Posts tagged with: Suzanne Ferrell

Cover Reveal

Hey everyone! Thought I’d pop in and share some news with y’all. But first, I have to ask you a question.

Do you know what happens when authors get together? Quite often the conversation turns to books and stories. Sometimes that leads to the “what if?” game. You’ve heard us address that in the Lair a few times over the years. What if…hero meets heroine, but she’s the one woman in the world he can’t have? What if…vampires met wolf shifters and they had to join forces to defeat evil succubi? What if…bad boy turned millionaire returns to his hometown and the girl he’s left behind only to find out he left three sons too?

Yep, that’s how some of those stories come out, usually accompanied by some wine. :)

Well, a while back Jeanne Adams and I got together and were talking about doing a Romantic Suspense anthology. We both like to write fast-paced, action romances. Somehow the conversation took a left turn and we got on the subject of the movie Viewpoint. If you haven’t seen it, there’s an icident in another country, and you get to see the same incident before, during and after from various characters’ viewpoints.

Of course this led to a spark of an idea. What if…all the stories in the RS anthology took place at the same time at the same event…with the same bad guys involved? Jeanne suggested an inaugural ball? The juices started turning. Then we approached two other authors we thought would get excited about this project. Next thing we knew, Bandita Nancy Northcott and National Best Selling author J.D. Tyler were on board.

While I’m not going to give  y’all intimate details…the book is in the editing phase and will be available late June, so look for a release party in the Lair…I can tell you one thing. The whole book, while written in four parts by four authors, is meant to be read from beginning to ending as one long book. :)

Yeah, I’m a tease like that.

So, for another tease, want to see the cover?

Capitol Danger final revised

The last Bandita…


“Build it…and they will come”, this quote from one of my favorite movies, A Field of Dreams, always makes me think of the Romance Bandits.

May, 2007 … a group of very nervous new authors stepped onto the web. We’d banded together to try and make our mark on the world. We were going to start a blog.

What if no one read us? What if they did? What if no one wanted to hear what we had to say? What if they did? Would it be a waste of time? Or would it be that safe place to launch our careers?

We had a few rules:

1. Be positive. We’d see blogs where people were snarky to the point of rudeness. We wanted the Lair to be a fun, positive place for readers to come and chat with us.

2. Answer each person’s comment on your day to blog. We figured if you took the time to respond, we should do the same.

3. Be real. We could talk about books, men, food, men, tuck nuts, men, embarassing moments, men…uhm…you get the idea, but we had to be open, honest…ourselves.

Then the coolest thing happened…

YOU guys!

Who knew that opening ourselves, our writing journeys, our lives to readers such as you would garner us such wonderful friends! I feel like I know so many of you like we’ve been friends for such a long time. You’ve supported us through those tenuous first days, through our first book releases, debuts for each and everyone of us…and become people we talk to daily…even if you’re half way around the world! We’ve bonded through stories about truck nuts, the Golden Rooster’s secret revealing blog, various parties, food wars, holidays, language barriers (okay, just the oddities in the English–British/American/Australian variations of it). Some of us have shared having new grandbabies together. Some of us have shared the heartbreak of losing a loved one. You’ve been the first people we share exciting new covers and wonderful news with. Changes in our lives as we’ve gone through the journey to publication.

Laughter. Tears. Hearts.goodbye

And now, it’s like the last episode of one of my favorite shows. M*A*S*H. Everyone has left the camp. BJ has driven Hawkeye to the helicopter pad on his motorcycle. Hawkeye climbs on board and BJ speeds off down the hill. And there is this:

But it really isn’t goodbye. In fact, I’ll be back next month to do a release party for Turner’s Vision. Others will pop in to let you know when they have new books out.

Some of you already follow me on FB and Twitter, but in case you don’t, but want to catch up with me, the Jazzman and Rusty Puppy, here’s some links:






Demon Huntress and Karilyn Bentley

DSC_4616 copyBandit Buddies, please help me welcome back one of my favorite authors, Karilyn Bentley.  In the past Karilyn has stopped by to chat with us about her dragon shifters. This time, she’s here to give us the scoop about her new Urban Fantasy, Demon Lore, A Demon Huntress novel.

Suz: Karilyn, welcome back to the Bandit Lair. Pull up a barstool and we’ll have Sven mix up your favorite drink.

