P. C. ZICK – Still Waters Run Deep

This is such a lovely post from the creative and talented S.R. (Sarah) Mallery.

Source: P. C. ZICK – Still Waters Run Deep

Also, Trails in the Sand can be downloaded free April 18-21 in honor of the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the lives lost. Click here to download your copy.

Book Review Friday – The Dolan Girls

DOLAN_GIRLS_largeOne of the first full-length books I ever read was a biography of Annie Oakley. I loved that sharpshooting sassy woman, and it started me on a lifelong love affair with reading. So it gave me pleasure to read S.R. Mallery’s latest work, The Dolan Girls and discover that my Annie Oakley played a role in this rollicking Wild West romance set in the years before, during, and after the Civil War.

I admire Ms. Mallery’s ability to delve into the past as she’s done in her short stories and her previous novel, Unexpected Gifts. But with the latest novel, she immerses the reader in the feel of what it must have been like during those days of high expectations for what the West held for those fleeing the East and the disappointments that lay waiting like a rattlesnake in the grass. It was called the “wild” west for a reason. It was a place where the law was written as needed, and often, the outlaws were writing those laws. From this world of lawlessness, came the inevitable services, such as houses where men could drink, relax, and enjoy the beauties of the night. Ms. Mallery sets her novel up in such a place, but Madam Ana’s is not a place of ill-repute as you might imagine. The Madam sets a tone of civility and gentility with all her girls and the patrons who frequent the place. She’s the Madam with a heart of gold, shown when she takes in two abandoned girls, Cora and Minnie, who eventually take over the running of the place.

There’s plenty of violence and heartbreak in this novel, but there’s also love between men and women and the love in families, such as the one that exists at Madam Ana’s. The Pinkerton detective who rides into town wearing a white hat disrupts the peace and fights to win the heart of Cora. Cora’s daughter Ellie, is caught up in a love affair with one of the horse trainers from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. It is this show that brings dear Annie to town. And when the entire household at Madam Ana’s is treated to front row seats to watch the shenanigans, Ms. Mallery shines in her descriptions, transporting the reader back to the late 1800s Nebraska.

Ms. Mallery uses her fine paint brush to bring us a portrait of a time often romanticized, but not often personalized with such exquisitely drawn characters. Annie Oakley was exactly as I imagined her. And Buffalo Bill is a hoot. So is the sister Minne and her romp with a famous photographer.

But there are serious moments as well as Cora deals with her past and her present. I’m thrilled knowing that we’re not done with The Dolan Girls. Word out on the street and in the wild west says Ms. Mallery is hard at work on a sequel.

Lasso that bull, S.R.!

Click here to read Author Wednesday on The Dolan Girls.

Purchase The Dolan Girls.

Read an excerpt of The Dolan Girls.

1861: Young Kisses

Cora Dolan refused to talk about what had happened six years earlier, ten miles above town. Sealed up as tight as a snail in the cold she was, even to her sister Minnie, who was there with her the whole time; even with Thomas, who held her heart.

Cora Dolan refused to talk about what had happened six years earlier, ten miles above town. Sealed up as tight as a snail in the cold she was, even to her sister Minnie, who was there with her the whole time; even with Thomas, who held her heart.

Yet one star-flushed night, as the wind’s edges were chilling and the shortening days were trumpeting the around-the-corner autumn, the two sweethearts pressed against a neighbor’s barn door, and Cora opened her mouth to share her past, then paused.

“What is it, Cora?” Thomas whispered, his steady arm around her sixteen-year-old waist, his mouth brushed against her ear. “Tell me what gets you sad sometimes. Let me help you.”

She forced a smile. “I’m all right, truly I am,” she said, placing her right hand gently over her heart for a couple of seconds. With her arms then draped over his broad shoulders, she uplifted her face for a kiss.

“Oh, Cora,” he said softly, his lips heading toward hers, “I love it when you put your hand over your heart. It’s so sweet. So trusting.”

