All blogs are property of authors and copying is not permitted.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

It's All About the Journey

I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year.

For those of you who don't know, last week I became a St. Martin's author. After the initial shock from this news wore off, I started to become reflective of my writing journey and all of the ups and downs that have brought me to this significant point in my career. Yes, I'm thankful for both the ups AND the downs, because the downs have taught me lessons and have made me a stronger writer. Today, I thought I'd share some of those lessons with you.

Believe it or not, it all started started on the eHarlequin boards. I, like many other writers on those boards, competed in contests and joined discussions on writing. Those contests and discusions helped me hone my craft and perfect my prose. I submitted my completed manuscripts to Harlequin of course, but they were always rejected. Despite this frustration (or maybe because of it), I made a great group of friends. Many of those writers are still my friends today. One day, after a particularly tough rejection from Harlequin, one of these friends gently suggested trying something different. After all, Harlequin, while great, wasn't the only publisher in town.

Lesson #1: When one door closes, another opens.

Looking back, Harlequin wasn't right for me at that time. They should have rejected me, because my stories weren't what they were looking for. My work was too dark and gritty, too sexual. The stories were perfect for Loose Id, however, and over the next few months, I contract my first story. Let's not gloss over this, because it's important. When I saw that something wasn't working for me, I tried something else. The ever-changing publishing landscape can be overwhelming for writers. Quite often we'll try something and it doesn't work out. It's good to keep reminding ourselves that there is more than one pathway to success. If one option isn't getting you where you want to go, adjust your thinking and try something new. It's that simple.

This leads me to my second lesson.

Lesson #2: Writing is HARD.

Most people don't know this, but I rewrote my first published novel, Spyder's Web, twice before it saw the light of day. It was a hard, painful process, filled with headaches and last minute revisions. The story is much stronger for it, however. I'm glad I bit the bullet and did suggested edits. After the book was published, I bought a few online ads, sat back, and waited for the checks to start arriving in my mailbox. (If you're a seasoned author, you're probably laughing right now.) This lead me to my next, hard realization.


Lesson #3: The work doesn't stop after publication. 

I made a lot of mistakes when marketing that first book. I like to think that I've learned from those mistakes, but marketing is constantly changing. What was true six months ago, isn't true today. This makes promoting a book challenging. Unfortunately, if you want to make a living as a writer, you need to sell books. In New York, book sales can dictate whether an author will get a contract for another book. At some epublishers, good sales will dictate whether a book will go into print. In self publishing, the more sales you have, the better positioning you will have at a retailer like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and the more likely your book will be discovered by readers.

Lesson #4: Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. 

My hard work didn't end with the first book, nor did it end with the second or third. For four years I published over 35 titles (novels, shorts, and everything in between) with varying degrees of success.  While I've learned something new with each book, I can't say that any particular story was a huge success. I do believe I have been laying a foundation for a fan base, book by book. With each new release, I'm increasing my chances of being discovered by readers. Hopefully some of those new readers will become fans. While some people have had huge success right out of the gate, others, like myself, need more time before they attract those coveted fans. This leads me to the final lesson.

Lesson #5: Keep Calm, and Keep Writing. 

Another thing I've learned in this business is that everything can change in a blink of an eye. At the beginning of 2013 I had a frustrating streak of disappointments and was considering giving up. Now I write for both Pocket and St. Martin's Press. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!

This business is a constant roller coaster, but one thing always remains constant:  the story. Tell a good story, then do it again. Everything builds on everything else. We are all in this because we love to tell a good story, so focus on telling it, and the rest of it will work itself out. Eventually. ;)

How about you? Are you a writer who is struggling? What are some hard truths you have learned about this profession? Which lesson here really strikes a chord with you?

Perhaps you are a reader and want to show your favorite writer some support. Tell me all about it in the comments section. I'd love to hear from you!

~~Latest News~~

Out this month: Carnal Coeds, Volume One is now in PRINT

Coming soon (tentative release months)...


