Queen Mary’s Daughter

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Welcome Emily-Jane!

I’m very pleased today to be sharing about a new book being released, Queen Mary’s Daughter. I became acquainted with Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s writing when her essay about mothers was included in our anthology, In Celebration of Mothers. I’ve followed her since and am excited to see her historical fiction making its debut this week.

Here’s an excerpt from Queen Mary’s Daughter. Hop on over to Amazon and check it out.

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Excerpt #3:

A silence ensued and then the voice Mary Elizabeth had heard only hours before. “I hope you will spare me and make it quick.”

A swoosh.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum…” The voice was halted mid-prayer with a noticeable snap.

“No!” Mary Elizabeth shrieked.

“Princess.” Jamie reached across to where Mary Elizabeth sat on her horse, stunned. He gave her a gentle shake.

“She is gone.” She startled out of her thoughts. “I heard her last prayers. She begged her executioner to make it quick.” Tears cascaded down her cheeks unchecked.

photoEmily-JaneHills Orford

Author Social Media Links:

Website: http://emilyjanebooks.ca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/realpeoplestories

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ejhomusic

Blog: http://beyondtheordinaryincanadianstories.blogspot.ca/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1732544.Emily_Jane_Hills_Orford

 

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In Celebration of Sisters #sisters #newrelease

In the world of sisters, there are joys – there are frustrations. There are happy moments – there are moments that make you want to pull your hair out. We’ve got too many of them – we don’t have enough of them. Sisterhood is full of amazing and diverse moments. In Celebration of Sisters is a new anthology with stories and poems from over forty writers reflecting on the fascinating world of sisterhood.

To give you a taste of what’s included in In Celebration of Sisters, here’s my own story – Not Two Peas in a Pod. I’d love to share more with you, but we only purchased first, one-time rights from the other authors, so in fairness to them, I’m not free to share them here. Here’s a bit about my sister – the many differences between us, yet we find as we get older, we’re not all that different after all.

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Not Two Peas in a Pod

“You may be as different as the sun and the moon, but the same blood flows through both your hearts. You need her, as she needs you.”

George R.R. Martin

 As different as night and day.

Just like two peas in a pod.

Both are clichés, which writers are advised not to use. Yet, one of the phrases describes my sister and me perfectly. I’ll give you a hint—it’s not the one that references a green vegetable.

Our lives growing up were rife with differences.

I was fair. She was dark.

I was quiet. She was—not.

I liked dogs. She liked cats.

I was afraid to talk to boys. She always had a string of admirers.

I lived with my nose in a book and loved school. She was smart, but she found school, especially the tests, more of a challenge.

I was the older sister, but more timid in nature. She, the youngest of three, with a brother sandwiched between us, learned early on how to bat those eyes and quiver that lower lip to get her way.

I had one friend at a time. She had a neighborhood full of friends.

 

Healthy vegetables of a certain color are only one of many differences between the two of us. I could live on them, especially the green ones. My sis? Not even. As few veggies as possible pass her lips. She may have an occasional salad. Maybe. Sometimes a helping of corn. But if the doctor told her she couldn’t eat another vegetable again, she’d be ecstatic with his verdict.

My favorite long-ago story is from when she was a little tyke. She was very young and I was just three years older, so neither of us truly remember the incident. We only know the tale from the family stories that get repeated through the years.

In those days (not quite back to the dinosaur era, but our children may claim differently), children were expected to eat what was put in front of them. The story opens with Sue (Susie back then) sitting at the kitchen table having a stare down with a noxious green vegetable she refused to eat.

Dad insisted. “Eat your peas.”

She plainly stated her refusal. “I ‘frow up.”

Dad, in his fatherly authority, persisted. “You will not. You will eat them.”

Sue finally complied. And then, promptly stood up and did as she’d promised.

Our birthday parties differed vastly, too. My parties were smaller events, with only a few friends, but Sue’s parties were quite different. I recall one of her birthdays when she was in fifth or sixth grade. This is one that our mother likes to bring up, now and then, to tease Sue about. Picture a garage full of grade school children standing around, packed elbow to elbow. In trying to keep the party manageable, and keep expenses lower, Mom made ten invitations for Sue to pass out to friends.

That created a situation for the young socialite. She had more than ten friends. So even though her invitations ran out, she kept inviting friends anyway. Fortunately for Mom, Sue shared this news with her before the day of the party. I can guarantee she was batting those big brown eyes furiously while she shared her dilemma about why she had to keep inviting people.

More than once well-meaning, but nosey, acquaintances asked Mom if Sue was adopted. Mom had the stretch marks and labor memories to prove otherwise.

