A touch of philosophy from the wonderful Dorothea Harriman, a character created by Elizabeth George, a great writer who only seems to improve with age: “What I mean is that one’s whole life is an autobiography, don’t you agree? Whether it gets written or not doesn’t make a difference. What goes into it, though? That’s what counts.”
(The Cities Below, #2)
Published by: Lyrical Press
Publication date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
The streets are a battleground for humans, vampires, and demons alike—where survival is a skill, love is a weapon, and the most dangerous act is to care for another . . .
Keir is an assassin devoted to Lady Arianne, the last of her royal bloodline. He is sworn to protect her, and that means eliminating any threat to her life. But while on a mission, he is set upon by a pack of demons, barely escaping with his life.
Cleopatra lives by a set of rules so rigid she no longer knows her true self. But her kind and loving nature resurfaces when she finds a man, bloodied and dying. Moved to help him, she risks her future and her life to save a stranger far below her aristocratic station.
Their attraction to each other is as powerful as it is forbidden. But even as their love grows, Keir keeps his true identity a secret—and this lie is not the only threat to their love . . . or their lives.
Jen Colly is the rare case of an author who rebelled against reading assignments throughout her school years. Now she prefers reading books in a series, which has led her to writing her first paranormal romance series: The Cities Below. She will write about anything that catches her fancy, though truth be told, her weaknesses are pirates and vampires. She lives in Ohio with her supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued cats.
“Before that morning, I hadn’t cried since I was thirteen years old. Sadly, that’s not an exaggeration. But in the middle of that short conversation with Ernie Cox and the rest of the committee, the streak was broken. Warm tears rolled down my cheeks. Not because I felt happy — though I definitely felt happy — but because I felt like I’d been forgiven for all my shortcomings as a writer. This job can be a lonely, lonely ride. And there are moments when it’s nearly impossible to maintain a belief in yourself. Ninety-nine percent of the time the words don’t seem quite good enough. Or the characters don’t seem quite real enough. Or, worst of all, you don’t feel quite talented enough. At the end of every single workday, I find myself muttering the same two sentences, over and over. “I should have accomplished more today. I should have been better.” But on the morning of January 11th, these people on the phone were telling me I had done something good. Something worthy.”
Although Sara Walter Ellwood left the farm long ago for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.
She’s also a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up, as well as dabbling in the paranormal genre with her The Hunter’s Dagger Series (previously published under the pen name Cera duBois).
So, needless to say, I’m thrilled to have Sara on my blog today, introducing her most recent novel, Heartland (Singing to the Heart Book 3)…
Sex, drugs, and country music. That was the lifestyle for Emily Kendall, a Texas girl who hit it big on the country music charts—until she found herself pregnant and battling addiction. Now out of rehab and seeking a new life for herself and her unborn child, Emily returns to her hometown of McAllister. The last thing she’s looking for is trouble, no matter how good it looks in uniform…
A widower, single father, and former Army Ranger struggling with PTSD, Sheriff EJ Cowley has his own demons to battle while keeping folks safe. The last thing he needs is a troubled celebrity speeding through town in her bright red Maserati. But when someone from Emily’s past threatens her safety and the peace of McAllister, EJ has no choice but to protect her. And soon both will learn there’s more to the other than meets the eye. And that wounded hearts can love again…
“I’m sorry, but I can’t ride you right now.” Emily kissed the horse above her nose, and Tink nuzzled her cheek. “We’ll go out tomorrow. How about that?”
“I remember when you rode that horse everywhere you went.”
Startled by the deep voice, she turned. EJ Cowley leaned on the top rail of the fence, and from the look of it, he’d been there for a while. He’d changed out of the brown uniform of the McAllister County sheriff’s department. She couldn’t help looking him over. Dressed in worn boots, faded jeans, a blue western shirt, and a brown Stetson, he epitomized every sexy cliché existing about how a cowboy should look.
Her heart sped up at the way those clothes fit him. Which irritated the hell out of her. She turned back to her horse and stroked her long face. “What are you doing here?”
“My sister-in-law watches my son while I’m at work.”
She stilled. Had she been quasi-lusting after a married man? Hadn’t he married Raquel Marshall? She glanced over her shoulder at his left hand. No ring. But then a lot of cowboys didn’t wear their wedding bands when they were working. The risk of getting it caught on something was too great.
Despite his clothes, he must have come off duty as the county’s ticket-happy sheriff not too long ago. She patted Tink’s shoulder. “See you in the morning, girl.” As she headed toward the man, who was not hiding the fact he appreciated what he saw, she guessed he wasn’t still married, but she’d been around the world a few times and knew not to take a man’s blatant interest as proof of anything. “You have a son. How is Raquel these days?”
