Tag Archives: HISTORICAL

Review of Lakota Honor, by Kat Flannery

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Lakota Honor is an exciting read filled with romance, drama, action, and elements of the paranormal.

It’s the late 1800s, and Otakatay is a bounty hunter, a slayer of men and women. Embittered by the past, he’s ruthless and unforgiving. Now his conscience haunts him day and night, and he believes himself to be evil, to be death itself.

Black-haired, blue-eyed beauty Nora Rushton is a healer, a gift that her father considers a curse and tries to keep secret from everyone around them. To protect her from those who would accuse her of witchcraft as they did her mother, he keeps her locked up in the house all day. But Nora feels like a bird in a cage and she wants to be free.

Then one day, in a twist of fate, she meets Otakatay, and she’s instantly mesmerized by his looks and aura of danger, need, and hunger. Though he won’t admit it at first, he’s also taken by Nora’s kind blue eyes – – but he warns her that she better stay away from him if she knows what’s good for her. Also on the scene is Elwood Calhoun, a rich miner who will stop at nothing to possess Nora.

But then, the man who has been paying money to Otakatay to kill people has one last job for him, and this time he has put a price on Nora’s head…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this historical western romance. Nora is a very sympathetic heroine with a warm heart yet willful, feisty personality. Otakatay is the ultimate tortured soul, a man sunk in darkness and trying to find the light.

At first his past crimes put me off, but the author did a good job in revealing his feelings and showing his deep remorse, which eventually redeem him. It was interesting to watch his character arc evolve and change throughout the story.

There are quite a number of exciting action segments and the sensual scenes are written in good taste. I also enjoyed the ending, which revealed some unexpected story twists.

Recommended for fans of historical and western romances.

Purchase on Amazon US /  Amazon CA / Amazon UK 

Review originally published in Blogcritics

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Read-a-Chapter: Lakota Honor, by Kat Flannery

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the Paranormal Historical Western Romance, Lakota Honor, by Kat Flannery. Enjoy!

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Fate has brought them together…but will a promise tear them a part?

Otakatay is hired to kill the witkowin-crazy women. A deadly bounty hunter, he has found his last victim in timid healer Nora Rushton. Marked as a witch, Nora uses her gift to heal those in need, and the bounty hunter is one of them. Will the desire to complete his promise drive him to kill her, or will the kindness he sees in her blue eyes push him to be the man he once was?

Nora and Otakatay must fight for their freedom in a time when race and discrimination are a threat and innocence holds no ground.

Purchase LAKOTA HONOR on AMAZON US /  AMAZON CA / AMAZON UK 

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PROLOGUE 

Colorado Mountains, 1880  

The blade slicing his throat made no sound, but the dead body hitting the ground did. With no time to stop, he hurried through the dark tunnel until he reached the ladder leading out of the shaft.  He’d been two hundred feet below ground for ten days, with no food and little water. Weak and woozy, he stared up the ladder.

He’d have to climb it and it wasn’t going to be easy. He wiped the bloody blade on his torn pants and placed it between his teeth. Scraped knuckles and unwashed hands gripped the wooden rung.  The earth swayed. He closed his eyes and forced the spinning in his head to cease. One thin bronzed leg lifted and came down wobbly. He waited until his leg stopped shaking before he climbed another rung. Each step caused pain, but was paired with determination. He made it to the top faster than he’d thought he would. The sky was black and the air was cool, but fresh. Thank goodness it was fresh.

He took two long breaths before he emerged from the hole. The smell from below ground still lingered in his nostrils; unwashed bodies, feces and mangy rats. His stomach pitched. He tugged at the rope around his hands. There had been no time to chew the thick bands around his wrists when he’d planned his escape. It was better to run than crawl, and he chewed through the strips that bound his feet instead. There would be time to free his wrists later. He pressed his body against the mountain and inched toward the shack. He frowned.

A guard stood at the entrance to where they were. The blade from the knife pinched his lip, cutting the thin skin and he tasted blood. He needed to get in there. He needed to say goodbye. He needed to make a promise.   The tower bell rang mercilessly. There was no time left. He pushed away from the rocky wall, dropped the knife from his mouth into his bound hands, aimed and threw it. The dagger dug into the man’s chest. He ran over, pulled the blade from the guard and quickly slid it across his throat. The guard bled out in seconds.

