Apologies and Update

I am so sorry there was no Monday #Motivation #Meditation or #TarotReading today but I have been out of town. My oldest sister, who turned 85 this year, is in critical condition in a hospital in Tyler, Texas. So, I left here early on Saturday morning to go join the family and be with her. She has a lot of complications and I won’t go into them all, but she’s got a long road to recovery.

So, please hold her up with prayer, positive healing vibes, light and love or whatever method of communication with the divine you prefer, Her name is Jean.

In my books, she is Norma. She took me under her wing when I left home at 18 and taught me so much about life. We’ve always kept that closeness. It was hard to leave her this morning and return home, but I had no choice.

All that being said, I hope to have my regular post up here next Monday. Thank you all for understanding.

Comments are closed as I simply don’t have the time to answer each one. But know that I appreciate you!!

June #BookReviews Part 1 @dlfinnauthor @kim_redford @LizCroweAuthor @lcarrollbradd @dalia_dupris

Welcome to some of my June reading thoughts!

It was such a pleasure to read the newest release from D.L. Finn!

It’s 1969, and twelve-year-old Daniel Burns is camping in the redwood forest with his family. Danny wants to listen to his music and read, but his family has other plans. S’mores around the campfire and stories end their first day. The family is sleeping soundly in their secluded tent when Danny wakes up and finds his sister, Colette, is missing. Assuming she went to use the outhouse, he goes after her. When he finds his sister, they discover there is a thin veil between reality and fantasy. Two bonus short stories offer a glimpse into the magical world that finds Danny and Colette. These hidden beings not only share our world but have a role in protecting their forest.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

I have enjoyed everything I’ve read from this author and this book is no exception. The author has a unique talent for making you stop and think, “What if?” In this book about the tree fairies and the ancient Redwood trees, we find an ordinary family with an extraordinary connection to nature on a camping trip. What happens to the children first, then to the adults is both heartwarming and magical. The family is given a mission to save the beautiful Redwood forest from destruction. Then the author takes us years ahead and we find the two children, Daniel and Colette grown, married, and with children of their own. The tree fairies visit again and the connection is forged between the human and fairy families, and the Wise Trees who speak to the fairies. The two following short stories, are in two different fairies’ POV and are delightful as well. This book is classified as a Middle School level, but at almost seventy, I thoroughly enjoyed it, so it is a wonderful read for all ages! If you love magic, nature, and fantasy all combined into a lovely heartwarming story, you will love this book! I highly recommend it.

Violet Ashwood arrives in Wildcat Bluff County with one agenda: convince the hunky Mr. July from the Wildcat Bluff Fire Rescue’s annual benefit calendar to be the face–and body–of her new lonely hearts online dating service. She didn’t count on his firm refusal, nor did she count on seeing him again. Until she discovers he’s her new landlord.

Kemp Lander, aka Mr. July, wants nothing to do with Violet’s schemes to make him a model for her Cowboy Chat Corral, particularly once he finds out she fudged the truth on her rental contract by claiming she was a cowgirl. He’s got enough problems trying to keep trespassers off his ranch and doesn’t need the distraction of his sexy renter.

All Violet and Kemp want is to save their livelihoods and have their lifelong dreams realized. But it’ll take joining forces and discovering they’re better together to finally meet their goals.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own thoughts. What’s not to love? A rugged handsome cowboy who is also a firefighter sets the tone for this smoking sexy read. When Violet Ashford comes across a calendar from Wildcat Bluff County, Texas that features its volunteer firefighters, she is enthralled with Mr. July. He would make the perfect face for the new online dating site she is developing. But she has to meet him. She puts her life in San Antonio on hold and responds to an ad to work as a cowgirl in Wildcat Bluff County. This is the perfect opportunity to meet Mr. July and approach him about being her model for the site. What a surprise when she finds it is Mr. July (Kemp Lander) himself who has hired her to work on his ranch. Violet knows nothing about being a cowgirl, but she’s a fast learner and determined. The sparks fly between Violet and Kemp but with trespassers digging holes all over Hallelujah Ranch looking for hidden bootlegger gold, and Violet learning how to be a cowgirl, there is no time to explore the sparks. One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the tertiary characters. Bertha, who runs a gourmet chocolate shop, Cousin Lester, The Buick Brigade, Sydney Steele, the other firefighters, the radio DJ and many more helped add layers and dimensions to this story. So, it’s not just a romance. It’s much deeper. Add Fernando the wonder bull and his love, Daisy Mae, and you’ve got all the makings of a busy and engaging read. Also, the added layer of the history of the Hallelujah Ranch and the hidden speakeasy along with the mystery of Lady Mauve was fun. So, anyone who is looking for a hot sexy romance with lots of layers will enjoy this story as much as I did!

