First Chapter Reveal from THE LAST APRIL

The Last April, An Ohio Civil War Novel

We are in the final editing days for The Last April, my new young adult historical fiction book with a planned release of April 2017. My beta readers and editor have sent feedback and I’m crawling through the manuscript making updates. In the meantime, I wanted to share the first chapter of The Last April for your reading pleasure.

Join me on Patreon to see the proposed concepts by my cover artist! You are under no obligation to contribute, but with your patronage I can release an audiobook in 2017 or early 2018. Thank you to my supporters so far!

Here is a snippet of the first chapter of The Last April:

Everyone else would remember that Saturday as the day President Lincoln died. Gretchen Miller would remember it as the day the ragged man collapsed at her feet.

Gretchen was tugging at weeds and swatting at gnats when a thud made her whip around. The war was over, but Confederate supporters were everywhere. They lingered after General Lee’s surrender, and President Lincoln’s reconciliation speech, and in pro-Union Columbus.

Gretchen snapped up from her hunched position to lean back on her barefoot heels. Her skirts puffed out with the movement. She slapped them down, annoyed.

Sharp sunlight made it difficult to see. Gretchen thought she saw a collapsed man just yards from her hem. She dragged her straw hat by the strings so it shaded her eyes.

A man’s limbs sprawled across the oak tree roots. Gretchen could not tell his age or condition from where she crouched. His back was to her, his dark head resting on his outstretched arm. He was not moving.

“May the angels have charge of me,” Gretchen whispered. She patted the revolver in her skirt pocket.

His leg twitched.

Gretchen’s heart leaped. That dark, matted hair gave her a turn. Maybe it was her brother Werner, returned from war at last. A hundred men from the Grove City area had answered President Lincoln’s call for soldiers. Everyone was afraid of the number that would return.

Gretchen grabbed her skirts as she scrambled to standing. She flailed her arms at the log farmhouse she called home. She could not shout, in case the man had faked his injury and was waiting for an excuse to attack.

Her aunt, Tante Klegg, stuck her head out the kitchen door. “What is it?” Tante Klegg’s heavy German accent was strident in the quiet morning. It matched the severity of her hair braided and twisted tight against her head.

Gretchen put her finger to her lips. She cupped her hands around her mouth so her whisper would carry. “There is a man.” She waved at her aunt to come outside.

Tante Klegg tiptoed across the rocks Gretchen had overturned gardening. She held her skirt layers high above her ankles, muttering.

The man remained quiet, only his twitching foot letting them know he lived. Gretchen did not know if that meant he was dangerous or that he was too injured to move.

Gretchen brushed a strand of reddish hair from her mouth as the breeze picked up. Though it was April, the humidity was heavy and stifling. The wind still carried the scent of cooling bonfires from yesterday’s elaborate celebrations.

Last night, Gretchen had danced until her feet ached and sung until her voice was hoarse. She had been ready to do anything to help her country heal. She held onto the president’s words of reconciliation. She hoped everyone could see the Confederates as prodigal brothers and sisters. She hoped the Confederates would be humble and welcomed home.

With a stranger at her feet, Gretchen realized such things were easier said than done. She gripped the revolver and held out her other hand to stop her aunt from advancing. Holding her breath, she crept closer.

The man perhaps could have been her brother, once upon a time. His body was gaunt, worn thin by trials Gretchen suspected she would never understand. His left hand did not bear Werner’s distinctive strawberry-shaped birthmark.

This was not her brother.

 

Reading: An Abundance of Katherines

abundanceofkatherinesTitle: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Genre: General Fiction
Length: 215 pages

Summary: Colin Singleton is in love with Katherines. The problem with Katherines is that they dump him. Nineteen times, they dump him. Despairing from his latest run-in with a Katherine, the Katherine, Colin takes a road trip so he can concentrate on his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he thinks will “predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and win him the girl.”

