Sunday, February 10, 2019

Coming, Summer 2019: Homegrown Healer

"Physician, heal thyself," are words Doctor MacKenzie "Mac" Reardon never thought he would hear, although he has seen far too much sickness and death in his thirty years.
Possum Holler, West Virginia, has suffered numerous tragedies without a doctor and with a hospital nearly one hundred miles away.  The people are poor and backward.  At last, one of their own has become a doctor.  Doctor Reardon returns to his hometown to find his own heartache might be something no medicine can heal as he struggles with a narrow-minded community, ignorance, a rocky marriage to a city girl, Felicia Chambry Reardon, and an overwhelming attraction to the new school teacher/principal, Sunny Bankston, at the newly established school. 
Having met Sunny while in his ER rotation at Cook County Hospital when he was an intern and she had been shot in a school violence incident, Mac knows the spirit of the woman, a spirit that is more akin to his than the spirit of the woman he married.  Mac struggles against overwhelming odds to bring his community into the twenty-first century even as Sunny Bankston battles her own demons, including an attraction to MacKenzie Reardon.

The first installment in the Hillbilly Hijinks series, Homegrown Healer follows MacKenzie Reardon, but his three friends Tipper Campbell, Gator Jones, and Alain Richter stay in stride with him as these four young men determine the future of Possum Holler.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Food for Thought

A quote from Bone Dry.

"Sounds like David might be a knight in shining armor. Maybe we misjudged him."
Penny's face beamed. "No knight in shining armor. He's been through a lot. A knight in shining armor is just a man who has never had his mettle tested. David's armor is scuffed, dented, and tarnished. But, Laura Beth, I love him."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

