As expected, Creighton and Sadie partook of the same seat. This meant Mae was doomed to once more suffer Owen’s company, who was stirring and blinking with the perplexity of a baby owl.
“Hello, goober. Make some room.”
The baby owl looked ready to eviscerate her. “I don’t wanna sit beside you.”
“Like it or lump it.” She jabbed a ticklish finger into his ribs.
“Uncle Creighton!” he squawked, spiraling across the bench with a riled flurry of wings. “The mean lady done pinched me on the leg!”
But Creighton only had eyes for the diaphanous miss who delicately wrung a lawn handkerchief between her quivering hands, though upon closer inspection, it wasn’t exactly euphoria on display, not on either of their parts. Sadie looked remorseful. A separate battle waged across Creighton’s face, hinting that his attraction to Sadie was greatly tempered by the distrust she’d incurred through some mysterious past behavior.
Arriving at a sudden resolution, Creighton decisively turned to Mae and said, “Give Sadie and me some privacy, would you? Take in a bit of scenery with Owen at one of the windows.”
“I’ll do you one better. Pretend like we’re not even here.” Mae reached inside the burlap sack stowed beneath the bench and withdrew the pièce de résistance: a slender children’s book emblazoned with the rather lackluster title Stories for Children, though the sight of it thoroughly accomplished her goal. With a hoot of excitement, Owen scrambled close as planned, anchoring himself to her side and making the notion of moving improbable. “We’ll occupy ourselves with this,” she assured Creighton, doing her utmost to look innocuous. “You’ll have privacy aplenty to have your little chat.”
Mae’s left arm was completely numb, which should have rendered her impervious to the slimy sensation of little-boy drool soaking through her sleeve, but alas, life is a curious thing.
Vibrating floor boards and several erratic belches of steam and coal dust alerted the train occupants that another precipitous stretch of track lay before them. Mae temporarily dismissed her anesthetized appendage and gripped the edge of the hard bench seat, seeking fortitude. Though some of the bolder passengers took pleasure in the view of crags and peaks afforded by the small number of windows, most failed to stir from their fitful dozes inside the stifling train carriage and barely shifted in their seats in response to the palsied uphill lurches.
The pitch slowly leveled out, and Mae’s bloodless grip loosened. Soon they would pass through Chetoogeta Mountain via a long tunnel over fourteen hundred feet long, or so she’d heard. Just over eighty miles into her first journey by train, and the experience was proving less than agreeable, though Owen had taken to it like water off a duck’s back. She adjusted her arm, resentful, her entire left side plastered in sweat and saliva. Owen was dead weight, comparable to a sack of potatoes someone had decided to thoughtlessly pitch on top of her.
Her sour mood traveled to the relaxed heap sprawled out on the facing bench. Creighton ought to be suffering this uncomfortable situation, not her, and yet he had an entire seat all to himself to doze in comparative splendor. With legs outstretched and battered hat pulled low, he was the picture of restfulness.
Or perhaps not.
The winners of the July e-book giveaway are Erin Townsend and Gloria Dodd! Congratulations, Erin and Gloria!
This month’s contest is for a free e-book copy of Clingstone (provided as an Amazon gift). Two winners will be selected, each to receive 1 e-book copy. The contest runs throughout the entire month of August and is open to all participants. Simply submit the contact form on this website. The winners will be announced in my blog post on September 1. Good luck!
*Names and emails are for contest purposes only. All contact information will be deleted after the contest ends. The winners' contact information will be deleted once Amazon confirms the e-books were claimed.
Additionally, I’m sharing one of my favorite chapters from Clingstone on my blog throughout the month of August. Each Monday I will post a portion of the chapter, beginning August 8th and yielding a total of four segments, to conclude on August 29th. The chapter is titled "The Extraordinary Miss Sadie Levine" and is a great example of the overall feel of Clingstone for would-be readers. I hope you enjoy it!
It’s that time again! Let’s delve into the quaint expressions found throughout Clingstone. What if we still used these quirky sayings in everyday conversation? Any chance these will ever catch on again? Enjoy these examples from my book along with examples of their usage in modern-day situations.
Between you and me and the lamppost-gossip shared in the strictest confidence
EXAMPLE: “Betwixt you, me, and the lamppost, Loretta’s cooking gives me terrible inflammation of the belly—”
EXAMPLE: “My dog has inexplicably developed a fear of shiny floors. Between you and me and the lamppost, I think she’s finally lost her little doggie mind.”
