Friday, December 8, 2023

#NewRelease from Mike Torreano: FIREFLIES AT DUSK

 I am happy to welcome fellow Wild Rose Press writer Mike Torreano to Journeys with Jana. Mike is an award winning author who writes books about American history and the old west. His newest book, FIREFLIES AT DUSK, released November 2023. It's a story of a young man coming of age on the brink of the civil war. Thanks for being here today, Mike!

Hi Jana. For this guest post, I decided to write about some of the research I did for Fireflies at Dusk, particularly around pacifism and slavery.  The story is set prior to and during the Civil War, but is really a coming-of-age story of a young man, Jonathan. Major story elements include pacifism as represented by Quakers, slavery and the Underground Railroad, the fury of war, period medicine, and Andersonville prison camp. But I want to focus on the Underground Railroad here—how it worked and what it did.

For a start, I visited the National Underground Railroad Museum in downtown Cincinnati. It captures the shameful history of slavery in America, but also honors the brave people who risked their lives to help runaway slaves. The Underground Railroad was a way northern abolitionists helped runaway families to safety in the North. Quakers would hide slaves in their meeting houses and if they couldn’t do that, women wove quilts that hung outside with hidden messages telling runaways whether it was safe to go north, and what direction to take. The Fugitive Slave Law worked directly against this though, declaring that runaways still belonged to their owners who were then allowed to seize them and return them south. 

In Fireflies, Jonathan is distraught when the slave family they are hiding is taken from his meeting house and no one moves to stop the bounty hunters. He directs most of his anger at his father, who stood passively while the slavers seized the family. This anger causes Jonathan to reject his family’s pacifism and join the Union Army when the war breaks out, completing his break with his family, his sweetheart, and his faith. Now, amid the fiery combat of war he leads men who would just as soon see him dead. Can he ever reclaim his self-respect and reconcile with all those he’s pushed away, or has he drifted so far away that he’ll never find his way back?


As the Civil War looms, a young Ohio farm boy comes face to face with the injustice of slavery—an evil that tears at his very soul. In his callow youth, he rejects his family’s pacifism when runaways are cruelly seized from his Quaker meeting house. His anger causes him to turn his back on everyone who ever loved him. When the War breaks out, Jonathan joins the Union Army, making this rift complete. Will he ever turn back to his family, his sweetheart and his faith? Or has Jonathan fallen so far away that he can’t find his way back?


Southwestern Ohio, Winter 1848

Jonathan ducked when the front doors of the little country meeting house burst inward. Windows rattled as the crash of splintering wood echoed throughout the church. Four rough-looking men cradling long rifles stepped over the debris. Jonathan stared wide-eyed at men the likes of which he’d never seen before. Wild eyebrows, dirt in the creases of their weathered faces. Dusty, dirty brown overcoats. 

His mother’s trembling hand wrapped around his small one. She held the baby close and corralled her other son behind her skirts. When the intruders raised their guns, Jonathan cringed. His bundle of biscuits spilled onto the earthen floor. The bearded hunters looked around warily. Muddy boots thumped on loose planks as three of them strode up the middle of the circled benches. The stench of hard riding swept along behind them. 

The man with the big black hat said, “Go on up behind that raised platform like I tol’ you and start lookin’. That’s where some of these churches hide runaways, they dig cellars for ’em.” Big Hat turned to the leader. “I know you’re hidin’ slaves here and we mean to find ’em. They’re ours, right and proper, so stay out of our way.”

“This is a place of worship! You can’t just break in here and—” 

Big Hat leveled his shotgun at the man. He said through a scarred mouth, “I just did. You Quakers ain’t about to do nothin’ to stop us, anyway. Now back up or get shot.” 

He retreated, clasping his Bible to his chest, lips moving soundlessly. Pieces of broken door lay scattered at Big Hat’s feet as he filled the doorway. A younger tough stood next to a small wooden table, waving his rifle at the congregation and laughing. 

“Father, stop them!” Jonathan implored, as they stood together in front of a worn oak bench. His shrill voice echoed in the still, small building. His father drew his arm tighter around his eight-year-old son’s shaking shoulders. Jonathan’s stomach jumped. He spun toward his mother, tears winding down his face, sandy brown hair all askew. She stared at Big Hat as if frozen solid, Sunday bonnet framing a pale face. Jonathan flashed back to what his father said slave catchers do with runaways. They drag them away. Sometimes they find who they’re looking for, and sometimes they don’t, but they always bring Negroes back south. A murmur ran through the congregation. Jonathan thought of the little boy hiding in the cellar. He’d given him one of his best cats eyes after they’d shot marbles in the frozen dirt outside this morning. He couldn’t make sense of men coming to take his friend away. Stop!

Jonathan trembled in the simple meeting house. He reached down to retrieve his precious bundle. Pressed it tight against his chest. Biscuits his mother made just that morning for the runaway family. They were no longer warm against his overalls, but still smelled of fresh honey. The only sound was the congregation’s low whispers, as wives and husbands spoke in hushed tones. When his father moved to shield him, Jonathan peered around to watch two intruders hard at work behind the platform.

Big Hat raised his shotgun and pointed it at Tom Gray. “Better stay right there, mister. And the rest of you, don’t you move neither. Didn’t come here to shoot no white folk, but I will if I have to. Just come to get them runaways. Once we find ’em, we’ll be on our way. Then you can keep on praying to a God who ain’t gonna save nobody here today.”

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Mike Torreano is an award-winning author with a military background and a particular interest in American history and the Old West.

