Saturday, October 14, 2017

Wise Words Your Mother Might Have Said - Week 3

Hey welcome back to Week 3 - Wise Words Your Mother Might Have Said

Wise Words
Keep a picture of your first fish, first car and first boy/girlfriend

Why Do We Take Pictures?
Perhaps there is a deeper psychological explanation. Our time on this earth only lasts for so long, and a camera allows us to preserve memories far past when they might have slipped our mind. It helps us pass those memories into the hands of future generations. Our photos are little legacies of the life we have led – our travels, experiences, food, family, friends, work relationships and more. Each photo is a window into a moment, and the collections of images we take over the years are a window into who we were and what we valued. Ultimately it comes down to a simple truth – seeing that moment captured makes us genuinely happy.

Some memorable Quotes about Pictures:

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”
— Robert Frank

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
— Aaron Siskind

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”
— Andy Warhol

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
— Marc Riboud

“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
— Diane Arbus

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
— Karl Lagerfeld

How about you? Do you take a lot of pictures of your life, of your children growing up? Or do you have a keen interest in photography? There's something very magical and special about pictures - we can capture a moment and preserve it for all time. 

Speaking of images, cover artists try to capture a moment from our books, whether that's in a contemporary setting, historical setting or sci-fi. How many times have you looked at a particular cover and thought about the characters' lives, or looked deeper and imagined what the plot was all about? I'll bet sometimes you've looked at a cover and knew exactly what the story was about. If so, the cover artist has done a great job!

Keta's Book This Week:

Chasing the Dead
A Western Romance Novel

About the story:

In 1884 New Mexico, Madrid Arrende finds herself kidnapped by the Apache. Determined to rescue her, her wealthy father realizes there is only one man capable of bringing her back alive...Deacon Bannister. Deacon doesn't give one whit about the large sum of money Don Erasmos Arrende has offered him to find his daughter. He only cares about bringing the woman he left at the altar a year ago home. 

A ghost is terrorizing the Apache village and the young maiden, Sacheen, has been banished by her People for unleashing Uday's wrath. Now, Deacon, Madrid and Sacheen must flee for their lives across the rugged New Mexico landscape with the evil spirit in hot pursuit. 

Will they make it back alive to Madrid's father's hacienda or will 

Deacon lose Madrid forever?

Hey, It's #IndieAuthor Day! Celebrate With Us!

Thanks for stopping by to help us celebrate!

What is Indie Author Day?

Through Indie Author Day, libraries are encouraged to support their local writers and authors are driven to make that crucial connection with the libraries in their communities. “Publishing your own work is more viable today than ever before and the Independent Book Publishers Association is honored to support those who choose this entrepreneurial path,” said Angela Bole, IBPA CEO. “Indie Author Day will provide a chance to discuss publishing options, learn best practices and celebrate successes with a tribe of forward thinking writers, publishers and librarians.”

The first annual event last year drew thousands of authors to hundreds of libraries, and we’re hoping that this year will be even bigger and better! If you’re looking to mingle, network, teach or learn with fellow writers and publishing professionals in your area, there’s no better guilt-free excuse to step away from your manuscript for a few hours.

Indie Author Day events will be hosted at public libraries worldwide. See if a library near you is participating by checking out the Where page of the Indie Author Day 2017 website.

Wait...there's more for you to check out!!!

In celebration of #Indie Author Day, there's a huge BLAST going on at a location near you...and it's online!

Go HERE to check out all the fantastic authors and books being featured Sha Renee's Blog. I know you'll find some great buys in genres you love and at awesome prices too.

Special thanks to Sha Renee for hosting and celebrating Indie Author Day for all of us.

My best, 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wise Words Your Mother Might Have Said - Week #2

If you HAVE to fight, punch first and punch hard.

Five Reasons Why You Should Take Self Defense Classes

1. It builds confidence
A lot of people are not confident with their abilities to protect themselves. This can be due to personal experiences, as well as driven by the news. We hear a lot about the negativity in our society, and this can leave people feeling unprotected. Self defense classes will build your confidence. If you're getting bullied, it's a great way to protect yourself and grow confidence in yourself, ultimately molding you into a better person.

