Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

I couldn’t help but notice, as I made my way to Indiana at the beginning of this month, and then home again, that not only were the trees still all vibrantly green, but the sky still held that deep, summer blue it gets in July. I mention this today because that trip was not so long ago.

And then, just last Wednesday—a week to the day after I came home from my trip—I was driving to have lunch with a friend who lives in a rural area not so far away from where I grew up. And as I drove, I noticed the trees were beginning to turn to their autumn colors. Some had traces of orange, some of yellow and red. But it was more than a couple trees here and there, and it was for the entire 25-mile drive.

There are a lot of things I don’t understand in this life. I don’t understand how the days can be slow and fast at the same time. And I don’t understand how the trees can begin to go from vibrant green to twinges of fall colors in so short a space of time—especially when we haven’t even had a frost yet.

The sad truth is that the older I get the less I realize I know.

I truly enjoyed my time away the first week of September. Despite the glitch of having to get a new battery for my car at the last minute, I consider my solo excursion to have been a success. The lady in the box, aka my GPS, got me there and back without a problem. As for the visit itself, I was so happy to reconnect with a woman I greatly admire. Other people talk of being brave and exuding dignity, but my friend, author Kennedy Layne lives it every single day of her life. She’s overcome challenges many can’t conceive of, and now, having done so, has found her happy-ever-after, and is reaping the benefits of having lived and walked in faith.

That’s not to say the challenges have ended. The truth is that life is a series of challenges for us all, challenges that exist for the sole purpose of our overcoming them. We never know when or from where these challenges will spring. But they’re certain to find us. Our growth as human beings—our growth in character and our growth in faith—relies on these challenges being a constant factor in our lives, and in our efforts to face and surmount them.

A life lived in a bubble, with nothing to challenge the mind, the will or the soul—in short, a life without challenges, would be boring in the extreme. Living our lives day by day, where one day is the same as the next and the next, would seem long, and a punishment of sorts, were it not for the challenges that appear before us, from time to time.

Life can be hard. It can sometimes seem as if you can’t catch a break, or even as if no one knows or cares what you’re going through. There may even be days when you break down in sobs so soul-deep, so wretched, that you think nothing will ever be right again.

But it will be, I promise. It won’t be the exact same as what was, because along with challenges, the other constant in life is change.

Things will get better. Because the truth is that while challenges come to you, and to me, and to everyone, they don’t come to stay.

They come to pass.

Love,
Morgan


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the Ashbury’s—news junkies who generally could be counted on to know what was going on in the world at any given moment—were clueless. It was a different day for us, because it was the day we went to the travel agent and paid for a vacation we were about to embark upon with our son, Anthony, and his fiancée, Sonja. We were taking a 7 day cruise to the Bahamas, out of Fort Lauderdale, leaving the first week of December.

I’m not sure why we didn’t have the car radio on as we drove, first into the city and then off to work. We left the travel agent, and I took my beloved to his job, and then I went on to mine. About ten minutes away from my destination, I turned on the car radio for the first time that morning and fell, with the rest of you, into a most terrible day.

That wasn’t the first most terrible day I’d lived through; I still recall the day President Kennedy was assassinated. But this time, I was an adult, with an adult’s understanding and an adult’s tendency to worry about what might happen next.

Twenty-six Canadians died alongside so many more Americans on that most terrible day. Though we do not carry the depth of the wound to our national soul as our neighbors to the south do because of this attack, we have mourned. We have stood with you, because we are good neighbors. We opened our homes to you when all air traffic over our continent was grounded, and some of you were stranded. Although sometimes it is forgotten by both of us, the truth is, we have your backs to the best of our abilities, just as we know you have ours.

That day fifteen years ago fundamentally changed us all—individuals and society alike. Some of those changes were positive, but not all of them were. The one change I regret is the degree to which we, as a society—a North American society—have allowed fear to enter into our lives and control us.

Fear has encouraged us to surrender some of our freedoms, payed for in blood and bone and sinew by our ancestors. Fear has made us regard those not like us not only as being different, but as a being a possible threat to the common good. Fear has lain within the dark recesses of our psyches and in some cases, sadly, grown into gross hatred.