She was close enough to notice his gray eyes had turned as haunted as a gravestone when she asked about his wife. He looked to the left, toward his brother’s house, and from the way a muscle twitched in his jaw, he must have gritted his teeth.
“She committed suicide two years ago today.”
“Oh… I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” she stammered. What else had happened to the people she’d once considered friends she was unaware of? “How old is your little boy?”
He took a deep breath and met her gaze again. She studied his eyes as they moved over her face. God, he had the most fascinating eyes. They weren’t truly blue, but the gray was an odd shade. Too light to be slate, but too dark to be silver. They reminded her of her great-grandmother’s pewter candleholders.
As silence engulfed them, she turned to head for the gate. She had no idea what was up with the sheriff, and she didn’t like her desire to ask. EJ Cowley may have filled her schoolgirl fantasies, but she wasn’t the wide-eyed kid who crushed after the local cowboy-turned-soldier.
At the sound of her name, she glanced past EJ to the porch. Johnny stood there with his toy lightsaber and x-wing. She promised to play a video game with her brother. “Well, it was good seeing you again, EJ.”
She was halfway across the drive when his voice stopped her. “By the way”–He cleared his throat–“I lost your ticket…”
Stopping in the middle of the driveway, she looked over her shoulder at him. His face puckered as if he’d eaten a lemon soaked in vinegar. He took his hat off and ran a hand through his short hair. The setting sun turned the tresses a gleaming gold.
“You lost it?” Damned if she’d make it easy on him. “After going through all the trouble of stopping me a mile away from home?”
Setting his hat back on his head, he cleared his throat again and stood with his feet apart. He gave a quick jerk with his head in the affirmative. “Can’t find it anywhere. No ticket. No proof. You’re off the hook.”
Holy crap, he was gorgeous, and heat flooded her to pool in her belly. She turned, not wanting him to see the way he affected her, and headed for the porch, then lied through her teeth.
“Good, because I’ve already tossed it.” She had every intention of paying the fine, but she was glad he lost the ticket. No decent cop would lose a ticket. Maybe he did it out of remembrance of their childhood friendship. Or was he as attracted to her as she was to him?
With an inward shake of herself, she didn’t let a possible answer formulate in her muddled brain. She couldn’t be anything to him. You’re pregnant with another man’s child and don’t need the added stress! At the door into the kitchen, she ruffled Johnny’s hair and turned, ignoring her self-admonishment. “See you around, EJ.”
“Yeah… See you around.” He tipped his hat and turned on his heel to amble toward his extended cab Silverado.
From inside the screen door, she watched the way he filled out the backside of his Wrangler’s and muttered, “Hell yeah, I hope so.”
If you’d like to see more excerpts, check them out here:
Find Sara online
The other books in Singing to the Heart
Heartstrings, Book 1 and Heartsong, Book 2 are also available in ebook and print.
For other vendor links and book information check out Sara’s website page.
I have been blessed by the fathers in my life: my father Stan Fanning, my grandfathers Paul Fanning and John Walsh, and my stepfather Pete Rathbone. So in honor of today, I’m re-posting a series of blogs I published two years ago, starting with Pete, perhaps the most generous man I’ve ever known. Happy Father’s Day, Pete!
A series celebrating the men who have shown me the meaning of dignity and courage, as well as giving me a love for books, skiing, and RVing (and an appreciation for wrench collecting).
We arrived in Seattle as the Texas A&M Marching Band jammed on the cd player. P.T. (Pete) Rathbone steered his SUV with one hand and increased the volume with the other. My mom tapped along to the beat of drums while still immersed in reading the Wall Street Journal. And I sat in the backseat, cocooned by Aggie music, Cascade Mountains, and gray sky.
An Aggie alum, Pete plays the marching band every Saturday morning before the football team takes to the field. It’s a good-luck ritual, a reflection of Pete’s many interests, which range from farming to wrench-collecting to traveling.
Technically, Pete’s my stepfather but that word somehow reminds me of Cinderella and scrubbing floors–blame it on my strange imagination. Besides, Pete is more than a simple label—he’s friend, confidante, and co-conspirator. He’ll just as easily sit by your hospital bed as take you on a Caribbean cruise. He’s first to donate to a cause or tackle a pasture full of noxious weeds.
The Aggie music continued as we drove onto the ferry for Bainbridge Island. Pete, Mom, and I were silent, admiring the Seattle skyline to the rousing thrum of trumpets, tubas, and drums.
I had never cared much for marching band music before but that has changed, all because of a wrench-collecting Aggie with a generous heart.
Click on the links below to read the rest of my Father’s Day series:
A gust of wind scattered leaves across the University of Seattle campus. My hair tangled over my face. New contacts tortured my eyes, and books weighed down my backpack. It didn’t matter. A tornado could have snatched me up. As long as it carried me home and put an end to the anniversary of the worst day of my life.
