COME WHAT COME MAY

Click image to escape into a treasure trove of summer reading deals. Plus enter daily until May 31 to win some great prizes!

 

Welcome to Summer – It’s almost here. The Memorial Day weekend always signaled to me the start of something fresh and new. No school, fun days at the beach, and sleeping late. In early summer, I would go out to our wild raspberry patch in the side yard and pick the best tasting fruit I’ve ever had. Then I’d plop those little red beauties on my cereal. I can still taste it.

But over and above all else, reading dominated my summer life from the time I could pick up a book. I spent hours in the basement of our village’s town hall where the librarian stocked books that brought the world to  my small Michigan community.

Reading created a yearning in me to see more, do more, and write more. All these years later, the need to do all those things remains. That’s why I’m pleased to be able to offer you these great deals to load up your eReaders for the summer season. Let yourself escape into the lives of some unforgettable characters and powerful settings. Click here to see the free and 99 cent books offered May 20-24.

There’s more – Click here to enter to win cash prizes. You may enter daily through May 31.

Here’s to happily escaping into fiction!

P.C.

Here’s my special offering May 20-24 – My Smoky Mountain Romances for only 99 cents! (Regularly priced at $5.99) – Four sweet romantic novellas set with the backdrop of the Smoky Mountains providing the idyllic setting for a community of folks who discover family is more than blood.

Reality Informs Fiction: Trails in the Sand

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I published Trails in the Sand in 2013, three years after the disastrous oil spill after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. From the first moment I heard about the explosion nine years ago and through my job as a public relations director with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, I was glued to the news on the struggle to contain the tar balls and greasy water approaching the Panhandle beaches of Florida.

When not working at my day job, I was also starting a novel about a dysfunctional family struggling to change generations of heartbreak.  April 20, 2019 marks the nine year anniversary of this event. Each year on the anniversary, I offer a special on Trails in the Sand, normally priced at $5.99 on Kindle. April 21-28, 2019, the book may be downloaded for $0.99. Click here to grab your copy.

Four years ago, I wrote about the disaster and how the book Trails in the Sand was born. Here is that post to commemorate both the oil spill and Earth Day and to remind us all the importance and fragility of our natural world.

Published originally on April 20, 2015 – Five years ago today, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon caught on fire.  Even though the newscasters downplayed its significance at first, I felt a black cloud deepen. I’d just moved to southwestern Pennsylvania where news of the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster a few hours away in West Virginia still dominated local news. Twenty-nine men died in that explosion on April 5, 2010, just ten days earlier.

We soon learned that BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico had blown its cap, which allowed gushing oil and killed eleven workers on the rig. As I’ve done for the past two decades, when something bothers me, I start to write. The result from my sorrow and unease with both disasters resulted in the novel, Trails in the Sand.  The novel serves as a reminder of two preventable disasters that occurred within two weeks of one another in 2010. Forty men died and countless wildlife and their habitats were injured or destroyed. Both events touched my life in some way and both made their way into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

When the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded, twenty-nine miners, doing their job in the bowels of the earth, lost their lives. Subsequent reports showed the company ignored safety regulations, which played an important role in the explosion. At the time, I was in the process of moving from Florida to western Pennsylvania. The mine is located several hours from my new home, so the local media covered the disaster continually for the next few weeks. The national news also kept its eye turned toward a small town in West Virginia where families mourned their husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, and cousins. After April 20, the lens of the cameras shifted to the southwest.

The news began as a whimper before erupting into cries of outrage. An oil rig somewhere off the coast of Louisiana caught on fire on April 20, 2010. Soon the whole rig collapsed, and eleven men never made it out alive. Oil gushed from a well several miles below the Gulf’s surface.

As I made the transition to Pennsylvania, I still held my job in Florida, although I was in the process of leaving. I was a public relations director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I made the trip back and forth sixteen times in 2010. I conducted meetings from a cell phone in airports, highway rest areas, and at a dining room table from our small temporary apartment in Pittsburgh.

Every time I started to give my two-week notice to my supervisors, something happened, and my wildlife biologist bosses pleaded with me to stay. During a crisis, the spokesperson for a company or agency suddenly becomes a very important part of the team. Scientists become speechless when looking in the face of a microphone.