Excerpt:

pg 7 -Crying adds something: crying is you, plus tears. But the feeling Colin had was some horrible opposite of crying. It was you, minus something. He kept thinking about one word–forever–and felt the burning ache just beneath his rib cage.

pg 33 – Colin had no response to that. But he just didn’t get Hassan’s apathy. What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable? How very odd, to believe God gave you life, and yet not think that life asks more of you than watching TV.

pg 76 – The act of leaning in to kiss, or asking to kiss them, is fraught with the possibility of rejection, so the person least likely to get rejected should do the leaning in or the asking. And that person, at least in high school heterosexual relationships, is definitely the girl. Think about it: boys, basically, want to kiss girls. Guys want to make out. Always. Hassan aside, there’s rarely a time when a boy is thinking, “Eh, I think I’d rather not kiss a girl today.”

pg 77 – It rather goes without saying that Katherine drank her coffee black. Katherines do, generally. They like their coffee like they like their ex-boyfriends: bitter.

pg 200 – “I feel like, like, how you matter is defined by the things that matter to you. You matter as much as the things that matter to you do. And I got so backwards, trying to make myself matter to him. All this time, there were real things to care about: real, good people who care about me, and this place. It’s so easy to get stuck. You just get caught up in being something, being special or cool or whatever, to the point where you don’t even know why you need it; you just think you do.”

Why should you read this book?

This book had me chuckling on the first page. I follow John Green’s Vlog Brothers, and looked forward to that intellectual snark that keeps me coming back for more, and I was not disappointed. First, let’s address the main character’s name: Colin Singleton.

Any computer programmer or mathematician would recognize the joke at once: here is a young man who is desperate to be known, to be recognized as unique and special. A singleton, in object-oriented programming, is a one-of-a-kind object. You can have a class of an object, say, Car, and then have different objects that belong to the class of Car: Honda, Ford, Toyota, etc. A singleton has only one element in its class or set: it is unique,  special. Nerd!Belinda was ridiculously happy to see the intellectual snark and jokes went this far.

Read this book for a contemporary satire on the road trip story, while at the same time feeling heartfelt and snarky, as we all were in high school. A quick read, followed with an appendix where Green asked his mathematics professor friend to go through the math of Colin’s Underlying Katherine Predictability. With graphs and everything. I’ve never been so happy to see a parabola in my life.

Crossposted from my Goodreads account.

Reading: Cry Wolf

Title: Cry Wolf
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Supernatural (Science Fiction Romance)
Length: 294 pages

Summary: Anna didn’t believe werewolves existed until she was bitten and became one. For reasons unknown to her until Charles came into her life, she was sexually abused by those in her pack. Charles, son of the leader of the North American werewolves, appears in Anna’s life to reveal she is the Omega, a rare wolf that is meant to be protected and treasured, not abused. Together, they work through the residuals of Anna’s abuse while hunting a rogue werewolf bound by black magic which threatens all of  North America.

Excerpt:

pg 56 -And that’s when Anna realized that what the wolf had been asking Bran for was death.

Impulsively, Anna stepped away from Charles. She put a knee on the bench she’d been sitting on and reached over the back to close her hand on Asil’s wrist, which was lying across the back of the pew.

He hissed in shock but didn’t pull away. As she held him, the scent of wildness, of sickness, faded. He stared at her, the whites of his eyes showing brightly while his irises narrowed to small bands around his black pupil.

“Omega,” he whispered, his breath coming harshly.

pg 114 – For her he shook like an alcoholic in need of his gin, because he felt she needed to know her options, no matter how his wolf felt about losing his mate. Her knight, indeed.

Why should you read this book?

If you’re leery of supernatural books, the kinds that have werewolves and witches practicing black magic, etc, don’t let this book fool you. This book is so much more than magical creatures. Why is it that supernatural books are the ones that handle the topic of sexual abuse better than any other genre I’ve read? Anna is a fragile character, but she survived three years of sexual abuse. Survived, and wants to learn how she can heal some of those wounds in order to try a relationship with Charles, who is head-over-heels in love with her.