“Watch out, Gabby.” My best friend Frank thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his pinstriped suit. “We’re being followed by a giant candy corn.”…
It was a story born as I learned how to knit, wrapping yarn around my fingers and listening to the music of my knitting needles as they tapped together. I ended up with a scarf, as well as a rough draft.
Years prior, I had read about an Italian woman, who had become trapped underneath her bed during an earthquake and kept herself occupied by knitting. I imagined firefighters digging through the rubble and finding her snuggled inside a knitted afghan.
The story tumbled around in my brain, somehow intersecting with my interest in Mexican culture. From there, I discovered the Mayan twin myth and the battle with the demon Vucub Caquix. Bit and pieces of Mayan mythology adhered themselves to my imagination, morphing into a history of magic and needlework.
After several rounds of feedback, revisions, publisher research, acceptance by Kensington, and final input from the fabulous editor Penny Barber, the final version of Blood Stitches appeared on May 12, 2015.
Since then it’s been a year of blog touring, tweeting, Facebooking, monitoring sales, and learning more about social media and promotion than I ever imagined… not the natural state for most writers, who are introverts at heart (particularly this one).
Somewhere along the way, I lost the thread connecting me to my magical-knitting family and the other characters from Blood Stitches. Thankfully, it recently returned.
Bone Needles, a sequel to Blood Stitches, has been pouring from my fingers, appropriately enough while I knit an afghan, the colorful yarn blending with eccentric characters and Mayan mythology until it forms a tapestry of words and needles.
Now, what are you waiting for? Head out into the Webosphere and buy a copy of Blood Stitches—read it, love it, and leave a review!
In the beginning, Steve was just a boy at the bus stop, befriending me during my first week at a new school district, but after only a short time, his companionship wove its way into the fabric of my life, a colorful thread binding us together. My adventures with Steve grew into an integral part of my youth, vital memories that I carry everywhere, and without them, I think a part of my childhood would unravel altogether, vanishing forever.
He approached me, almost forty years ago, while I was sitting at the curb, waiting for the school bus. A total book nerd, I hid behind a paperback copy of Gone with the Wind, and hoped, yet also dreaded, that someone might talk to me and pull me out of my shyness.
Steve had no such reservations. He launched into a discussion of the movie with opinions about Clark Gable or Vivien Leigh or a combination of both. I quickly learned that Steve had lots of opinions. Some I agreed with–some simply annoyed me–but I always appreciated our conversations. And now, looking back after all these years, I wish I could remember the particulars of our rambling talks, lost forever in the shadows of my memory.
But I do remember an immediate recognition, a feeling that Steve and I shared something beyond our ages and hometown. Perhaps it was an appreciation for the whimsical or an expansive imagination or maybe even a mutual fragility.
Regardless, our friendship transformed from bus-stop conversations to after-school visits to long days spent together during summer vacations. And it’s those latter memories that come to me the most, the specifics somewhat lost to time, but as much a part of me as the feeling of Idaho’s sun baking my arms or grass pricking at my bare feet.
The schedule was simple: swim team for me followed by mornings with Steve, playing Monopoly or “Cheat” Sorry, our own version of the game in which players were allowed to move their game-piece extra spaces if their opponent didn’t notice.
When we tired of board games, we explored the cliffs overlooking the Boise River behind my house or played croquet, adding an occasional “Cheat Sorry” move by nudging the ball along with our feet. We even went through a short, disastrous phase of learning how to bake soufflés and a much more disastrous attempt at brewing our own herbal teas, all efforts equally dreadful.
And with every day, every new activity, Steve brought his own unique brand of enthusiasm and curiosity, firmly cemented in kindness and patience.
Never more so than we initiated a book club of sorts, just the two of us, reading science fiction like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We consumed the novel; or rather it consumed us, until all we could talk about was our desire to hitchhike across the universe with Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent. Our imaginings became so vivid, so real, that I could actually see us exploring galaxies with our two fictional heroes.
But my galaxy-traveling friend, the boy from the bus stop, is gone now, murdered almost a week ago. Even as I write these words, my own fingers tapping on the keys, I can’t believe it’s possible. It has to be a macabre fiction, created by a cruel mind, but the evil was real.
I won’t go into the specifics of his death—the details have been covered on various Boise-area media outlets—but I will say that the men responsible must be punished to the full extent of the law.
At the end, my dear friend exhibited a courageous clarity, in evidence even when we were young, by identifying his assailants, which led the police to several arrests and hopefully saved countless others from brutality.
They might have taken away my childhood companion, a man whose huge heart and kindness reached many, but his presence will always reside within me through endless memories. In my mind, I see him befriending a lonely 11-year-old at the bus stop and making that girl laugh with his original comments. But most of all I see him with his thumb out, hitchhiking his way around the galaxy, buzzing past stars, and conquering new planets, fully immersed in the joy of exploration.