Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Read an excerpt from A Grave Every Mile: A Pioneer Western Adventure by David Fitz-Gerald #Pioneers #HistoricalWestern #WesternAdventure #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @AuthorDAVIDFG @cathiedunn

A Grave Every Mile: A Pioneer Western Adventure
By David Fitz-Gerald

Embark on a harrowing trek across the rugged American frontier in 1850. Your wagon awaits, and the untamed wilderness calls. This epic western adventure will test the mettle of even the bravest souls.

Dorcas Moon and her family set forth in search of opportunity and a brighter future. Yet, what awaits them is a relentless gauntlet of life-threatening challenges: miserable weather, ravenous insects, scorching sunburns, and unforgiving terrain. It's not merely a battle for survival but a test of their unity and sanity.

Amidst the chaos, Dorcas faces ceaseless trials: her husband's unending bickering, her daughter's descent into madness, and the ever-present danger of lethal rattlesnakes, intensifying the peril with each step. The specter of death looms large, with diseases spreading and the eerie howls of rabid wolves piercing the night. Will the haunting image of wolves desecrating a grave push Dorcas over the edge?

With each mile, the migration poses a haunting question: Who will endure the relentless quest to cross the continent, and who will leave their bones to rest beside the trail? The pathway is bordered by graves, a chilling reminder of the steep cost of dreams.

A Grave Every Mile marks the commencement of an unforgettable saga. Start reading Ghosts Along the Oregon Trail now to immerse yourself in an expedition where every decision carries the weight of life, death, and the pursuit of a brighter future along the Oregon Trail.

Publication Date: December 24th, 2023
Publisher: David Fitz-Gerald
Page Length: 204
Genre: Western, Historical Fiction

Grab a copy HERE!
This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.


Independence, Missouri, April 13, 1850

It is late afternoon by the time everyone has completed and stowed their purchases. We’re about to climb into our wagons when we notice townspeople scurrying from the streets and boardwalks, taking cover indoors.

A couple of tough-looking men appear on the street, facing each other, hands hovering at their sides, guns in their holsters. This isn’t like the young men throwing fists a few hours earlier. The air feels thick with tension. I swallow hard and realize that one of the two men is about to die. We hasten around the corner onto Liberty Street just as the sound of gunfire explodes in the air.

I was the last to make it safely around the bend and the first to peek back around the corner.

One man stands, leaning backward, arms stretched and laughing menacingly. The other has dropped where he stood, limbs akimbo, in a heap on the muddy street.

People who had ducked for cover moments earlier return to get a closer look. A thin man in a brown vest steps into the street. Two men follow closely behind him, amble toward the dead body, lift the man from the road, and carry him away like doing so is an everyday occurrence. This town is nothing like the ones back home. Though I don't know them, I'm curious about the quarrel that compelled their duel.

Larkin steps forward, Dahlia Jane in his arms, and says, “Let’s go now. If we survive Independence, the rest of the trail should be easy.”

A shiver halts me briefly, as Larkin’s prediction of smooth sailing ahead disappears into the air. We climb into the wagon and I turn, notice that Rose is missing, glancing about, hoping to spot her. She’s halfway to the place where the gunfighter fell in the mud. I shout for her to come back, but she doesn’t seem to hear me. I leap from the wagon. More mud splatters my dress, but I run to find her.

When I catch up to Rose, she’s rounding the corner, seemingly following the men who carried the dead body. Where are they now?

I’m right beside Rose, yet she still doesn’t happen to hear me. I reach for her shoulders, shake her gently, and repeat her name. She glances at me quickly, then looks back up the street, directly at a building with a sign that reads, “Undertaker.” The foul air reeks of rotten eggs, moldy bread, and hot manure. I guess that’s what decaying human bodies smell like. As the carried corpse disappears within the structure, Rose turns back toward our wagon without a word.

When I catch up to her again, I ask, “Rose, honey. Is there something the matter? Do you want to talk about it?”

She shrugs. “No. Why, Mama?”

I’m confused. It’s like nothing has happened, or she has already forgotten about following the cadaver. I shake my head and wonder where her mind goes sometimes.

