Thanks Giving

I’m getting in gear for Thanksgiving.  My two sisters and cousin always come to our house.  I know–our family is pitifully small.  This year, my daughter Holly and her son Tyler can both make it, too.  Nate’s in the marines and can’t make it home until Christmas, but that’s not that far away.  So I feel especially blessed.

We’ve had so many wonderful times with friends and family this year.  Some of our dear, old friends who’d moved away have returned, and it’s like they never left.  The years didn’t diminish our friendship at all.  And as always, I have my writer friends–a true treasure–and today, I want to share my blog with a fellow writer I admire, Julia Donner.  I’ve yammered on and on about how much I love her Regency romances.  She just published a historical western romance, and I love it just as much, so I invited her here to showcase AVENUE TO HEAVEN.  Thanks for the wonderful excerpt, Julia!  I read this book and can’t recommend it enough.  (Jake is a love interest to remember).

Blurb:    When a coffin arrives on Annie Corday’s doorstep she knows who sent it—her former husband, one of Chicago’s most vicious crime lords. Desperate, she decides on a radical solution. If a man can advertise for a wife, why can’t she arrange for a bodyguard and temporary husband?

Jake Williams isn’t looking for a wife when he comes to Chicago to buy cattle but ends up roped into a loco marriage contract. And worse, he can’t stop his headlong fall into love with a woman who will eventually leave.






By the time Jake returned from the barn, Annie was at the range. He quickly learned that she liked it quiet in the morning, a slow waker. He knew enough about women to not provoke her and quietly ate. The thin, fragile pancakes filled with blackberry preserves were worthy of reverent silence.

He put his plate in the dry sink and went to get his hat. He hesitated at the door, toying with the brim, while trying to judge if she was ready for conversation. He gave up worrying about it and went out.

She surprised him when she joined him on the porch. In the quiet, they watched morning’s shy light spread its warmth across the land. The sharp scents of ragweed and dew-drenched foliage permeated the air. Gentle lowing of cattle drifted up from the pastures below.

He looked over at Annie. She gazed out at the new day and glory of a Colorado summer sunrise. She no longer looked grumpy.

He tugged his hat into place and pulled a pair of gloves from his back pocket. “Thanks for breakfast, Annie. And last night. Your word is good. I haven’t eaten like that in a long time.”

Not since Mother, but he wouldn’t tell her that. No sense in giving her a swelled head.

She stared sleepily at the spectacular view. “Thank you. Will you buy a milk cow?”

“Sorry. I don’t milk cows. I can have the neighbors bring milk over twice a week.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to have a cow?”

“Are you willing to milk it every morning and night?”

That woke her up. He wisely swallowed a laugh when she scowled. He couldn’t tell if she was annoyed about his refusal to buy the cow or the idea of getting up early to milk it.

“Very well, sir. No cow, but I was accustomed to fresh milk every day and always kept a Jersey in the barn.”

“Small yield.”

“Plenty of cream,” she shot back.

“No cow, Annie. I spent enough years as a ranch hand to have developed a snobbish attitude about milking. Farmers milk cows. Ranchers breed’em.”

She gave up the argument with a sigh and turned back to the view. Jake started to leave, got half way to the barn and came back.

“Annie, do you know how to shoot?”

“Certainly not!”

“Can you drive a team or a single hitch buggy?”

“Yes, and I can ride.”

“Well, that’s something. But you’ll have to learn how to shoot.”

She made an owlish face. “I think not.”

“Annie,” he began, careful to remove all traces of condescension from his tone, “there’s no choice. You have to learn.”

“Give me one reason why.”

“First off, it’s August. The heat draws the rattlers to the water trough and the well out back. Come September, or when the weather turns wet, they won’t be a bother.”

“Are you speaking of rattlesnakes?”

“Yes. They like the water when the heat gets bad.”

“Very well, then. I shall learn.”

“Tomorrow,” he succinctly warned.

“Why so soon?”

“Because, Annie, it’s hot and likely to stay like this for another three weeks.”

She huffed a sigh, letting him know she would do as he asked but that he’d spoiled her morning.


She suffered through her first weaponry lesson the next day. Her target was a dead tree. Jake demonstrated with a pistol, showing how easy it was for him to shoot off tiny twigs she could barely see and certainly had no interest in killing.

She took the Colt.44 from him and managed to hit everything surrounding the tree but not the tree itself. The pistol weighed too much for her wrist. His army issue revolver wobbled in her feeble grip, even when she used both hands. By the time he told her to stop, she was ready to give up and happily set the pistol on a tree stump. She hadn’t counted on his annoying determination.

He withdrew a rifle from a fringed buckskin case. “Here. This is a Remington D-Ring.”

Exasperated by yet another weapon to fuss with, she made an impatient noise. “How many guns do you have?”