Nothing much happened in those early days of the oil spill for the wildlife community, although as a communications specialist I prepared for worst-case scenarios, while hoping for the best. Partnerships between national and state agencies formed to manage information flowing to the media. By May, some of the sea turtle experts began worrying about the nesting turtles on Florida’s Panhandle beaches, right where the still gushing oil might land. In particular, the scientists worried that approximately 50,000 hatchlings might be walking into oil-infested waters if allowed to enter the Gulf of Mexico after hatching from the nests on the Gulf beaches.

seaturtle4An extraordinary and unprecedented plan became reality, and as the scientists wrote the protocols, the plan was “in direct response to an unprecedented human-caused disaster.”

When the nests neared the end the incubation period, plans were made to dig up the nests and transport the eggs across the state to Cape Canaveral, where they would be stored until the hatchlings emerged from the eggs. Then they would receive a royal walk to the sea away from the oil-drenched waters of the Gulf.

aptopix-gulf-oil-spill-1fee0422a0df6673The whole project reeked with the scent of drama, ripe for the media to descend on Florida for reports to a public hooked on the images of oiled wildlife. Since I was in transition in my job, they appointed me to handle all media requests that came to the national and state agencies regarding the plan. From my new office in Raccoon Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, I began coordinating media events and setting up interviews with the biologists.

As the project began in June 2010, I began writing Trails in the Sand. At first, I created the characters and their situations. Then slowly I began writing about the oil crisis and made the main character, Caroline, an environmental reporter who covered the sea turtle relocation project. Then suddenly I was writing about her husband, Simon, who mourned the loss of his cousin in the coal mine disaster in West Virginia. I didn’t make a conscious effort to tie together the environmental theme with the family saga unfolding, but before too long, I realized they all dealt with restoration and redemption of things destroyed. As a result, the oil spill and the sea turtles became a metaphor for the destruction caused by Caroline and her family.

I’m a firm believer in the subject choosing the author. When that happens, it’s best to let the muse lead me to the keyboard and allow the words to find their way to the story. Trails in the Sand stands as my testament to the process.

3-D1Trails in the Sand synopsis

When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets – secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline’s love for her late sister’s husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.

Using real-life events as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster. Through it all, the ancient sea turtle serves a reminder that life moves forward despite the best efforts to destroy it.

April 21-28 – Only $0.99

 

 

 

SPRING FLING INTO ROMANCE AND MORE

 

 

 

 

To celebrate the season, I’m participating in a romantic spring fling book event. Scroll down to see all the great books offered April 8-12 for 99 cents or FREE. Also by clicking the link above, you can enter daily to win $100 worth of goodies. Enjoy!

Warm Wishes,
P.C.

Love on the Wind

FREE April 8-12

Love on the Wind by P.C. Zick

Contemporary Romance – An uptight builder. A quirky travel show host. An explosive passion that surprises them both.

After six years of traveling, Kiley wants to settle down. While vacationing at the beach, she buys a house. She meets Jeff, a contractor, who can help if his stubbornness doesn’t interfere with the job and the attraction.

FREE ON AMAZON

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Count The Roses by Jackie Weger

FREE April 8 – May 30

Count the Roses by Jackie Weger

FREE FREE FREE

Contemporary Romance – Travel with Jennifer DeWitt from New Orleans—that humid, high-stepping city of music and magic on the Mississippi River to the depths Louisiana swamps where real life happens. And where a sexy Cajun just happens to live.

FREE ON AMAZON

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Creatus Talis-Carmen

99 cents April 8-12

Creatus Talis by Carmen DeSousa

99 cents on Amazon

Paranormal Romance – Vev, one of the first generations of creatus talis, finds herself torn between her younger family members and a forbidden love as she fights to save the young talis from being turned into a weapon — or worse, annihilation.

AMAZON SPECIAL – 99 CENTS

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Jaded MJKane

99 cents April 8-12

jADED by M.J. Kane

99 cents on Amazon

Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance – A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control — starting her own business.