As we grew up, our relationship changed. Not immediately. Certainly not as I entered High School and she was still in Junior High.

One year during this period, we lived in Arkansas and shared a bedroom. I spent a lot of time reading. As I laid on my bed engrossed in my book, Sue laid on her bed, across the room, surrounded by a small army of stuffed animals. Bored, she launched one at me. Then another. And another. One at a time, she kept it up, enjoying every moment, relishing every fling of her ammunition. She laughed as she watched the steam build behind my ears until I got so angry I grabbed my book and stomped out of the room.

Time passed. We ended up with a common adversary. We were back in California, and our brother, Butch, decided that he was our boss. He vowed to protect us—especially from the young boys in the neighborhood that began to hang around. He spied on us from the upstairs balcony—when he wasn’t annoying us by walking by and mussing the top of our hair.

Sue and I banded together and started to grow closer. At least at home. Definitely not at High School, where I was an upperclassman, and she was just a young pup freshman.

We still had a lot of differences. I took all the Home Economics classes I could and loved every one of them. I learned to sew. Mom taught me how to knit and crochet. Meanwhile, Sue’s favorite method of hemming pants involved either a stapler or a roll of Scotch tape.

Gradually, year by year, we moved from a sister-only status to sisters and friends. Those differences between us seemed less important the older we got.

When Sue married and entered the motherhood game first, our roles flipped. She, now enjoying her moment in the older sister role, began to save toys and clothes from her two boys for my two younger ones.

Along the way, I became more confident and more social. Sue became—well, no, she didn’t become quieter. Never mind. I won’t go that far.

Once her children, now four in number, were older, she returned to school and got her college degree. She discovered she was smart. She could take tests and excel at school.

We’re still not two peas in a pod. But, through the years, we’ve discovered we truly are friends—not just sisters. We’ve learned that we do have one major thing in common. We share a heart. We come from the same roots, but we’re just two different plants growing in the same pot. We hold each other up, comfort and encourage each other, talk, and laugh. Together as sisters, we experience the trials and the joys of this earthly life together. I wouldn’t trade her in for all the gold on the planet.

Thank you for stopping by and reading this tale of two sisters. You can check out In Celebration of Sisters here:

Amazon Link for In Celebration of Sisters: https://www.amazon.com/dp/154828212X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510619064&sr=8-1&keywords=In+Celebration+of+Sisters

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Burn, Baby, Burn

BURN, BABY, BURN

On Fire new kindle.jpgCapable of creation and destruction, fire burns within us.

Behind the thick, black smoke of our lives, we blaze with our own unique flame.

While love compels some, others feed greed and lust into their hearths.

A tool for the deft hand, used with magic or as a weapon, but irresponsibility leaves deep burns and promises dreadful consequences.

 

ON FIRE brings to light twenty-six tales that explore this unpredictable yet beautiful element.

Handle with care.

Coming out 12.01.17!

 

Contact Information

Website: http://www.transmundanepress.com/

Blog: transmundanepressblog.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TransmundanePress/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TransmundnePres

Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/bYiL2r

 

Editors’ Bios:

burn1Alisha Costanzo is from a Syracuse suburb. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she currently teaches English. She’s the author of BLOOD PHOENIX: REBIRTH, BLOOD PHOENIX: CLAIMED, LOVING RED, and BLOOD PHOENIX: IMPRINTED and is co-editor of DISTORTED, UNDERWATER, and AFTER THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. LUCIFER’S DAUGHTER, her new novel, is its creation for a hopeful 2018 release. In the meantime, she will continue to corrupt young minds, rant about the government, and daydream about her all around nasty creatures.

 

burn2Having relocated from Northwest Florida’s lonesome roads and haunted swamps, Anthony S. Buoni now prowls the gas lamp lit streets of New Orleans, playing moonlight hide and seek in the Crescent City’s above ground cemeteries. Anthony is the author of Conversation Party, Bad Apple Bolero, as well as the editor to the Between There anthologies. His stories and articles have been featured in North Florida Noir and Waterfront Living. When not prowling, Anthony keeps it scary, writing dark fiction, editing, and watching horror movies. In his spare time, he DJs, plays music, and conjures other worldly creatures with tarot cards and dreams.

Visit our author pages to learn more about the contributors here.

Giveaway Links:

$25 Amazon gift card giveaway

 http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5ea998ae8/?

It’s Here! Fat and Sassy!

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It’s Here!

Fat and Sassy

Arkansas moonshine and California citrus.

A stone church and an ironing board.

Post-Depression woes.

World War II.

Mix it all up. Add six children into the mix, three of each, and you’ve got a unique product – Bea Jones. A lady, when asked how she was, liked to retort, “I’m fat and sassy.”