His debut western mystery, The Reckoning, set in South Park, Colorado in 1868, was released in 2016 by The Wild Rose Press. The sequel, The Renewal, also in South Park, 1872, was released in 2018, with a third western mystery, A Score To Settle, set in New Mexico Territory in 1870 released October 2020. White Sands Gold is his latest western mystery, also set in New Mexico Territory, 1890 and released by Wild Rose in September 2022. He has a coming-of-age novel releasing November 2023, Fireflies At Dusk, set during the Civil War era. His short story, The Trade, a tale of the Yukon Gold Rush, was his first published work in 2014. 

Mike’s written for magazines and newspapers for many years. An experienced editor, he’s taught English and Journalism at both the United States Air Force Academy and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. 

He’s a member of the Historical Novel Society, Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Western Writers of America and several other national writing groups. Recently, he appeared on LA Talk Radio’s Rendezvous With A Writer, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ podcast. 

His novels have received the Firebird Book Award for western fiction, American Writing Award finalist for mystery/suspense, a gold award for fiction from Literary Titan and a finalist award from the New Mexico Book Co-Op.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

#NewRelease from Iris Blobel: Alinta Bay Series

 Australian romance author Iris Blobel has a new release in her Alinta Bay series. Check out BUT THE HEART DOES. This contemporary romance is currently available for pre-order and releases on December 6, 2023.

by Iris Blobel
Book 5 in the ALINTA BAY


In an unexpected encounter, the lives of Jonah, a rescue diver from New Zealand, and Maddie, a spirited local, collide, forever altering their future.

Trapped together in a hotel lift, sparks fly between them, but Jonah's past looms, casting a shadow over their fragile connection. Maddie, captivated by Jonah's charisma, is determined to find him when he mysteriously misses their planned dinner. With a friend's assistance, her search unveils a chilling discovery – Jonah unconscious on a cliff.

Navigating a sea of emotions, in order to find a future together, will Maddie and Jonah manage the challenges posed by their past secrets and present obstacles?


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Friday, November 24, 2023

Interview with #TimeTravel and #HistoricalRomance Author Fil Reid

I sat down with time travel and historical romance author Fil Reid for an interview. Book 6 in her Guinevere series, THE ROAD TO AVALON, which is inspired by the Arthurian legend, released November 23, 2023. Fil tells us about her life, her writing and her series in our interview. We hope you enjoy it! 

What do you want readers to come away with after they read THE ROAD TO AVALON?

Two main things. Because my books are set in a real historical time period, I’ve used real historical places as much as possible, such as Tintagel (books 2 and 6), Avebury Stone Circle (book 5), Vindolanda (book 3), York (book 4), all of which I’ve visited. I’d love it if readers became interested enough in the legends and my books that they decide to visit these places themselves and stand in the footprints of my characters. 

I’d also like them to come away with a better understanding of Arthurian legend, as I stick to it as much as possible in my books. While I was writing the books, I discovered that the one thing most people know about is Lancelot! And he’s a much later French addition so is never in my books. At the start of books 1 to 3 I put in a precis of the legend itself, just to get people on the right track. A lot of the more obscure side stories you won’t have heard before are from little known legends – eg Amhar’s storyline.

When were you first published and how did that happen? Was it a long or short journey?

I entered the Dragonblade competition when I spotted it online quite by chance. I never thought I’d win, but I did, and the prize was some cash (always nice) and a three book deal. Those three books came out in 2022, and then books 4 to 6 have been coming out this year. Book six is the one that’s just come out on the 23rd. Next year I have a four book series coming out – The Cornish Ladies series. Kathryn le Veque suggested I try my hand at Regency romance and it’s been fun. The only duke in my books is old and grouchy though.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

An out and out pantser for sure. When I began book one in the Guinevere series the only thing I knew was how the series would end, but not how I’d get there, or how many books it would entail. Someone said to call it ‘being a discovery writer’ and I like that better. I discover my story as I go along.

What I did do, though, was write myself a fairly comprehensive history of the end of Roman rule in Britain (up to AD410) and what happened afterwards prior to Gwen’s arrival in the Dark Ages in about AD490. That was great fun. So I had my world already in my head when I began writing and it felt very real to me. A lot of that was history, but some of it I had to create for myself, which was just as much fun.

What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

None of them were hard to write but the one I’ve most enjoyed writing was book six, (THE ROAD TO AVALON) although it was also the saddest for me as it was the last one in the series. I felt quite down after I’d finished it. I absolutely love writing and it’s never a chore. I love every aspect of it – the research beforehand or along the way, the writing, revising, checking the edits. But book six was such fun as it contained all the tying up of storylines, the closure for the characters and for me, and the ending I’d known I was heading towards during the other books. It might surprise readers a bit.

What’s one thing that your readers would be surprised to learn about you? 

I have both Asperger’s Syndrome and Menière’s Disease. I was late diagnosed with the Asperger’s after two of my sons were and it answered a lot of questions for me, not least why I’m so obsessive. The MD I’ve had since about 2007, and it’s incurable. I get severe vertigo with it that totally incapacitates me, so I have to write in between bouts. But I manage. You just have to when you’ve got something like that. 

What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

This is a hard one to answer because I love everything about being a writer. I guess the bit I’m least happy with is the publicity. Being ASD I’m not keen on big crowds or people I don’t know, but I do it anyway. Plus I’m always a bit scared I might have a sudden MD attack which makes you look as though you’re drunk – and I don’t even drink! You’ve got to force yourself to put yourself out there so people get to know you and your books. I guess, though, if I had to pick one thing I love above everything else it’s got to be creating a new book out of my imaginings.