He tapped the barred window on the north side of the dilapidated shack. The time seemed to stretch. He glanced at the large house not fifty yards from where he stood. He would come back, and he would kill the bastard inside.  He tapped again, harder this time, and heard the weak steps of those like him shuffling from inside. The window slid open, and a small hand slipped out.  “Toksha ake—I shall see you again,” he whispered in Lakota.

The hand squeezed his once, twice and on the third time held tight before it let go and disappeared inside the room.  A tear slipped from his dark eyes, and his hand, still on the window sill, balled into a fist. He swallowed past the sob and felt the burn in his throat. His chest ached for what he was leaving behind. He would survive, and he would return. Men shouted to his right, and he crouched down low. He took one last look around and fled into the cover of the forest.

 CHAPTER ONE

1888, Willow Creek, Colorado  

Nora Rushton scanned the hillside before glancing back at the woman on the ground. She could be dead, or worse yet, someone from town. She flexed her hands. The woman’s blue skirt ruffled in the wind, and a tattered brown Stetson sat beside her head. Nora assessed the rest of her attire. A faded yellow blouse stained from the grass and dirt, leather gloves and a red bandana tied loosely around her neck. She resembled a ranch hand in a skirt.

There was no one else around, and the woman needed her help. She chewed on her lip, and her fingers twitched. I have to help her. She sucked in a deep breath, held it, and walked the remaining few feet that stood between her and the injured woman. The woman’s horse picked up Nora’s scent, trotted over and pushed his nose into her chest.

“It’s okay, boy,” she said, smoothing back the red-brown mane. “Why don’t you let me have a look at your owner?”

She knelt down beside the woman and realized she was old enough to be her grandmother. Gray hair with subtle blonde streaks lay messed and pulled from the bun she was wearing. Why was she on a horse in the middle of the valley without a chaperone?

She licked her finger and placed it under the woman’s nose. A cool sensation skittered across her wet finger, and she sighed.  The woman’s left leg bent inward and laid uncomfortably to the side. She lifted the skirt for a closer look. Her stomach rolled, and bile crawled up the back of her throat. The thigh bone protruded, stretching the skin bright white, but didn’t break through. Nora’s hands grew warm, the sensation she felt so many times before.

The woman moaned and reached for her leg.

“No, please don’t touch your leg. It’s broken.” She held the woman’s hand.

Ice blue eyes stared back at her, showing pain mingled with relief.

“My name is Nora,” she said with a smile. “I am going to get help.”

The wrinkled hand squeezed hers, and the woman shook her head. “No, child, my heart can’t take the pain much longer.” Creased lips pressed together as she closed her eyes and took two deep breaths.

“Please, just sit here with me.” Her voice was husky and weak.

She scanned the rolling hills for any sign of help, but there was no one. She studied the woman again. Her skin had a blue tinge to it, and her breathing became forced. I promised Pa. But how was she supposed to walk away from this woman who so desperately needed her help? She took another look around. Green grass waved in the wind. Please, someone, anyone come over the hill.  White daisies mingled within the grass, and had the woman not been injured, she would’ve plucked a few for her hair.

She waited a few minutes longer. No one came. Her hands started their restless shaking. She clasped them together, trying to stop the tremors. It would only take a few minutes. I can help her. No one would see. She stared at the old woman, except her. If she helped her, would she tell everyone about Nora’s secret? Would she ask any questions? There were always questions.

Nora’s resolve was weakening. She ran her hot hands along the woman’s body to see if anything else was broken. Only the leg, thank goodness. Lifting the skirt once again, she laid her warm palms gently on the broken thigh bone. Her hands, bright red, itched with anticipation. The leg seemed worse without the cover of the skirt. One move and the bone would surely break through the skin. She inhaled groaning at the same time as she placed her hands on either side of the limb. In one swift movement, she squeezed the bone together.

The woman shot up from the grass yelling out in agony.  Nora squeezed harder until she felt the bone shift back into place. Jolts of pain raced up and down her arms as the woman’s leg began to heal. Nora’s own thigh burned and ached, as her bones and flesh cried out in distress. She held on until the pain seeped from her own body into nothingness, vanishing as if it were never there.  She removed her hands, now shaking and cold from the woman’s healed limb, unaware of the blue eyes staring up at her. Her stomach lurched, like she knew it would—like it always did afterward. She rose on trembling legs and walked as far away as she could before vomiting onto the bright green grass. Not once, but twice. She waited until her strength returned before she stood and let the wind cool her heated cheeks.