I loved the metaphor of Brother Wolf as the survival instinct we all have. When Anna feels threatened, such as the first time she tries to be intimate with Charles, her wolf comes “into ascendance,” essentially, she pulls on a deeper strength in order to swallow the timidity, fear, nausea that comes from anyone touching her. All because she wants it to work with Charles. I also loved that as the Omega wolf, her strength was in bringing out the best in others.

Read this book for an entertaining, gripping story that starts off running and continues at a loping pace. Read it for a tactful treatment of the aftermath of sexual abuse and the wish for a healthy, equal relationship. Another book to check out, if interested in another fascinating treatment of the same topic, is Robin McKinley’s Deerskin.

Sneak Peek #1 of THE REBEL’S HERO

Dear Reader,

So far I’ve kept to my goal of writing at least 750 words a week! Huzzah! To celebrate, here is the (first draft) of the first 850 words of the new book, The Rebel’s Hero. I would love your feedback. Are you getting a good feeling of the era, the setting, the situation?

One night, when the dense Virginia farm air buzzed with gnats that spoke of a heavy summer rain, Howard announced he had found Tempest’s husband at long last.

Tempest cocked her head to the side and shook it as though she had gotten water in her ear. Everything was as it had been mere moments ago, yet she had the distinct feeling of the world tilting on end.

Though it was dusk, and the orange sun sank lower still into the farm’s horizon, the dining room was brightly lit by candles perched in silver stands, and in the chandelier that swayed overhead. The combined brightness of the candles burned Tempest’s brown eyes so tears gathered at the corners. She cleared her throat and glanced meaningfully at the old slave Elijah who stood in the corner of the dining in his typical hunched fashion, pretending he hadn’t heard a word.

Howard never spoke of such things before the slaves. Said it was none of their business, his private matters. Which meant Howard felt far too comfortable with where he led the conversation.

“I hadn’t realized my supposed husband was lost,” Tempest quipped, smoothing butter onto her bread before dipping it into her chilled mint soup. She popped the sopping piece of bread into her mouth, focusing on the clarifying mint scent to help her stay alert to Howard’s newest scheme.

Across the table from Tempest sat her mother, Sophronia, just to the left of Howard. Sophronia pulled her lace shawl over her stooped shoulders and smoothed the fabric of her hooped skirt across her lap. Her pale face looked especially wan in the candlelight, and her white-blond hair had all but lost its luster in the ten years since she had married Howard.

Howard glared at Sophronia rather than Tempest for her outburst.

This elicited an apathetic, “Tempest, don’t talk to your step-daddy like that,” from Sophronia in her velvet southern drawl.

“I’ll stop if he does,” Tempest muttered.

It wasn’t funny anymore, the way Howard talked about her lack of a husband when all the other girls her age had married and born a child already. She was eighteen. She had more than enough time. Didn’t she?

Sophronia straightened her shoulders in a half-hearted shrug and sipped soup from her spoon.

“You’ll want to know the unlucky man’s name,” Howard said with a self-satisfied smile. His voice was deep with the relief of a thousand nights spent racking his brain with plans to get Tempest married and off his hands. He laced his fingers together and leaned back in his chair so the wooden legs creaked beneath his paunchy weight.

Tempest flicked her head to the side so one of her blond ringlets flew from where it rested on her shoulder. She did not particularly want to know, but she had just stuffed her mouth full of bread and couldn’t bring herself to say anything to stop him from speaking.

As long as it was not the one man Tempest could not stand to be in the same room with, no, the same house, the same county, to be honest, all would be well. She would find a way out, as always, and continue on her merry, pampered way.

“Walter Leonards’s agreed it would be beneficial to all if you were to marry him.”

Tempest choked on the bread in her mouth, audibly. Throwing her napkin in front of her mouth, she coughed up the bread, wincing at the way Sophronia half-frowned at her. Sophronia did not need to say a word, Tempest knew what she was thinking.

Come now, Tempest, you know better than to do such things. Surely you have outgrown such tomboyish behavior. You are a lady. Act like one.

