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Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Did someone say ‘paranormal time travel historical western’? That’s what my novel, Time Plains Drifter, is—a very different kind of romance novel than anything I’ve ever read. I think that’s why I enjoyed writing it so much.

The publication of Time Plains Drifter is a story unto itself—but it has its very own ‘happily ever after’ ending. Here’s what happened. After being released in December of 2009 with an unscrupulous publisher, I took my rights back after only three months and spent the next year searching for another home for it. In the spring of 2011, it was placed with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER, an imprint of PUBLISHING BY REBECCA J. VICKERY. This is a marvelous company that handles some much “bigger” names than I have. But most everyone here knows that already. Print books are important to me, although I realize that e-publishing is growing by leaps and bounds. WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER will prove to be the perfect place for Time Plains Drifter, and I’m glad to say I now have the sequel in the works.

That being said, let me tell you why Time Plains Drifter is so hard to pigeonhole and why that may be a bit scary in today’s market.

I knew Time Plains Drifter was going to have to be classified as a time-travel romance; that’s how the H/h meet one another. She’s from 2010—he’s from 1879. That was the easy part. The part that was a bit harder to work around was that he was dead. I just couldn’t get past the premise that Rafe d’Angelico was going to be the “paranormal element” of the story. I didn’t want him to be a werewolf, vampire, or shapeshifter. So that left angels, demons, zombies and so forth. I chose for him to be an angel.

Working with Rafe—an angel who didn’t want to be an angel—was a challenge. I told him he had a pretty good deal going. He told me, “I want to be human again.” In the end, I realized he was right, and that was the only way to resolve the issue of time-travel-paranormal-angel-demon-human issues.

Jenni Dalton, the heroine, was completely unsuspecting in all this. She went out on a stargazing field trip with seven of her high school students one night and they never came home. Instead, they ended up in Indian Territory, 1895; one hundred-fifteen years in the past.

Jenni’s got it rough, trying to deal with her seven charges, four of them the senior class troublemakers. It takes Rafe to bring them to heel and get them to toe the mark, until the gravity of their situation causes them to all make some surprising adjustments.

As Rafe and Jenni realize their growing attraction to one another is fated, they also understand there is no way anything can come of it on a permanent basis—Rafe is an angel, and Jenni is human.

The twists and turns that finally bring the book around to the HEA were the most fun to come up with for me. But the story itself, being so unique, is tough to categorize.

Time Plains Drifter is special to me because it’s the first project my daughter, Jessica, and I have had the chance to work on together. She designed the cover art. I absolutely LOVE what she did.

Time Plains Drifter was the recipient of The Reviewer’s Top Pick Award by Karen M. Nutt, PNR reviews. It also received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times Magazine. I was selected as the recipient of the Honorable Mention—Best New Paranormal Author category in PNR’s PEARL Awards (March 2010), for Time Plains Drifter.

The sequel has been a delight to work on, with a different twist than the first book, and some familiar characters will be the stars of the show this time around since the story is built around Rafe’s brother, Cris, and Jenni’s sister, Victoria.

Time Plains Drifter is now available in all formats, including print, Kindle, and Nook. I’ve also written some short stories that have a paranormal twist to them: A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES, SCARLET RIBBONS, HOMECOMING, (these three are Christmas stories) ALWAYS AND FOREVER, (Halloween story) THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS (THE TRADITIONAL WEST ANTHOLOGY) and THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT, which will be included in the Western Fictioneers’ 2012 Christmas anthology, Six Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas, due out in October, 2012. Take a look at my Amazon page to order. (See link below.)
Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:

I’ve included the blurb and an excerpt below. Please leave a comment! I always love to hear from readers and other authors. Enjoy!

Trapped in Indian Territory of 1895 by a quirk of nature, high school teacher Jenni Dalton must find a way to get her seven students back to 2010. Handsome U.S. Marshal Rafe d’Angelico seems like the answer to her prayers; he is, after all, an angel. In a race against time and evil, Rafe has one chance to save Jenni’s life and her soul from The Dark One—but can their love survive?


He closed his eyes, letting the pleasurable feel of her wet mouth on his body wash over him, along with her voice. “Some things never change,”she’d said earlier. Her Oklahoma accent was a slow waltz to his mind, its lilting cadence urging him to accept what they had between them. Still, he couldn’t let it go. Couldn’t ever be dishonest with her, of all people.

“Don’t you want to know—”

She stopped him, placing two cool fingers across his lips, smiling at the tickle of his moustache against her skin. The smile faded as she absorbed the worry in his expression, the smoldering fire in his eyes, and made it her own.

