Cover Makeovers!

While I know some people don’t like change, I felt it was time for a change with my Fort Gibson Officers series.

So, without any further ado, here are the new covers!

 

Bostoner New 3Southerner New 3Traveler New

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very special thanks to my local friend who drew these with chalk. I think she did an amazing job making them truly one-of-a-kind.

I’ve already changed the covers at most retailers, and will be updating my website with them shortly. That said, if you are interested in a paperback copy with the original cover, they are still available on Amazon. I’ll be changing the wraparound early next week.

 

(PS–just between us, I am making AWESOME progress in Passions of a Gentleman!)

A Day in the Life: Say What?!?!

For those who might not know, I’ve been very under the weather recently. But today is a new day and I can actually breathe through my nose again! Yay!

However, during my absence, there have been some changes around my household…

We have rodents.

But wait. These aren’t the kind I can call the exterminator for and have him make them go away. Nope. They’ve taken up permanent residence.

Meet Alex and Sebastian:

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Names sound familiar? Yeah, I’m just thrilled about it. (Catch the sarcasm?) But alas, there is a story about these little fellas…

Recently, my eldest son turned nine. That’s a huge deal, right? Last year in single-digits. That means I’m getting old, by the way. For his birthday, Bob convinced me to allow Eddie to get a pair of gerbils. Believe me, this took some doing.

Finally, I agreed. And Bob, being the excited fella he is, couldn’t wait to tell Eddie the news which just happened to be while we were in the car on the way out Ted’s Escondido (yes, indeed, in Tulsa you can find a Mexican restaurants named Ted’s–go figure). So for the rest of the car ride to the restaurant, while we were at the restaurant and then during the car ride to the pet store we had to discuss names. Since we were getting two, we needed names that went together–Eeny & Meeny (or meanie…); Salt & Pepper; Peanut & Butter; Peanut butter & Jelly; Spit & Spot, Dumb & Dumber; Fred & Ned; Lickety & Split; etc, etc. With four people tossing out names every three seconds you could only imagine what all we came up with!

Unfortunately, nothing was decided on by the time we got to the pet store.

And still nothing immediately sprang to mind when we saw the three gerbils at the store. But hey, people have kids before they decide on a name, so what’s wrong with adopting a pair of nameless rodents? Nothing!

But they can’t be nameless forever, and after a collective three hours trying to figure out a name, Bob had had enough and said, “Well, son, they’re both boys. So I think the only thing to do is for you to pick the names of two of the heroes from your mother’s books.”

“Huh?!” Call me nuts, but I don’t see a single reason to name them this way.

My kids, however, did–likely due to my reaction and suddenly my son thinks this is a brilliant idea and would like to hear a list of names.

Pulling an Andrew, Earl of Townson I looked to Bob, lifted my eyebrow and said, “Why don’t you give them a list since this is your idea.”

Needless to say, he couldn’t remember a few of their names–but he did remember enough for my son to pick two names: Sebastian and Alex…

While this might not be the most exciting story I’ve shared, there’s a reason for it. We’ve only had these little fur balls a short time but they’ve really wreaked havoc on our house, so stay tuned there’ll be more chaos to read about guaranteed.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

 

Mom Fail Winner:

The winner of the Mom Fail is…Cheryl Gates!  Shoot me an email with your email address and the book you’d like and I’ll set ya up.

Thanks so much to all who shared stories. I laughed until my cheeks hurt reading them!

A Day in the Life: Mom Fail! (And giveaway)

As most of you know, I’m a mom.

As ALL of you know, sometimes I fail.

Today I failed. Big time.

When I was a kid, my mom used to make this stuff called Malt-O Meal.

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hated it. It was nasty. Especially the chocolate flavored kind. I was so happy when she quit making it and heaved a sigh of relief when I moved out of the house and knew that ugly box would never grace the shelves of my pantry ever again.

But then it happened…

Yesterday morning while at breakfast my kids voiced complaints about the cereal I’d bought for them: Shredded Wheat. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know it doesn’t taste as great as Apple Jacks or Fruit Loops. But it’s good for you! That’s a good argument, isn’t it? At our grocery store, we have this point system that rates all foods on a scale from 1-100, 1 being totally unhealthy and no nutritional value and 100 being optimal nutrition. Shredded Wheat is like a 91 on that scale. No other cold cereal comes even close. Most hover in the 20-40 range. So if we have cereal, it might as well be a healthy one, right? But alas, my kids don’t love it and have complained (and yes, I’ve eaten it, too, and really it’s not that bad).

Well, yesterday was the final straw for me and I did the unthinkable, I bought Malt-O Meal.

