Catching Up! Plus a BRAND NEW Blackout teaser!

Hi everyone!

I know most of my recent blog entries have been promoting others, but I’m going to take a moment to catch everyone up on some of the things coming up for me!

First of all, Bitter Bonds is DONE! Yay! It’s off to the editor *bites nails* and then it will be released on Friday, May 13th (spooooooky!). It is currently up for PREORDER at 99 cents/99p for the duration of release week, and then it will go up in price, so grab a copy while you can!


Next, I’ve just started sign-ups for my NEWSLETTER! *puts on her big girl author pants* When you sign up, you get a FREE copy of Hubris, Luke’s Story, AND when I send out my first newsletter, I’ll be giving away a signed copy of The Fairest of Them in paperback with the shiny new cover! Squee!

Hubris blurb teaser

Finally, I’m working on Blackout, the next (and possibly final) Rae Hatting novel! I know, I know, sad times, but I want to move on to some other crime novels with new, awesome heroines. I know it’s a long wait, but Blackout will be out this October. I would have had it sooner, but…I’m going to California for three weeks in July and I plan to do NOTHING!


All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely…dead.

Reeling from their time in New Orleans, all Special Agents Rae Hatting and Luke Thompson want to do is recover, and try to understand their budding attraction. However, there is no rest for the weary. New York calls this time, with an incipient serial killer enacting horrible vengeance on the thespian community. As bodies drop onstage, audiences are none the wiser that they are witnessing murder. Will Rae and Luke discover the culprit, before it’s ‘curtain down’?

Blackout Teaser 1

So, as always, happy reading, please sign-up for the newsletter, and I can’t wait to share Bitter Bonds with you all!

Bitter Bonds Excerpt

A sneak preview of my upcoming historical romance. Enjoy!


Chapter One

May, 1834

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

“A commoner? Father, you do realize our family can be traced back to the echelons of European royalty? You still correspond with relatives in England and France.” Francine Beaumont was hardly ready to lay down her virginity for a man who bought his way into high society.

“What a despicable thing to say about a man you do not know. Besides, he can offer you a large plantation, slaves, and wealth. We are faltering, my dear. Certainly you have seen how household expenses have been cut in the past year,” Lord Arnaud Beaumont admonished his eldest daughter.

Francine had spurned nearly every suitor placed in her path, but now it was time to marry off the bane of his existence. How had something so vicious spawned from such a gentle-born woman as Francine’s mother? If only she were living now. Perhaps genial Marie would have been able to calm their daughter’s ire.

“It is tantamount to selling me off to the highest bidder, Papa!” Francine attempted to use the childhood endearment so often uttered by her much more pliable sister.

“The matter is settled!” Lord Beaumont pounded his fist on the top of the polished desk, causing Francine to flee the room in tears, past her younger sister, Adrienne. She watched the retreating form of Francine for a few moments before creeping into her father’s study.

Arnaud was relieved to see his sweet, patient daughter appear in the doorway. Her pleasant face was encircled with golden ringlets, her clear, blue eyes full of love and concern. Adrienne, his pride and joy, so much like her mother in every way, would never have protested an arranged marriage. She would have considered it her honor, and duty, to oblige. She was the opposite in every way to her tantruming sister.

“Papa, you mustn’t let Francine trouble you. Remember your constitution…” Adrienne had always been aware of the troubles plaguing her father. They had caused him to suffer horribly with stomach pains, only recently diagnosed as ulcerous. She knew Francine had no idea, nor would she care.

Ma petite, you are too kind. If only it were you who Henri Du Cormier sought.”

Seventeen-year old Adrienne was already well-versed in the matters of arranged marriage, knowing though she had more chance of marrying for love than her titled, elder sister. Francine looked upon Adrienne with contempt, envying her freedom, however minute.

“Papa, if I could, I would gladly take her place. Why does Monsieur Du Cormier seek a bride with a title? Surely such things do not matter here anymore.” Louisiana was a part of the United States. The French Revolution had dispatched with the monarchy, and the British held no control over them. Titles were obsolete relics of the past.

Arnaud rubbed the bridge of his nose, removing his silver-rimmed spectacles, and closing his doleful chocolate brown eyes. His greying, dark brown hair only betrayed his age. “I wish I knew, ma petite. He came into this money suddenly, only able to buy St. Esprit through sheer luck! I wish it were different. My title, therefore Francine’s, is useless.”