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

I live on a canal boat in the South of England and have a neat little computer corner where I slip on my noise cancelling headphones and slide into my world of imagination. I’ve been writing since I was five years old and my parents bought me a Petite Children’s Typewriter. Firstly pony stories and then moving on to adventure/romance tales as I grew older.

A genie grants you one wish. What is it?

I’d like to be able to sing. I’m just dreadful at it, but I quite like doing it – in private. When I was a child my sister would suggest we sang, then she’d suddenly stop so I kept going on my own and she could laugh at me. I’d like to be able to sing well enough that people would go ‘she’s got a lovely voice’. My youngest son has perfect pitch – goodness knows where he got that from! His father I should think.

What genre is your favorite to read?

My favourite genre is not romance, as you’d imagine, but thrillers. I love a taut, on the edge-of-your-seat thriller more than anything. I tend to buy my ebooks from Bookbub though, so never get to read a series in the right order. Living on a boat, my kindle is a godsend and I only have solid copies of my Arthurian research books.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I sew. My late mother was a needlework teacher so she’d be impressed how much I sew nowadays. She always used to laugh when I said it was ‘just commonsense’ as her girls at school did not find it so. However, if you can read and follow instructions, it is. I make clothes for my granddaughters, toys, dolls, shirts for my sons and I embroider, and design my own patterns. I’ve been so busy lately, though, I haven’t done any sewing for a while.

Share a photo of your writing space.

What do you like best about your hero in THE ROAD TO AVALON?

I have to admit to being more than a little bit in love with Arthur, the hero of my six book series, although in this book, the final one, he doesn’t exactly cover himself in glory. He’s handsome, of course, and quite ‘unreconstructed’ which basically means he’s a bit of a chauvinist. He’s rugged and can do anything he tries, he has what people nowadays would call ‘the common touch’ in that he knows the names and problems of all his subjects, he’s hot between the sheets (of course), and an excellent rider and warrior. And he’s deeply in love with my heroine.

What do you like best about your heroine in THE ROAD TO AVALON?

What made Gwen such fun to write was that she sees the whole world I’ve created through the eye of the reader. She turns her nose up about things the reader would find abhorrent, knows the modern names of places she visits, knows a lot about the legends. It made her easy for me to use to get over information I wanted the reader to know, without having to lay it on with a trowel. She’s feisty and doesn’t take being bossed around lying down – as you’ll find out if you read this book. And although she begins as a somewhat passive character in book one, she matures throughout the series into fulfilling what she arrived in the Dark Ages to do. She has a big hand in the creation of the legends.

How do you choose the names and physical characteristics of your characters? Do you base them on real people?

Well, a large number of the characters in all six books are ‘real’ in that they occur in the legends of King Arthur, or in king lists and genealogies from the time. So I stuck with their real names. For minor characters I had a list of Celtic names I could draw on for people like Cottia, Maia, Breanna etc. It does make working out pronunciation a bit hard for the reader, but if you use modern Welsh as a basis, that’s much as they should be pronounced. Eg Llawfrodedd (found him in a tiny legend) should be pronounced ‘Llawvrodeth’ – although that double L should be kind of doubly pronounced. And Llacheu is Llachy as in sky. 

As for their physical characteristics – they just leap into my head fully formed and all I have to do is describe them.

How can readers reach you or find you online?

My social media:

Tell us a little about your current work in progress.

I’ve just finished writing book four in The Cornish Ladies so I’m kind of in between books at the moment. I have some ideas for my next series but so far nothing written down apart from some research.

So I’ll tell you about the book I just finished. It’s called The Cornish Widow and is about a penniless young widow who returns, with her two children, to the county of her birth thanks to the charity of her late husband’s manipulative great aunt. And of course, she meets her rather attractive neighbour who turns out to be a gentleman smuggler. I shan’t say more or I’d risk giving away the plot.

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

You’d need to start with book one – The Dragon Ring. The whole six book series tells the story of Arthur and Guinevere and covers twenty years. Far too much happens to have squeezed it into one book. It is possible to read the later books alone, but you’d miss too much I think. The whole story runs coherently together as one long tale – about 650,000 words in total.

Tell us about your current release.

The book that has just come out – The Road to Avalon – is the final book in the series, and my favourite of all of them. The one I most enjoyed writing and also the longest and the one with the most action. It’s pretty much nonstop. Like book one, it only covers a short time span, but a lot happens.

Twenty years have passed since Gwen fell back in time. She’s got two children and a stepson, but they’re all grown up now, as is Medraut, who gets nastier and sneakier now he’s an adult. If you know the legend, as she does, you know what’s coming – Camlann. The battle in which Arthur faced his rebellious nephew and ended up carted off to Avalon by three queens to sleep until Britain’s hour of need. That’s the legend – prepare to discover the truth behind it.

BLURB for The Road to Avalon:

Twenty years have passed since Gwen fell back in time to become King Arthur’s Queen Guinevere. Eight years of comparative peace since the triumph at Badon. All seems quiet and, with Medraut long gone and possibly dead, the prospect of Camlann seems far away and perhaps just a part of the legend that’s not true.

Until Arthur and Gwen go to Viroconium for the Council of Kings and take Amhar, now eighteen, with them. And he meets up with the very much alive-and-kicking Medraut again. Unable to prevent Amhar inviting Medraut back to Din Cadan with them, Gwen can only watch in fear as events begin to unroll that will lead to the one thing she’s been fearing throughout her time in the Dark Ages – the fateful battle of Camlann.