My latest interview

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas vacation = write time

2 very rough chapters for one of my upcoming YA books:
Gullna pirouetted to see all the Selkies. ''It is time for a vote.
''All voting guilty of treason?"
A loud wail went up.
''No!" Tae shrieked.
''Why?" Gullna challenged, standing toe-to-toe with Tae. Terk and Tor rushed to stand beside their sister.
An old Selkie with bagging skin limped forward. ''He was a child and he has repented. How can you pass judgement on a child? You spared their others who repented."
''Grandmother,'' Chuain choked.
''Grandmother,'' Gullma said without reverence. ''Chuain's actions affected all of this world—from Soarget Wetter to Talamhfaerie to Fharraige to Fearainn to Cuan Mara. When Leviaddan left here, he created that abominable Kraken with that deplorable Sea Witch. He turned the Megaladons. Even we Selkies fear those creatures."
''It was not Chuain's fault! If he had stayed, he would be dead, too. And he never had time to create an heir."
''Sentimental old woman." Gullna shook her head. ''Not guilty?"
A low murmur met their ears.
Tiefer sighed. ''Chuain Aon, you have been found guilty of treason by a court of your people. What is the sentence of the people?"
The old Selkie grabbed Gullna's arm. ''Banish him."
Gullna signaled Stormur to remove their grandmother. He said when he took the Selkie's arm, ''I will not be a party to what might prove to be murder." He led the old woman through the crowd.
Kristal cried, ''Nor I!" She felt for Stormur. With his other hand, he led her away, too.
''It is not my decision." Gullna bit her lip. ''Selkies, what say you?"
For the next several minutes, small pebbles landed at Gullna's feet. With a deep sigh, she said, ''It is decided."
The Fae began a solemn chant and moved farther back. The Elves turned their backs, pulling Terk and Tor with them, from harm's way.
The circle of Selkies tightened. Those who disagreed wondered away.
Since Stormur left, two others dragged Chuain to the center of the circle of Selkies.Since Stormur left, two others dragged Chuain to the center of the circle as the Selkies in the water seemed to walk out of their aquatic skin and stood naked. Each Selkie lifted a large stone.
Gullna lifted hers and dropped it at her brother's feet. ''The will of the people,'' she said and stepped away.
Tae took in the scene in horror. ''Tiefer,'' she pleaded through tears. ''Do something."
The Elf Guardian stopped and turned back, still holding fast to Tae's siblings. ''Though disappointed, I have no authority to interfere with another race's rules and judgements."
Gullna nudged Tae away from the circle, but Tae elbowed the Selkie out of her way.
''No! No! No!" Tae clenched her fists, ''I am Taekeyla Ignis, Water Elemental. My father is Nephilim. My mother is an Angel. My father's father was an angelic being. My other ancestors are gods and goddesses. I am not bound by your stupid rules!"
With all her might, Tale created a stream of water and raced toward Chuain, sending him flying over the Selkies closest to the water.
His resounding splash was overshadowed by the squelching sound of a hundred stones striking Tae at once.
Terk screamed.
Tor bellowed.
Tiefer shrieked.
The Sprites emitted an ear-splitting, sustained soprano note and circled overhead, creating a whirlwind.
The Fairies' teeth elongated to razor-sharp spikes, and their deep timbre rattled the ground.
Louder than any sound, ''No!" Chuain roared.
The being charging toward the beach looked nothing like a scaly fish-man. His long black hair hung to his waist. Eyes the color of the darkest storm clouds spewed anger. He matched Yarwhin pound for pound, inch for inch. Oblivious to his state of undress or change in appearance, Chuain flung Selkies and Elves alike to the side forging a path to Tae.
Terk and Tor elbowed Elves to clear the way to their sister.
The old Selkie shoved Gullna from her path. ''Now you will stand trial."
''I cast no stones, Grandmother."
The old Selkie snorted and raised her hands for quiet. ''The Beast of Cuan Mara has been restored. As foretold, the love of one willing to die in his place has revived Chuain Aon."
Chuain finally knelt and lifted Tae into massive arms. ''Oh, my love. Why did you do that?"
She barely whimpered at his touch. Eyes swollen nearly shut, bones broken, blood trickling from too many lacerations to count, she struggled to lift her hand to his face. ''You." She struggled to breath. ''Are…so…beautiful."
Tiefer wailed, ''No! She cannot be the sacrifice. I never meant my words to be prophetic. Forgive me."
The Elves joined the lament. The Fae and the Niads groaned in three-part harmony to the Elves' descant. The sound haunted the area.
Beneath the requiem, a wicked cackle floated ashore. Wrach Môr laughed a good way beyond the Niads. ''No way to free Yarwhin now."
Tae's voice barely audible to those nearest her, she said, ''Chuain…promise me…'
''You find…Tears of Godetta. If you find them…'' She coughed, blood flowed from her mouth. ''It'll be as if I…found them…for you are…my heart. I love you."
Her hand dropped, leaving a streak of blood on Chuain's face.
''Ahhhhh!" he thundered, and the ground shook. ''No! You make me want to live. Do not leave me, Tae. I love you." The big man gathered Tae to his chest and sobbed.
The sound broke Terk's heart. She and Tor knelt beside the man who loved their sister.
Terk gasped, ''By the gods!"
''Chuain!" Tor hollered. He ripped off the sheath that held his dagger and tossed the weapon to the side. He captured the gargantuan tears flowing from the Selkie's eyes.
A tear escaped and splashed onto Tae's face with a soft hiss.
She gasped.
Her body convulsed with popping and cracking sounds.
Her eyes fluttered closed and then open.
Chuain held her tighter. ''Thanks be to the gods!"
Tae caught sight of her siblings faces.
''What?" she asked.
Tor sputtered, ''Th-th-the Tears of Godetta. When you died."
''I died?"
"He shed them,'' Terk muttered.
Tae's brow creased. ''The Tears could not have been with him all these years."
''No,'' the aged Selkie said. ''Many millennia ago, so our stories go, the Dragon Goddess escaped here to die. She planted her tears within the Selkie ruler, and they passed to each ruler. They could only be transferred at the moment of death. No one has ever witnessed the transference. Thus, we considered it lore."
She lifted her hands and turned in a circle. ''Behold your King!"