When Emerson Tyler’s unrequited high school crush crashed into her first group meeting of the DSN’s social media department, it was strange, to say the least. When she learned that her crush wasn’t as “unrequited” as she’d always believed, things got even stranger. On the day Bryce Nordlinger had crushed her teenaged heart—not to mention ruined her reputation in order to save his lady-killer status—she’d sworn that she’d never trust him or any man ever again. And she had no intention of breaking that oath, no matter how much more tempting he’d become as a grown-up NHL star.
Bryce had always wanted Em to be more than the smart, snarky high school girl who helped him with his terrible English essays. But he’d been busy burnishing his rep as future jock stud, and when his fellow hockey bros caught him skating with her alone in a deserted rink, he’d chosen the easiest path—one that left her hurt in a way he never thought he’d be able to heal. His complete shock at seeing her all grown up and more beautiful than ever in the meeting room at DSN morphed into a steel-plated resolve. He would win her back and make up for the mess he’d made of her high school senior year while dragging the once-proud Detroit hockey program out of the dumpster fire and back to prominence at the same time. 

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

I received a PDF in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.
A second chance love story. National Hockey League star, Bryce, returns to his hometown when he’s traded in the league. A chance encounter with an old high school flame sets this story in motion. But it takes more than one encounter to repair the damage Bryce inflicted on Emerson’s heart. He has to work hard to earn his way in, to her forgiveness and to her love. I received this book as a gift and although it was a bit confusing at times, by the end, it worked itself out. The author did a good job of combining sports and romance. This book is Steamy and the language is foul. I do not find either of those offensive but some readers might. I enjoyed tagging along with Bryce and Emerson for the ride!

 

A visit to the coastal Oregon town where her brother is a lighthouse keeper opens Gala Pedersdotter to the wider world. So much so that she dreads returning to the family dairy farm in the eastern part of the state. She’d rather while away the summer on friendly outings in the company of two attentive loggers, Hal and Bork. Her secret wish is that roguish Hal will ask to court her.
Instead, she’s surprised by Bork’s fervent request to act as his pretend fiancée during his parents’ upcoming week-long visit. Of course, she agrees to help out this quiet man with his dilemma. When her decision threatens the balance among the friends, Gala is torn between Hal, who has suddenly shown interest and fulfilling her promise to Bork.

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

I received this novella as part of a contest entry. I struggled with the first part of the book. The author did a lot of “telling” in narrative form. There was no action and little dialogue. But as Gala’s friendship with Hal and Bork developed and her attraction to Hal grew, the dynamics of the story picked up. A pretend engagement for the sake of Bork’s parents who were coming for a visit seemed simple enough. But nothing is ever as simple as it appears. I won’t leave a spoiler for the story but by mid-story, my attention was captured and I had to see what Gala would choose. The story has a satisfactory conclusion.

 

Rebecca Layton returns to her beachside hometown of Sunnyville, California, determined to explore the possibility of rekindling her past relationship with the love of her life, Raymond Colton. She’s devastated to discover that he has moved on and is now engaged.
Raymond Colton harbors resentment towards Rebecca for abandoning him to pursue her dreams of life in the big city. Now she’s back and more beautiful than ever. But Raymond’s heart has been broken more than once and risking more heartache with Rebecca isn’t a gamble he’s willing to take.
When Rebecca agrees to use her marketing expertise to help Raymond’s father salvage his failing family business–Colton’s Ice Creamery–she and Raymond are thrown together, and old flames are ignited. Can they heal the wounds from their past and embrace the possibility of a brighter tomorrow?