But before Camlann can rear its ugly head, news comes of the death of King March of Caer Dore in Cornwall. Arthur and Gwen travel west for his funeral rites, taking with them his son, Drustans. His one aim is to reclaim the love of his life, Essylt, who was forced to marry his father instead of him nineteen years ago. But Gwen has seen his tombstone in the far off twenty-first century, and she’s afraid this will not end well.

Gwen and Arthur’s love is about to be tested to its absolute limit as Medraut takes on the mantle of chief villain in the story, and all seems lost. But when the odds are stacked against her, Gwen is at her strongest, and she’s armed with a foreknowledge no one else possesses.

Can she prevent the tragedies that threaten to unfold in this the final book in the Guinevere series, or is the history of this time written in stone and unchangeable?


I unfastened my hair tie and loosened my hair, sending it cascading down my back in a heavy veil of chestnut. Where was my comb?

Arthur pushed himself upright. “Come and sit here, and I’ll do your hair for you.” He had my comb in his hand.

I sat on the bed beside him and for a few minutes let him comb my hair, enjoying a sensation I’d loved since childhood and that still reminded me of my long dead mother. However, Arthur’s version of hair combing involved a fair bit of him running his fingers through it as well, and those fingers were wont to stray elsewhere. “Is that a gray hair I see before me?” he asked at last, with a chuckle.

“What?” I pulled as much of my hair as I could round to get a look, and he burst out laughing.

“Fooled you. Not a gray hair on your head. Yet…”

I gave him a playful slap. “Let me look at your hair then. Hmmm. I swear I see a hint of gray appearing in your beard.”

He dropped my comb and rubbed his stubbly chin. “Damn it. I’ll have to shave more often.”

I pulled his hands down and leaned in for a kiss. “Don’t worry. I’ll still love you when you’re old and gray, and as a matter of fact, I think a few gray hairs on a man make him look distinguished.” I resolutely pushed away the nagging thought that he might never get to be old and gray.

For a moment we were preoccupied as the kiss deepened and I felt that familiar stirring of desire. Did we have time before dinner? As we parted, we both glanced toward the hourglass and then chuckled in unison.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he asked, a wicked glint in his eye.

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Friday, November 17, 2023

#NewRelease from Adriana Kraft: ACCIDENTAL CONTACT #eroticromance

Adriana Kraft joins me today with her newest release, a Sapphic romance on the erotic side. This short story is only $.99 cents. Thanks for joining me today, Adriana!

What romantic pairings do you love to read? Straight f/m? Bisexual f/f/m? Lesbian f/f? I’m half of the writing duo Adriana Kraft, and we love writing (and reading) all these pairings. Our newest release is a sapphic short story we wrote for an anthology over a decade ago, then revised and updated to release under our indie imprint. Is it really erotic romance? It’s definitely erotic, featuring one of my favorite f/f scenes as Natalie is caught between her fears and her desires in the middle of the night. Since it’s a short story, I’d call it happy-for-now, with a promising future.

And the inspiration? I love New York City, and we love setting stories there. I especially love it in the winter – Rockefeller center, with its giant tree and all the skaters, Central Park, Fifth Avenue with all the shoppers and window displays. Was I ever snowbound there? No, but I was stranded for two steamy August days during the great East Coast blackout of 2003. 

Our conference was just concluding on the NYU campus in Greenwich Village when the power went out. When we left the building across from Washington Square Park, it seemed the entire city was on foot, rumors circulating wildly. Pretty quickly we knew it wasn’t just New York. With 9-11 less than two years behind us, there was speculation about the possibility of terrorism. I can’t remember how quickly that was dispelled with information about failure of the power grid in the heat wave. I do remember that several of us decided to walk the two miles north on Fifth Avenue to our hotel rather than try to board a bus. With no stoplights operating, traffic was basically gridlocked.

Part way back we found a Chinese restaurant with ready-to-go meals they had no way of keeping, and we bought supper, then sat and ate it on the steps of the beautiful beaux arts library at 42nd Street. When we finally reached the hotel, the elevator was out of service, but the staff had set out small candles on every step of the narrow spiral staircase leading up from the lobby, a welcome sight.

So many flights were cancelled that it was clear we wouldn’t get out of the city for a couple days. Some power was restored by the next day, and a friend and I took advantage of the nearby Times Square box office to get last minute discount tickets for two shows. I don’t know what adventures our heroines Natalie and Bridgette might get up to after their bedroom adventure, but I’m sure they’ll find ways to enjoy the city.


Natalie and the much younger Bridgette are real estate agents who’ve often traveled together for business seminars. Now they’re snowbound in New York City in a hotel room with only one bed. Will Natalie dare to make her move?


“Are you ready for me to shut off the TV?”

“Yes. I’ve heard enough chatter by pundits.”

“Me, too.” Natalie hit the off button, set the remote aside, and rolled onto her side to face the wall. The mattress shifted as Bridgette turned to face the opposite wall. “Good night,” Natalie murmured.

“Good night. I’m looking forward to being snowbound with you in New York.”

Closing her eyes, Natalie didn’t respond. She concentrated on breathing in and out. The predicted blizzard was a pleasant surprise that might prove to be the tipping point.

She’d done all she could do. It was up to fate now. She wouldn’t risk being rejected by her younger colleague. They’d traveled together several times representing their firm at realty conferences. She’d been surprised how comfortable they were as  travel companions, respecting each other’s routines. Bridgette chattered too much, but then Bridgette had probably had to adjust to some of Natalie’s idiosyncrasies, too.

