I would like to welcome Author Angela Row to Inside The Mind of Wenona. She not only posting the first chapter of her book The Montana Man but she's giving away one ebook copy to a lucky person. So enjoy learning a bit about my friend, Author Angela Row and her book then leave a great comment with your thoughts to be entered into her give away. Don't forget to leave a contact email in your comment. The winner will be chosen by random drawing on 12/19/2011. Best of luck!
It’s the most common question I hear and the answer remains the same…it’s awesome! I get to make stuff up, put people in the most amazing set of circumstances I can think of, suspend reality, kill people that annoy me and all while drinking coffee and wearing my jammies. Seriously, what could be better?
Don’t get me wrong, there are pitfalls to being a writer. The voices in our heads are quite real and they don’t go away. They don’t leave us alone and they don’t hesitate to tell us when they don’t like what we’ve written.
It’s daunting to stare at a computer screen and trying to write something that is worth reading, let alone selling to someone else so they can read it. Certainly, a strong sense of determination, stubbornness and belief in your own ability is a must for anyone who writes fiction. After all, if you don’t think your work is worth reading, why would anyone else?
Being an author in today’s world also means being your own editor, publisher and sales and marketing team. Trust me when I tell you this is the hardest aspect of my career. I know how to write books and now I have to learn how to be a business woman so I can market them and sell them, too.
Even with these pitfalls, the benefits are amazing. Some of my favorite authors are my friends on Facebook. I’ve had conversations with some authors whose names are widely recognized. Thankfully, James Patterson, Diana Gabaldon and Christina Dodd can’t see or hear me when I’m jumping up and down in excitement, squeaing aloud and clapping my hands! Laura Taylor has been exceptionally kind and has even reviewed my novel, “This Montana Man”, on Amazon. No office job in the world could possibly compare to such experiences. So what’s it like to be an author? It’s the best job in the world!
Enjoy the first chapter of “This Montana Man” and check out my other works on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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When Caroline Edwards stepped out of the truck, the first thing she noticed was the smell of the air. Far from the thick, damp, fog that settled over San Francisco, this air was crisp, cool, and scented so strongly of autumn leaves and burning wood that she could almost taste it. She looked around with apprehension. The little farmhouse squatted beside the dirt road and appeared to be deserted. A check of the scrap of paper in her hand told her this was the place she should be, but rather than a warm welcome, she found a dilapidated porch huddled behind overgrown bushes and sagging trees.
So, thought Caroline, This is where I am going to spend the next year of my life. Well, if it gets the job done, she shrugged. She grabbed her suitcases and tramped up the badly buckled sidewalk, beginning the task of unloading her truck. Several trips later, she dropped down beside her belongings and took a swig of bottled water. Breathing heavily, she pushed her hair from her eyes. She tilted her head back and stared blankly at the peeling paint threatening to sprinkle down on her like the autumn leaves falling from their summer homes.
Jamie Overton sat atop the black stallion with all the ease of a man born to the saddle. His movements were a graceful ballet danced with the recognition of a faithful partner, horse and rider as one. He watched the woman. Her strawberry blonde hair brushed the warped boards of the porch while she leaned back on her hands. Her white blouse was damp from the effort of unloading her truck and he felt a stab of guilt for not being here to help with the work. Riding the fences and making repairs where needed had taken up far more of his time than he’d anticipated. Judging by the number of boxes and bags that littered the area around her, she had managed just fine and obviously planned on sticking around. With an irritated shrug, he once again wondered how he had managed to get in the middle of this mess. The old homestead was barely habitable and in his opinion, should be torn down, not rented to some hoity–toity writer from California. Unfortunately, as Mamma reminded him often, deciding what to do with the Overton holdings were not solely his responsibility. That all the work of landlord would be his responsibility seemed to conveniently slip her mind.
Nudging the stallion forward, he assessed the woman lounging before him. She reclined further to her elbows and rested her head against an overstuffed suitcase. Her blouse was tucked into beige dress slacks heavily creased by the drive. High heeled shoes gave peeks at arched feet and red painted toes. I bet the fingers match, he thought in disgust. How such an obvious city dweller planned on living in the run down old homestead was beyond Jamie’s comprehension. Here he was, almost on top of the woman, and she was unaware of his existence. Knowing this woman was going to cause him nothing but trouble made his manner brisk, his tone almost hostile, “Did you try the door?”