AMAZON SPECIAL – 99 CENTS

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The Beast Within Jacquie Bigger

99 Cents April 8-12

The Beast Within by Jacquie Biggar

99 cents on Amazon

Murder Mystery – Julie Crenshaw didn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer. Connor O’Rourke has seen his share of human depravities during his years as a homicide detective, but is still sickened by the murderer terrorizing his island shores.
Can two people give love a second chance or will a killer become the winner?

AMAZON SPECIAL – 99 cents

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Time for Honesty - Mette Barfelt

FREE April 8-12

Time for Honesty by Mette Barfelt

FREE FREE FREE

Sweet romance – Small-town romance with a dash of suspense, set in Norway! Misunderstandings and jealousy can ruin friendships – unless you face up to it and embrace new love!

FREE ON AMAZON

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Meant for Me - Lyn Cote

FREE April 8-12

Meant for Me by Lyn Cote

FREE FREE FREE

Historical Christian Romance – When a handsome stranger about to leave for World War I proposes elopement, Chloe, the perfect Southern lady, runs away to 1917 New York City. “

FREE ON AMAZON

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A Flicker of Light - Roberta Kagan

99 Cents April 8-12

Flicker of Light by Roberta Kagan

99 cents on Amazon

Historical Fiction – She’s trapped in Hitler’s home for the Lebensborn. In order to save her unborn child she must try to escape. But if she’s caught it will cost her dearly

AMAZON SPECIAL – 99 cents

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The Betrayal of Lies - Debra Burroughs

FREE April 8-12

The Betrayal of Lies by Debra Burroughs

FREE FREE FREE

Police ask Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher, who couldn’t see beyond the hood ornament, is found strapped in the driver’s seat in Lalla’s vintage Cadillac. Dead. Lalla is gonna find the answer.

FREE ON AMAZON

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Into the Light -Darcia Helle

99 Cents April 8-12

Into the Light by Darcia Helle

99 CENTS on AMAZON

Paranormal Suspense – Joe Cavelli didn’t become a PI with the intent of providing customer service to disgruntled ghosts. Yet, somehow that’s exactly the turn his career has taken. Max is dead, and he refuses to leave until Joe helps solve his murder. This odd couple forms an unlikely friendship while uncovering the truth of Max’s life.

AMAZON SPECIAL 99 CENTS

Pirates of Blood Bay Island - Dianne Greenlay

99 Cents April 8-12

Pirates of Blood Bay Island by Dianne Greenlay

99 CENTS ON AMAZON

Historical and YA Romance – West Indies 1717 – Yesterday Tess’s life shattered when, forced onboard a ship and unwillingly betrothed to a treacherous man, she lost her family in a pirate attack that he arranged. Today she is plotting how to save her own life and perhaps to take his in retribution. She must decide quickly. Tomorrow will be too late.

AMAZON SPECIAL 99 CENTS

All Tomorrow s Memories

99 Cents April 8-12

All Tomorrow’s Memories by Jackie Weger

99 CENTS ON AMAZON

Police ask Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher, who couldn’t see beyond the hood ornament, is found strapped in the driver’s seat in Lalla’s vintage Cadillac. Dead. Lalla is gonna find the answer.

AMAZON SPECIAL 99 CENTS

PTSD – IT’S A REAL AND PRESENT DANGER

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Two Parkland shooting survivors are no longer surviving. A father of a Sandy Hook victim took his life this past week as well. These are the very real and present dangers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that affect anyone who has suffered a trauma directly or peripherally.

My first introduction to PTSD occurred back in 2004 when I was contacted by a man and his wife who wanted help telling their story. Their therapist thought writing might help them both recover from the debilitating effects of PTSD. They found an article I’d written in a magazine in the doctor’s office and gave me a call. The first time they called, they were tentative and wouldn’t even tell me what had happened to them that had left them traumatized.

I met with them at a coffee shop. They were reluctant to talk. So, I did what I sometimes do when I’m nervous. I chattered. I told them about my life which had taken a major hit in the past three years. Something about my honesty made them trust me, and they told me their story. As I listened to their tale, I realized I too had been suffering from PTSD symptoms ever since the murder of my two great nieces by their mother in 2001.