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sunday, September 9, 2018

What's in a Name?

Spirits' Desire
Chapter One
What's in a Name?
As the man with the wavy, sable locks and jade eyes stirred beans and fried salt pork, his two traveling companions roared into camp. Behind them, they dragged a tall, thin, yet well-endowed, mousy-brown-haired woman. She wore a buckskin dress, moccasins, and a feather tied to the end of a thin braid that was longer than the rest of her hair. The braid indicated she was married; the feather showed to whom she belonged.
The man preparing dinner calmly interrogated the other two. "What exactly is going on here?" He eyed the woman who thrashed and attempted to pull her wrists free. His eyes narrowed in recognition, for he had seen the woman once before. Instantly, his hand flew to the six-shooter by his side, and he asked a more urgent question. "Do you two fools have any idea who this woman is?"
The Rumpelstilskin-like Pierre Boudreaux triumphantly acknowledged, "Oui. We done and gote us Black Cloud's squaw!" He laughed menacingly.
The green-eyed man bellowed, "Are you crazy? Do you want to get all of us killed? Black Cloud will have your scalp!"
Pierre laughed again. "Naw! I gote heese!" He brandished a mop of long black hair that still dripped blood. "And now I will haf heese woman agin!"
Pierre planted a slobbery kiss on the woman even as the man who had been arguing with him rose to his full height of six and half feet. He held his back erect and displayed an expansive chest and massive arms. In a commanding voice he spoke. "Pierre, take your hands off that woman. You are an animal. What do you mean 'again'?"
Bart Mercier, the other partner, restrained the man. "O'Rourke, let him be. Me an' him boff done had her tanight. We brung her ta share wif ya. She ain't nuthin' but an Injun whore. I plan ta have me some more o' her, too, afore Pierre slices dat purty neck."
"Over my dead body." O'Rourke glared at Bart, and with long deliberate strides he reached Pierre and yanked him by the collar, throwing him several yards.
Angered, Pierre pulled a long knife from its sheath. "O'Rourke, are ya really willin' ta die fer a piece o' used Injun meat?"
O'Rourke gently pushed the woman's hair from her face and lifted her chin. Her lip was caked with dried blood and a big black bruise appeared on her cheek. Rage seeping from his tone, he addressed Pierre and Bart. "You idiots! This woman is not Indian at all. Even if she were, she is a human being and deserves to be treated with dignity. You will not harm her." He looked kindly into two frightened, but soft, dove-gray eyes.
Bart laughed. "Yer probly one o' dem abolitionists, too. Ya don't thank niggers should be slaves."
O'Rourke spoke softly. "Slavery is inhumane treatment of one created in God's image."
Pierre was still angry. "O'Rourke if'n ya don't want none, mind yer own beezness an' let us haf some fun."
Continuing to look into the eyes of the terrified woman, O'Rourke said, "This is my business. You made it so. My God, Bart! How could you? She's not a day over sixteen."
"She's done been Black Cloud's squaw fer nigh on a year. She ain't no blushin' virgin."
Pierre had had enough of what he considered O'Rourke's meddling. He lunged at O'Rourke's back with his knife held high. The woman shrieked in warning.
Pierre's blade caught O'Rourke's left shoulder. The two men struggled over the knife. For a man who was only five-feet and five-inches, Pierre was as strong as an ox. O'Rourke had a fight on his hands, especially with the wounded shoulder. Pierre fought dirtier by throwing sand into O'Rourke's eyes. O'Rourke stood near the woman trying to clear his vision. Pierre lunged again with his knife, but unexpectedly the woman stuck her foot out and tripped him. Dropping his knife in the subsequent fall, Pierre reached into his boot for his Derringer. By then, O'Rourke had cleared enough sand from his eyes to see the intention of Pierre. O'Rourke fired quickly from the hip, striking his target squarely in the chest.
O'Rourke fairly growled, "Bart, do you want to be a part of this, too?"