The bitter taste stayed in her mouth. If the woman hadn’t been there she’d have spit the lingering bile onto the grass. She needed water and searched the area for a stream.  Her mouth felt full of cotton, and she smacked her tongue off of her dry lips. She was desperate for some water. Had she not wandered so far from the forest to set the baby hawk free, she’d know where she was now and which direction would take her home. She gasped. She’d lost track of time and needed to get home before Pa did. Jack Rushton had a temper and she didn’t want to witness it tonight.

“Are you an angel?”  She turned to face the woman and grinned.

“No, Ma’am. I am not an angel, although I like to think God gave me this gift.”

The woman pulled her skirt down, recovered from her shock and said in a rough voice, “Well if you ain’t no angel, than what in hell are ya?”

Taken aback at the woman’s gruffness, she knelt down beside her. Here we go, either she understands or she runs away delusional and screaming. “I…I am a healer.” She waited.

The woman said nothing instead she narrowed her eyes and stared. “A witch?”

Nora winced. “No, not a witch. I need you to promise you won’t tell anyone what happened here today.” Her stomach in knots, she waited for the old woman’s reply.

“You think I’m some kind of fool?” She stood and stretched her leg. She stared at the healed limb before she hopped on it a few times. “People already think I’m crazy. Why would I add more crap to their already heaping pile of shit?”

Oh my. The woman’s vocabulary was nothing short of colorful, and she liked it.  She smiled and stuck out her hand. “I’m Nora Rushton. It’s nice to meet you.”

The woman stared at her for a few seconds before her thin mouth turned up and she smiled. “Jess Chandler.” She gripped Nora’s hand with such force she had to refrain from yelling out in pain. “Thanks for your help, girly.”

“I don’t think we’ve ever met. Do you live in Willow Creek?”

“I own a farm west of here.”

“How come I’ve never seen you?” I never see anyone, Pa’s rules.

The wind picked up whipping Jess’s hat through the air.

“Max,” she called over her shoulder, “fetch my hat.”

The horse’s ears spiked and he trotted off toward the hat. She watched in awe as the animal retrieved the Stetson with his mouth and brought it back to his master.

“I’ve never seen such a thing,” Nora giggled and patted Max’s rump.

Jess took the hat and slapped it on top of her head.  “Yup, ol’Max here, he’s pretty damn smart.”

“I’d say he is.” She remembered the companionship she’d enjoyed with the baby hawk she’d rescued a few weeks ago. She’d miss the little guy. His feedings had kept her busy during the long boring days at home. “Miss Jess, I’m sorry to be short, but I have to head on home.”

“Hell, girly, I can take you.” She climbed up onto Max and wound the reins around her gloved hands. “Hop on. He’s strong enough for two.”

“Are you sure?” “It’s the least I can do.”  She clasped Jess’s hand and pulled herself up behind her. “Thank you, Jess, for keeping my secret.” Placing her arms around the woman’s waist, she gave her a light squeeze.

“Darlin,” Jess patted Nora’s hand, “you can rest assured I will take this secret to my grave.” She whistled, and Max started toward town.

 

Otakatay sat tall on his horse as he gazed at the lush green valley below. The town of Willow Creek was nestled at the edge of the green hills. He’d been gone four round moons, traveling to Wyoming and back. The rough terrain of the Rocky Mountains had almost killed him and his horse. The steep cliffs and forests were untouched by man.  On the first day in the Rockies, he’d come up against a mountain lion, a grizzly and bush thick enough to strangle him. He used his knife to carve into the dense brush, and his shotgun to defend himself. When he could, he stuck to the deer trails, and in the evening built large fires to keep the animals at bay.

He glanced behind him at the brown sack tied to his saddle. Inside, there were three. This time he’d ask for more money. His bronzed jaw flexed. He would demand it.  The sky was bright blue with smudges of gray smoke wafting upward from the homes and businesses. The weather would warm as the day progressed and the sun rose higher into the sky. His eyes wandered past the hills to the mountains behind them, and his insides burned.  He clicked his tongue, and his mustang sauntered down the hill. Wakina was agile and strong.