“Not now, I don’t. You asked me—earlier—if I felt it. Whatever it is between us. I do.” Debating with herself, she hesitated a moment before coming to a decision. “I want you, Rafe,” she murmured. “I trust you.” She nuzzled his neck.“It doesn’t matter now, who—or what—you are.”

His hand closed in a fist around the shimmering satin of her copper hair, his chest filling with a sweet peace at her quiet words.


His mind churned as Jenni kissed him once again. Accepting him, for whoever he might be. She loved him. She hadn’t said it yet, but he knew it by the gentle way her lips grazed across his, then claimed his mouth completely, as if that was the only way she had to let him know how she felt. They breathed together, as one.

He answered her wordlessly, his tongue invading her mouth, fingers splaying and tightening against her scalp as he pulled her to him.

She moved across his bare chest, the stiffness of the material of her own blouse gliding with gentle abrasion across his skin. He groaned in pleasure and felt her smile against his mouth. She made the move again as she lifted her lips from his, emerald eyes sparkling into his searing gaze.

“We’ll talk later,” she assured him.

“It’ll be too late to change your mind about me then,” he said, half-jokingly.

“I won’t change my mind, Rafe.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Name your Candle!

Party Lite Candles

So what's your candle brand of choice? Yankee Candle or Party Lite? I love each for different reasons. Party Lite burns clean (There's no dirty wicks or black smoke) but I love the variety and ambience of Yankee Candles and quite honestly, Yankee Candles remind me of home.

I've loved candles ever since I was a little girl growing up in the 1970's. I recall many a night when I went to sleep over my grandmother's house. She'd tuck me and my sister into bed in the spare room, leave the door open, and light a candle, placing it on the kitchen table. The light would filter into the room and it made me feel secure.

In the 1990's, my aunt who lived in Vermont, took me to the Yankee Candle shop in Massachusetts for the first time and I fell in love. The building houses an old fashioned colonial tapered candle making room, various themed rooms and the whole catalog is for sale. There's a Christmas all year round room and the outside is often decorated to fit the season. The Yankee Candle estate also houses "Chandler's Tavern," a restaurant with plenty of ambience and some of the best tasting New England themed food I've ever tasted – including the clam chowder.

Last year when I was researching my 2011 Christmas story I came upon a Danish tradition where candles were important during their Christmas customs and I'd knew I found the inspiration I'd wanted. What's more romantic than a candle? It offers soft light and warmth in the cold and darkness and helps one to find their way.

So what's your favorite candle or brand? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Feast of Candles is a 99 cent spicy contemporary romance.

Blurb: Can Drake's Feast of Candles help Lily find her way out of her loneliness?

5 Stars, Amazon Review: Loves Romance
"The ending with the feast of candles is so romantic, you'll want your own."

Small Excerpt:

He drew close, pressing the length of his body against hers. Her pulse quickened even as a sense of caution flooded through her. She opened her eyes and placed her hand over his, while placing her other hand over his chest to stop him from drawing closer. Despite her attraction, she wasn't quite ready to allow a kiss.

He stared into her eyes, keeping his hand on her waist. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." She hesitated. "Everything. You..." her voice trailed off. Silence grew between them. God, what had she been thinking? Was it possible to have a future with him?

Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B008NXELPG








Saturday, August 11, 2012

Finding your character’s voice.

By Gerald Costlow

At a writing workshop I once attended, a guest lecturer told everyone, “A strong, distinctive character needs a strong, distinctive voice.”  She then went on to explain that by voice, she meant the unique way a person communicates their personality to the world, all the little mannerisms that become windows into who you are.  Once you know a person, you come to know how they’re going to react to a given situation.  You also come to know pretty much what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it.  

As I practiced and learned the craft of writing, I learned that developing a character into someone who would come alive on the page requires thought and planning and careful crafting.  Much of this is done through dialog.  Take this snippet of conversation from a story of mine, A Distant Call.  It’s from the scene when Anna first meets Jessie when she caught him fishing in her private holding pond.

She held out her hand. "Name's Anna. Anna May Sherritt. This is my land and my pond you're fishing. Don't recall seeing you around these parts before, mister."

He beamed and shook her hand, his relaxed smile returning. "Jessie Corman. Moved into a place down at the bottom of the mountain last month, so I guess we're neighbors of a sort. I'm sure sorry I was trespassing. I didn't know. I was making my rounds and doing a bit of complaining to the Lord about how a single man with an empty belly and no food at home might be tempted to steal out of the next garden he come across. Then I saw this pond overflowing with big, juicy trout, as if my prayers had been answered. I happen to carry a fishhook and line around for just such an occasion and, well... Afraid I mistook temptation for a miracle. Is it Miss or Missus Anna May Sherritt, if I'm not being too forward again?"   

What sort of voice did I give my characters here?  Anna is direct, gets the point across using few words, by nature a bit suspicious but willing to give someone a chance to explain themselves before she cuts loose on them.  It’s what one might expect, considering her background.  She gets two lines of dialog and makes her point.  Jessie is a preacher and loves to talk, and boy does that come across.  He’s about the friendliest man you ever met but there’s a solid core of values in there that guides his actions.  If his friendly nature wasn’t genuine, he might be a slick con artist, he’s that good with words.  So this man gets eight lines of dialog to get around to the entire point of his speech, which is asking her if she’s single and available.

I could have had Jessie say, “Sorry, didn’t see any no-trespassing signs.  You married?” but that’s Anna’s voice, not his.  This dynamic continues throughout the book and it helps the characters come alive.

As a writer, do you strive to give your characters a strong, unique voice?   

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Ms. Quote Interview with Troy D. Smith

MQ: Hello Fantastic Readers out there ‘cross the other side of the screen! Whee, I’m so excited! I’m gettin’ fan mail now! ‘Course I know I may never get the snicker-doodles amount that my hero, I.B. Nosey, the ‘official unofficial’ cyberspace reporter of Gum Drop Island fame gets, but shucks, I’m plum tickled to pieces! Who knows? Maybe I will become famous an’ stupendous an’ wondrous an’…an’ ever’thin’ else that’s ous. Even my producer, Billy Bob, remarked, “Huh. Who woulda thought it?” (presses finger to cheek in pondering gesture) Now, wonder why he said that? Anyway (flicks hair with airy hand) I’ve got another doozy interroga…uh, I mean, interview all lined up today. So, welcome, y’all. This is my column and it’s called…

Ms. Quote's WORDS with...

 Troy D. Smith

MQ: Yoo hoo, Mr. Troy D. Smith? You home?

TS: (calls from direction of patio) Back here, ma’am. I’m merely reclining in the shade with a glass of iced tea. Care to join me?

MQ: Oh, thank you, kindly. (heels tap across brick-lain walk as she sashays over to his table) But I’m a workin’ gal an’ I really shouldn’t drink while on the job.

TS: Ah. (peers at MQ through a haze of cigar smoke) I see you’re blond.

MQ: An’ I come by it naturally too! Oh, my! (gasps) What’s that standin’ over yonder next to the concrete fountain?

TS: The wooden Indian? I call him Old Blockhead. Just the sight of him inspires me while I type out my many western books.

MQ: (squeals) Yes! That’s what I want to interroga -- um, ask you questions about! Your book, Red Trail, for starters. Like, well, what makes it red?

TS: Because the road of revenge is a bloody, bloody trail. Or, for those Tolkien fans out there- “A Sword-Day, a Red Day, ere the sun rises!”

MQ: (blinks) Huh?

TS: Hm, yes. (puffs thoughtfully on cigar) Perhaps a reading of the blurb might be helpful. (pulls copy of book off top of table) Shall I?

MQ: Okey-dokey.

TS: RED TRAIL gets its name from the title story about a mountain man who embarks on a trail of vengeance against the Indians who killed his wife... and finds himself in danger of being consumed by his hatred. That volume also includes the two stories that were finalists for this year's Peacemaker Award, "Blackwell's Run" (about a cavalry sergeant captured by Indians and his bid for escape) and "The Sin of Eli" (the Peacemaker winner- about a godly farmer who is trying to reach his outlaw son, scheduled to be hanged.)

TS: And lest we forget the first book (holds it to face MQ). CHEROKEE WINTER: TALES OF THE WEST PART ONE...and in fact, the second part is RED TRAIL: TALES OF THE WEST PART TWO. Actually, it had been one big collection, but my publisher recommended dividing it into two books because smaller books sell better. Ahem, now the blurb: The title story of CHEROKEE WINTER is a story about real-life Tennessee frontiersman Thomas Sharpe Spencer, aka Big-Foot Spencer, an extremely colorful character and pal of Daniel Boone. The story is actually about his death... he was killed (in winter) in the very last Cherokee war in Tennessee, in 1793 (he had fought the Cherokees for decades.) So there are Cherokees... it is literally winter... it is the winter of Spencer's life... it is the winter of the Cherokees as a military power.

MQ: Ooh, Big Foot Spencer! Is he kin to that Big Foot fella who stomps through the swamps that everyone is so scared of?

TS: You mean my cousin Boudreau? I don’t think so. Boudreau’s last name is Bigg La Foot. He is best known by the sobriquet Bayou Boudreau Bigg La Foot.

MQ: (gives blank look) So--sobri--? Oh, bother. (waves hand in dismissive gesture) Anyhoo, how was Spencer a pal to Daniel Boone?

TS: They were “Long Hunters” together… long hunters were, well, hunters who went on months-long expeditions into the “frontier” of the 1760s and 1770s, present day Tennessee and Kentucky. Spencer and Boone went on such hunts together, with a handful of comrades, and were among the first Englishmen in Tennessee (the French and Spanish had already been through.)

MQ: Gosh. You seem to know a right smart ‘bout history!

TS: (purses mouth) Perhaps a bit. I’m currently teaching American history at Tennessee Tech, and serving as president of Western Fictioneers -the first national writing organization devoted exclusively to fiction about the Old West.

MQ: (giggles) Does Old West get upset if you write about Youn’ East?

TS: It’s kind of complicated, since the Old West is younger than the Young East, and since parts of the Young East were the Young West when the East was Young, so that makes the Western Young East the Old Young West. But East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, until at last we all shall rest at God’s great judgment seat. This is because Twain, who was from the Midwest and became famous in the Old West before he moved to the Old Young East, long ago met his demise, despite rumors to the contrary… after rumors of his demise were initially mistaken.

MQ: (nibbles on end of fingernail) Uh huh.

TS: (sips iced tea) What other information can I provide for your listening audience?

MQ: Oh. (clears throat) How ‘bout somethin’ ease --uh, I mean, simpl-- well, that is, an’thin’ before you became a writer?

TS: A bio? Good idea. Going back to the beginning, I was born in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee in 1968. I’ve waxed floors, moved furniture, been a lay preacher, and taught high school and college.

MQ: (gives bright smile) If you’ve waxed floors an’ moved furniture an’ stuff, I bet you wash windows too! The studio that Billy Bob operates can really use a cleanin’, let me tell you, mister. How much might you charge?

TS: Absolutely zero. See, briefly, during my misguided teenage years, I worked for a window cleaning company, and hated it. Ever after, in my cleaning guy career, I refused to do windows. Strictly a floor guy.

MQ: Oh, pooh. Well, what else have you done?

TS: Rather than to have you sign me on for any kind of work with Billy Bob (flashes grin), I’m going to fall back on relating my writing career. I write in a variety of genres, achieving my earliest successes with westerns -my first published short story appeared in 1995 in Louis L'Amour Western Magazine, and I won the Spur Award in 2001 for the novel Bound for the Promise-Land (being a finalist on two other occasions.)

MQ: (eyes widen) Did that hurt? When you won the Spur Award?

TS: It kind of smarted a little- I can only imagine how those poor souls who’ve won five or six must feel. I’ve been hoping to win a second one, though, because with only one spur I keep going around and around in circles.

MQ: Maybe you should be nominated for a Pukelitzer Award! My hero, I.B. Nosey of Gum Drop Island fame, won one, you know. (pouts) I wasn’t even invited to his trophy ceremony. Did you attend?

TS: Oh, no. I’m holding out for the prestigious No-Bells prize… or at least the No-Whistles prize.

MQ: That sounds like fun! And, oops, before I forget Billy Bob had a special question. (flips pages of notepad) Here it is. Okay. (brow wrinkles in concentration) You write westerns, but in your photos you wear no coonskin hats, like a regular western dude would do. So…you chaw tabacca?

TS: (chuckles) Well now, I might write about the west, but I’ve never claimed to be a Western Dude. In fact I am a Southern Dude (and a sneaky one, as many of my westerns are either actually set in the South or have Southern protagonists.) And in the South, nobody chaws tabacca… they chaw ‘bakker (which makes me think that perhaps Wookiees are Southern.) Actually, as a writer of westerns and of mysteries, and as a professor/professional historian, I wear many hats. Shall I try on a few? (reaches into bag propped next to chair and withdraws object).

This is my rodeo hat.

My private-eye hat.

Add a wee bit of Scotland to this one.

And, of course, my white hat. (plops it atop head)

MQ: Oh, that’s cutesy-wootsy! It just sets off your blue shirt and red neck hanky!

TS: Hm, yes, well…(coughs) Forgive me, ma’am, but I must bid you adios. There’s a new plot I need to write up and I’m off to find it. (gives sharp whistle. Rustling is heard in nearby bushes and a muscular stallion trots over. TS leaps into saddle)

MQ: (points to horse) But that’s not a muscular stallion.

TS: (spreads palms) My interview, my words.

MQ: But I haven’t finished! Can’t you swoop me up and take me with you like those daring western heroes of old?

TS: Sorry, ma’am, but this southern dude doesn’t ride sidesaddle. Hi ho, Cowlick! (kicks horse and the pair gallop away in a cloud of dust)

MQ: Well! (stomps foot and then shrieks) Troy D. Smith! (glares after him as he and Cowlick ride off into the sunset) You teach that mangy horsey of yours some manners!

* * * * * * * * * *

Visit Troy at his site and blog
Amazon page