Monday, November 9, 2015

A Holiday Blog Tour With Zina Abbott

A holiday romance set in 1854 Columbia, California.
Too Old for Christmas, by Zina Abbott.

 About the Book:

Irishman Sean Flood survived the potato famine, crossing the Atlantic, the Mexican-American War, and wandering the Western wilderness with his mules and freight wagon. But, due to poor diet and deprivation, his teeth did not fare well. It’s November of 1854 in Columbia, California, Queen of the Southern Mines, a city Sean is helping to rebuild after the disastrous fire the previous summer. Intense stabbing tooth pain drives him to see Doc Massey, the local dentist. He first stops by the mercantile to pick up a bottle of whiskey—for medicinal purposes—and food­­­­ he’ll be able to eat when it’s all over. If only the beautiful but aggravating woman ahead of him who keeps her face half hidden and insists she won’t accept charity would finish up with her purchase so he can get his supplies, his tooth pulled and return home to his mules and half-built cabin….

That night, Sean meets the woman’s two sons, Jesse and Benjy McNair, and learns her secret. He decides with only three teeth left in his head, he needs widow Ona McNair’s charity—and he’s willing to pay for it. Sean won’t accept nine year-old Jesse’s declaration his family’s poverty means the boy is too old for Christmas that year. Sean is a full-grown man and he’s not too old for Christmas. He not only plans to come bearing gifts to Christmas Eve dinner with the McNairs, but he knows exactly what gift he wants for himself.  
*Sweet Romance

Excerpt #1:

          Sean stopped by the Columbia Mercantile  in order to buy a bottle of

whiskey, some dried beef for flavoring—for he certainly didn’t have the teeth to chew it—and a small sack of flour to have something to cook into a soft gruel for supper. He knew he would not feel like shopping after seeing Doc Massey, the dentist. Those supplies would be his daily menu until his gum started to heal. As much as he preferred the thought of pulling up a chair to warm himself by the glowing wood stove for an hour or more, he didn’t linger once he felt his clothes start to dry.
          Sean shrugged off Mr. Magendie, owner of the retail store, as the man sought to convince him to buy the newly arrived cast iron stove he had for sale. All Sean cared to focus on was buying the whiskey he planned to start consuming as soon as he stepped out the door so he could face getting his tooth pulled. Sean impatiently waved away the man and his polite sales chatter.
          Sean’s annoyance over his situation increased as he stood behind the woman talking to the clerk at the counter.
          Finish your business, woman, and move on. My patience be wearing thin.
          Through his self-absorption with his pain, Sean realized that the woman asked for credit for the three small sacks of goods on the counter in front of her.
          “I know I can’t charge to a standing account until the other matter is settled, but if you can just wait until tomorrow afternoon for payment, I’ll have made my delivery by then and collected my fee. I’m owed enough to not only cover this, but I can put some on the other account as well. I promise I will bring it right in.”
          “I’m sorry, Mrs. McNair, but Mr. Magendie has given me strict orders…”
          “Give over, man, I’m in a hurry, now,” Sean interrupted him, realizing the exchange could take longer than he was willing to wait. “Here…” Sean sorted through the coins he held in his hand in anticipation of paying for his items. He selected one he felt would surely cover whatever the woman was trying to purchase and, leaning past her, he slapped the coin on the counter. “’Twill cover the shortfall, certain. Now, if you don’t mind…”
          The woman rounded on Sean, her eyes flashing with anger. “I do mind. I’ll thank you to take your money back and wait your turn. I can take care of my own business and I don’t take charity.”
(Author's note: The Columbia Mercantile at the time of this story was a wooden building. This brick building with iron shutters was built a couple of years later.)

Too Old for Christmas is now available on pre-order at Amazon. You may purchase it by clicking HERE. It will be available on Nook soon.

 About the Author:

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. 

The author currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Zina Abbott Links:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Goodreads  |  Twitter

Zina Abbott Amazon Author Page 

Too Old in Columbia Series on Facebook

Too Old in Columbia Series on Pinterest

Monday, October 19, 2015

THE 14th QUILT by Robyn Echols

About The Fourteenth Quilt:

Annie, Celia and Lynn are all that are left of the Relief Society quilting class, but they are still determined to make baby quilts for the new mothers at church. Annie, who is just south of eighty years old, calls the quiltsters (short for quilting sisters) together to ask for more. She wants to make lap quilts to give to some of the “forgotten” oldsters she sings to each week at the nursing home—something to wrap them in love at Christmastime. It’s a good idea, but the trio discovers that life and making quilts don’t always go as planned.

