Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Welcome Dorothy Bell Back!

Dorothy A. Bell, author of Oregon historical novels: The Reprobate, The Cost of Revenge, Dance Hall Road and contemporary romance, Reinventing Mica Avery.

I was born in Iowa and moved to Oregon with my mother, father and older sister when I was ten. So I think it’s safe to say I’ve been and Oregonian most of my life.

I’ve known for a very long time that I am a writer. When a work is published, then and only then do I declare myself an author—it’s a process I go through each time. It keeps me humble and grateful.

I believe every writer has their own distinct writing style and methodology. I couldn’t say what mine is. I write to entertain myself first, so I have to have humor. I’m a people watcher, so my stories are character driven. And romance, got’ta have some steamy romance in there somewhere or the story doesn’t interest me.

In all of my stories, I portray my leading ladies as strong, independent, intelligent women who command admiration and respect. The heroes of course, have problems with strong, independent, intelligent women, that’s where the humor comes in to play. As a writer, it’s fun to manipulate through dialog and inner action the transformation of a man’s opinion to bring about his acceptance and inspire attraction.

I have a favorite parable I’d like to share:

Once upon a time there was a woman who’d won over a hundred cooking contests in one year and received multiple blue ribbons and trophies. When asked how she’d done it, she answered simply, “I entered.”

That’s it, right there, if you love to write, submit your work. Refine it, learn all you can about plot development, the difference between character driven and plot driven stories, point of view, passive voice, showing instead of telling, the mechanics of course. And for God’s sake be human in whatever you write. Even monsters have feelings. Reveal the truth in your characters. Expose their soul, their underbellies.

I have many, many more books in me. They’re coming as fast as my editor and my publisher can get them out there. Next one up will be an Oregon historical titled, The Widow’s Ferry. A story of three men: one an abuser, one a user, and a married man with a secret past. They all want one woman—a strong survivor.

You’ll find old family photos, poems and all my buy links on my blog, plus a link to a free full length Oregon historical novel and several free short stories that I’ve put up on Amazon cloud for easy access.

You can find all of my books on Good Reads, Kobo and Amazon. They are Kindle and Nook, e-book friendly.

Fallow her on her blog: http://dabellm3.com

Publisher - Freya’s Bower: http://freyasbower.com

Oregon historical, a Laura Creek romance, The Cost of Revenge, Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Cost-Revenge-Laura-Creek-Novel-ebook/dp/B00FEMQ9DQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406144692&sr=8-1&

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

100,000 hits! @barbbradley

I'm doing the happy dance! I hit a mile marker and I couldn't do it without you guys! I hit 100,000 hits on my blog!  I wanted to do something special for this and have racked my brain.

I've had this idea in my head and have thought about writing it out so here is a free read as my thank you...Note I've been working on this for a few weeks and realize that I'll never load it if I try to write the whole thing at once so I'm going to load it in snippets and create a page for the completed story.

I opened my eyes and found myself in a white room. What the hell happened? Was I in a car accident? Pushing myself into a seated position I looked around. Never saw a doctor's office or hospital like this before.

Just as I sat up a man walked in. Damn he was cute. Chiseled features, beautiful brown hair and I could see he was well built under the white outfit he wore. He had romance hero written all over him. I wasn't sure of his age but I'd guess early thirties. He smiled and I had to smile back. He had one of those smiles I wrote about. The one that would melt any heroine's heart.

"How are you doing?" He came over to the bed and pressed his fingers against a glass wall behind me.

"Um, fine, but can you tell me where I am?" I watched as data popped up on the glass. It was a computer. Hmm. Something I should work into my futuristic books.

"Sure, you're in my medlab." He stepped back, but kept an eye on whatever was streaming on the screen behind me.

Medlab? I use that word in my futuristics. Especially the series I've been working on. Am I dreaming a very lucid dream? It felt too feel to be a dream. I could see people moving out in a corridor beyond the glass wall sealing us in. There were other patients in the room with me. Dreams normally don't go into that much detail. Did they? Mine didn't. At least I didn't think so. But what else could it be?

I looked at my doctor and noticed his eyes for the first time. How I missed them before this I didn't know. I saw gold eyes with a violet ring. It couldn't be... "Dr..."

"Just call me Kuarto."

Hopefully more next week...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Rije's Sacrifice Part 2 @Xaion64

Well my son the writer has written another section of his story. I think he has something unique here. Please enjoy!

Let Me Tell You a Story...

In the far future, a great cataclysm occurs, that sunders the world anew. This is one of many stories in the world after, where hundreds of legends appear.

A man walks in the darkened world. A card floats around him. He wears a black trench coat, and a black pair of eye shields that comes to a point on his cheeks. He is pondering his current situation. And everything that has come before now. He looks at the sky with its sun slowly disappearing.

“How is that new world of yours I wonder...” he sighs. He walks across the disappearing world, wondering what happened here, what was it like before. “Seems I found a planet without the hatred present … how quaint.” He scratches his head. “How many evils will I destroy before the end of this?”

He continues walking and shadows form together in front of him.