If they want to complain, I’ll give ‘em something to complain about!

So this morning, I crept out of bed and with a little chuckle to myself, I grabbed the box of Malt-O Meal I’d hid and whistled as I cooked it up…

Now, let me pause for a minute to add this disclaimer–I’m not a mean person. I know, Shredded Wheat and Malt-O Meal makes it sound like I’m evil, but really, I just want my kids to eat right so they don’t have so many health problems later. With so much junk out there, it seems that if you want to eat healthy that you’re being tortured! They do get treats, but they’re restricted to a 3-4 times a week, and I don’t think breakfast is the meal to ingest tons of sugar. Believe me, when you homeschool, you want a few hours where they’re not bouncing off the walls!

So back to the story–the Malt-O Meal is all cooked up now:

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With a deep whiff of my childhood filling my nostrils, I poured some into three bowls (my husband positively refused to eat any of it) and brought them to the table. Yum, yum!

The kids sat down where they usually sit (of course my dear husband had to make a gross comment about what the contents of our bowls looked like) and the kids stared at it… I lowered my head to hide my grin. Gas to the grocery store: $2.99; One box of Malt-O Meal: $3.59; Never hearing your kids complain about eating Shredded Wheat again: Priceless.

I’ll admit I felt like a bad Christian as I smiled and bit my lip–hard enough to draw blood–to keep from giggling during prayer. The excitement was just too much!

Then it was time to eat…

Both of my kids poked the hardening, clumping mess of brown slop in their bowls with their spoons. “Do we have to eat this?” Eddie asked, blinking.

“Yep. Eat it up. It’s good for ya!” I replied as I mentally prepared myself for what I was about to eat. Then, before I could think about it and change my mind, I ate a bite. It wasn’t delicious by any stretch, but it certainly tasted better than I remembered. (I’m assuming the ingredients have changed because I highly doubt I’ve acquired a taste for such.)

After about my third bite, I hear the words I never expected: “Can you make this for us again?”

What the heck? “Wh-what?”

“I like it,” Eddie said between bites, “can you make it again tomorrow?”

Gripping my spoon with all my strength so it doesn’t fall and chip one of my dishes, I looked to Henry who was also eating the crap without complaint. Yet. (He later admitted that it didn’t taste so good because he didn’t eat it fast enough and it made clumps that were gross!)

Overall, if they liked it, I think I just had a mom fail. Sure, I just found a meal they’ll eat, but it didn’t serve the purpose I’d been after. Oh well. Live and learn.

So my question is, for a chance to win ANY eBook from my backlist, what has been your “fail”. It can be a mom/dad fail; co-worker fail, sibling fail, etc. Something where things didn’t go as planned–for you!

(Open Internationally. Winner will be selected at random Friday at noon CST.)

His Yankee Bride joins another boxed

As most of you know, recently His Jilted Bride was included in a boxed set titled From the Ballroom and Beyond.  But all good things must come to an end, right? And tonight at midnight while that set goes off sale, another titled Romancing the Rogue, which includes His Yankee Bride, will hit the virtual shelves!

To help celebrate, we, the authors in this set, are doing a scavenger hunt with awesome prizes. To see all giveaways and instructions, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/eskapeepress?ref=br_tf

Here’s my excerpt, be watching the above link for my question for a chance to win an autographed copy of His Yankee Bride (US only) or the eBook version:

 

May 1787

England
John Banks shut his Bible and heaved a heavy sigh. It was days like today when being the youngest son of a baron was not nearly as appealing as being the oldest.

But that was John’s lot in life. He wasn’t the oldest; therefore, he had only three options: he could become a barrister, which he detested the thought of; an officer in the military, which made him shudder to think of; or a vicar. Even common born men had more options than he did. He nearly snorted. Even some criminals had more options than John did. At least they could be transported far away, then… Well, that’s the end of their advantage over John. Truly, once they arrived at wherever they were transported, it could not be a good experience.

“Is something the matter, John?” Edward, Lord Watson, and John’s eldest brother asked, coming into the room where John spent no less than eight hours a day reading his Bible in solitude; Edward’s wife, Regina, and their three-year-old son, Alex, coming in right behind him.

“No. I’m just memorizing Psalms 119.”

Regina’s brown eyebrows furrowed. “Didn’t you say that was the longest chapter in the Bible?”

“Yes.”

Edward lifted Alex onto his shoulders and walked to the bookshelves, telling him to pick any book he’d like. While Alex studied the red, green, blue and black spines with gold lettering, Edward said, “Well, I wish you the best of luck with that.”

Regina cleared her throat. Then, lacking the desired result, she cleared it again.

