Autumn. Just the word conjures up images of lazy leaves swirling downward from trees turned bright and vivid for the season. It summons up the scent of burning leaves and woodsmoke on the breeze. Autumn is my favorite season and I adore it. As I write this post, I'm looking out the window in the backyard at the glorious colors. Even though fall tends to get dominated by first Halloween and then Thanksgiving as well as sometimes invaded by Christmas, I savor this time of year.
Leave me a comment about your favorite thing about autumn to win my prize! I'm giving away winner's choice of my backlist, any title so be sure to comment to be entered. Visit the main site to visit all the other stops on this hop:
So welcome to the Autumn's Harvest Blog Hop! It's another of Carrie Ann's Blog Hops - always fun and a pleasure! I thought I'd share an autumn-related excerpt from my backlist. It's from one of my historical romance, Dust Bowl Dreams from Rebel Ink Press.
October delivered soft blue skies the shade of well-washed and sun-faded denim overalls, but the glorious autumn colors remained absent. Little rain fell and instead of vivid oranges, bright yellows, and rich reds, Henry saw just one fall color – brown. The grass, the leaves falling to earth, and the dust were shades of brown. The drab shades concealed such dry foliage he felt like the Minks lived within a tinderbox. He kept a constant vigil watching for fire. A fast moving grass fire could wreak havoc and he made sure every match he lit got snuffed.
He missed the cooler seasonal temperatures, too. Although the extreme heat of the summer abated, the October days lacked the crisp, coolness he craved. By mid-month, Henry wondered if they’d ever see a frost. Temperatures dropped at night, but not anywhere near the freezing mark and he longed for cold weather. Insects were plentiful and he figured by next spring, unless they got some frigid temperatures long enough to kill some, farmers would face a near Biblical plague of bugs. His fields dried to dust and when the wind blew hard enough, especially from the west, he watched as the top soil lifted and headed eastward. In town, he heard plenty of talk about bigger dust storms up in the Dakotas and out west. Common sense told him it’d be a matter of time before something similar struck their little patch of Oklahoma.
When school began in September, Eddie spent his weeks staying with Uncle Ed and Aunt Lucy in Alva so he could attend high school. Henry paid all his brother’s school fees and bought the promised clothing. He’d outfitted the gals too with two new dresses each, undergarments, socks and shoes. He footed the bill for books, pencils, tablets, and more until his cash reserves dwindled and he began to think he’d have to pull another bank job.
In those dry, too warm fall days Henry Mink carried his troubles on his back, worn down like an old man. County taxes would need to be paid by the end of the year, his family needed to eat through the winter, and he’d bought hay from far away to feed Dobbin and the single milk cow he’d purchased. He needed gasoline for the old Model T and it seemed like they always ran out of something or one of the family had to have something else. The money seemed almost infinite when he’d headed home from the oil patch, but now he realized it was anything but.
Without a crop to harvest, there’d been little work on the farm. Henry would’ve plowed the fields before winter, but he figured if he did, it’d just loosen the soil and more would blow away with the next big gust of wind. He fixed fence one strand at a time until all the sagging barbed wire got replaced and he repaired everything he couldn’t before when he had no money.
As the drought extended, the well levels dropped and so did the river. He worried about how he’d find water for his family and already urged mama to save gray water from the wash for other uses. When the Minks bathed these days, they started with Viola who got the clean, fresh water and worked their way down to Henry who got the cold, stagnant remainder.
Mamie brought him joy, but she, like Eddie, boarded in town all week and he saw her most weekends. Most Friday nights, Henry rolled into Alva to pick up Eddie and took him out to the farm. If Mamie planned to go home, he collected her as well, but she often stayed. School events required her presence more often than he realized they would and many Fridays he motored back to town to see his fiancée. If he could, Henry saw her Saturday nights too and went to church with her on Sunday, but he looked forward to the time when she’d be his wife and he’d have her all to himself.
Harvey Anderson spent more and more time out at the house and Henry didn’t mind, much. He liked the man and he contributed to the household enough Henry appreciated the help. The slight chance Harvey might figure out he’d done a little wrong side of the law work added one more concern to a pile already too tall. The girls liked the lawman and he treated them like favorite nieces or something, bringing them hair ribbons or a little penny candy. Eddie resented Harvey most of all although Henry didn’t quite understand why except he thought it came out of family loyalty, both to their late daddy and to Henry.
His sisters attended the country school up the road and walked the distance except on days Henry decided he'd do what was almost unheard of and drive the gals to school. When they came home in mid-October babbling with excitement over some upcoming Halloween party, begging to buy store bought costumes for the first time ever, Henry counted his hidden stash and recounted it. He promised he’d drive them to the variety store in town some Saturday and as they giggled with delight, even Dorothy, Henry’s stomach sank somewhere around his thighs, heavy as a ball of clay because his money flew away on swift wings.