Adrienne crossed the room, kneeling at her father’s side, no care that she wrinkled her carefully pressed silk gown. “Mayhap we could speak to him? Surely he would not want such a wife as Francine, once he sees her ways.”

“Francine would never disgrace herself by behaving poorly at a public function, especially with the height of society attending.” Arnaud shuffled some papers aside. “It would alleviate my anguish greatly if you were to find a husband, someone to make you completely happy beyond your wildest dreams.”

Smiling warmly, Adrienne gazed up at her mother’s portrait above the fireplace. Her mother, Marie, was captured in the prime of youth and beauty. She saw her mother’s features in herself, knowing this was why her father favored her so. “You mean like how you were with Mama?”

Arnaud lifted his gaze, peering up at his beloved. They had grown up in a tumultuous world in pre-revolutionary France, hiding their aristocratic upbringing. When Arnaud had prospered in the shipping business, the young couple made their way to the French owned Louisiana territory. How they celebrated when the United States bought it, knowing their daughters would grow up in a free country.

Adrienne was three when their mother passed away from consumption. She vaguely remembered the tender-hearted woman who soothed her nightmares with soft, French lullabies. Often, her dreams were full of the music, as she twirled her small fingers into the woman’s blonde ringlets. She felt cheated not to have spent more time with her mother, but guilty for those feelings at the same time.

Finally, Arnaud spoke, “Yes, like how I was with Mama. I wish she were here. She had a way with Francine. Francine would throw the most violent tantrums, sending nannies and maids running from the nursery. Marie walked in, composed, and quieted the storm.”

Before melancholy could descend over the pair, Adrienne changed the subject. “Helene says everything is prepared for this evening. All the silver is polished, and the ballroom floor has been swept and cleaned. She wanted me to ask your approval on the canapés for the hors d’oeuvres.”

Patting his daughter’s hand, Arnaud left the final touches to Adrienne. “I am sure what you decide will be scrumptious. Is she preparing a full course meal, or a buffet?”

“I believe she thought it best to provide guests with titbits of food right in the ballroom. It’s very new-fangled. I believe I will ask for the salmon and dill. It is my favorite, after all.” Adrienne rose, brushing the fabric of her pale pink dress.

“I leave it all in your more than capable care, ma petite. Now, hurry along and reassure Helene. I am sure she will be beside herself, wondering what my decision shall be.” Arnaud winked and stood, placing a doting kiss on his daughter’s brow.

“I will, Papa.” Adrienne exited the room in a rustle of skirts, her heels clicking delicately on the wooden floor.

Arnaud sat down again, pressing his hand to his stomach to find some relief from the gurgling sensation building there. He slid open a drawer in his desk, and took a dose of the prescribed laudanum. Reclining back in the chair, he waited for the pain to recede, praying to his long silent God that Francine would do something for the family, for once in her life.


“Helene?” Adrienne poked her head into the kitchen, breathing in the smell of freshly baked honey bread. “Mmmm!” She crept over to the place where the bread was cooling and reached to break off a chunk.

“Mademoiselle Adrienne! That is for the midday meal! I have a fresh pot of stew bubblin’ away.” Helene bustled from the pantry, wiping her hands on her worn apron.

Snatching her hand back, Adrienne smiled warmly at the old cook. Helene had been there as long as she could remember, with her kind, brown eyes and work-worn features; always stern but kind. “I am sorry, Helene. Papa asked me to come down and say the salmon and dill will be fine for the canapés.”

“Well, it’s about time! I’ve been frettin’ for hours! Now, shoo. You’ll want to have a rest before the guests descend on us like a holy plague!” Helene ushered Adrienne out of the kitchen, but not before slipping a fresh, honey bread roll into her hand. “Don’t you say I’m never good to you, missy!” Her eyes crinkled as she smiled.

Adrienne felt the warm confection in her hand and ascended the stairs, only to be met at the top by Francine, green eyes red-rimmed from her heart-wrenching sobs. “What were you doing down there?”

“I was delivering a message from Father about the hors d’oeuvres for tonight,” Adrienne spoke carefully, knowing her sister was quick to anger. She still felt the sting of many hair pulls from their childhood. She secreted her prize in the folds of her skirt with subtle movements, knowing Francine would steal it, if given the chance.

“Tonight? You mean the evening where my life comes to an end? Where I am forced to marry a man I know nothing about?” Francine, ever the expert in dramatics, slumped delicately against the wall.