Or rather, the Sophronia of old might have thought such things. Funny, how Tempest missed the sound of Sophronia scolding her. So many years had passed since Sophronia had cared enough to scold.

“In fact, Walter’s right pleased. I think this will be the match of the decade!”

Tempest glared at Howard, enraged by the way he could speak that sentence as if he and Walter were doing her a favor. Howard had to go and pick the one man she could never marry. Of course he would. Just to see my reaction.

“You’re pulling my leg,” Tempest said, shoving her chair away from the table before Elijah could help her. “You’re making fun of me.”

Howard put his hands behind his head. Damn the man, he enjoyed watching her squirm. “Walter,” he confirmed.

Tempest closed her eyes. She licked her lips and gasped her air. Walter. He used to poke her with lit matches when they were little. He once put a centipede in her shoe when they had been playing by a crick. To this day, she swore Walter had lamed her pony just to have it put down. Did one grow out of such meanness?

“No,” Tempest said, her voice breaking over the word.

Howard half-stood, resting his palms on the table that pressed into his stomach as he leaned over it. “You will marry him, or be thrown from this house. I’m not like your daddy, I don’t tolerate such wildness from females.”

Tempest looked at Sophronia, who kept her gaze on her soup. Sophronia’s hand shook as the spoon it held hovered over the bowl.

“Say something,” Tempest whispered.

It was on this solitary day that a rose petal fell. It was not known whether it happened to be dropped by a hand, or whether it had fallen by the properties of gravity. Suffice it to say, it began this story.

So, what do you think? Don’t forget to check out the other ROW80 peeps.

Book: The Perfect Poison

Announcement! Roz Morris of Nail Your Novel is collecting images of readers reading our books. If you have a copy of Catching the Rose or Haunting Miss Trentwood and you are game to snap an action shot of you reading, great!

Send a copy to me at worderella AT gmail DOT com. Looking forward to your submissions!

– – –

Title: The Perfect Poison
Author: Amanda Quick
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Length: 437 pgs.

Summary: Lucinda has the ability to detect any sort of botanically-based poison. This becomes something of a problem when Lucinda realizes the latest death in London was the result of someone using a poison from a plant stolen from her conservatory. Desperate to find the true killer and keep the wagging tongues at bay, Lucinda hires the eccentric Caleb Jones, founder of the local psychical investigation agency.

Excerpt:

pg 145 – “Nonsense, Miss Bromley.” Victoria put her reading glasses back on and reached for a pen. “I can assure you that when it comes to dealing with the social world, timidity never pays. The weak get trampled. Only the  strong, the bold, the clever survive.”

pg 168 – “Well I suppose a little breaking and entering is nothing compared to the risk of being arrested  for poisoning Lord Fairburn,” Lucinda said. Her voice was a trifle thin and a bit higher than usual but otherwise gratifyingly cool.

“That’s the spirit, Miss Bromley,” Caleb said. “Look for the silver lining, I always say.”

“Something tells me you’ve never said that before in your entire life, Mr. Jones.”

“Those of us blessed with a cheerful and positive temperament always say that sort of nonsense.”

Why should you read this book?

Ever wonder what would have happened if Sherlock Holmes, the master of dispassionate problem-solving, found his equal? Yeah, me too! Especially since the BBC’s most recent incarnation of Sherlock came out and boy do I have a mind crush on him.

Back to the point, Belinda. Why should you read this book? Because it’s about a woman who knows she has a talent and isn’t afraid to use it. It’s about a man who recognizes that talent and respects her for it, even if he doesn’t understand it. It’s about two highly intelligent people who are working together to solve a mystery, and in the process happen to ignite a passion between them that is intellectually, emotionally, and physically satisfying. You just don’t get that every day.

Quick has once again written a story that had me laughing out loud, eager to turn the page, and happy as both a fantasy/paranormal and historical fiction fan.

Interviewing Sean Paul McCartney

Dear Reader,

I’m so excited to introduce a fellow Ohioan author to you! His name is Sean Paul McCartney, and while he says he isn’t related to the Beatle, I like to pretend that he is. His first book in the series The Treasure Hunters Club is called “Secrets of the Magical Medallions,” and introduces the four teens Tommy Reed, Jackson Miller, Shannon McDougal and Chris Henderson. The series is a cross between The Hardy Boys and Indiana Jones,with a touch of National Treasure.

I’m sure you know the drill with my interviews by now, so let’s get started!

How do you transform your passion into focused research?

First I want to thank you so much for having me.

I wanted to write a series that would appeal to even he most reluctant reader. So I looked at stories I liked growing up and decided I would take the mystery of the Hardy Boys and tie that in with the action and adventure of Indiana Jones and National Treasure and The Treasure Hunters Club: Secrets of the Magical Medallions was born.

How do you translate your research into an entertaining narrative?

Actually the characters drive the research. The Treasure Hunters Club is always looking and researching lost treasures. It also helps that they have a guide in the form of famous treasure hunter “Diamond” Jack Reed, but really it is Tommy, Jackson, Chris and Shannon’s overall curiosity that keeps the story going.

How do you sneak an underlying message into your entertaining narrative?

I teach history so I try and sneak the facts of history in my story like Michael Crichton or Dan Brown. The key for me is to teach the readers without them knowing they are being taught. That is why in the first Treasure Hunters Club novel I go to great extremes to show how research is done and what goes into it. The club uses the library and books as well as the computer. I want the readers to see that answers are not always in front of them and they have to really look to find it.

My books are meant to give kids a fun and exciting ride and allow them to imagine they are part of the club on the adventure.

Thanks Sean for taking the time to answer my questions! If you’re excited to learn more, contact Sean at seancoach AT juno DOT com.

Interested in being interviewed?

I’d love to profile you on Worderella Writes, especially if you are an indie author, and most especially if you are an indie historical fiction author. I look forward to learning more about you and your upcoming projects!

Book: An Independent Woman

Title: An Independent Woman
Author: Candace Camp
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 397 pgs.

Summary: Nick was the orphaned, unwanted heir to the estate. Juliana was the charity case. Nick was the only one who protected Juliana from the cruelty of his family until he left to make a better life for himself. Years later, Nick reappears in Juliana’s life looking every bit the hero she remembered from her childhood. Misunderstandings cause her to lose her job as a lady’s companion, and Nick proposes a marriage of convenience. All seems well until murder happens on their wedding day…

Excerpt:

pg 71 – [Juliana] was the beloved companion of his childhood, the girl who had provided the only warmth he had known after his parents’ deaths. He had been eager to find her when he returned to England, but it had been the eagerness of an old, close friend… of a brother, say. He loved her, he thought, as much as he found himself able to love anyone, but it was a small, pure, uncomplicated love, a deep fondness for a childhood memory.

Yet here Juliana was, not at all a memory, looking very much like a desirable woman, and the feeling that had just speared through him was not years-old devotion but the swift lust of a man for a woman. The feeling shook him.

pg 139 – Juliana spent the next week in a veritable orgy of shopping.

Why should you read this book?

This is my first Candace Camp and I picked it up because I have been on the hunt for A Hidden Heart for my mother. The other Candace Camp books didn’t interest me, but the title intrigued me. This book was a fun, quick read, that had little history and the right amount of romance.

The selling point of this book is the description of Juliana and Nick. Admittedly, at the beginning I tired of Juliana’s constant wondering “Will he remember me? Won’t he remember me? What if I don’t meet his expectations?” Given that she is an independent woman, having made her way for years as a lady’s companion to nice (and not-so-nice) employers, that grated on my nerves a bit.

I adored the fact that Camp didn’t have them jump into bed right away. This book is a great example of a romance which allows the characters to get to know one another as people, to discover their personalities, their complements and clashes, before any hanky-panky begins. Their grudging respect for one another even while pissed off is what kept me smiling and reading; it’s what made them real for me.