Edward sighed. “All right, Alex, it appears your mama will be the one reading to you. We’d better go look at the storybooks so she doesn’t fall asleep reading you one of these vastly interesting science tomes you love so much.”

Regina smiled and shook her head. She was a good sort; quiet, amiable, humorous at times, and always understanding. She’d make an excellent wife for a vicar. How unfortunate Edward married her first. Not that there was really anything unfortunate about it. Their marriage was arranged, and John was only fourteen at the time of the wedding, far too young to know to be jealous. But ever since he’d gotten to know her, he knew he desired his wife to have the same temperament.

Alex closed his fingers around the spine of the book he wanted and gave it a hearty jerk, leading it to fall from the shelf and smack his father right in the nose. John grinned. The times had been countless when John had wished he could have gotten away with hitting his brother that way.

As if he’d read his mind, Edward shot him a pointed glance.

John threw his hands into the air. “Don’t look at me. I didn’t tell him to drop the book on your face.”

“No, but I’m sure you’ll reward him with a biscuit for his excellent aim later.”

“Can’t blame an uncle for spoiling his favorite nephew, can you?” John asked.

Edward shook his head and lowered Alex to the ground before picking up the fallen book. Regina took it from him and John looked away. Those two had been married almost five years and still looked at each other as if they’d married only a week ago. That was another thing he admired about Regina: she confined her affections for her husband to the bedroom. Not that other ladies didn’t, but that was because most ladies he knew didn’t actually love their husbands. And the few who did had a hard time keeping their hands—and lips—to themselves. He shuddered at the memory of Lord and Lady Craven, who were rumored to have a love match, sharing a close embrace when they thought nobody else was around.

But John had been around, and he’d forever be plagued with the memories of the couple engaging in intimacies better suited for the bedchamber.

“Come along, Alex,” Regina called to her son, holding her hand out for him to hold.

“Is something troubling you, Trouble?” Edward asked, falling into the chair opposite him. “Are you struggling with what to preach about after dinner tonight?”

“No, Edward,” he said with a sigh and a slight smile at his brother’s nickname for him based on all the “trouble” he’d been accused of causing when he was younger. “With all your deplorable habits, I doubt I’ll ever run out of things to preach about.”

“Good. I should hate for it to be said that I’m the kind of older brother who neglects the needs of his younger brother—even his need to practice putting everyone to sleep with his preaching each night.”

John smiled weakly at his jest. Truly, that’s all it was. Edward didn’t say it to be cruel or because he was annoyed with him and his past behavior. But, it didn’t make it any less true. In the time since he’d concluded his studies at Eton—and for as much of his life as he could remember before then, if the truth had to be exposed—he’d been memorizing Bible passages, giving Biblically based advice, and delivering impromptu sermons as part of his ministry training. And why shouldn’t he? Edward always knew he’d grow up to one day be a baron and spent his life looking after others and learning the skills he’d need to be a baron. So why shouldn’t John have spent his life preparing for his future? Because it was maddening; that’s why!

Not to imply that the Lord’s work was maddening, mind you. But the always being honest, always thinking before acting, and the overwhelming pressure that every word you say or action you take could one day be used against you and ruin your entire future was more than any gentleman at the ripe young age of nineteen should be concerned about. But John was, and the pressure was threatening to surround him until the last atom of oxygen in his lungs was squeezed out.

“John, have you considered that a life in the ministry isn’t for you?” Edward’s softly spoken words startled him straight from his woolgathering.

“There isn’t another option.” He glanced out the window. “At least not one I care to pursue.”

Edward nodded. “I can accept that. An officer’s life isn’t for everyone.”

“And neither is a barrister’s,” John added.

“No, it’s not.” Edward ran his hand through his hair. “Have you considered going on a Grand Tour?”

“No. It’s too late for that now anyway. The archbishop said he’d have placement for me in June. That’s not enough time.”

Edward waved him off. “Then go on Tour and have the archbishop assign you to another mentor when you return. There will always be lost souls in need of saving, John. The profession is not on the verge of extinction. It won’t hurt you to delay your life’s work by a few months or even a year.”

John exhaled. Edward didn’t understand.

“I understand more than you might think,” Edward said softly. He grinned. “I seem to remember a conversation we had a few years ago when I reminded you that I, too, was once fourteen. Fortunately, the circumstances of this conversation are vastly different; but I can also tell you that I, too, was once nineteen and felt the weight of the rest of my life and the future of all of you boys pressing down on me. Father had just died, and I didn’t have a choice but to step up and fulfill my role as baron. I’m not saying that your role in life is any less important, but your need to begin is not immediate. Go and have a bit of fun now while you still can.”