PURCHASE LINK

MY REVIEW:

This is a novella I received in exchange for a fair and honest review. It was a quick, entertaining read. It is a romance set in a small town with unrequited love between two adults that began as teenagers. But there are lots of obstacles in the way that prevent them from finding the courage to revisit the flame that sparked so many years ago. There’s a lot of water under the bridge. I loved the plot. I loved the characters and this novella has a satisfying ending.

#NewRelease – Tree Fairies And Their Short Stories @dlfinnauthor

It is with great pleasure that I host a fellow Story Empire author today on my blog with her newest book release! D.L. Finn is not only a talented writer but an inspired one. I’ll let her tell you about her newest creation!

Thank you, Jan, for having me here today to share my final children’s release, “Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories.”

I’ve lived in the forest for thirty-one years. A couple of years ago, I had an experience that I shared through my poetry.

It was a beautiful mountain morning, and I was enjoying the warm sun while standing on our deck. I took that moment to appreciate my surroundings when I heard a sound. My first thought was it was a radio or someone singing. Puzzled, I looked around to see where this was coming from.

I quickly established it wasn’t the usual music my husband played in our garage, and it wasn’t from the other homes nestled in the woods. The hum was coming from below where I was standing. My attention was drawn toward a patch of orange flowers where the perfectly pitched “La-la-la” floated to me. Then, a bee flew away, and the song stopped.

In that moment I was positive a bee had just sung to me, and then later I wondered if an angel had been present. I never knew what I had experienced that day, other than something special had just happened.

When I started working on Tree Fairies, a knowing flowed through me. It hadn’t been a bee or an angel like I first thought singing—it was a fairy! The fairies wanted their tale told, and magic visited that day to remind my inner child of that.

Fun Finn Facts

1. I believe magic and miracles exist. They communicate with our souls.

2. I’ve selected the path to happiness instead of collecting “things.”

                                                                  Blurb

When reality and magic meet in the forest

It’s 1969, and twelve-year-old Daniel Burns is camping in the redwood forest with his family. Danny wants to listen to his music and read, but his family has other plans. S’mores around the campfire and stories end their first day. The family is sleeping soundly in their secluded tent when Danny wakes up and finds his sister, Colette, is missing. Assuming she went to use the outhouse, he goes after her. When he finds his sister, they discover there is a thin veil between reality and fantasy.

Two bonus short stories offer a glimpse into the magical world that finds Danny and Colette. These hidden beings not only share our world but have a role in protecting their forest.

Excerpt

Roselle

2004

Roselle stopped midair to admire the pink, orange, yellow, purple, and red that filtered through the redwood forest as the sunset. She carefully scanned the area to make sure no one was watching, and then, with a huge grin, she dove into a double roll.

“Woo-hoo!”

Her twirling skidded to a halt when an older fairy from the school office flew directly under her. Her always-braided gray hair had yellow flowers woven in like she was meeting someone special. The fairy made a sharp turn and shot out of sight without acknowledging Roselle’s childish frolicking.

Roselle couldn’t hold back a smile. It was hard to contain her exuberance because the forest was the best place to live. Everything about the redwood trees was amazing. They made tannin, a natural insect repellent that gave them that wonderful red tone and protected them from fires.

The only downside to a smaller number of insects was fewer birds, which she loved the most. The bright yellow Wilson’s warbler was her favorite. They added so much color to the deep green forest, and the male had a little black cap that she found endearing. Right now, her warblers and many others were on their way south as fall left summer behind, which also meant they would have winter bird visitors soon.

She found the year-round birds, the great horned owl and red-tailed hawk, beautiful but annoying. Those birds could ruin a peaceful moment like this. Both seemed to forget fairies weren’t their meals. Roselle reminded them with a powerful jolt that felt like a mini lightning strike. It didn’t hurt them, but they didn’t like it, either.

Her carefree moment quickly passed when she flew by her school. She sighed deeply and headed for the forest floor. “Darn paper’s due tomorrow. Why did I wait to write it?”

The paper stood between her and the upcoming fall break. It was normally a time when she could roam the forest uninterrupted and take in the deciduous trees as they burst into red, orange, and yellow. However, this break wouldn’t be the same without her human friends, Wren and Sierra. Roselle missed their company and all their silly jokes, including the ones about her putting off getting things done.