Drawing in a shaky breath, Adrienne strove to soothe her sister. “Have you met him yet? Perhaps he is devastatingly handsome.”

“How could he be? He is not from our class of people!” Francine flounced off down the hall, punctuating her flight with more sobs.

Adrienne shook her head. Francine would surely bring the entire mood of the house to a head. Everyone would be on edge, worried about upsetting their volatile charge. Bringing her treat once more back into sight, she pressed her nose to the top, breathing in the sweet smell and biting into it, letting the flavors fill her senses. Maybe this marriage to Henri Du Cormier would be good for all of them, if it got Francine out of their lives.


The evening arrived swiftly. Adrienne stood proudly by her father’s side as hostess, as Francine was too sulky to perform the duty. Her new dress was the color of the midnight sky, lit by a full moon. It fell in soft waves down the full skirt, accented by white lace. Her gloves were of the best quality, and her hair was styled meticulously. Despite the financial troubles, Arnaud always managed to dress his daughters to their standing.

Francine was a contrast to her sister, choosing a low-cut bodice, almost daring. Her emerald dress mimicked her disagreeable personality, and she chose black accents, instead of the more delicate white. Her ebony hair upswept in corkscrew curls around her pinched face. There was no persuading her otherwise. She maintained her position in the ballroom, away from the arriving guests, seething in silent rage. When was this Du Cormier meant to arrive? She pondered this question over and over, wanting to do something to dissuade him, but not wanting to ruin her name in the process.

“Francine, darling! You look…divine!” Rosalind Denis floated towards her in a divine creation of burgundy.

One of Francine’s only friends, the woman was quick to confide in her. “Rosalind, darling, something horrible has happened!”

“Oh my, do tell.” Rosalind flicked open her fan, surveying the entering guests, and attempting to discern who the eligible bachelors were. Her hazel eyes scanned the room eagerly, using a free hand to gently puff her blonde coiffed hair.

Francine drew her attention back, exasperated at the lack of sympathy from her friend. “I am to be married.”

“Married? But isn’t that wonderful? You will have your own household and expenditures. It will be divine.”

Francine opened her mouth to protest, but then pressed the full lips together. She had not considered this. Du Cormier had come into money; a great sum, if rumors were to be believed. “Oh, I did not consider this.”

“Of course not, my dear. You were thinking with your heart. Foolish really.” Rosalind returned to her perusal of the men.

Francine balked at the accusation. “Foolish? My heart? I fear you’ve confused me with Adrienne.”

“Who is your betrothed then?”

“Nothing is formal yet. It is Henri Du Cormier though.”

Rosalind’s eyes went like saucers, and she snapped her fan closed. “Oh my, aren’t we the lucky one? Did you know he recently bought St. Esprit, with all the slaves, and money to spare? The previous owner, sadly, was a gambler. I don’t blame him. His wife ran off with some merchant.” She prattled on about the scandal, but Francine was no longer listening. She had to make Du Cormier love her, no matter what.

Adrienne glanced over her shoulder, watching Francine conspire with Rosalind. Each was as bad as the other. The sound of her father’s rumbling voice uttering a familiar name had her turning her head. The new arrival did not go unnoticed, as a hush fell over the room.

“Monsieur Du Cormier, such a pleasure to see you again. May I present my daughter, Adrienne?”

Henri Du Cormier wasn’t like any knight in shining armor. His features were plain, intensified by high cheekbones, and a square jaw. He had long, black hair pulled back in a queue, and dark grey eyes that seemed to pierce her very soul, bringing a blush to her cheeks.

“Monsieur, welcome to our home.”

Henri took the delicate beauty’s hand, pressing his lips to the back. “A pleasure, mademoiselle.”

Francine huffed in indignation from across the room. She was not going to let Adrienne steal this man’s attentions. She pranced over, pushing her sister aside. “Monsieur! So sorry I was detained. I am Francine Beaumont.” She held out her hand expectantly, carefully perusing his appearance. She did not care much for the facial hair, but that was something she could easily change, once they were married.

Adrienne wisely chose the moment to retreat, leaving the perplexing man to her sister. She did not want a husband she had to decipher on a daily basis. Simple, loving, and kind was more than enough for her.

Artillery During the American Civil War

Me firing a .50 cal black powder rifle

Me firing a .50 cal black powder rifle

Let’s talk about guns! I have been shooting since I was sixteen. I’ve participated in competitions and I am trained as an NRA rifle instructor. I love doing reenactments. For my high school graduation, I asked for a black powder rifle. Are we getting the picture? Haha!