The quilters discuss recipes and quilting ideas including a crocheted cat mat to use up their fabric selvage and trim scraps, all of which they share in the book.

Sarah and Brian meet at the university. Their first date is after Sarah’s First Saturday Block of the Month class she attends with her mom at the local quilt shop. Their romance grows, and they plan their future together—a plan that will require them to be separated for six months before their wedding. But, can they bear to be apart that long?

What wraps together this Christmas tale? The Fourteenth Quilt. 

Excerpt #1:          (Getting to Know You)         

“Would you like to go on a date?”
          “No. Oh, no,” Sarah shook her head even more vigorously. “Right now the only thing I’m interested in is getting through finals. I’m not really interested in meeting a bunch of guys and doing the dating scene.”
          “I wasn’t thinking of a bunch of guys. I was wondering if you would like to go on a date with me sometime.”
          Sarah had not expected this. She forced herself to not let her mouth drop open. She looked up again and stared at Brian as if seeing him for the first time. He didn’t have the most rock star handsome face she had ever seen, but he was good-looking. Unlike most of her family who were tall and heftily-built people, he was thin and wiry. She wondered, when they both stood up, would he even be taller than she was?
          With her eyes locked on his, she witnessed kindness as he patiently waited for her answer. Then again, for a second she worried the hint of laughter in his eyes indicated he enjoyed witnessing her discomfort.
          Sarah didn’t know what to say. He looked like a nice guy, but she didn’t really know anything about him.
          “I…I don’t know,” Sarah stammered. “We really don’t know each other. It’s not like Jenna actually introduced us or ever told me anything about you.”
          Brian chuckled.

          “You need to understand, Sarah, I didn’t know anyone on your bench. I was sitting here because I’m Len’s friend, and I’ve met his girlfriend, Terry. Terry is friends with that dark-haired girl. I think her name was Angie. Evidently, Angie knew your friend. What was her name?”
          “Jenna,” supplied Sarah. “I don’t know her all that well, although she seems to be really nice. We share a class together.”
          “But, you know her name,” Brian pointed out. “I suspect that Jenna didn’t make intros because, other than Angie, who was sitting next to her, she didn’t know anyone on my bench.


          Sarah shrugged. She could see how that could have happened.
          “I don’t want to pressure you if you don’t feel comfortable going out with me,” said Brian. “But, I like you and would like to get to know you better.”
          He doesn’t want to pressure me if I don’t feel comfortable?
Sarah blinked as she thought about his words. It seemed like everyone she knew was always trying to push her out of her comfort zone. 

About Robyn Echols:

Robyn Echols has been writing since she was in junior high school. By choice, she spent most of her evening hours in her "dungeon", as her mother called her downstairs bedroom, writing stories, only joining her family in front of the television upstairs when her favorite programs were playing. She has spent hours learning and teaching family history topics, and focuses on history from a genealogist's perspective of seeking out the details of everyday life in the past.

Now Robyn resides with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite” and has fun researching and writing the books that she hopes will interest and entertain her readers. She writes Young Adult/New Adult and contemporary fiction under Robyn Echols and adult historical romance under her pen name, Zina Abbott.

The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Author Links:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest

Quilt Gateway blog (See posts for September 2015)

Purchase Links:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Kathy Otten

Kathy is the mother of three grown children and lives in the open farm country of western NY with her husband of thirty-two years. She enjoys taking long walks with her German Shepherd, Max, through the fields and woods near her home. In the winter she likes to curl up with a good book and one or two of her five cats, while the snow blows outside. In between family, work and animals she can be found at her computer weaving stories of laughter, heartache, and love for the crazy cast of characters swirling around in her head.