Sierra would say, “If they had an award for procrastination, you’d win first place.”

Wren would add, “But you’d be late and miss the ceremony.”

Okay, maybe she did put things off until the last moment and might be late for school now and then, but at least, at some point, it all got done. When Wren and Sierra left for college two months ago, it was like she lost a part of herself.

Purchase Links:

Amazon

SMASHWORDS

Author, D.L. Finn

Author Bio

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

D.L. Finn blog

#TuesdayRunes – Berkana

Welcome back for a look at another rune!

Photo by Jan Sikes

As we continue exploring the runes, the next one up in The Elder Futhark Script is Berkana (bair-kah-nah).

Photo by Jan Sikes

The keywords associated with this rune are: Birth, new beginnings, family, growth, regeneration.

A very positive rune, Berkana symbolizes new beginnings. This makes me think of the Aces in the tarot deck. New beginnings can take the form of a new project, a new relationship, a new phase of spiritual development, or a new idea that leads to successful outcomes. This rune indicates that the Universal energies are fertile and lined up for bringing forth new manifestations. This puts you in an excellent position to begin your next adventure.

Berkana is the rune of female energy and is also known as the birth rune. It can indicate an actual birth of a child, a wedding or other happy family occasion. It is a very good sign for women who are trying to conceive.

Depending on the context of a reading, Berkana may be asking you to look at where your own caretaking energy is being directed. While you’re nurturing others, your dreams and goals, don’t forget to nurture yourself.

This rune reminds us to not be afraid to accept loving assistance from others.

Berkana’s translation is “birch,” a highly revered tree associated with renewal and regeneration. The birth was among the first trees that returned to reforest the land after the last Ice Age, and is one of the first to leaf out in the spring.

If you are struggling with difficulties, drawing Berkana is a reminder that no matter how cold or dark things may seem, warmth and light will return. Often we are in a dormant phase that precedes a spiritual awakening. Soon enough we will bloom again.

The birth sign associated with Berkana is March 14 – March 30.

This is definitely a rune I would love to see turn up in a reading!

Monday #Motivation #Meditation #TarotReading

Created in Canva by Jan Sikes

The weeks fly by! It’s Monday again and today we are working on balancing and charging the Third Eye Chakra. It is referred to as the seat of intuition. It is also the part of us that controls our imagination, as well as the ability to think and make decisions. It is located in the middle of the forehead just above the brow line and is associated with the color Indigo. Amethyst is the gemstone that coincides with this beautiful chakra. Some affirmations to strengthen the third eye connection are: I see all things in clarity. I am open to the wisdom within. I trust and follow my intuition.

I found this meditation that I absolutely loved and I think you will too.

And now for our Tarot Reading for this week.

Photo by Jan Sikes 6-21-21

Wands are associated with spirituality, inspiration, intuition, creativity, expansion, original thought, and the seeds through which life springs forth. I would say that’s a fitting accompaniment with the Third Eye Chakra. With the Page of Wands, you are inclined to give anything and everything a go. You embrace the opportunity to start out on a new journey or project and see where it takes you. You do not necessarily have a solid plan in place, nor do you really know where you are headed, but you are excited about the possibilities. You are asked to take your creative spark and ground it down into reality so that it is ready to be implemented in the physical realm.  In contrast, the King of Wands is there. He’s reached the level where he hands the creative ideas off to others to complete. That’s not to say that you need to give your creative ideas away, but instead, take the energy of the King of Wands to set a clear intent and a long-term view. You have a grand idea of what is truly possible, and you will stop at nothing to see it through. The appearance of the King of Wands also suggests that an opportunity is presenting itself to you, and you now have the power to take on the challenge. You are the determining factor in this situation. If you want it to be successful, it will. And equally, if you do not fully commit to it, this seed will struggle to blossom and grow. You can create any outcome you wish, so be mindful of your intentions and vision. You hold the power. The Judgement card goes hand-in-hand with the King of Wands in that it often indicates that you need to make a life-changing decision. It represents rebirth or regeneration. You may be at a crossroads, aware that any choice you make will bring a significant change with long-lasting effects. It can also be about purging things from your life that are no longer needed or taking a good hard look at things you’ve done.

