want, Wes?”

His eyes flickered, a sign he didn’t expect her to know his name. “Just checking on you. Making sure you’re safe.” He snickered.

“I’m fine. Now run along home. I hear your momma callin’.”

“I like the way you talk. We don’t get a lot accents like yours around here.”

Daisy stood up. “Go home, Wes. There’s no reason for you to come any closer.”

He took another step. “Hey, baby . . . you might like being close to me. I’m a real pleaser.”

As he crossed the remaining distance between them, Harry broke free of her grasp, planting himself between her and the young Native. The distraction gave Daisy enough time to pull Grandfather’s snub nosed .38 from her purse. She aimed it at the boy’s chest. “Honey, you don’t want to mess with Southern women. We’ll rip your heart out and bake it up in a pie quicker than you can whistle Dixie.”

He stiffened as though she had struck him. “You . . . you won’t shoot me. You probably don’t even know how to fire that thing.”

She pointed the barrel upwards, fired two shots and aimed it at his forehead before he could move. “Sugah, the next round is gonna light up your head like the Fourth of July unless you start walking away right now.”

His hands flew up as he scurried backward in a panic. “Okay, okay. I didn’t mean nothin’.”

Within seconds, the night engulfed his figure but a menacing threat floated through the air. “You’re gonna be sorry about this. Mark my word.”

After a few minutes, Daisy returned to the step. She slid the gun into her purse, surprised to find her hand shaking. Harry sat beside her like a bodyguard, staring into the shadows.

“I think we just made an enemy. It might not be safe for you to sleep outside tonight.”

Amber eyes studied her with a keen sense of understanding. He lay down next to Daisy, resting his head on her knee as she wrapped her arm around his neck.

“Thanks for having my back, Harry. You’re the only male I trust.”