The Interview

I believe color says something about a person’s personality.  What’s your favorite color? Blue
What is your writing process from conception to finished MS? 
Usually I see the characters first. I see them in period dress sometimes moving around in their environment, sometimes talking with another character. I write it down. The questions come next. I ask the character about their goals and fears. If I see another scene in my head I write it down.
Are you a planner, panster or both?
I tend to believe I’m a panster because I write whatever comes into my head first then rearrange and put the bits and pieces into some kind of order. On the other hand I think I’ve read so many thousands of books that I have an unconscious awareness of the three act structure so that as I put the scenes in order I may actually be outlining. Who knows?
How did you research for your book? I had seen something on the history channel about the Molasses Flood. Then I bought a book, and looked up old newspaper articles that told what happened. I also researched the Boston Police to find out about call boxes and uniforms. Old maps of Boston with street names added more detail. I watched YouTube videos of WWI fighter planes so I could get the sound correct for a single line in the story. I even brought a jar of molasses to my critique group so they could help me describe the smell.
What is your all-time favorite movie? 
To Kill a Mockingbird TV show? M*A*S*H and Justified, though both are finished now.
How important do feel writing workshops are to any writer? 
Craft is everything in writing. It strengthens you prose, creates characters that resonate with your reader long after they close the book, and it enhances your voice as a writer. I just came back from the Pennwriters, Inc., annual conference. Over fifty workshops on writing over three days and a one day intensive workshop. Aside from having my creative batteries charged, I always learn new things. Publishing is constantly changing as well and it’s important to keep up with writing trends. I don’t mean vampires, I mean the way story openings have changed, the way pacing has changed, and the minimal use of the word said and speech tags altogether.
What advice would you like to give to an aspiring writer? 
Someone at the conference attributed this to Stephen King, and said, “Writing in 5 percent talent, 90 percent perseverance, and 5 percent luck. You have to persevere. Put down the TV remote. Study craft and write.
Did anyone mentor you or help you along the way?  
No one specifically mentored me, but I’m a member of Pennwriters and Pennwriters believe in paying it forward. I’ve been helped and encouraged by everyone in the organization. My local group especially so.  Each member has unique strengths and life experiences, I don’t think I could write without them.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you? Chuck Sambucino said the secret to getting published is to put down the remote.
If you could live anywhere in the world you wanted to, where would it be? 
Where do you write? 
Generally on my desk top on my back porch.
How much time do you devote to writing each week?  Do you have a day every week that you take off? 
I work 40hrs a week. This week I’m working 50, so a specific writing time varies. Aside from that time, are family obligations, appointments, housework, meals, etc. Then with the remaining time there is social media, blogging, email, research, editing, workshops I teach, reading critique copies for others, meetings, my weekly critique group and if there is anything left, I write. I took a workshop at the conference on sprint writing, so my plan is to incorporate work on dedicating time for that and creating maximum word counts.
What is a genre that you have not attempted that you would like to try? 
Some day I’d like to try a M/M historical mystery. But unless the characters speak to me I won’t do it.
Is there anything you would like readers to know about you?
I have a pretty ordinary life. Boring, by most standards. My husband and I did dairy farm together years ago. That was a bit different. And my first grandchild, Leo Michael, was born on Easter.

Give away alert!! Kathy will be giving away a digital copy of her new new release to someone who comments so be sure to include your email address or means to contact you in your comment for a chance to win.

After the Dark

Months in the trenches of France have left Liam Gallagher wondering why he has survived when better men did not. His guilt intensifies when he returns home only to come down with the deadly Spanish Influenza sweeping the country. Once again Liam lives when thousands do not.

Now the only bright spot in his monotonous life is the time he spends each day walking with Rosalie Moretti. Their talks give him hope for the future, a future possibly to include this vibrant, loving woman. Until one dark, catastrophic afternoon, when Liam realizes the reason his life was spared has come down to minutes and his ability to perform one selfless act.

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's Not Just Sew Sew

It’s Not Just Sew Sew

The old West had a shortage of everything except hard times and backbreaking work and there was sure plenty of that. Pioneer women took extra pains with all their belongings and to lose something as small as a button really was difficult to take.

Buttons have been around approximately 4,000 years with its history dating back to Egypt. Archaeologists have unearthed them in ancient tombs and in archaeological digs.

At first buttons were used entirely for decoration. Men and women both wore buttons to adorn themselves. King Louis XIV of France spent $600,000 a year on buttons and King Francis I once had 13,600 buttons sewn to a single coat. The First Duke of Buckingham had a suit and cloak covered in diamond buttons. Talk about extravagant.

From ancient times, buttons have been fashioned from pearls, shells, glass, metal, wood, bone and antler, precious stones, porcelain, and leather among other materials. It appears that our ancestors made buttons from everything imaginable that was available at the time. Buttons with images of angels on them date back hundreds of years. Early buttons showed beautiful artistry. Artists filled their time painting portraits and scenery on them. Europe became so button crazy the church denounced them as “the devil’s snare,” mainly because of women’s buttoned-front dresses. Even the Puritans condemned buttons as sinful.

No one is quite sure when someone came along and fashioned the first buttonhole, but it was quite an accomplishment. Everyone jumped on the band wagon. It was so nice to able to make form-fitting garments that didn’t have to be secured with a belt, rope or other device.