Usually, we walk alongside the wagon but this evening, we ride as passengers while Larkin walks beside our team of six oxen, in three teams of two, led by Hardtack, our gentle giant, and Scrapple, his partner.

Larkin never rides in the wagon, because he says it makes him seasick. An hour later, we join a dozen wagons, already settled into an encampment.

Our boys, Andrew and Christopher, who are eleven and nine, tend the oxen, and Larkin pitches a tent beside the wagon. It is harder than usual to make sleeping space among our belongings with extra provisions crowding our confined footage. With limited space inside the vehicle, Larkin and the boys will sleep in a tent, while the girls and I slumber under the cover of a canvas wagon bonnet, crowded by cargo.

Last fall, we left our home, in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, moving as swiftly as oxen can go, arriving in Missouri before the worst of winter’s weather. We rented a vacant cabin with our friends for a couple of months, living together in tight quarters before striking out again, arriving in Independence early this morning. It's hard to complain about all the things we left behind when everything we own is packed into such a small space. I almost wish we'd left more things behind.

When I finish tucking the girls in, I nestle myself among sacks of provisions and inhale deeply. The rich, sweet smell of cornmeal fills my nostrils and I close my eyes. I should be thinking about rolling forward into the future with my family, but all I can think about is the dashing assistant wagon master, Agapito Huerta Delgado. What kind of a name is that? Where we’re from, nobody has such musical sounding names.

Even if I were unmarried, it would be foolish to think about such a handsome man. My mother always told me that the good-looking ones are nothing but trouble. I tell myself that I am happily married, but sometimes, I am not a good listener.

David Fitz-Gerald writes westerns and historical fiction. He is the author of twelve books, including the brand-new series, Ghosts Along the Oregon Trail set in 1850. Dave is a multiple Laramie Award, first place, best in category winner; a Blue Ribbon Chanticleerian; a member of Western Writers of America; and a member of the Historical Novel Society.

Alpine landscapes and flashy horses always catch Dave’s eye and turn his head. He is also an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked to the summit of the range’s highest peaks. As a mountaineer, he’s happiest at an elevation of over four thousand feet above sea level.

Dave is a lifelong fan of western fiction, landscapes, movies, and music. It should be no surprise that Dave delights in placing memorable characters on treacherous trails, mountain tops, and on the backs of wild horses.

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Monday, January 29, 2024

Read an interview with Katharine Quarmby, author of The Low Road #WomensFiction #FeministFiction #HistoricalFiction #TheCoffeePotBookClub #BlogTour @katharineq @cathiedunn

The Low Road
By Katharine Quarmby

In 1828, two young women were torn apart as they were sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay. Will they ever meet again?

Norfolk, 1813. In the quiet Waveney Valley, the body of a woman – Mary Tyrell – is staked through the heart after her death by suicide. She had been under arrest for the suspected murder of her newborn child. Mary leaves behind a young daughter, Hannah, who is later sent away to the Refuge for the Destitute in London, where she will be trained for a life of domestic service.

It is at the Refuge that Hannah meets Annie Simpkins, a fellow resident, and together they forge a friendship that deepens into passionate love. But the strength of this bond is put to the test when the girls are caught stealing from the Refuge's laundry, and they are sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, setting them on separate paths that may never cross again.

Drawing on real events, The Low Road is a gripping, atmospheric tale that brings to life the forgotten voices of the past – convicts, servants, the rural poor – as well as a moving evocation of love that blossomed in the face of prejudice and ill fortune.

Publication Date: UK: 22nd June 2023. US: 19th September 2023. Australia/NZ: 2nd January 2024
Publisher: Unbound Publishing
Page Length: 400
Genre: Historical Fiction / Lesbian Fiction / Women’s Literature

Grab a copy HERE!


Writing Interview questions.

Why did you choose to write your book in this era?

I sort of feel that The Low Road, and in particular the girl Hannah, who is the main character, chose me! Hannah, like me, grew up in my hometown of Harleston, in eastern England; like me, she was in the care system (although I was adopted by a loving family); like me, she pilfered as a child. I felt a kind of identification with Hannah and even though writing in this era was difficult, I couldn’t turn down her request to tell her story, if that doesn’t sound too fey. 