Karilyn: Yummy! I love visiting the lair. The company is great and who doesn’t love the sexy Sven? <waves at Sven> I’ll get the party started by ordering a margarita. Can’t beat those! Oh, and please apologize to Ermengarde for me, no dragon shifters this time. She’ll have to wait for my next release. :-)

Suz: Tell us what made you decide to add another genre to your stories and how you came up with the idea for the Demon Huntress series?

Karilyn: Like so much in my life, it wasn’t planned, I kind of fell into it. It’s not like I sat down one day and decided to write a UF. I started writing this funny scene (or what I thought was a funny scene, it’s been cut from the book so maybe it wasn’t as hilarious as I thought) with an ER nurse. She was snarky and messed up and popped into my mind and wouldn’t let go. But I needed a story. I also had an opening scene from the very first book I wrote (the one hiding in the closet) that I wanted to put in one of my books. I loved the scene and the tension it built, it was the only scene in that first book worth saving. Ever since I wrote it years ago I wished it would belong in some book. The scene was of a doctor being shot while at work in the ER. One day it clicked in my mind to combine the two and voila, Demon Lore was born.

Suz: Tell us about your new book, Demon Lore.

Karilyn: Demon Lore is the story of Gin Crawford, empath and ER nurse, who finds a mysterious bracelet that gives her demon hunting powers. Needless to say, she’s not too excited about her new gig. :-)  Here’s the blurb:

Gin Crawford has enough problems dealing with her empath abilities. Finding out she’s the world’s newest demon-slayer is the last thing she needs. Unfortunately, when she slips on a mysterious bracelet she is given no other choice. On the plus side, her new gig comes with Tall, Dark and Handsome, a mage who may or may not have her best interests at heart. Thrust into a power-play between good and evil, Gin must choose a side before she becomes the next victim in the ongoing battle.perf5.000x8.000.indd

Suz: When creating an alternate world, did you find it hard or easy to do? How did you decide which powers to give your heroine?

Karilyn: I’ve always written in an alternative world (doesn’t everyone to some extent?) so building another one wasn’t difficult. Remembering what I wrote is the problem. I have to use a series bible to keep my place. Or hopefully keep my place. :-)  When I started writing the story, I wanted Gin to be a demon huntress, to fight the nasties in the world. But I’m a pantser so my unconscious gave her an extra ability (empath) along with a host of problems. And a hot guardian mage.  :-)

Here’s an excerpt:

The evil man-thing stands on my porch, his lips turning in a menacing smile of death. I don’t need to touch him to know he wants me dead. Muscles freeze, trapping my breath in my lungs. Like a rabbit in view of a wolf, I’m immobilized, waiting for death’s blow. Time slows, his gaze locks on mine, trapping me in place. Move, move, move! My mind screams as the man’s fingers twitch.
But the spike of adrenaline explodes into my limbs too late to stop the backhand blow slamming across my jaw.
I superman it halfway across the living room. Land on the hardwood floor in a thud of pain-ridden limbs. My jaw morphs into a screaming ball of nerves. My head no sooner hits the floor than I hear the bracelet scream, a high-pitched wail quivering through my skin like vibrations from a tuning fork. The bracelet tightens around my wrist, cutting off the circulation, and then it loosens with a pop at the same time I hear the door click closed. 
Ohgodohgodohgod, I’m going to die. I don’t want to die. No, no, no, no, no. Pain and terror hold me crumpled on the floor as my mind crawls backward in time.
But I’m no longer a child, fearful of fists and words, cowering on the ground.I’m a fighter.
My head spins, but I refuse to lie on the floor waiting to be killed, so I attempt to stand. Evil Guy laughs as I ass-plant it. Laughs as a moan escapes my lips. He takes a step toward me, right arm drawn back for a hit. His fist hurls toward my face, but I manage to block it with my left arm. My right arm, the one with the bracelet, shoves forward, slamming into his chest.
His black eyes widen, mouth open in surprise, his hands fluttering to his chest before dropping. I stare at my hand, stare hard, for I’m as surprised as Evil Guy. The bracelet had become a sword, a long, thin spike of metal extending from the silver links, straight into Evil Guy’s heart.
A sword?
Definitely a sword. The flat of the blade rests against the back of my hand, cool metal heating from the warmth of my skin. Small silver links circle around my palm, lending stability to the two-foot long sword.
I’m not sure which scares me more, Evil Guy paying me a visit or the fact the bracelet performed a morphing trick.