Caroline shot up, green eyes wide with panic, mouth open as she grabbed her chest. “Oh my God, you scared me!”
“Did you try the door?”
Caroline noted the dark eyebrow as it rose so far it disappeared behind shaggy black hair. Dark brown eyes looked back at her while full red lips curled in a frown that made him look almost sinister. She stared at this stranger sitting on top of the largest horse she’d ever seen. Skin tight blue jeans hugged well defined thighs. Boots rested easily in stirrups and hands moved in concert with the head of the black beast before her. “Huh?”
Jamie turned his head to the side and took a deep breath. Okay, he thought, she’s eye candy; pretty to look at, but apparently not too bright. Trying to keep his impatience to himself, he turned back to the woman, only to discover her eyeing him from head to toe...and everywhere in between. Swallowing his sentence, Jamie grinned and waited for her gaze to meet his.
When Caroline finally met Jamie’s eyes, she was mortified to realize he’d been watching her check him out. She felt the heat of the blush stain her cheeks. Taking a deep breath, she met his amusement head on. “Sorry about that, call it research.”
“Research,” Jamie repeated, one eyebrow disappearing again.
“It’s a hazard of the profession,” Caroline explained. Straightening to her full height, which wasn’t enough, if one was to ask Caroline, she continued, “I take in details, to flesh out my stories.” She grimaced at the word flesh.
“Stories,” Jamie smiled. Her discomfort tickled him and he was enjoying watching her wriggle as she wrestled with explanations.
“Oh never mind,” Caroline snapped. “I take it you’re…” She stopped and looked at the scrap of paper stilled clutched in her hand…“James Thomas Overton III?”
“Jamie.” Swinging out of the saddle, he dusted his hands on his jeans and walked up the sidewalk. “My name is Jamie Overton. Did you bother to check the door?”
He didn’t wait for a reply. Shouldering past her, he pushed his way through her luggage. The hinges protested loudly as he shoved the door open. Grabbing the bags closest to him, he continued, “You could have just gone inside.”
Jamie’s gaze took in the dark brown furniture topped with lace doilies. Dropping his load on dusty wooden floorboards, he turned back to Caroline. “So you wanna live here for a year, huh?” He eyed her with his head cocked to one side. “Mind if I ask why?”
Caroline squirmed under his scrutiny. “I need a quiet place to work. I’m a writer.”
Jamie snorted, “This is quiet, all right.” Grabbing more stuff, he went on, “Have you lived in the wilderness before?”
“Wilderness? Boondocks, maybe, but I’d hardly call this the wilderness!” Caroline snatched her computer case from his deeply tanned hand before he dumped it on the floor.
Raising his eyebrows, he stepped back. “Well, the power is on, water, and such. I expect Mamma put in a few supplies. There’s a small store back in Walkers Ridge, not what you’re used to, I’m sure. If you want gourmet California foods, you’ll have to drive back to Springfield.”
Caroline glared at his rudeness. “I’m capable of finding a grocery store, thank you very much.”
“Okay.” Jamie walked outside and swung up on the horse. “I’ll stop by later to make sure you get settled.” Without a backward glance he rode off across the field.
Caroline stood on the porch and watched him ride away. He might be drop dead gorgeous, but he sure is rude, she thought. Stepping inside, she closed the door with some effort and turned to survey the interior of the house.
Old fashioned furniture sat stiffly against dingy walls. A large wood burning stove squatted in one corner, wearing soot like an old winter coat. The musty smell caused her to wrinkle her nose in disgust and she rapidly went around forcing open windows to allow fresh clean air to enter the long stagnant rooms.
A tour showed her beautiful old fashioned woodwork hidden behind years of neglect. A wonderfully wide staircase wound up to the second floor. Its posts were delicately carved and large finials stood guard at the top and bottom. Caroline smiled as she rubbed the banister and thought about all the hands that must have held the railing beneath her fingers. This place could be amazing, she thought to herself. She opened doors upstairs to discover hidden surprises behind and exclaimed out loud as she entered the room she knew would be hers.