“This is a rifle, not a gun.” Before she could ask, he explained. “It has to do with the interior design of the barrel.”

She huffed an aggrieved sigh and confronted the rifle. Smooth brass pegs had been hammered into the stock for decoration. The unexpected weight of it almost slipped through her fingers and toppled her to the ground. She gamely hoisted it up.

He showed her how to fit it to her shoulder. Standing behind her, he reached around and adjusted the position. She instantly lost the ability to concentrate. His entire body was wrapped around hers, huge and enveloping her within his heat. His breath brushed her cheek. When he correctly positioned her hands, his fingers felt raspy yet gentle. The solid ridge of his thigh supported her hip. The implacable wall of his torso braced her back. She tried to think about what he was saying, but his scent and heat and presence were making her head spin.

She heard his patient directions from a distance and tried to focus on his deep, whispery voice. “Squeeze it, Annie. Slow and easy. Don’t jerk on it. Just slide your finger over it. Here. I’ll show you how.”

His finger covered hers against the trigger. An explosion slammed into her head, her body rammed backward into his chest. The spot where the rifle stock fit against her shoulder felt like she’d been kicked by a horse. But there was a hole in the center of the tree.

Stepping back, he said, sounding oddly hoarse, “Now you try it without me.”

And she did, many times. She listened, forcing attention and persistence, while he explained how to load and clean the rifle. He didn’t stand closely again, but stood a little behind her, ready to support or catch her after the impact of the recoil.

At bedtime, she used a hand mirror to study the bruises on her sore shoulder, quite proud of the smudges. She could barely lift her arm, but she knew how to shoot. Not that she could hit much. The only time the tree had anything to fear was when Jake helped her to aim, but he’d only done that once. She pretended not to feel any disappointment about that, nor about the fact that Harold had yet to wire her about what was happening in Chicago.

That night she dreamed that Charles had come to the peaceful valley, vowing to keep her there forever. Jake was in Chicago at the Clark Street house, happy as a lark, soaking in the black marble tub, fully clothed.


M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)







Only the memories are left

Yesterday, my husband and I joined my friend and her husband to walk through the high school that Cheryl and I had attended.  The school system shut down the building in 2010 (I think).  It’s sat empty ever since.  And now, a business has bought it, and they’re going to tear it down.

It was sad enough when Fort Wayne closed Elmhurst.  It was a good school.  The building was just old.  But it was depressing when the newspaper reported that it’s going to be demolished soon.  The company that bought it kindly led guided tours through it one last time before the building is destroyed.  The four of us went, but the tour mostly covered the new section of the building that Cheryl and I had never been in.  The only rooms we really remembered were the cafeteria, gym, and the offices.

I was never very active in school, wasn’t a joiner.  I was more of a brainiac geek who loved my classes and did a lot of homework.  But that school shaped me.  I had one of the hardest and most wonderful English teachers in the world.  If she assigned a five page paper, you were allowed five grammatical mistakes–one for each number of pages.  If she hit a sixth error, she circled it and quit reading your paper.  You got an F.  I learned to pay attention to grammar.  I took Latin for four years.  My Latin teacher made a dead language and its myths come to life.  I still love myths to this day.  They showed up in my EMPTY ALTARS urban fantasy series and some of my urban fantasy bundles.

Lots and lots of people stood in line to take one last tour of Elmhurst.  I know time moves on and things change, but it’s going to hurt the first time I drive past that corner, and the building’s gone.  Some things have more impact than others.  Elmhurst is a memory that made me happy.  I’ll still have that memory…, but that’s all.

Blog Tours

I signed up for another blog tour with Goddess Fish Promotions.  (They’re SO easy to work with!)  It started on Oct. 30th and it will end Nov. 10.  For the first tour, I did questions and answers at each stop.  This time, I chose to put up a different excerpt each time.   I don’t know if the tour will help me sell more books.  If it does, that’s wonderful.  If it gives me a few more reviews, even better!   But there are no guarantees.

What I love about the tours, though, are visitors’ comments.  Even just a “sounds like a good book” makes me happy.  “I like the excerpt” makes my day.  In SPECIAL DELIVERY, Karli is a travelling nurse.  My daughter is a travelling nurse, and adding that into the romance’s story line made it more fun to write.  One visitor commented that her sister was a travelling nurse, and it gave us something we could both relate to.

Once this book goes up on Nov. 7th, I’ll have a year before my mystery’s available, so I decided to write a romance, chapter by chapter, to post on my webpage in the meantime.  I have to admit, I had three brothers and an idea that just kept surfacing in my head, over and over again, that just didn’t want to go away.  I kept telling it to.  “No more romances for me,” I told it.  “Only think of new mysteries.”  But my brain doesn’t pay any more attention to me than my chihuahua does.  So I sat down and wrote the first chapter, and I really liked it.  I posted it, then sat down and wrote the second chapter.  I liked that, too.