To cudgel one’s brains-think hard about something
EXAMPLE: “You just now thought of that?” Lucinda asked, tone dry. “Don’t cudgel your brains thinkin’ too hard on matters, Pru.”
EXAMPLE: “No matter how hard I cudgel my brains, I can’t fathom how my beloved Outlander on Starz didn’t get nominated for more than two measly Emmys.”
To laugh up one’s sleeve- to be secretly entertained; to laugh behind someone’s back
EXAMPLE: “So you said. And apparently I had nothin’ better to do than hide from you. Did you think I was tiptoeing behind a bush, laughin’ up my sleeve? Let’s be fair and square about this. You were the one who ran off and left me, remember?”
EXAMPLE: “Pokémon Go is quickly spiraling out of control. The latest gaffe includes players trespassing at Area 51. The aliens must be laughing up their sleeves."
Award-winning author Regan Walker has just posted a review of Clingstone!
Click here to read the full review at Regan's historical romance blog!
"CREIGHTON IS A COMPLEX, NOBLE HERO; MAE IS A FEISTY HEROINE WITH AN INDOMITABLE SPIRIT...JUST WHAT CREIGHTON AND HIS NEPHEW NEED. THEIR ADVENTURES ON THE WAY TO LOVE WILL KEEP YOU TURNING PAGES."
The blog Once Upon An Alpha has posted a review of Clingstone!
Click here to read the full review!
"Creighton was a gift to be unwrapped. I absolutely fell in love with that man. i'm a fan of historical romances, and clingstone is great historical romance." -Christina Oswald, once upon an alpha
Sometimes the universe sends us a wink.
Maybe it isn’t a wink at all, but merely coincidence, but even that explanation is fine by me. It’s still entertaining when it happens. Do we find meaning in random events? Is it merely statistics that dictate we’ll eventually encounter something that has personal meaning to us?
Probably. But we can still enjoy the moment and run with it.
Let me back up a bit. Originally, I was going to use imagery related to history and romance for my website pages: vintage stereographs of brides and grooms, old-fashioned lace gloves, pretty candles affixed in puddles of wax, and a beautiful stone pot that I reimagined as an ink pot for a writing quill. I went to an antique mall and bought several items that fit the bill. I took numerous photographs but, as is often the case with art, the concept and the results didn’t quite mesh. After several failed conceptualizations, I nixed the idea entirely and settled on outdoor photographs from my past vacations and day trips instead. I kept the beautiful stone pot, though. Someone had taken the time to mold it and fire it, only for it to end up on a shelf in an antique mall among hundreds of jars and crocks and bottles. I wondered about the artist who had sculpted it. I wanted to position it someplace where it could be admired, and so I placed it on my kitchen windowsill.
I never thought to turn the pot over and look at the bottom. Last week, I filled its tiny reservoir with water and placed a sprig of catmint in it. When the purple flowers began to fade and it came time to dump out its stagnant contents, I blinked in astonishment at the letters engraved on the bottom of the pot: Mae.
My heroine’s name was on the bottom of the pot.
I laughed aloud and placed the small clay pot back on my kitchen windowsill. Who cares if it’s only hubris that makes us think the universe stops to send a wink our way? It’s comforting, even if it’s only our imagination at play.
Now, if I somehow get my hands on a bowl with “Creighton” engraved on the bottom, I’ll sense a conspiracy is underway…
It’s been nearly five months since I published my book on Amazon, and this blog post is my official announcement that I’ve completed the first phase of my campaign to promote Clingstone. Aside from soliciting Amazon’s top 10,000 reviewers, I queried several bloggers registered with the Indie Reviewers List and the Book Bloggers Yellow Pages. I had decent results with the latter sources and would highly recommend their perusal to any authors intent on self-publishing. I received several positive responses despite the much smaller pool of bloggers; additionally, a few were willing to give me a promotional spot on their blog even though they couldn’t commit to a book review. I feel like I’ve tapped enough sources now to move on to the second phase of my promotional campaign.
And what is the second phase, you ask? It’s much less time-consuming than the first, and that is simply to continue maintaining my blog, updating the reviews when they come in, and continuing the monthly book giveaways here on my website. I realize this is all a giant literary snowball that needs to keep gaining girth and momentum as it rolls down the hill, and that will take considerable time. Instant success is a myth; success is wrung from months, years even, of persistent effort. And so the hard slog will carry on.