So to wrap it up, the energy of the Page of Wands inspires us with new ideas. The King of Wands gives us the solid intent to manifest the ideas and the Judgement card gives us the inspiration to make life-changing decisions that could stem from those creative ideas.

Go out and make it a great week!

On a side note, for everyone who is inclined to do so, I ask that you send positive healing energy to my oldest sister, Jean, who is in ICU in a Dayton, Ohio hospital. It looks serious. She is 85. Thank you in advance!

I’m curious – How do you do it?

Since school is out and I have my grandchildren more hours per day, I am finding myself in a constant state of behindness (Yes, I know that’s not a real word, but it fits.) I’m the little boy in the picture below, struggling to keep up, carrying my balloon. 🙂

Photo courtesy Lucdecleir via Pixabay

Of course, when you add in a book festival, a road trip to see my sister, and a music festival those contribute greatly to the behindness. So, I can own the fact that I did this to myself.

I’m curious. How do you do it? How do you juggle blogging, keeping up with other bloggers, social media, promoting your books writing new books, reading, working, taking care of your spiritual life, keeping your body healthy, and spending time with family?

I know not everything works for everyone, but I found one word that resonated with me

Simplify – Sounds easy, right?

When I looked at ways to do that, I made two lists. In one column, I listed the necessities in life and in the other column I listed the things I want to do but aren’t essential for living.

“But,” I hear you say, “I don’t want to stop doing what I’m doing.” Oh wait, that was me talking, not you.

Okay fine. I’ll move some of the things I want to do over to the essentials column.

Oops. Guess what? Now, I have one column. Back to square one with a deep sigh.

What to do?

I looked at the column again and thought to myself, prioritize.

That sounds logical.

I have to eat, sleep, do meditation, and exercise. Those are top priorities just to keep functioning. Then, I have to work to earn the money to support my lifestyle. That’s another priority. But what about my writing life? Isn’t it equally as important to promote the books I have spent money, blood, sweat, and tears creating? If I don’t, will anyone see them? Probably not. Finding the time to keep creating is ultra important to my well-being.

Blogging isn’t a necessity, I suppose. But if I hadn’t gotten consistent with blogging, I would never have built the following I have. So, if I neglect it, the numbers fall. And, if I don’t visit and support other blogs, the visits and comments on my blogs diminish.

You see where I’m going, right?

I have no easy answer. The truth is that I want to do it all and I feel like I’m on a merry-go-round getting dizzy.

Remember these? I broke my pinky toe on one when I was a kid.

I thought of two things I can implement that might help me get a grip: #1 Start saying “no” to anything I don’t really want to do #2 Ask for help (the hardest thing in the world for me to do).

Now, I’d love to hear from you. How do you juggle it all and stay on top of the pile? We’re all on this merry-go-round together.

#TuesdayRunes – Tiwaz

Photo by Jan Sikes

It’s time to continue our journey through the runes! The next segment of the Elder Futhark runes is Tyr’s Aett. These runes speak to the aspects of the dance between the visible and invisible realms, with runes directly connected to the ancient deities, natural forces, and humanity itself. The first rune in this segment is Tiwaz (tee-wahz).

Photo by Jan Sikes

As the first rune in Tyr’s Aett, Tiwaz represents the qualities of the god Tyr. It is associated with courage, strength, and the forward-moving nature of masculine energy.

Tiwaz speaks of the need to put our causes above personal desires if the greater good requires it. If you are facing a decision that involves potential discomfort in order to achieve a positive outcome, Tiwaz is signaling that you possess the courage and ability to withstand the sacrifice and emerge victorious. You are ready for the challenge, provided you act with integrity and remain true to your inner knowledge.

Victory is another primary interpretation of Tiwaz, particularly when it comes to competitions of all kinds. Harness the enthusiastic energy and motivation to achieve your goals and you will succeed. This rune is also a positive sign for success in legal matters, providing that you are being honest and just in your actions.

The shape of Tiwaz resembles a spear and the upward pointing arrow symbolizes the force of masculine energy. Action is indicated. However, you are cautioned not to act impulsively.