Usually they shared a room with two beds. When they’d checked in at the front desk, Natalie had somewhat berated the clerk for their sleeping arrangements—but she was the one who’d explicitly requested one queen bed when making the reservation. She’d also anticipated correctly that given the size of the conference, there’d be no available rooms with two beds.

Natalie wished she could make the next overture, but she couldn’t. Pride intervened. She had no idea whether the twenty-six-year-old lying next to her would be interested in a forty-year-old divorcee who hadn’t been with a woman since college.


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I’m Adriana Kraft, and I write both steamy romantic suspense and smoking hot erotic Romance. My husband – a criminologist – is my partner in crime. We’ve been writing romance together for twenty years and by now have published more than fifty novels and novellas.

Our goal? To write characters you’ll care about, hot sex scenes, and  compelling stories you can’t put down. Our romantic suspense novels deliver one man, one woman, danger, intrigue, and of course lots of steam. Our erotic romance is edgier and nearly always includes ménage or polyamory. As you’ve probably guessed, our romantic pairings include MF, FF, and the ménage arrangements FFM, FMF, MFM, foursomes, and more. 

After many years in the upper Midwest struggling with ice-packed driveways and foot-deep snow, we gave my mother’s antiques to the kids, sold our house, and spent a couple years traveling the county in our motor home while working remotely. We especially loved spending several weeks in a region, learning its history and its less popular hidden gems. Santa Fe, Taos, Puget Sound, and the Black Hills were special favorites. 

We now live in sunny southern Arizona, where we enjoy hiking, golf, and travel, especially to the many Arizona Native American historical sites. Oh – and if it’s too hot to go outside? We’ll probably hold an impromptu writing retreat. Arizona summers give us lots of opportunities.



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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

GHOST MOON by Kathryn Knight- Book Tour and Giveaway


Paranormal Romantic Suspense

Date Published: 04-03-2020

Publisher: Wicked Whale

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When Lark Cavanaugh’s life in New York City falls apart, she’s left reeling from a staggering betrayal. She escapes to Cape Cod, where a distant relative has left her an old house with a tragic past. Rumors of a haunting presence plague the abandoned home, but Lark doesn’t believe in ghosts…until she has no choice.

After completing his military duty, veterinarian Jesse Holt returns to his small hometown to take over his father’s practice. He soon finds himself drawn to the alluring redhead now living next door, but she has made her intentions clear—she’s moving back to the city as soon as possible. When frightening events threaten her safety, though, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Unable to fight their feelings, they give in to desire…but another battle looms. Lark’s arrival has awakened a decades-old mystery, and the truth of what happened at Holloway House will only be revealed when it claims yet another life.


She bolted upright in bed, the series of thumps that had awakened her still ringing in her ears. Fumbling for the light, she pulled the covers against her chest, as though that could offer some protection against whatever had made the noises. What the hell was it? She scanned the room, her pulse skittering in jagged bursts. Why was this happening to her? Hadn’t she been through enough? 

Nothing in the bedroom appeared to be the source of the disturbance, but her instincts told her the sounds had originated from somewhere else in the house. And it definitely wasn’t the cat this time—he was still at the vet’s. 

Reaching for her phone, she sucked in a breath as she noticed the time…1:06 a.m. Exactly the same time she’d been awoken last night. She glanced back up to the hallway door as she jabbed at the screen, pulling up the keypad just in case she needed to call 911. In addition to occurring at the same time, though, whatever she’d just heard sounded similar to last night’s mysterious disturbance, and that hadn’t been an intruder. Not a living one, anyway.

As if on cue, a haunting moan shivered through the air. Her lungs froze as a fresh spike of fear pierced her chest. Oh, God. There really was something wrong with this house. Fighting the urge to dive back under the covers and hide, she slowly climbed out of bed, unsure what exactly she was going to do. Check the house, for starters, she decided. Her mind was still begging for a more reasonable, less terrifying scenario. A quirky appliance, maybe?

With each tentative step, she paused, waiting for something else to happen. As she made her way into the hall, a chill enveloped her, and she crossed her arms, rubbing the goosebumps rising on her skin. Below her, the stairway unfurled into shadows cast by the upper hall light.

A loud crash rang out behind her, and she jumped, a scream tearing from her lips.

About the Author

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Kathryn Knight writes books filled with steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and haunting mysteries. Her novels are award-winning #1 Amazon Bestsellers and RomCon Reader-Rated picks. When she's not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time exploring abandoned places and searching for ghosts. She lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2023

CRUEL LESSONS: #NewRelease from Randy Overbeck

Randy Overbeck joins me with a look at CRUEL LESSONS, his newest release and book one his new mystery series, Lessons in Peril. This new series is set in the world of classroom. Randy used his many years as an educator to create his amateur sleuths, Superintendent Ken Parks and teacher Stacy Turner, and lend an air of realism to his fiction. Welcome, Randy!


“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.”

This quote from Stephen King came to mind when I thought about my newest work. In October, the Wild Rose Press will release my newest fiction, CRUEL LESSONS, an atmospheric amateur sleuth mystery and the first in a new series called “Lessons in Peril” stories set in schools. The novel features a pair of middle age protagonists who are, you guessed it, educators, in fact, an elementary school teacher and a school administrator. Hardly your normal heroes. In the story, fifth graders get hold of a dangerous hallucinogenic, steal a car and die in a horrific crash. Assistant Superintendent Ken Parks and teacher Stacy Turner struggle to uncover who is peddling the deadly drugs before more kids die.