2. It works on your balance
Self-defense classes require a lot out of your body, including the ability to do two things at once without falling over. Improving your balance also means improving focus. Karate and self defense classes teach you how to focus on your target while you control your body. Without balance it is almost impossible to fight. Through gaining your body control and balance, you will be better prepared to protect yourself.

3.It helps improve your physical conditioning
The whole point of self defense classes is to prepare you for any situation that may bring harm to you. Physical conditioning is extremely important when it comes to self defense. Training and practicing prepares you for the adrenalin dump when a situation arises that requires you to fight. When someone comes after you, you will experience what is called an adrenalin dump (your body’s way of responding to the fight or flight situation). You need to be physically conditioned to appropriately deal with a dangerous situation. If you aren’t, your body will not work as well as you need it to after the adrenalin dump . Physical conditioning will work on your reflexes and your awareness of an attack. When you are fighting it is important to be focused both mentally and physically. If you are prepared, you will be more successful in a dangerous situation and the dump won’t take all your energy from you.

4.It improves your street awareness
Self defense classes will make you more aware of your surroundings. You’re never planning to be attacked, but your attacker is the one with the plan. Self defense classes will help you to be aware at all times and ready should this type of situation arise. You might be shocked for a second, but you will have the necessary reactions to protect yourself. Self defense classes teach you to think about where you can be attacked and where your attacker could be hiding. Always be aware of your surroundings.

5. It has a positive influence on your life
Unlike a lot of things in life, taking self defense classes will always have a positive impact on your life. Each and every one of the reasons above are proof of this. Taking self defense classes can boost your spirits and make you a more confident and better version of yourself. It’s important to have things in life that we can rely on to make us happy- taking these kinds of classes does just that.

I bet you're curious now about finding a 'good' instructor. Location is the easy answer; but do some research before you make the commitment a place or instructor. Do some investigative research online and find out who your instructor truly is. How long have they been in the practice? Have they competed at a high level? Do they have any street attack experience? Who did they train under? 

Remember: It’s not about sport- it’s about reality and the world we now live in.

Credit for this article to: Megan Mayle at
(Megan is an aspiring psychological thriller novelist.

Keta's Book of the Week

Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Finalist: Romance Category, Independent Authors Network

The hero in our story, Rann Brogan, is not a violent man. As a child, he took martial art classes, but mostly to please his father. As an adult, there comes a time when he's glad he took those lessons. Season is missing so he tracks down the man who knows what happened to the woman he loves. Martin (think villain) is also the last person to see Rann's mother, Charlotte, alive. Fearing he's lost the two people who mean the world to him, he confronts Martin in a dark alley. WARNING: Rann has been pushed to the limit and decides to punch first and punch hard!