A huge antique bedstead stood against one wall. Intricate carvings brought a smile to her face as she stood before a wall of huge, floor to ceiling windows. Throwing them open, she laughed as the fall breeze brought the faded lace curtains to life in a windy autumn waltz.
Finally, she thought, I’m home. Quickly putting her things away, Caroline sat down at the small wooden table in the center of the tiny dining room. She pulled a pad of paper close to her and began to make a list of things she would need immediately.
A quick look in the short, fat refrigerator showed an amazing amount of food, and this was confirmed by a more detailed perusal of the cabinets. Cleaning supplies reigned beneath the sink, along with a large pile of cleaning rags. A small but new stacking washing and drying machine stood in a tiny enclosed porch behind the kitchen. A brand new vacuum cleaner stood beside the machines even though the house sported hardwood floors throughout. “Mamma” as Jamie called her had lain in far more than a few supplies. A good month’s worth of staples rested in the kitchen and a surprising amount of snacks were discovered as well, including a huge bag of M & M’s, Caroline’s biggest bad habit.
She munched on some now as she frowned in concentration. “Mmmm”, she muttered out loud. “I wonder if I can find a good discount store around here. I’m gonna need a place for stuff like printer paper, but I’d love to get some paint, maybe some big rugs, oh, new lace curtains would be awesome!” The first list was pushed hastily aside as Caroline began on a detailed wish list for the house. She popped some more candy into her mouth, scribbling furiously while her mind’s eye redecorated the place she was beginning to think of as home.
Once her wish list was complete, she changed into sweats and a T–shirt. Grabbing the cleaning supplies, she stood in indecision wondering where to begin. While the open windows helped with the odor, the furniture was not releasing its unique perfume. Rummaging through cabinets, Caroline grinned in triumph when she finally found a box of baking soda. Liberally sprinkling each piece, she gave silent thanks for the vacuum she had scoffed at moments ago.
Soon she was up to her elbows in wood wax and window cleaner. The washer hummed merrily while swishing clean the linens from the bed. Faded tattered curtains lost their right to frame sparkling windows and sat in a heap waiting for a long overdue bath of their own. Sofas and chairs accustomed to their place against walls were now jumbled in the center of the room looking undignified still wearing a snow shower of baking soda. Dust bunnies lost their hiding place and cobwebs were exterminated.
The now spotless dining room was re-arranged to accommodate her need for a workplace. Table cloths were moved to the upstairs closet while files and research books took their place. Her favorite music continued to play while she turned her attention to the living room. Pulling the vacuum behind her, she stopped and chewed her lip. I wonder if the baking soda’s had enough time to absorb the smell, she thought. Oh well, only one way to find out. She stuck her face close to the largest piece of furniture, an overstuffed sofa.
“Well, that’s an attractive view.”
Caroline jumped up and screamed at the unexpected voice behind her. The front door stood open and Jamie leaned against the door frame. Running her hand through her hair, she narrowed her eyes. “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing, walking in here like that?”
Jamie stopped grinning and stood tall. “I own this house,”
“I have a year’s lease which means you knock.” Caroline told him firmly. “You don’t have any right to walk in here like that.”
“If you’d lock the door, I wouldn’t have been able to.” Jamie told the lie with a straight face. No need for her to know a spare key rested in his pocket. “Besides, anyone who wanted in here has a pretty easy time of it.” He gestured toward all the open windows. “Do you want to burst the pipes, or are you just trying to make yourself ill?”
It was the first time Caroline noticed the distinct chill in the air. She’d been so busy working that the physical activity had been enough to keep her comfortable. “The house needed airing out,” she explained as Jamie began closing windows.
“I think it’s done,” he grunted.
“What are you doing here?” She followed him as he went into the dining room to close the windows in there.
“I came to see if you were settled in.” Jamie looked around the house. “Looks like you’ve been busy.”
Caroline looked around her. She grinned at the gleaming surfaces and nodded. “Yep, I’ve been busy. Listen, would you tell your mother thank you for all the things she had ready for me today?”
“Too bad she didn’t send someone to clean, huh?” Jamie frowned.
Caroline shook her head. “I didn’t mean that. I don’t mind cleaning.”