Bea’s tale takes you on the ride from California to Arkansas – to Missouri – and back to California in the early forties. The family finally settles down in a small California town, Glendora, nestled at the base of the foothills. While they viewed Mt. Baldy every day, life also threw its own mountains in the Jones’ family path. Come along and join the family as Bea and Casey struggle to keep their family fed and clothed, with just a bit of Arkie sass.

Order your copy direct from Trisha Faye and save!

Only $11.99 by July 30th! (Plus $2.75 shipping)

 

HERE’S A STORY SNIPPET FROM FAT AND SASSY…

The last day on the road seemed the longest. The children were cranky and restless after being cooped up in the car for six days. The food was about gone. Only saltine crackers and two tins of Vienna sausages remained from what they’d left California with. Casey had counted the last few dollars in his wallet, hoping it was enough to buy gasoline to get them to their destination. Bea was tired of refereeing the children, keeping them from fussing and fighting with each other.

When Casey pulled off the main road and slowed down to navigate the dirt road ahead, the children gave a cheer.

Mae recognized what the moment meant first. “Goody, goody! We’re almost at Papa’s house!”

The car jostled and bounced down the road. A plume of dust followed, swirling around the car and choking the passengers. “Roll up the windows!” Bea hollered as she cranked the front window as fast as she could.

Mae got one window up in the back while Bill still struggled with the other. Mae climbed over Helen and started turning the window knob.

“Me do it!” Bill insisted.

Mae kept turning. “You’re not going it fast enough.”

Bea turned and asked her husband. “You remember where?”

“Oh yes. I can make this trip with my eyes closed. Seems like just yesterday I was makin’ this trip, pickin’ up a load of ‘shine from yore Papa. Yes, siree, I know the layout of this land back here.” He chuckled with the memories of an earlier, more footloose time. “Made the trip several times in the dark with no headlights on neither.”

The prim set of Bea’s mouth showed what she thought of her father’s backyard business. “I’m surely glad you ‘aint running his liquor back up into Missouri anymore. Don’t want you gettin’ picked up for running shine and thrown in jail. Not while you have a family to provide for now.”

“No reason to anymore. ‘Cept the money sure was good. I wouldn’t mind a pocketful of cash like that again.”

“No! Don’t even think it. The Good Lord will provide for us. You don’t need to go back to that.”

“I can leave it behind. Besides, I got the best end of the deal. I got me the purtiest little gal out of it. Comin’ down here that first trip and seein’ Sam Goss’s daughter for the first time…why…that’s the onliest thing that kept me comin’ back.” He glanced across the seat at Bea and winked.

“That was on Valentine’s Day, too. 1935. And six months later, we were getting’ hitched.” A blush rose across her cheeks. “My stars, Evan Lewis Jones! Four children later and you can still get a girl all worked up.”

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Evan ‘Casey’ Jones and Beatrice Goss on their wedding day, August 4, 1935

He chuckled and patted her knee. “I know when you call me by name, and not Casey, you’re serious ‘bout what you say.”

“Truth be told…” Bea paused and turned her head to watch his reaction. “…there may be child number five on the way.”

Casey braked the car and it slid to a stop in the middle of the road. “Truly?”

“Far as I know. I don’t recollect having my monthly visitor. I was feelin’ kinda peaked there for a few weeks. I was a thinkin’ it was nerves. Ya know, worrying about the bills and the move and all. But now I’m a wonderin’ if’n I’m not in the family way again.”

A broad smile broke across Casey’s face. “Well, I’ll give a hoot and a holler. I’m gonna be a daddy again.”

Grinning, he straightened up behind the wheel and gave the car some gas. “Guess we’d better git the little mother on home to her Papa’s house a’fore the cows come home.”

Bea sat back in the seat and shifted Tom to her other knee. She was relieved how well he’d taken the news. What with money being so tight and food and necessities so hard to come by, she hadn’t wanted to worry him anymore than he already was. He was a good man and she was proud to be his wife. He was a good father and he loved his children. He was fun to be around and she was still as taken with him as she’d been since she met him. It wasn’t his fault that times were so tough and jobs were so far and few between.

They pulled up in front of a small wooden structure that was little more than a shack in other more affluent areas. Rough, unpainted planks formed walls. A tin roof covered the home and a small porch area off the front side of the building. The back doorway led inside, the threshold slightly tilted as if sinking on one side. The door stood open, the cook room visible to everyone in the yard. Chickens ran loose around the dirt yard and when the car pulled in they ran off in a flurry, clucking with all their might.