Suz: Being an urban fantasy, you’re writing in 1st person. Did you find this any problem?

Karilyn: Nope. I find it easiest to write in 1st person. I had to teach myself to write in 3rd.

Suz: Okay, it’s late, you’re writing…what snack do you reach for? Salty or Sweet? And what beverage do you wash it down with?

Karilyn: I have a sweet tooth the size of the Pacific. That said, I try not to eat when writing. But I do drink. :-) My beverage of choice is tea, caffeinated, decaf or herbal. Sometimes in the evening I’m known to have a glass of wine with my writing.

Suz: Are there going to be more in the Demon Huntress series?

Karilyn: Yes! I’m glad you asked. As of now, there are a total of five books in the series. I have a lot of fun writing them and hope the reader enjoys them as much as I do!


My Inner Geek and Cover Reveal!

My name is Suzanne Ferrell and I’m a history geek.

Yes, yes, I am. But not just all history. While I find world history and history of other countries fascinating, I’m a real geek for American history. The good, the bad, the questionable. Yep, love it all.

sons-of-libertySo imagine how happy I was this week when I discovered the History Channel was going to do a 3-day historical movie event about the Sons Of Liberty!! Be still my heart. I’m taping it, but have been watching it with great joy! Not to mention the actors are very easy to watch. And there’s things going BOOM and lots of passion. Here’s the link if you want to take a look or want to watch the episodes:

(Image courtesy of the History Channel.)

I suspect this passion of mine comes from visiting my great aunt Addie when I was a kid. See, Aunt Addie was my Grandpa Sherm’s spinster sister. She was tall for a woman and lived by herself in a cabin, circa late 1800’s on the top of Spivey mountain in Tennessee. You drove up the winding highway, past the turn-off to my daddy’s family on Coffee Ridge; up past Spivey mountain, which my mother’s family settled in the early 1800’s; past the Mountain Dale Free Will Baptist church onto the gravel road…and a few more hair-raising turns there was Aunt Addie’s cabin.


You parked on the edge of her property and walked up the mowed path, careful not to step too far off the path. Why? Because copperhead snakes liked to hide in there and they’re poisonous. The house was greying, weathered wood with a huge front porch and the house was shaped like an L. I don’t have a picture of that old house but it sort of looked like this.

(Image found on Google images.)

Inside was a huge kitchen area with a fireplace and a coal burning furnace, as well as a stove that was from probably the 1920’s. In the L part of the house was an old brass bed with a feather-tic mattress. A hand-cranked record player was there and Aunt Addie had a collection of 78 albums, (you know, the really thick ones) of old gospel music. We would sit on the porch or lie in that bed and listen to my great aunt, Grandma CindyJane and my mom and her sisters reminisce about growing up in the mountains. Since Aunt Addie and Grandma were born before the 1900’s we heard a lot about older family members who even fought in the Civil War.

So, naturally, when I decided to write my first romance novel, I picked an American historical. That’s Cantrell’s Bride. Back then, when I wasn’t published, I went ahead and wrote the sequel. But because it took me so long to publish, and I grew as a writer, both books needed major rewriting. Ellora’s Cave kindly published Cantrell’s Bride a little over 2 years ago. Now I’m finally ready to publish the sequel, TURNER’S VISION.

And this is the fabulous cover Lyndsey came up with:

Turner's Vision

Here’s the blurb:

His visions of the future brought them together…

Micah Turner’s visions have driven him down from his Colorado mountain refuge to the nation’s capital in search of his lost sister. Her disappearance may have something to do with the murder of a senator and a beautiful woman who is also haunting his visions.

Claudia Davis spent most of her life in fear. Now she has the chance to put her past behind her and help discover who is behind the senator’s murder. When a giant man approaches her one night with a letter from her friend who’d witnessed the murder she must decide if she can put her fears aside and trust the stranger.

As the pair work together to solve the murder they discover a deeper plot, one that has its roots buried in Micah’s past. Can they fight for justice and their love? Or will Micah’s visions of blood and death be fulfilled?

So, next month I will be publishing my second American historical romance.

What about you readers? Do you like history? Any particular era or country? Have you watched the Sons of Liberty?

Snippets from Christmas Day at the Ferrell’s

Amid the chaos that happens in a house with five kids under the age of seven, twin babies and a puppy just over a year old on Christmas Day, I found time to enjoy and observe the family (sometimes known as the thundering horde that invades my peaceful domain–said with great love and affection). So I thought I’d share some of that evening with you.