Otakatay knew he could count on him always. Over the years Wakina had kept pace with his schedule and relentless hunting. The emerald stocks swayed and danced before him as he rode through. The grass brushed the bottoms of his moccasins, and he dunked his hand into the velvety green weed. He’d make camp in the forest outside of the mining town.  Wakina shook his head and whinnied. Otakatay brushed his hand along the length of his silver mane.

“Soon my friend, soon,” he whispered.

The animal wanted to run down into the valley, but resigned himself to the lethargic pace his master ordered. Wakina tossed his head. Otakatay slapped Wakina’s sides with the loose ends of the reins, and the horse took off down the hill clearing a path through the grass.  The rolling blanket of emerald parted as Wakina’s long legs cantered toward the forest. Otakatay’s shoulder-length black hair whipped his face and tickled his neck as his heart pounded lively inside his chest. It was rare that he felt so alive. His days consisted of planning and plotting until he knew every detail by heart.

The eagle feather tied to his hair lifted in the wind and soared high above his head. For a moment he allowed himself to close his eyes and enjoy the smells of wildflowers and wood smoke. The sun kissed his cheeks and he tried to hold onto the moment, savoring the last bit of calm before rotten flesh and wet fur filled his nostrils.  His eyes sprung open. He pulled on the reins, and rubbed his nose to rid the smell, to push out the visions that saturated his mind. The scent clung to him burrowing deep into his soul and he mentally fought to purge it from his consciousness. He shook his head and concentrated on the fields, trying to push the memories away. He didn’t want to do this, not now. He didn’t want to see, feel, smell, or taste the memory again.

The rhythmic clanking echoed inside his head, and he squeezed his eyes closed. Sweat trickled down his temples. He clenched every muscle in his body. His hands skimmed the jagged walls of the damp tunnel. He stumbled and fell onto the rough walls, burning his torn flesh. He moaned. Every bit of him ached with such pain, he was sure he’d die. His thin body shook with fever. He reeked of blood, sweat and fear.  With each step he took, he struggled to stay upright and almost collapsed onto the ground. The agony of his wounds blinded him, and he didn’t know if it was a combination of the sweat dripping into his eyes, or if he was crying from the intense pain. His back burned and pulsed with powerful beats, the skin became tight around his ribs as the flesh swelled.  He tripped on a large rock and fell to the ground. The skin on his knees tore open, but he didn’t care. Nothing could ease the screaming in his back. Nothing could take away the hell he lived every day. He laid his head against the dirt covered floor. Dust stuck to his cheeks and lips while he prayed for Wakan Tanka to end his life.

 

 

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A Conversation with Nick West, Author of The Long Road Home

A native of Gainesville, Florida, author Nick West attended the University of Florida where he became interested in writing. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, and together with his family, have owned and operated a landscape business in the area for over twenty years. He and his wife Kay andtheir children, Tammy, John and Christy, along with their families all live on the farm where he grew up near Archer. He is the author of The Great Southern Circus and The Long Road Home.

The Great Southern Circus, his first book, is a collection of circus stories told to him by his grandmother as they were told to her by her grandmother, Miranda Madderra, who performed with this horse drawn caravan just prior to the Civil War. His second book, The Long Road Home, follows the main characters from The Great Southern Circus as they traverse the difficult and painful years of the American Civil War.

Visit the author and learn more about his work at http://thelongroadsouth.com.

Thanks for this interview. Tell us a little about what got you into writing?

I believe that all writers are avid readers. As such I have tremendous respect for those who are talented enough to draw their readers into a caring relationship with the characters in their books. I have found that after reading a good book, I often recall the experiences of the characters as I would good friends or family members. That is my goal as a writer. I have attempted to relate these stories in a way that future generations of my own family could relate to them as the real people that they were. My effort is to bring these wonderful people to life in my books so that even readers outside of my own family would feel as connected to them as I do.

What was your inspiration for The Long Road Home?

When The Great Southern Circusbecame available nationally on Amazon, I was contacted by a large number of readers who had become invested in the characters of that book. As that book ended, half the characters rushed to join the Union Army and the other half joined the Southern cause. Readers wanted to know what had become of these folks during the Civil War. This book answers those questions.

So the novel is part biographical, part fictional?

Biographical in the sense that these were real people who actually lived the events about which I have written, and fictional in the sense that I can only imagine most of their actual conversations based upon recollections as handed down through oral history for several generations.

For those readers who haven’t read your first book yet, is there something about the plot or characters they need to know in advance before readingThe Long Road Home or is it a stand alone novel?

I have had readers who read The Long Road Home first, but invariably went back to read the Great Southern Circus to better understand the relationships. I would encourage folks to read the books in the order they were written to become more involved with all of these wonderful people.

How long did it take you to write the book and did you plot in advance?

The Great Southern Circus was a work in progress for years. I remembered the stories as they were told by my Grandmother and was determined to put them down in written form for future generations of my own family. The advent of the internet made it possible to not only verify that the events chronicled in the book actually took place, but also to connect me with other descendants of the same tour to compare notes and flesh out the other characters. This book took about a year to actually write and told the story of a two year circus tour that ended when the Civil War broke out. The Long Road Home picked up the adventures of the same characters as they struggled to survive the terrible years of the war. This book also took about one year to research and write.

I understand you did a lot of research for this novel. What was the process like and what surprised you most about this dark time of American history?

The American Civil War is probably the most researched period of American History. No matter how small a skirmish or political event, someone has researched and written about it. I read countless articles, books and research papers as they related to the experiences of my ancestors during this dark period. I found many surprises (at least to me) along the way. For instance, at the beginning of the War, Lincoln was more concerned with the preservation of the Union than he was about slavery which I was always taught was the major reason for the conflict. I also learned that racial prejudice in the North did not allow black men to even join the Union Army until late in the war. I had forgotten that our Nation was less than one hundred years old at the time and that many of the States believed that the Union was voluntary and that they could simply “opt out” if they believed that the Federal government was causing them more problems than it was helping their individual cause. I also learned to respect even more the character displayed by, and heartaches endured by President Lincoln during this time.

What themes do you explore in your novel?

Romance, friendship, adventure, hardships in a historical context. This is an attempt to put into perspective the individual stories of each of these men and women as they were swept along by events beyond their control. These characters first met each other and became close friends during the hardships of a circus tour that lasted two years before the outbreak of the War. One man was the northern son of the circus owner and performer, one young black man who joined to circus to search for his sister who was still held as a slave somewhere in the South, one young Alabama girl (my 3x Great Grandmother) who was a bare back rider and a young man from Alabama who joined the circus just to be near her. This is primarily their story.

What has been the reaction from your friends and family so far?

Friends and family loved both books and I have been blessed by the fact that total strangers have discovered my books. From the reviews on Amazon and other sites they seemed to have enjoyed them as well.

Are you planning any local book signings or other promotional events you’d like to announce?

I have periodic signing events that I advertise locally and through social networking. I am also happy to personalize and sign books that my office will mail to anyone who phones in a request to 1 (352)495-9858.

What’s on the horizon for you? Is there a third novel in the works?

I am now working on my third novel.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

I am always happy to hear from readers who have enjoyed my books. They can find me on Facebook or E-Mail me at CountryGator@AOL.COM

Thanks again for the interview and best of luck with your books!

My interview originally appeared in Blogcritics Magazine

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How to Get Published by ‘The Right Track’ Jill Limber

How to Get Published is a continuing feature at As the Pages Turn where we ask authors to tell us their publishing stories. Was it a rocky road or did it come easy for them? Did they start with an agent and get a NY publisher interested in their book or did they self-publish? What words of wisdom do they have for all of us who would like to be published one day?

Today’s guest is Jill Limber, author of the contemporary romance, The Right Track (Boroughs Publishing Group).

How I Got Published

By Jill Limber, author of The Right Track

The Right Track is my third book, but my first contemporary. It was such a change from writing historical romance I decided to write about something I was very familiar with. The plan worked, because I submitted it to a New York publisher without the help of an agent, and it was picked up right away.

This book was perhaps the most fun to write of all my books. The fun part involves the setting of the book. It takes place on a private railroad car as the hero and heroine travel across the United States.

The setting is a real car, built almost one hundred years ago, and the book was written on that car. My other job is being a professional chef and the owner of a catering company. I have worked as a personal chef for the owner of the railroad car for years.