December - Seduction in the Sun, a vacation anthology by various authors (Dec. 31st), The Great Escape in Audio (Ecstasy Spa)

January - A Little Bit Daring from Ellora's Cave (Book #2 in the Small Town Seduction Series), Conquista (Book #2 in the Jungle Heat Series)

February - Bonded in Hope from Siren Bookstrand (Book #3 in the Warlock Mating Chronicles), Pressure Point in Audio (Ecstasy Spa)

March - A Little Bit Risky from Ellora's Cave (Book #3 in the Small Town Seduction Series),



Friday, November 29, 2013

Author's Don't Work, They Just Write

I apologize for recycling this from my blog, but this is a busy time of the year. 

Many people think writing a book is easy, and they don't consider it a real job.  They think all we have to do is sit in a chair typing our stories on a computer, go out to lunch with our friends, eating bon bon's and just working when we feel like it. 

Some of this may be true, but there is so much more involved in writing books. It was at Romance Books 4 Us Yahoo Group we discussed what people think author's do. Writers get irritated by the assumption that there isn't any work involved in writing. 

Often times there's research involved before an author can even start to write.  Unless, you're a panster (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) you have to make an outline or synopsis of your story, so you know where you are going.  You have to have character profiles (descriptions of each character, knowledge of their work, car they drive and their home), and usually that's a beginning. This can be a chore just to do that much. 

I'm a panster because I don't want to get locked in, but I, also, do a general outline of some of the scenes I want in the story.  I always do character profiles because I need to know as much about them as I can at the beginning.  There are times I add more characteristics or back story to these characters as I write.  When this happens I often have to go back to the early part of the story to insert hints relating to the add-ins. 

It depends on the link of the story as to how long it takes to write.  Many authors can produce four or more 200 page books a year, but they work all the time.  I know one author who produces 4 books a year for Harlequin, works full-time and goes to all her kids' sports events. She writes while she's at these events, she writes at the beach, Starbucks and anywhere she can.  Another author just signed a 12 book contract with Harlequin.  She won't have a life for a long time because she'll put one out every two months.

Once an author finishes a book, she submits it to a publisher and waits for it to be accepted.  When it is accepted, she waits for the edits to come to her/him.  Everyone hopes the edits won't be extensive, but if they are they'll be life consuming because you are required to get them back by a certain date.  While the editor is editing your book, you have to give the cover artist a description of your hero/heroine, clothes, come up with a possible blurb, etc. 

Then comes the edits for the author, and she/he will go through this process until the editor is satisfied.  I can expect as many as three edits with my publisher, and then the book is published.  Hooray!  This part of the process of writing a book is enjoyable for me.

Then the not so enjoyable part of the work is next.  To be completely honest this is what I detest.  Promotion is a necessity because when you sign your contract with a publisher it's in your contract that you must promote your book.  If you don't, the publisher can cancel your contract.  If your sales are low, they can cancel your contract.  In that case, you will get the copy rights back to your book and you can do whatever you want with it.  Most go to another publisher, self-publish or rewrite the story completely before doing the first two.

Here's how you promote your book: you can hire a publicist if you're rich, do a blog tour (this can cost unless you just use friends blogs), advertise in magazines (costs), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and numerous other sites.  It's tiring to do all of this, but it has to be done.  All of this requires coming up with new blogs about your books.  It requires a lot of work, and it seems to never end because with the next book it starts all over again. 

It's a whole different ball game if an author self-publishes.  They have to do the cover art, or hire it done, do formatting for the different sites (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others), and get their book up on these sites.  Everything is different for each one, and it is work.  I will never do this unless I pay to have it done, and I am critical about the way things are done, so I would need to do it myself.

Many authors suffer burn out because of this process.  I've known many good authors who have quit after their first or second book because of burn out.  But, I know an author in her 80's who is still writing.  Smile!  She doesn't do a lot of promotion, but her work is well known.

I prefer to have a life, and I'm trying to find a balance with my writing and my life.
 
Sandy

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Romance Books '4' Us!






Photo: Flickr: milky.way's photostream

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Matrix Crystal Christmas and Happy Thanksgiving

To those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you're all having a wonderful time.