Suddenly, a horse’s sudden clop-clop broke their embrace, sending them scurrying off to Cora’s residence. Several blocks away, still running, laughing, holding hands, they slowed their pace down to a stroll as they passed the livery stable, the local blacksmith, the church shut tight for the night, the brand new post office, and the local saloon with its strong bouquet of whiskey and beer wafting into the air. Finally, they stopped in front of the red-curtained Madam Ana’s, South Benton’s second watering hole, the place for pleasuring most any man.

And home to the Dolan girls.

“I guess it’s good-night, then,” her young suitor murmured, angling for another kiss.

A male snicker rang out. “Well, well, well. What do we have here?”

Out from behind the southeast porch post stepped a slightly older young man, his black hat cocked forty-five degrees, his leather jacket opened, his six-shooter holstered just below his waist. He moved in close.

“Cora, sweet thing, why in the world do you waste your time with such a greenhorn, huh?” he sneered. “Be like the gals you live with and try a real man for once!”

Thomas stepped in front of Cora. “Wes, that’s no way to treat a lady. Let her be!”

The stepbrothers faced each other. “Don’t you threaten me!” Wes spat back, splaying his tall, wiry legs and fingering his new grown mustache as if to further prove his manhood.

“That’s rich––me threatening you. Now, leave us alone!”

As Wes half walked, half hitched away, chortling, Cora clutched her protector. “He’s always so scary,” she whispered…

“… I think you’re beautiful, Cora. In fact, you’re perfect.”

Concentrating on his piercing blue eyes, she leaned in for a kiss. All of a sudden, they heard Madam Ana inside, laughing with one of her customers while an out-of-tune piano clunked loudly in the parlor. Although the kiss ended up much shorter than he would have liked, he said nothing when Cora turned and swung the front door open to head toward the back of the house where she shared a bedroom with her sister Minnie.

Just inside, Cora walked into the parlor, with its red velvet wallpaper and red carpeting, stretching out onto the large, winding staircase that led upstairs. She continued on, past the central eye-catchers of the room:  a large maroon settee, piled high with plump, satin pillows, and a glittering chandelier hovering overhead that word had it, cost a small fortune. Nothing was too good for the ambitious Madam Ana Prozinski from Russia, she was always being told.

“Cora!” called out Becky, a voluptuous blonde squeezed into a purple, gusset-enhanced corset, high-heeled boots, and her famous black velvet choker. “While we’ve been workin’ here a month of Sundays, you get to make a night of it! For two cents, I’d love to know what you’ve been doin’!”

“Yup, I reckon she just got a lick and a promise!” added a red-petticoated Julie to a chorus of shrieks and laughter.

Amy, in a rose-colored shimmy and fishnet stockings, chimed in. “Look at her red face! Did you ever see anything so perty? It’s just like…”

“She’s always pretty!” Julie interrupted. “Talks fine, too. Must be all those speakin’ lessons from Pete she’s always taking.”

“Yeah,” Becky said, chuckling. “She talks like one of them refined ladies, but she’s also so pretty she could be one of us. I’ll bet she could bring in those cowboys by the wagonloads! She’s…”

Madam Ana strode into the room “Girls, enough!” You know I take no stock in dis kinda talk. Leave Cora be. Now go back to verk!” She looked around at her employees and clapped twice. “Now!” she barked.

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – S.R. MALLERY

cropped-typewriter.jpgIt’s already hump day, and that means another installment of Author Wednesday. I’m very excited today to welcome S.R. Mallery. I know her as Sarah, and I’m proud to say that not only have I had the privilege of working with her as an editor, but she has also become a dear friend in this sometimes isolated profession as an author and editor. She’s a gem, and she’s just published her first “Wild West” historical romance, The Dolan Girls.DOLAN_GIRLS_large

 

From S.R. Mallery on writing The Dolan Girls

When an author keeps on writing one particular genre, people naturally assume his or her choice of reading material is undoubtedly in that same genre. I pen mostly historical fiction; ergo, my TBR pile must be filled with books of that same ilk.

