Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Friday, July 20, 2018

Green Herons

While this post has absolutely nothing to do with my writing, it is something that means a lot to me. I've been watching the nesting efforts of Green Herons at a pond next to our house for almost two months now, and although I have no scientific credentials whatsoever and am by no means an authority or even a pretender to any kind of knowledge of any kind, I have wanted to document some of my observations.

Second Brood - One Unhatched Egg
I repeat, I know absolutely nothing. (In fact, as I grow older, I've realized that I really do know absolutely nothing about anything.) I wanted to make that clear. The following observations and my comments are just that: my own observations and conclusions.

So, enough with that.

I noticed the first clutch or brood of Green Herons, Butorides virescens, on June 17, 2018. I saw a juvenile bird that still had down on its head, hanging around the pond. By June 19, I'd seen five juveniles, crowding around an adult and begging to be fed.

Before that, I'd seen adult Green Herons hanging around the dock and pond, and had watched a male adult calling from one of the pilings of the dock.

Unfortunately, by the time I observed the five juveniles, they were already out of the nest and exploring the tangle of vines and trees around the pond.

To my surprise, on July 3, 2018, I saw a new nest in a sweet bay bush overhanging the pond. There were 3 downy juveniles in the nest. I don't know if this was the same pair of adults re-nesting or if it was a second pair of adults. I suspect it was a second pair of adults since there would have had to be too much overlap between the feeding of the first set of juveniles and the activity involved in sitting on the nest for the 2nd brood, given the dates.

The second set of juveniles have allowed me to gather photographs and record the early life-cycle and activities of Green Herons. So the following is the information I've collected between the two sets of juveniles. I did, unfortunately, miss a 7 day period with the second set of juveniles, but it was unavoidable.

Although I didn't witness the actual mating behavior, I noted that by April 20, 2018, a male adult
Male Heron - Preparing to call
Green Heron was routinely visiting the pond area. He often sat on the dock piling nearest to the pond and softly called, mostly in the morning. I also saw him moving in and out of the shrubs, trees, and vines around the pond. He must have found a mate and built a nest sometime during the next couple of weeks, because this pair managed to hatch out FIVE chicks! What is more astounding is that all five fledged and dispersed to salt marshes and other feeding grounds around the nest site.

Since I first noticed juvenile Green Herons (the first clutch of five chicks) with down on their heads exploring the area around the pond on June 17, 2018, I concluded that the first nest must have been built around May 10, give or take a few days. This date was calculated based upon an incubation period of 19-21 days, and the beginnings of exploratory behavior in chicks about 15 - 21 days old. Note that all these dates are approximate. I figured that the first batch of Green Herons hatched around June 1, 2018, give or take a few days.

Second Nest - Unhatched Egg Lower Right
The first nest was too well hidden to see, but based upon the behavior of the juveniles, I believe it was built in a cedar tree well covered with Virginia Creeper and Trumpet Vines. It had limbs overhanging the pond, and the juveniles seemed to go in and out of that area. There were five chicks that survived out of the first nest. I do not know if there were any eggs that didn't hatch.

Chicks on July 3, 2018 When First Observed
I was only able to observe the second nest, since it was the only one close enough to an opening in the vegetation to be visible. The nest (the second clutch) was built out of small twigs in a sweet bay bush which was overhanging the pond. I was able to see the nest itself through a small opening under a swag of vines. A cascade of Virginia Creeper curved over the branches above the nest, helping to conceal it. The second clutch produced three chicks, but there was one blue-green egg that remained unhatched in the nest. Two weeks after first observation of chicks, one juvenile was no longer begging from the parents when they arrived. I assume that juvenile died at some point, about a week ago (sometime between July 9 to July 18).

Chick Development
Since I was only able to observe fairly recently hatched chicks in the second clutch (the first being too well concealed to observe), I'll start with them.

July 3, 2018 - 2nd clutch
Three Chicks in Second Brood
I first noticed downy Green Heron chicks, sitting in a nest with one unhatched blue-green egg, on July 3, 2018. There were three chicks, all with orangey-pink bills and covered with down. The adults were coming and going frequently, and regurgitated small silvery fish for the chicks to consume.

Based upon the available literature, the chicks were most likely somewhere around 6-8 days old at this point, so they may have hatched sometime around June 26 or so. They were all covered with grayish-white down.

Over the next couple of days, the chicks mostly stayed in or very close to the nest, but they were already interested in exploring. One chick nibbled at a nearby twig in exploratory behavior.

July 6, 2018
Feathers Starting to Push Out Down
The three chicks/juveniles were bold enough to venture out on a limb near the nest and flutter/stretch their wings.

July 9, 2018
July 9 - Feathers Developing
The juveniles are starting to show feathers (as opposed to down). The adults come regularly with food, and I noted that several juveniles from the first brood were still occasionally coming to visit "the old homeplace." When they came, if the adults were present, the adults would perform an aggressive display. Unfortunately, the fledged juveniles just ignored the adults (typical teenagers). But this first brood didn't seem interested in the second brood--they pretty much just ignored them, too.