I didn’t really know what to expect from this experience when I started, but I’ve really enjoyed myself. It feels good to try new things. This will also be a transitional time for me as I devote more of my time and energy into writing the first draft of my new book. It’s still in its infancy stage, but I’ll post some updates from time to time in the months ahead. Until then, I look forward to Clingstone’s pending reviews and sharing them with all of you.
The winners of the June e-book giveaway are Andrea Getz and Mindy Iwanski! Congratulations, Andrea and Mindy!
This month’s contest is for a free e-book copy of Clingstone (provided as an Amazon gift). Two winners will be selected, each to receive 1 e-book copy. The contest runs throughout the entire month of July and is open to all participants. Simply submit the contact form on this website. The winners will be announced in my blog post on August 1. Good luck!
* Names and emails are for contest purposes only. All contact information will be deleted after the contest ends. The winners' contact information will be deleted once I receive confirmation from Amazon that the e-book gifts were collected.
My first dog was a Golden Retriever. I got her when I was twenty-eight years old, not long after I bought my house. She could spend hours hunting flies. I often took her down to the nearby Mackinaw River because she was one of those glorious dogs that never wandered far from its owner’s line-of-sight. I could sit with my legs in the water and not worry that she would run off and get hopelessly lost in the brush, or run out onto the road. Sometimes I would go swimming or take photographs while she stalked those elusive flies, her feathery tail lashing back and forth, translucent beads of water sweeping the air. Other times I would listen to my headphones or simply lay on a sandbar and watch the clouds pass by, the sounds of her happy panting a comforting background to my daydreaming.
It was during one of those trips to the Mackinaw with my Golden Retriever that I photographed the cover for Clingstone. I didn’t know it at the time, of course. At the time, its staging had nothing whatsoever to do with my book. I was experimenting with the new camera I’d bought and planned to frame some of the photographs as artwork. It was only much later that I came across that particular photograph again and realized it flawlessly represented the scene in which Mae’s bonnet flower is torn away (well, maybe not flawlessly—it’s actually a Gerber daisy, and not a common daisy, but I cheerfully allowed myself the inaccuracy because the staging was otherwise picture-perfect).
Additionally, I wanted my book cover to contrast with all the other romance novel covers out there. I don’t mean that to sound disparaging. I love the many gorgeous covers gracing romance novels right now, especially the ones with the heroines in their stunning dresses, but they tend to run together when viewed collectively. I think the simplicity of my cover with its sepia photograph and calm green background catches the eye. I love the font, how it almost looks etched or carved because of its distinctive serifs. In hindsight, I’m becoming more and more grateful that a literary agent or publisher never picked up my book. I don’t know how much creative input I would have been allowed with the cover art, but self-publishing has freed me from any potential constraints.
And so a Golden Retriever’s love of the water, and my love of photographing nature inevitably produced the cover of Clingstone. Below are several other photographs I took on that long-ago day down at the river.
The blog Midnight Attic Reader has posted a review for Clingstone!
Click here to read the full review!
"ENGAGING HISTORICAL READ!" -mIDNIGHT ATTIC READER
I was off of work all this week. It was lovely, lovely, lovely. I exchanged a few emails pertaining to my book, but otherwise I floated along in a swirling perfumed cloud of idleness. Work never even crossed the neural pathways in my brain. “This must be how the rich live,” I murmured often to myself, not caring what day of the week it was, barely registering the time. AM? PM? I didn’t care. I was a lady of leisure. I was only jolted back into reality when I realized my natural gas bill was overdue. My credit card had the audacity to rear its ugly head the day after that. I muttered briefly to myself, cannoned off my payments, and then floated happily back into my swirling perfumed cloud of idleness. I doubt the rich are ever bothered by payment notices; they have people for that.
Well, in all truthfulness, I wasn’t exactly idle. I vowed to finish some of my neglected DIY projects around the house and bravo for me! I actually did! I finished the ceiling trim in my living room—it’s not fancy enough to warrant the term “crown molding”—but I think it turned out nice! I installed knotty pine tongue-and-groove plank ceiling two years ago but, true to my procrastinating nature, never finished the trim (unfortunately, I have the terrible habit of getting distracted by bright and shiny things; I rarely finish things, except books, of course!). So, lots of wood putty and tubes of caulk later, and I have a completed living room! And I also finished my kitchen’s trim too, so I’ve gone above and beyond this staycation! My back is sore from all of this congratulatory self-patting.
