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Holly Bargo: Finding My Niche
Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Some authors just know what they want to write and their work falls neatly into a predefined category. When I started writing, my work (awful as it was) splattered across several categories. I flirted with science fiction. I wallowed in fantasy. I careened into romance. In short, I often wrote the kind of stuff I liked to read—or wished I could find to read.

I basically still do the same.

Genres have expanded greatly since the digital revolution in book publishing, especially with self-publishing. Where once librarians catalogued books as either historical, romance, or fantasy, many search engines find books that span all three genres. Or, rather, the genres now have sub-genres to accommodate authors whose work doesn’t fit neatly into the overarching genre or category.

That said, I’m exploring other genres or, rather, sub-genres than what I’ve written and published earlier. In February, I finished a collaborative project with bestselling author Russ Towne who writes in two different genres: children’s literature and westerns. He manages to keep them quite separate; a feat I can’t seem to accomplish.

We released a compilation of 12 short stories (a couple edging into novella territory) taking place in the “old west,” the era between the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century when men were men, women were women, and the sheep were scared. Since I make my living as an editor and ghostwriter, we decided that I had the most flexibility. Therefore, I jumped over into his genre. Because I also have just enough graphic design training to be dangerous, we also agreed that I’d design the cover—with his input. We ended up with Six Shots Each Gun.

I had a lot of fun. If Russ ever asks me to collaborate again, I’ll jump at the chance. But I’m not sure that westerns are my preferred genre.

So, in my (voracious) reading, I came across yet one more alien abduction romance. Once again, the alien hero is a kinky alpha type who gets his jollies from controlling, dominating, and spanking his submissive heroine. (Why, for heaven’s sake, is the heroine always submissive?) Once again, the story followed the typical trajectory: the heroine gives up her entire life for eternal bliss as a doormat.

Ugh.

There followed the all too familiar spark of “I can do better than that.” (That spark is responsible for some of my other books, too.) Despite the improbability of science which states that humans are more biologically compatible with cabbages than with any alien life form, I hopped into the sub-genre of alien romance. I have to admit, it was slow going. However, in the last few of weeks of drafting the story, it caught fire. Finally.

I knew that book wasn’t going to be terribly long—and it’s not. At just a smidgen over 55,000 words, it barely edges in to novel length fiction. Because it’s supposed to sell, I stuck to some of the tropes of the sub-genre before going off the rails. If one hero’s good, then three must be better. So, we’ve got a reverse harem romance now. The heroes don’t abduct our heroine, her own government does. The heroes are, of course, tall, strong, alpha types: who wants wimpy heroes? But our heroine is no doormat, either, even when she has neither bargaining power nor authority.

The key twist in the trope hinges upon compromise. Everyone’s got to give up something for a relationship to work. Granted, the heroine gives up the most, but heroes who want to make their heroine happy must also do more than simply give her multiple orgasms.

The experiment in jumping into the alien romance sub-genre has been interesting, if only because I’ve got my SEO keywords ready: alien abduction reverse harem romance. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Because my stories dwell on the conflict between characters rather than outside events affecting the characters, the jump perhaps didn’t seem so jarring. After all, people are people, regardless of historical period or planet. See how well (or not) I managed that hop with Triple Burn, due for release in mid-April.

Will I return to alien romances? I doubt it. Strangely enough, my bestselling books are mafia romances that cross over into “New Adult” romance. I left the series open for a spin-off, but probably won’t return to that either. The exercise of writing in other genres (or sub-genres) stretches my mind and writing. I discover things about myself by pushing ever so slightly beyond my comfort zone. I fancy those discoveries hone what I already do well and improve what needs to be improved.

In exploring different genres and sub-genres, I have found my home in paranormal and fantasy romances. That’s where my imagination takes me and where my heart takes flight. That’s my niche, improved through exploration within other genres.

About Holly Bargo

Holly Bargo is a pseudonym, but really did exist as a temperamental Appaloosa mare fondly remembered for her outsized personality. Holly’s life still involves horses. She and her husband live on a hobby farm in southwest Ohio with the aforementioned horses, a clowder of cats, and one yellow-bellied coward of a Great Dane. And an elderly llama. We mustn’t forget the llama. Holly and her husband have two adult children, one graduating from university in May 2019, and the other enlisted in the military.

Her latest book is Six Shots Each Gun, co-authored with bestselling author Russ Towne. Click on the links for the e-book and paperback versions.