I wrote the book for Brent and Barbara Swan and went through their horrific experience with them, which helped us all. Brent had worked for Chevron in the 1990s as a helicopter mechanic. He was stationed in Angola . He’d do six weeks on and six weeks at home. There was a small faction who’d formed an unrecognized government because they wanted the proceeds from the oil production to come to them. One morning as Brent drove to the airfield, he was kidnapped by the rebel government and held hostage for sixty days or “two moons” as he viewed his time in captivity. The U.S. government had strict guidelines about not negotiating with terrorists. Chevron had to work on his release undercover. The rebels loved Brent because he acquiesced and was a good prisoner even though they loaded up their AK-47s each morning next to his bed so he could never forget he was a hostage.

When the release was negotiated, the rebels gave Brent an honorary citizenship certificate with all their signatures. They gave him a map of all their camps, and group photos with their hostage. Brent turned it all over upon his release to the authorities.

And nothing happened. No arrests. Nothing. Brent came home and resumed a life as normal as he could. Six or seven years passed and 9/11 happened. Then all of a sudden the U.S. government became intent on bringing all known terrorists to trial. They started with the head of Brent’s kidnapping team and then the feds called Brent and told him he was the star witness.

Brent and his wife Barbara went into full survival mode PTSD when he had to travel to Washington, DC, and face his kidnapper and testify. Brent fell apart at the trial and afterwards. Barbara didn’t fare much better. When I met them in 2004, they were struggling to pull themselves out of the trenches of psychological warfare. After that initial meeting, I didn’t hear from them for more than a year.

Then I wrote their book, Two Moons in Africa (Patricia Camburn Behnke)Today I’m happy to say they are better but still living with the quirks that come from the PTSD.

My PTSD reasserts itself in times of stress or sometimes just because it can. In the past, I’ve dealt with it by writing about things other than the trauma I experienced back in 2001 and 2002. But this winter when it returned with panic attacks and depression, I decided it was time to write about how the deaths of loved ones has had an impact on me and how I cope with life’s irregularities. So far, my own self-imposed therapy is working.

I will have to finish the book before I decide if I’ll publish or not. It might turn out i’m simply writing for myself unless I see benefit to others going through similar situations.

As the news of the suicides hit this week , I considered what we can do to help those who suffer after trauma. Staying silent is not an option. Here’s a few things without even researching or digging very deep.

  • If someone doesn’t show signs of trauma after an event, it doesn’t mean she isn’t feeling isolated and alone in her fear, paranoia, grief. Without being a pest, keep her on your radar with calls, texts, cards, and/or visits. Any acts of reaching out to show her she isn’t alone may be just the thing they need.
  • Let him talk about the tragedy if he brings it up. Too many times if I tried to talk about the murders, others changed the subject. One person has told me several times he can’t deal with hearing about it because it’s too sad. Other people tell me they don’t want me to get upset by talking about it. It’s upsetting when it’s ignored, and we all should remembered that.
  • Each of us has our own timetable for grief and mourning. Do not attempt to dictate what you believe to be the proper time for someone to be over “it.” It only makes the grieving person feel as if something is wrong with her.
  • Don’t discount how a traumatic event has affected another person. Soon after I returned to work after the murders, a co-worker said to me, “Why are you so upset? It didn’t happen to you.” That set me back in my healing process by years. I still hear that voice in my head in the worst of times.

There are more I’m sure, but those are the immediate ones. Share any others you might have by leaving a comment. It can only do good because the alternative only creates another opportunity for PTSD to take hold of another life.

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WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?

From left, Route 66er, birthday girl, me, hostess – plus Libby and Chewy

Birthdays mark the passage of time, and with each celebration of my friends, I wonder why do we bother with numbers? It seems to mean less and less. This weekend marked one such celebration when I realized I was surrounded by vital, thriving, funny, and loving women and men who were all hurtling toward seventy–some had even surpassed that milestone.

The image of seventy in my youth meant something different than it does today as I’m looking down the barrel at it. It seems unimaginable that the majority of my friends are now over sixty, and in a few short months, I will wake up in bed next to a seventy-year-old man! Not one of those folks fit into that former image of what I imagined life at seventy would look like.