The legacy of this most terrible day must never be left to languish in the annals of history. We must never forget those who died in New York, office workers trying to flee downstairs and rescuers racing upstairs toward peril. We must never forget those who died in Arlington, airline passengers and soldiers alike.  We must never forget those brave airplane passengers who, upon discovering events of just moments before, rose up and challenged murderers and died heroes’ deaths in fields of Shanksville.

Plain and simple, above all possible political rhetoric, we must never forget.

Love,
Morgan



Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

I am what is often referred to as a “grammar Nazi”. It has occurred to me that perhaps this is not a complimentary term at all. However, since the meaning behind the name is to imply that I am a person who likes proper grammar, I choose to accept the title and wear it proudly.

As Shakespeare famously said, “that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”. Although between you and me, lately, roses don’t seem to have an odor any more, sweet or otherwise. But I guess that’s another topic. 

Even though I can be a stickler for proper grammar, I do commit errors of both syntax and spelling all the time—especially in the first draft of my manuscripts. Most of them are rooted out in my second draft, but my editor could tell you I really do need her services. In my defense, I will only say that I do try to get it right, but sometimes, I fail.

A few years ago, at a time when e-book authors were first coming into their own, and complaining because they were treated like “hacks” in the publishing world, I once wrote an essay, the point of which was: if you don’t want to be treated like a hack, then please, for the love of all that’s grammatically correct, be careful what you post on line. Check your spelling, check your grammar. Edit to the best of your ability.

I got very badly burned over that essay, as I recall. Apparently no one believed I was making a general observation. Several people—people whose online posts I’d never actually read, mind you—all thought I was of course talking about them. I was even temporarily booted from a group where I posted my essays because someone thought I had made a personal attack on someone else in the group—the prime definition of “flaming”.

That was several years ago, and I still don’t really understand what happened in that fracas. I don’t make personal attacks, even if I have been the recipient of same. The personal attacks that bother me are the ones I don’t understand. If I understand where the vitriol is coming from, I can generally deal with it. If I’ve screwed up, I’ve found the best thing to do is to immediately accept responsibility, and then apologize and move on. If I haven’t screwed up, I’ve found the best thing to do is apologize and move on. The willingness to offer apologies regardless of culpability might be because I am Canadian. Who knows?

But apologies don’t cost very much, and the more you use them the more familiar you become with them. That’s not to say they’re not sincere. They are. I’m always very sorry when someone has taken something I’ve said to mean something I didn’t intend. Hurt feelings are always a cause for regret, and therefore I’m always sorry for them.

I’m reminded of that incident because I’ve discovered that lately, I’ve been becoming less picky about the grammatical errors I’m encountering on line. Mostly, I suppose, because there are so many of them, and I feel somewhat overwhelmed by all I have to do in that medium to begin with. But while I don’t actually point out errors, or necessarily even talk about them specifically, my inner imp is always quick to mock them.

In response to any “thank you” I might give, I’m told, “your welcome”.  My inner imp says, “my welcome what? My welcome presence? My welcome smile? It can’t be my welcome example of good grammar, because if it was, you might have said, “you’re welcome”, instead.

Sometimes, people agree with me. They do! And they let me know that by telling me, “I think so to.” My inner imp perks up. “To where? To the train station? To the airport? Or maybe, you meant, “I think so, to make things better.” But if you wanted to make things better, you might have said that you “thought so, too.”

That damned inner imp lives, I believe, just to get me in trouble. As I’ve said, I’m not that picky anymore, when it comes to conversational posts on the internet and I do keep my mouth, or fingers, shut. I can’t help but notice them, however, because that is the way I am. And I’m even coming to believe that most of these errors are caused by the authors of same having too much to do in too little time and therefore sometimes relying on spell check—just like me.

However, these kinds of mistakes—any mistakes, really—in a book are still just as unacceptable to me today as they ever were. They still pull me out of the story, an experience that ranks right up there with bumping into an unforgiving and unexpected wall, and landing on my butt.