Holly is the author of over 20 titles, the latest of which include Bear of the Midnight Sun and Daughter of the Dark Moon.

Social Media Links:
• Website – https://www.henhousepublishing.com/
• Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Holly-Bargo/e/B00JRK6VGQ
• Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HenHousePublishing1/
• Twitter – https://twitter.com/HollyBargoBooks
• Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/henhousep/

Diana Cosby: Setting ‒ Inspiration From Nature (Contest)
Sunday, February 24th, 2019

UPDATE: The winners is…Betty Sue!
*~*~*

©Diana Cosby 2019


I love creating characters and building a complex story, but I also enjoy making up the setting. I used to joke with one of my critique partners that I could write four pages describing a leaf falling to the ground. But, for me, there’s something magical about crafting the background for each scene.


As I write medieval romantic suspense, except for a trip to Scotland, Ireland, or England, or through the use of photographs, I’m left to create the setting for the story through my mind. Or, am I?


I love walking through the woods, and as an amateur photographer, enjoy taking photos of nature. Though the timeframe of my stories is hundreds of years ago, the scent of flowers, whisper of the wind through the trees, and brilliant sunsets would have existed back then.


So, as I move through the forest or walk into a clearing that exposes a scenic view, I take in the beauty of nature, the scents, and the sounds.


When I sit down to write, with the story running through my mind and thoughts for setting inspired from nature, I craft the next scene.

Contest: ***ONE winner will be drawn from everyone who posts on my guest blog post about, ‘Setting ‒ Inspiration From Nature,’ on Delilah’s blog between 24 February 2019 – 2nd March 2019. The winner will receive one of Diana’s mugs and a tote.

Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author
www.dianacosby.com
The Oath Trilogy
MacGruder Brother Series
Forbidden Series: Forbidden Legacy/Forbidden Knight/Forbidden Vow/Forbidden Alliance‒Aug. 6th 2019/Forbidden Realm TBA

About the Author

A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series have been translated in five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world. After the release of the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series, The Oath Trilogy, and the first two book of The Forbidden Series, she’s now working on book #4, Forbidden Realm, of the five-book series, which will be released August, 6th, 2019.

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

Michal Scott: After All, Women Are Half the Human Race
Friday, February 15th, 2019

Born in 1956, I’m a product of the “Say it loud I’m Black and I’m Proud” sixties and have always loved learning of the achievements of African-Americans. Many years ago I was pleasantly surprised to come across a box of flash cards of thirty-six famous African Americans. Martin Luther King Jr was prominently displayed on the cover, but I recognized miniatures of Marian Anderson and Mary McLeod Bethune. I bought it at once and hurried home with my prize. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and discovered only six of the thirty-six were women! I was expecting half the cards to be dedicated to women. After all we are the other half the human race, right? I might have grudgingly settled for twelve, but six? I appreciated the six represented different firsts like Shirley Chisholm and Marian Anderson, historical champions like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, and two well-known in the Black community if not as well known in the larger society like Mary McLeod Bethune and Phillis Wheatley. But this collection was sending an unfortunate subliminal message, i.e. women don’t contribute equally to “the Race.” That disappointment sent me on a crusade.

I began collecting images of Black women whenever I came across them. Postcards, books, magazines, you name it. If it had an African-American woman on or in it, I bought it. I framed the images in dollar store box frames and put them on the walls of my apartment. My collection grew to over three hundred images, multiples of those who are household names like Billie Holiday, but the majority who were famous in their time like Ada Overton Walker. Born in 1880, she and her husband George Walker became well-known for their interpretation of the cakewalk.

Soon, I just started collecting images of any black woman or girl I found and framed those too. Even though nameless, they deserve to be noticed, too. So in honor of all the African-American women you’ve encountered over the years, please share their names so I can find their images and add them to my collection.

One Breath Away


Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman is his mate foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt:

“Will you let me help you?” He extended his hand, waited for permission.

She took his hand as he had taken hers and pressed his fingers to her wounded flesh. Pain, quick and sharp, flashed through her mind. She gasped and tugged his hand away, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Don’t fight it.” He stayed close, stroked his thumb soothingly where the scar stretched beneath her ear. “Your fear gives it strength.”

The rhythm of his strokes calmed her fears, relaxed her body. She had no energy, no desire to resist. Her hands slipped from his wrist. Her arms hung limp at her sides. She closed her eyes.

“I—I’ve got to sit down or I’ll fall down.”