Jamie looked at her. Her hair was sticking out all over and sweat dampened her clothes. Red cheeks gave testimony to the work she’d done, and even though her nails were painted, her hands were rough from the scrubbing administered to the house. It was the best the place had looked in years, even if the curtains were gone and the furniture was covered in powder. “What did you do to the furniture?”
Caroline grinned. “It needed some freshening up so I sprinkled some baking soda on it. It absorbs the odor. I’ll vacuum it up in a few minutes.”
“You mean it stank.”
“Boy, you do like to put words in a person’s mouth, don’t you? I meant exactly what I said. It needed freshening up and that’s what I’m doing.”
“What else do you plan on doing?” Jamie leaned over the table and picked up her list. “Paint, wall paper, rugs, you plan on redoing the whole house?”
Caroline shrugged uncomfortably, “It’s just a few things I thought I might do to spruce up the place.”
“Did you plan on discussing this with me?”
“No,” Caroline looked up with surprise, “I’d planned on discussing it with my landlady...your mother.”
“Actually, I’ll be handling the lease,” Jamie informed her.
Caroline hid her dismay. This man didn’t seem to be happy with her presence and she wasn’t eager to be in continual contact with him. “Well, if that’s the case, then I should thank you for the things I found here today. Since you already have the list, is there anything on it you object to?”
“I hardly think this place is worth sinking this kind of money into,” Jamie told her.
“Someone disagrees with you, why else are there new appliances and a new hot water heater?” Caroline smiled, “Look, surely you don’t object if I paint the walls and put down a few rugs. If it’s a big deal, I’ll paint it back when I leave.”
Jamie didn’t let on that the changes she talked about were done without his knowledge. It seems as if Mamma had been working behind his back again. Not that it should have surprised him, but it always made him feel as if he should have thought of it first. And what did a girl like this know about hot water heaters, anyway? He wondered. His irritation with his mother colored the tone he took with Caroline. “Obviously you can do what you want, but it’s a waste of time.”
“Well, it’s my time to waste, isn’t it?”
Jamie turned his back to her and walked into the kitchen. She trailed behind him, wondering what he was up to now. He went into the porch and looked at the pile of curtains and the wash machine spinning dirty water into the floor drain. Next he went to the skimpy door that secured the back porch. He rattled the peeling door in its frame and grunted his disapproval. “This is gonna have to be fixed.”
“What’s wrong with it?” Caroline peeked over his shoulder.
“It’s too loose in the frame and the lock isn’t very sturdy. Basically anyone who wants in can just waltz right into the house.”
“It must have been that way for awhile. Why are you concerned now?”
“This is the first time anyone’s stayed here in years.” Jamie turned to face her. “We wouldn’t want you to be frightened off or anything.”
Caroline raised her eyebrows and laughed. “You can fix the door if you like or I can take care of it myself. Either way, I’ll be just fine.”
“Is that so?”
Once again, Caroline was struck by the look on his face. Sinister was such an overly used word, in her opinion, but in this circumstance, it was the only word appropriate. “Would you prefer I be one of those simpering women who require constant handling? Somehow, I think that would bore you rather quickly.”
“Are you concerned with keeping me from being bored?”
Caroline strode purposely back into the kitchen. “You stopped by for a reason, I presume?”
“I told you, I stopped by to see if you were settled in.” Jamie followed her.
“As you can see, I’m just fine. Rather busy at the moment, so perhaps you wouldn’t mind…” Caroline went to the front door and held it open. With a nod, Jamie went through the door and walked into the darkness.
Caroline closed the door softly and waited until she thought he was far enough away not to hear before she turned the lock. Leaning against the secured door, she surveyed the house. Wind was whistling through the upstairs windows. Her music had ended sometime during Jamie’s visit, and the wash machine went silent after finishing the spin cycle. Hurrying up the stairs, Caroline told herself she refused to be frightened by the fact that she was alone in this house. She’d been alone all afternoon and thought the place was wonderful. Now, because of Jamie’s comments about the back door, she felt herself jittering at every shadowed corner. After closing the upstairs windows, Caroline returned to her work in the living room. Right after she stuck several butter knives into the framework, thereby securing both front and back doors.
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