“Rije… There you are!” the shadow says in a raspy voice.

“Looks like I spoke too soon, Which dark being from the past are you? ” Rije’s spear appears in his hand. “I’ll end you here, if you like, or shall you run from your apocalypse?”

A man in black samurai styled armor with sharp jagged talon points all over walks out of the shadows. “I am the Demon King of Xaionia! Don’t tell me you forgotten about me Rije … or should I call you R-”

Rije cuts him off. “Don’t. That identity died long ago … it’s time for your end.”

Demon King studies him.  “Heh, oh? I remember that time. You were just a reflection of her … you hated her so much, you wanted to destroy her. You even helped me to that end!”
Rije looks annoyed. “My Past… DIES Here!” His eyes fill with anger and rage. “All of your hatred… You killed thousands upon millions on a mere WHIM! And...” The rage turns to sadness. “And I am no better… ” Darkness swells around him, as if resonating from his own feelings. “I...” His eyes glow purple. “I won’t be forgiven, nor do I want anyone's forgiveness … but the only forgiveness you will get is DEATH!” He lifts his black spear and points it at the demon king.

Demon King looks at the spear and smiles. “Oooh? Think yourself all high and mighty. You’re like us Rije. A monster, an evil being bent on the destruction of the world! Join us! Lead us through the door so we can take control of the new world!”

A spark of black and purple shines through the Demon king, and Rije appears behind him “Sorry Demon King… OUR Evil… Dies here!” Rije flicks his wrist and purple lighting and shadow tentacles explode out of the demon king.

Demon king “GHAHHH!!! Wha- What?” He staggers from the single attack he could not follow. “You shouldn’t be this powerful! You are merely a reflection of her! How? HOW?”

Rije smiles, his eyes darken to pitch black. “When she gave up her forced form I absorbed it all, then my former master gave me all of his power… I AM THE VOID! ” Rije turns around and points his spear at the demon king “DIE!” Hundreds of black spears materialize in the air and slam into the demon king. Rije jumps up and unisons into his reverse tiger form and slams his spear into the Demon King. “WE Die NOW!” The white stripes across Rijes armor glow a dark purple. “REVERSE.”

Demon king shakes his head. “NO! If we die here! We die for good! There is no Escape!”

Rijes eyes fill with anger and rage. “Maybe you do… but my curse will keep me alive until the end. NOW DIE! REVERSE APOCALYPSE!” Rije explodes in a huge blast of black light and chaotic black lightning. Destroying the planet and Rije appears in the chair he sat before yet again.

Rije nods his head. “One down… six to go… why was one of the Pillars such a weakling… holding that section together?” A table with a map titled “Void” lies there in front of Rije and his chair. He walks over to it as a large section of the map begins to disappear. “Your first villain… it must have been that...” he sighs. “I will end this… this place won’t exist anymore… the world doesn’t need it.” He clutches his fist and shakes his head. Suddenly, a sharp pain hits him “GHAAA!!! ”

He falls out of his chair in pain and clutches his chest. “AH HAAA…. HA…. Damn I didn’t think it would hurt this much!” He slowly stands back up and notices he’s becoming incorporeal for a second then returns to normal. “I feel like something is missing...” He holds up his hand and attempts to use the purple lightning he had used in his assault against the demon king, but nothing happens.

Rije stares at his hand. “With every villain I annihilate will I lose a part of myself? I lost the power of darkness… so what else will I lose? And what do I still have?”

He limps over to the edge of the floating island his chair and table lies on. A portal opens and he walks through.

John W. Bradley III

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Latest Guest - Mathias G.B. Colwell!

I want to welcome Mathias G.B. Colwell! First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I’m California raised. Well traveled. I love pizza and fish tacos. I enjoy outdoor activities like snowboarding or playing soccer or basketball, but I’m just as likely to stay inside and read a book or watch TV. Currently I work in higher education. I love the work of many authors, but Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, David Eddings, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, and JK Rowling are among my favorites.

Tell us about your latest release.

Among my latest releases is a book called Dusk Runner, Book 1 of The Dark Arrow Trilogy. It’s sort of a classic adventure tale, a high fantasy sword and sorcery type book where the primary race of beings are elves. It has action, romance, magic, and it moves along at a fairly quick pace making it an easy and enjoyable read.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

Does Gollum, from The Lord of the Rings count? On second thought, I’m not sure that he does. If we decide that Gollum doesn’t count as a true villain, then I think I would actually have to go with a group of villains. I really enjoy the Forsaken from The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. Collectively, they represent just about every conceivable reason for a person to become a villain, along with many personal motivations, their own inner set of intrigue and power squabbles, and some truly evil intentions. Villains really don’t get much better than the Forsaken, although I admit, I am partial to WOT so maybe my opinions are a bit biased. 