Another aspect of the masculine energy of Tiwaz is passion and sexual energy, so romance is indicated by this rune, depending on the context of a reading. It could refer to a new romance or a reinvigoration of an existing relationship.

If Tiwaz is reversed in a reading (downward pointing arrow), it signifies a lack of courage or motivation when it comes to achieving your goals.

The birthdate associated with this rune is February 27 to March 14.

Thanks for coming along on this journey and I hope you enjoyed learning about this rune!

I am at @StoryEmpire today! What are your thoughts about Writing Organizations?

Please join me over at Story Empire today where I am weighing the pros and cons of belonging to writing organizations or groups.

Writing Organizations – The Good -The Bad – The Ugly

Monday #Motivation #Meditation #TarotReading

Happy Monday! Welcome to another opportunity to pause and reset your intentions for a new week!

Created in Canva by Jan Sikes

We continue with our efforts to open and balance the chakras. This week, we are focusing on the fifth major chakra. The Throat Chakra is located in the center of the throat and back of the neck. It controls our flow of communication, self-expression, and listening. When there is an imbalance, you may find that you have a harder time speaking your truth or getting your message across to another. This also affects our creativity in writing. Our job as writers is to get the thoughts and images from our heads and hearts into words that convey them accurately and effectively. Some ways you may be able to tell if this chakra is blocked would be, hesitation to speak your truth, having your throat close up or constrict when you are trying to talk, a sore throat, a raspy voice, or if you feel anxious about a conversation. You can enhance this chakra by wearing the color blue, especially in jewelry around your neck. Gemstones that are great for the throat chakra are Turquoise, Kyanite, Aquamarine, or Lapis Lazuli. You can also help activate this chakra by doing neck stretches and repeating affirmations.

Here’s a short meditation to help balance the Throat Chakra.

Now for our Tarot Reading for the upcoming week.

Photo by Jan Sikes

The King of Swords is a symbol of intellectual power and authority. It indicates that you have a clarity of mind and can perceive the truth, so it is up to you to take the lead with providing an objective point of view and making decisions based on impartial judgement. The King of Swords encourages you to use your logic and intellect to navigate the path ahead. The Three of Pentacles is all about teamwork, collaboration, learning and implementation. It can represent the value of different ideas and levels of experience in collaboration. Each person has an important role to play, and when they come together as a team, they can create something much more significant than if they were to undertake the project on their own. So, when the Three of Pentacles turns up in a Tarot reading, take it as a sign to collaborate with others, creating synergies to achieve big results. The Eight of Pentacles is a card of apprenticeship and mastery. When this card appears in a Tarot reading, you are working hard to improve your skills and become a master at what you do. It may indicate further education or study in order to hone your skills. More broadly, the Eight of Pentacles suggests you are working away at the finer details of the various aspects of your life, in an effort to continuously improve your situation. The Eight of Pentacles encourages you to keep doing what you are doing as it will eventually lead to success. 

So, an overall take on this reading would be to implement teamwork and collaboration, work hard to improve your skills and all with clarity of mind and an objective point of view.

Sounds good to me. Make it a great week!

#NewRelease – Cold Dark Night @JoanHallWrites #Suspense #Mystery

I am super excited about the new release from my fellow Story Empire writer, Joan Hall! I can’t wait to read this one as I loved the prequel! But I’ll let Joan tell you about it.

Thank you, Jan. I’m excited to be here to talk about my newest release. Cold Dark Night is the first novel of my Legends of Madeira series. Each book begins with a historical event that ties to modern-day. Today I’m going to talk about the musical inspiration behind the book.

I like silence when I’m writing, but music often inspires me to write. Cold Dark Night was partially inspired by a song. Growing up in a music-loving family with a brother twelve years my senior made me appreciate the song of the sixties as much as (maybe more) than those of “my time,” the 1970s.

One of the albums my brother often listened to was The Band’s first solo album, Music From Big Pink. Among the songs that stood out for me was “Long Black Veil.” The idea of someone singing from the grave about his own death intrigued me. First recorded in 1959 by Lefty Frizzell, several artists have recorded the song, but The Band’s version has always been my favorite.