Love,
Morgan


Monday, September 05, 2016

Pears Make the Perfect Partner for Wholesome Snacking


(
NewsUSA) – Adults everywhere are reaching for healthy snacks to fuel their families, and a fresh pear’s juicy, subtle flavor pairs well with snacks such as almonds, walnuts and cheese. America’s snacking obsession is about to get fresh with portable, packable, pair-able pears.


In season nearly year-round, fresh pears are mainly grown in Oregon and Washington by 1,600 families, who produce about 84 percent of the nation’s fresh pear crop. Pears are available in a range of varieties, from the signature-sweet Bartlett to the crisp, woodsy Bosc to the juicy Anjou.


A recent usage study commissioned by USA Pears showed that 46 percent of pear consumers eat them as mid-morning and afternoon snacks. Pears are often considered best eaten fresh and just-sliced, making them a perfect partner for wholesome, simple snacking — think sliced pears atop whole-grain toast, wrapped with prosciutto, dipped in nut butters or partnered with blue or aged, hard cheeses.


Half of all eating occasions in the U.S. are now snack-driven. According to a recent Mintel report on snacking, 94 percent of Americans snack at least once a day, compared to just 64 percent last year. Thirty-three percent say they are choosing healthier foods this year compared to last year, with an emphasis on simple ingredients. Millennials are leading the way and are more likely than any other demographic to snack multiple times throughout the day.


Pears are a nutrient-dense, fat-free food, an excellent source of fiber and a good source of vitamin C for only 100 calories per serving. To tell when a pear is ripe, simply check the neck.. If the pear gives slightly to pressure near the stem end, it’s juicy and ready for snacking.


With a warm growing season in the Pacific Northwest, a greater number of high-quality fruits are available at a 
“snackable” size — perfect for throwing in a lunchbox, purse or string bag on the way out the door.


Looking for more simple snacking tips? Think outside the cracker box:
* Slice pears atop whole-grain toast
* Wrap pear slices in prosciutto
* Pair pears with blue cheese, parmesan or aged white cheddar
* Dip pears into yogurt
* Pack a pear with a small portion of nuts
* Smear slices with almond or cashew butter
* Sprinkle diced pears onto chia pudding


Visit www.usapears.org for recipes, ripening tips and more.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Halloween Websites 2016

So the same old story I tell every year as I update the list of sites:
     I was born on Halloween, so I naturally favor that day. My birthday parties always had fun Halloween related activities like dunking for apples and carving jack o'lanterns. And every wore a costume. I was ALWAYS a witch, or at least as far back as I can remember. But I'm sure my mother dressed me in other costumes when I was very little. On my 18th birthday, I ended my days of trick-or-treating with one last outing. After that, I was the one at the door greeting the ghouls and goblins and witches.

I still love Halloween and I love to see what everyone else is doing for decorations. Pinterest has been one of my go to sites for inspiration. But I also visit a lot of other Halloween oriented sites. If yours isn't on my list, feel free to add it in the comment box so I can visit.




Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

In two day’s time I will leaving on a journey that I have wanted to make for the last three years. On my own, I’ll be driving to Indiana to spend time with one of my writer friends.

It’s not as far a drive as you might think, since the woman I’ll be visiting lives in the northern half of Indiana. I’ve never driven there before, but I have a Garmin, and I sort of know how to use it. And yes, I’m anal enough that I’ve printed off driving directions from the Internet, just in case.

I’ve always enjoyed driving. That was a good thing because I used to drive about 120 miles every day, ferrying my husband to and from work, as he doesn’t have a driver’s licence. This was something I did for a good couple of decades. In the beginning, it was actually half of that, as I was going to work as well, so it was one trip to and one trip home per day. But in the last several years that I chauffeured him after I no longer worked outside the home, the daily task consisted of two round-trips, which would have been two days worth of driving previously.