And to everyone else outside of the US, I hope you're having a great day too. :)


Recently my book was published, Matrix Crystal Hunters. My first science fiction romance. It placed eleventh for several weeks in the top one hundred most popular science fiction romances on Amazon.

Blurb: Team Alpha Three’s spaceship is out of power after fighting a wormhole, and parked on the primitive world of Zenevieva. With half the team sick from radiation poisoning, the team commander entrust geologist, Maya Gladstone, to find enough matrix crystals to power up their spacecraft, so they can go home to Earth.


Vach Namaste of the powerful Clan Namaste, a native of the planet, has desired the lovely Maya since she stepped off the spaceship on that astonishing day a year ago. He’s hounded her every step since. As Hymeneal Night approaches, he makes plans to take her as his bride… willing or not.
~*~

When I started a second book which will be about thier son, River, I realized I had a couple more stories to write about Maya and Vach. So I wrote their continuing adventures, found an editor and decided to publish them as a Christmas story two for one set.
~*~

Christmas will never be the same when you spend it on planet Zenevieva.

Matrix Crystal Christmas is made up of two short stories (one erotic and one sweet) for the fans of my novel, Matrix Crystal Hunterswho told me that they wanted to know what happened next.
In Crystal Flower Christmas: Vach and Maya are on a mission to undam the Laonooco River for the drought stricken region. As heartache fractures their marriage, will the gift of a crystal flower mend their relationship or break it beyond repair?
In Crystal Clear Christmas: Plague has struck the village of Zama and the citizens blame the only human left on Zenevieva, Maya. Will Vach make the ultimate sacrifice to save his wife?
~*~
Janice Seagraves's website: http://janiceseagraves.org/
Janice Seagraves's blog: http://ladyjanice.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ripping Off the Ripped Cover



Recognize the photo? I’m ripping off Renee Vincent’s Ripped cover. You see, this boxed set is going to be the BEST EVER at the beginning of 2014. The title? UNFORGETTABLE HEROES!! They’re sexy, they’re strong, they’re irresistible and they’re Unforgettable!! Why? Each one has his own unique charisma and appeal.


Think about the unforgettable heroes from the best movies. What was it about Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, Yury Zhivago in Dr. Zhivago or Paul “Fred” Varjak in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? What made them UNFORGETTABLE? Their disarming charm, good looks, and their perseverance? Well, all of that’s true, but in the end, the thing that makes them unforgettable is that they will go beyond all known means to ensure their heroines find the happiness they deserve. They all sacrifice for love. Love is the one thing that survives everything and keeps a relationship forever young.


Now, I have mentioned who my hero is on one of my former Facebook posts, but let me keep you guessing. My hero is a businessman, the head of his company/business. He is a workaholic, but has a lot to learn about sacrificing. That’s what he does for his heroine. What she finds out is he is a good guy deep down and even though life hasn’t treated him fairly in his own personal life, he has made sure even the ones who hurt him are cared for, and now that he knows who the man is who threatens his heroine, he will risk everything to make sure the man loses—everything.

 
Piqued your interest? It’s coming in late January-early February 2014. Be there, and stay tuned, because I’ll be giving away a copy too.
 
Here's a teaser:
 
As Crandall stepped out of the limo at Holly Heights, she stared up in amazement at the glorious structure of the mansion, which looked more like a castle. Although raised on stilts to keep it safe from high surf and flooding, the structure was made of what appeared to be polished river rock, and it had a turret. How could it be supported on a wooden platform? The architect had to be brilliant.
 
The driver carried her two bags to a ground level elevator. As the doors opened, she stared into the bright green eyes of a god. The man had pale blond hair, tanned skin and a toned body that left even more than she could see to the imagination. This trip was getting better all the time.
 
He glanced up at her and stopped short, staring. As the doors began to close on him, he held his arm in the way to stop it and jumped out. “Sorry. You took me by surprise.”
 
“So did you,” she told him. “I’m guessing you’re also a guest?”
 
