Grab your favorite beverage, relax, and let me tell you a story…

After Midnight - Black Phoenix #1

Re-edited, revised edition October 2013

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November 29, 2010

I'm supposed to be writing

But what am I doing? Searching the internet for eye candy. You see, my best friend called me this weekend. During our conversation she mentioned that she was watching Season 1 of Justified. Why? Really, you need to ask? Hmmm, maybe this will help.

Yeah, not only is Justified a great series, but it stars Hollywood hottie, Timothy Olyphant.  What can I say, I have a thing for terrific smiles, and Timothy has a fabulous smile.

But I digress...


Man candy.

Right. Our conversation turned to celebrity crushes. You know the ones I'm talking about. Those celebrities that you just can't get enough of, whose movies/series you would watch even if they stunk just so you could get your fill of HOT. You've got one, you know you do. Heck, I've got one. One that my friend hadn't heard about, hence my internet search for pics:

Joe Manganiello

6 foot 5 inches of werewolf muscle on HBO's True Blood

Yeah, what a way to spend the morning. Now back to my regularly scheduled day of writing.

As soon as I find my drool cup.

Happy Monday everyone!

November 28, 2010

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my very first Six Sentence Sunday posting. This is from my upcoming release, After Midnight, a contemporary romance coming soon from The Wild Rose Press.

“You think you’re not the type to draw a man’s attention, think again. I can’t stand in the same room as you without wanting to taste you. I can’t taste you without wanting to taste all of you.”

Oh, God. Her knees turned to jelly. A hot, wet pulse came to life between her legs.

Be sure to visit all the Six Sentence Sunday authors. You can find a list of them HERE. See you next time!

November 24, 2010


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November 19, 2010

Happy Friday!

I'm writing this weekend. How about you, what are your plans?

November 17, 2010

Death by Hanging

Today's blog is by Historical Romance author Kathy Otten. Enjoy! And make sure you visit her website for more information on Kathy and her books.

In my new novel, Lost Hearts, my hero, Richard Bennick is a U.S. Deputy Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which at the time of my novel, in 1877, had full jurisdiction over Indian Territory. The federal court was located in Fort Smith, Arkansas with one of the toughest federal court judges in history, Judge Isaac Charles Parker. During his years on the bench, from 1875-1896, Judge Parker sentenced 160 men to death, 79 of which were hanged. He quickly became known as the “Hanging Judge.”

Parker’s chief executioner was a man originally from Bavaria, named George Maledon. Maledon was a small framed man, only five feet, five inches tall. He had large dark eyes, a scraggly beard, and a gloomy appearance. Under Parker’s order, Maledon carried out the hangings for 60 of those men, which earned him the nickname, “Prince of Hangmen.”

Maledon took great pride in his work. Each rope was only used eleven times. He made sure no man strangled, kicking and twisting until he died, but rather died instantaneously, from a broken neck.

Each rope was twenty-seven feet in length and made of the finest hemp. To keep them from slipping, Maledon treated them with a pitchy oil substance. He then stretched the ropes on the gallows with two hundred pound bags of sand and oiled them again. Originally an inch and a quarter in diameter, the ropes were stretched to a tight one inch, perfect for knotting and oily enough so it gave no squeak when it jerked.

Maledon claimed his big knot was the secret of a good execution and to form his noose each rope was wrapped thirteen times.

On the gallows, the rope was dropped over the neck the prisoner and tightened over the larynx until it touched skin all the way around. The knot was placed under the left ear in the hollow at the back of the jaw bone. The rope was then brought upward, over the top of the head to hang down in a curve on the other side. That held the knot steady under the ear.

The trap would spring, the man dropped through, and the rope snapped taut. The big knot threw the head sideways and fractured the spine, giving each man a quick, easy death.

In the following excerpt, the hero, Richard, leaves a meeting with the U.S. Marshal and finds himself staring at the famous gallows in Fort Smith, contemplating his own death.

His stomach churned and sweat popped out across his brow. Even now the guilt still lingered. He’d done something, something very bad, he just didn’t know what. He didn’t want to think about it, but Brady was dead, and he had a feeling it was his fault.

God, he needed a drink.


Richard blinked and blew out a shaky breath. Upham had asked a question. What was it?

“Deputy, I think this is too much for you right now.”

“I’m fine, it’s just hot in here.”

“No, you don’t look well. Go home, get some rest, and we’ll talk again in a couple of days. Meantime, you may want to hire yourself an attorney. If this goes to the grand jury, he can have Hobbs and Johnny Bodine subpoenaed. I’ll send as many deputies out to find them as I have to.” Upham stood and stepped around his desk.

Richard rose and they shook hands.

“Now don’t worry, deputy,” Marshal Upham said as they walked to the office door. “You’ve been very ill. Just give it time. The memories will come back to you.”

Richard said good-bye and limped down the hallway. That’s what he was afraid of.

Outside, he mounted his horse and sat, his gaze captured by the gallows on the south side of the parade grounds. The platform rose seven feet high, just enough to keep a man’s feet from touching the ground when the lever was pulled. A twelve foot beam supported by heavy timbers, ran the width of the floor, and was strong enough to allow six men to simultaneously drop to their deaths.

Although hangings attracted hundreds of people who camped out near the grounds and brought picnic lunches, Richard had never watched an execution. He’d seen too much of the reality of life to find death entertaining.

How would it feel to stand up there, looking out across a crowd of gawking spectators? Would he choose to wear the hood, or would he stare defiantly over the tops of their heads as the weight of the finest hemp was dropped around his neck.

He could almost imagine the prick of the fibers pressing into his Adam’s apple as the well oiled hemp was pulled snug. He swallowed against the imaginary pressure. The knot would lay heavy behind his left ear, in the hollow of his jaw bone. Then when the trap opened, and his body shot down, the rope would snap taut and break his neck.

The hangman, George Maledon, once told Richard that he had never preformed a “bad” hanging. He had a trick when positioning the rope so men didn’t strangle, thrashing and kicking until they died.

Richard tightened his grip on the reins. Would hanging be his fate if he couldn’t remember; if Johnny couldn’t be found? Though he struggled daily to do right, maybe in the end, this had always been his destiny.

Check out Kathy's new release,
Lost Hearts.
Now available at The Wild Rose Press.

November 6, 2010

It's Saturday and...

I can’t seem to get my head in the game and write. Most likely because everyone is home today. I need quiet to write and I don't have it. Hubs is at the computer in the other room, laughing out loud and then reading to me what made him laugh. Teenagers just woke up so, of course, they feel the need to talk to me, too. I really need an office with a door. Ya know what I’m saying?

At least I’ve been writing this week. Every day this week, actually. Interested in a sneak peek?

I’ll share, but only if you remember that this is rough and unedited. I take full responsibility for any errors in medicalese as I haven’t talked with my emergency room contact to verify accuracy.

“Forty year old male involved in a T-bone MVA,” the medic called out as they pushed the stretcher through the doors and into the emergency department. “SUV versus semi. SUV rolled multiple times before stopping on its passenger side.”

Adrenaline surged through Dr. Rebecca Dahlman’s system, revving her pulse, pushing away the fatigue of an overly long shift better than the half pot of coffee she’d already consumed.

“Upon arrival, patient was unresponsive. We were able to get the c-collar on him right away, but had to wait for rescue’s hydraulic equipment to remove the door before we could get him on the backboard.”

Gown and gloves in place, Rebecca ran her gaze over the man strapped to the backboard with orange belts as they swung into trauma one and transferred him to the ER’s bed. Her team moved efficiently around the patient, cutting off his clothes with trauma shears.

The medic continued feeding her pertinent information as she began her own assessment. “Blood pressure is one-twenty over seventy-five, pulse ox one hundred percent. Pupils are dilated, equal and reactive.”

The guy was a bloody mess. Blood covered his face, soaked the left side of his head and shoulder of his shirt. He had a laceration on his left upper arm, deep enough to require sutures, and some bruises were already beginning to form across his chest from the seatbelt doing its job and holding him in place. Other than that, there were no other visible injuries. It was the injuries she couldn’t see that she had to worry about.

“I want a complete set of x-rays,” Rebecca stated automatically as she shifted closer and listened to her patient’s chest. Lungs clear, no abnormal heart rhythm. She looped her stethoscope around her neck and leaned in, searching the man’s scalp for head trauma. “Draw a trauma panel, tox screen and blood alcohol.”

Karen Williams, Rebecca’s best friend and charge nurse for the night, pulled the man’s wallet from the pile of clothes on the floor.

Directly above his left ear Rebecca uncovered the source of all the blood. Pushing her fingers into his hair, she palpated the injury site. The wound immediately began to bleed again. “No skull fracture that I can detect.”


“I’ll want a CT scan of the head and neck.”

“Rebecca.” Karen’s voice was tight and pulled her attention. “It’s Dominic.”

For a moment, a heartbeat really, the words didn’t make any sense. Then, she looked closer. As if in slow motion Rebecca dragged her gaze up the torso, locked it onto the face partially hidden behind long, blood soaked hair. Her breath snagged in her throat and she froze, the sound of her pulse beating in her ears. It was a struggle to keep her hand steady as she pushed his hair away from his face and focused on his mouth, those lips, the bottom one slightly fuller than the top, the thin, straight nose.

“Stud,” she whispered, her voice torn.

His eyes were closed, ringed in thick black lashes. Were they open, she knew they would be the color of the sky just after a cleansing rain.

Her world tilted.

No. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t Dominic. Dominic didn’t have a goatee or a scar across his right clavicle. Dominic wasn’t in California, he was in London. Safe in London.

Not unconscious and bleeding in the middle of her ER.

She lost focus as the room began to spin. Rebecca grabbed the side rail of the bed to keep from hitting the ground. Dom. My God. Her chest felt as if someone stood on it.

“You know this man?” the medic on her right asked.

How could she ever forget? He’d haunted her, both asleep and awake, for nearly three years. She knew his scent, his wicked sense of humor. She knew that were he conscious, he’d be giving her a hard time in that sexy damn voice of his. That he had calluses on his fingers that set her body on fire. Calluses from years of playing the bass, something he did even while asleep; tapping out a rhythm against her hip.

“Yes,” she admitted without thought. Then she pulled her head out of the past and got back to work.

So what do you think? Me, I think I need to get my head back in the game and write some more.

November 4, 2010

Spotlight On... Alison Henderson

Author Alison Henderson is with us at the keyboard this morning. Welcome, Alison, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a Midwestern girl through and through. I grew up in Kansas City and went off to college in upstate New York, but the Heartland drew me back. My husband and I are currently empty-nesters living in Minnesota, and our daughter is a PhD student in Egyptian Archaeology in Chicago.

Tell us about HARVEST OF DREAMS and where we can find it.

HARVEST OF DREAMS is my first published novel. It’s set in a small river town in northwest Missouri just after the Civil War, when the country was struggling to get back on its feet and rootless young men banded together to form the beginnings of the infamous outlaw gangs of the Old West.

Here’s a short blurb about the story:

Alone on her farm in the middle of a blizzard, young widow Lisa McAllister labors to give birth to her first child. Help arrives in the form of a stranger with a six-gun. Lisa has no reason to trust this man who makes a living by violence, even if he is on the right side of the law. Men and their guns have already claimed the lives of her father, brother, and husband, and she’s determined to protect her son at any cost.
Jared Tanner, a security agent for the stagecoach, has been on his own since he was twelve. With Lisa and her baby, he’s finally found something worth fighting for – a family of his own. But a fresh wave of violence threatens to tear them apart. Can their new love survive?

HARVEST OF DREAMS is available in both print and e-book formats at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.com, as well as other online retailers.

You can read an excerpt HERE

Why did you choose your genre?

As the song says, “my heroes have always been cowboys”. Western heroes are larger than life and embody many attributes we still value today such as honor, courage, and independence. I think the concept, challenge, and allure of the frontier and the West have had a profound effect on our collective psyche and our definition of ourselves as Americans. Even in my contemporary romantic suspense stories, my heroes are cowboys at heart.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’ve always loved history, and in the Border States of Kansas and Missouri, reminders of the local history lurk around every corner. When writing historicals, many of my ideas are prompted by facts I uncover in my research.

How do you do your research?

I started HARVEST OF DREAMS back before the Internet made research a breeze, but the fact that I was able to visit the actual town of Weston, tour some of the antebellum buildings, and walk the old brick streets in the footsteps of my characters added a sense of place that’s hard to get from articles on the Internet. I visited the Historical Society and picked up a book compiled of old photographs and articles from the local newspaper from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

How did you start writing?

I’m not one of those writers who always wanted to write. In fact, I never considered writing fiction until I took an extended sabbatical from work when my daughter was born. I had just discovered romance novels and was swept away by the grand creations of the early mistresses of the genre. When my daughter started preschool, I decided to try my hand. The resulting first book was unprintable but so much fun I tried again and produced the first draft of HARVEST OF DREAMS. I joined RWA and eventually learned what I didn’t know. Many years and many drafts later I’m proud of the result.

What do you find is the hardest part of writing a book?

I enjoy every part of the process from the research, to the plotting, to the magic of creating scenes and dialogue. The hardest part is having the discipline to sit down and write day after day for as long as it takes to tell your story to the best of your ability.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

My day job is Vice President of Underwriting and New Business for a large life insurance brokerage.

Where can we find you on the web?

I invite everyone to visit me at  http://www.alisonhenderson.com/

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Inspiration comes in many forms. What inspires you?

Thanks for visiting with us today, Alison.  I wish you many sales!

Harvest of Dreams by Alison Henderson

Harvest of Dreams by Alison Henderson
Available at The Wild Rose Press

Alone on her farm in the middle of a blizzard, young widow Lisa McAllister labors to give birth to her first child. Help arrives in the form of a stranger with a six-gun. Lisa has no reason to trust this man who makes a living by violence, even if he is on the right side of the law. Men and their guns have already claimed the lives of her father, brother, and husband, and she’s determined to protect her son at any cost.

Jared Tanner, a security agent for the stagecoach, has been on his own since he was twelve. With Lisa and her baby, he’s finally found something worth fighting for – a family of his own. But a fresh wave of violence threatens to tear them apart. Can their new love survive?

Jared was the first to speak. "I'm not sorry."

She remained silent.

"This doesn't change anything," he said.

Lisa pulled back and looked up, shaking her head. "It changes everything."

"No, it doesn't. The feelings were there before, and they'll still be there whether we act on them or not."

She didn't try to deny it. "But we can’t, and it will be so much harder now."

"That's true. Now you know how much I want you, and I know you want me, too. I don’t know where this is going, but we have to find out.”

“I don’t want to find out.” But a small voice inside denied the words. Part of her had to know.

“I think you do, and I know I do. I'm not going to offer to leave, even though it might make some things easier, not unless you can convince me you really want me to go." He cupped her face in both hands and searched her eyes. "Do you?"

Lisa knew she should say yes and remove the unbearable temptation of his presence, but she couldn't bring herself to speak the lie. She shook her head. "No."

Jared's lips moved in a tiny smile, then his serious expression returned. "I can't tell you I'll never kiss you again, or touch you, or that I won't want to get even closer to you, but I promise I won't press you for anything you don't want to give. I'd never do anything to hurt you. You know that, don't you?"

She nodded.

"Good. Now it's time for you to get some sleep." He led her to the bed and tucked her in, his hands lingering as he smoothed the quilt across her. Then he leaned over her, his expression rigid and deadly serious. "I want you to know leaving you tonight is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. But I want more from you than one night in your bed."

November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Cover & Blurb

As promised, here is the cover I made for NaNoWriMo, along with the blurb for MIDNIGHT HEAT. I found the photo at iStockphoto.com.  The minute I saw it I knew I had to have it, for it portrays Rebecca and Dominic exactly as I picture them.

MIDNIGHT HEAT is a spin-off of After Midnight. It features Dominic Price, a secondary character  from After Midnight. I originally had no plans to give Dominic his own story, but half way into writing After Midnight, fell so in love with his character that I changed my mind. I hope you'll love him as much as I do.

She was the only woman who ever rocked his world.

Black Phoenix bassist Dominic Price made a mistake three years ago when he walked out on Rebecca without a backward glance. A mistake he plans to rectify. But first he has to convince her to open her heart to him again.

The unconscious man wheeled into Dr. Rebecca Dahlman’s ER was sexy—unforgettably sexy—and injured. This wasn’t just any patient in need of medical help. He was the only man she’d ever loved—the one who still haunted her dreams.

One touch of his calloused hands reignites their passion. Can they rekindle their trust as easily, or will her fears cause her to lose him again…this time to a man bent on revenge?