Thursday, March 29, 2012

Miriam Newman, Ireland and the Pesky Muse

Karen: I'm thrilled to introduce Miriam Newman, the author of heartfelt historical romances and adventure-filled science fiction tales. Teas brewing so sit back and enjoy your stay.

In Miriam Newman's Words:
Once upon a time there was a poet.  She was a poet because she had no time to write.  When you have a husband, five kids, a full-time job and you like to raise horses, you have NO time.  That was my drill for years, and since penning a sonnet took considerably less time than knocking out 90,000 words, I wrote poetry.  I did well at it.  Still, there was always a little voice in the back of my mind whispering, “But I wanna write a book!”  That voice was so persistent that I finally realized it was a muse and I named her The Wench because she was totally annoying.

Then my fairly happy if somewhat madcap life began to fall apart.  The kids grew up, my husband died after a 4 ½ year battle with leukemia and my job was history because I had left it to care for him.  I could no longer afford horses.  My muse was peeking at me around corners, trying to get in, but I was so annoyed I renamed her Persephone.  You know…the Queen of Hell.  Eventually I decided I was going to blow my entire small fortune on a plane ticket to Ireland, with no plan to return any time soon.  Despite the pleas of family and friends who thought I was out of my mind, I did.  What I didn’t realize was that Persephone was in the cargo hold.

She finally announced herself in a sheep pasture on the west coast of Ireland where I was sitting sort of like J.K. Rowling with one of those ubiquitous yellow legal pads, since I couldn’t afford a laptop.  I had a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean pounding green surf against 300-foot cliffs, but even above the noise of the waters I heard Persephone whining at me like some sort of literary mosquito.  “What if you were a princess, sitting at your castle window, watching that surf?” Seph whispered.  “What if your father was a king bound on using you as a pawn to save his kingdom?  What if…”

“STOP!” I screamed.  “I’m writing a poem!”  But Seph just smiled.  I put my pen to the paper and started writing—or should I say SHE started writing?

133,000 words later, she finally stopped.  Some poem.
* * *
I was the King’s daughter once, so many years ago that sometimes now it is hard to remember.   Before the tide of time carried away so many things, so many people, it was worth something to be the daughter of a King.

Our little island nation of Alcinia was not rich, except for tin mines honeycombing the south.  It wasn’t even hospitable.  Summer was a brief affair and fall was only a short time of muted colors on the northernmost coast where my father sat his throne at the ancient Keep of Landsfel.  Winter was the killing time and spring was hardly better, with frosts that could last into Fifth-Month.  But from the south, where men cut thatch in a pattern like the bones of fish, to the north where rock roses spilled down cliffs to the sea, it was my own.

One thinks such things will never change, yet all things do.
* * *
That was “The King’s Daughter,” Book I of The Chronicles of Alcinia.  Book II, “Heart of the Earth,” I wrote a little later--in a pub in Killarney.  But that’s a story for another day.

You can purchase a copy of The King's Daughter at:

About the Author:
Fantasy poetry driven by myths and legends has been Miriam’s passion for as long as she can remember.  She was published in poetry before catching the romance writing bug.  She brings that background to her writing along with a lifelong addiction to horses, an 18 year career in various areas of psychiatric social services and many trips to Ireland, where she nurtures her muse.  Her published works range from contemporary fantasy romance to fantasy historical, futuristic, science fiction and historical romance.  Currently she lives in rural Pennsylvania with a “motley crew” of rescue animals.  You can view her books at   

Monday, March 26, 2012

Vonnie Davis and the Men in Her Life

Karen: Welcome Vonnie! I had the pleasure of reading Storm's Interlude. What a wonderful read and the hero—definitely caught my attention. lol Let's give Vonnie a warm welcome. Please feel free to leave a comment or a question. Vonnie loves to hear from the readers.

Behind the Scenes with Vonnie Davis:
I might be coasting into sixty-four, but I have more men in and out of my bedroom than women half my age. I’m also lucky my husband Calvin doesn’t seem to mind. No, we aren’t into ménage a trios, but we’re both writers and understand how characters from our stories come to visit us at night.

Take the tall, wide-shouldered Texan who sauntered into our bedroom, wearing nothing but a cowboy hat and a pair of boots. Calvin barely noticed, but I was certainly all eyes. He became my hero in my debut book, Storm’s Interlude.