He nodded with a cock-eyed grin. “I am. You’re the only other one I’ve seen. In fact, the only person I’ve seen except the limo driver and a very short butler.”
 
“Really?” Odd, she thought. Another little person. She supposed the owners of the resort catered to disabilities and special employees. “I’m sorry if I stopped your exit. Here for fun or business?”
 
 He frowned. “Fun I suppose, though I’m not sure what that is. I don’t have cell reception and there’s no Wi-Fi or cable broadband here.”
 
“No problem for me,” she said, grinning. “I have a mobile modem. USB.”
 
He laughed. “Good luck. Seems satellites don’t like the place too much either.”
 
“I take it you do a lot of work by satellite?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
 
He nodded. “Absolutely. When you have your, uh, family spread out all over the country, you have to know what’s going on.”
 
She grinned. At least there were more people here than she thought, and good looking ones too. “Don’t let me stand in your way, but, from what I hear, this place doesn’t have many attractions.”
 
He chuckled. “It didn’t. But that apparently, has changed. How about having dinner with me this evening?”
 
Her face burned. “I don’t know you.”
 
He winked. “You will. Besides how much trouble can you get into having dinner in a public place?”
 
He was right of course. Besides, she was in her late twenties. She could certainly manage a dinner date. “All right, I suppose so.”
 
He nodded with a wink. “Great. I’ll meet you here tonight at seven.”
 
“Wait!” she called out to him, “What’s your name?”
 
He turned and grinned. “Is it really important? Just for GPs, call me Don Juan.”
 
She chuckled. “I guess that makes me Jezebel.”
 
As he walked away, Crandall crossed her arms and thought maybe this vacation was just what she needed. She walked into the elevator with a smile.
 
 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Guest Blog: Lena Hart: Finding Love in Threes - Writing a Series & GIVEAWAY!




She’d always known true love existed. But only for those who went after it…

When I first wrote Because You Love Me, I didn’t imagine it would be the first to what became a three book series. I just wanted to write a story about two lovers who found love again. In this first novella, we meet Jake and Sabrina who, like many couples, experience a moment in their relationship where trust is a large factor to their happiness. But their love for each other proved resistant to past mistakes and external noise. Jake isn’t willing to give up on them or their love and because of his determination, he and Sabrina eventually rekindled their love and find their happily ever after.

…for those who waited for it…

In my second novella, Because You Are Mine, I realized I had a story that essentially followed the same theme of two lovers finding love again. Unlike some series, I introduce two new characters with their own romantic turmoil and 12 years later, it would take fate—and a job—to bring these two back together. Here, Cara and Drake share a dark past and too many secrets but when their love for each other is reawakened, nothing—not even the darkest of secrets—can come between them.

…and for those who believed in the exquisiteness of forever after.

It wasn’t until my third novel in the series that I realized what I had been trying to get across in these three books. In Because This Is Forever, I pair up a hopeless romantic with a jaded “realist”. Though Mia and Nate eventually found their happily ever after, it hadn’t come without some heartache and practicality on both their parts. In their story, they rediscover each other. Mia learns that love isn’t a picture-perfect fairytale and Nate learns that there is no great risk or danger to falling and being in love. 

The “Because You…” series are stories about going after love, waiting for love, and ultimately believing in love. I wanted to write this series because I believe in second chances and each of my characters got the opportunity to rekindle, relive, and rediscover their love for each other.

What intrigues you about series? Do you love ‘em or hate ‘em? Leave a comment and one lucky commenter will be selected to win 1 of the 5 secret prizes being given away on this tour.

GIVEAWAY: I'll also be giving away a "secret prize" to someone who leaves a comment...be sure to put your email address in with your comment!

BIO:
Lena Hart writes sensual romances with a hint of mystery and suspense. Her bestselling debut novel, BECAUSE THIS IS FOREVER, was released October 2013.To learn more about Lena and her work, visit www.LenaHartSite.com or find her musing out loud at www.scatblogging.blogspot.com.

Continue on the Tour andScavenger Hunt here.