A slight frown settled on Bea’s countenance.  “It sure looks a lot smaller and older than what I remember.”

A figure appeared in the doorway, sporting a well-worn, faded pair of overalls.

Bea fumbled with the door before Casey had the sedan in park. She scurried out of the car, hefted Tom up on her hip and hurried towards the house. “Sam!”

Sam stepped out, one slow step after another, in no apparent hurry. Bea enveloped him in a bear hug. “I’m so glad to see you. I’ve missed you, Brother.”

“Missed you too, Sis. Glad y’all got here in one piece.” He tousled the little heads that had followed their mother and were now hugging his knees. “Looky here, how big y’all have gotten.”

“Where’s Papa at?” Bea was anxious to see the familiar face of her daddy.

“He’s down in the holler, checkin’ on the mash.”

“I thought he gave all that up when Mama died. I thought he wasn’t gonna cook ‘shine no more.”

“I don’t know ‘bout that. He didn’t cook any up through the winter. This is the first batch he’s got going. ‘Course, that’s cuz it was so cold and he didn’t want to fuss with the mash that much.”

“Ayup.” Casey joined the brother-sister reunion. “I recollect one winter when it took him a whole month to run one pot of ‘shine. We had some antsy customers that year. Takes too much work in the winter. Once it’s below fifty degrees, the yeast just won’t ferment and then the alcohol content is too low. Not worth the bother.”

Sam tipped his head back and laughed. “And then we really have some unhappy customers!”

Bill tugged on his father’s pants leg. “What’s ‘shine, Daddy?”

 

Release Day – A Second Chance

It’s here! A Second Chance is available, just in time to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of my own Sudden Cardiac Arrest. And yes, many of my own experiences and journal entries in the five years since have been sources of inspiration for Jenny’s story. (With some fictionalizing, much name changing and a lot of embellishments added.)

A Second Chance is the prequel to My Wildest Dream, where Jenny decides to leave Crafty Hands, follow her own dreams, and be true to her inner self. Once she figures out exactly who that inner soul truly is. (My Wildest Dream releases in January 2016.)

The 1,825 days – or 43,800 hours – or 2,628,000 minutes – since my heart started beating again has been an adventure. While no, not all of it has been easy, nor would I want to repeat a few instances here and there, I am truly grateful for my own second chance at life – a chance to create a meaningful one full of passion and possibility.

Here’s a snippet from A Second Chance. I hope you enjoy it and that it raises a few questions in your own life. Celebrate life and enjoy every breath you take!

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If there’s not something in your life right now that gets you excited to jump out of bed each and every day, it’s time for a new direction. Life is meant to be lived. Life is about expanding your boundaries and squeezing out every bit of your passions and talent each and every day. If things are not working out right now, that’s okay. Decide to chart a new course, a new you, and a life full of possibilities. Brad Gast

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The wolves howling on my phone told me it was Carla calling without even seeing her face appear on the screen. “Meet me for dinner sometime this week? I have a book I think you’d like.”

“Any night but Wednesday or Friday,” I answered. “I have to close those nights.”

“Thursday? At Chili’s?”

“Perfect.

Thursday night couldn’t get here fast enough. This was the kind of week that cried out for a frosty, cold margarita. Carla looked up with a surprised look on her face when I ordered one. “Whaaaat? You don’t usually order alcohol. What’s up?”

“It’s been one of those weeks. Annoying customers, a manager that got on my last nerve, and a few coworkers that I could just about strangle.”

“Your manager being a jerk this week?”

“Not so much that. It’s just that sometimes I wonder how he gets through the day. I have an appointment next week and I submitted my form three weeks ago to have Tuesday off. The schedule comes out today…and he has me working that day.”

The server approached with our drinks and Carla reached for her sweet tea. “Remind him about it. Tell him he screwed up.”

Things were so cut and dried for Carla. She never had a problem speaking up. “I told him. It’s fixed. But it’s aggravating because this consistently happens. Once here or there wouldn’t be bad. But over half the time? That starts to get old.” A nice long sip of the frosty beverage in front of me soothed my inner beast. At least temporarily. “And then there’s Vicky. I was ordering today, so I could see when people went in the break room. Vicky took six breaks today. Six! And at least two of them were close to thirty minutes.”

“How does she get any work done at that rate?”

“I have no earthly idea. When I was clocking out for lunch, she was at lunch in the break room. She got up from the table, punched back in, then went and sat back down at the table to finish her conversation with Shauna.” Another big gulp of slushy margarita slid down my throat. “Oh good Lord, those women drive me crazy sometimes.”

“So…what would you rather do?”

“I don’t have a clue. Anything but Crafty Hands. I want out of there so bad.”