July 18, 2018
Juvenile from 2nd Brood - Just a little down on head (30+ days old)
The juveniles from the second brood were almost completely feathered by July 18, with just a few wisps of down on their heads. They looked like they were approximately the same age as the first juveniles (from the first brood) when I originally noticed them at our pond on June 17, 2018.

We now pick up development from my observations of the first brood, since this development is still in the future for the 2nd brood...

21 Days Old
By the time the juveniles were 21 days old, they were making short flights and leaping around the shrubbery around our pond. I noticed one juvenile dipping twigs into the pond to lure small fish into striking distance (Green Herons are one of the few tool-using birds).

1st Brood Juvenile Returning to Nest Area (Age 60+ days old)
They still had down on their heads, but it was almost gone. The only way to distinguish them from the adults was that they were browner overall and their beaks were more orangey-pink than black, although the beaks were gaining more blackish color. I noted that at least one of the juveniles had a much glossier blue-green back and a richer, dark cap, versus the browner birds with more streaked caps. According to Bent's literature, I tentatively decided this was a possible male juvenile as opposed to the browner, lighter-colored females.

32 Days Old+
By the time the juveniles were around 32 days old (by June 23, 2018 for the first clutch), they were really exploring the entire area. They flew to the dock and the yard, as well as down to the small beaches nearby. While the adults continued to visit, I didn't see them feed any of the juveniles, although the juveniles still mobbed them when they arrived.

35 Days Old+
Juvenile Preening - (Age 35+ days)
The adults seemed to be "luring" the juveniles away to other feeding areas. I noticed the adult female arrive, and when she departed a few minutes later, two of the juveniles followed her down to a nearby salt marsh.

Over the next few days, the juveniles continued to fly to nearby salt marshes to forage during the day, but they usually returned in the evening.

By the time they were around 40 days old, they were pretty well dispersed. Some of the juveniles from the first clutch still returned to the pond, however. One day, three returned and took up positions on a perch they favored while "growing up."

3 Juveniles from 1st Brood Before They Dispersed
Between the two nest efforts, seven juveniles fledged. All five birds from the first brood lived to the point where they dispersed to forage on their own. I have seen as many as 3 return to the pond at one time.

The second brood was not as successful. Out of four eggs, one did not hatch, and one chick appears to have died at around two weeks. The other two juveniles are still thriving, however they have not fully fledged yet. They still have down on their heads and are making short flights/leaps around the trees surrounding the pond. The adults are still feeding them, as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Finished Love Lost

Ta-da! Love Lost, the third story in the Stainton Sisters trilogy is done. Well, not exactly done, but the major writing effort is completed. It just needs to go through my three editors now, and then Grace Stainton will have her story. Phew. It's a little late, especially since I still need to get it edited, but at least I am making progress.

These three stories will be launched by Scarsdale Publishers, and the trilogy follows the trials, tribulations, and mysteries the Stainton sisters stumble into after their father passes away. Three very lonely young ladies must find their own way as the 19th century pushes forward from the Regency into the Victorian era.

Only Friends - Martha Stainton
Martha, the bespectacled middle sister, is thrust right into the middle of a mystery by her old friend, Lord Ashbourne, much to Martha's annoyance. While Martha is trying to prepare herself for a life as an unwanted spinster in her aunt's London household, Lord Ashbourne seems more than happy to waste her time and talents as a chemist to uncover the real cause of Mr. Alford's dramatic death during a supper party given by the local magistrate, Sir Horace. Martha is convinced that Lord Ashbourne and she are only friends, unaware that he has other ideas, altogether, and his plans don't include her traveling to London any time soon.

A Debt Paid - Dorothy Stainton
As the eldest daughter, Dorothy takes it upon herself to ensure the happiness of the youngest Stainton sister, Grace, when they arrive at their aunt's home in London. Unfortunately, her aunt has plans for Dorothy, that rest upon Dorothy's marriage to Lord Arundell. Rumors abound that Arundell murdered his older brother and his brother's family in order to obtain the title, and Dorothy isn't shy about refusing until she realizes that if she doesn't marry Lord Arundell, her younger sister might be thrust into the fray in her place. So Dorothy reluctantly agrees to the arrangement to protect her sister and is soon involved in the strange mystery surrounding the handsome Earl of Arundell.

Love Lost - Grace Stainton
For months, Grace had believed she would soon return to her village of Kendle and marry the kind, but poor curate, Mr. Blyth. But then she receives a letter from her sister with the news that Mr. Blyth is planning to marry a rich heiress. Having discovered she is due to inherit a small amount from a distant aunt, Grace hurries to Kendle to see Mr. Blyth, only to arrive too late. Mr. Blyth is dead--newly dead, in fact--and she is found cradling his body by the brother of the heiress Blyth was to marry! She is forthwith accused of murdering Mr. Blyth in a fit of jealous rage, and despite his suspicions and loyalty to his bereaved sister, Lord Glanville seems to be Grace's only ally. But can she trust him to help her prove her innocence, or is he simply working to trap her into an admission of guilt?