Find “Because You… series here:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Give Thanks for the Simple (Sometimes Silly) Pleasures



With Thanksgiving days away, most of us take the time to reflect on those things we’re most thankful for. I give thanks for my husband and son, and that we’re all healthy. I’m thankful we have enough food to eat and roofs over our heads.

However, I thought it would be fun to list other more simple, even silly, things I’m thankful for. Here’s my list, in no particular order.

·         The Zombie Apocalypse hasn’t happened yet
·         Tom Mison on Sleepy Hollow. He’s not your grandmom’s Ichabod Crane.
·         That first sip of coffee in the morning
·         That first sip of wine with my evening meal
·         Happy Hour at my favorite watering holes
·         Weight Watchers cream cheese slathered on a bagel flat (only 5 WW points plus)
·         Williams-Sonoma Pecan Pumpkin Butter
·         Anything pumpkin
·         Netflix
·         Dark chocolate with rich, red wine
·         Romance novel heroes with their sculpted bodies and lovemaking skills
·         Hallmark Christmas movies
·         Christmas songs
·         Scoring a Kate Spade handbag at a deep, deep discount
·         Scoring anything at a discount
·         The Hangover (I’ve seen it four times and laughed as much each time)
·         Bradley Cooper
·         Any day the sun shines
·         Girlfriends
                       
I could go on and on but then I'd never finish this blog. Below is Tom Mison and the cast from Sleepy Hollow. See why I'm thankful for him? What simple, silly things are you thankful for?



My latest release, A Groom for Christmas, is like a Hallmark Christmas movie, with some intense love scenes. If Hallmark made a movie of it, I'd want Tom Mison to play Jake Falco, The Falcon.

Here's the blurb:
When a young woman hires her hometown’s former bad boy to be her pretend fiancé for the holidays, she finds she can’t wrap up her feelings as easily as a Christmas gift.
New York jewelry designer Graceann Palmer has two days to find a fiancé to bring home to Pennsylvania for the holidays so her matchmaking mama will quit fixing her up with jerks. The Falcon, a motorcycle-riding, leather-clad former high school crush, helped her out once before. Maybe he'll do it again.
Jake Falco, man of many mysteries, is back in town on a mission—one the people of Spirit Lake most likely won't appreciate. When Graceann presents him with her crazy scheme, it gives him something he's always wanted—a chance to get to know Graceann. It also gives him the perfect opportunity to add fuel to his project of revenge.
But as Jake and Graceann grow closer, their engagement-of-convenience begins to feel like the real deal—until Jake’s secrets are revealed.
Can a relationship that began with lies and secrets bloom like a rare Christmas rose into happily-ever-after?




Saturday, November 23, 2013

Guest Blog: Sue Grimshaw, Editor, Random House: Loveswept

So happy to be here today on Romance Books 4 Us. Last time I visited Marianne, and all of you, I introduced Flirt, our new adult romance line. Today, I'd like to introduce you to Loveswept -- or reintroduce you that is. . . 

Loveswept began in the '80's featuring such author brands as Iris Johansen, Suzanne Brockmann, Donna Kauffman, Tami Hoag and more.  As of August 2011, Random House has revived the Loveswept line re-issuing much of the backlist but also acquiring many fabulous new author brands that have already weaseled their way into romance readers hearts.

November releases were many - new and old alike, for a full release preview click here. 
 

Devil in My Arms by Samantha Kane releases Tuesday - One by one, the Saint's Devils-Samantha Kane's wicked, wonderful Regency heroes-continue to enchant the women who capture their rakish hearts. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And, readers won't want to miss Roman Holiday - a serialization by Ruthie Knox. Meet Ashley and Roman-complete opposites who can't hide their attraction-in Episode 1 of Ruthie Knox's eBook original serial, Roman Holiday.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sharon Cullen's November release has been a reader favorite! 
Advance praise for Loving the Earl:

"Loving the Earl is charming and fast-paced. It's filled with passion, intrigue, a resourceful heroine you'll love, and a delicious hero you'll fall in love with. An absolute delight!"-New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jacquie D'Alessandro.