A familiar voice drew Rann's gaze...a man on his cell phone heading for a parked car in front of the building. Rann put his head down, sneaked up behind him on the driver's side and stuck the gun barrel into Martin's ribs. "Keep walking, toward the entrance to the alley that runs behind the building."
"Ah, shit. You don't know who you're messing with, punk."
He pushed harder on the gun. "Do it or I'll blow a hole in your side."
"Okay, okay, let's don't get trigger-happy, I'm moving."
The dark alley loomed before them. Rann prodded him along until they came to the middle, away from the noise, away from any people who might be passing by on either end. "Stop here and turn around."
Martin swirled, and with eyes narrowed, lip curled back in a snarl, looked him in the eye. "Well, well, if it ain't the mama's boy. Thought I recognized that voice." He looked down at the gun. "A Smith & Wesson Shield...I'm impressed. Too bad you don't know how to use it."
"Oh, I know how, been at the gun range every night for three weeks."
Martin licked his lips. "What do you want?"
"I'm asking the questions, starting with this one: What did you do to my mother?"
"What makes you think I did anything to her?" Shoulders lifted. "You read the Death Certificate. She died from cardiac arrest."
"I don't like that diagnosis. I think someone put something in her drink."
"Go to hell; you can't prove that."
"You're right, " Rann said, trailing the gun through the air near his face. "I can't but then I don't need any proof to end your miserable life."
"Listen, I liked Charlotte. Why would I want to hurt her?"
"Because she put two and two together and you were scared shitless she'd spill the beans...go to the police."
Martin snorted. "Spill the beans about what?"
"Where is Season?"
"Oh, no...I don't know nothin' about that. Your mom was always on my case, begging me to tell her if I had any involvement in her disappearance. I had nothing to do with it."
Rann pointed the gun at his arm and pulled the trigger. Boom!
His hand moved to cover the wound. "Shit, you shot me!"
"Bet it hurts, huh, Dick-him?"
"You're crazy, off your rocker. You think you can come down here to my playground and shoot me?"
Rann couldn’t hold back the satisfied smirk. "Just did, didn't I?"
"My goons will be all over your ass by sunrise."
"Maybe…but not in time to save you, asshole."
Even in the dark, Rann saw his face turn the color of beets. "What the hell do you want?"
"The truth about the girl." He pushed the gun barrel into his thigh. "What did you do to her?"
"All right, let me get my breath here." Still holding his arm, he glanced skyward. "Last time I saw her she was alive."
"I'm not giving you that. I'm a dead man if I tell you."
"You're a dead man if you don't."
"Let me go, man. My arm is killing me."
Rann shook his head. "The girl, where did you last see her and when?"
"I swear on my mother's grave, she's alive."
The gun discharged again and a dog barked from somewhere nearby.
Martin fell to his knees with a moan. "Sonofabitch." Laughter bubbled up from his belly, a grating, maniacal laugh that set Rann's teeth on edge. "Oh, this is sweet. Mama's boy kills a gangster over star-crossed love. That ought to be made into a movie." He lifted his chin and looked into Rann's eyes. "You'd kill a man for her...that gypsy slut?"
Rann placed the gun against his forehead and pulled the trigger. "Yes."
A thin line of smoke streamed from the barrel. A moment of disbelief crossed Martin's eyes before he slumped to the ground. Blood streamed from the wound, ran down the side of his face and onto the pavement. 
Rann snorted and looked down at Martin's open eyes and gaping mouth. "Never was a mama's boy, just naïve about the evil man does."
A woman's voice from several stories up hollered out a window. "Hey, what's going on down there?"
"Nothing, ma'am. Sorry to disturb you, just taking out the trash."
Rann stuffed the Shield into the pocket of his sweatshirt and walked to his car. He unlocked the door, settled in behind the wheel and closed his eyes. She lives.
For now, that would have to do.


Thanks so much for dropping by today. Leave a comment if you have any thoughts on self-defense. Have you taken classes? Have I piqued your interest enough so you'd like to?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Celebrating Halloween With Kate Hill #Romance!

This year Kate Hill's theme for the Halloween Page is “on a cold, dark night.” Each author has been presented with the first half of a sentence that starts with “on a cold, dark night” and asked to complete it. They’re offering the beginnings of stories that range from scary to funny to put you in the mood for the season. This year we all hope to inspire you with these ideas and continue the tradition of Halloween being a night of adventure.

I was lucky enough to be included in this adventure and featured today at KATE'S AUTHOR HOME to showcase my latest release A GHOST TO DIE FOR (right on time for Halloween).

About A Ghost To Die For 
Contemporary Romance/Paranormal

Do you believe in ghosts? Rooney Fontaine doesn’t—or didn’t until one named Stuart Granger shows up in her hotel room. Now the humorous, yet desperate, apparition is begging her to find the men who murdered him before his brother becomes their next victim.

After serving three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, Stephan Granger is no stranger to risk and peril. When a woman shows up at his house rambling about ghosts, murder and assassins, his first inclination is to deem her wrong in the head and send her packing. But how does she know things that happened to him and his dear departed brother in their childhoods, secrets they never shared with anyone?