“Then fall.” His gaze held the assurance she needed. “I’ve caught you before. I’ll catch you again.”

On cue her knees buckled and she collapsed. He swept her into his arms with the ease of pushing a swinging door. She buried her face in his chest, wheezed, shuddered, wheezed again.

“Relax,” he cooed. “Relax. It’s your fear. Nothing more.”

She blinked, fought for breath through gritted teeth. “Bu—but my response is not nothing. It’s real fear.”

“Yes, it’s real, but not permanent. Your fear can be controlled and finally conquered.”

“Controlled?” She panted. Disbelief huffed out on each breath. “How?”

“With time…if you’re willing.” His mouth hovered a hair above hers. The warmth of his words whispered between her parted lips. “Are you willing?”

“I—I’m not sure.”

“Let me convince you.” He closed the gap between their mouths.

A hint of peppermint tooth powder boosted rather than masked the natural earthy taste of tooth and saliva. Each swipe of his tongue strengthened her spirit. God, she had heaven in her mouth.

She drowned in the moans vibrating from her throat. In her mind she surfaced for air, for relief, but the need for more pulled her back under. She wrapped her arms around his neck, invited him to plunge deeper, take her deeper. Desire warred with fear. In her heart she prayed.

God, please let desire win this time.

Book links:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QfEOZd
Wild Rose Press: https://bit.ly/2Bim5o7

Social media links:
@mscottauthor1
Website: http://www.michalscott.webs.com

Backlist links:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QfEOZd
Wild Rose Press: https://bit.ly/2As0Dui

Caroline Clemmons: The Widows of Wildcat Ridge (Contest–Two Winners!)
Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Thank you to Delilah for hosting me today.

Do you prefer mountains or the beach? I enjoy both, but I love mountains most. I find them inspiring. I remember one trip, for instance, to Estes Park, Colorado several years ago. This magical trip occurred on the first weekend in October.

While we were there for a conference in which my husband participated, we stayed in a lovely hotel. Our room had a huge plate glass window view of the mountain. I had taken my laptop with the intention of writing while my husband was busy. This beautiful, slow snow came with giant snowflakes that stuck to the pine trees.

How can anyone be expected to work in those conditions? I confess that for the most part, I watched the snow fall. Where we live in the Fort Worth area of North Central Texas, we don’t get much snow—some years none. You can understand how fascinated I was with this lovely sight.

The conference featured a tour for spouses on Saturday afternoon. One of the sites we toured was the Stanley House Hotel, which Steven King supposedly used in THE SHINING. It’s a lovely hotel and not at all frightening. While we were walking through, a Regency reenactment group was holding a dance that looked entertaining.

Our tour guide said she lived in a haunted house that had had a poltergeist when she and her husband first moved there. She reported the poltergeist swept dishes off shelves and was a destructive nuisance . I’ll bet even Stephen King would find that frightening. I certainly would.

One evening, my husband and I strolled to the center of town. The elk that came up to feed and drink are protected and have right of way. I couldn’t help laughing at them as they wandered on and off the street and caused drivers to stop. This was the first time I’d seen an elk that wasn’t in a zoo.

I’ve been to Colorado several times, but this was the most memorable visit. I’ve written numerous books that take place in a mountain setting at different seasons. When I’ve done so, I recall the wonder of that trip. Perhaps to people who are used to a lot of snow, such scenes are annoying instead of awesome. To me, if was wonderful and unforgettable.

I relied on these memories for my latest release, GARNET, book 9 in the sweet western historical series, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge. Though GARNET is set in Utah, I picture the Wildcat Ridge Mountains resembling those on the Colorado trip I so enjoyed. In GARNET, a terrible mining tragedy has left many widows in town.

Here’s the book’s description:

Garnet Chandler is fighting to hold onto her café, her niece and nephew, and her sanity after the deaths of her husband, his brother, and his sister-in-law. A persistent prowler and the threat of losing custody of her niece and nephew spur her to action. She doesn’t need another man, but she needs a husband long enough to convince the children’s grandparents she can offer them a stable home.

Bounty hunter Adam Bennett was ready to settle down when his friend was killed by a horse thief. He set out to capture the man who had also killed a guard when escaping prison. Adam must have let down his defenses because the man he followed and two cohorts waylaid Adam, beating him and stealing all his possessions before kicking him down a steep ravine. Adam is determined to capture the three as soon as he heals from their encounter.

Garnet and Adam join forces to achieve both their goals but will that be enough?

