When Joy met Mark

Joy Huffman doesn’t know how to get on with her life after Steve’s fatal accident. Then, several years after his death, he calls to her in a dream and urges her to go to the cabin they’d designed together, and that she has never seen. Can she embrace this home Steve built for them, and find a way to let love in once more?

Excerpt, The Return of Joy:

She stepped from the vehicle and took a deep, steadying breath to shake off the long day’s fatigue. Evelyn moved more slowly, chatting with Charity as she unbuckled the child from her safety seat.joy cover

“Now there’s the woman I like to see,” Evelyn commented.

Joy turned to smile at her. “I’m so excited to be here.”

Here, where I can be more like the woman you knew years ago. The woman Steve loved.

For a brief moment, she was no longer in mourning. She was full of joy.

A movement from beyond Evelyn caught her attention, and a man emerged from the woods, a yellow lab trotting at his side. As he moved closer, Joy stepped toward him with a smile and a greeting.

Then the greeting died on her lips, and she swallowed, hard. Something about his presence startled her. He was under six feet — only a few inches over her own five-seven. He had thick, dark, wavy hair that brushed his collar, and a red chamois shirt he’d rolled up to display his muscular arms. His face was mobile and expressive, showing determination, tension, and — something else. Joy wasn’t sure what. He moved with a graceful, confident stride. An athlete’s stride. Tight jeans hugged his hips. He stirred something within her, something she hadn’t felt for a long time.

“Hi.” She shook his extended hand, a large, strong hand that engulfed hers and made her feel dainty and petite. She gazed up into his eyes; they were of an indeterminate color — maybe blue, maybe green, maybe gray. To call the color indeterminate was unfair. They were beautiful eyes, with depths like a fine gemstone.

“You must be Joy Huffman. I’m your tenant, Mark Stone. This is my dog, Atlas.”

She had expected someone different. A pale computer nerd, maybe. After all, he ran a computer business from here. She had not expected this masculine man.

You can buy The Return of Joy at Amazon or Desert Breeze Publishing.

Pioneer Instinct Released Today

PioneerInstinctCoverArtDesert Breeze Publishing has released the third book in the Time After Time series, Pioneer Instinct.

Eliza O’Malley and brother Allen travel from Ireland to join their father and brothers on an 1890s Wyoming homestead. Allen is almost destroyed during the voyage, but Eliza’s benefactors rescue them both from their father’s foolish carelessness and mounting debt.

When she has worked off her passage and built her own wealth, Eliza completes the journey, knowing that she has been called to fulfill her destiny as a Heartmark woman. She is immediately swept off her feet by the neighboring rancher Frank McGee. His sister Jude, her friend and business partner, harbors a secret that will nearly destroy the love between Eliza and Frank.

Clues from an ancient diary, the fierce intervention of animal helpers, and ancient artifacts play a part in the life of all Heartmark women, including Eliza. Will they be enough to overcome the horrible rumors spread by Jude and restore Frank’s love for her? And what about Mildreth’s story? How will she arrive in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1890?

Excerpt:

“Hold it right there. Don’t come any closer.”

Mildreth froze at the sound of the woman’s no nonsense command.

“Okay, okay.” With great care Mildreth knelt, placed her sheathed sword on the ground at her feet, then, keeping her movements slow and non-threating she stood and turned and raised both hands in a gesture of meekness while she assessed the distance between her and this farm woman. She was about the same height and build as Mildreth herself, likely around the same age as well. She wore a long skirt, as modest in style as Mildreth’s although clearly not from the same era. A brimmed hat cast her eyes in shadow, yet her vision was clearly not impaired as she held the long gun steadily on Mildreth’s position. The confident stance, steady stare, and familiar way she handled her weapon warned Mildreth she was likely a really good shot. Mildreth would have to tread carefully.

 She forced her lips to curve into a timid smile and added a bit of a catch in her voice. “I’m sorry if I scared you.” Mildreth hunched her shoulders, strove to look vulnerable. “I’m lost and when I saw the smoke from your stove I–I hoped someone could help me figure out where I am. I’ve walked for ages and yours is the first cabin I’ve come across.”

The woman’s weapon did not waver. She pushed the rim of her hat up with an index finger and stared openly at the blood stains on Mildreth’s garments. “What happened to you?” Her eyes tracked to the sword at Mildreth’s feet then narrowed. “Whose blood is on your dress?”

She was more than a little surprised her slight injuries from Winter Parker and Mike Hunter’s animal helpers had remained through this last trip through Time. Mildreth pulled back the collar of her shirt and winced when the material of her blouse pulled at the rough, red scratches that marred her skin, left there by a cockatiel turned attack bird. She chanced a glance at the woman, hoping for sympathy.

Narrowed eyes and an impatient shake of her head was her only response.

Hmm, tough audience.