What brought King’s words to mind is that, while the novel is my newest work, it is also my oldest. I’ve been at this writing thing for a while now. Cruel Lessons will be my fifth published work in the past decade or so. But like most writers I think, I’ve been inventing stories, imagining characters and conjuring up plots and crimes for quite a while. One of my earliest fictional inventions was this story—or at least a very early version of the narrative and characters. This manuscript has lain in the virtual drawer for twenty years—the first attempt at the tale written long hand on legal pads—waiting for me to mature and improve as a writer and storyteller. Even though the current published version of Cruel Lessons has been through too many revisions, re-writings and editings to count, the skeleton of the narrative is much the same as envisioned so many years ago. So, like King wrote, what’s old is new again, though this was probably not King’s intent for the saying. 

Cruel Lessons is an atmospheric, amateur sleuth mystery, the first in a new series set in schools called “Lessons in Peril.” The story involves a rogue, hallucinogenic drug being pushed in a middle school and, after it results in the death of four students, the rush to stop the drug pusher before more children die. 

I think you’re going to like the final rendering of the tale. The early reviewers certainly do.

Literary Titan wrote that the novel was “masterfully written. Each new revelation adds to the suspense and keeps the reader on edge, eagerly anticipating what further secrets the story holds…… a gripping crime thriller and amateur sleuth mystery.” 

The folks at ReaderViews called it “a thrilling murder mystery…with an immersive plot, steady pace and stellar character development…one of the best mysteries of 2023.” 

And the reviewers at N N Light Bookheaven thought CRUEL LESSONS was “brilliant from start to finish…Impressive storytelling left me with a racing heart and shivers. One of the best thrillers I’ve ever read.” Interested yet?

Be among the first. 

CRUEL LESSONS is going to be one of your favorite new mysteries.


Four kids dead. Can Assistant Superintendent Ken Parks unmask the drug dealer poisoning his students before more kids die?

On a school camping trip, fifth graders experiment with a dangerous new hallucinogen and die in a horrific accident, their deaths shattering the quiet town. Assistant Superintendent Ken Parks, hoping to redeem a fatal mistake from his past, grasps the opportunity to conduct the district investigation of how students are getting the drugs. Almost before he begins, the cops make a stunning arrest. But Parks battles on, convinced the real pusher is still out there, poisoning more kids until he receives an anonymous threat: if he continues, those close to him will pay. Is Parks willing to risk those he loves for a chance at redemption?


From the bend, the road descended quickly and Amanda felt the car picking up speed as gravity and its powerful engine propelled it downhill. As she approached the next turn, she realized she was coming in a little too fast. She slid her foot to the brake. Her concentration on steering the twisting road ahead, at first it didn’t register. She dared to take her gaze off the road and look down at her feet before she understood. When her right foot depressed the brake, the pedal glided all the way to the floor. No friction. She pulled her foot back and slammed on the brake again. The pedal slid all the way down. Unbelieving, she pumped it, again and again.  

There was nothing there.

She jerked her eyes back. The hairpin turn hurtled at her. On instinct, she kept jamming on the pedal. It was supposed to work. She turned the wheel wildly. The big car shuddered as it tried to negotiate the turn. The two rear wheels slipped off the pavement, spinning in space. With the front wheel drive, the front two tires managed enough traction to catch. The car veered around the curve and headed down the next straight incline. The heavy vehicle rolled faster again as gravity pulled it down the hill. 

Amanda’s mind reeled. What was she supposed to do? 

Struggling desperately to force her mind to think, Amanda tried to consider her options. It was all happening too quickly. The next treacherous turn came at her fast. She had no way to slow down. White knuckles gripped the steering wheel.

The bend ahead showed a hard curve to the right, not quite as tight as the last one, but steeper. And she felt the car accelerating, though she hadn’t touched the gas pedal. Right before the car hit the curve, Amanda spun the steering wheel. The car lurched around the bend. The driver side of the car lifted up. Halfway through the long bend, Amanda watched the hood tilt in the turn until it was almost vertical. No seat belt on, she was catapulted down the leather seat, crashing into the passenger door.  

“Hell!” she cried, reaching to grab her bruised shoulder. 

She froze as the two wheels still on the ground shuddered in the gravel, sliding off the small road. Slammed against the side door, she heard the tall weeds and low branches whip against the body. But the car didn’t slow. Blood streamed from a gash on her forehead. For an instant she lay there stretched across the passenger door, holding her breath.

Then she sensed the car teetering. The front tire bumped something hard. Amanda stared, unbelieving, as the car began to flip. As the Regal made the first revolution, she screamed.


Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades and has turned that experience into captivating fiction, authoring the bestselling series, the Haunted Shores Mysteries, winner of nine national awards. This fall, the Wild Rose Press will release his newest work, an atmospheric amateur sleuth mystery, CRUEL LESSONS, the first installment in a new series set in schools, “Lessons in Peril.” He is the host of the popular podcast, “Great Stories about Great Storytellers,” which reveals the unusual and sometimes strange backstories of famous authors, directors and poets. He is also a speaker in much demand, sharing his multi-media presentations, “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” “A Few Favorite Haunts,” and “Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing” with audiences all over the USA. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop.

More info about his novels, programs and podcast can be found at his website .










Buy Links:

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Excerpt from My Upcoming Release CHRISTMAS AT SOLACE LAKE

Trick or Treat Book Bonanza Giveaway!