In my latest novel, The Soldier’s Secret, my main character, Emma, enlists and is assigned to an artillery unit with the Union Army, specifically, the Army of the Potomac. I wanted to talk today about the different types of artillery used by the Union Army, specifically in the form of cannons and rifles.

First of all, let’s discuss the uniform worn by an enlisted man in an artillery unit:

Union enlisted man, Artillery uniform

Union enlisted man, Artillery uniform. Image courtesy of The Civil War Artillery Compendium

1. Model 1840 Artillery Sabre and Scabbard 4. Sky blue trousers
2. Mounted Services Jacket 5. Sword Belt
3. Forage Cap with crossed cannons 6. Canteen

The distinguishing factor of artillery uniforms were the red stripes, clearly seen above. Not all enlisted men were issued with swords, I should make that clear. This is the uniform for an enlisted corporal. Most often, enlisted men wore a type of shoe called a brogan.  It was essential for men who were marching on a regular basis to have a comfortable shoe and dry socks. Towards the end of the war, many Confederate soldiers went without shoes and suffered greatly.

Springfield 1861. Photo Courtesy of

Springfield 1861. Photo Courtesy of

Right, on to the firearms! The rifles typically issued to infantry men were the Springfield Model 1861. This was the most widely used rifle/musket during the war. It weighed approximately nine pounds and was favored for its accuracy, range, and reliability. It was the first rifle with iron sights and fired a .58 caliber lead ball. This particular rifle was fired using percussion caps, as opposed to the flintlock rifles of earlier times.

Firing mechanism. Image courtesy of

Firing mechanism. Image courtesy of

I want to explain a bit about the firing mechanism because it was unique for its time. Infantrymen were issued with ammunition in the form of paper capsules containing the ball and measured powder. This enabled quick loading and firing. A percussion cap was issued separately. The soldier would insert the ball/powder into the barrel of the rifle and tamp it down with a ramrod. A cap would be placed over the nipple and the hammer cocked. The trigger would be squeezed and the hammer would fall on the cap igniting a spark which traveled down the small hole in the nipple, igniting the powder and firing off the round. Following me so far?

This streamlined the process needed to fire a rifle. In early wars, the shooter would have to measure powder, pour it down the barrel, place a cloth patch and ball in the muzzle, tamp it down with the ramrod, cock the hammer and hope the flint ignited the powder.

Napoleon Cannon. Image Courtesy of

Napoleon Cannon. Image Courtesy of

What about cannons? Both sides mainly used what is called a Model 1857 12-pounder Napoleon Field Gun. The Union Army produced approximately 1,156 of these cannons during the course of the war. Each cannon was run by a team of seven men who, when properly trained, could get off four, 12-pound ball shots in under a minute. The range of these cannons was approximately 1400 yards at 1440 feet per second! When fired all together, the impact of these weapons was completely devastating.

The cannons could fire a variety of projectiles, from the basic round cannonball to a canister shot that would break apart, sending shrapnel through the air and into the opposing side. The Napoleon was the last smooth bore cannon adopted by the U.S. military. After the Civil War, they opted to use rifled barrels for greater accuracy.

A cannon worked much the same as a black powder rifle, but in bigger form. Young boys called “powder monkeys” would run between the artillery lines, making sure there was enough powder to keep the cannon going. Although mainly stationed on ships, they were also in the field. It was a dangerous job as any spark could ignite the powder.

There were many more weapons used during the American Civil War, but all had the same goal: to cause the most damage to the opposing side. With the advances in artillery and firearm technology, it is no wonder that the Civil War was the bloodiest of all American wars.

I hope you enjoyed the brief lesson on artillery!

Kind thanks to the following sources:

The Civil War Artillery Compendium:, including the uniform of an artillery enlisted man (

The Military Factory, posts on the Springfield Model 1861 ( and the Model 1857 Napoleon Cannon (

Female Soldiers During the American Civil War

“I could only thank God that I was free and could go forward and work, and I was not obliged to stay at home and weep.” ~ Sarah Emma Edmonds

When commercials for the United States military branches flash onto our televisions, it is not uncommon to see female recruits and officers amongst their male counterparts. As of 2012, women make up a little over 14% of the U.S. military. However, it was not until 2013 that the ban on women serving in combat roles was lifted. It is no surprise to learn, though, that women have been serving in combat for as long as there have been wars on U.S. soil.