"Sharon Cullen is a natural-born storyteller. Her twists and turns will keep you turning the pages."-Margo Maguire, bestselling author of The Highlander's Desire.

"With its bad-boy hero and spunky heroine, Sharon Cullen's Loving the Earl is sure to please readers looking for more than the typical Regency come-out story. Intrigue and romance fuse seamlessly in this adventurous romp that takes the reader from Dover to Paris to Venice and finally to a sigh-worthy happily ever after."-Shana Galen, author of True Spies.

And Yours to Keep by Serena Bell has really resonated with fans - Serena Bell makes her Loveswept debut with the captivating story of a woman living on the edge-and the man who's destined to love her. Ana Travares has been looking over her shoulder her whole life. Her U.S. visa expired when she was a young girl, and if her secret is discovered, she'll be forced to return to the Dominican Republic. Ana allowed herself to get close to someone once before-and after he broke her heart, she swore never to make the same mistake again. But when a handsome doctor asks for her assistance, she fantasizes about breaking all her rules. Even though pediatrician Ethan Hansen is a natural when it comes to little kids, as the single father of a teenage son he just can't seem to get it right . . . except for the Spanish tutor he's hired for his son, Theo. Ana has managed to crack Theo's shell-and he isn't the only one taken with her. The sexy tutor has fired up Ethan with a potent mix of lust and protectiveness. But as he starts to envision a future with Ana, Ethan is devastated to learn the truth about her citizenship. Somehow he's got to find a way to help her-and hold on to the woman he's falling hopelessly in love with. So which of our Loveswepts is calling to you? Comment below and win a copy of Samantha's Ebook - 5 winners in all - good luck! A Rafflecopter giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c46e0b27/ 
 
SueG
Website www.romanceatrandom.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RomanceAtRandom
Twitter: twitter.com/SueGrimshaw 
Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/romanceatrandom/boards/
Instagram http://instagram.com/#romanceatrandom 
Google+ SueGrimshaw
Loveswept http://www.readloveswept.com/ 
Join our Street Team http://readloveswept.fancorps.com/signup 
Write for Loveswept http://www.readloveswept.com/become-our-author 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Today I want to tell you about a book that everyone must read this year. In Heroic Measures,  best selling author Jo-Ann Power has written about the heroism of the nurses who tended the battlefield wounded in World War I and the men who loved them. You wont be able to put this down.

            Honoring those who have served their country in war, most focus on those who have fought on the battlefields. But one group’s heroics under fire have slipped through the pages of history, a group whose blood and sweat were left in operating rooms and hospital tents, a group whose heroism has seldom been measured.
            For nurse Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.
            Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos, she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with.
            But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?

Excerpt: Copyright, Jo-Ann Power, 2013. All rights reserved.