Fortunately, my daughter took over playing chauffeur to her dad a few years ago, because it wasn’t only distance that was a factor. Two round-trips to the rural community where my husband works took nearly three hours out of my day. More, actually, because I would have to go back to bed after the very early morning run. I’d be getting out of bed again around ten, and then having to leave to get him at around three-thirty. That severely cut into my writing time. When my husband and daughter both expressed the opinion that I should be putting more books out there, I challenged them to take something off my already very full plate. I’m very grateful they came up with the solution they did.

In return for the chauffeur service, we pay for all of our daughter’s gas, almost all of her vehicle repairs, and her daddy takes her on a vacation each year.

I haven’t undertaken a solo trip away from home since I flew to Texas in 2013. I don’t have the travel bug the way my husband does, and the lack of going places hasn’t bothered me except that I really want to spend time with my friends who live in the U.S.

My husband and daughter will be going someplace tropical in November, during which I will be home alone (or as alone as one can be living with a neurotic dog and an unpredictable cat). Father and daughter enjoy traveling together, and I really am happy to stay here and write.

I’m excited about this trip. I’m really looking forward to a couple of days of brain-storming story ideas, and simply catching up. Those who spend their days creating worlds and stories know how energizing it is to spend time with someone of like mind. Creative minds coming together is a truly beautiful thing to experience. It is, to me, the greatest natural high.

I’d begun to wonder if this trip would ever happen. Originally, I thought I’d have that gallbladder surgery, and then be good to go. But it didn’t happen according to the time table I wanted. It was delayed a couple of years while the doctors made certain that all of the symptoms I was having had to do with that particular organ, and were not something else.

Finally, as you know, the surgery took place last September. I’d always planned for either an early spring or an early fall trip, because my friend is very busy, with a schedule filled with professional commitments and deadlines. Now I’m actually counting down to the day of departure.

I won’t be packing a whole lot because I’ll only be gone a few days. I’ve never been a fussy dresser, and I don’t tend to wear make-up unless it’s an extremely special occasion. I think I was too lazy to ever develop that habit, and now at 62, I’m comfortable letting everyone see my naked face.  I was once asked by a female manager, at the company where I worked for more than a decade, why I didn’t wear makeup? She said she believed I could almost be pretty if I did. I immediately replied that I was so beautiful in my natural state that were I to wear makeup, the rest of the women who were my co-workers would feel woefully inadequate by comparison—so out of kindness to them, I abstained.

Yes, I’ve always been a smart ass and rarely at a loss for words when being insulted.

Fortunately for me, this visit will be spent with true friends, in a private setting. My writing friend doesn’t judge a person based on outside appearance, and neither do I. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

We’re writers. We’re far more concerned about what lies beneath the surface than with whatever may superficially cover it up.

Love,
Morgan


Monday, August 29, 2016

No Shelf Required With E-Readers at Your Fingertips

With hectic schedules ruling the day, people often underestimate the importance of taking time to relax and recharge—even if for only a few minutes.

To that point, why not do so with a good book? Whether you’re curled up on the couch after work or simply on your lunch break, eReading companies such as Kobo have enough options to keep you interested—and relaxed.

No matter what age you are, there’s something for everyone’s taste or preference.

The 20s can be fraught with stress and tension. You’ve left the comfort of home, so now what? 
Consider books that will help direct you on your own path. There is “How to Be Interesting” by 
Jessica Hagy and “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most 
of Them Now” by Meg Jay.

The 30s might have you pondering marriage and family, in which case, “Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential” by Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark S. Lowenthal might be informative and invaluable reads. For a mind-candy read that’s sure to entertain, try 
“Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding.

By their 40s, people are looking for a little romance or a thrill. Books such as “Inferno” by Dan Brown, or “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert may have just the appeal you’re looking for.
In your 50s, the kids are (hopefully) out of the house, and you now have time to read and travel. To that end, “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova and “Live By Night” by Dennis Lehane could be the thing to toss in your suitcase.

The 60s, or Golden Years, mean retirement and the ability to enjoy the things you love most. Whether it’s spending time with family, keeping fit, or curling up with a good book, there is “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter or “Paris” by Edward Rutherfurd.