When an ex-Marine roared into our bedroom on a Harley, I merely groaned and rolled over. I was too tired to be bothered. Not to be ignored, he drove into our bedroom again, took off his helmet and struggled to adjust his stance to accommodate his prosthesis. Now, he had my attention. How had he lost part of his leg? What or who put that haunting look into his eyes? His name was Win, he told me, and would I write his and Evie’s story? Those Violet Eyes will be out June 27th.

I was writing my first romantic suspense, set in Paris involving a band of terrorists, an older American woman and a younger French government agent. Somewhere around three in the morning, someone slammed our bedroom door. I sat straight up. What the heck? Bleary-eyed, I glanced around; everything was fine. I must be dreaming. I lay back down and snuggled next to Calvin.

Once more, the bedroom door slammed shut and Niko charged in, mad as hell. What is his problem? He stood there glaring at me. I was dead tired, so I glared right back. At least until I fell asleep on him. Determined to get my attention, he charged into my bedroom again and slammed the door.

“What is it?” I moaned.

“Watch,” he commanded.

He shared a vision of his walking down a hall, his fists clenched. Then he opened the door to an interrogation room, stepped in and slammed the door. My heroine was blindfolded and tied to a wooden chair. Her head swung in the direction of the noise. That quickly the vision was gone.

“That’s it? You woke me for that piddlin’ little bit? Why are you angry? Why is she tied to a chair? If you want me to write about that scene, I’m going to need more info.” I realized I was talking to air; air punctuated by my husband’s snoring. It took me four chapters to set up that door slamming scene in Mona Lisa’s Room.

Tumbleweeds blew into our bedroom one night, chased by a cowboy and his three-year-old son. Tumbleweed Letters is with an editor. I’m waiting for that “yay” or “nay.”

I was struggling with the beginning of Rain is a Love Song, the book in my romantic suspense series after Mona Lisa’s Room. One night I dreamed of Calvin and me sitting at a sidewalk café in Paris, across the street from the Pompidou Museum. A man coasted by on his motorcycle, his angel wings trailing on the pavement. It was a comfortable dream since we’d seen that very thing while in Paris. Then the man got off the bike—all muscles and attitude. He strolled over to me and got down on his hunkers. “I’m here for you, Vonnie. Your hero for your next book.” Now, we’re talkin’!!!!

Book three of the series has a saxophone player wailing out some soulful jazz notes, the kind that make you want to sigh and cry. One night after playing a song at the foot of my bed, he told me he was also a German counterterrorism agent. Really? Oh, the possibilities. I’m on chapter four of Jazzbeat of Surrender right now.

Unfortunately, that book is sharing my writing time with a pair of eyes that glowed fiery golden in our bedroom one night. I nearly wet the bed when I first saw them—especially when I realized they were set in the head of a huge bear. Then the bear morphed into a Scottish man in a kilt. I shook my head. “Sorry, you’re in the wrong bedroom. I don’t write paranormal stuff.”

He lifted the covers and slipped into my bed. “Aye, I am in the right bed chamber. Let me tell ye why bears are extinct in Scotland and about me family’s curse.” Did I listen? Of course! I mean, what woman would chase a man in a kilt out of her bed?

Then there’s the polite World War II pilot who occasionally sits on the edge of my bed, leans over me and whispers, “Let me tell you about my gal, Pearl. She’s really swell.” I run my fingers through his dark hair. “Not yet, Ben, you’ll have to wait your turn.”

You see, a woman can only handle so many men.

About the author:
Vonnie attended Penn State University and Wilson College where she majored in both Business Administration and English. Like most writers, she started penning stories in elementary school with the hope of becoming an author. Then life got in the way--marriage, children, job, college and, after twelve years of being alone, a new love. She is now retired, embarking on her second and long-desired career--writing. She lives in Lynchburg, VA, with her husband Calvin, a man she met online. Ah, now there's a romantic story. 

You can find Vonnie at:

Purchase Storm's Interlude at:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Sneak Peek into the Author's Mind with Gloria Davidson Marlow

Karen: Gloria Davidson Marlow is an author of romantic suspence. Sweet Sacrifices is her latest release with The Wild Rose Press and she's here today to tell us about the inner workings of her stories. Let's give her a warm welcome!  
Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. She'd love to hear from you.

The Inner Workings of a Novel by Gloria Davidson Marlow

It’s always hard for me to say what inspired me to write a book, because I never can really pinpoint the answer. Sweet Sacrifices, like all of my novels so far, began with just one scene: a woman on a bus, a baby carrier beside her, and a crumpled letter bearing her husband’s last known address. This scene was followed quickly by another of her and the baby on a dark, dirt road, a truck pulling to a stop beside her, and in the soft glow of the overhead lamp, the face of the husband who abandoned her. Seconds later, she and I both knew it wasn’t her husband at all.