I also made time to take a little road trip and visit friends in Iowa. They live in one of those small towns where people putter around in golf carts instead of cars. If you've never zoomed downhill in a golf cart while a neighborhood dog joyously runs after, you don't know what you're missing! Aside from the bugs pinging off your face, of course. That aspect I wouldn't recommend to anyone. At home, I spent my mornings drinking coffee on the back porch and pondering what recreation I would indulge in that day: movies, reading, maybe some shopping? I ate too much and slept in. It was glorious.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I'm back at work. Oh well. I'm sure I would discover that being a lady of leisure isn't without its drawbacks.
Sure. That's what I'll keep telling myself.
My thanks go out to Molly at the blog Molly Lolly // Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words for posting me in the author spotlight today! Check out the exclusive excerpt at Molly's blog by clicking here.
It’s that time again: another foray into the delightfully quirky vocabulary of Clingstone. How do you think these sayings would hold up in our modern world? Enjoy these examples from my book paired with their contemporary variations!
Bully for you- congratulations; good job
EXAMPLE: The limpid expression in his eyes abruptly vanished as he quickly seized the garment. He smiled broadly and actually had the boldness to wink at her. Clearly she’d been duped. “Bully for you,” she grumbled.
EXAMPLE: “The kale I was going to eat for dinner has surpassed its expiration date. Luckily I have an emergency package of breaded mozzarella cheese sticks in the freezer. Bully for me!”
Cream of the crop- the best of the best
EXAMPLE: “It’s the bridge. Our battalion burned it this morning. You’re surely not the cream of the crop, are you? Even someone like you ought to be able to put two and two together,” she goaded.
EXAMPLE: “I tripped over my own two feet while running last week. Literally. I tripped over my own two feet and did a header across the pavement. When it comes to athleticism, I am not the cream of the crop.”
Lickety split- very fast
EXAMPLE: “Here’s my guess, / Don’t have a fit; / I think he ran home, / Lickety split!”
EXAMPLE: “Yesterday, I had to buy four new tires for my car. Just like that, my paycheck was gone, lickety split!”
I finally finished my quest. Amazon’s top 10,000 reviewer list didn’t know what it was in for when it met me. I came, I saw, I conquered…well, not really that last one. More like I loitered. Or pestered. Yes, I definitely pestered. I wasn’t so much a conqueror as I was a pesterer, waiting to pounce on the next reviewer profile to upload.
So how did it all turn out for me? Firstly, I want to reiterate my earlier post about running the gauntlet: I truly enjoyed ferreting out all those blogging sites and email addresses. Research has always appealed to me, and I’m perfectly happy rummaging through massive heaps of information in order to find a few precious useable nuggets. Yes, I’m the weirdo who actually likes searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
That being said, the end result was not a very prolific one for me. I’m not sure if my experience was typical, but let’s break it down by doing the math. I didn’t religiously chart statistics, but I can dredge up a fair estimation. Out of 10,000 reviewers, I estimate 1000 were receptive to receiving book review requests, or 10% of the total. Of those, half were nixed from the get-go, either because they didn’t supply contact information, or their contact information was no longer valid (expired websites, blogs, etc.). My potential pool of reviewers then dropped to 500, or 5% of the total available. Of those, about half were eliminated because they were not interested in reviewing historical romance or self-published authors, and another round was jettisoned after taking into account those no longer accepting reviews due to overloaded TBR piles. And so the final count of blogs or individuals amenable to accepting self-published historical romance for review was about 100, or 1% of the top 10,000 reviewers on Amazon. Of those 1% I queried for an honest review, ¼ responded, and of those, another ¼ accepted my book for review.
So there’s my experience soliciting Amazon reviewers. I started out with a pool of 10,000 and ended up with a narrow bottleneck of potentials. I fear that sounds ungrateful, but the exact opposite is true. Even though most reviews of my book won’t come out for several weeks yet, I’m extremely appreciative of those rare souls who are so willing to give of their free time, and merely for the pleasure of reading. Everyone who responded was polite and friendly, including those who declined, and that was very refreshing. In a world where social media interactions can sometimes leave much to be desired, my experience was a pleasant reminder of the many helpful, gracious people out there willing to help someone get her jumpstart.
So, in summary, I didn’t really conquer, but I came and I saw! Hooray for me! And hooray for everyone I met along the way willing to put Clingstone in their TBR pile! You have my thanks, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
On a separate note, I’ve added new Life Picks to my About page, so pop on over to check it out. There’s a harrowing piece about my encounter with a hideous serpent…
Copyright © 2016-2018 Marti Ziegler