The buy link is http://getbook.at/garnetWOWR . GARNET is available in e-book and will soon be available in print. Of course, it’s free in KU.

Here’s an excerpt…

A loud rap at the back door startled her. She kept the curtains closed unless they were serving food and couldn’t see who had knocked.

Joey grabbed his stick. “Don’t answer it. Might be the robber there.”

She wiped her hands on her apron. “Or a friend who needs something.” Joey didn’t know the Colt .45 was in her apron pocket. After taking a deep, bracing breath, she opened the door.

The dirtiest man she’d ever seen stood there. His beard was as dirty as his clothes. Fresh cuts showed through the mud on his face. He was tall and broad-shouldered but looked as if he could barely stand.

“Ma’am, my name is Adam Bennett. Please don’t be put off by my appearance. I was robbed up the mountain a ways and lost all my gear. I’m mighty hungry. If you need anything done, I like to work for a meal.”

Joey was by her side. “He isn’t the one from last night.” All the same, her nephew kept his pick handle in his hand.

“We’re the Chandlers. Come in and sit down. Wait, wash your hands and face at the sink first. You can’t handle food while you’re that filthy.”

While the man washed his hands, she filled a plate from leftovers and poured a cup of coffee. “Joey, please get my medicine box from upstairs.”

He leaned close. “I don’t think I should leave you alone while he’s here.”

Joey took being man of the family seriously. “Oh, all right. Hyacinth, would you get the medicine box for me?”

“How come he doesn’t have to and I do?” Usually sweet, Hyacinth was a bit spoiled and definitely jealous of her brother.”

“Because Mr. Bennett is injured and needs our help. Please hurry.”

Her niece stomped up the stairs while muttering under her breath, her golden curls bouncing with each step.

When Garnet glanced at the man, she saw he’d wolfed down his food. “I’ll get you more. How long since you’ve eaten?”

“Not sure how long I was in and out of consciousness up there. They attacked me on Saturday morning. What day is this?”

“Monday. No wonder you’re hungry.” She set another plate of food in front of him and refilled his cup.

Contest

I’ll be giving away an e-book copy of GARNET to two people who comment today. Tell me your most memorable vacation in a comment to enter.

Michal Scott: Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?
Thursday, January 10th, 2019

Did you ever see a dream walking? Well, I did…and I’m not just quoting that old 1933 song of the same name. In her poem, “Still I Rise”, Maya Angelou penned these words:

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave

Every time I look in a mirror, I realize I may be some slave’s dream walking.

Somewhere in North Carolina, my great-grandmother Julie Pitt Hagan’s people were owned by a man named Pitt. On January 1, 1863 when Abraham Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation, which declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free,” the slaves on the Pitt plantation could consider themselves freed.

I wonder did Julie’s people gather and listen to a reading of the proclamation as depicted in this 1864 engraving printed by James Watts? If they did, did they dream and hope of a descendant like me, owned by no one but herself? If they did, have I — their descendent — lived a life that realized their dreams and hopes?

The Brooklyn church I served once held a Watchnight service to ring in the new year. When the clock struck twelve, we ended the service with the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. As the words were read, I experienced the anticipation – and trepidation — my ancestors might have felt as January 1 1863 brought with it the possibility of freedom. I felt inspired to live a life worthy of my ancestors’ dreams and hopes. As I worshipped that night I recalled Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 dream that called for economic and social justice for all. I resolved to make that dream my dream, too.

This month as we honor Dr. King’s life and work, I encourage you to think about the dreams and hopes of your ancestors, reflect on the dreams and hopes of all people everywhere continuing to rise above circumstances and conditions that conspire to keep them down. You, like me, are somebody’s dream, somebody’s hope. Be a dream walking, see dreams walking all around you and do all you can to bring them pass.

Better to Mary Than to Burn

 
Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

Book links:
Wild Rose Press – http://bit.ly/2DHdb0x
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JyLKu1

Excerpt:

Caesar looked at Queen. His eyes glistened with unshed tears. She gasped then swallowed hard, unnerved by the sight. Her lips trembled.

Reverend Warren smiled at Queen then addressed Caesar. “You may kiss the bride.”

Kiss? Queen flinched. There’d be no kissing in this marriage. She’d promised to be his wife for two years with sex provided at agreed upon intervals. At the end of two years that requirement would end and she’d be free to live as she chose. She could go anywhere she pleased, especially with the respectability of missus before her name and Caesar’s promised severance. No. This coupling made them business partners. Business partners did not kiss.