As well as offering instant access to millions of titles online, digital reading companies offer a cornucopia of eReading device options and free reading apps for most smartphones and tablets, making it easy to expand your “just read” list. Whatever your age—young or old, married or single—books are a source of entertainment, escape and inspiration, but most of all, enjoyment.
Learn more at www.kobo.com/ereaders.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

The Internet is an amazing example of modern technological achievement. It seems like not that long ago, although it has been more than 25 years, we first heard talk of an “information super-highway”, and wondered what it would be like. It was simply too huge a concept for me, at least, to wrap my head around!

What I recall of those days, there was a lot of concern about things that in the end, never came to be. But I also remember, there was no concern about some things that did come to be, and that is very interesting.

There was a lot of talk that with the ease of computer use, our kids would stop reading. However, with the way information “goes viral”, that is no longer a concern. There are more kids reading than ever before—remember the Harry Potter craze? Followed by the Twilight craze?  All fueled in part by the Internet. No, they don’t teach “cursive” in schools anymore, and that’s a damn shame. But I don’t think we need to worry about reading going out of style anytime soon.

Another positive that I have touted often with regard to the Internet is the way it has helped the elderly and the shut-in to re-connect with society again. That was my first lesson. I first “went on line” in the aftermath of my open-heart surgery in early 2003. While I healed and tried to focus on writing, it was a comfort for me, this Internet, especially when I found a free game site. There, playing bingo online, I ‘met’ several wonderful women and men, some of for whom that game site and others like it were their only socialization, their only source of fun and their best contact with the outside world. What a blessing for me, and for so many others, to be able to find a place to get together, to chat, and to be entertained without having to go anywhere when that going would be so difficult to do.

There are so many benefits to be found with this amazing medium. The Internet itself is neither good nor bad. It’s the usage of this medium wherein the wiles of the user are revealed. It is ultimately the user who determines if this instrument is wielded for good, or for evil.

There are several ways that the Internet is used for ill, and I don’t think we imagined such would be the case at the dawn of this new age. At least, I know I didn’t.

It’s now much easier for those looking for illicit things—child porn, the drug trade, and even those who would become terrorists—to find what they want on line. There are hackers who specialize in ‘identity theft’ and who manage to take the unwary for thousands of dollars every year. Cyber-Crime is a growing industry on both sides of the law.

But to me, the most insidious use of all is the spread of misinformation, under the guise of “the public has a right to know”. It continues to baffle me, the degree of success those people have who spout ridiculous conspiracy theories. Also incomprehensible to me is the following those who like to spread hate-filled diatribes are able to claim. Where once someone making a speech about the craziest of stories or theories, or who would slander another person’s good name without real proof, would have been jeered off their soapbox, now, there’s an entire realm of crazy talk, crazy theories, and hate to which more than just the crazies are drawn—unfortunately. Remember that old saw, “if it’s in the newspaper, it must be true?” Yeah, that has no place in our reality anymore—neither in newspapers nor on the Internet.

Just because you can read it on line doesn’t make it true. You have to use your brain; you have to use your discernment. Some people with very high IQs, and allegedly very high morals, believe some of the most ridiculous and vile things about the so-called famous—things that absolutely defy logic or anyone’s definition of decency.

Some of the weirdest stuff of course, has a political bent to it. It doesn’t matter that most of the wildest stories circulating these days have been proven false. These characters who spread this crap care nothing for the truth. There are, with every new election cycle, people who haven’t heard those old lies, and thus, new people who now believe them starting the cycle of insanity all over again.

Did you hear the one about the Royal Family of Great Britain all being reptilian, and that at certain times, during secret ceremonies, they eat babies? I can’t tell you much more about it than that. It took me a few seconds for my logic to overcome my shocked disbelief to get the hell out of that video. If you have the stomach for it, go ahead and search YouTube. Seriously.

Now, some of you are going shrug, and say, “hey, there are crazies all over the world, and we all know there’s a lunatic fringe out there.” Yes, there are and yes, there is, true enough. And as long as they remain in the “fringe” category, I really have no problem with that. People have the right to believe whatever far-out crap they want to believe. They have the right to be crazy.
I’ll say that it again. People have the right to be crazy.