No release dates or covers yet, though I will share those as soon as I get them.

Now... As I mentioned on my previous blog, there is a lot going on around here. Our new house is still under construction (it was supposed to be finished in June, but we'd rather things be right than done quickly). We have a fabulous screened in back porch where I expect we shall be spending a lot of our time. They've gotten the floors installed, but there are a lot of little things, like the fact that they installed the wrong oven (I wanted a double oven, not a microwave and oven combo) and small details like a bad electrical outlet in the kitchen. And the doorbell doesn't work. And they haven't installed the commodes yet. Or completed the siding on the gable above the tiny front porch. Sigh.
Lots to do still. I'm just hoping to move in by at least Labor Day. I was hoping to take advantage of any Labor Day sales to buy things like the washer and dryer and any new furniture we'll need. Like a sofa. Our old sofa was completely worn out, so we got rid of it when our old house was demolished.

It is so strange to see the new house where the old one was. It's sort of sad--I know we will miss the old log home--but it's also a huge relief to have a house where hopefully, everything will actually work. And we will have real airconditioning and even heating. Imagine! Airconditioning! In the hot, humid South! Wow. And no rotten walls or crumbling support beams. Or buckling fireplace. Makes it all seem almost worthwhile.

In the meantime, for breaks between frenzies of writing, I'm monitoring the progress of our Green Herons. As I mentioned, we had one brood hatch and disperse, and now we have a second brood.

Here is what the second batch looked like just 7 days ago... It is truly shocking how quickly they grow. Their down is pushed out by "regular feathers" and before you know it, they can fly and disperse to other feeding grounds. Fortunately, there are all kinds of salt marshes around here, so there are plenty of places for them to go when they are ready to go their own way.

This second batch only has 3 babies instead of the 5 of the first bunch, but they are doing very well
and are really growing. The babies--juveniles, now--have very little down left. There are just a few tufts of down on their heads and here-and-there on their bodies, and they are as big (or bigger) than their poor parents (who are working themselves to death feeding the cheeky little dears). Juveniles from the first brood still come by to visit once in a while, but the parents of the current batch don't particularly care for them hanging around and try to scare them off. Unfortunately, the juveniles pretty much just ignore the parents of the new clutch. Typical teenagers.

Here is what the second batch look like, now. I couldn't resist taking the second picture, since the little guy had just awakened from a little siesta after its dad came to feed him (or her).

The brackish pond where all of this activity has been occurring is also attracting all kinds of
other birds, including two Prothonotary Warblers and Orchard Orioles. We even have a Yellow-bellied Slider Turtle bobbing around in the depths--which means the pond must be more "fresh" than brackish or salt-water as it was, originally. Way back in the last century (i.e. 1960 or so) our pond was a boat basin. But over the years, Mother Nature has shifted the beach around and closed up the entrance to the basin, and hurricanes and rain have turned the water from salt-water to brackish to whatever it is now. We even had a bullfrog for a while, though I have seen/heard him for a couple of weeks, so maybe one of the herons got him.

Thought I'd add a picture of one of our pretty little Prothonotary Warblers, too. They are a "ray of sunshine" for sure.

Anyway, it's been a real "hot spot" for birds in the neighborhood. We get all kinds of birds coming to check out the vines and trees around the pond. Barn Swallows and Purple Martins regularly swoop down to get a beak full of water "in flight" and I've seen cardinals, sparrows of all kinds, doves, and other birds hanging around the vegetation. We were going to clean out some of the dead wood and vines, but I've decided to leave it "as is" because it attracts so much wildlife. The herons love perching on the dead snags, as do the warblers and orioles.

Just so this isn't all about birds, here is a picture of our Yellow-bellied Slider, too.

It's a magical spot, and I feel privileged to have it on our property where I can watch the life-cycles of birds like the Green Herons.

Hope you are enjoying your summer and doing a lot of reading!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Long time no post...

Hi all!
Well, it certainly has been a long time since I posted anything, and you may just assume all the normal excuses. It recently occurred to me that I might write more if I just wrote about things I was interested in at the moment. Which is precisely what I probably shouldn't do, since this is supposed to be a blog about my journey as a writer. But as you can see, if I stick solely to that topic, well...

Have I stopped journeying as a writer?
No. In fact, I just finished the rough draft for a novel which is the third in the Stainton Sisters triology, written for Scarsdale Publishing. (It's actually late, but that's my problem.) Like most of my other books, the triology is set during the first half of the 19th century--and I say that, rather than the Regency Period, because I actually stray past the end of the Regency. And again, like my other books, there's a bit of a mystery, or even murder, mixed in with the sweet romance.

Okay, I admit it, I write "sweet" or "clean" romances or whatever term you want to use to describe books where there is a happy ending without all the hot-and-heavy action in the bedroom.