Did you find researching this era particularly difficult? What was the hardest thing to find out, and did you come across anything particularly surprising?

It was difficult because the Georgian era is pre-photography and sound recording, so I had to travel back in time, through the use of archives, paintings, PhDs by historians and by walking the streets that my characters would have walked in order to feel their stories at the deepest level. The most surprising thing I found out was how many loving and deep friendships or relationships were formed between female convicts – and how that story hadn’t been told a lot. 

Can you share something about the book that isn’t covered in the blurb?

For me the book is very much about the experiences of ordinary working people growing up in extraordinary times. Far too often history, including historical novels, is told from the top down. I wanted to give real, working class women, the chance to speak for a change. 

If you had to describe your protagonist(s), in three words, what would those three words be and why?

Resilient; loyal; loving

Was there anything that you edited out of this book that would have drastically affected the story, should it be left in?

Great question! One character dies who could have lived. If the character had lived the whole story would have been different. As novelists we have the power to play God. 

What are you currently working on?

I am lucky enough to have been awarded an Arts Council England grant to develop a crime series, based on the journalism I have done in the past, both in the UK and abroad. I am also reflecting on how to write about the Swing Rioters in Eastern England, whose experiences I briefly mention in The Low Road. 

What would you tell an aspiring author who had some doubts about their writing abilities?

Kurt Vonnegut once said that art is about making life more bearable and that practicing art is a way “to make your soul grow”. Everybody can practice art, whether that’s writing, singing, painting or anything else. Whether you get recognised for it, become an ‘artist’ in the public realm is far less important than doing the work of being an artist. We can all be artists because we can all create art. I also see art as a way of puzzling out something that doesn’t make sense to me. I practice art, at every level, to find out something about myself, or the experiences of others, or about the world, to satisfy what Rudyard Kipling called “insatiable curiosity”. 

Personal Interview questions.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I am, first and foremost, a reader, and I read everywhere, including audio books when I am walking (almost one of my favourite things to do). Swimming is probably the only activity I do when I’m not either listening or reading, and it does help me to wrangle out writing problems. I also like talking to and engaging with other writers and spending time with my family and friends. Lastly, I really like gardening.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to write in some form, so I feel very lucky to have spent my whole life either writing or doing journalism, which lately has been writing but was also film-making in the past. 

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating?

I don’t yet know, but my favourite foods are soups, salads, Persian food, especially rich stews (I have Persian heritage) and fruit. 

What would be a perfect day?

Writing by a river where I could swim, with my family and friends close by in a big house

What is the best part of your day?

Getting up and drinking tea, and thinking about the day to come as it unfolds. 

Either or!

Tea or coffee: Tea

Hot or cold: Cold 

Movie or book: Book

Morning person or Night owl: Morning person

City or country: Country

Social Media or book: Book

Paperback or ebook: Paperback

Katharine Quarmby has written non-fiction, short stories and books for children and her debut novel, The Low Road, is published by Unbound in 2023. Her non-fiction works include Scapegoat: Why We Are Failing Disabled People (Portobello Books, 2011) and No Place to Call Home: Inside the Real Lives of Gypsies and Travellers (Oneworld, 2013). She has also written picture books and shorter e-books.

She is an investigative journalist and editor, with particular interests in disability, the environment, race and ethnicity, and the care system. Her reporting has appeared in outlets including the Guardian, The Economist, The Atlantic, The Times of London, the Telegraph, New Statesman and The Spectator. Katharine lives in London.

Katharine also works as an editor for investigative journalism outlets, including Investigative Reporting Denmark and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Have a look at Bound in Roses by Katherine Kayne #BoundinRoses #HistoricalRomance #GildedAge #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @cathiedunn

Bound in Roses
By Katherine Kayne

A red-hot Hawaiian romance blooms for a buttoned-up botanist who must learn to let go and embrace the ancient voice within her.