In my newly published novel, The Soldier’s Secret, I explore the roles of women fighting during the American Civil War. My main character, Emma Mansfield, chooses to dress as a man and go off to fight alongside other men (and women) in the Army of the Potomac, a branch of the Union army. There were many reasons women chose to break social norms and descend onto the dangerous battlefields of the time. In Emma’s case, she desires to seek out information about her missing brothers. For many women, the reasons were much simpler.

There are many documented cases of women participating both on and off the battlefield. The Confederate Army estimated that approximately 250 women served in their ranks, but modern historians suppose it was anywhere between 400 to 750 women total serving on both sides of the conflict. Women were needed as nurses, primarily as the modernization of weaponry inevitably lead to graver injuries. Both sides used women as spies, their gender allowing them to slip behind enemy lines and deliver crucial messages. CushmanOne of these women was Pauline Cushman. A former stage actress from New Orleans, Miss Cushman would travel around the states performing in the theatre. Dubbed a Confederate sympathizer, Cushman found herself out of work until a new opportunity presented itself in the form of Union spy. From that point, she posed as a “camp follower,” a woman of ill-repute who followed the regiments around providing comfort to the men. As if we need much imagination to know what that required! With her new role, Cushman was able to glean information and report it back to the Union commanding officers. A dangerous profession, Cushman faced hanging on several occasions. At the end of the war, she was awarded the rank of Brevet-Major by General Garfield as well as gaining commendation from President Lincoln.

But this is meant to be about women dressing as men and fighting, right? There are many notable examples of women serving in the ranks of the military during the Civil War. Countless others have probably gone unnoticed or undocumented. EdmondsSarah Emma Edmonds, also known as Franklin Flint Thompson, enlisted as a male field nurse with the 2nd Michigan Infantry. She participated in several major battles, including Antietam, both battles of Manassas, and the Vicksburg Campaign. It is rumored she also served as a Union spy, but there is no conclusive record of this. When Edmonds developed malaria, it put an end to her military career. She went on to write about her experiences in a memoir entitled, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army. Edmonds’ reasons for fighting were to escape an abusive father and forced marriage, legitimate reasons to seek out a better life. She did go on to marry and have children. In addition, she was awarded an honorable discharge and government pension for her service, the only woman to gain such recognition from her service.

While Edmonds fought to escape abuse, many women entered the military ranks for excitement, adventure, money, or to follow loved ones (much like Emma). Jennie Hodgers, known for a majority of her life as Albert Cashier, enlisted in the 95th Illinois Infantry in 1862. Her regiment fought in over 40 engagements.Cashier What I find particularly fascinating about Jennie Hodgers is she continued to dress and act as a man long after the end of the war, even participating in elections at a time where women were not allowed to vote. It was not until November 1910 that her secret was uncovered. Having been hit by a car, Hodgers suffered a broken leg and was taken to a hospital. Although the doctors agreed not to reveal her gender, mental health issues forced Hodgers into an institution where they forced her to wear a dress. Although surprised, her former compatriots protested this outrageous treatment and when she passed away, was buried in full uniform with honors. The story is heartbreaking as well because Hodgers probably felt she was born in the wrong body. To be forced to live as a woman for the remainder of her life was most likely devastating.

How did women not get discovered unless they were injured? While many recruiters were meant to give thorough physical examinations, they often only looked for visible deformities or impediments to service. Once enlisted, men rarely changed out of their uniforms for sleeping and bathed in their underwear. The loose fitting uniforms and long hair of the time made it easy for women to slip into the ranks unnoticed. Many learned to talk and walk like men. Latrines in camp were cesspools so a female soldier would not go amiss if she chose to attend to her needs in the woods or bathe in private. When it came to fighting skills, many voluntary recruits had never fired a gun before so the women learned right alongside the men.

Today, we can look back on these incredible women with awe and respect. Along with their predecessors, they paved the way for women’s rights across the United States, bravely defying all the cultural norms of the time.

ebook_cover_The_Soldier_39_s_SecretBe sure to check out my new book, “The Soldier’s Secret,” available now on all Amazon Marketplaces ( Kind thanks to the following sources:

Wood, Jennie. A History of Women in the U.S. Military. Retrieved February 22, 2015 from

Blanton, DeAnne. Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Retrieved February 22, 2015 from

Civil War Trust.