Then it meant closing in on an ending. Today, it means starting something new or doing something just because we can. It means saying whatever pops in our head and being allowed, in most cases, to do it without censorship.

Here’s a sampling of some of the folks at the party yesterday.

The birthday girl turned sixty-nine yesterday. She was late to the party because she’d just biked thirty miles earlier in the day and rushed home to shower before arriving. Last month, we hiked six miles with her over rough terrain in south Georgia when we visited an elephant refuge. Last week she visited the Smoky Mountains and hiked miles along the Appalachian Trail. Besides that, she laughs often.

Another friend will turn seventy in August. She plans to celebrate by taking a month to drive Route 66 from Chicago to LA as a way to celebrate her life and experience new and exciting places. She is active in the community and travels as much as she can.

The over seventy hostess will turn seventy-five this summer, and she was busy planning how she would celebrate. She just came back from a tour of Italy and travels extensively with friends and family. She gardens and works out at the gym nearly every day.

My husband will turn seventy in October. He’s outside right now building a fence in our backyard. The spring garden is planted, and next month he’ll go to our cabin in the mountains and put in the summer garden. We kayaked last weekend, and each morning, we walk around our neighborhood. He also golfs and does all the heavy lifting around the house. And he still enjoys acting like a kid. Yesterday, it was making some letters on his shirt fold over so it displayed the word, “sex.” The only one at the party who noticed was the birthday girl, and she laughed at his silliness. I rolled my eyes, but secretly was proud of him for having fun.

Another woman I met for the first time yesterday, but I hope to see her again soon. She delighted me. On her seventieth birthday, she took her grandsons to the Grand Canyon. Recently, she won first place in the bench press in the Senior Olympics here in town. She had us in stitches about her travels and life as a septuagenarian.

Not only are my friends active, they are fun. We have the best stories to tell–decades worth. And as we age, I swear we become even funnier with each telling. Maybe it’s because as some memories fade, we’re no longer afraid to embellish to make the stories memorable for someone else. Who cares? It’s the essence of an experience that really matters in the end.

I know too many “kids” in their thirties and forties who seem older than my friends and me. They are bogged down with life and worry about every little detail. Will it rain? Is that road too narrow? How much do I weigh? When will we earn enough? I suppose I might have been that way at one time when there were too many responsibilities and too many people depended on me getting things done and getting them done correctly.

So what’s in a number? Very little these days.

By the way, I turn sixty-five in December, which means I was the baby at this party.

Writing Again with Pleasure

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Cross Creek

Patience. Faith. And a little bit of nature.

A few weeks ago, I admitted I hadn’t been writing. It must have done the trick because soon after I sat myself down in the chair, bed, couch, recliner–wherever it felt right–and picked back up with Love on Track.

Some bits of inspiration have come from enjoying the beauty of a winter in Florida by kayaking and hiking. For me, connecting with nature restores me and gives me hope. The best of all the paddles occurred when I went to Cross Creek and toured Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home where she wrote The Yearling, South Moon Under, and Cross Creek to mention just a few of her many books. I’ve visited the place, now a Florida State Park, previously, but this time I ventured out onto the actual Creek in my kayak.

Mostly my husband and I paddled in silence in awe of the drooping live oaks with branches free from leaves but not the Spanish moss which gives rural north Florida its special charm even in the dead of winter. But still flowers bloomed on the banks, birds flew and fed nearby, and fishermen in simple boats lazily floated on the crossroad between two large lakes, Lochloosa and Orange.

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J.T. Glisson in The Creek says the name “Cross Creek” may be because its the path joining the two lakes. But then again, he speculates it could come from the attitude of its residents. We didn’t find that to be true.

Click here to download two of my essays about Rawlings and her inspiration for my writing life. And happy Valentine’s Day and happy reading and writing.

 

 

Happy 2019

Paddling My Way to a New Year

dsc04099We spent New Year’s Day kayaking on the Econofina River in north Florida. The day was foggy, and we got lost in the reeds, but we returned home refreshed and ready to begin
2019. Nature restores me and gives me hope.