Bart shook his head. "Jest gimme my horse, an' I'll be gone."
O'Rourke untied the rope from Bart's horse and sent him on his way. Bart slung over his shoulder, "O'Rourke, ridin' alone out here is real dangerous. Ya never know what kind o' varmint will happen up."
"I'll keep that in mind, Bart. You had best remember how lightly I sleep."
"Don't fret, O'Rourke. I ain't plannin' ta tangle wif da likes o' you."
Bart rode off at a high gallop. O'Rourke turned to the woman and removed her fetters. As he massaged her hands gently to restore the circulation, he spoke compassionately. "You're safe now. I won't hurt you."
O'Rourke poured water from his canteen and carefully washed the dirt and dried blood from the woman's face. He talked soothingly as he worked. "What is your name? Mine is Rennin O'Rourke. Crude men call me O'Rourke, but my friends call me Rennin. You may call me Rennin."
The woman did not speak. Rennin thought perhaps she had lived with the Pawnee so long she did not understand him, yet he talked softly, gently, unthreateningly. "Tomorrow, I shall take you back to your village. I considered Black Cloud a friend, no, a brother." Rennin looked at the scar across his palm. He had mixed his blood with Black Cloud's many years before. "I'm sorry for your loss."
Gray eyes dropped toward the ground. Something akin to a sob escaped her throat. Almost inaudibly she said, "Rennin O'Rourke, I cannot return to my village. I would be an outcast for what has happened to me. Black Cloud is no longer there to protect me. Sleeping Fawn's family will no longer want me. I would become precisely what Pierre called me."
Rennin realized the seriousness of the situation. This woman would be demeaned among her tribe. She would be treated as if what Pierre and Bart did was her fault, and, perhaps, even be accused of being complicit in Black Cloud's death. In an attempt of kindness, Rennin said, "Then, tomorrow I shall take you to Ft. Laramie. Perhaps, you can find your family."
She laughed bitterly. "Rennin O'Rourke, I cannot live with white men either. You have seen how most of them will treat me. I thank you for your kindness, but it would be best if you simply leave me here to die for I have no people. I ceased to be Rebekah Sinclair ten years ago, and now I cannot be Eyes of a Dove either. I am no one, and I have nowhere to go."
Rennin's heart broke for the plight of this young woman. "Don't be silly. I shan't leave you here to die."
"Then, what am I to do, Rennin O'Rourke?"
The woman's plea for help did not go unheard by the man's kind heart, but he responded, "We'll think of something tomorrow, but right now let's eat something. I made supper for three. There is more than enough for two."
When he lifted the ladle, Rennin realized how deeply wounded his shoulder was, and he winced, dropping the ladle back into the pot. Suddenly, he felt gentle hands unbuttoning his shirt. The woman slipped the cloth from his shoulder. As he had done to her, she carefully washed his wound. She commented, "You need some healing herbs, or you will get a fever. I will gather moss near the river. Rest until I return."
"It is already dark, Rebekah."
The woman smiled softly. "You may call me Rebekah, Rennin O'Rourke. Rennin is such an unusual name. How did you get it?"
He leaned against a boulder. "I'll tell you about it sometime, but right now, I think I'll rest. Take my gun to the river with you. Bart could be lurking around."
Rebekah gathered the moss she needed and bandaged Rennin's shoulder with a clean kerchief. She served them both a plate of beans and salt pork and a cup of coffee. "Now, Rennin O'Rourke, tell me about your name."
Rennin laughed. "It is not an unusual name in my family. There have been many men named Rennin in my family, my grandfather for one, and several before him. Would you like to hear about the first Rennin O'Rourke? I actually have his exploits written in a book. I can read them to you."
"Yes, I would like that, Rennin O'Rourke."
"Please, just Rennin."
Rebekah smiled. "Yes, Rennin, I would like that."