Sadly, decorated buttons have become a lost art. These today are made of plastic.

Vintage Buttons 

Button collecting began in the 1930’s. The National Button Society was formed in 1938. There are thousands of collectors today. People collect all kinds and shapes and some of the prices fetched for a single button is outrageous. Recently, a button was sold in auction for $850.

The Smithsonian Institution has an extensive button collection as do many other museums.

Did you know that March 13-19 is National Button Week?

I'll have a new book out on May 5th! The second one in the Bachelor of Battle Creek series -- TWICE A TEXAS BRIDE!

Scars of the past run deep inside former saloon owner Rand Sinclair, leaving jagged pain and two certainties. He'll never fall in love again. Never marry. He finally has the ranch and land he's dreamed of owning and that's enough.

But when he finds a woman and little boy hiding out in one of his outbuildings in the bitter cold, he can't turn his back. He offers her a safe haven and the warmth of his fire.

Callie Quinn is on the run from a killer outlaw who has vowed to see her dead and take the boy.

Slowly, Rand uncovers her secrets and realizes the only way to keep her safe is to push all his chips to the center of the table. He risks everything...his name...and his heart...for the woman who's awakened a fierce hunger for love.
Locked in a desperate battle to rid themselves of the outlaw's special brand of terror, Rand reaches deep inside for every weapon in his arsenal.
Whoever wants to harm her will have to go through him.
And he’ll go through hell for her.
* * *
Here's a short excerpt involving buttons:

Sliding her hand beneath the soft hair at the nape of his neck, she parted her mouth slightly. When his tongue dipped inside, she faintly tasted peaches. She’d never felt so much need well up inside. She needed Rand like she needed air and food and to be loved. How could she have lived this long without him?

A second later, he removed his mouth from hers and murmured. “You drive me crazy, woman. Would you mind if I unfasten some buttons of your dress?”

“How many?” What a dumb question, but her brain had deserted her. The tingles doing back-flips and twirls up and down her spine had made forming coherent thought impossible.

“Three. Or four. You have so many.” He flashed a fleeting grin. “I have the greatest desire to feel my wife's skin. Will you welcome me?”

“Yes,” she managed to whisper.

The cool air was welcome on her flesh as he undid the four buttons she’d allotted. But he didn't stop. She covered his hand with hers. "You said four and that's what I agreed to."

"I never was much good at arithmetic." He took her hand and kissed each of her fingertips before he resumed his mission. 

* * *

Do you have a stash of buttons? Can you imagine wearing a piece of clothing that has over 13,000 buttons sewn on it?

I'm giving away a book to two people who comment. Their choice of Texas Mail Order Bride or Twice a Texas Bride in either print or e-book.

Amazon Links:

Texas Mail Order Bride:

Twice a Texas Bride:

Linda Broday, Historical Romance Author

I'm a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. My interest in reading and history came very early, so when I began writing historical romances it was no surprise to anyone. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed. I love scouring history books and the internet for little known details to add to my stories. I've been accused, and quite unjustly I might add, of making myself a nuisance at museums and libraries. Humble roots and the love of family have become focal points of each book I write. I hope you like the stories I endeavor to bring to you and that you'll try my new Bachelors of Battle Creek series.

You can Contact me:

Visit me at:
Facebook Author Page: 
On Twitter:  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Could You Have A Past Life? by C. Marie Bowen

Could you have had a Past Life?

Many years ago, I knew a woman who swore she had lived a previous life. She believed she was in Georgia during Sherman’s “March to the Sea”. She told me she had never given the Civil War much thought until she watched Gone With the Wind for the first time. As the war drew closer and closer to Scarlet in the film, the woman said she became increasingly agitated. As Scarlet walked through the remains of the battlefield, the woman became so ill she had to leave the theater. She swore she wasn’t squeamish, but could never watch that show without experiencing physical and emotional pain. She blamed her visceral reaction on having been killed during the Civil War.

I also knew a man who believes he had died on the Titanic in his previous life. He claimed to have memories of being trapped beneath the deck as the ship went down. He relayed this story to me in the early 80s, well before the 1997 blockbuster Titanic. I thought of him as I watched Jack and Rose fight their way to the upper deck, and I wondered...what if?

Past lives. Reincarnation. Could it be a learning process for the soul? Do we choose to be born again, or do we earn a new life by learning a specific lesson in this one? Perhaps all this talk of reincarnation and past lives is nothing but superstitious nonsense. Each person decides their own truth.