After a failed engagement to a high-society suitor in San Francisco, Lokelani "Lucky" Letwin returns home to Hawaii, leaving her beloved rosebushes behind. She's desperate to establish a life of her own-a daunting task for any unmarried female in the early twentieth century but particularly for one passionate about the science of plants. A stubborn, song-filled girl now grown into an accomplished woman Lokelani is haunted by a family tragedy. She is as reluctant to acknowledge her past as she is to accept the supernatural force building inside her, strong and inevitable. She is a mākāhā, a Gate, ever connected to the power of the islands . . . if only she will admit it.

In her quest to retrieve her roses, Lokelani is reunited with Artemus Chang, a childhood friend, who's now a handsome and successful lawyer. As the spark between them grows, Artemus agrees to help her recover her roses, only to discover her kisses leave him literally breathless. When a mystical teacher enters her life, Lokelani's embrace of the voice of ancient power bubbling up within her takes on new urgency and new apprehensions.

Will Lokelani continue to be bound by guilt and fear? Or will she learn to reconcile her gifts - as both a practical botanist and a mystical Gate - to sing once more and claim her love?

Publication Date: January 23, 2024
Publisher: Passionflower Press
Page Length: 397
Genre: Historical Romance (Gilded Age)

Grab a copy HERE!

Award winning author Katherine Kayne writes deeply romantic historical fantasy set in old Hawaii. Her critically acclaimed debut novel BOUND IN FLAME delivers myth, magic and all the sparks promised by the title. The next installment in her Hawaiian Ladies' Riding Society series, BOUND IN ROSES, is available for preorder now. 

Katherine's novels are filled with horses and history and happily ever after . . . and heroes strong enough to follow their heroine's lead. She spends a part of each year on Hawaii Island immersing herself in Hawaii's past. Aided of course by the occasional mai tai. Katherine created the world of the Hawaiian Ladies Riding Society to tell the stories of the fearless horsewomen of the islands' ranches. Because who doesn't love a suffragist on horseback? With a bullwhip? Wearing flowers? 

If you come along for the ride, be prepared for almost anything to happen. Katherine can promise you fiery kisses, charming cowboys, women who ride like the rainbow to save the day, and that rarest of beasts-handsome men who like to dance.

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Monday, January 15, 2024

Read an excerpt from The Beauty Doctor by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard #historicalfiction #historicalmystery #cosmeticsurgeryhistory #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @EHBernardAuthor @cathiedunn

The Beauty Doctor
By Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

A Bone-Chilling Mystery-Suspense-Thriller Set in the Edwardian Era
Finalist, Eric Hoffer Book Award

"Beauty is power," Dr. Rome told her. "And with enough power, one can achieve anything."

Straightening noses, trimming eyelids, lifting jowls . . .  In the year 1907, his revolutionary beauty surgery is considered daring, perhaps dangerous. Still, women want what Dr. Rome promises. Neither is his young assistant Abigail Platford immune to Dr. Rome's persuasive charm.

Abigail once dreamed of becoming a doctor, though of a much different sort. That dream ended with her father's tragic death from a medical error for which she holds herself responsible. Dr. Rome, who proudly displays his medical degree from Johns Hopkins, seems to believe in her. If he were willing to act as her mentor, might there still be a chance to realize her dream of someday becoming a doctor serving New York City's poor?

But something feels terribly wrong, as though an insidious evil is closing in. Broken promises, lies, and intrigues abound. The powerful are threatening to destroy the weak, and a doctor's sacred duty hangs in the balance. Abigail no longer knows who to believe; but with Dr. Rome now her mentor and her lover, she desperately wants to trust him.

Even when she discovers that one of their patients has mysteriously disappeared.

From bestselling author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, a suspenseful work of historical fiction grounded in the social and moral issues of the Edwardian era in America. Second Edition with Author's Preface.

Praise for The Beauty Doctor:

"A fantastic work of historical fiction. If I could have scored it higher than five stars, I would have."


Publication Date: January 4th, 2024 (2nd edition)
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Pages: 327
Genre: Historical Mystery / Suspense
Audiobook narrator: Lisa Bozek

Grab a copy HERE!