When she did return to the tent, she had Colonel Scott in tow. She’d told him nothing except their German was now awake, aware and spoke English. She thought it best to let the officer discern the veracity of the man.
“Nurse Spencer tells me you speak our language. Might I ask you where you learned it?”
“At my mother’s knee, Colonel. Captain Adam Fairleigh, His Majesty’s Forces. Forgive me, sir, I would greet you appropriately but our erstwhile nurse has strapped me to the bed.”
“Then you must need restraining,” Scott replied. “What the hell is this that you say you’re with the Brits?”
“I am, sir. I am attached to General Pershing’s staff, Chaumont.”
“As what? How do you speak Hun so well and why in God’s name are you in one of their uniforms?”
Fairleigh arched both brows, looking at the short American down his very elegant straight nose. “Liaison to the American Commander, sir. Since December. I speak excellent German because my maternal grandmother came from Saxe-Coburg, the same principality as our late Prince Albert. I speak German, sir, as well as I do English. Before the war, that was no crime, but an asset.”
“I see. And how do you come by this uniform?”
Their patient was no longer so quick or cocky. “I took it off a dead man.”
Gwen swallowed hard at the savage image of this man removing clothing from a corpse.
“I had managed to crawl across a zone where they were not shelling. I thought if I could reach one of their forward trench lines, then I—”
“Preposterous. How did you get that far in your own uniform?”
“I went in peasants’ rags. Our lines abut an old village where only a few huts still stand.”
“Why discard your rags for a German captain’s uniform?”
“Well, sir, he was not only dead but conveniently my size.”
That shut the man up.
Gwen could only marvel at this creature in the bed.
“When I came upon their trench, I could hear their conversation below. Luck was with me. That bunker was a communications center. If I could get in there, I might learn quite enough to make my mission worthwhile. Of course, I couldn’t do that, couldn’t speak German to them and have them believe I was one of them if I wore French farmer’s culottes, could I? So I crept around…among their dead whose bodies they had not retrieved.” He stared at the American with blank eyes. “I happened upon the captain who seemed my height. Then I waited until night fell and—”
He halted, regarding Gwen once more. “I buried my rags and crawled into their trench. They accepted my story. I was privy to their orders that were to move their gun emplacements. Then, as you can expect, I was stuck with them, considered one of them. I had to run with them. I had no opportunity to escape until two nights later when the French opened a barrage in our sector.”
He lifted a hand, let it drop to the sheets. “I managed to hang back when they retreated with their line. I set out to No Man’s Land and prayed to Christ I’d find my way across to French lines. This took me…I’m not clear. A night. Two?” He shrugged. “Here I am.”
“Who is your American liaison in Pershing’s staff?”
“Colonel Samuel Rustings.”
Scott nodded, a hint of a smile curling his lips. “I see.”
“I gather you know him.”
“Same class at West Point.”
“Well, then. If you telegraph him, he will verify who I am and my mission. He knew I went out, you see.”
“A man from headquarters is already on his way here.”
“Splendid.”
“We thought we had ourselves a Heinie.”
The man’s mouth quirked in bitterness. “Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Oh, you’ll do, sir. What did you say your name was?”
Gwen noticed that Scott had not addressed him by his rank.
“Fairleigh.”
“We’ll see what our man from Chaumont has to say about you. In the meantime, my private is outside the tent.”
Fairleigh inclined his head in acknowledgement of his warder.
“Nurse. Finish up here. Untie him. ”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“Good day, then.”
When Scott had departed, Fairleigh regarded her with appraising eyes. “What is your name?”
“Spencer.”
“Nice name. Spencer.”
“Thank you.” She pulled her cart closer to his bed. No matter who he was, he was to be made whole as efficiently as she could.
“I am sorry, Spencer, for being an ass.”
She saw on his face honest contrition. Unaccustomed to apologies from those who insulted her, she had no reason to trust the value of his. Yet she gave him credit for the courtesy of it. He had done such a brave act. What kind of man would do as he had done? A fool. An opportunist. A man who saw this was work which he and he alone was best suited for? Was that hubris? Cunning? Or duty? If indeed, he had done it. If he hadn’t lied.
“Spencer, I am grateful for your help. Please do patch me up. I’d hate to lose my hands because I lacked good manners.”
He was making conversation to heal their rift. She picked through her gauze looking for the needle she had misplaced when she had left him. Brusqueness served her where experience did not. “Lie back then and be good.”
“Chilly. Do you they teach you to be frosty like that in America?”
“Yes.”
He feigned a shiver.
She fought a smile. “Put that spoon between your teeth. This needle will hurt.”
“I wager it will hurt less than your German. You should have warned me that it was so bad.”
“Careful.” Fingering her needle, she began to thread the eye. “You need me to be gentle as I sew. Besides,”—she could taunt him now that he was rational and at her mercy—“I doubt I’ll ever sing with you again.”
“I will endeavor to ensure you do.”
His attempt to charm her flattered her. She would do well to ignore it. “This is war, sir. Neither of us has the time.”
“Then sing to me instead.”
“When I put my needle in your skin, I will hear you sing and off key, too.” She threatened him, hiding all the humor his compliment inspired. “The spoon, sir. Now!”

HEROIC MEASURES BUY links:

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1dWojVz  digital
                    http://amzn.to/1f30XAx   print









Share buttons