I’m not much of a plotter, so I’m never actually certain where the story will take me. Sweet Sacrifices took me down several different roads before finally becoming what it is today. When I began to write the story, it was set in the twenty-first century, but as it went along, I had the feeling that it didn’t quite fit here. For one thing, and this is certainly not to belittle the struggle of today’s unwed mother, women have so many more options for independence and self-reliance now than they did just a few years ago, and being an illegitimate child certainly doesn’t hold the same stigma it did back then. I plodded along, however, and it wasn’t until after I was finished the first draft, that I moved the characters from their awkward perch in the present and placed them in the midst of the Great Depression.

One of the driving forces and most difficult things for me to portray in Kendall’s story was the contrast between her life and her mother’s. As I wrote, I became increasingly attached to Lydia, Kendall’s mother, and I wanted the reader to see her as the sympathetic character that I did. Doing this without beating them over the head with it became my most difficult task.

The funny thing about a novel is how often the outer shell will change during the creation, but how similar the inner workings will remain. Regardless of what century it was set in or whether the background story was told in flashbacks, vignettes or dialogue, the characters in Sweet Sacrifices remained the same. Without Kendall’s hope-driven resilience and Luke’s persistent sense of responsibility, without all of the secondary characters being who they were, it would have been a completely different book. In fiction as in real life, people react to circumstances differently, and by doing so, they write their own stories.

As crazy as it may sound, I have to admit that as a writer, I put the story into words, but it is hardly my story. What inspired me to write it? A brokenhearted woman, a fatherless child, a man looking for the kind of love he’s never known, and the desire to make sure they found their own happily ever after.

About the Author:
Gloria Davidson Marlow was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She married her high school sweetheart two days after graduation.

As a writer, she loves telling the story of a somewhat damaged heroine and a somewhat damaged hero who are ultimately a perfect match.

In the pages of her books, you'll find a great blend of romance and suspense, a dash of faith,  and a happy ending every time. 
Author's website:

Purchase your own copy of Sweet Sacrifices at: The Wild Rose Press Amazon
**Available in Print and E-book.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sneak Peek into an Author's Mind: Linda Swift


Karen: Linda Swift is the guest author today with her journey into publishing her historical romance, Maid of the Midlands. Let's give her a warm welcome. Please feel free to ask questions or say hello. Enjoy!

Matilda's Long Journey by Linda Swift
If Maid of the Midlands hadn't been an historical, it would have become one during its circuitous route to publication. It was my second book accepted by my first digital publisher and scheduled for release in 2009. Unfortunately, before that happened, they sold to another publishing house who required a different cover. It had final edits in 2010 but still was not released so I obtained rights and submitted it elsewhere and it was accepted. Another long wait followed due to the publisher's problems. After several months, I again requested rights and submitted to a third publisher who has released it. And  ironically, I was able to use the first cover which I had bought from an artist with the first publisher who had accepted it. So after four years, four contracts, and four editors it is now an ebook and print.

This seems to be a reflection of the roundabout journey that Mary Queen of Scots took for the twenty years of her captivity in England. And that unfortunate queen has a major role in this book. It is really the love story of Matilda and Jondalar. She was a young lady-in-waiting who was chosen by her mistress to serve the queen when she was sent as a "guest" to Hafton Castle.

And he was a stalwart castle guard who stole her heart. But that wasn't all Jondalar stole in his ambition to get ahead. And although the queen was supposed to be seen and not heard when I placed her in the story, she soon became a dominant character who defied my careful plotting. And much to his later regret, Jondalar was slyly plotting, too and it almost cost him all that he desired.

This book was the outcome of living in England in 1999 and 2000. My husband and I were located in East Yorkshire, in the city of Kingston-upon-Hull. Every day I was exposed to the Yorkshire accent and when I wrote the book, I tried to use that for my dialogue. At first, I had used it quite heavily, and not a single editor objected to it, even though I always asked if they were bothered by it. But with each edit, I omitted just a few more of the odd spellings of words to make it flow better in my own opinion.  I have read many historical books that have totally modern speech including current slang and this bothers me immensely. One of my favorite English authors uses the Yorkshire accent in every book and I enjoy reading it that way. But she is English and I'm sure has every word exactly as it was spoken.  Since I speak "American" and "Southern American" at that, I had some misgiving about trying to recreate the 1573 speech patterns. But I reasoned that even English readers wouldn't be certain exactly how the characters spoke in the sixteenth century. And when an English author friend told me I had recreated the Yorkshire accent well, I felt vindicated.