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

That is a tough question. I guess I’m going to have to go with Beathan, a character from one of my series called The Collector Series. Beathan is a half-human, half-fairy with a penchant for theft and mischief. He’s my favorite for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think he’s exciting and a bit unpredictable. Secondly, he enjoys creating a bit of chaos and I’ve always enjoyed characters who add to the general madness of a story just a little bit. And lastly, he is just really fun to write, probably more fun to write than just about any of my other characters, which has made me rather fond of him.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

I like to think that I write primarily fantasy, although some of my work might more aptly be classified in a slightly different section of speculative fiction. It’s pretty simple, I try to write stories that I would want to read and I happen to love a good fantasy series.

4.) What are you working on now?

I am currently finishing up Entrance to Dark Harbor, Book 2 of The Dark Arrow Trilogy. I’m also outlining and preparing to start writing Book 3 of that same trilogy.

5.) What got you to start writing?

This may sound slightly self-centered, but I remember a long time ago thinking that I wanted to somehow be remembered after I was gone. What better way to be remembered, than by being immortalized through the pages of a wonderfully written story?

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

Anywhere, really. From reading or watching TV. From a dream. From the way a shadow plays across the ground. From a particularly evocative piece of music. I find that my ideas have come from a variety of different places and I tend to enjoy the fact that inspiration can come from just about anywhere.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

That one of my happy places is the Dr. Seuss section in a bookstore. Actually, that might not be surprising at all, since he is moderately beloved by a wide variety of readers.

8.) Do you have any special talents?

I can robot whistle (aka hum and whistle at the same time). It’s one of those things you sort of have to hear someone do to understand.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

I don’t know if anyone specifically said this to me, but a lesson I learned and took to heart early on, and a lesson I still rely on quite frequently, is to learn how to deal with rejection and failure. You’ll fail and get rejected a lot as a writer. And that won’t stop even as you write and publish more. Developing a thick skin is important if you want to be able to continue to practice your craft.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

That is also a really tough question, with so many possible answers. I’m a huge sports fan, in particular a fan of the English football (soccer) club Manchester United. I grew up watching them play and absolutely fell in love with them as a teenager with (unrealistic) aspirations of playing professionally. As such, I would love a sit down chat with the club’s most famous, and recently retired, manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

I enjoy Mumford and Sons quite a lot, and they have a song called Hopeless Wanderer. I don’t know if it completely describes every aspect of my life, but the wanderer part seems to fit pretty well, considering that I’ve lived on four continents and traveled to over thirty countries.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

I’m going to be cliché. Something with flight. I guess an eagle of some kind. Although lounging in a tree as a leopard runs a close second. Maybe we should go with a mythical creature instead? Isn’t a griffin essentially a combination of a large feline and a giant bird? That would combine my two answers into one.


Djumair Silverfist had been a traitor for nineteen long years and a coward for most of his life. He was the most dangerous type of coward there was, a bold one. He reflected idly on his life as he awaited the final orders for his next mission. Djumair let his thoughts drift even further from the next task and more upon his own being. He was not someone to question the decisions of the past. They were gone and could not be remade, so why bother with them? However, he was not above succumbing, every now and again, to the self-reflective melancholy one reserved for time spent sifting through memories over a goblet of wine and a good view. Djumair looked off the edge of the platform, not five feet from where he sat, at the plains interspersed sparsely with copses of trees beneath him. Even though he was alone, and had nobody with which to share his thoughts, he allowed his mind to continue its backward journey. He was a solitary person after all. In many ways he preferred to be alone and it seemed fitting to reminisce by himself.
Permission granted, he continued to remember. Not for the first time, nor for the last, his mind pondered the curious tandem of cowardice and courage that was Djumair Silverfist. He knew exactly what was required of a person to be on the winning side of conflicts in life, and he did whatever was necessary to ensure that he never lost. That fact, in and of itself, was his craven fault. Yet it simultaneously lent credence to his arrogant understanding of his own dangerous competency when it came to vanquishing a foe. He feared the price of losing so greatly that he knew he was a coward to the very core of his being. However, he was bold enough to know which decision or action, in the right circumstances, would be enough to ensure that he avoided failure, pain, and any other unpleasant consequences of defeat. Sometimes those decisions were difficult, but he made them all the same. Therein lay his courage, the ability to make challenging decisions. 
His mind flashed back to that fateful day nineteen years ago, when he unleashed the flood of water that burst open Verdantihya’s fabled gates—ripped them open from within. Bleeding and broken, he had sacrificed everything to avoid death, to avoid losing. He had joined the winning side, that much was clear. While he now sat and sipped wine freely on a slaver’s deck, his former kinsmen fought, died, bled, and were captured. He thought of them as ‘former’ because one couldn’t really claim to belong to the very people who they had betrayed. This sense of un-belonging defined Djumair, but it was a fair price for his own freedom, though not without pain.
Djumair had spent the better portion of the last two decades fighting a war for a king who he did not love and a Grand Marshal who he did not respect, and it had all been by his own choice. Many long years ago, when he had first felt the icy fingers of fear twisting in his belly, he had chosen this path. The first invasion had been sudden and swift, and the humans had established such a strong foothold on the continent that he had known his people had no hope of triumph. He had done the only thing possible, he had defected to what he knew would be the winning side. It had been a decision motivated by fear, but the choice in and of itself had not been one that was without the need for courage. It was a strange internal parallel in which he lived; fearful enough to betray his people and avoid defeat, and brave enough to make the hard choices in life, the choices that cut ties to one’s heritage.
He broke from his reverie as he watched a servant approach from across the open-aired room. The wind swirled gently, high up on the eastern most Pillar in the land. Djumair reclined in a lounging seat with a view. It was a seat reserved for the slave captains who frequented this last outpost before heading north to begin a raid, or heading east to deliver the latest batch of captives to the humans. The wind was a dry breeze billowing up from the southeast. It carried the scent of smoke from the Camps and the dust from the land further beyond them as it curled up over the edge of the platform, leaving the ground far below it, hundreds of feet down. It was still strange to Djumair, even after his long years in this southern land, that the air could be so dry. This wind had a strangely familiar smell to it, a scent for which he felt the inklings of recognition. However, just when it felt he was about to lay hold of the memory of that particular scent’s origin, it slipped away from his mind’s grasp. He didn’t like that. Djumair couldn’t shake the odd feeling of importance for whatever it was he could not remember. It never paid to forget important information.
He took another swill of the white wine that sat chilled in his goblet, the contents creating tiny droplets of condensation on the exterior. It was not the most popular of beverages among his southern compatriots, but it was light and tangy. It soothed his dry throat and reminded him of the pleasures of this land, pleasures he was not likely to forget seeing as they were, in large part, the reason he had chosen this course in life. Wine of this vintage had been impossible to find in the north even before the invasion, let alone now, with the northern people of Andalaya scattered to the four winds across their mountain lands.
The servant finally reached the small, stand table to Djumair’s right. He carried a silver pitcher polished to perfection, full of wine no doubt, should Djumair require more. It was the joy, and the nuisance, of being important. People to do his bidding, and at the same time, those same people were the ones who often interrupted the few quiet moments he had to himself. The swallow of wine tasted sour as Djumair grimaced slightly at the bothersome servant. The boy should be able to see that his wine glass was still half full and in no need of refilling.
The servant was young and dark haired like all of his people, and as he drew closer he must have seen the dangerous glint in Djumair’s eyes. The boy hesitated as if considering retreat, but then continued once he realized that he had come too far to leave without offering more wine. Fear shone in the boy’s eyes as he approached. Djumair knew the fright that his name inspired in others. Just because he knew he was a coward, didn’t mean that others did. In truth, most men were cowards at their core, he was just one of the few who admitted it to themselves. He embraced it and let it become a strength rather than a weakness. He let his fear push and prod him until it became a source of ingenuity and boldness rather than a reason to run from a fight. But this boy didn’t know he was a coward. Instead, this servant saw one of the most feared warriors in the land, someone known for chopping off his own hand in order to win a battle. It was good the boy feared him. He liked it that way.
Djumair Silverfist watched the boy’s eyes glance down at the immaculately forged silver fist attached to the end of his left arm. It was sculpted to perfection to resemble the very likeness of a living hand closed into a fist. It lay, along with his left arm, on the armrest and it glimmered in the setting sun.
“Would you care for some more wine?” the servant stuttered, his black hair hanging down the back of his tan, brown neck. All of the boy’s kinsmen were tanned and brown, courtesy of this southern sun. For a brief instant Djumair felt bad for the boy. He was a servant, not a slave, but in this society of warriors and conquerors, once you accepted the role of servant, it was yours to fulfill for the rest of your life. The boy would never escape it. The pity was fleeting as Djumair remembered the boy’s interruption of one of the few moments of solitary respite he had to simply enjoy the little things in life, like a sunset and a glass of wine.
He shook his head curtly. “Would you have me become drunk and susceptible to any sellsword who wishes to come my way?” He barked in response. “One glass of wine is enough for any man who calls himself a warrior. Once you have had more than one, you cease the right to claim that title. You then become a drunkard and just another body for your captain to throw at the enemy.” His words might have been a little harsh, but the boy had annoyed him.
“Yes, Silverfist, I mean, Sir,” the boy spluttered quickly to repent, “what do I know of battle and fighting? Of course, you are right.” He spun too quickly as he turned to walk away, and the pitcher flew from the tray, spilling its contents all over the ground.
The servant spun back to face Djumair, clearly expecting a tongue scathing remark at the very least, if not a command to the whipping post or worse. Djumair sneered slightly as he sat on the lounge chair, still reclining through the entire interaction, and watched the boy as he clutched the tray to his chest in fear, awaiting the consequences for spilling the wine.
His own image as reflected in the tray caught Djumair’s eye, and he gazed upon his reflection as he pondered how he should punish the servant. From the polished, gleaming surface of the tray, light blue eyes stared back at him. Pale features, unlike the servant’s, looked at him, and blond hair adorned the top of his head. The sides of his head were shaved in the manner of the warriors of the south, and his long, flowing locks of blond hair flowed off the back of his head just past his shoulders like a white-gold mane. It was not held in a braid, but it was gathered at intervals by loose, rawhide ties to keep it from getting in his way as he moved or fought. The hairstyle left the sides of his head clean, revealing ears that were pointed at the top, protruding in the manner of both his northern heritage and the servant’s people. Dark or light of skin, the pointed ears were a common feature between the two races.
Djumair had a small, silver ring in his right nostril, but the most distinctive marks upon his face were the three blood red tears tattooed on both of his cheeks as if falling from the corners of his eyes. Traitor’s Tears. They marked a person who had betrayed Andalaya in order to serve the King of the South. A decision Djumair Silverfist had made long, long ago. The tattoos were on his cheeks by choice. He had been the first to betray and had been the first to be tattooed. What was now required of the northerners who chose to give their lives to serve their new masters, he had pioneered as a twisted memorial to whom he had once been. In a strange way everything about him was defined by choice, from the biggest decision to the smallest decoration on his body. Nothing had been forced upon him, and nothing would be.
He stood up slowly, faced down the servant with a penetrating gaze, and then backhanded him across the face as hard as he could. The boy dropped in a heap, and by the time he managed to pull himself together, Djumair had long since sat back down on his chair. He could hear the boy’s sniffles, and feel the sting on the back of his good, right hand from the impact. It set his pulse racing and his blood buzzing. Even the slightest hint of combat made his whole body feel as if it were on fire. He was a warrior through and through. He feared death, but it did not keep him from the challenge of the fray. This however, was a simple disciplinary action and he calmed his fighting instincts.
         “Go. Now. Get a rag, or better yet, remove your shirt and wipe up that mess,” Djumair said flatly as he gazed at the view before him. Maybe he could recapture some of the serenity that had preceded this unfortunate encounter—unfortunate for him, since it had interrupted his quiet. Djumair cared not a whit for the pain the boy was suffering.

Publisher's Link:





Lulu (Print on Demand): 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Welcome Isabell Kane! @KaneIsabelle

I want to welcome Isabelle Kane! First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I write romance novels and I believe that romance and love are among the most delightful aspects of the human experience. I have a distinct fondness for flawed heroes, and I seek to provide my readers with rich tapestries of stories in which love is just one element of the forces that intertwine the lives of the protagonists. I believe every dreamer deserves the adventures and escape offered by an exciting novel.

Tell us about your latest release.

Eagle River is my first New Adult Novel. It is a contemporary romance with a sport’s theme, because I have always found athletic men particularly sexy.

Here’s the blurb:

Rivals, Galen Odgers and Cam Fawst have shared many things. Gifted athletes and favored sons of Eagle River Wisconsin, both have been quarterbacks for the same legendary football team, the Warriors. Each was raised by a strong woman, and both love the same beautiful girl, Kjersten Solheim. 

Though they despise each other, they are inexorably linked. But there is a secret about one of them, a secret that a mother took to her grave, that a high school coach swore never to reveal, and one whose consequences continue to reverberate. 

Can love survive the ultimate betrayal and the revelation of a decades old secret?

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

The Phantom from the Phantom of the Opera because despite his at times violent and selfish behavior, he is motivated by love for Christine and music. His love is always hopeless, and so he is a tragic hero.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

Luke White from Calypso’s Secrets because he is both a bad boy and an honorable hero.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

I’ve written Mystery/Suspense Romance, Historical Romance, and Contemporary Romance. I have always loved reading romance, so it is very natural that I write in this genre. However, I try to add a little extra something to my stories so that there is more to them than just romance.

4.) What are you working on now?

I am working on a World War Two era romance involving a British soldier and an American nurse.

5.) What got you to start writing?

I have always written, even as a little girl. I think because I loved reading, I wanted to create my own stories.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

I get my ideas from all around me, perhaps from a snippet of conversation that I overhear or a stray thought that flits through my mind. I believe that writers have to have open eyes, ears, and minds in order to gather inspiration for their work.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

I work as an elementary school librarian and I also write children’s books under another name.

8.) Do you have any special talents?

I used to train dressage horses and I competed through the Grand Prix level of dressage.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

The best pieces of of advice that I ever received on writing were to write honestly from the heart and the gut, and to be disciplined about writing.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

I think I would like to meet Robin Hood and find out how his real story turned out. Did he and Maid Marion live happily ever after?

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

The Glory of Love by Peter Cetera
I would say that this song inspired my views on romance and love.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

I would be a horse, because they are beautiful, powerful, loving and loyal.


Chapter One

The Fair 1985
~ Ben ~

It was the kind of night when you held hands with your girl, rather than tossing an arm over her shoulders, because you were uncomfortably aware of the big sweat patches that extended all the way down to your belt. The evening breeze was heavy and sluggish with humidity, newly spun cotton candy, and buttered popcorn. Now and then, the heavy air would pick up a hot breath of animal smells emanating from the stock pens. And everything was sticky, especially the bodies of small, sun burned, black fingernailed children. The animals tied up in the fluorescently lit “Cow Palace,” were drooping and soggy despite the flashing lights and the cacophony of sound that rudely interrupted the surrounding opaque silence of a fallow field in the Midwestern night.

Years later, Ben could still hear it, the manically cheerful music of the Ferris wheel, the melodic wailing of some local country band from the beer tent, the dull hum of voices speaking, the lowing and bleating of the discontented animals, and, occasionally, a mother’s shrill cry for a child that had wandered off. He could still smell it and taste it, and it was right there when he closed his eyes. And then it would flood him and he would ache with the tight sunbaked skin feeling of childhood summers.

There was one such Saturday night that stood out as brilliantly lit among Ben’s memories as the Vegas strip in the quiet, indigo emptiness of the desert night. He remembered being ticked because his mother had saddled him with Timmy Johansson for the evening, and that meant that Ben had to leave the fair by eleven to get the kid home on time. Timmy wasn’t a bad kid. It’s just that he tried way too hard. His mom knew the kid had problems. She was the one who made Timmy go out for football, the year that Eagle River made it to the State Championships. Galen’s year.

That night, it turned out to be a good thing that Timmy came along. At least he was someone for Ben to talk to, someone easily impressed. Galen was in one of his moods. So, there they were, doing the fair thing: Ben, Galen the mute, and Timmy, shirt buttoned all the way up his neck, don’t-look-over-at-the-beer-tent Johansson.

It must have been around ten o’clock and all three boys were about faired out. They had taken to wandering around the stock barns with no real purpose, blowing time, when they heard cheering and applause from over near the game booths. There was a pause and then the same again. A good sized crowd had formed around one of the booths. They walked over to check out what was going on. Ben couldn’t see anything at first, but the three worked their way through the crowd. Ben was tall and so it wasn’t long before he had a decent view.

The crowd had formed a semi-circle around one of those games where one throws a football through a ring. The size of the prize you win was determined by how many times consecutively a person could throw it through the ring. The area in front of the booth was all clear, except for one figure which was alternately illuminated and then shadowed by the rapidly changing Ferris wheel lights. The man stood a good thirty feet from his target. At first, Ben couldn’t make out who it was. The guy was tall and strong. His shoulders were turned sideways. He stepped, reached back, and threw. The football sailed through the hole. The crowd went nuts. Their hero stood still, basking in their praise while some kid ran the ball back to him. Just then, a light from the Ferris wheel flashed across the man’s face, illuminating him. But Ben already knew who it was; he had kept stats at too many football games throughout high school not to recognize that particular throwing style.

Timmy, who had followed Ben through the crowd, tugged at his arm. “Hey, isn’t that Cam Fawst?”

Ben spun, searching for Galen, but he had already lost him somewhere in the crowd.

“You know him, right?” Insisted Timmy. He pushed at Ben’s shoulder. “Hey, Ben, what’s up?”

“Yeah, that’s Cam.” Where was Galen?

“Could you introduce me to him? He’s the Coyotes’ quarterback! I watched him on TV. I can’t believe that he’s actually here!”

Ben watched again as Cam turned, stepped, and hurled the football. It spiraled tightly, powerfully through the hole in the board. The crowd cheered wildly again. Once more, the kid jogged the ball back to Cam.

“That’s twelve, Cam,” someone shouted.

“Don’t miss this one, Cam.”

The tall figure turned into the half-light cast by the carousel. “It’s in the bag,” that familiar deep, confident, sardonic voice announced over the manically cheerful tune shrieking out from the carousel.

“No one has ever gotten thirteen, the whole fair, Mom,” Ben heard some little kid squeal. “Look how far back he is.”

“Hush, Toby. You’ll wreck his concentration,” a feminine voice ordered.

Ben watched Cam critically. He turned and threw. The ball spiraled through the air once more. So controlled, so smooth. But Cam still threw with this arm, not his shoulder. Ben had wondered whether the coaching Cam received in Milwaukee would correct that technical flaw. But, no. It was still there. But, if you were really critical, if you examined his throwing style as a potential NFL player, then you would have to admit that he didn’t use his shoulder the way the great ones did, the Johnny Unitases, the Dan Marinos. Still, Cam was impressive. And he remained Eagle River’s favorite son.

Once again, Ben searched the crowd for Galen, but there was still no sign of him. Is Kjersten here? Ben’s stomach twisted. God, he hoped not. It was way too soon for Galen.

Then, as he stared into the front rows of the crowd, the frenetic flash of the Ferris wheel lights reflected off moonlight bright long hair. He could just make out the familiar long, slender frame. God no! She’s here. Galen can’t deal with her right now, too!

Desperately now, Ben searched for his friend. He moved away from the awestruck Timmy and began to shoulder his way back through the crowd.

“Hey, watch it, kid,” a rather large farmer growled at him. In his haste, Ben had jostled the farmer’s lady.

“Sorry,” Ben shouted over his shoulder.

“That’s Oscar Happe’s boy, isn’t it?” Ben heard the farmer’s wife ask.

“Rude little bastard,” the farmer responded.

Perfect. But Ben had no time. Later, he would go back and apologize, but after he got Galen out of there. As he pushed through, the crowd began to thin. There, at the very edge of the huddled masses, stood Galen. At six feet four inches, Galen easily observed the scene over the heads of most of those assembled. His hands were jammed into the pockets of the faded Wranglers that clung to his long, muscled legs. Idly, or was it with restrained hostility, he kicked the toes of his battered and scuffed Roper boots into the dirt.