My only problem? What happens when the lunatics take over the asylum? When the fringe bleeds into the mainstream? And if you think there’s no danger of that happening, well, my friends, you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately.

I hope and pray and choose to believe that those of sound and discerning mind will continue to outnumber the wackos, at least for the foreseeable future.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go line my hat with aluminum foil to keep the aliens from reading my mind.

Love,
Morgan


Friday, August 19, 2016

A Wee Nip – Victorian Style! by Cindy Nord

The old adage that a well-bred Victorian lady rarely drank “the devil’s brew” is an utter fallacy–nothing could be farther from the truth!! And the higher up the economic scale one traveled, the more allowable a lady’s indulgence. Indeed, ladies of means, when visiting, even took to toting their own spirits in elegant cut glass ‘flasks’ and adding their whiskey, or other stout brew, to the customary afternoon tea — In fact, the oft-attended soiree which included ‘taking a wee nip’ rose in number, along with a lady’s social standing.

According to the Victorian Church of England when speaking of the fairer & wealthier sex, “worry is what they suffer from, rest and hope what they want. Thereby, drunkenness gives a rosiness to what is to come. But these fine ladies do not get unsightly drunk, unless on Bank Holidays or at marriages or funerals.” Indeed!

And it is said to be “the regular occurrence for a wealthy lady to slip into a neighbor’s parlor for a drink of whiskey while out shopping.” And yet, another male clergy remarked, “there is an increase in the number of respectably dressed young women given over to drink.”

But the lower the working class a woman belonged, the more chastisement was tossed her way when she popped open a bottle and indulged: “They drink worse than ever,” we are told; and “these women drink to excess more than men. They take to it largely to carry them through their drudgery.” And yet again: “The women are worse than the men, but their drinking is largely due to their slavery at the washtub. Nearly all get drunk on Monday for they only live on four-ale and fried fish.”  So now you all know the truth.  And oh my, baby…we HAVE come a long way in the ‘spirit-taking’ practice.  Hmmmm, I do believe I’ll have another glass of wine…after all, ‘tis a fruit serving AND five o’clock somewhere! CHEERS!! 

Long live historical romance!! And the joy of reading about our oh-so-wily foremothers!  For more fun, historical tidbits pop on over and sit-a-spell…   ~ Cindy





An Unlikely Hero

by Cindy Nord



Available on: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Itunes


He’s a hard-as-stone man with a broken past…and she’s a reminder of all he’s lost.
Rugged army scout Dillon Reed has met his match in spoiled Boston debutante Alma Talmadge, but an unwanted assignment escorting the beauty across the wilds of America soon evolves into a journey of monumental change for them both. With killers hot on their trail, the odds of staying alive are stacked against them…and yet, falling in love was nowhere in their plans for survival.


EXCERPT:

Washington D.C.,
May 1873

Who in the hell came up with this asinine plan?

Dillon Reed grimaced at the stench of burning coal as he jammed the colonel’s telegram into his coat pocket. He cut his gaze across the station platform to the nearby locomotive. In a deluge of color, passengers descended the railcar’s iron steps; he kept his attention riveted on the opening.

An exasperated sigh escaped from between clenched teeth. He’d delivered the governor’s territorial reports to Washington in just under three weeks, a remarkable time, and he looked forward to a swift, unencumbered return home. But, when he’d checked the telegraph office for messages before heading out, this newest malarkey of an assignment waited. He’d also been instructed to shave and freshen-up prior to meeting this train from Boston, but Hell’s chambers would freeze solid before Dillon would make the effort. I’m an army scout, for Christ’s sake, not some damn nanny.

A grating responsibility rolled into focus when a peach-colored parasol, the signal he’d been awaiting, popped open to fill the train’s doorway. Dillon shoved from the depot’s wall and straightened, the crown of his slouch hat bumping a sign that read Washington, District of Columbia – The Capitol of Your Country. The plank swung back and forth on squeaky hinges. Heat fused with anger when his contact’s traveling boot glided to the first iron step. Good God, her entire foot could fit in his right hand. His gaze climbed a dark-green dress rigged with a ridiculous bustled contraption, raked over a fur encircling slender shoulders like a buffalo mane, then finally came to a stop on golden curls swirling upward into a tarnished knot. Atop the silken mass, a scrap of hat perched at a cockeyed angle. A dozen blue and green ribbons fluttered in the afternoon breeze with all the spectacle of a peahen.