She extended her hand to seal their arrangement. He returned the handshake but instead of releasing her, his too rough fingers imprisoned hers and pulled her to him. With his other hand he captured the back of her head and secured her mouth to his.

A squeal of surprise parted her lips. His thick tongue swept into the shelter of her mouth. The assault ambushed her with pleasure and vanquished her resistance.

Her hands rose, as if of their own volition, and pressed against his chest. The firm muscle beneath his shirt coaxed her hands to linger, to explore—however discretely—the muscle beneath her palms and fingertips.

Caesar broke off the kiss.

The embrace didn’t last more than a few seconds, but Queen swayed, robbed of reason and resentment.

Reverend Warren handed Caesar the marriage certificate and shook his hand. Queen stood, mouth gaping, startled by the confusion roiling through her mind, amazed by the moisture roiling in her sex.

With a simple kiss, this bull of a man had exhumed the sexual hunger she’d thought buried.

“Thanks for being available, Pastor.” Caesar shook the minister’s hand. “Mother Maybelle.” He hugged and kissed the older woman. Again, their affection stirred an unexpected sympathy in Queen’s chest. She sucked in a breath to dispel it.

He gripped Queen by the upper arm and hauled her back to the wagon.

“What’s the rush?” she asked.

He hoisted her up to the seat by her waist before she could object. She swallowed the gasp elicited by the press of possession in his grasp.

“Daylight’s burning,” he stated. “Don’t want to be caught out after dark.”

Queen eyed his lips, their fullness still remembered against her mouth. She shifted several times but found no relief from the pressure pulsing along her labia. Good Lord, how was she to make sense of so strong a physical reaction to this stranger? Had celibacy left her defenseless against physical contact from anyone?

Or was this physical attraction genuine?

Diana Cosby: Inspired By Nature (Contest)
Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

©Diana Cosby 2018

One of the challenges of writing is creating new story ideas, or, if working on a rough draft, deciding what to write that day.  For me, regardless of the task, I find inspiration in nature.

There’s something amazing about walking in the woods, of the whisper of wind, or the tapping of a distant woodpecker.  As I follow trails through the forest, take in the squirrels chatting, the birds chirping in the trees, or other sites of nature, I relax.

With each path I choose, surrounded by nature, instead of struggling with my current story issues, new ideas flow through my mind.

How can you not smile when you see the quirky things that the birds or squirrels do, or watch fox kits play.

By the time I return home, I find myself recharged, energized to dive into the writing day to unravel any story problems, or, to work with my characters if they decide to be stubborn.

At the end of the day, I wind down by reviewing photos of nature that I took during my walks.  I’m always amazed by the incredible things I see in the woods.  Best, knowing that when the sun rises tomorrow, I’ll be out in the forest again and no doubt be inspired.

About the Author

A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.  Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series have been translated in five languages.  Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.  After the release of the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series and The Oath Trilogy, and the first three book of The Forbidden Series, she’s now working on book #4, Forbidden Realm, of the five-book series, which will be released August, 6th, 2019.

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

Contest

Contest:  ***ONE winner will be drawn from everyone who posts on my guest blog post on Inspired By Nature on Delilah’s blog between 26 December 2018 – 1 January 2019.  The winner will receive one of Diana’s mugs and a tote.

Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author
www.dianacosby.com
The Oath Trilogy
MacGruder Brother Series
Forbidden Series:  Forbidden Legacy/Forbidden Knight/Forbidden Vow/Forbidden Alliance‒Aug. 6th 2019/Forbidden Realm TBA

Michal Scott: Haunted
Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Ever wonder what it feels like to be haunted? I hadn’t…until this past Fall.

Inspired by my visit to the African Burial Ground, I took the self-guided African-American Freedom Trail walking tour. The National Park Service has compiled twenty-one sites commemorating places/events of significance to African American history. From south to north (1 Bowling Green to 67 Lispenard Street) and east to west (Roosevelt Street between Cherry and Oaks Streets to Chambers and West Streets), I visited where slave revolts and draft riots took place, where the original sites of Mother A.M.E Zion and Abyssinian Baptist churches were located, where notable African Americans lived changing history. Black abolitionist Thomas Downing used the cellar of his Oyster House, and David Ruggles used his rooming house as stops on the Underground Railroad.