The inspiration for the book was a complete no-brainer, and I didn’t have to do a lot of research. When travelling by train, even if you’re working, there is enough downtime to get a fair amount of writing done. The hardest part is to not get too distracted by the scenery and lose your concentration.

I remember writing one scene as we started up into the Rocky Mountains. We had spent the night in the station in Oakland California, and the car had been switched from the back of the Coast Starlight up from San Diego to the rear of the California Zephyr for the second leg of our trip to Chicago. It had rained during the night, but the day dawned clear. It was in the spring and as we left the city, there were wild flowers everywhere.

We climbed into the foothills of the Rockies, where the views are always spectacular. By the time we got to five thousand feet or so, the snow started to fall, and within an hour, the forest was transformed into a winter wonderland. Needless to say, I didn’t do as much writing that day as I had hoped. Between gazing out the windows and treating the owners and staff to fresh baked cookies and hot chocolate, as well as the usual three full meals, there wasn’t a lot of time left over.

I suppose my best advice for someone starting out is the old standard: Write what you know. It is easier to craft a great story if you are on familiar territory.

A multi-published author and former RWA President, Jill Limber’s latest books are Montana Morning, A Heart That Dares and The Right Track. As a child, some of Jill’s tales got her in trouble, but now she gets paid for them. Residing in San Diego with her husband and a trio of dogs and one very ancient cat, Jill’s favorite pastime is to gather friends and family for good food, conversation and plenty of laughter.

You can visit her website at www.JillLimber.com.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon Kindle Store | Barnes & Noble | Boroughs Publishing Group | Official Tour Page

 

 

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Interview with Dr. Jeri Fink, author of “Trees Cry For Rain”

OnlineJeriFinkDr. Jeri Fink is an author, Family Therapist, and journalist, with over 19 books and hundreds of articles to her name. She writes adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction, and has appeared on television, radio, book events, seminars, workshops, and the internet. Dr. Fink’s work has been praised by community leaders, educators, reviewers, and critics around the country.

To find out more about Dr. Finkhttp://www.drjerifink.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Jeri. Can you tell us what your latest book, Trees Cry For Rain, is all about?

Thank you for having me!

Trees Cry For Rain is a gripping historical novel that tells the story of courageous individuals who fought to survive the lethal forces of their times. The novel begins with one woman who gives her life to protect her three young daughters. Five hundred years later, this past ruthlessly crashes into the present where the ghosts of yesterday await them.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

There are two “related” sets of characters – those who live in 15th century Spain and those who live in today’s New York City.
The story begins with Rozas, a Secret Jew in Spain. Secret Jews were people who went to church with their neighbors, professed to be Catholics, and secretly practiced Judaism – a crime punishable by death. They were known as “Conversos” or New Christians because they or their ancestors had been forcibly converted to Catholicism.

Rozas is facing a horrific fate. Someone has betrayed her to the Holy Office of the Inquisition. She has to act fast, or they will all be tortured and burned at the stake. Rozas uses herself and her husband Lucas as decoys so her three young daughters, Marianna, Catalina, and Zara can escape. She says a quick prayer:

“Please God, save the children.”

Rafael, a Christian friend of the family, arrives before the soldiers. He begs them to “run.” Instead, Rozas gives him the responsibility of leading her children to safety. Rafael chooses to protect the Converso girls rather than remain in the safety of his own family.

Five hundred years later, it’s August in Bryant Park, New York City. Shira, a young romance writer, is a loner – experiencing life through odd characters that see and hear visions from the past. She scans the busy park and several faces stare back. They’re strangers, yet oddly familiar. She’s drawn to them – as well as the priest who strides across the Great Lawn in medieval clerical garb. Shira listens as Cole, a street performer, sings old Spanish folksongs.

Trees Cry For Rain leaps through generations until time suddenly freezes. Something unthinkable is about to happen.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

My characters live within me. When the time is right, they reveal themselves. Each character is a blend of people I know, people in my imagination, my conscious memories, and perhaps most significantly, genetic memories. Their stories often feel more real than the people I see on the street.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I love this question because every writer has her or his own unique way of constructing a story. My characters tell me their stories and I generate a loose outline after I know their basic plot. Since I like to incorporate metaphor, I often sketch out “hidden connections” to keep track of where I’m going. My most detailed plot outlines are after the book is written, when I check timelines, accuracy, consistency and plot strength. Ironically, editing and rewriting takes longer than writing the original draft. With that said, I allow my book to follow its natural path. If the plot changes or a character appears I have to adjust!