He looked in Ben’s direction, but he didn’t notice Ben. Galen’s eyes seemed focused inward rather than outward. His face nakedly revealed pain and shattered dreams.

“Galen? Kjersten’s here.”

“Yeah, Ben. I know, and I’m okay.” Now Galen’s face was emotionless.

“Let’s get out of here, Galen. I’ve had enough of this hick fair.” To be honest, Ben felt more comfortable seeing him this way. This was the face that most everyone else saw. Ben knew that he was probably the only one outside of Galen’s family who ever saw him that other way. Galen had been through a lot with his mother dying last year and then the break up. No question. No one knew that better than Ben did. It was just that Galen hid it so well most of the time that Ben could forget or pretend, for a while at least. Then, he was the old Galen, the one he’d grown up with, not this new bitter and haunted person.

An “Aw,” reverberated through the crowd. Clearly, Cam had finally missed.

“Galen Odgers, is that you out there?” Sal, the rotund bar owner’s mellow baritone called out.

“Yeah, Sal. It’s me.” Galen answered as he raised his eyebrows at Ben.

What amazing timing. Ben tugged his friend’s arm. “Let’s get outta here.”

“What you doin’ out there, boy? Come on up here. You show Cam how a real football player throws.”

Sal’s great bulk parted the crowd like Moses did the seas, the round, glowing end of his thick cigar preceding him. He strode up to Galen, threw a great hairy forearm around Galen’s neck and dragged him through the crowd.

“Galen,” Sal chuckled, then cleared his throat of chunky cigar sputum. “You get up here and show Eagle River what you got.”

“Sal, I’m not up for this.”

“Hey Cam,” Sal shouted out, ignoring Galen’s protest. “I got a challenger here for you. Bet ya this high school string bean can out throw a college star. Galen here is a real ball player. You see that ring over there, Galen? Cam tossed that pigskin there through it thirteen times from where he’s standing. I got a twenty that says you can make it to fourteen.” Sal moved back towards the football toss, dragging Galen with him.

Suddenly, there was chaos. People shouted out to Galen and Sal’s voice continued to boom out, taking odds.

Ben stood stock still. If you know a guy as well as Ben knew Galen, had grown up with a guy, you understood how he felt about things, about people, about Kjersten and Cam, in particular. Feeling anxious, he jostled his way back to the front of the crowd.

Meanwhile, Galen had taken Cam’s place. He stood silently, facing the target. He had to be nervous, what with the whole town and Cam and Kjersten there. Please God, don’t let him screw up. Please. Ben crossed his fingers. Galen drew his arm back and threw, quickly. Too quickly. Yes! It went through. One. The ball was run back to him. Again, he just drew back and blasted it. Two. Yes! Then, another. One more. On and on. The relief washed over Ben. Galen was keeping it together. He was sweet. Ben started to get excited, to get into it with the crowd.

Ben hadn’t seen his best friend play ball for most of Galen’s senior year. Ben had been away at college. He had heard that Galen was a real talent, but this self-composed, accurate quarterback was a far cry from the long limbed, loose cannon he remembered from a year before. Galen’s weight was balanced delicately, dancer-like on the balls of his battered, old, laced up work boots. His facial features were relaxed while his eyes were focused on that white ring in the distance. He seemed not to hear the voices shouting his name all around him. He appeared equally oblivious to Cam, who stood just off to his right side, and to the din and the flashing lights of the surrounding fair. Effortlessly, Galen tossed that football through the hoop, pausing only long enough for the boy to run the football back to him. Unlike Cam, who had reveled in the adoration, working the crowd, Galen was lost in the job at hand and he was really, really good.

As one, the crowd shouted the number of the throw out loud, drowning out the sounds of men betting and the fair noises: “Ten… Eleven… Twelve.”

The tension built with each successful throw. The crowd sucked in air as one, exhaled in relief as one.

“Thirteen.” Galen had tied Cam.

Unable to resist, Ben searched for Kjersten again. In the shadows by Cam, Ben could just make out her profile. Maliciously, he wished that he could see her face as she watched her old boyfriend show up her new one.


Hysteria was building.

“Seventeen...Eighteen...Nineteen...Twenty... Oh,” the crowd groaned as one. Galen had finally missed. The football had bounced just off the edge of the ring. Then, everyone went nuts. Galen stood still as the crowd swarmed around him. Ben saw Sal give him a few congratulatory smacks on the back. Then, Ben lost sight of Galen in the mass of people congratulating him. Gritting his teeth, Ben forced his way closer in. When he finally caught sight of Galen again, Cam had already cornered Galen.

Suddenly, Ben was fourteen-years-old and too chicken to help Galen out when Cam decided to make trouble for him. Cam wasn’t really a bully. He had never really cared enough about other people to waste his time trying to dominate them. Besides, he’d always enjoyed the kind of hero worship that other boys gave to superior athletes. But things were different between Cam and Galen. There’d always been something strange between those two, a heavy, dark feeling of which schoolboys should not have been capable.