The meal was lovely and we noted more eating was taking place at the adult table and lots of giggling was happening over at the kids’ table. This could be that the kids were having more fun or perhaps the adults were realizing this is the “Only happens on Christmas” meal and were devouring it with great intent? (Menu: Grilled flank steak, grilled Atlantic Salmon, Shrimp cocktail platter–made by me and not prefrozen, Augratin potatoes, crab stuffed mushrooms and bacon and broccoli salad.)

Then we dug into the Christmas stockings.

all-natural-beef-shank-bone-for-dogs-1Oh, wait. FIRST we neutralized the investigative nose of one very curious and energetic boxer/redhealer mix puppy. Yes, Rusty Puppy got a BIG beef ribeye bone to keep him out of the chaos. Of course that didn’t stop him from lying right in the middle of the family room while he gnawed happily on his gift!

Tradition continued. So, stockings…Lots of candy, do-dads, guitar/bass/mandolin strings (we have three guitarists in the family), ornaments, and toys for the kiddos. But the biggest hit, heard said by at least four adults, “We got toothbrushes. Yea! Mom forgot those last year.” Seriously people, traditions are strong with this bunch. Forget the toothbrushes once and you hear about it for years!

Almost all the presents were given out and opened, when the Jazzman got one from me to him and all the grandkids. It’s a book titled, The Book Without Any Pictures. They all gathered round and he read it to them, complete with crazy expressions and funny voices. It was a hit. Lots of giggling going on. (I couldn’t video tape it as I had my hands full of one baby and a bottle, but here is a Youtube of a teacher reading it so you can imagine the story at our house! Foods Bag

Funniest thing. At one point I notice my oldest grandson walking around with a paperbag, with handles, carrying everything he got inside. No matter where he went in the house, that bag went with him. :) Cracked me up, but I had to know why? His answer: Because Grandma Suzie, when I was at Nanny’s house (his other grandmother) I forgot a present and it made me cry. I don’t want to forget anything this time.” I’m still laughing over it!

Odd moment. I was listening to my oldest granddaughter read to me from her new read alone books, when I noticed the grownup kids in a circle on the far side of the room. Focusing my attention a moment, I realized they were discussing the flaws in the newest Superman movie to the actual comic story. Uhm, who knows the cannons of comic books so well that they can have a heated discussion on the merits of the new movie vs the actual original story? My kids/in-laws!

51SG6-Q8c4L._SY300_Quiet moment. My second grandson, who sort of does his own thing, brought me his new Planes book and asked me to read it to him. He crawled up beside me with a sugar cookie in his hand. He told me the name of each plane as we went and listened to the story of Dusty Crophopper. When I finished, he said, “I’ll be right back.” He returned with another cookie, cuddled up close and said, “Read it again, Grandma.” Which, of course, I did.

Peaceful scene. My son’s girlfriend got the girls big poster size coloring pages from the Frozen movie. Well, the crayons in the stockings were all spanking new, so the youngest granddaughter and the girlfriend’s little boy hunkered down in a spot and colored quietly and with great purpose.

Finally, the Jazzman was starting to doze off and the last family was packing up to leave. As soon as they went out the door…silence. No seriously, the entire house seemed to settle down into peace, quiet and ready for a long nap.

What your favorite moment from your holiday celebration? Any traditions started? Any you forgot and will now here about for an entire year?

Close To Christmas Weddings

Wh2c32c4b2bf91d7a296545f98fd37ee1aen I was a teenager, my older cousin Cindy got married.

It was in Ohio.

In December.

In the cold and snow.

I was all of 13, but fit in well with two of her sisters who were a year older and younger than me, so I was quickly enlisted in the bridesmaid corp. It was my first winter wedding. It was my first wedding as part of the wedding party.

We wore burgundy velvet, floor length gowns. Our hair pieces were head bands with silk poinsettias glued to them and instead of bouquets of flowers, we carried white furry muffs with another poinsettia pinned to the front of them. It was an afternoon wedding, but the grey winter sky that threatened more snow made it feel like late evening, almost dusk.

I remember little about the ceremony itself. My cousin married the man who is still her husband nearly 40 years later. My cousins and I had fun getting ready, doing our hair, walking down the aisle and partying with everyone later.

That was a much different wedding than the other important December wedding in my life, the one that took place between my mother and father.

They decided to get married 3 days before Christmas. They had very little money, so they just went to the Justice of the Peace in their little hometown to elope. No months of pre-wedding planning. No bridesmaids, no bestmen/ushers, no flowers, no cake. Just two people deciding they wanted to spend their lives together.

And they did.

For the next 61 and 1/2 years they stayed together. Through thin times (and there were many of those in the beginning) and through thick. Through rich and poor. Through sickness and health. Through three kids, three in-laws, eight grandchildren, and a bunch of great-grandkids. Through ups and downs. They stuck it out. Close to Christmas final

The last fall I was home before my daddy passed away, I noticed something. They touched each other often. Daddy would walk by Mom as she sat at the table talking to me. He’d just pat her shoulder and she’d reach up and pat his hand. Then he’d head to the family room. This happened several times a day. It seemed the older they got, the more the need to touch each other became. When I asked Mom about it, she said, “We just like to remind each other we’re glad we’re here.”

When I moved away from home many, many years ago, I decided it would be fun to send my parents a flower arrangement for their anniversary. It was usually a centerpiece of holly and evergreen and red candles for their dining room table or poinsettias for their fireplace. Sending it on the twenty-second let me surprise them on their anniversary and know they could enjoy them through the holiday season.

The last two years, since Daddy died, I’ve made sure there were red roses in the arrangement. See, he grew roses, Mom’s favorite flower, and every day during rose season, (May-Sept in Ohio), he’d cut fresh roses for her vases in the kitchen and family rooms.

So, when I decided to write a Christmas novella for the Westen series, I naturally titled it CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS. And when I think of the phrase close to Christmas, it reminds me of my parents anniversary which was always…close to Christmas. :) And winter weddings can be such fun.

Here’s the blurb for the novella:

It’s been a long dangerous year for the town folks of Westen. A celebration is just what they need. It’s four days before Christmas and the town is not only decked out in their holiday best, but looking forward to the wedding of Sheriff Gage Justice and his love, Deputy Bobby Roberts.

First Bobby’s lawyer sister, Chloe comes to town looking over her shoulder, which has the quiet deputy, Wes Strong wondering what has her running scared. Then problems start to happen with the wedding plans.

Has Chloe brought trouble to Westen?

Or does someone in town want to ruin the wedding this close to Christmas?

And I even borrowed my parents wedding anniversary for the date Gage and Bobby are getting married. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

So, do you know anyone who was married close to Christmas? Have you ever been in a winter wedding? Do you think they’re romantic? Have you been a bridesmaid? How many times? (I was 6 and a matron of honor once.) 

Since this is a little launch party and I’m celbrating my parents anniversary in two days, how about I give out 2 print copies for CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS as part of the Bandita 12 Days of Christmas?


Allie Burton winner

1BanditBooty The winner of an e-copy of the LOST DAUGHTERS OF ATLANTIS COLLECTION featuring the first three books in the series: Atlantis Riptide, Atlantis Red Tide, and Atlantis Rising Tide is ELF!


Please send your email addy to me at suzanne AT suzanneferrell DOT com and I’ll see Allie gets that prize to you ASAP!

Allie Burton returns with a story from the Antarctic!

SONY DSCIdeas, Ideas Everywhere

Writers frequently get asked where their ideas come from. The answer is simple. Everywhere.

At the store. At the park. At school. At parties and events.

Reading social media and newspaper articles. Watching TV and documentaries. Hearing music. Seeing artwork.

For example, I got the idea for ATLANTIS GLACIAL TIDES after seeing a photograph of ice tunnels in Alaska. The image was so beautiful and powerful I wanted to place a story there. Of course, ATLANTIS GLACIAL TIDES isn’t in Alaska, it’s located underneath Antarctica, but I could imagine the underwater ice tunnel there. And, while doing research for the story I got ideas on different things to include like Emperor Penguins and Rainbow Fish.

I got the idea for ATLANTIS TWISTING TIDES, the prequel to ATLANTIS GLACIAL TIDES, when I was watching the news about a hurricane.

And the entire Lost Daughters of Atlantis series came from a day at the beach. What if there were people who lived under the ocean? What if a war was going on underneath the sea? How would that war affect humans? What if you discovered you were not only a part of this world but a lost princess? And my imagination was off…

Atlantis Glacial Tides

Lost Daughters of Atlantis Book 5Atlantis Glacial Tides final

Shocked by her family’s plans to wed her to a stranger, sixteen-year-old Princess Adria must decide whether to flee the underwater Kingdom of Merta or fight to keep her rightful place. When Kai, the criminal she’d rescued informs her of a plot to kidnap her future sister-in-law, Adria decides to take action to prove her loyalty.