Mildreth mustered up a few crocodile tears, and let them slip down her cheeks. “I’m not sure where I was going or how I ended up out in the middle of nowhere.” She sniffed and pressed a trembling hand to her chest. “I don’t remember. I’ve been wandering around in the hot sun and I can’t think straight. If I could have a drink, maybe sit in the shade a bit, I am sure it would come back to me.”

Mildreth took a step closer, then another. The farmer woman didn’t soften and Mildreth wondered if she would have to change her tactics here. Clearly this woman’s heart was as hard as Mildreth’s own.

She studied her through tear-filmed eyes. She might have to make a grab for the rifle.

Then the farmer stepped back, making sure to keep the same distance between them.

To Mildreth’s relief, she nodded to a spot just past the barn. “There’s a well over there. Bucket’s on the rope, dipper on the side of the well wall. Help yourself.” She lowered the gun a little.

Mildreth smiled her thanks and made to reach for her sword.

“No you don’t.” The gun returned to its position pointed at Mildreth’s chest and the woman shook her head. “I’ll mind that for you while you’re here.”

Despite the suffocating heat of the late afternoon, goose bumps broke out over her skin. Sucking in a steadying breath, Mildreth nodded her acceptance, turned her back to the woman and her gun, and made her way to the well.

Although the woman’s steps were silent, the hair on the back of Mildreth’s neck raised and she knew the woman had followed her, that piercing gaze pinned on her. Mildreth deftly unwound the rope that held the bucket in place and dropped it down the well, controlling its passage. It was several seconds before it reached water. This was a deep well that would have taken considerable effort to dig by hand. She cranked the full bucket up to the edge of the well and set it there, then used the ladle for a deep, long drink, and then another. After she replaced the ladle she scooped up some water and splashed her face, then scrubbed at the grime there.

Her throat clogged with unexpected emotion from doing the familiar task.

Nay, she was not in her own land or Time, had long left ancient Scotland behind, but the routine was the same and a surge of homesickness almost sent Mildreth to her knees.

“If you want a bath the tub is there behind the well. There’s no one around and I’ve got a cow to milk, so you’ll have your privacy.”

Mildreth turned at the sound of the woman’s voice. “I appreciate it.”

She nodded once then turned to walk away. She did not have Mildreth’s sword and she wondered what she had done with her precious companion.

Mildreth was in need of shelter, food, and information, so refrained from asking about it.

She’d best get busy and gain this woman’s trust. She blurted, “My name is Millie.”

The woman paused, and turned back to Mildreth, her expression unreadable. Mildreth shaded her eyes with one hand, blocking the sun’s glare from behind the woman’s shoulder.

Some of the tension left the woman’s stance and the gun resting in the crook of her arm angled at the ground rather than pointing at her. Mildreth pushed her small advantage. “I’m afraid I don’t have anything to wear except this soiled dress. I would offer to buy a set of clothes, but it seems I’m without coin as well.”

Silence met her words and Mildreth’s heart thumped twice against her breast. Had she gone too far and scared her benefactor?

Unexpected empathy filled the woman’s eyes and softened her features. Then, in an almost timid voice, very different from the one that had threatened Mildreth when she approached, she said, “My name is Julia but I’m called Jude. I think we are close to the same size, although you’re taller. Maybe I can add some fabric to a skirt to make it fit.”

Mildreth did her best to hide her shock at the transformation of her host’s attitude.

Not heartless then. Okay, better. Mildreth would do fine here, for now. “Thank you, Jude. That is kind of you.” Mildreth poured the first bucket into the tub, then lowered it for another.

Jude nibbled on her bottom lip and cast an apologetic look at Mildreth. “It will take some time, though.” Her cheeks turned pink. “If you don’t mind trousers, I can bring you some of my father’s to get you by until we can sew something.” Her cheeks reddened further. “Sometimes, well, a lot of the time, I wear trousers to do the chores. It’s a lot easier than trying to run a farm in skirts.”

She snapped her lips shut, clearly embarrassed to have admitted to wearing men’s garments.

The complex woman was beginning to endear herself to Millie. Millie — why on earth had she fallen back on that old pet name? Only Colin had called her Millie. Now, however, she would need to think of herself by that name. Millie, not Mildreth. It was somehow a little kinder, a little more friendly and engaging a name.

Jude smiled at her. “Soap is in that can next to the tub. Better hurry, Millie. As hard as it may be to believe right this moment, the temperature will drop as the sun sets. I’ll be back shortly. I will find you a towel and something to wear, then I need to get the milking done.”

As if on cue, the cow gave a low moo.

Millie smiled and nodded to the cow. “Go ahead and milk first. She sounds uncomfortable.” Jude winced as if in empathy for the cow.

“I will, then.”

She would have to put the gun down to milk the cow. Okay, Millie thought, making friends with Jude, gaining her trust, should not be hard at all. She was pretty good at making friends with people she could use. She’d had lots of experience doing so through the centuries, after all.

Millie paused her tub-filling, and watched after Jude as she untethered the cow. She wondered if, contrary to the past eras, perhaps this friendship might not be a complete lie this time around.