Soon after he invites her in to hear more about what really happened to Stuart, gunfire splits the air and shatters all the windows in the house. Someone is trying to kill them. Now they’re on the run from assassins while trying to find out who killed his brother and why they want him dead too.

Even amid murder and mayhem, sometimes you find love.

Excerpt: (Rooney meets the ghost's brother for the first time)

Rooney turned off the engine and stepped out from the car. She advanced toward the wide front porch and sensed Stuart walking beside her. So far, so good, she thought drawing a deep breath.

Before she could form another thought, she heard a screen door near the house open and slam shut. Shielded from the harsh rays of the sun by an overhang, a man stood on the porch. Tall and lean, one broad shoulder hugged a pillar in dire need of fresh paint. A white t-shirt hugged his well-muscled torso, and faded jeans clung to his long legs like second skin. She knew if she looked at Stuart right now, he'd be wearing an I-told-ya-so grin, but she didn't want to give him the satisfaction and besides, she couldn't seem to command her eyes to stop staring at the man the ghost had called a hunk.
He had to be the ghost's brother, yet he looked nothing like the fair-haired, slender built ghost, not with the tangle of black hair covering part of his forehead, an exact match to the dark stubble on his firm, square jaw. His passive expression unnerved her, as did the blue eyes studying her with collective wariness. A bottle of Jack Daniels dangled from the fingers of his left hand while the right hand rested near the handle of a gun stuck inside the waistband of his jeans. His entire mien, from casual stance to buff build, screamed pure male sexuality. And some kind of danger she'd rather not think about. 

 After finding her tongue again, she eked the words out. "Good afternoon. You must be Stephan, Stephan Granger?"

"Yep, and you are…?

"Rooney Fontaine. I drove here from—"

He gave her a lopsided smirk. "Rooney, as in Mickey?"

She blew a breath of air, ruffling the damp hair on her forehead. "Yes, as in Mickey. My name is really Veronica but Vanessa, my youngest sister, couldn't pronounce—"

"What do you want Rooney Fontaine?"

Her nerves frayed, she ran her sweaty palms down her thighs. "I'm here to talk to you about your brother, Stuart."

"Reporter, huh? Like the others that came snooping around here they couldn't read very well either."

His emphasis on the last word wasn't lost on her. "Reporter? No, no, I'm not, I swear, but what do you mean 'they couldn't read very well either?'"

"The No Trespassing sign nailed to a tree by the road."

Standing beside her, Stuart scratched his head. An oversight on my part. Damn, I hung that sign, didn't count on it applying to me one day.

"Sorry, I didn't see it, but I assure you, I won't take much of your time. I'll say what I've come to say and be on my way before you know it."

Lips pursed, he continued to study her.

"I know this is going to sound crazy to you, as it did to me at first." God, this is much harder than I thought. "See, the thing is, your brother didn't commit suicide. Two men tossed him off the balcony at the La Bonne Chance Casino."

The Adonis look-alike rolled his eyes.

"He's been wandering around the hotel for two months until-well, until he showed up in my room last night."

"Right. Thanks for dropping by Rooney Fontaine but I'll thank you to haul your sweet little ass back into that car and get the hell off my land."

He thinks my ass is sweet?

Stuart piped up. I knew you were his kind of woman. Under different circumstances he might even—

"Stuff it, Stuart." Her head swimming with convoluted thoughts, not to mention words from both brothers, she shifted and faced the ghost. "This is hard enough without you speaking up from the peanut gallery."

The man on the porch cocked his head. "You talking to me, lady?"

"No, I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to—"

But I must speak up. He'll never believe you otherwise. Ask him about the scar on his left thumb. When he was six we went fishing at the Mill Pond and I hooked him in the thumb. Never shed a tear when I dug that hook out with my pocket knife.

 "Not only is your sight bad but your hearing sucks." Stephan gave her a dismissive wave and pivoted toward the house. "Oh, hell, do what you want but Jack Daniels and me are going back inside to pick up where we left off."

"The scar on your left thumb," she blurted out. "Stuart hooked you at the Mill Pond when you were six. He said you never cried, not even while he dug it out with his knife."

Stephan came to a halt and turned to face her again. "You knew him, didn't you? He told you about that."

She crossed her heart. "No, I didn't know him, not until last night. He-he's standing beside me right now and told me what to say."

Blue eyes narrowed. "You expect me to believe my brother is a ghost and is here right now?"

Tell him when he was ten he had a lop-eared mongrel named Snoozer who followed him everywhere, tell him our mother's middle name was Gertrude and our father's Harrison. Stuart snapped his fingers. I know, tell him when he was eight, he stole three red licorice sticks from Brueger's Mercantile. I made him march back in there and apologize, pay for the candy. Mom and Dad never knew about that and old man Brueger is long passed on now.

"What about Snoozer, your dog?" she said with a triumphant lilt to her voice. "Your mother's middle name was Gertrude, your father's Harrison." She took several steps forward. "You stole three pieces of red licorice from Brueger's when you were eight and Stuart made you apologize. What about all that, huh?"

"This is insane, and you're really starting to piss me off."

"How about this one? Your mother loved all of Stewart Granger's films, The Man In Grey, Fanny by Gaslight, Caravan, The Magic Bow." She rocked back on her heels. "I'm right, aren't I?"

"How do you know all this shit?"

"Because your brother is standing beside me telling me what to say. Look, I know it's insane. That's exactly what I said when he showed up in my hotel room, but I swear on my mother's grave, Stuart has been stuck in some kind of limbo and is …well, he's a spirit, a ghost and can't move on until he knows you're safe."

"Why wouldn't I be safe?"

Now we're getting somewhere, Stuart said. Keep talking.

The holster of the gun glistened when Stephan descended the porch steps. Rooney shoved an arm out. "Hold on, what are you doing, and why do you have that gun tucked into your waistband?"

"Squirrel hunting." He gave her what she recognized now as his devastating grin, the one that made her knees go weak and her heart accelerate. But could she trust him? In reality, she knew nothing about the man, other than he was Stuart's brother and might be wrong in the head. "So where is he, my brother, the ghost?"

"Right here." She extended an arm to her right. "Crap, I was hoping you might be able to see him, hear him, like me."

"Sorry to disappoint you. I might be fit-shaced but I'm not…" Eyes narrowed again. "Crazy like some people."

"You mean shit-faced, and thanks so much for the crazy compliment."

"What would you call someone who showed up one day insisting your brother, the ghost, accompanied her to the old homestead?"

Inches away from her now, she looked up into his eyes. Blue…definitely blue and shining like sapphires. A rush of heat pedaled through her body and her tongue felt thick again. "Probably crazy. I get that, I do, and I didn't want to get involved in any of this. Once I saw Stuart, heard his story, I didn't know how to turn away. Believe me, I'd rather be anywhere but here right now translating for a ghost…your brother."

He cupped a hand over his brow, looked skyward and then back at her again. "That sun's a bitch today. All right, come on in. Can't wait to hear the rest of this fairytale, but when I say it's time to go, I mean it, got that?"

We're in! Stuart did a fist pump. Well played, Rooney.

Raves for A Ghost To Die For

“Do you believe in ghosts? If so, A GHOST TO DIE FOR by Keta Diablo will have you captivated while the hero and heroine deal with the fracking company who killed the hero’s brother. Great story.”

“This is one paranormal with a terrific ghost.”

“A really great story! I enjoyed the writing and the plot in A Ghost to Die For.”

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Wise Words Your Mother Might Have Taught You - Week 1

Carry your mother's bags; she carried you for nine months.

How does the world treat its elderly?

Eastern cultures (like China's) adhere to the Confucian tradition of "filial piety," which prioritizes the family unit and values elders with the utmost respect. In fact, China recently passed a law ("Elderly Rights Law") that wags a finger at adult children, warning them to "never neglect or snub elderly people" and mandating that they visit their elderly parents often, regardless of how far away they live.

Korea: Not only do they respect the elderly, but they also celebrate them. For Koreans, the 60th and 70th birthdays are prominent life events, which are commemorated with large-scale family parties and feasts.

Like other Asian cultures, the Japanese prize filial piety and expect children to dutifully tend to their parents.

What about France? This country passed a similar decree protecting the elderly in 2004. It requires citizens to keep in touch with their geriatric parents. Two horrific studies prompted this decree: 1. France had the highest pensioner suicide rate in Europe at the time, and, 2. A heat wave killed 15,000 people, most elderly, and many had been dead for weeks before they were found.

Mediterranean and Latin cultures place similar priorities on family. In both cultures, its common for multiple families to life under one roof where the elderly often care for young children while the parents work outside the home.

Which brings me to Western cultures and the impetus for this post. I recently read an article about a woman in a nursing home that complained of continual earaches. Upon her son's insistence, a physician was called in only to discover a spider had crawled into the poor woman's ear and planted eggs.

Further reading about our senior citizens and how they're cared for in our country were disappointing. Western cultures tend to be youth-centric, emphasizing attributes like individualism and independence. According to a noted Anthropologist who has studied the treatment of the elderly across all cultures, he claims the geriatric in U.K. and U.S. often live "lonely lives separated from their children and lifelong friends." As their health deteriorates, the elderly in these cultures often move to assisted living facilities, and nursing homes without a single family member residing with them.

I think we can do better. How about you? Leave a comment below; let us know how you think we can take better care of our beloved geriatric family members.

In my full-length novel Land of Falling Stars, the heroine, Sophia Whitfield, has lost both of her parents. Civil War has ravaged the Nation and she's doing her best to maintain her cherished childhood plantation (and keeping Yankees at bay). Trying to survive one day at a time, she waits for the return of her fiance and her best friend, both of whom have gone off to war.

Only one man returns home, and he carries a secret so horrific, he knows Sophia will hate him forever once he tells her what happened on that bloody battlefield.  

Raves for Land of Falling Stars:"Wow! Land of Falling Stars is one of those books I wish I could give more than 5 stars. This book is one giant roller coaster of events and emotions and I enjoyed every minute of it."

"A love story that will make you laugh, cheer and cry. Definitely a must read!! Five Stars."

"Why?! Why did it have to end? Recommend highly. 10 stars. This is what romance is all about!!"

"If you love the Civil War and you want some hot smexy action with intrigue and yes a few hair pulling moments(in a good way) please, I beg you to go get this book. It's so worth it!"

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ghosts & Native American Mythology - #MFRWHooks

Hello again. I'm happy you stopped by today for another #MFRWHooks blog hop. This hop is sponsored by Marketing For Romance Writers every Wednesday. Don't forget to visit all the author blogs/web sites on the list to read a short snippet from their books! GO HERE.

Since Halloween is right around the corner, what could be better than celebrating the 'spooky' holiday with ghost stories and/or books? Last week I mentioned that while checking my back list of books, I discovered I often write about apparitions or ghosts. 

My mother claims I talked about ghosts in my childhood and often expressed my frustration that she couldn't see them like I could. Psychologists claim children and animals see them because they've never been conditioned or taught not to. In other words, kids and canines don't have a 'filter' to employ; they just see what's in front of them.

Further, paranormal researchers claim England has the most ghosts or ghost sightings, but that's not to say the grand old USA doesn't have their share of famous ghosts. Here's a few that should spark your interest (Google their names with the word 'ghost' and you can find plenty of information about them.)

* Beginning in the late 19th century, Benjamin Franklin’s ghost was seen near the library of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.

* The author Mark Twain is believed to haunt the stairwell of his onetime Village apartment building.

* Aaron Burr, who served as vice president under Thomas Jefferson but is best known for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Burr’s ghost is said to roam the streets of his old neighborhood (also the West Village). Burr’s spectral activity is focused particularly on one restaurant, One if By Land, Two if By Sea, which is located in a Barrow Street building that was once Burr’s carriage house.

How about you? Do you believe in otherworldly spirits? Leave a comment below and let me know about your ghostly encounters.