Many eastern religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, hold reincarnation as a central tenant. While in the West, popular culture has brought the idea of reincarnation into contemporary books, movies and songs. For me, the fascination with past lives began with the Paul Williams song, Old Souls from the 1974 film, Phantom of the Paradise, sung by Jessica Harper. Here, give it a listen. It’s a beautiful love song.  -  Old Souls

The song is haunting, romantic, and filled my young imagination with the idea of loving someone so much you could find them in your next life, or long for them in your present one. The notion stuck with me, and the central theme of Passage was born.

 PASSAGE: Soul of the Witch, Book 1

In Passage, my heroine, Courtney Veau has a near-death experience, and returns to her past-life in the post-Civil War west. When she wakes in a present-day hospital, Courtney realizes she’s returned to her own hollow existence. Heartbroken, she knows she left behind not only a family she loves, but life with the man who shares her soul, a man she’ll love forever, Merril Shilo.

A carriage accident nearly takes beautiful Nichole Harris’s life, stealing her memories completely. Plagued by amnesia, she is confused by flashes of memory that are out of time with the world around her, and seem to belong to someone else. Only Nichole's own strong emotions remain to guide her—and as others try to take control of her life, she fights a desperate battle to survive. Merril Shilo is someone she should know, and though her memories fail her, she is stunned by her passion for him—and the remembered agony of a broken heart.

Merril Shilo is the love of Courtney’s life—no matter when that life might be. The memories and emotions of her life as ranch heiress Nichole Harris consume Courtney’s mind—and her heart. Courtney soon finds her desire for Merril threatens her sanity, as he beckons from a past she can no longer reach. Can she find the PASSAGE back to the soul-mate she left behind?

Excerpt from Passage:

The long shadows faded into twilight. She'd found what she came for—proof this house existed. There was no longer a reason to stay; and yet, just the possibility she might hear his voice again kept her waiting one more day.

Outside the window, night took final possession of the day. A few porch lights came on down the block. Headlights swung around the corner as a car turned onto the street and illuminated the pavement. The headlights winked off and a car door slammed.

Behind her, the room took on a familiar chill. She turned from the window and pressed her back against the heavy drapes as the echo of boots pounded up the back stairs. She gasped when he raced into the room, vaguely luminescent in the darkness. He was dressed in denim trousers and cotton shirt, with a silk scarf tied loosely around his neck. Where's his hat? Had he lost it in the dash up the stairs? That wide-brimmed cowboy hat was such a part of him he seemed naked without it. His hair had come loose from its binding, and he shoved it out of his face with a familiar motion. She stood close enough to read the emotion play across his face, a mixture of fear and bewilderment. His breath was labored, and his anxiety tangible as he stopped and looked right at her. Her mouth fell open in surprise and her heart tightened in her chest. Does he see me?

He took a hesitant step toward her. “Nichole?” His voice filled with horror, he whispered her name from another life.

Yes! Merril, it's me.” Courtney stepped toward the specter.

His head turned. His attention called away from her open arms. “Oh, sweet Jesus.” Merril fell to his knees and reached for something no longer there. “Nicki, please don't go. Stay with me.”

Merril, I'm here.” Her heart ached for him and for herself, but her plea went unheard.

Sobs shook his wide shoulders.

Her heart clenched to witness his despair. She longed to comfort him, to assure him she was there, but could not. In defeat, she sank to her knees beside the grieving apparition.

Nicki, don't leave me. Look at me—” His hushed voice, choked and broken.

I'm right here, my love,” she whispered, but the room grew warm and Merril Shilo faded back into the past. Courtney hung her head in the darkness and fought back tears. One question was answered, at least for now.


Comment and leave your email address. Do you believe you had a past life or lives? If you could choose a past life, who would you have been?

The winner will receive a free e-book of Passage, Soul of the Witch – Book 1.

C. Marie Bowen

Connie (C. Marie) Bowen is an award winning writer of paranormal adventures laced with suspense and romance. She grew up in Denver, Colorado and has a love of western history, science fiction, and fantasy. Her life travels have taken her from Denver to Wichita, KS and eventually settling in North Texas to raise her two boys. A LEED accredited professional, she worked as an Architectural Project Manager for retail construction prior to deciding an empty nest gave her the opportunity to follow her writing muse.

She plans to release Prophecy, Soul of the Witch, Book 2 this summer, and the final chapter, Paradox, Soul of the Witch, Book 3 by the end of the year.

She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America, Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Sub-chapter of RWA, North Texas RWA, and Savvy Authors.

Learn more about her books and works in progress at her website: