As promised on the introductory post to this blog from Melinda Porter: "We'll have blogs by our published authors who will talk about their books, discuss historical research, share recipes and daily antics, I'm here to do the first of the above.
I have 2 books coming out this spring that suit the theme: Haunts of the Heart from aspenmountainpress.com and Listen With Your Heart from desertbreezepublishing.com.
You can enter a contest to win the faux soundtrack from one of these books by commenting on this blog or emailing me. Both soundtracks contain contemporary and historic music suitable to the themes of each.
Haunts of the Heart is an award winning Civil War ghost story for
adults, by Barbara Scott. It's available now. An excerpt is below.
Deanna Butterworth escapes the pain and indignity of dying in a cold,
heartless hospital by fleeing to her beloved but now abandoned
childhood home. But instead of peace and refuge, she finds the place
haunted by two very lively ghosts. Neal, an amiable if confused
spirit, steals her heart. But it is Anthony, desperate to hide his
dark secrets, who threatens her soul. Snatched away to the past,
Deanna must risk all she holds dear to uncover the treachery that has
bound Neal and Anthony to her house since their deaths in 1864.
An excerpt from Jesse's Journal
May 9, 1864
Safety is what we are working for in our own small way. Anthony works so hard caring for the wounded and dying that sometimes I think he will drop from exhaustion. Yet he gets up in the morning, sometimes after only three hours rest, and faces all of it and worse again. The sounds and smells are often more than I can bear, but he expects me to be strong and I try to be. I drench my hair and my clothes in lavender water to mask the smell of death and decay that fills the air, take my basin and dark brown soap and go from bed to bed through the wards.
Some of the men are strong enough to appreciate the soothing warmth of their baths. They call me by their wives' or sweethearts' names and talk of home and peace. But many of the wounded are too sick to speak except for their tortured cries of fever and pain. They cannot move except to thrash about. They seem to shrink from my touch as if it were another bullet ripping their bodies, or the edge of the knife that removed an arm or leg.
Neal is always with me when I reach these men, the dying ones. He seems to know when I will need him without my saying a word. He lifts them for me, talking to them softly in his deep, comforting voice, always with a smile and calm assurances. How many men have heard his voice as their last, have slipped into the next world, gripping his strong hand? Too many already. And too many more.
For months now, dragging into years, we've moved from place to place, following the battles, or to some other destinations in Anthony's grand plan. We set up our tents and our cots which are soon filled, overflowing to blankets spread upon the ground. A path of flags leads from our tents to the battlefield as if they need that marking to find us. For, too soon, the route is worn by dragging feet and marked by trailing blood. We work as quickly as possible, but it is never quick enough. Some die waiting and many die soon after. Most never reach us at all. Their bodies are buried where they fall if they are lucky enough to be buried at all.
After days of death and dying, we may move on to another field hospital or stay to build up a more permanent site. Like this one. It was an inn and livery at one time. Our rooms are in the loft above the former stable. It has been transformed into a hospital ward below. The inn, across the cobblestone courtyard, houses more patients and staff. We are on the edge of a small town, with a river not far across the fields. I can see it flowing lazily past the trees from my window and dream of the bigger rivers it flows into, ever southward, toward home.
There is a creek nearby also. Once, I'm sure, it was clear and clean. Anthony tells me it is my imagination, but I swear I see it now always tinged red with blood. I know I smell it filled with contagion. The smell woke me this morning, crying.
For once, Anthony was there. The wards have been empty for a while, a temporary respite in the fighting. But I had worked feverishly through the night, in my dreams. I was wrestling with a dying man, who was convulsed with pain, and I called for Neal.
"I am here, Jesse. You're dreaming." Anthony's arms were around me and he rocked me like a child. "It's over now. You can rest."
"The creek," I couldn't shake the nightmare from my mind. "The creek was oozing. The smell was making me sick. I was afraid and Neal was nowhere around."
"It's all right, Jesse. You're with me. We're safe. The creek is far away and it runs clear. It rained last night. The rain flushed away all the bad."
Anthony's strength and confidence began to calm me, and I nestled into him. "Are we right? Tell me we are right."
"Yes, my Love, we are right. If they are going to die, it is better to die quickly. Not like the man you were dreaming of."
Listen With Your Heart was chosen as a launch title from the new ebook publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing March 29th.
What if the man of your dreams stepped into your arms? Can real life ever be as sweet as the fantasy? Set in 1871, Listen With Your Heart sweeps from the tragedy of the Chicago Fire ro the streets of New York and finally to the wild, dangerous coast of Ireland. "If you love a story with a charming Irish hero, an intrepid heroine, and a wee bit of mystery, don't miss this one!" Carol Carson, author of Family Man.
The bell sounded loud and intrusive. What if Daniel were sleeping and she woke him? What if he had found the first moment of peace since the fire and she disrupted it? Before the echoes of the bell died away, she had turned and placed her foot on the first step heading back into the street.
“Yes, Miss? May I help you?”
The voice, deep and mellow as moonlight, halted her. It was not Daniel’s. Of course, he would have servants to answer the door. She would give her gift to this man and be gone. How foolish to think she might actually see the great Daniel Connolly himself. She turned again to face the butler, who stood in the open doorway.
“Yes, I’ve brought something for Mr. Connolly. Is he home?”
“Mr. Connolly is not receiving visitors. If you’d care to leave the item with me, I will see that he gets it.”
Morgan wondered if he would. Or was this servant a practiced hand at turning away adoring fans who sought to press some trifling token of their devotion on his master? Suddenly, she saw how foolish she had been to think that a wealthy‹man like Daniel Connolly would need anything from the likes of her. He probably had a whole drawerful of gloves, all finer and softer than these.
“No, that is I--”
“Who is it, York?” came a gravelly voice from inside. She peered past the butler to see the figure standing in the far reaches of the foyer, just out of reach of the light. But it was Daniel, she knew it. She had to take this chance, perhaps the only one she’d ever had.
“Mr. Connolly? I brought you these. I read about your hands and I thought they might help.” She held out the gloves, surprised to see her own hand trembling so.
The servant moved to block her, fearing, she supposed, that she might barge into the house just to get a glimpse of her idol. Though she longed to do just that, she did not move.
“Its all right, York. I doubt the lass will bite.” She thought she detected a hint of amusement in the rasping lilt of his brogue, but it tore at her heart to hear it altered so from the voice she remembered, the voice that haunted her dreams.
The servant stepped aside just in time for her to see Daniel step into the circle of light cast down from the wall sconces that lit the foyer. A flame-gilded lock of his hair tumbled across his forehead, the slightest crinkle of a smile parted his lips.
But his eyes. His eyes were pools of such deep, infinite sorrow that she caught her breath to see them so. He must have heard her and thought the worst— that she was repulsed by the burns that marked his face— for the wisp of a smile faded from his lips, and he stepped back into the darkness.
“Take them from her, York. And get her name so we can thank her,” Daniel said, then walked away.
Morgan released the gloves into York’s outstretched hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t— ”
“Your name, Miss?” he interrupted.
“Susan Smith,” Morgan mumbled. “It’s not important. He doesn’t know me.” Before the tears that threatened could fall, she turned and fled.
So that's it for today. Next time I'll share some recipes with an Irish theme. Suitable for St. Patrick's Day or for munching while reading Listen With Your Heart.