Trick or Treat! ‘Tis the month to celebrate all things paranormal, supernatural, suspenseful and mystical. If you’re like me, you’ll want to accept this very special invitation to join the festivities at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s 5th annual Trick or Treat Book Bonanza. 28 authors share what they’d dress up as for Halloween as well as 37 books featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, SEEING THINGS, will be featured on October 18. Wait until you read what my Halloween costume would be. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this event and tell your friends:

Friday, October 6, 2023

Jude Knight and UNDER THE HARVEST MOON #RegencyRomance

Jude Knight is here to talk about her contribution to UNDER THE HARVEST MOON, a Regency romance anthology written by nine members of the Bluestocking Belles and Friends. Jude has 5 Things she wants to tell you about the anthology and her own contribution to it, LOVE IN ITS SEASON. UNDER THE HARVEST MOON releases October 10, 2023 and is .99 cents till then. Take it away, Jude!

Five things about Under the Harvest Moon and Jude Knight’s story, Love In Its Season

1. Under the Harvest Moon is another Bluestocking Belles With Friends Collection featuring interlocking stories, where characters who are main characters in one story appear in other stories in the collection, and where every author shares the overall location and one or more key events. In this case, we set the stories in a fictional Cheshire market town around the time of the local harvest festival. We also had clues to a mystery scattered through the book.

2. Writing interlocked stories means a lot more collaboration than happens in other anthologies, which makes the job both harder and more fun. Readers seem to love it too, so we’ll keep doing it.

3. The heroine of Love In Its Season came out of the collaboration. Cerise DeLand said her heroine had been in the village six years earlier, at which time her sister had run off with the son of the local farrier. The young man had enlisted, and the pair had gone to war. I decided my heroine would be the sister of the young man. 

Back in the Regency era, craftspeople often trained their daughters in their crafts. I gave my heroine and the missing brother a deceased mother, which meant Gwen spent more time in the farriery with her brother and father than she otherwise might have. 

In the backstory my mind was spinning, her father’s mind had begun failing about the time the brother left, so Gwen had taken over more and more of the business and now was the farrier. And good at it.

4. The hero also came from the collaboration. Caroline Warfield asked if anyone had a soldier who might help to make sure that her hero made his way home, even though he was attempting to drown the horrors of war in copious quantities of alcohol. 

I offered my hero, and as I thought about him, he began to take shape. He needed an injury that saw him invalided out. He needed to have no particular home, so I made him an orphan who had joined up while still a boy. I wanted him to be an officer so he would be on equal terms with most of the other heroes in the collection, so I gave him some battlefield promotions. The rest of his backstory came as I wrote the story.

5. I have medical practitioners in the family, and my personal romantic hero was twenty years a paramedic, so I’m used to hearing grumbles and jeers whenever anyone in a movie or tv show is shot in the shoulder then gets up, uses the arm on that side, and recovers within a day or two. I wanted my hero to be too disabled to stay on the army but still able to help around the heroine’s house, particularly with her disabled father. 

My dearly beloved suggested an injury to the brachial plexus. Not a complete severing of this major nerve group, but sufficient damage that the arm is near useless and he has little movement in the hand. 

Blurb, Under the Harvest Moon

As the village of Reabridge in Cheshire prepares for the first Harvest Festival following Waterloo, families are overjoyed to welcome back their loved ones from the war.

But excitement quickly turns to mystery when mere weeks before the festival, an orphaned child turns up in the town—a toddler born near Toulouse to an English mother who left clues that tie her to Reabridge.

With two prominent families feuding for generations and the central event of the Harvest Moon festival looming, tensions rise, and secrets begin to surface.

Nine award winning and bestselling authors have combined their talents to create this engaging and enchanting collection of interrelated tales. Under the Harvest Moon promises an unforgettable read for fans of Regency romance.

Blurb, Love In Its Season:

The Battle of Waterloo lost Jack Wrath the use of one arm and ended his career in the cavalry. He has no place to go and nothing to offer. Gwen Hughes has a business to run and no time for romance. Under the harvest moon, two people who believe romance has passed them finally reach their season for love.

See Books2Read for links. Only 99c until publication on 10 October.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

A Peacock Story by Fil Reid, Author of The Guinevere series #timetravelromance

 My guest today is Fil Reid, author of the Guinevere series of time travel historical romances based on  Arthurian legend. I'm delighted she has an animal story for us. Thanks for stopping by, Fil!

A Tale of Two Peacocks

I’ve had a lot of pets in my time – horses, dogs, cats, goats, chickens, sheep… you name it and at some point it’s lived in the Reid household. But the oddest pet (albeit quite temporary) were the peacocks that appeared from nowhere in our barn.

We were living in France at the time, in the middle of nowhere and a mile from the nearest farm, with our youngest son, a small eleven-year-old. In our large dutch barn opposite the house, we had stables, kennels, and a stack of hay. We’d been out somewhere and when we came back, there was this young peacock in our barn. It panicked a lot as we tried to catch it and narrowly escaped ending up in the dog run which would have ended its life pretty smartly.

However, our delighted son managed to catch it. He loves every kind of bird so was over the moon to have acquired a peacock. But we knew we couldn’t keep it, so we put it in the largest dog cage we had (bearing in mind it could fly over a stable door and might end up murdered) and I rang the local Mairie. 