I am familiar with a map of England. In fact, wherever I am at home, I have my trusty Michelin Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland. The only problem was using the names of towns that didn't exist in that time period. And I had an actual castle in mind and wrote the story using that name and names of the family living there. Research showed that descendants with the family name now lived elsewhere in the country and I wasn't sure they would appreciate having an American write a story about their ancestor's imaginary bastard offspring. So this led me to change the castle's name and location and rename the characters. Then I was faced with trying to sort out the confusing issue of titles, who is called what, and inheritance legalities. I can only hope I got it right.

Meanwhile, as I waited for Maid of the Midlands to become a published book, I was busy writing about the children of Jondalar and Matilda.  I think since this a romance, it is obvious that they did get together in the end so I'm not spoiling the story by telling you this. Mistress of Huntleigh Hall is the title of this sequel. And Alice Wykeham, the heroine is in love with Malcolm Gray but a tragic accident causes her to marry another. This story is set in 1605 and the characters are involved in the Gunpowder Plot to kill King James, son of Mary Queen of Scots. I have never written a sequel to any of my books before but this one demanded to be written. I hope you will read Matilda's ondalar's story and want to know their children's story, too.

Contest: Leave a comment about a challenge you've had in "getting it right" and you'll have a chance to win a digital copy of Maid of Midlands.

When Mary Queen of Scots is sent to Hafton Castle in the Midlands, Matilda becomes her waiting-lady. The comely maid loves Jondalar, a stalwart castle guard who returns her affection but places his greed to succeed above all else. After Matilda nurses the queen through a fever, she rewards the maid with a valuable ruby. Jondalar plots with the young lord of the castle to rid the Crown of the captive queen in return for a promotion in the guard.But when Matilda learns of the guard's  betrayal of the queen she must chose between loyalty and love.

Author: Linda Swift
Publisher: Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery
Release date: March 9, 2012
Available: E-book and print
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: Sweet
Page count: 135
Also at Smashwords, Monkeybars, and other distributors

About the Author:
Besides writing, I enjoy reading, ballroom dancing, traveling, visiting Gulf beaches, and keeping in touch with friends far and near.(Much to my husband's regret, cooking does not make the list!)

I have been a nomad all of my life, calling many places home from California to New York to England. I share my life with my husband, a great musician, golfer, power plant consultant, and in-house computer tech.

We now divide our time between 
homes in Kentucky and Florida, stopping en route in Tennessee to visit our children who live in Tennessee. I am the only member of my family who does not sing or play an instrument, but I like to think I make music with words.Although I am an only child, I have never been lonely because my head has always been filled with imaginary people. I love giving them a chance to tell their stories and I hope it brings you pleasure to read them.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sneak Peek Into The Author's Mind: Loretta C. Rogers

Karen: Welcome to Sneak Peek into the Author's Mind. My guest today is Author Loretta C. Rogers from The Wild Rose Press. Find out what inspired her to pen the tale Forbidden Son.

Title: Forbidden Son
Author: Loretta C. Rogers
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release date: March 9, 2012
Available in both print and ebook
Rating: Spicy
Page Count: 254
Print ISBN 978-1-61217-000-8
Buy Link to Forbidden Son from – The Wild Rose Press
Buy Link to Forbidden Son from –

Loretta: Forbidden Son a vintage romance with political overtones, is my first non-western romance. Actually, I was testing the waters to see if I could write in different genre. My intention was to write a sweet, homey, inspirational romance. However, my hero and heroine had different ideas. They wanted to have sex. Once I allowed the characters to dictate the story the plot took a totally different direction than my original plans for the book.
There are some weepy scenes, so tissues are a must-have. 

When I was writing the book, I was afraid it might not ‘fly’ because flashbacks generally aren’t popular with publishers. I’m so pleased that my editor, Nan Swanson, read the entire manuscript and saw the potential in the hero and heroine’s journey.