While I’m enjoying kayaking, yoga, golf, and volunteering, my writing life appears to be on hiatus. It didn’t ask me permission because the writing muse can be fickle and sporadic. Instead of crying, I’m reading–I’m making a dent in the TBR pile on my nightstand and on my Kindle–I still read from both as the spirit moves me or as my circumstances permit.

I hope 2019 has begun in a positive way for you, and I hope you’re reading as well. When I do get back in the writing saddle, it will be to finish Love on Track (Rivals in Love Book 3) and Four Women and a Man (women’s fiction). If you haven’t read the first book in my Rivals series or Behind the Love series, here’s your chance to start for free this week. One series is sweet, the other is steamy, so hopefully there’s something for all!

Happy New Year to you all. And please leave a comment. I love to hear from
you.

Kindle (3)Love on Trial, Rivals in Love Book 1

Download on Kindle for FREE – January 21-25
Sweet contemporary romance

Two lawyers on opposite sides of the aisle despise one
another…at first. Start reading your copy of Love on Trial to
begin reading about the Crandalls of Chicago and their attempts to find love.

 

 

BTA Cover SmallestBehind the Altar, Behind the Love Book 1

Download on Kindle for FREE – January 21-25
Steamy contemporary romance

A tattoo artist on a Harley. A do-gooder beauty. A forbidden passion. Behind the Altar is the first novel in the Behind the Love contemporary romance series that features sizzling
attractions, dramatic confrontations, and intertwined and complicated lives. Set in the fictional small town of Victory, Florida, friends fight and love and form families of their own choosing.

#NewRelease from P.C. Zick

 

This month as summer wanes, I have two books I’ve re-released as my own.

Originally, I wrote these books for Amazon’s Kindle Worlds as a part of Melissa Foster’s Remington World. This meant that Amazon owned the rights until they stopped publishing them. In July, they ended the Kindle Worlds program and returned rights to the Kindle World author, Melissa Foster. Melissa, the sweetie that she is, gave us all our books back if we revised them to remove all mention of her “world.”

That’s what I did and now I have these books back as my own, and it only feels right. I went into the writing of them knowing I wouldn’t own them. I saw it as a great way to work on the craft and earn some money, so it’s a bonus to now have them in my own yard.

And to celebrate, this month I’m running some specials on them. Plus, they are both in Kindle Unlimited.

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#99cents – August 15-29

Love on the Wind – A Montauk Romance Book One – Six years of traveling for her television series has left host Kiley Nelson longing for a place to call her own. Spending a weekend at her girlfriend’s beach house is the perfect reprieve, especially when she purchases property to finally settle down. But her peaceful escape is shaken when she smashes into a car containing the sinfully sexy and infuriated passenger, Jeff Hammond, who immediately melts her heart.

Jeff, staying at his friend’s Montauk home to relax after a trying week of building a home for a spoiled diva, doesn’t count on sharing his weekend with the flaky, yet incredibly sexy, Kiley. He agrees to build her house, despite the tug on his heart as Kiley turns him on in every delicious way.

Passionate weekends and shared dreams begin to shape the house they start to build together. As their relationship deepens, so do the wounds from past hurts, rousing ghosts from Jeff’s traumatic past. When a summer storm rolls in at the nearly complete house, they’re forced to deal with the past before it shakes and cracks the very foundation they’ve built.

Misunderstanding and stubborn personalities threaten to rip apart the fledgling relationship until both Kiley and Jeff learn to trust one another.

Download for 99 cents until August 29!

Jingle Bell Love – A Montauk Romance Book Two – Denny’s wife—the only woman he’s

JingleBellCoverOriginal

#FREE – August 27-31

ever loved—died the year before and his friends are intent on finding him a new love. Jill’s first experience with love in college left her skeptical that she would ever be able to find love.

When Denny and Jill find themselves lustfully drawn to one another, they’re ashamed of their secret encounters. When friends suspect there might be something between them, they disapprove. Unsure of how they feel about one another, the attraction continues. To keep things on the downlow, they hatch a pact to be friends with secret benefits. When those benefits explode into something more than primal urges, one of them breaks the pact, and the whole affair and friendship ends up unraveling as the holiday season approaches. This steamy romance jingles all the bells for the Christmas season.