Sparks flew between her and Kai when they met during a hurricane misadventure, but she can’t trust her judgment about him. Especially when Kai won’t help stop the kidnapping because he’s on his own secret mission. A mission that he refuses to divulge.

In a case of mistaken identity, Adria is kidnapped and whisked away to a mysterious glacial underwater world of ice and evil where she learns that everything isn’t rainbow fish and roses, that there are Atlanteans who suffer and slave, and that being cold isn’t a state of body, but a state of mind.

With Kai as her prison guard, the two teens grow closer, and Adria must choose between loyalty to her kingdom or to her dreams.

Twisting Tides_72 dpi 2400 ht

Atlantis Twisting Tides

Lost Daughter of Atlantis Novella

When unrest threatens her kingdom, a mermaid princess must choose between loyalty and love.

When fifteen-year-old Atlantean Princess Adria sneaks away to see a hurricane on the surface of the ocean, she finds an air-breather in trouble. Kai’s sailboat is sinking and Adria risks exposure of her Atlantean powers in order to save him.

Kai believes he’s rescuing Adria. He’s Atlantean too, with his own skills and secrets.

The two teens stumble onto an uninhabited island still thinking the other needs rescuing. When other Atlanteans show up—Atlanteans plotting against Adria’s kingdom—Adria must decide whether to trust Kai based on the guy she’s come to know or the company he keeps.

What sets your imagination down a zigzagging path of what ifs and ideas?

Comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of the LOST DAUGHTERS OF ATLANTIS COLLECTION featuring the first three books in the series: Atlantis Riptide, Atlantis Red Tide, and Atlantis Rising Tide.IMG_1057 Prize Pack

And, ATLANTIS TWISTING TIDES is free on Amazon, iBooks, GooglePlay, and Kobo.

Subscribe to my newsletter on my website for a chance to win the Prize Pack (pictured) including a $25 Amazon or iBooks gift card, Steve Madden infinity scarf and gloves, several young adult books, and treats!

To subscribe or get more information about other books in the Lost Daughters of Atlantis series, visit my website at

The Year Jazzman Was In Charge Of Present Disbursal…

TreeWhen we lived in Florida, I was scheduled to work Christmas Eve night, something every nurse has faced during holidays. Now that meant I’d be gone when the kids were asleep and I’d have to leave the “scattering” of presents under the tree to the Jazzman. I’d made three piles in our bedroom of wrapped presents with the stockings stuffed for each child on top of them. I gave Jazzman strict instructions on waiting until the kids (all in elementary and middle school) had gone to bed, then he was to mix up the presents under the tree, and lay the stockings to one side. (We didn’t have a fireplace, so that’s as good as it got.)

Well, the next morning, I got an interesting story from the kids.

Apparently Jazzman went to sleep before putting out the presents. OH NO!

So my youngest daughter and son woke up at around 5 am and imagine this…NO PRESENTS UNDER THE TREE!!

Well, being the smart kids they were, they quickly figured out Jazzman hadn’t done his bit. So they knocked on the bedroom door to wake him, saying, “Dad, you forgot to put our presents under the tree.”

So, Jazzman hauls out the 3 piles and puts them under the tree. In 3 piles.

The kids: No Dad, you have to mess them up like this.

And they proceed to make a huge mess of the presents, mixing them all up. In the mean time, Jazzman has decided he was awake and started making coffee. The kids put a big kabosh on that.

The kids: No Dad, you have to go back to bed now.

Jazzman: Why?

The kids: Because we have to find our presents and try to figure out what they are.20131224_011416-1

Jazzman: What do you mean find your presents?

The kids: Every year while you and Mom sleep, we get up early and find all our presents. We make a pile, then try to figure out what each one is. Then we put them back in a mess under the tree.

Jazzman, looking sleepy and confused: But they were in neat piles. You two just made the mess.

The kids: Daddy, this is our tradition!

Jazzman gave up and crawled back in bed. He said he layed there with the door cracked, listening to the two of them giggle and rattle the wrapped packages. Finally, they went back to bed, too. When I came home, I had to wake everyone up to open their presents, unaware of their little tradition.