Blurb: High school dropout Honey Belle Garret never thought of herself as poor white trash—just poor. In the summer of 1964, her world changes forever when sinfully sexy and very rich, Tripp Hartwell III offers her a ride in his convertible. When Tripp proposes marriage, it is the happiest day of Honey Belle’s life. Then, unbeknownst to Tripp, dire threats from his father force Honey Belle and her family out of town and into silence. Hidden in another state, Honey Belle determines, successfully, to make something of herself. She keeps a scrapbook of news clippings about the young man she had to leave behind. Seventeen years later Tripp is not only a lawyer like his father but a Vietnam War hero and a United States senator. Before anyone can question the strong resemblance between him and a new congressional page, Honey Belle has to tell Tripp the truth. And he must come to terms with the knowledge that he has a son by the woman who stole his heart and then mysteriously disappeared.

He towered over her, his stare drilling into her. His eyes seemed to capture her from hair to high-heeled shoes. Clearing her throat, she tried to appear businesslike.

“Have I changed so much that you don’t recognize me, Tripp?” This wasn’t at all the way she had rehearsed the scene in her head. She didn’t blink an eye—afraid any reaction might betray her uncertainty.

“Look, miss, I don’t have time for twenty questions. I meet a lot of people, if—”

She wanted him to remember, to remember her, to remember—what? That seventeen years ago she had walked away from him? That she hadn’t had the courage to stand up to his father and fight for her position in the life of the man she loved. That for sixteen years she had raised the son he never knew existed. She should never have left Tripp. So much guilt, for so 
many mistakes. She had no one to blame but herself.

She lifted her eyes to his. “Seventeen years ago, in Charleston, South Carolina, I asked you to take me for a ride in your shiny white BMW.”

The silence of the office closed in around her.
About the Author:

Loretta C. Rogers is a fourth generation Floridian. She lives in Citrus County, Florida, with her husband, Wayne. She shares her husband's love of motorcycles. When not writing, she and Wayne take road trips on their BMW touring bike. She says when on the motorcycle, her head fills with ideas. Of course, writing and reading rank highest on her to-do lists. Visit her website at:

Monday, March 12, 2012

What a Deal!

My publishers know how tough times are right now and they've lowered the cost of their E-books. I know I'm always looking for a deal and I thought I'd share with you.

Tease Publishing LLC (reduced from $4.99) $2.99

Rebecca J. Vickery Publishing (reduced from $3.99) $2.99

The Wild Rose Press (reduced from 2.00) 99 cents

Moon Shifter  
Available at Wild Rose Press and Amazon

Sneak Peak into the Author's Mind Coming Soon!

 I have a new look to my blog. I hope it will make reading easier on the eyes.

In the next few months KMN Books will host a"Sneak Peak into the Author's Mind." Experience the unique view of what inspired the author to pen the tales that took you to faraway lands, back in time, or to a fantasy world beyond your imagination. Find out why murder and mystery knocked on their doors or why their muse demanded they write a steamy romance.

There's a list on the sidebar of the authors who will be sharing. Come by and chat and ask questions. Who knows, you might find your next read. *Lurkers are always welcomed, too. :)

See you then,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What's Your Reading Pleasure?

We'd Love to Know.
Join us at Love Romances Chat 
All authors from Rebecca J. Vickery Publishing, Western Trail Blazers and Victory Tales Press 
Date: Thursday March 8, 2012 
Time: All Day

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Books For All! It's E-book Week!

As an author of Time Travel and Otherworldly Tales, I'm giving away TWO BOOKS!:
At Amazon A Twist of Fate is free for Amazon Prime Members on March 5th.
On MARCH 6th-MARCH 8th A TWIST OF FATE is free to everyone!Amazon Kindle

"Lucca: Warriors for the Light."
Use the code RE100 at checkout
to get this book for FREE during E-book Week.
(Offer good thru March 10, 2012)
Lucca: Warriors for the Light (PDF, Kindle, Nook, and other e-book readers)

For more FREE READS visit:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Author: Cheryl Pierson Takes the Readers Behind the Scenes...

Karen: Cheryl Pierson is the Guest Author today with the behind the scenes of her new release Kane's Redemption.  Let's give her a warm welcome! ***Hint, hint: She loves to hear from readers!

Kane's Redemption by Cheryl Pierson

Rule #1 – I never write in first person.
Rule #2 – I never write from a child’s point of view.
Rule #3 – I always have romance somewhere in my stories.

Well…one out of three ain’t bad.

I threw Rule #1 out the window when I picked up my pen and started this book. I did write Kane’s Redemption in first person. It’s the first work of fiction I’ve ever written from this perspective, and after I wrote it, I knew there would be two more of these novellas to follow. There was no better way to tell this story of young Will Green and Jacobi Kane – and the secret that stands between them.