I’d expected to find plaques like the one on St. Peter’s church in memory of former slave and Haitian philanthropist, Pierre Toussaint or actual edifices like Fraunces’ Tavern, owned by Samuel Fraunces, a West Indian of French and African ancestry. Instead, I arrived time and time again at a corner with no marker or an address that no longer existed. So I tried to imagine the boys and girls who learned at the African Free School or the free blacks who owned farms situated north of the African Burial Ground as far as 34th Street. I felt their spirits accompany me as I moved from site to site.

I worked as a secretary in a law firm on lower Broadway. I walked these streets to and from work or window-shopped or ate on my lunch breaks, unaware of all this history. How easy it is for one’s story to be lost or erased, not always intentionally or maliciously, but simply because life goes on.

My self-guided tour took me from contemplating the centuries-old histories of Africans and African Americans to wondering about other people and their histories. Where were their plaques, their walking tours? The Gustave Haye Museum of the American Indian is now a Smithsonian museum relocated in 1994 to the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House near Bowling Green. Beautiful as its new location is, I was glad I took my Sunday school class to visit the collection in its original home on 155th Street and Broadway. I hope one day to visit The Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street and learn about the lives of European immigrants who came to New York in hopes of a better life.

I ended my day by taking the 2 train from Wall Street to Court Street in Brooklyn and sitting on the Promenade where a wreath hangs memorializing the September 11 Broken Sky event. Two beams of light displayed against a night sky to symbolize where the Twin Towers once stood and to honor the lives lost that day.

As I sat staring at Manhattan across the East River, a line from the musical Hamilton came to me: Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? That line haunted me then. It haunts me still. What haunts you?

One Breath Away

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt:

“It’s a really hot night.” He turned his hand palm up in a silent plea. “Perhaps you’d find a waltz more cooling.” He eased his fingers into her clenched hands. “May I beg the honor of this dance?”

“Beg?”

“Yes, Miss Hamilton.” He tilted his head, slanting his smile to the right. “Beg.”

“You don’t strike me as the begging type, Mr. Thurman.”

“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” He tongue-swiped his full lips as if he’d just tasted something he wanted to taste again. “I know when it’s time to beg.”

She pursed her lips into a frown, fought back the urge to grovel and won. Barely.

The fingers around hers, clean and huge and strangely slender, hadn’t moved, hadn’t trembled. Their stillness aroused her. His stillness aroused her. Her lips quivered. She inhaled deeply against the surrender summoned by that tiny tremor.

Resist the devil and he will flee.

Silently she called upon the truth in this scripture for rescue.

The devil waited. She stared at the hand on hers, helpless against the appeal, the allure of temptation.

She swallowed hard, opened her mouth to say no, but her tongue refused to cooperate. She huffed out a breath and shook her head. “I—I can’t. I don’t know how to waltz.”

“Well, you’re in luck.” His lips bowed in a smile, full, broad, and hypnotizing. “I’m an excellent teacher and I bet you’re a fast learner.” He gave her fingers a squeeze. “Shall we?”

He really wanted to dance with her. She blinked, speechless. A warning voice protested.

Resist.

Her heart countered.

Surrender.

She firmed her lips, heaved a sigh then accepted his invitation. Felicity’s sputtered shock and Widow Hawthorne’s happy cackle accompanied them to the middle of the dance floor.

He placed his fingertips respectfully but firmly above the rise of her buttocks and held her in place against him. A tickle invaded the wool of her skirt where the tip of his middle finger rested at the head of her crack. Pleasure tripped up her spine and trickled between her thighs. But, from the recesses of remembered experience, a voice of caution persisted.

He wants something, Mary. Beware.

*~*~*

Buy links: 

Wild Rose Press: https://bit.ly/2Oog1Ny
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2DmrZWC

About the Author

A native New Yorker, Michal Scott is the pen name of Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. Using the writings of the love mystics of Begijn for inspiration, Michal Scott writes Christian erotica and Christian erotic romance (i.e. erotica and erotic romance with a faith arc), hoping to build a bridge between the sacred and secular, spirituality and sexuality, erotica and Christ, her readers and a well-written spiritually-stimulating and erotically-arousing story. As an African American, she writes stories to give insight into the African American experience in the US. She has been writing romance seriously since joining Romance Writers of America in 2003 and had her first novel published in 2008. She writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance as Anna M. Taylor. You can connect with Anna on Twitter @mscottauthor1 and learn more about her and her writing at her various websites: www.michalscott.webs.comwww.annamtaylorwebs.com and  www.annataylor2678.webs.com.