No, not necessarily. Although I do read practically every fictional genre, I tend to gravitate toward mysteries, thrillers, and in some cases, romances. So why, you might ask, do I write historical fiction? Research. I love reading nonfiction books/articles about history and watching a myriad of documentaries and TV series about different time periods. And so, by writing historical fiction, I get to really learn about whatever era I’ve decided in which to place my story and characters.

I am also fascinated by older customs, cultures, and language. Just looking at photographs or pictures, watching films, or listening to the music of different epochs, instantly stimulates plots and motives in my brain, steering me on toward creating a complete story. Additionally, what I have ultimately discovered through this process is no matter the generation, no matter the geography, people and their emotions have never really changed.

Then, Forrest Gump-like, I like to insert my fictional characters into settings of real historical events, or alongside real historical figures, helping the reader envision what it must have been like to live way back when.

After publishing my first three books (Unexpected Gifts, Sewing Can Be Dangerous, and Tales To Count On), someone suggested I try my hand at writing a historical fiction Wild West romance. I had already tackled a couple of love scenes in my other books, and suddenly, I remembered how many westerns I had watched growing up. And how many crushes I had on the male actors who aided and abetted the blossoming of my prepubescent hormones!

So I started my ‘field-work.’ I quickly learned how the existence of madams and their whorehouses was as important as schoolmarms and their teachings; how the Wild West outlaw was often a direct result of the southern anger at losing the Civil War; how “the way out West” justified the poor man’s escape from a congested, restricted life to an open-aired one, and how Buffalo Bill was a true showman, treasuring the famous Annie Oakley. And rightfully so. Reading about her shooting accuracy, coupled with her pretty face and petite frame, captivated me.

I also discovered the sparseness of the new western towns cropping up was in direct contrast to the rich, colorful language used.

Here’s a TINY fraction of terms and phrases from the book, Cowboy Lingo, by Ramon F. Adams:

WORDS

“pill-rollers” or “saw-bones” = doctors      “wisdom bringers” = teachers      “Prairie wool” = grass

PHRASES

“they came skally-hootin’ into town”

“have about as much chance winnin’ as a grasshopper that hops on an anthill”

“had him settin’ on a damp cloud learnin’ to play a harp”

“handsome as an ace-full on Kings”

“put windows in his skull”

“big enough to hunt bears with a switch”

“he don’t know dung from wild honey”

“as prominent as a new saloon in a church district”

“showed up like a tin roof in a fog”

“as wise as a tree-full of owls”

“as useless as a twenty-two cartridge in an eight-gauge shotgun”

Now, after all this, how could I resist writing a Wild West romance? In the end, I had a total blast doing researching for The Dolan Girls and its sequel, which will take place during the late 1800s, set right smack in the middle of the infamous Johnson County Cattle War in Wyoming.

Yippee Ki-yay!!

Thanks, Sarah. And everyone else, watch for my thoughts on The Dolan Girls on Book Review Friday.

S.R.Malleryheadshot_04forblogs (1)About S.R. Mallery:  Let’s face it. S. R. Mallery is as eclectic as her characters. Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, she next explored the fast-paced world of advertising as a production artist while she simultaneously dipped her toe into the Zen biosphere as a calligrapher. Having started a family and wanting to work from the home, she moved on to having a long career as an award-winning quilt artist and an ESL/Reading instructor before settling on her true love––writing. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt. Her quilt articles have appeared in Quilt World and Traditional Quilt Works.

Links to S.R. Mallery’s Books

The Dolan Girls

Unexpected Gifts  

Sewing Can Be Dangerous  

Tales To Count On 

More on S.R. Mallery

Website  

Blog

Twitter  

Facebook Fan Page

Google+

Goodreads

Pinterest  (I have some good history boards that are getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films)

Amazon Author Central

 

 

BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – TALES TO COUNT ON

TALES_final_fullTales To Count On by S.R. Mallery, a unique collection of short stories, contains a variety of genres, including historical, Gothic, and fantasy. They are organized by word count, which the author says often determines the story when written under the constraints of submission guidelines. Interesting concept that developed into a full-blown eclectic combination of historical, contemporary, and mysterious stories.

Full disclosure: I edited and formatted this book. The “work” became a labor of love as I became enamored with the characters and the delightful storytelling ability of Ms. Mallery. Reading them provided me with hours of enjoyment. I’m a fan of S.R. Mallery’s writing, which is what brought us together in the first place. Click here to read my reviews of her other books, Sewing Can Be Dangerous, another collection of short stories, and Unexpected Gifts, a delightful novel of one young woman’s discovery of her roots.

If you’ve ever read any of the O Henry short stories and enjoyed them, you’ll be in for a treat with her newest book. Each one has some type of twist at the end. That’s a tricky task for an author who has to lead the reader down one path and completely change direction by the end to surprise even the most astute detectives. S.R. Mallery is a master at the technique and proves it thoroughly in Tales To Count On.

The craft of short story writing requires a special talent. Maybe that’s why they aren’t as popular as they once were. Maybe it’s because the big name magazines are no longer at the forefront of the publishing world as they were during the heyday of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Salinger, and Parker. Those writers made their names and their leap to literary infamy through the publication of short stories in The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly. It takes a talented writer to create a short piece that contains all the same elements within a full-length novel. There must be characterization, believable dialogue, conflict, rising tension, and a climax. There must be a compelling story with mood to set the tone and powerful settings and descriptions. All of these techinques must occur in 500 to 4,000 words. And that’s just what they do in S.R. Mallery’s Tales To Count On.

The range and depth of the stories caused me to sit back in awe of her genius when I first read them. Preparing to write my review, I reread some of them and my awe only increased. She explores issues, such as domestic abuse, mental illness, employer/employee relations, PTSD, and abusive parents. The stories take the readers to varied settings and time periods. Her point of view shifts as a literary technique in one story involving a traffic jam, allowing the reader the unique perspective of voyeuristically peeking into the lives of a varied group of travelers and the impact the stalled vehicles have on each character’s world.

Each of the multi-layered characters are developed with efficient precision from the snarky journalist whose karma comes back to haunt him to the young woman portrayed as a sexy young virgin during the French Revolution. Shocking endings all, so I can’t say much more than I have. What I can say is readers of all preferences will find something to love in this collection of stories that reveal much about the human condition.

Most of all, the shocking endings show the reader that nothing is as it seems on the surface.

If you’re looking for stories that are intelligent, well-designed, and edge-of-the-seat worthy, then you won’t be disappointed with Tales To Count On.

Click below to read my interviews with S.R. Mallery on Author Wednesday.

 S.R. Mallery – December 4, 2013

S.R. Mallery – April 22, 2015

Purchase Links

S.R. Mallery Amazon Author Page

Barnes & Noble Page

Kobo Page

 

NOTE: Because Amazon frowns upon authors leaving reviews for other authors, I no longer leave reviews on their retail site. However, I will continue to review books here on my own blog for Book Review Friday. Authors are welcome to share my reviews with their own social media networks and to publish excerpts of my reviews as editorial reviews on Amazon. My list of TBR books is long, but I’m always willing to consider new works. If I enjoy a book, I review it.

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – S.R. MALLERY

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgI welcome S.R. Mallery to Author Wednesday today. This talented author recently published a collection of short stories, Tales To Count On with a unique combination of genres, including historical, Gothic, and fantasy—with many twist endings. If you’ve ever read any of the O Henry short stories and enjoyed them, you’ll be in for a treat with this collection. Full disclosure: I edited and formatted this book. The “work” became a labor of love as I fell in love with the characters and the delightful storytelling ability of Ms. Mallery. She has also published another collection of historical short stories, Sewing Can Be Dangerous. You can read my review of that book here.TALES_final_full

Hello Sarah or S.R. I’m so happy to have you grace my blog today. Since today is Earth Day, I’d like to ask you about something Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) once said about her writing. She said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Have you ever had this happen?

Talk about a subject choosing me!  I can still remember sitting with my father years ago, out on his little corner balcony way up on the 27th floor of a Manhattan apartment building.  As the sun was slowly setting and the lights were glowing across the Hudson River on one side, the twinkling lights of Manhattan on the other, he told me all about the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911.  According to him, not only was that day horrific—over 140 young women’s lives were lost—but how important that event was because of the building codes that were changed after that.

I sat there, riveted, envisioning those hapless immigrant girls, either leaping or falling to their deaths; girls who also piled up against doors that at that time only opened inward. So, several years later, when I wrote my very first short story entitled, “Sewing Can Be Dangerous,” it was all about that fateful day.SEWING_CAN_BE_DANGEROUS_full

Tell me about Tales To Count On and its eclectic short stories. 

My Tales To Count On is a mish-mash of stories.  The synopsis says it best:

Curl up and enter the eclectic world of S. R. Mallery, where sad meets bizarre and deception meets humor; where history meets revenge and magic meets Gothic.  Whether it’s 500 words or 5,000, these Tales To Count On, which include a battered women’s shelter, childhood memories, Venetian love, magic photographs, PTSD fallout, sisters’ tricks, WWII spies, the French Revolution, evil vaudevillians, and celebrity woes, will remind you that in the end, nothing is ever what it seems.

I’ve also been working on an historical fiction Wild West romance:

The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery has it all. Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Add to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 Land Rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and romance. It’s not only a taste of America’s past, it’s also about people overcoming insurmountable odds.

I’m really looking forward to reading The Dolan Girls. It sounds very exciting and like everything you write, it’s a grab bag of action and conflict. Your stories are set all over the world. Do you think setting plays a role in your stories?

Although I feel good characters are probably the most important part of any fictional book, with historical fiction, setting is EVERYTHING!  In that genre, authenticity is vital in the transportation to older times. That’s what makes you live and breathe that period alongside of your characters.  People have asked me how I am able to capture people in past times and make them so believable. Well, there is a tremendous amount of research that contributes towards that: reading about actual events, studying the lingo of that specific time, the culture, the dress. In other words, it’s all important.

But I also feel even with my more modern material, settings help ‘set the stage’.

 Are you planning to continue writing historical fiction?

Probably, although one never knows what the future will bring.  I will be continuing on with the Wild West book next and a tiny seed has planted itself inside my brain recently about perhaps writing a murder mystery that takes place during the 1920’s Jazz Age.  But who knows?

I love that period in American history, between the two world wars and during prohibition. Life was lived with a different attitude. How did you choose the title for the new book, Tales To Count On

As for the title for Tales To Count On, that was a hard one.  First of all, these stories are so eclectic and range from 500 words to 5,000 with various genres included.  Titles came and went and just when I thought I had something, then either Amazon already had that title listed, or it didn’t grab me or my supportive friends.  Then one day, my brother casually asked, “How ‘bout Tales to Count On?”  And that was that!

Smart brother! It’s a perfect title. Tell me how you came up with this unique idea for Tales.

Having decided to ‘clear out my writing cupboard’ to see if I could cobble together another collection, I started to put some of my flash fiction and other stories together. But unlike my Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, which had the definite connection of sewing or crafting, just how could I link these very eclectic stories?  Then it hit me.  Since the ‘word count’ is so important for writers, why not link them that way?  Each story title would have the word count under it, and it would go by ascending order of numbers.  And…and…I could include a few of my stories that were lengthier, as long as I put the word count under their titles! Eureka!

It’s amazing how it all came together. I love these stories and I’m sure the book will be very successful. Congratulations on a job well done. I expect you back when The Dolan Girls is published. I’ll add that S.R. Mallery’s first novel Unexpected Gifts is under construction right now. She should have it up again sometime this summer. 

S.R.Malleryheadshot_04forblogsS.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life. First a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy.
Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.

Click below to connect with S.R. Mallery

Website/Blog 

Twitter@SarahMallery1

Facebook Fan Page

Google+

Goodreads

PinterestS.R. has some good history boards that are getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films on this site.

Amazon Author page

Tales To Count OnAmazon

Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads  – Amazon