Q: Your book is set in 15th Century Spain and modern-day New York City. Can you tell us why you chose this?

Years ago, I read about a group of people in New Mexico who followed odd customs, similar to the Jews, in their Catholic community – lighting candles on Friday night, refusing to eat pork, and playing Christmas games with a four-sided spinning top. Local historians traced their ancestry back to Secret Jews who had fled the Spanish Inquisition. I was haunted by their experiences. What was it like to live a double life – going to church with your neighbors while secretly practicing Judaism – a crime punishable by death? How did it feel to risk everything for religious beliefs? What happens when people keep dangerous secrets – live schizoid existences that span generations? Lastly, what would they look like today? It took me four years of research, travel, interviews and writing to answer those questions.

I chose New York City as the point of convergence – where the past crashes into the present. As a native New Yorker, I have always loved the mystery, challenge and contradictions of the city. It was a natural environment for my characters to find closure.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

In Trees Cry For Rain there are several “major characters” that aren’t people. The most powerful is “time.” My other settings are also characters – Spain, Sao Tome, Lisbon and Bryant Park in New York City – all crucial participants in the story.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

This is a great question! One might wonder whether its charming randomness has a meaning unknown to all of us? Page 69 in Trees Cry For Rain describes Rozas’ final torture by the Inquisitors. Today we call it “water boarding.”

Without warning, an unspeakable pain sears through Rozas – a red-hot iron burning everything within.

Tomás, the Chief Inquisitor, is trying to learn where Rozas’ daughters have fled.

“So,” Tomás grins. “Do you have anything else to tell us?”

Rozas cannot speak.

“Convicted,” Tomás says gleefully. “Heresy.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Spain – 1492
At the end of the street is the entrance to the Inquisition
dungeons. I shiver. I’m nearing the most dreaded place in Spain, where
torturers use the name of their God to inflict pain and evil.
I try to control myself. I struggle to contain the fear. My body
denies my mind; my blood turns to ice and my knees buckle.
They drag me toward the dark, stone entrance.
My mind crumbles in terror. My feet scrape the cobblestones as
we approach. Five words break through the fear.
“Please God, save the children.”
I descend deep into the bowels of the Earth. Darkness and stench
surround me; cold, damp stone forms the deadly corridors of
dungeons. I hear the sounds of human misery – cries, moans, and
demented voices of people already broken. The soldiers pause; one
opens the heavy door that will be my home for the rest of my life.
Another soldier rips off my clothes, laughing loudly. He shoves a
coarse shift into my arms.
“That’s what you wear now, Marrano,” he taunts me. “Clothes
suited for a Christ-killer.”
They shove me inside and lock the bars.
I’m engulfed in complete dark. It holds me in a tightly wrapped
pouch. I wait, trying to understand what has happened. I cry; I wail; I
beg for God to hear me. The dark is unrelenting. Finally, I sleep,
exhausted. My dreams are wild and incoherent. When I wake,
fragments float through my head – pieces that I can put together into
a whole.
It’s still dark and I quickly discover that here, time passes without
meaning. I’m trapped . . . moving from coldness inside to hot terror
that lingers, like a wild predator, outside. I know the road, although
this is the first – and last – time I will ever travel it.

Bryant Park, New York City – present-day
Shira paused.
Where were the words coming from? For a brief moment she
was confused, as if strangers had invaded her mental space. She shook
her head angrily. Now she was even thinking like a horror movie
character.
She glanced at the clouds, distracting herself.
The tiny French Classical kiosks were busy with the crowds – tourists,
people leaving work early, others browsing, enjoying the midsummer
sun and the cool breeze. ‘Wichcraft was serving its usual sandwiches,
and ice cream. Dressed in summer business casual, office workers carried large plastic cups filled with iced mochaccino and bottles of yellow, pink, and blue Vitamin Water.
Shira smiled.
Bryant Park was like a window in time, moving in its own jagged frames.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Jeri. We wish you much success!

Thank you. It was my pleasure.

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