So anyway, I finished all the drafts for the Stainton Sisters, now I just need to get everything edited and sent to the publisher. Phew.

That was a difficult challenge because I'm homeless and have been since around February. Voluntarily homeless, that is. Because we were living in an old log home that we really loved, but it was rotting around us, filled with mold, and we had to do something. It broke my heart, but we finally got it bulldozed and are having a new house built in its place. Sigh. The new house is sort of plain looking--a regular house, in fact--but we're building it "for our old age." It will have modern conveniences such as air conditioning (which will be nice for a change in dealing with Southern summers) and water shut-off valves. I know--?water shut-off valves? Well, just try fixing a plumbing leak without any valves in the entire house. You just have to shut water off to the entire house.

We are hoping to move back in by the end of July, fingers crossed.

OLD HOUSE (boo-hoo) - I'll miss it. It weathered a lot of...well, weather. Including hurricanes and ice storms.


It won't be to everyone's taste, I'm sure, but my husband and I are rather fond of warm, rustic houses, so I've included a view of the den with the big fireplace (it will have gas logs). I was standing in the kitchen when I took this picture of the den.
Then, standing in the den, I took the picture below of the kitchen. It's a big kitchen. I cook a lot. Unfortunately, you can't see my nice quartz counters because they are covered by cardboard to protect them while they work on the rest of the house. The flooring has yet to be installed.

Everything will be as "easy-care" as we can make it, since my husband and I aren't getting any younger. I actually had them install another door in the master bedroom so that I can take the dirty clothes and linens from our bedroom straight into the laundry room. And we have a nice, big walk-in shower with a bench where we can rest our tired bones and let the water cascade over us.
The project was a huge undertaking--a lot more work than either of us anticipated--but in the end we hope it will be worth it. One good thing, I've noticed that my cough has disappeared (allergies) since the old log home was "done away with."

Unfortunately, since my telescope is packed away with most of my other belongings, I've been suffering from a severe case of astronomy withdrawal. I've been using my binoculars, instead, to look at the night sky, but I really miss my close up views of galaxies, nebulae, stars, and our planets.

In the meantime, I've been doing a lot more birding (bird-watching). We have a tiny cottage on a bay where I've been camping out, waiting for our new house, and to my delight, we have a pair of Green Herons nest there! Five juveniles hatched out in May, and I've been taking pictures and watching them do fascinating things like dipping small twigs into the water of our pond to attract the minnows to eat.
I got one photo of three of the juveniles (3 out of the 5) before they left our pond to find their own places to forage. The adults, or at least some adults, were still hanging around the pond.

To my surprise, yesterday I realized we have another active nest! I don't know if it is a second pair of adults and they were just late nesting, or if it's the first pair of adults with a second brood. In any event, I got some pictures of the fuzzy little cuties. Here is one of them. It appears to be about 16 days old, which is when they start moving around more.
When you look at them, you really begin to see the relationship between birds and the dinosaurs.
Anyway, so that's what's been going on with me lately. When my Stainton Sisters triology comes out, I'll be sure to let you know. Although don't be surprised if my blogs are more geared toward nature and astronomy. And even living conditions (laughing wildly).

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Wreck and Ruin, a new release from Scarsdale Publishing

New Release and So Much More

I've got so much to share with you that I hardly know where to begin! It's almost the end of summer, and I hope you are enjoying the season. I've been busy kayaking with my Parson terrier, Daisy, to escape the heat, and there have been a couple of sea turtles, one definitely a loggerhead, hanging out in the bay where we paddle around. Daisy goes nuts barking (What are those things swimming around next to use, Mom?) when a turtle pops its head up, but the turtles aren't impressed and just go back under the waves.

(Don't worry--Daisy has her own life jacket that she wears. She was too vain to wear it in this picture.) 
Not only has Daisy been accompanying me kayaking, but she's been standing guard at night when I take my telescope out to view the stars, galaxies, and nebula. It is truly awesome (in the REAL sense of inspiring awe) to see what is going on out there in space. Stars are being formed while others are going super-nova; galaxies are absorbing other galaxies; it is just incredible.
I've even been capturing images such as the one above of M17 - The Omega Nebula (or some call it The Swan Nebula). So I've been burning the candle at both ends, writing and kayaking during the day and studying the stars at night.
But on to more the real reason for this blog...

Despite the enervating heat, there has been a lot going on since I signed several contracts with Scarsdale Publishing.

Wreck and Ruin is out!

Scarsdale Publishing has released my novel as part of their Regency Rendezvous series. I had a lot of fun writing about an heiress from the USA who travels to London, hoping to take Society by storm only to lose everything in a wreck off the coast of England. Unfortunately, being the sole survivor seems to be the least of her worries when she meets to master of Blackrock, a man who may--or may not--be responsible for the wreck.

Wreck and Ruin is filled with a bit of romance, a dash of mystery, and a pinch of humor, so I hope you'll enjoy it!

Wreck and Ruin on Amazon:

The Future...

Just a few hints about what the future may bring. Scarsdale Publishing has contracted me to write John Archer and Lady Victoria's story, so that should come out in late 2017 or early 2018. Some of you have asked about their story in the past, so I'm really pleased to say that the rough draft has already been completed and editing is about to begin.

After that, a trio of stories featuring the Stainton sisters will come out, followed by a book featuring an inconvenient marriage that may not be so inconvenient, after all. All of those will be published by Scarsdale, which means I have a lot of deadlines and a lot of writing to do over the next few months.

Audible Books
My agent has sold my Archer family series to Audible, so there are now audio versions available. Audible is currently running a contest to give away some copies (CDs) so if you are interested (and I hope you are) you can enter the contest simply by tweeting. Follow @HershmanRights and then like and retweet the post about the giveaway in order to enter. The giveaway ends on August 11, so be sure to enter soon!

That's all for now.
Enjoy the rest of the summer season!
Amy Corwin

Friday, March 17, 2017

Archer Family Regencies Audio Books Now Available

Audio Versions of Archer Family Regency Romantic Mysteries

Great news! Audio versions of my historical romantic mystery series is now available from Audible as audio books! Now you can listen to them at any time, while you're working around the house, cooking, commuting, or driving around. The talented narrator did a great job, and I really appreciate her work, so I hope you will, too!

Here is the list and the links to get your copy.
Enjoy and happy listening.

The Unwanted Heiress

A Lady in Hiding

The Earl's Masquerade

A Stolen Rose

En Garde, My Love

Love Across the Pond

Monday, November 21, 2016

All She Loves

Release day is getting closer for All She Loves!
(Sorry - my typing is not up to par because I nearly cut the tip off one of my fingers a few days ago when cutting veggies for soup, so please forgive any typos. Anyway...)

The Archer Family Regency Romances series is  completed, although I have had requests for some other stories to there may be related ones here and there in the future. But never fear, I have not stopped writing Regencies.

Wreck and Ruin  is a Regency that is still on the drawing board and will hopefully be released by Drakon Publishers sometimes during the summer of 2017. Trust, friendship, and social acceptance are the subject of Wreck and Ruin as the heroine faces what it means to be a stranger in a strange land after being in a shipwreck off the coast of England.

Early in 2017 (hopefully, January) All She Loves will be released. It is in the hands of the first editor, now. All She Loves is about revenge, facing tragedy, and moving on with your life--themes that we all have to face at times during our own lives. Elspeth plans go awry when she investigates the death of her best friend and finds herself losing her heart to an earl.

That's all for now--hope I didn't make too many typos!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hurricane Matthew in Coastal North Carolina

I really should be writing about a contest I'm sponsoring to win a free Kindle Fire and fifty (50) Regency Romances from several participating authors (including myself), but we got hammered by hurricane Matthew so you'll forgive me if I babble about that, first. It's really what is on my mind at the moment. We live in coastal North Carolina, between Wilmington and Lumberton and we back up to a swamp.

Here's a video showing what was going on when things began to get hairy. It was scary. My video just missed the downing of a huge, old White Oak behind the house. We lost over half a dozen huge trees, but thankfully, none of them hit the house or our cars.

We lost power Saturday evening and were starting to worry by Monday since I'd only filled 3 gallons of drinking water. I'd put out buckets for "other" water and we boiled that to use. What a lot of "city folks" don't realize is that if we folks out in the country don't have electricity, we don't have water because we rely on wells with pumps. We had a generator and used that to keep our refrigerator and freezer going, and we had plenty of food, but you really miss that running water.

Monday evening we got water back, hurray! But then I realized that we were (and are) not out of the woods (or in our case, the swamp) yet, because so many roads have washed out around here, and so many stores are flooded, that there is no place to buy anything.

We're kind of pseudo-preppers, though, so I have a pantry full of canned food, I bake bread, and had bought things before the storm, so we'll be okay for a while, but even so, we're going to eventually run out of things like cleaning supplies, butter, milk, and perishables. I can only hope that our tiny local grocery store does eventually get resupplied (the place they get resupplied from is under water right now). I really worry about people who didn't stock up.
One of the White Oaks that we lost, just a few feet from the house.

Another view - I have no idea how we're going to fill the huge holes left by all the trees that came down. This is just one of many...

Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones affected by the devastation. This beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak died. We found it in the yard. These birds usually only pass through our area during migration, so I was really sorry to see this one perish on its way south.
We have one hummingbird that hung around and was feeding right through the hurricane from our feeder. Fortunately, it survived and is still hanging around, though it really needs to go on down south.

Our driveway and front yard. The water stopped before it came too close to the house, though. Thank goodness.

And I feel sick about the people around Lumberton who have lost everything. I just can't imagine how horrible that must be. It's bad enough here, but we still have a house, electricity, and water. Our friends who are in law enforcement said they are using depth finders to locate cars under the water, and hopefully, they are empty. I pray that they are.

So...if you are able to do so, please give to the Red Cross and other agencies already starting the work of supporting the survivors who lost so much. It's a terrible tragedy, and I know all our thoughts are with them.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Something Completely Different

A Change of Pace

My latest book (novella) is now available on, and it is quite a bit different than my usual books. Sometimes, you just get an idea that won't leave you alone until you give in and write it, and that's what happened with me.

What is it?
Well, it's not a romance, for one thing. Nor is it historical. It's a horror story--specifically a haunted house story--with a bit of humor thrown into the mix. Paranormal suspense. Ghost story. Someone even suggested Women's Fiction (what!?). Quirky ghost story might work.

I don't know about you, but I'm totally addicted to haunted house stories, whether they are short stories, novellas, or novels. Haunting of Hill House, The Shining, etc. I can't ever seem to get enough. Maybe that explains why I wrote Flashes. Or maybe not. I don't think it's a story Stephen King would have thought of. Shirley Jackson might have, but it's not quite dark enough for her.

Flashes isn't your normal story. Not sure what that says about me, but let us know what you think by leaving a comment.


Sometimes the perfect home isn’t so perfect…

Escaping from her abusive husband, Sheryl thinks she’s finally safe when she finds a job and a cheap house in a small, sleepy town. Sure, the house is a little run-down and could use a few repairs, but she’s got her whole life ahead of her to fix it up and make it her own. Unfortunately, her home seems to have other ideas. The cheerful, yellow house that is so perfect during the day grows dark and uninviting at night, full of strange noises and the icy chill of something unnatural hiding in the shadows.

And it’s not long before she comes to realize that what might have looked like a secure haven could very well be a death trap waiting for its first victim.

Or...maybe not.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

New Release and a Free Book

A New Release for the Archer Family Regency Romance Series

Love Across the Pond is now available!

I'm so pleased to announce the release of my latest book in the Archer Family Regency Romance series, Love Across the Pond. This book completes the series, which began with an American heiress Charlotte Haywood (The Unwanted Heiress) in London and now ends with Edward Archer traveling to Charleston, South Carolina to settle a property dispute for Charlotte.

But don't worry, even though this particular series is now complete, there will be other Regency romantic mysteries in the future.

Love Across the Pond is available for a limited time at a discount, so grab your copy now before the price goes up!

Love Across the Pond on


Edward Archer walks right into the den of lioness Charity Stonewright when he sails across the pond to South Carolina to resolve a property dispute for his cousin, the Duchess of Peckham. Astute but bookish, the Englishman isn’t prepared for Charity, a strong-willed woman determined to prove the Charleston mansion is hers. And unbeknownst to Edward, Charity has a secret purpose. She is searching for the lost Stonewright fortune, hidden over sixty years ago, somewhere within the walls of the old, decaying mansion. Finding it will mean an end to the grinding poverty she’s endured and fulfill her dream to establish herself in Charleston society as a wealthy heiress.

Drawn to the mysterious woman, Edward is increasingly torn between duty and his growing love for her. But Charity seems determined to keep him at arm's length, stubbornly maintaining her distrust of him.

As the mysteries of the mansion threaten to tear Edward and Charity apart, they must learn to listen to their hearts and discover that the real treasure may be love.

Excerpt - Edward and Charity's first meeting

Using his cane, Edward knocked again, listening as the loud noise echoed and finally faded in the depths of the house. It sounded empty, completely deserted. While finding the house empty did mean he wouldn’t have to evict anyone, it did mean that he’d have to find the lawyer, Mr. Tarte, in order to obtain the key and enter.

With a sigh, he half-turned. A flicker of yellow light caught his attention. The wide fanlight above the door glowed with the faint, wavering illumination of a candle. After a minute, the doorknob rattled as someone struggled to unfasten the heavy lock.

The door creaked open a few inches, spilling light through the gap.

“Finally! Where have you been?” a woman’s breathless voice asked.

She peered around the edge of the door, holding a candle above her head. The golden gleam of red hair curled over the woman’s pale face. Below the tangle of hair, eyes blinked, lost in shadowed hollows beneath her arching brows. A sprinkling of freckles leapt over the bridge of her straight nose and high cheekbones.

“We would like to speak with Mr. Stonewright,” Edward said, hoping his cousin was incorrect when she said the woman lived here alone. “If he is available.”

“Mr. Stonewright? My—” She broke off before asking sharply, “Who are you?” Then, as if she suffered sudden doubts about the wisdom of opening the door to strangers, she started to slam it shut.

He shoved his booted foot into the gap and thrust the door open, forcing her to retreat into the dim hallway.

Clearly nervous, she glanced around the near-empty hallway, her mouth set in a grim line.

Edward held up his hands, although the cane gripped in his right hand marred his attempt to appear harmless. “I am Edward Archer.” He reached through the door and dragged Hildegard over the threshold. “This is my sister, Lady Hildegard Archer. I believe we are expected. Is there a Mr. Stonewright? Is he available?”

“Archer? I don’t know anyone named Archer,” the woman said, gliding back another yard, her feet invisible under the long hem of her pale gray gown. Her gaze flicked to the candle in her hand, as if she contemplated blowing it out and escaping in the resulting darkness.

“No, but I am sure if you speak to your master, he will recognize our names. Or your mistress,” he amended. “We sent him notice of our pending arrival weeks ago.”
“Master?” A harsh laugh broke from her mouth. “He—he is not here.” She lifted her round chin, daring him to argue otherwise.

Switching the cane to his left hand, he held up his right in a gesture of surrender. “Please—we mean you no harm. We simply wish to speak with Mr. or Mrs. Stonewright. He is expecting us. We are cousins to the Duchess of Peckham—”

“We don’t know any duchesses,” she threw back, her chin set at a stubborn angle.

He studied her. Her straight back and air of defiance suggested she was not a servant. “You—and your husband? Father?—may have known her as Miss Charlotte Haywood.”

“I didn’t know her at all, and I would appreciate it if you would leave immediately. This is my house—you have no business here.”

“Mr. Stonewright—”

“I own this property, and I am the head of this household. If you wish to speak to someone, then you must make do with me.”

Behind him came the soggy squelching of their servants’ footsteps as Atwood and Nettle sought the relative dryness of the stoop. Another volley of damp sneezes echoed through the door. Nettle blew her nose noisily and heaved a heavy sigh.

Mr. Stonewright or no Mr. Stonewright, they were not going back out into the foul weather to look for an inn if Edward had anything to say about it.

“As we informed Mr. or Mrs. Stonewright, the ownership of this property has yet to be determined,” Edward replied calmly.

The red-haired woman leaned forward, body rigid with tension as she held the candle out slightly above shoulder-level. “It has been determined—it is mine.”

Don't forget, Love Across the Pond is available for a limited time at a discount, so grab your copy now before the price goes up! And speaking of limited time offers...

Free Book

To celebrate the release of Love Across the Pond, the Archer Family Regency, A Stolen Rose, is available for FREE! But it's only free for today and tomorrow, so be sure to grab your copy before the price goes back up.

When the Earl of Wraysbury rescues a young woman from a carriage accident, he can't resist her laughing eyes and wry sense of humor, even though their families have been locked in a feud for generations.

Anemone may be achingly lonely but she's loyal to her family. When she wakes up after an accident in the strong arms of a handsome stranger, she's immediately drawn to him, and appalled  when  she discovers he's her family's sworn enemy, the Earl of Wraysbury.

Neither Anemone nor the earl is prepared for the flaring attraction they feel, or for the escalation of the war between their families when a 40-year-old mystery triggers accusations of murder. Loyalty and the threat of a dangerous duel are destined to tear the lonely lovers apart unless they are willing to defy their families and take a chance on love. 

If you are interested, grab your copy on today. The sale ends on August 24, 2016.
A Stolen Rose on

Hope you enjoy some light summer reading!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Love Across the Pond is Coming Soon!

Love Across the Pond

Archer Family Series

The next, and last, book in the Archer family series of Regency romances is in the hands of my editor and will be released in July! This book closes the circle on the Archer family, although there may be spin-offs since I've had readers request John Archer and Lady Victoria's story.

The series started with The Unwanted Heiress about Charlotte Haywood, an outspoken American Heiress who is orphaned and sent to live with relative in England with disastrous results. Her difficulties only increase when she catches the attention of a duke and together, the two of them must outwit a murderer.

The circle has now come around to Edward Archer, the brother of an earl. In Love Across the Pond, Charlotte sends Edward back to her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, to resolve a legal problem with one of her properties. It seems someone has taken up residence in Charlotte's old home and claims the house is hers! Edward steps right into the den of a lioness when he arrives and is soon at odds with Charity Stonewright.

Not only does Edward have a legal tangle to unravel, but he is soon enmeshed in several mysteries including a decades-old murder and a hunt for a lost treasure. It doesn't help when he finds himself falling in love with the woman he's supposed to evict!

So the original heroine came from Charleston and went to England to find her duke, and the cousin of that duke now travels back to Charleston to discover the love of his life, Charity Stonewright--assuming she doesn't just bar the door against him.

And cat lovers note, I couldn't resist a tribute to one of our cats who recently passed away: Psycho. He was a marmalade cat who insisted everyone love him, including our Jack Russell, Daisy. He was an absolutely crazy animal who just showed up one day and insisted on being adopted. Our dogs initially went nuts, but he just completely ignored them except when he wanted a nap on something warm (much to their horror). He was toothless, cross-eyed, and frankly not very handsome, but if you sat down, he was in your lap whether you liked it or not.
I can't tell you how many times he'd drape himself over the edge of the stairs, head and front paws dangling, until he overbalanced and fell to the floor, usually landing on his head. Never seemed to bother him. His sense of balance was definitely missing, but the vet said he was okay and he lived with us for fifteen years before he passed away. We miss him dreadfully--he was such a playful and loving animal.

As a tribute, he appears in Love Across the Pond, as Nodcock, the orange cat.

I hope you will enjoy the newest, and last, book in the Archer series!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

New Release: Fencing for Ladies

En Garde, My Love (or Fencing for Ladies)

Book 5 in the Archer Family Regency Romances series is in pre-release (with a discounted price) and set to be released on April 8, 2016! 

En Garde, My Love (or Fencing with Ladies) was so much fun to write, and I hope you will find it just as enjoyable to read. Here is a little secret: I actually took fencing in college but was so bad at it that I didn't get past the first few lessons. You see, I wasn't aggressive enough in going after openings presented to me by my opponents. Sigh. Anyway, it was an interesting sport, and I wanted to include it in one of my books and therefore, Fencing for Ladies was born. The book was recently renamed, En Garde, My Love, so I hope that doesn't get confusing! The paperback retains the original title while the Kindle version has the new cover and title, En Garde, My Love.

If you read book 4, A Stolen Rose, you met Lady Olivia when she "stuck her nose" in her brother's
(the Earl of Wraysbury) business. Lady Olivia is not exactly bossy, but she does know her own mind and despite Society's horror at the notion of a lady fencing, she decides to start her own school for ladies. It is good exercise, after all, isn't it? And ladies in the Regency were just as interested in healthful exercise as we are today. But of course nothing goes as expected, particularly when she uncovers a dead body hidden in her office at her brand new school.

Murder is definitely not the sort of thing in which a young lady should involve herself!

And when a forbidden love strolls into the scene, nothing goes smoothly for Lady Olivia or her secret hopes for the future.

The paperback cover, Fencing for Ladies, is on the right.

For more information, check out the book on Amazon. It's at a discounted price now, but that won't last much longer.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Rabbit is Free

Release Day -- Yesterday

I finally released the rabbit. Couldn't write about it until today. I guess I got more attached than I thought I would. Anyway, I couldn't think about him yesterday without crying.

Anyway, we did a soft release, which means early in the morning, I took the rabbit's cage up to an area near our pond that has a lot of cover, some trees, and some good grass. I've seen rabbits up there on the wildlife camera we have, so I figure it is a good area. And it is only a few yards away from where we think the rabbit's nest was.

So, I placed the cage near some thickets and walked away. Well, not really. The rabbit didn't want to get out, and I couldn't resist saying goodbye, so I picked him up and gave his soft ears a final rubbing (he loved that) and placed him back in his cage to let him make the decision, himself, about when he wanted to leave.

Later that afternoon, I checked the area and there was no sign of him. But I left the cage there overnight in case he wanted to get back inside. I doubt he did, but at least he had the choice.

I guess that's it. I hope he finds other rabbits and has a good life. It's hard to think of him out there, alone. I keep thinking about all the hawks, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, snakes, feral dogs and cats, and other critters out there who would find him a tasty snack. And I can't for the life of me understand how people can abandon pets out in the country (they abandon them at our mailbox all the time because they think the area is just agricultural fields), not thinking about the starvation and terrors their pet will face.

At least I know the rabbit is back where he belongs and will probably find a mate (or two) and hopefully thrive. I'm hoping for the best.

It was a wonderful experience even if it does make me cry a little now that he's on his own. Wish him luck!

Friday, October 09, 2015

Chicken Tractor for Rabbits

I used to raise chickens (and probably will do so again in the future) and was always interested in the chicken tractors which is basically a chicken house you can move around your yard to let the chickens browse fresh/different areas of your yard.

Well, as my past blogs have mentioned, we have this baby rabbit we're trying to raise until it gets old enough to release. And because I have no intention of becoming a rehabber, I wanted something for the rabbit to use that gave him slightly more room than the pet carrier we are using as his home, and which could be placed outside for him to get acclimated to the weather and natural environment.

Because he'll probably be released in 2 weeks, I also didn't want to buy some elaborate rabbit hutch.

The Rabbit Tractor

The rabbit running around the rabbit tractor

Detail on the door. I cut a panel for the door itself and cut around the latch so that it could be open and shut, but the mesh still goes to the ground to keep the rabbit safe inside.

Another view of the rabbit tractor, showing the cardboard box for the rabbit. The rabbit is just outside the cardboard box.

I built the rabbit tractor after I remembered we had an old wire kennel for our Jack Russell Terrier.  I removed the bottom tray, revealing a pretty much open bottom that would let grasses and clover come through to be available to the rabbit. Except the bars were too far apart to keep a small rabbit safe and enclosed. So I got some hardware cloth and wrapped it around the cage and secured it with wire where the rabbit could reach and plastic zip-ties where he couldn't reach. I carefully attached panels to the doors so I could still open the doors.

I also put in a small cardboard box and scrap of fabric for a little hutch where he could go and sleep/be protected.

And now the bunny can spend a few hours outside and collect his own food, while still being safe inside his "hutch."

Turned out that he was afraid of the wide-open spaces (no wonder, really) so I took a few linen towels and drapped the hutch to give him some shade, privacy, and a sense of security. It seems to be working fine.