Dillon’s throat tightened as the woman descended to the platform, radiant among the other travelers. Her ability to stand out in a crowd added another sting to the onerous assignment. For a full minute, he waited while she scanned the throng, anxiousness shadowing her face. Narrow of waist, she stood barely five feet tall…a good stiff wind would blow her over.

Another curse welled inside him.

The urge to walk away warred against every ounce of military commitment he possessed. What did he do to the colonel to deserve such wretched torment? Dillon straightened, then stepped from the shadows of the depot to collect his damnable…assignment.

Boots thumped against weathered wood as each stride echoed his resentment. How could this slip of lace endure the miles they’d have to travel, or the harsh sun of the desert? Christ Almighty, she’d end up sick or dead and slung over his saddle in no time. As his shadow darkened the woman’s diminutive form, he retrieved the telegram from his coat pocket, then tightened his jaw.

“Alma Talmadge?” he snapped.

She swung to face him, her eyes widening.

Dillon thrust the telegram forward, his words cleaving the air. “Per these instructions from your uncle, I’ve been assigned as your escort on the trip westward to Fort Lowell.”

A well-shaped brow arched with suspicion. Her mouth tightened as she abruptly scanned the words, her golden-tipped eyelashes raising and lowering with each haughty sweep. A moment later, her gaze lanced back to his. “I was told to expect a proper attendant.”

“Proper?” he snorted. “I’m as proper as you’re gonna get.”

Her attention riveted on his sweat-stained Stetson, then slid all the way down him to his scuffed-up cavalry boots. When their gazes reconnected, disgust dulled the spark in her indigo eyes. “But … you’re no gentleman.”

“Where we’re going, lady the last thing you’ll need is one of those dupes who can’t find his ass with both hands.”

Repulsion cascaded scarlet across her face. She pressed a dainty, lace-edged hankie to the column of her throat. “I cannot possibly travel with the unkempt likes of you. Y-You’re not even clean.”

The insistent urge to walk away blistered deeper. “The job is to deliver you safely to the fort…which I intend to do. Cleanliness does not increase my skill.”

~ Pop over for an even closer peek on Amazon


       Say hello to Bestselling Historical Romance writer, CINDY NORD...author of NO GREATER GLORY, book one in her bestselling, award-winning four-book ‘The Cutteridge Family’ series, as well as a USA Today Lifeblog ‘Recommended Read’, & the #1 Civil War Romance at Amazon for over one full year.  WITH OPEN ARMS, book two, is also a #1 bestselling western historical romance. And book three, ANUNLIKELY HERO, just debuted on July 1st, & by that evening had surged onto the coveted ‘Top 100 Romances at Amazon’ list thxs to her beloved readers.
       She is now hard-at-work crafting BY ANY MEANS, book four in her series, which is set to debut the winter of 2017. Cindy is also honored to be a contributor alongside many NYTimes writers in the delightful non-fiction anthology SCRIBBLING WOMEN & THE REAL-LIFE ROMANCE HEROES WHO LOVE THEM [all proceeds from the sale of this book go to the ‘Women In Need’ shelter in NYC].
       A member of numerous writers groups, Cindy’s work has finaled or won countless times in competitions -- including the prestigious Romance Writers of America National Golden Heart Contest. A luscious blend of history and romance, her love stories meld both genres around fast-paced action and emotionally driven characters.
       Please join Cindy at her very popular Cindy Nord Facebook site for her delightful Monday-Friday ‘Coffee Klatch’ postings.  She loves all her ‘Klatchers’, as she affectionately says.




Upcoming Events Cindy Will Be Attending:
** September 21st – 25th, Spokane, Washington – National HistoricalRomance RetreatKeynote historian speaker & program, plus book signing event.