The server sat a steaming plate of fresh grilled tilapia covered in mango sauce in front of me, distracting me. “All it needs is a little sprig of fresh rosemary on the top.” I glanced over towards Carla’s meal. “Those sizzling fajitas look good too.” Those were the last words we spoke for a while as we each dove into our dinner.

Carla groaned and laid her fork down. “I can’t eat another bite. I’m stuffed.” She tipped her glass up and emptied the last of her tea. “Oh, I almost forgot your book.” She rummaged around in the bag she’d carried in with her, pulled out a paperback and handed to me.

The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck,” I read aloud from the cover. “Have you read it?”

“Yes. I really enjoyed it. I thought you would too.”

I barely heard her as I scanned the blurb on the back.

Carla kept talking, even though I hadn’t acknowledged her earlier statement. That’s one thing about Carla though, she doesn’t need much interaction. She can keep the conversation going pretty much on her own. “I marked a section for you.” She pointed to a little yellow sticky note protruding from the center of the book. “Some of it seemed to match the questioning you’ve been going through lately. The author talks about being truthful with ourselves and how we can disengage from our experiences.”

“I don’t feel that I’m disengaging,” I countered. “I’m trying to dig deeper and be more real.”

“You are now. But maybe before you were, to some extent.”

“Maybe,” I reluctantly agreed.

“In the section I marked, she talks about words Virginia Woolf wrote long ago. Something about ‘living behind a pane of glass’. It’s how we distance ourselves from our reality, and that while living behind this pane of glass is numbing and empty, it also feels safe.”

Touché! How much of my life did I spent behind this numbing pane of glass? I’d never knew that I’d done this. Thumbing through the pages, I glanced at some of the headings. “Guess what I’ll be reading at bedtime tonight?”

Carla began humming a familiar tune and I knew the words as they fell from her lips. “…I…have become comfortably numb…”

“Pink Floyd,” I chimed in. The wheels in my head were already turning. I was thinking of the distancing I’ve allowed in my life. To live an authentic life and be true to myself, I must know myself – my true being – without the cloak of protection this gauzy layer provides me. So, what is my true being? What do I want to do with my life?

A Second Chance is available at Amazon

New Release! Trail Angel Mama

ail Angel Mama_coverIt’s live! TRAIL ANGEL MAMA is available as an ebook now!

Here’s a short excerpt for your weekend reading pleasure:

A mid-May snow storm in Wrightwood left four hikers cold, wet and looking for a warm room for the night. We got a call from Zach and Mike headed right into town to pick them up. By the time he got there, they and their packs and sleeping bags were soaked through.

A roaring fire and a hot dinner greeted our guests when they arrived. It was an easy meal for me to fix; baked spaghetti, salad and garlic bread. A batch of fresh baked brownies was a dessert that everyone enjoyed.

With our tummies full and the fire keeping everyone warm, we sat around exchanging stories. These newest four were a diverse group, as I’m seeing most are.

Zach, or ‘Face’ as he’s called on the trail, isn’t a newbie hiker. He hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2011. He’s 29-years-old, from Mississippi and likes to garden and make homemade mustard.

Jack, with the trail name ‘Catwhacker’, is a 25-year-old from Oregon. He’s an environmental engineer and he’s taking this time on the trail before he starts his master’s program in August.

While female hikers traveling alone may be the minority on the trail, it’s not unusual to see them. Rachel, or ‘Gazelle’, is an adventurous 23-year-old from Canada. She lived in Asia for a year and wants to live in New Zealand in the future. She’s working her way, a mile at a time, back toward the Canadian border and home.

Ram was the oldest in this group of four. He also traveled the furthest of this group to hike the PCT, being another one that came from Israel.

As much as we all enjoyed meeting one another and sharing stories, our hikers were exhausted. After hiking a 29 mile day, through a light snow storm over Mt. Baden-Powell, then eating and sitting around a fire, energy levels dropped and we all headed to bed by 9:00.

This guest room of ours is starting to get a work out.

After a sound night’s sleep, everyone was up by 7:00. Most of the hikers are fairly self-sufficient and these four were no different. While they fixed themselves breakfast, Ram made his first cup of American coffee, and they discussed when they were going to move on. Catwhacker was waiting for a resupply package that afternoon. They debated about waiting for his package to arrive and then leave in the afternoon. After looking at the weather forecast, they decided to hang out in Wrightwood for another day.

Just a note, Zach – or ‘Face’ on the trail – made it to the Canadian border on September 15th. Congratulations on a successful thru-hike, Zach!

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For more tales from Trail Angel Mama, here’s the link for the ebook at Amazon.

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