He made a mental list, Halloween, winter groceries, the county taxes, and Christmas all loomed ahead and by his best reckoning, he’d be broke by the first day of 1934 if not sooner. More than anything he wanted to walk Mamie down the aisle and marry her, but at the rate his money dwindled, it wouldn’t be the coming June if ever. Henry had no clue where they’d live, but without money the choices narrowed to sharing the small house with his family or rattling around the bigger farmhouse with her folks. Neither one appealed. He considered all the various expenses which might crop up – repairs on the old Ford, more hay, chicken feed for his mama’s hens, medicine if anyone should fall sick, and more in an endless list long enough to give a man the belly ache.
And as a sneak preview for my next up release coming out next Saturday, November 17th...here's the cover, blurb, and an excerpt from Devlin's Grace:
When he rides out of the fog on his motorcycle, Gracie Alloway almost mistook him for a demon rising from the smoke and steam of hell. Except she's attracted to him from the first moment. Devlin's everything she's not - wild and a little wicked. But opposites attract because good girl, college student Gracie wants more of this bad boy.
Devlin dreamed up a fantasy woman back in Iraq a lot like Gracie and she evokes a side he hasn't shown anyone in years. She also dares to enter his personal space and take liberties no other woman's dared. Although he struggles with PTSD and other issues, Gracie won’t run and she refuses to abandon Devlin.
If she can just tame him and help him battle his demons. If he can teach her how to live a little bit more, they might just have a chance at a future together.
Devlin’s Grace by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Excerpt One (Emotional, sweet)
When he held out the cup, Gracie noticed the scarring on the underside of his left arm. Dead white skin mottled with angry red patches and rough ridges indicated he’d suffered serious burns. She noticed similar scars on the side of his neck and wondered how much of his body had been affected. Everything she’d learned screamed at her to say nothing, to ignore what she saw, but Gracie followed instinct. After accepting the cup, she put it down on the end table and touched the old burn. Her fingers brushed against the coarse skin and marveled to find it cool. She expected heat, but it would’ve gone long ago. Dev started to jerk away from her, but when she touched him, he stopped. Like a bird poised for flight, he remained still as she stroked the damaged area.
Before she could speak, he pulled his arm back and with a defiant glint in his eyes, he removed his t-shirt. “If you want to see the scars, you can see them all,” Dev said, voice harsh and hoarse.
He revealed a torso dappled with terrible raised welts, both back and belly. These scars were worse than the others. Raised red ropes twined like vines over his flesh, fused and almost melted. The agony Dev endured was beyond anything she could imagine and Gracie’s eyes brimmed with tears. They spilled over, down her cheeks with silent hurt. One glance at his face, set hard and as stoic as a statue intensified her empathy. She laid her right hand on his back, his scarred flesh beneath her touch and with her left she touched the center of his chest.
Beneath her hand his heartbeat thumped, rapid but steady. His eyes locked with hers and in them Gracie glimpsed flickers of his personal hell. Confusion showed up, too, along with regret and maybe shame.
Whatever she did or said now would be pivotal, she sensed. Based on her actions he’d either leave and be gone from her forever, something she didn’t want, or a new beginning would emerge, delicate and fragile. If she took time to think, she’d be lost so Gracie mined deep into her woman’s soul. When words came, she spoke them, her voice soft and yet as constant as the evening stars. “Oh, Dev, it must’ve hurt so much.”
“I don’t want your pity,” he said, a snarl transforming his face into something wolfish, alien. “Don’t feel sorry for me, babe. I don’t need charity and I sure as hell don’t need you to tell me some dumb ass feel good bunch of shit. So quit crying over me. Maybe it makes you feel better, but it makes me mad.”
“It isn’t pity,” Gracie told him. “I admire you. It takes a lot of courage to overcome hurts like this. I hurt for you, but I don’t feel sorry for you. I hate you had to go through such pain, but I’m crying because I care.”
His hard face softened a little. “Why?”
In this raw moment, she could give him nothing but honesty. “I don’t know, but I do.”
Then Gracie leaned forward and bent just enough to touch her lips to one of the ugliest lesions, the worst of the scars. He shuddered as she kissed his chest and when she lifted her tear streaked face, Devlin grasped her arms. He held her in place and kissed her back, full on the mouth, without remorse or mercy. Gracie gasped with surprise. His lips burned hers as if she kissed a devil fresh from the pit, but she liked it. Her body answered his call and her arms moved to circle his neck as she gave him back the kiss