John sat motionless as his brother left the room. Then, he picked up his Bible and flipped it open, resigning himself to the fact that living in a metaphorical glass box where he could be observed and made an example of for the rest of his life was what his life was to be. The words blurred in front of him. This couldn’t be it. He was only nineteen! Far too young to live out the rest of his days in a small country village, precisely what would happen as soon as the archbishop found placement for him. He shut his Bible again and set it down on the table in front of him. Perhaps Edward understood better than John thought he did. What would it hurt to spend a little time seeing the world? Then, when he was done, he could return and settle in to a calm serene life as a country vicar and find a meek and mild lady to be his wife.

New book from my friend, Ruth J. Hartman

A good friend of mine, Ruth J Hartman, who I have had the pleasure of not only meeting, shaking hands with and murmuring a few pleasantries, but actually got to sit down and dine with her (more than once) this past May has a new book, A Courtship for Celia, available!

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Cecilia Fletcher yearns for true love with the man of her heart. A life of her own away from her demanding mother would be an added benefit. But in order to do that, Cecilia must live a lie, making it necessary to use a false name in order to hide a family secret.

Barrington Radcliff was betrayed by a woman who he thought loved him. Because of that, trust is hard to willingly give. When he meets pretty Cecilia Fleming, his heart wants to give her a chance. Something about her doesn’t ring true, but Barrington allows love to overrule his good judgment.

Can Cecilia and Barrington get past their hurt and secrets long enough to find true love? 

Amazon ~*~ Smashwords

Updates!

Like Edward Banks (or any of the Banks family for that matter), I tend to go through life without offering many explanations or apologies for my behavior. I’m just not good at social graces! But I do feel I owe all of you loyal readers an apology and an explanation.

First, I really am sorry I’ve been so remiss these past almost six months with my posts. I can’t go into all of it here, but we all have families and friends and we all know and understand that sometimes things that happen with them is beyond our control and has a way of pressing all of us. I am not immune. That said, I have made conscious decision to try to block out some of the external (and internal) distractions and blog more.

Starting with a few updates:

1. Simon and Henrietta’s book, Passions of a Gentleman, is currently on hold.

Why? See above. There has been a constant string of distractions for the past few months and every time I’d make headway, I’d get discouraged when I realized something wasn’t going to work. Why wouldn’t it work? Because I’m an idiot! Everything would have been just fine had I not had Edwina, the new Lady Benedict, see Lord Belgrave (Sebastian) during the final ball at the end of her book. But she did…so that means this entire series has had to run parallel with all the Banks books and everything I do in this latest one MUST match the timeline and events with not one or two, but THIRTEEN other books. This has (at times) made my life a living hell as I’ve had to trash the book and start over more times than I can even keep track of. So I put it aside. I’m really sorry to have to do that, but if it’s going to be a quality book, it needs to be done right. There have been a couple I’ve pushed and rushed just to have them done and keep up with a publishing schedule, and unfortunately, those have tended to be my least favorite books. I don’t want to do that to this one. I don’t deserve it, you as readers don’t deserve that and the characters don’t deserve that, either!

2. So here’s the deal…

After taking some time off from writing altogether to spend time with family and friends and get a bearing on life again, I started a new book. New characters. New timeline and era. New everything. I’m not THAT far into it yet but I’m making progress. And it’s fun. And that’s the most important thing. The books I’ve had the most fun writing are (not surprisingly) reader favorites. Though I’ve broken a few rules here and there, my love for that story and the characters has been most prominent in those books and it shows. That’s what I want to get back to. Not to say I don’t love Simon and Henrietta. I do. But when frustration manifests with a writer, the book sucks. I’m sorry, I hate that term with a passion that consumes my soul, but in this situation, it fits. And frankly, I don’t want a half-assed story.

That confession now out in the open, I WILL write that book if it’s the last thing I do. Furthermore, I will not start any more Regency series until I finish that one. I do owe that to all of you as readers, but I need a break. When I’ve taken breaks in the past and worked on another book or wrote another series before coming back to an idea, it has worked out better for me. It’s just never happened with the final book, usually it’s the first, which is why I’ve spent so long fighting it. But I can’t fight it anymore. I have to stop for a while. But please don’t lose faith in me, the book will come, just maybe not in 2014.

3. Some final words...

As always, I am so very appreciative of all of you who have purchased and read my books. Without awesome readers, such as you, there’d be no reason to write stories. I started writing about Brooke and Andrew, then the other sisters, as a means to cope with some difficult situations I was facing, but I continued because of all of the love and support for the Banks family! I have really enjoyed these past three and a half years and know it wouldn’t have been possible if not for all of you! Thank you all so much!