Close to the Fire final for Barnes and NobleI love that story. It’s amazing the traditions our kids pick up that we don’t even start, while others are intentional. I must make Buckeye candy every year, as well as chocolate mint cookies, peanut blossoms, coconut jam thumbprints and m&m cookies. I have to decorate cookie cutter cookies with the kids and now grandkids. We have to go to church on Christmas Eve just to hear my daughter sing O Holy Night. Everyone must get a stocking full of fun things and everyone gets warm socks. Oh yes, I also have to have a homemade cheeseball on Christmas Day for them to munch on while dinner is cooking.

So, dear readers, what is your favorite family tradition? Is there a food item you must have? Do you presents in a certain order? Does your family have something you must do every year in order to make the holiday a success? Since it’s holiday time, I think I’ll give away a copy of my newest book, CLOSE TO THE FIRE to one reader who posts a tradition today.


Close to the Fire finalPROLOGUE


Flames shot up in front of him. Heat knocked him backward.

The noise deafening.

Smoke and cinders flew about in the firestorm like evil imps dancing to the tune of the monster raging around him.

Sweat ran down his face.

His mask fogged. Cleared.

His turnout gear plastered to his body. What little of his skin was exposed stung. Blistered.


He had to find Bill.

“Bill! Where are you?” he said into the radio amplifier attached to his mask and gear.

Thick smoke and wild flames raged around him.

Which way had he gone? He tried to get his bearings. Where was the exit?

 They’d been unable to get across the lower part of the warehouse and instead went up the side stairs to the metal bridge-like structure along the side of the building. There they split up, trying to see the kid they’d been told had been dragged into the burning building.

“Over here, Deke. To your left.” Bill’s voice sounded over the radio.

He swung his gaze that direction. There he was. About ten feet away, near the edge of the scaffolding they were standing on. Safe.

“Any sign of the kid?”

Bill shook his head no.

A rumble sounded above them.

They both looked up.  A hole in the ceiling open up. Flames whooshed upward.

Another rumble shook the building. A timber gave way and half the roof on the far side of the warehouse came crashing down, throwing Deke against the outer wall of the building.  Bill flew backward onto the shaky scaffolding.

Deke held on to a window ledge as he tried to get his balance. He glanced out. Two figures ran away from the burning building. The larger one had the smaller one by scruff of the neck, hauling him away in the opposite direction of the fire engines out front.

Damn, the night watchman had been right. There had been a kid with the arsonist.

“Kid’s okay, Bill. We need to get out of here.” He signaled down just in case his partner hadn’t heard him.

Bill nodded. “Meet you down below.”

Deke was halfway down the stairs when the loud creaking started above. He looked up.

The remaining roof broke into two parts. It dangled by a few metal beams. Right over Bill.

Another rumble.

The metal gave way. Hit the scaffolding.

One minute Bill was there, the next…only flames and twisted metal.

“Deke!” Bill said, then silence over the radio.

“Bill!” He tried to climb back up.

Another beam came loose. It hit him. Slamming him down the stairs, it knocked his headgear and mask loose. Flames all around him, hot metal landing on the side of his neck, something liquid seeping down into his turnout gear and searing his chest.

Screaming sounded in his ears.

His screaming.

Deacon Reynolds tumbled out of the bed and landed on the floor in a tangle of sweaty sheets. Willing his breathing to slow, he wiped his hands over his face.

“Dammit.” His words were followed by hacking coughs.

Jeez. He must’ve been screaming again. He didn’t do it every time he had the dream, but when he did his voice box complained with a coughing fit. The docs said the damaged vocal cords couldn’t take the trauma of making harsh sounds. He thought he’d had it under control. At least the screaming part. The dreams hadn’t been this bad in months, maybe even a year. What had triggered this one?

He ran his hand through his wet hair. His whole body was covered in sweat.

It had to be the summer’s heat.

Untangling himself from the sheets, he strode naked across to the bathroom and poured himself a glass of cold water. Drinking it slowly, he worked on letting his throat relax as he stared at his naked chest in the mirror. The thick cords of scar tissue extended from his jawline down his neck, across the left side of his shoulder and chest. Docs said he was lucky the movement of his shoulder hadn’t been damaged and that the burns hadn’t gotten too deep near his heart.

He barked out a harsh laugh.

Lucky. Right.

Sometimes he wondered if it wouldn’t have been better if the fire had claimed him right along with Bill.

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