She contemplated, not for the first time, why a handsome professional man like Franklin Rome was unmarried. Recalling what he’d insinuated about Arthur, and how he claimed to have a pretty good eye for that kind of thing, she allowed herself a moment to consider whether Dr. Rome might himself have a hidden predilection. But no, that was impossible. She remembered the little flutter in her stomach that night at the banquet when he first smiled at her and then later, again, when he leaned close, saying she intrigued him. She couldn’t deny he was immensely attractive. 

Unsettled by the direction of her thoughts, she reminded herself that Dr. Rome was her employer and a person from whom she might learn a great deal. Yes, he was a beauty doctor. But his credentials were impressive. That very afternoon she had helped him hang half a dozen framed diplomas on the wall of his private office, tangible proof of his training and competence. Even her father hadn’t so many certificates. Yet as Mr. Chapman had rather indelicately questioned the other night, why would a doctor waste the efforts of all that training on something as inconsequential as beauty surgery?

Certainly, it might be the money. Her father would have been lucky to make a hundred dollars in six months’ time. Most of his patients were poor; he not only treated them without thought of remuneration but often was forced to pay for the medicines they needed from his own pocket. Then she remembered how, at the Hennessys’ banquet, Dr. Rome had referred to the work of a doctor as the medical arts. That was it, of course! He did, in fact, strike her as the artistic type; more than once, she had admired the gracefulness of his long fingers, imagining them holding a blade—cutting and shaping human flesh, much like a sculptor molds clay. If Dr. Rome was a physician with the soul of an artist, it was understandable why he might become a beauty doctor. 

She thought again of Isabelle Hadley and how her first success as Dr. Rome’s foil had given her an unexpected sense of pride. Already, she was embracing her new role with more enthusiasm than she’d anticipated. Why shouldn’t she? It was surely better than the awful dispiritedness that had plagued her since her father’s death. Besides, she enjoyed the sense of collegiality she shared with Dr. Rome. Yes, she was only an office girl, but he occasionally spoke to her about medicine and surgery and how far it all had come in recent years. She remembered how effusive he had become last week when the autoclave was delivered to the office. He’d explained in great detail about the steam sterilizer. It was one of the most important inventions of the late nineteenth century, he’d said. Many problems could be avoided by sterilizing instruments before they were used in patients. When he’d unpacked it from the crate, he’d told her how—

She threw off the comforter, every nerve in her body alert. The delivery! How could she have forgotten to tell Dr. Rome about the man who had stopped by the office after he’d left for the day?

Hastily, she lit the lamp, jumped out of bed, and began dressing, all the while replaying the conversation in her mind from late that afternoon. It had been awkward and very strange. She was locking up around five o’clock when a squat, unkempt little man appeared on the doorstep. Right away, she noticed his nose, which was large and misshapen, with a red, bulbous tip. Assuming he was a prospective patient, she gave him a card and instructed him to call the office in the morning for an appointment. With obvious impatience, he crumpled the card in his hand. 

“You can’t get in touch with him?”

“Well, I might—”

“Yes or no.” 

She didn’t answer, put off by his rudeness. Who was he to speak to her in such a manner? 

“Just tell him Shark said to look for a delivery tonight, same time as before,” he said without waiting. “Got it?”

“What kind of delivery?” 

“He’ll know. Tell him midnight, just like he wanted.” 

“Midnight? Why, that’s ridiculous! Nobody makes deliveries at that hour.” 

“Look, lady, I ain’t got time for parlor games. I make a lot o’ deliveries. The day ain’t long enough for all of ‘em, so I work late. The doc says he don’t mind. Just tell him, all right? And make sure you don’t forget.” 

Pulling on her boots, she pictured again his dissipated look, the malicious twist to his lips, the wrinkled gray sack suit, and the shabby bowler perched precariously on his wide head. A shiver of revulsion ran through her. A rendezvous with such a fellow, alone and in the dark of night, was the last thing she wanted, but now there was no choice. She would conduct whatever brief transaction might be necessary and leave the delivery for Dr. Rome to find in the morning. He would never have to know how irresponsible she’d been in failing to inform him. 

She went to the door and stepped outside. The stars, covered by a haze of clouds, provided only scant light, but the glimmer of electric street lamps made up for any deficit. She climbed the half dozen stairs from her room and then the short flight to the office entrance, unlocked the door, and entered. Inside was pitch-black. She felt her way to the desk and lit the lamp. Her eyes scanned the dim interior. The room in which she had grown accustomed to spending her days seemed somehow foreign at night, its sense of comfort reliant on sunlight streaming through the tall windows that now were shrouded in velvet drapery. She looked toward the dark hallway leading to the operating room and Dr. Rome’s private office and felt a vague apprehension, as if something sinister lurked beyond her small circle of light. 

Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is the author of bestselling historical novels. Her 2023 release, Sisters of Castle Leod, is an Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller (Historical Biographical Fiction, Historical Literary Fiction), winner of the 2023 Maxy Award for Historical and Adventure Fiction, and an Editors’ Choice of the Historical Novel Society. Her biographical novel Temptation Rag (2018) was hailed by Publishers Weekly as a “resonant novel . . . about the birth and demise of ragtime . . . in which romance and creative passions abound.”

Elizabeth’s 2017 historical mystery-suspense-thriller, The Beauty Doctor, was a finalist for the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Award. The book’s re-release (Jan. 4, 2024) features a stunning new cover and an Author Preface with insights into social and moral issues of the Edwardian era that frame this shocking fictional story set in the early days of cosmetic surgery.

Before becoming a full-time author, Elizabeth was executive editor of an international aesthetic surgery journal, and senior consultant to the National Cosmetic Network in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University’s plastic surgery educational program.

Learn more about Elizabeth and her books at www.EHBernard.com.

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Monday, January 8, 2024

Read an excerpt from The Dream Collector (Sabrine & Sigmund Freud, Book 1) By R.w. Meek #HistoricalFiction #LiteraryFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @cathiedunn

The Dream Collector  
(Sabrine & Sigmund Freud, Book 1)
by R.w. Meek

The Dream Collector immerses the reader into the exciting milieu of late 19th Century Paris when art and medicine were in the throes of revolution, art turning to Impressionism, medicine turning to psychology. In 1885, Julie Forette, a self-educated woman from Marseilles, finds employment at the infamous Salpêtrière, hospital and asylum to over five thousand disabled, demented and abandoned women, a walled city ruled by the famed neurologist and arrogant director, Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot.  

Julie Forette forms a friendship with the young, visiting intern Sigmund Freud who introduces her to the altering-conscious power of cocaine. Together they pursue the hidden potential of hypnotism and dream interpretation. After Freud receives the baffling case of the star hysteric, Sabrine Weiss, he is encouraged by Julie to experiment with different modes of treatment, including “talking sessions.” Their urgent quest is to find a cure for Sabrine, Princess of the Hysterics, before Dr. Charcot resorts to the radical removal of her ovaries.  

In Paris, Julie finds a passion for the new art emerging, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and forms friendships with the major artists of the period, including Pissarro, Monet, and Degas. Julie becomes intimately involved with the reclusive Cezanne only to be seduced by the “Peruvian Savage” Paul Gauguin.  Julie is the eponymous ‘Dream Collector’ collecting the one unforgettable, soul-defining dream of the major historical figures of the period. 

Praise for The Dream Collector: 

"Meek never fails to stun and impress with his evocation of scenes and events, of sights and dialogue, and of peoples' reactions to them."

~ HFC Reviews

"Tribute must be paid to the obvious and clear literary skills of the author R.w. Meek and to his ability to invoke historic personages and the Belle Époque he so evidently adores."

~ Julian de la Motte, award winning author of Senlac

Publication Date: December 19th, 2023
Publisher: Historium Books
Page Length: 723
Genre: Literary Historical Fiction

Grab a copy HERE!


I agreed to take my clothes off under certain conditions.  First, Cezanne would give me a dream. What I wanted was the dream that no one forgets. The dream that defies the gravity of common sense, escapes propriety, and trespasses past the boundaries of morality. The dream which opens a door to the most improbable fantasies and desires. I had a theory I hoped to prove—Cezanne’s chosen dream would be the lodestar to explain what led the artist along his path.

The second condition was that I would not pose in a recumbent position. I deemed Cezanne too innovative to follow the worn-out pattern of the compliant nude.  

Lastly, the more elaborate condition, I had to observe his painting method. Cezanne said that he could, through a series of mirrors, set at proper angles, fix it so that everything was visible to me. I would have a view of his palette, the colours he chose, and also a glimpse over his shoulder to watch how his brushstroke was applied.

“Your desire to understand the construction of painting,” he admitted, “is impressive.”

R.w. Meek has a Master’s degree in Art History from the American University in Washington, D.C., his areas of expertise are Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, with a particular interest in Vincent van Gogh.  He has interned and conducted tours at the National Museum of American and the National Gallery of Art. In 2022 and 2023 five of his chapter excerpts from his soon to be published novel “The Dream Collector” were either finalists or published in various literary journals. The author has also won the Palm Beach Book Festival Competition for “Best Writer in Palm Beach’ his manuscript judged by a panel of NYT Best Selling authors. “The Dream Collector” also received gold and silver medals in the Historical Fiction Company literary contest and earned runner-up for the “Best Historical Fiction Novel’ of 2022. 

The author was born in Baltimore, adventured in Europe for many years, and recently moved from Delray Beach, Florida to Santa Clarita, California.  His wife is a psychologist, sculptress, playwright and stand-up story teller.  His daughter Nora is a story board artist in the animation world and resides in Hollywood, California. His favorite writers are Dostoevsky, John Fowles, and Antoine de Saint-Exupery. 


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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Read a snippet from Beautiful Ghost by Milana Marsenich #historicalfiction #Butte #Montana #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @milanamarsenich @cathiedunn

Beautiful Ghost 
By Milana Marsenich

During the fall of 1918, the influenza pandemic crosses the nation and reaches the mining town of Butte, Montana. 

Marika Jovich, who wants to go to school to become a physician, works menial tasks for Dr. Fletcher. She feels useless as she tries to save friends and neighbors from the ravages of the flu. In the midst of the pandemic, she watches the town shut down, young and old perish, and her medical dreams all but evaporate.

Kaly Monroe used to be a half-good woman of the night. She left that life to raise her daughter, Annie, and live and work with her long-lost mother, Tara McClane. Kaly waits for her husband, Tommy, to return from the war. Word from the east is that soldiers are dying of influenza and she prays that Tommy is not one of them.

When an out-of-town woman named Amelia suddenly dies in Dr. Fletcher's office, both women try to learn more about the mysterious woman and the circumstances regarding her death. Is she another casualty of the pandemic, or the victim of manmade foul play? Who is this stranger, and is her demise a portent of the fate that awaits the residents of Butte?

Praise for Beautiful Ghost: 

“Marsenich doesn't just describe the place and times, she conjures it up like time travel.” 
~ Amazon Review by Ellen Leahy Howell

Publication Date: November 8, 2022
Publisher: Open Books
Page Length: 217
Genre: Historical Fiction

Grab a copy HERE!


The wolf dog leaves the boy at the bakery with his new family. Earlier that week the boy slept so much that the dog refused to leave his side, fearing that some primitive devil crashed its way into his lungs. The boy is up and playing now and the dog strolls through the town, mystified by the boy’s fatigue and the altered weather, the light behind the black headframes shifting and changing, a sure sign of the coming winter. He watches for the devil, smells for a trace of the odor trailing him. 

The odor comes from the sick people, grasping their stomachs, falling suddenly to their knees, passing the gesture to those nearby, until the whole house smells odd and sad moans escape. The odor comes from the dead wagons as they carry people to the morgue. The odor, the whisper of a spirit, that untouchable devil finds the strong and fine, and turns them weak. 

The wolf dog sniffs it out and finds the scent of it everywhere, this tiny enemy soars on the wind, digs into the earth. It reaches down from the icy cold sun crossing the sky. It has found a tunnel to burrow into and lodges in a copper vein deep in a dark hole where dynamite could blow it to a million little pieces, each piece landing anew on some unsuspecting creature, driving the scent deep and taking the breath. And the life. 

Award winning author, Milana Marsenich lives in Northwest Montana near Flathead Lake at the base of the beautiful Mission Mountains. She enjoys quick access to the mountains and has spent many hours hiking the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. For the past 20 years she has worked as a mental health therapist in a variety of settings. As a natural listener and a therapist, she has witnessed amazing generosity and courage in others. She first witnessed this in her hometown of Butte, Montana, a mining town with a rich history and the setting for Copper Sky, her first novel. 

Copper Sky was chosen as a Spur Award finalist for Best Western Historical Novel in 2018. Her second novel, The Swan Keeper, was a Willa Award finalist in 2019. Her short story, Wild Dogs, won the Laura Award for short fiction in 2020. 

She has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from Montana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. She has previously published in Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, The Polishing Stone, The Moronic Ox, BookGlow, and Feminist Studies. 

She has three published novels, Copper SkyThe Swan Keeper, and Beautiful Ghost, and one popular history book, Idaho Madams. Her upcoming novel, Shed Girl: A Juliet French Novel, will be released January 2024. Her popular history book, Mary MacLane: Butte’s Wild Woman and her Wooden Heart, will be out sometime in 2025.

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Monday, December 18, 2023

Read an excerpt from A Curse of Magick by Diane Gallagher #YoungAdult #Romance #YARomance @diane_writes @GoddessFish

A Curse of Magick
By Diane Gallagher

“A desperate princess, a handsome warrior, and an ancient magick to determine their fate.”
As daughter to the High King, love doesn’t come easily to Gráinne. Having turned down hundreds of suitors, she is being forced to marry Finn, an old, ugly yet powerful general. While outside the marriage hall, Gráinne bumps into Diarmuid, Finn’s handsome foster son. From that moment, Gráinne knows if she is to have any chance at love, he is the one she must marry. She begs him to take her away from this unwanted wedding. When Diarmuid refuses, Gráinne, desperate, places a curse on him; help her or die.
Diarmuid is a warrior who only wants to serve loyally, but when the princess sets her sights on him and casts her curse, he must make the most difficult choice of his life. Does he help her, taking their chances with a vengeful Finn, or does her refuse her, leaving her to her fate, and risking his own death?

With both their lives on the line, Gráinne and Diarmuid must fight to use Ireland’s ancient magick to escape from Finn, either bringing them together in passion or in death.

A Curse of Magick is a passionate tale of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption. A retelling of an ancient Irish myth, A Curse of Magick takes the love and romance of Romeo and Juliet, and the exhilaration of King Arthur, and mixes it together for a satisfying adventure all will love.

Genre: YA Romane
Page Length: 221

Grab a copy HERE!
This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.


Gráinne stumbled up the path to the top of the cliff. The wind whipped her hair and cloak around her. The moon had disappeared behind skittering clouds. Still furious at Diarmuid, she turned south and stomped along the edge of the cliff.

“That stupid, stupid man.” With the rage that boiled inside her, alongside the dark, she could barely see where she was going. She stepped on a loose stone that rolled and tumbled down, bouncing, and crashing to the bottom of the cliff below. Gráinne struggled to stay upright but her balance failed her. Her leg slid to the right and over the edge of the cliff. She grabbed a jutting stone, near the size of the giant’s head, and held on. Her heart was pounding, and the little vision she had swam as the sharp edges of the stone cut into her hands. She scrabbled at the stone, tearing her nails until they bled. She pulled hard against the stone until the muscles in her arms trembled and her hands, too, bled. She struggled to find purchase with her feet. Her left foot pushed against the cliff edge but only managed to kick over more stones. Gasping, her breath burned in her chest and tore at her throat. She pulled her knee up as tightly to her chest as she could until her toes found a tiny solid outcropping. With a final powerful kick, she pulled herself up to safety.

Diane Gallagher is a novelist and Druid priest. She is the author of three novels: A Curse of Magick, Greenwich List, and the Bastard of Saint Genevra. She has long roots stretching into her Celtic past, although she splits her life between two islands—Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada, and Sicily off the toe of Italy’s boot. She writes young adult romance based on ancient Celtic myths of the powerful women of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. She currently teaches creative writing at Cherry Hill Seminary.

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