Will is a child when the story begins, but a young man by the conclusion. So, I guess you could say I broke my own “Rule #2” as well.

Growing up in the 1800’s on the prairie of the southwest would make an adult of you quickly; even quicker if you watched your entire family murdered in the space of five minutes. This story is not just about Will, though – it’s also about Jacobi Kane, who has some secrets of his own. Although he rescues Will, he wrestles with demons that can’t be fought alone – but how can Will help? In the end, who is the true rescuer – Will, or Jacobi Kane?

Romance? Well, there’s a bit of that. But it’s the romance that comes with new beginnings and the kiss of forgiveness. Come to think of it, the romance in Kane’s Redemption is different from anything else I’ve ever written, too.

This story came from somewhere deep; a place I didn’t know existed. It’s a gift I hope you will take as much pleasure in reading as I did in writing.

Look for Book 2 in the Kane trilogy, Kane’s Promise, in the fall of 2012.

Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:

A ten-year-old boy fights for his life when he is taken prisoner by a band of raiding Apache. Steeling himself for death, Will Green is shocked when a lone man walks into the Apache camp to rescue him several days later.

Driven by the secret he carries, Jacobi Kane has followed the Indians for days and needs to make his move to save the boy. With the odds stacked eight against one, his chances for success look pretty slim. But even if he's able to rescue the boy and they get out alive, what then?


Red Eagle moved back just as fast as before and I felt my cheek burning. Blood dripped off his blade and that was it. I went after that red devil like I had lost my wits. I guess, truthfully, I had – because I don't remember anything about it, except how good the first smash of my fist in his face felt.

Blood ran from Red Eagle's nose and he cried out in a snarl of anger and pain and surprise.

I felt a pulse of energy rush through me, and I wrapped my fingers around his throat like he'd done to Mama. I tightened them and his blood streamed warm and slick over my grip. His eyes began to bulge, and I thought in another minute, maybe I could have the vengeance I had wanted so badly for the past week.

Papa always said a man's quick wits are sometimes his only defense. I was exultant. I may have been foolish for what I did, and I felt sure Papa and I would disagree sharply on the use of my wits. But I did what I had to do.
Suddenly, rough hands were upon me, pulling at me. But I was like a mad dog, snarling, and foaming at the mouth in my pent up anger and hatred that was finally spilling out. What a glorious opportunity! Even if I died for it, I knew I couldn't have passed it up – whether Papa might have approved, or not.

The Indians were all speaking at once, yelling, calling out, laughing. The moon was full, providing even more light than what the fire gave, making the night seem even hotter, as if the sun still shone on us. From somewhere in the distance of the woods beyond, I heard the call of the owls, and I knew enough Injun to know what that meant to them.

Someone was going to die. It might be me, but I was doing my damnedest to take Red Eagle with me.

A gunshot split the night air. "Dammit, stop it!" Hands like steel bands wrapped around my shoulders and jerked me off of Red Eagle. "Stop it!"

I couldn't answer. I was breathing too hard, panting like the mad dog I had become. My hands balled into fists and flexed open again and again, and my fingers were sticky with Red Eagle's blood. My own pulse sang through my veins in a triumph I had never experienced before.

"Boy, straighten up or you're gonna get us both killed." The voice was calm. I stopped struggling and looked up into the face of a white man. A white man had walked right into Red Eagle's camp. I figured, now, those owls would have plenty more to tell – at least one more death.

But he didn't seem worried. He held his rifle at the ready, pointed in the general direction of the group of eight Indians that rode in Red Eagle's band. I glanced around the half-circle of painted faces, and I couldn't help gloating. They all looked as if they'd met up with some kind of spirit or demon more wicked than they were. And that was going some.

"Can you ride bareback?"

I nodded. I guessed I could, I wanted to tell him. Been doin' it for a damn week.

"Need help getting on?"

I shook my head and he let me go real slow. "Pick the one you can manage best and get settled on him. Take Red Eagle's rifle and bullets."

"Wait!" Red Eagle challenged. He rolled onto his side, wiping the blood from his nose. It pleased me greatly to hear that he wheezed when he spoke. "You take our horses, our weapons—"

"I ain't takin' your lives, you bastard. And I ain't takin' all your weapons," the big man answered in a slow drawl. "Only yours. Pitch that knife over this way, and do it easy. My trigger finger is mighty nervous tonight."