Today's Book Hook comes from one of my latest western romance novellas COMES AN OUTLAW. And…yes, you'll find a ghost between the pages.

About Comes An Outlaw
When a tragic accident claims her husband's life, Jesse Santos must find a way to keep the ranch, the only home her 12-year-old son has ever known.  The ranch hands have abandoned her, a gang of cutthroat ranchers want her land and an ancient Yaqui Indian insists a spirit has taken up residence in the house.

After a fifteen-year absence, Coy Santos returns to his childhood home. He doesn't plan on staying, and he certainly doesn't intend to settle down with his brother's widow and her son…no matter how pretty she is.

He's an outlaw, after all, and made a decision to put an end to his gun-slinging days long ago. Will his conscience let him walk away from family, or will his heart overrule his head?

EXCERPT: Coy Santos returns home and comes face-to-face with his brother's widow.

The one-story house came into view. Still painted buttercup yellow and trimmed in white, with a wrap-around veranda the same color as the trim, at least that hadn't changed. The red barn still stood and to the right of the house, the riotous garden remained. Childhood memories flooded him. He could almost smell his mother's Blue Bells and Forget Me Nots, taste her home-grown beans, squash and the mouth-watering ears of corn, fresh off the stalk.
A dog barked from somewhere near the steps of the porch. As he drew closer he spotted the long-haired cur, part Australian Shepherd and a breed he couldn't identify. The dog trotted up the steps when he brought his horse to a halt, settled in beside a young boy, and then flashed an ominous row of white teeth his way. His gaze left the dog and wandered to the boy with a baby screech owl perched on his left shoulder. A brown slouch hat sat atop his head, the chin strap resting on his chest. His hair was long and jet black, his eyes gun-metal gray. A rope-belt held up his baggy wool trousers and the white cotton shirt set off his youthful, tanned face. A face that held a wary expression yet exuded a cocky air.
"State your business," a female voice called out.
Too busy taking in his surroundings, the dog and the boy, his tired brain overlooked the woman on the porch. Now that he'd taken a good look, he couldn't imagine how any man with blood running through his veins could fail to notice her. Tall and lean, weathered leather trousers clung to her long legs like second skin. A red flannel shirt hung long and loose on her body but failed to hide her womanly curves. Her hair was thick and straight, falling past her shoulders in a tangle of burnished copper. Watchful and intense, her large, round eyes glistened like liquid pools of blue ice.
When he brought a knee up to dismount, she cocked the rifle. "You don't hear so good. I asked you to state your business."
"My business? I was about to ask what you're doing here and follow it up with just who the hell are you?"
"Don't bother dismounting, and don't even think about going for that sidearm at your hip. Though the buzzards might like it; they haven't had their breakfast yet this morning."
"Right friendly, aren't ya?"
"To my friends, yes."
"Where's the folks that used to live here?"
She jerked her chin toward a cluster of cottonwoods in the distance. He remembered the trees and the black wrought-iron fence surrounding them, the family graveyard. His heart wrenched for a brief moment. He hadn't considered the possibility that his parents might be dead.
"Where's Cain? He off again on one of his infamous ghost hunts or is he hiding inside with his nose buried in a textbook?"
Something crossed her eyes for a second…surprise, sorrow? Maybe both. "You know Cain?"
"I should, he's my brother."
Definitely shock this time. "Your…your brother?"
"Now who can't hear so good?"
"I heard you. He, well, he didn't talk much about a brother."
"No, don't imagine he did." He put his hands out at his sides. "Look, it's mighty hot out here under the sun, and my horse needs water. And for the record, never point a rifle at a man unless you intend to use it."
"I still might."


"I loved all the components of this story. The Indian lore was probably my favorite though."

"The storyline is brilliant. This novella has many twists and turns. A page turner."

 "Diablo has created a set of compelling characters. Jesse captures the essence of the time, when women had very few options, and even fewer good ones."

Hope you enjoy reading all the snippets today, and once again, thanks for dropping by,