Download for FREE August 27-31.

Novels Based on Historical Facts

I’ve been attracted to studying history lately. It started as I began reading about the Civil War as I prepared presentations about my great grandfather’s Civil War experiences captured in his journal. (Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier) But it’s gone further on either side of those watershed years in United States history. 51TYhlVodCL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

As a result, My husband and I have been enjoying Ken Burn’s series: The Civil War and PBS’s The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. Both of these in-depth looks at previous eras shed light on where we are today economically, politically, socially, and culturally. I realized something as I delved into the past. I’ve forgotten much of what I’d learned in school. Here’s the difference: I studied it then to pass a test to earn a degree to land a job. I study it now because it interests me. World of difference.

Of course, the Broadway production of Hamilton opened up more folks to learning about the early days of our fledgling country, but I’d resisted delving into the founding father’s until I came across a book offered for free with my Prime membership.

The Midwife's RevoltThe Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard is the type of historical novel I’ve been reading for a few years now.  Fictional accounts with the historical facts and people–most of them featuring women often ignored as the men they loved received all the infamy leave me impressed with the courage and strength needed to survive harsh circumstances.

Lizzie Boylston possesses a gift in the art of midwifery, but she’s living in perilous times as the Revolutionary War looms. The novel begins in 1775 during the Battle of Bunker Hill and continues through the struggles of war. Her best friend and neighbor, Abigail Adams suffers greatly when both husband and son are swept away to Europe where they are kept safe from the factions who seek to do them harm. Lizzie herself becomes a spy for the cause and it puts a strain on her relationship with Abigail who must  not be told about the midwife’s efforts. At times deemed a witch for her special tinctures and medicines, Lizzie fights the restrictions on her sex and on her craft. Dynard created the character of Lizzie, but keeps to the historical happenings and the whereabouts of the Adams’s family during this time. I was very much captivated by the conditions under which the women lived, worked, and loved.

The reading of The Midwife’s Revolt led me directly to learning more about Alexander Hamilton, not that he plays a role in the book, but all the hoopla about him and the time period piqued my interest. I could have gone for the biography Hamilton, and I probably will read it at some point, along with book, The Founding Fathers, which has sat on my bookshelf for too many years–pages on the paperback have yellowed.

The Hamilton AffairInstead, I opted for another book of historical fiction about the real people, namely Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth Schuyler. The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs uses the point of view of both Hamiltons to tell the story of this couple brought together 1777 by Eliza’s father. We all know it ends tragically for Alexander but Eliza manages to live long after her husband’s fatal duel  According to Cobbs, most of the characters are real and the events are not fabricated, but the conversations and intimacies exist in her imagination based on her extensive research.

Once again, I found myself lost in another time and place with admiration for the women who kept the families together while the men received the notoriety. It’s an absorbing read.

Varina

 

The last one I’ll address in this post, leaves the Revolutionary period behind and heads into the Civil War era. It was a coincidence that this one also featured a female heroine from history. I bought the book because of the author, Charles Frazier and my enjoyment of his Cold Mountain and its setting near where I now spend my summers.

Varina is the story of Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis. I’d never heard of her before I read this book, but it only made her story that much more interesting. Plus, I’ve spent so much time on the Union side of this history, I found it jarring and intriguing to go to the other side. The story is told through the point of view of James, who as a child was taken in by Varina while living in Richmond as the first lady of the Confederacy. He’s of mixed race, and no one knows whether he’s free or not. He lives with her children and is treated as one of their one. But when the Confederacy falls and Varina is on the run with her children, she turns James over to a home for orphans. From there, they lose contact until James–left with only a blue book of his history–tracks down Varina in 1906 in Saratoga, New York. James is the glue for the story, but Varina is the storyteller.

I enjoyed reading about Varina, a strong woman who stood up to Jeff Davis’s authoritative brother and often questioned her husband’s decisions. However, it took some adjustment to Frazier’s literary technique of not using quotation marks around dialogue. A line of dialogue begins with an “em” dash: –We’ll see, V said. As with any technique where the author creates their own style, it’s a matter of reader adjustment to the accustomed style. Once I adapted, it didn’t interrupt my reading even though it did at first.