I can “pants” it for one or two more chapters, and then every pore of me will crave some kind of assurance that I’ll have enough ideas and head in the right direction, so I’ll have to sit down and write plot points.  I have so many friends who are pantsers and write beautiful novels, but I just can’t do it.  I’ve tried.  (Don’t ask).  I’m already jotting down ideas for what can go wrong in this story.  And since I’m really posting a first draft–since I can’t give it to my critique partners to clean up first–I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

I’ve shared that I like to divide my novels into fourths when I plot.  But I recently saw K.M. Welland’s Nano outline to keep your story on track.  I’ve been writing a long time, but it still boggled my mind.  I’m thinking of giving it a try, even though I might skip a few steps along the way, so that I don’t scare my brain into a serious retreat.  I’m not sure if it will work for me to be this organized, but I’ll find out.  If it overwhelms me, I’ll go back to what I usually do.  And that’s the thing about writing.  There is no right or wrong way, and you can always regroup and rewrite.  Anyway, in case you like nailing every trigger point in your story, here’s her link:  

If you’re trying to pound out 50,000 words this month for Nano, good luck!  If you’re like me, and Nano is the stuff of hiding under the bed, happy writing anyway.  Have a great November!



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twitter:  @judypost

It’s Just Not Fair:)

How can one person have so much history rambling about in her head?  I’ve raved about Julia Donner’s Regency romances before.  I love them–every single one of them.  But now she’s written a historical Western romance?  With a hero who’s so strong, so thoughtful, so sweet….well, I loved this book, too!  It came out today.  I got to read it before it became official, and I got to see Chicago in its beginning days–rough around the edges and rowdy.  All of the characters are great in this story, but Jake?  Jake will live with me for a long time.

Too much fun, too little writing


I’m not sure what happened this year, and especially these last few months, but one event has juxtaposed itself against another, and life’s been busy.  I thought it would slow down at the beginning of October.  I thought wrong.  Now, I think it will relax back to normal after the first week of November.  I’m not complaining.  Every single thing was fun.  My hub’s brother came to stay with us for almost a week.  He left on Tuesday.  We only get to see him once a year, and we always look forward to his visit.  My daughter’s coming for three days next week.  We haven’t seen her in a while either, so I’m excited.  But my writing . . .

the white rabbit

I’m a creature of habit.  I like waking up in the morning, pouring a cup of coffee, and stumbling back to my writing room.  That hasn’t happened lately.  Writing has been hit and miss, worked around other schedules.  And some days, there’s no writing at all.  Maybe it was time.  Maybe I needed a jolt out of my routine, because my writing feels fresher again.  I’m more excited about it.  And I can’t wait to glue fanny to chair and write like crazy.

My editor sent me pages to rewrite for my first mystery.  Nothing too daunting.  Note to self: no cuss words–I usually don’t get too bad–but not even a “damn” is allowed in cozy Kensington mysteries.  And no hot scenes.  Everything stops at the bedroom door.  And I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to write decent sex scenes.  I almost needed a tutorial.  Now I’ll lose all my skills:)  But hopefully, I’ll write mysteries for a long time.

My second mystery (the first draft) is finished to the last fourth, only 20,000 words to go.  So what does my brain do?  It yearns to write another romance.  I should have known.  When I had to give up urban fantasy to write my Mill Pond romances, my brain kept sending me ideas for Babet and Prosper, Enoch and Voronika.  It let me know it needed closure before we moved on.  So why wouldn’t it have another romance tucked in its sneaky, gray folds before we could call me a mystery writer?

I’m ahead enough on my deadlines, I can sneak in a romance.  So I’m going to.  And maybe then my brain will be happy with no regrets.  Maybe.  We’ll have to wait and see.  So I’ll be juggling plots until I finish mystery #2, and then I’ll concentrate on the romance and finish that.  And then?  That’s too far away.  I’ll worry about that when it comes.

Happy Halloween!


Author Facebook page:

Twitter:  @judypost

Last Chapter is up

Okay, I didn’t mean to post this so soon, but my hub’s brother is coming to stay with us for five days or more on Wednesday.  He lives in Oakland, so we don’t see him that often.  I doubt that I’ll do any writing when he’s here.  If I get lucky, I’ll get to peek at my e-mails, etc.  But that’s iffy, too.  So I thought I’d post the last chapter before I disappear for a while.  Maybe you’ll have forgiven me (if this bothered you) before I come back:)

I usually write happier stuff.  This isn’t happy.  It’s on the dark side.  My hubs crossed his fingers to ward against evil when he gave me back the last chapter.  Of all the things he doesn’t read, he chose this one to try.  Who knew?  But once in a while, I NEED to write something out of my comfort zone.  Every once in a while, I need to read a PRINCE OF THORNS instead of a cozy mystery or romance.

I didn’t make this completely miserable, but it comes close:)