“Long Black Veil” inspired the opening chapters of Cold Dark Night. The circumstances between my character Adam McLaury and the person in the song differ somewhat, but those familiar with the words will recognize some similarities.

In the following passage, Lillian McLaury visits her husband in jail. He’s awaiting execution for murdering a man on the streets of Madeira.

Excerpt:

“I’m not sure I even want to live if you’re gone.” Lillian hung her head.

“Don’t talk like that. Isaac needs you. So does our unborn baby. You’re still young. Much too young to pine away. Someday you might meet someone else. If you do, it’s okay. And one day, in another life, we’ll be together again.”

She straightened, then wiped the tears from her eyes. “You believe that?”

“Of course, I do. I’m prepared to die. I can go to my grave with a clear conscience, knowing I’ve done nothing wrong. There’s one other thing I ask of you.”

“What is it?”

“Find the person responsible. See to it justice is served.”

“I promise to do everything I can.”

“That’s all I ask. And don’t give up. I’m still holding out for a miracle.”

But three days later, Sheriff Bass walked Adam to the gallows to die for the murder of William Skinner.

At the bottom of the steps, Ethan stopped. Scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’m sorry, Adam. I truly hoped someone would come forth with evidence implicating the real killer. I know you’re innocent. Don’t need proof, but—”

“You were doing your job. I understand.”

The hangman stood at the top of the gallows. His no-nonsense demeanor had been the subject of several conversations among Madeira’s residents. Many of them thought him to be unfriendly. He motioned toward the crowd. “Come along, Sheriff. Can’t keep these good folks waiting. It’s time to get this over with.”

“Then, you do it. I did my job bringing him here. I’ll have no further part in it. I believe this man is innocent, and I’m washing my hands of his blood.”

And Pontius Pilate said similar words when he handed Jesus over to be crucified.

Adam nodded to his executioner as he ascended the steps on his own. Divine intervention hadn’t come. His knees buckled as he looked at the rope that would soon be placed around his neck.

Reverend Potts, the local minister, rushed to his side to steady him. Compassion shown in the older man’s eyes.

The hangman showed no sympathy. He took Adam by the arm, led him behind the noose, then placed it loosely around his neck.

Adam scanned the crowd. Entire families had turned out for the event. Some sat together in buggies, while others stood on the courthouse lawn. Children laughed and played, as if blissfully aware of what was about to happen. One small girl peered around her mother’s skirts, her eyes wide. A teenage boy peddled refreshments.

Why would anyone allow a small child to see something like this? There had been hangings in Madeira before, none of which he’d cared to attend. He wouldn’t bring his wife, much less his son. But many people acted as if hangings were a source of entertainment.

At last, he saw Lillian. She stood near the back, ramrod straight, not shedding any tears. Maybe she’d cried all she could cry. Perhaps she’d taken his advice to be strong.

The crowd began to sing “Amazing Grace.” When the song ended, Reverend Potts asked, “Do you have any last requests?”

“Look after Lillian, will you?”

The older man nodded. “Of course, my son.”

Adam met Lillian’s eyes again as she mouthed the words, “I love you.”

Her face was the last thing he saw before the hangman pulled the hood over his face. He would go to eternity confident in Lillian’s unwavering love for him.

><><><>< 

Thanks again for hosting me, Jan. Cold Dark Night is available on Amazon. It’s on sale for .99 through June 15. After that, the price goes to $3.99, so this is a good time for readers to grab a copy.

Blurb:

New husband, new house, new town… and a new mystery to solve.

Tami Montgomery thought her police chief husband was going to be the only investigator in the family when she gave up her journalism career and moved with him to Madeira, New Mexico.

But after the historical society asks her to write stories for a book celebrating the town’s history, she becomes embroiled in a new mystery. If she can’t solve this one, she could lose everything. Her research uncovers a spate of untimely deaths of local law enforcement officials. Further digging reveals a common link—they all lived in the house she and Jason now share.

Tami isn’t a superstitious person, but the circumstances are too similar for coincidence. Then she unearths an even more disturbing pattern. And if history repeats itself, her husband will be the next to die.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Dark-Night-Legends-Madeira-ebook/dp/B0968CXZQ9

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