I very much enjoyed all of these books as well as others in a similar vein about a woman pilot, the mistresses of Marshall Field and Frank Lloyd Wright, wives of Robert Louis Stevenson and Ernest Hemingway and more. Most of the books rely heavily on letters and biographies, but the fictional scenes created allow the imagination to wonder about how one person’s life can impact the course of history. In many cases, it’s obvious that without the guidance of strong and brilliant women in the shadows, the men might never have been recognized.

Does this mean I’ll be rushing off to write my own historical “faction?” I don’t think so. I love history. I admire those who write historical fiction. I adore historical biographies. But write them? It’s not on my horizon, but I stopped saying “never” a long time ago when it comes to my life as an author.

cover smoky mountain romances

It’s not historical but there are some interesting characters. Click here to see my latest release, a new compilation of all my Smoky Mountain romances under one cover.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW – HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE

 

It’s been some time since I’ve posted regularly on my blog. I’m still around, still writing, and still reading. A friend lent me a gem of a book recently with the words, “I want this one back.” That meant only one thing–a gem sat waiting for me in on my “To Be Read” pile.

When I finished, it hit me. I miss telling others about the books I’ve read, especially if the book resonates with me. I love sharing and perhaps offering the gift of a lovely read to another inveterate reader.

Interested yet? If not, maybe some particulars will help.

Consider a familiar adage – you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

That’s the simple premise of this memoir and the realization of it by Carolyn Jourdan who grew up in a rural community in east Tennessee in the Appalachian Mountains. She’s the only child of the country doctor and his assistant wife, but she leaves the town to attend law school and later pursue a career as a high-powered attorney in D.C. When her mother suffers a heart attack and can’t assist in the good doctor’s office, Carolyn agrees to come home and fill in for her mother for a few days. After all, a rural doctor can’t shut his office doors, not even for a heart attack.

Life has a funny way of working even with the best plans, and the few days ends up being much longer. The book follows the four seasons of a year and at the end of that year, her mother hasn’t returned to the office, and Carolyn is still answering phones and making everyone comfortable in the waiting room while waiting to be seen by her father. From Washington attorney to office receptionist is a challenge because there is so much she doesn’t know about human nature and life.

The memoir  reads as if it’s a novel. The characters who enter the lobby of her father’s practice are quirky, intriguing, and funny. And they understand what is important in the life we’ve been handed. By the end of the year, she’s come away with some important knowledge that can only be learned by observing and living.

“We had to take what we were and what we had and do the best we could with them. There were no extra bonus points for visibility or magnitude. I’d always aimed for the big score, but now I understood better.”

Heart in the Right Place is a delightful read that reminded me about the important things. I found one of the characters plucked from the pages of real life to hold the key. I want to tattoo the words on the slate of my mind so I always remember them. To do the right thing by others doesn’t require money or even words. It only requires that we

SHOW UP

As with most things in life, it’s simple. Another character states, “The most important things don’t look like much.” It’s true. Showing up for another person doesn’t seem like much. It could be a card mailed, an errand run, a flower picked, a cookie baked, or even simpler. Hold the door open at the bank, grab a box for someone who can’t reach the top shelf at the grocery store, or give up a seat on the bus. It doesn’t look like much, but it means the world to the person on the receiving end.

About Carolyn Jourdan from her Amazon Author Page: USA Today, Audible, and 5-Time Wall Street Journal best-selling author of heartwarming memoir, biography, and mystery – Jourdan chronicles miracles, mayhem, and madcap moments in Appalachian medicine, as well as zany and touching interactions with wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Jourdan’s trademark blend of wit and wisdom, humor and humanity have earned her high praise from Dolly Parton and Fannie Flagg, as well as major national newspapers, the New York Public Library, Elle, Family Circle Magazine, and put her work at the top of hundreds of lists of best books of the year and funniest books ever.

Carolyn is a former U.S. Senate Counsel to the Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Committee on Governmental Affairs. She has degrees from the University of Tennessee in Biomedical Engineering and Law. She lives on the family farm in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, with many stray animals.