Download today from Amazon or Dessert Breeze Publishing.

How a book feels

Paper or ebooks? The Star Trek dilemma.

Captain James T. Kirk loved paper books. Even though by his time they were outdated, he collected them. They were a most treasured gift on his birthday. He didn’t think electronic books were the same. They didn’t feel like real books feel. Captain Jean Luc Piccard felt much the same way. And in their day there were still paper books to be had — in the antique stores.eread

In 2011, about the time I sold my first book, I learned that Amazon sales of electronic books surpassed paper books for the first time. In some ways we have already surpassed the science that the first Star Trek series imagined in the 1960s. Our communication devices are smaller. But our medical diagnostics are bigger so the technology vision is inconsistent with the actual. The Transporter remains elusive — too bad, since it is one of the two science fiction time management tools that I wish I could use. (The other is the Tesseract envisioned by Madeline L’Engle in A Wrinkle in Time.)

Today we often see people with their E-readers. But we still see paper books as well. Here are some of the reasons I prefer electronic books:

  • When I travel I can take dozens of books with me and not add to the weight of what I am carrying. If I read everything I have with me, I can read more with a one-click download.
  • Some of the reading devices feel a lot like a book.
  • I have both a Kindle and an iPad. The Kindle is lighter in weight and easier to hold.  As arthritis has set into my hands, especially my thumbs, I find it is much easier to hold a Kindle than a book of any size. No matter how many words the book has, it will fit in your E-reader.
  • E-readers make large print as easy as a setting. If you don’t want to wear reading glasses, don’t! You can just enlarge the type.
  • EBooks are very accessible to people who are blind. One friend tells me that the Nook ap with downloaded books is a “game changer” because it is so easy to access the audio book from the downloaded book. This gives a much wider selection to people with disabilities.

How about you? What kind of books do you prefer?

All my books are available on Kindle, Nook or from my publisher in eBook formats.  Stop by my author pages at Desert Breeze and Amazon and download your next good read.

Win a download – tell me about your Road Trip

I am looking for funny and poignant stories from YOUR life that will fit the road trip that Jen and her dog Ollie are making in Finding Her Voice,  Starting Over Book Three. If you originate any stories chosen to be in the book you will win a free download of either of the first two books in the series.

So leave a comment here or email me at lynetteendicott@gmail.com and let’s talk about the funny side of road trips!

Road Trip – Why do people make them?

Mom and my brother and I looking out over Lone Peak

All of my growing up years we made every vacation into a road trip.

For one thing, Dad had quite a bit of vacation time, we kids were out of school, Mom didn’t work outside the home.

For another, the trip planner (usually Dad) had an insatiable curiosity about history, and wanted to see where it was made.

So we popped popcorn (to help the driver stay awake) and packed suitcases and got into the van — which had been made over to include enough beds for everyone but the driver to sleep (back before seatbelts were much in use) — and Dad would put on his music and away we would go.

We stopped a lot. You would think that was related to four kids and two adults having differing bathroom schedules, and that was probably one aspect. It was more likely, though, that Dad spotted a roadside historical marker, and we pulled over to see what it said. We would troop out onto the roadside and someone who could read would tell what the marker said. We’d look over whatever else was there — sometimes the foundation of an old building or the ruts from a long ago trail — before we got back on the road.

Dad claimed he only needed about four hours, maybe six, of sleep, so he would drive past when the rest of us were awake.

I remember one especially long hitch. There was a campsite that Mom had located in one of the brochures. We were somewhere in the hills of — I don’t remember, Ohio maybe, or Tennesee or Kentucky? It got dark before we got the the area. Dad followed the map and one little sign and wound up and around and deep into these hills.

Picnic on a vacation to Kentucky

It was a little creepy. Not another vehicle in site. We didn’t have GPS in those days so we weren’t sure exactly where we were. And we never did find the expected hookups and bathrooms that usually signified our camp sites. It was really dark and we were really alone in the middle of nowhere.

The next morning we found a river, waterfalls, cliffs — a gorgeous backroad scenic spot. We never did find the campsite (so we didn’t have to pay the fees!) but my Mom, always the optimist  pointed out the treasure of a spot we’d found and we enjoyed it for a couple of hours before we wound back down (which took much less time) and got back on the road.

Crater Lake with a little terrier overlooking the site

Mom was constantly challenged to keep kids occupied and safe while we trekked across the country. She came up with games, we read books, and sometimes she fixed our sandwiches or snacks from the little portable fridge and the supplied she’d brought along. People didn’t eat in restaurants much in those days, either.

The Heroine in Starting Over Book Three: Finding Her Voice decides to take a roadtrip – just her and her daughter’s little dog, a terrier mix named Ollie and named after my own dog.

CONTEST: Looking for funny road trip stories to include in my upcoming book, Finding Her Voice. The winner will have their story included AND will get a free copy of their choice of the other two books in the Starting Over Series.