I spoke to Loic, the secretary. “We’ve found a peacock,” I said, in French (I was pretty fluent back then). Now, peacock in French is ‘paon’, which sounds pretty much like ‘pont’ when pronounced by a Brit, and Loic probably wasn’t expecting a peacock story. “You’ve found a bridge?” he echoed, clearly puzzled. I explained the paon/pont was a bird and he cottoned on. I also rang the gendarmes and told them, but, oddly, no one had reported a lost peacock.

Several days passed and we still had the peacock which was looking increasingly grumpy in the dog cage in a stable. My husband was working in the barn on the car when he noticed the dog cage was empty. No peacock. We went inside and told our son. We all trooped outside to take a look. Surprise. There was indeed a peacock back in the cage, but not our peacock. That had been young and tailless. This was a fully fledged angry male with a big tail. A mystery. And he was an interference fit in that cage.

Another phone call to Loic to tell him we had acquired yet another peacock – a different one – and with no sign whatsoever of the first one. Who knew what had happened to that one? We didn’t. 

This was not the end of the story. Two days later, an irate French farmer turned up and accused us of stealing his peacocks. I pointed out that the peacocks in question had just appeared and we’d reported them as soon as we noticed them. However, they were convinced our eleven-year-old son had carried those heavy birds a mile from their farm. Of course, he hotly denied this, and we’ve never, not even eleven years later, got to the bottom of the mystery of the vanishing and reappearing peacocks.

BLURB, Guinevere: The Quest for Excalibur

(Fil mentioned that book 5 in the series, The Quest for Excalibur, just released September 6, 2023, but for your reading pleasure, it's best to start with book 1. Here's the link for the whole series:

Book Five of the award-winning historical romance series based on Arthurian legend.

Twelve years ago, 21st-century librarian Gwen decided to remain in the Dark Ages with the man she loves above all else – a man around whom endless well-known tales of legend and magic have been spun. King Arthur. Over the years, she’s carved a life for herself by her husband’s side, gently steering him in the direction she wants him to go, but always with an awareness that he’s a Dark Age king with a Dark Age view of the world.

Equipped with her prior knowledge of Arthurian legend, Gwen’s sole aim has long been to save her husband from the legendary fate she dreads hangs over him. But always, at the back of her mind, is the nagging doubt that whatever she does is already set in stone, and nothing she can do will change his future which is already her past.

Now, in book five of the Guinevere series, she’s all too aware that time is marching on, and that this fate might well be drawing closer to the man she gave up everything for.

Danger lurks in the most unexpected places, and long-hidden secrets threaten to rise to the surface. After a long, cold winter in their hilltop fortress, Gwen’s pleased to welcome traveling players to Din Cadan. But these players are hiding secrets of their own, and one of them has come with black deeds in mind. Gwen will have to fight harder than she’s ever done to save herself and thus her husband. And all evidence points to the hand of Morgana, Arthur’s wicked sister, manipulating everything from afar.

Throughout all of this, simmering in the background, is young Medraut, Arthur’s nephew. Unnoticed, despite still being only a boy, he’s been exerting his malignant influence over those around him, in particular, Gwen and Arthur’s son and heir. The wedge he succeeds in driving between Arthur and his son will carry forward into the cataclysmic events of the final book, The Road To Avalon.

But even Morgana can’t prevent Gwen discovering the truth behind the story of Excalibur and setting the legendary sword in her husband’s hands.

Excerpt  (Merlin shows Gwen where the sword has come from):

The younger man reached for the sword with reluctance, his stubbly cheeks tear-stained, eyes anguished. Filthy fingers closed around the hilt. “My Lord, I will not rest until this sword lies in the hands of your wife.” His head bowed in supplication.

The dragon ring winked at me in the raw daylight, as the Emperor laid a hand on the young soldier’s bare, short-cropped head in benediction. Withdrawing his hand, the Emperor fumbled at the ring with awkward, bandaged fingers as the young man rose wearily to his feet, and slid the sword into the scabbard by his side.

The Emperor, his own cheeks wet with tears, held out the ring, gripped between finger and thumb. “Take this as well. It was my wife’s.”

It fell into the soldier’s open hand, and the young man turned it over, so the dragon rested uppermost on the filthy palm.

An overwhelming urge to reach out and snatch it washed over me, but the vision vanished. My eyes flicked open.

I was back on the wall-walk again, with Merlin still holding my hands and the dragon ring on my finger glinting in the afternoon sunlight.

My breath came hard and fast. “Was that sword Excalibur?”

“I don’t know, but I think so. This is the clearest I’ve seen him. All I can tell you is that every time I look, I see this sword gripped in that hand. That hand with that ring. This ring.” He indicated the ring on my hand. “And I believe that what I’m seeing, what I’ve just shown you, is Macsen’s defeat by the Emperor Theodosius. I think he knew execution awaited him and wanted to send his sword back to Britain. Perhaps it was a British-made sword – even linked to the Princess Elen, his wife.”

Fil Reid, Author Bio:

After a varied life that’s included working with horses where Downton Abbey is filmed, riding racehorses, running her own riding school, owning a sheep farm and running a holiday business in France, Fil now lives on a widebeam canal boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Southern England with her husband, a rescue dog from Romania called Bella, and Nancy the cat.

She once saw a ghost in a churchyard, and when she lived in Wales there was a panther living near her farm that ate some of her sheep.

She has Asperger’s Syndrome and her obsessions include horses and King Arthur. She speaks fluent French after living there for ten years, and in her spare time looks after her allotment, makes clothes and dolls for her grand daughters, embroiders and knits. In between visiting the settings for her books.

SOCIAL MEDIA links: - start with book one of the series