Ben observed that Kjersten was on Cam’s arm. Long-limbed and slender and fragile, she passed under the lights, completely visible for the first time. The high cheekbones, the full lips, and the elegant neck were the same. Shouldn’t people look different when everything changed so much? But Kjersten was the same, albeit a thinner, more serious looking girl. She still wore her hair long and straight down her shoulders. She still moved with that particular step, seeming to dance forward, like the sprinter that she had once been. Her face was serene, still, and classically beautiful.

Ben watched as Cam held out his hand to Galen. “I’m glad that you’re keeping the standard up at old Eagle River High. I was worried that the Warriors would slack off with me gone.”

Galen stared at the proffered hand and then, slowly, hesitantly, reached out and took it. From his vantage point, Ben saw that both men were putting a good deal more than cordiality into their grips. Their hands remained interlocked, their eyes meeting, the smile thinning from Cam’s lips, neither one giving in. Then, as if by mutual agreement, they released. A draw.

“Your name is Galen, right?” Cam continued, that bright “for the fans” smile accentuating the hungry lines of his jaw. “Galen Otter, or Oller?” Of course Cam knew Galen’s name, but thankfully, Galen didn’t take the bait.


“I remember now. You were that weedy sophomore backup quarterback.” Cam chuckled familiarly. “You always brought me towels and water all through my senior year.” He punctuated his comment with a friendly nudge at Galen’s shoulder. But Cam’s eyes were sharp and focused on Galen. “I remember you had a big case of hero worship.”

Unfazed by the clumsy jab, Galen stared straight back at him. “Too bad you didn’t play much last year, Fawst.”

Cam quit smiling. “Things are different in college. Players run faster and hit harder. It takes anyone a while to adjust. You’ll see what it’s like if you get that opportunity. Throwing a football through a hoop is a cute trick but it won’t get you far in a college football game.” Cam paused, regaining his composure. “You decided where you’re gonna go next year? I’m sure that there are a lot of division three schools who would give you a shot.”

Galen didn’t take the bait.

“Well, see ya.” Cam was tired of the games.

“Hi Galen,” Kjersten’s voice was soft but carried through the darkness like a knife.

Galen nodded his head curtly towards the girl, acknowledging her, but didn’t turn to look at her. “Kjersten.”

Cam assessed them, looking back and forth between them. “That’s right, you two know each other.” He tossed an arm possessively over Kjersten’s shoulder and pulled her tightly to him, staring at Galen all the while. “Here’s my good luck, Galen. You need to get yourself one of these,” Cam chuckled at his own coarse joke. Kjersten’s face remained determinedly impassive, her body, stiff.

“Hey Cam,” Sal’s cigar roughened voice cut through the weighted silence. The large bulk of the bartender appeared at Galen’s side. “You gonna be around town for a couple of days?”

“I’d planned to stay through the weekend,” Cam answered.

“Would you mind stoppin’ by the bar during the Brewers and Twins game? You know what big Coyote fans we are. The guys would be thrilled if you would just come in and shoot the shit.”

“Sure, Sal.”

“Thanks, kid.” Sal was pleased. With satisfaction, he twisted the cigar between his teeth. “Galen, you comin’ by, too?”

“I don’t know, Sal. There’s a lot of work I gotta do at the farm. It’s tough to get away.”

No longer the center of attention, Cam turned away. “Come on, babe. Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough of this small town bullshit,” Ben heard him mutter to Kjersten.

Suddenly, a hot, sweaty hand grasped Ben’s forearm. “Hey Ben, I’ve been looking all over for you. I thought that you’d ditched me.” It was Timmy. “Do you know how late it is already? My mom must be having a stroke. I haven’t called her in over two hours and it’s almost eleven. We’ve got to go soon or I’m gonna be late for curfew.”

“Yeah, let’s go.” Galen broke abruptly away and strode off, his long legs eating up the ground, leaving Ben and Timmy in the dust. They followed and tried to keep up at first and then fell behind. A stalk of corn from last year’s crop, suddenly jammed into the arch of Ben’s foot.

“Shoot.” Ben knelt down, pulled off his decrepit sneaker, and rubbed the abraded skin. He looked up as Galen swung open the door of his beat up, old pickup and hopped in. Ben cringed at the brutal clang of rusted metal on metal when he slammed the ancient door shut.

Timmy waited while Ben adjusted his shoe. “Is he okay? Galen’s not pissed with me, is he? I didn’t mean to act like a dorky little kid. It’s just that my mom worried. Do you think he’s pissed?”

“Don’t worry about it, Timmy. Galen’s not pissed with you or me. He’s just dealing with some stuff.”

As Ben straightened up, Galen started the engine. The ancient Ford was moving their way. It pulled abreast of them. “Come on, Ben. Let’s go,” Galen said impatiently.

Timmy hopped in and Ben followed a moment later. Galen shifted the truck into gear and swung it around. They spun off in a cloud of dust.

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