Archive for March, 2012

Clearing the decks

Since I have to news to report this week and am still awaiting a review for my newest release, Cassidy’s War, I thought I’d skip the ‘Friday News and Reviews’ post and instead talk about what I’m working on now.

For what seems a long stretch of time, I’ve been completing several projects and they all seemed to finish up at once. Two new historical releases are coming from The Wild Rose Press. One next month, the other toward the end of this year. I also have a time travel novella on my editor’s desk, awaiting her review. And I have a short story submitted to a magazine and another I have to edit, polish and submit by April 19th, but I wanted to put the first draft aside for at least a week.

After that, I have nothing to work on, so it’s time to start plotting out some new projects. Plotting a new piece of work can be a little scary after having a regular workload for so long. I now have to create new characters, new situations and hope these new stories will appeal to editors and eventually find a home, so readers can enjoy them.

This week, I spent all of my writing time plotting. First, I plotted out a short fall romance for a magazine. Didn’t take long, since it has to be really short. I put it aside and plan to start writing the story once I get that current story I put aside  finished and submitted. I spent the remainder of this week plotting out a new historical novella. This story will be based on characters in my award winning Civil War romance, Confederate Rose. But this story takes place just after the war ends.

Although it’s a bit scary to start on something new, something about the process is also refreshing. I get to work with new ideas, new characters and for now, don’t have an editor waiting for the story and don’t have to worry about submissions, until later down the line.

I figured I’ll just try to have fun with these new stories in the midst of book promo for the upcoming releases. If writing isn’t fun, is it really worth the effort?

For other writers out there, tell me what you think.

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Her breath caught at the sight of Lieutenant Manning standing over Private Upwood’s cot. He leaned down and spoke softly to the lad. When he turned his head and straightened, his gaze caught hers.

“Miss Hirsch.” He patted the boy’s hand and stepped around the cot.

“Lieutenant, I hadn’t expected to see you back here today.”

He lifted his bandaged arm. “I’m supposed to see Doc tomorrow, but I had to see to the private. He said the boy’s taken a bad turn.”

Her heart burned at the raw pain in his eyes. “I’m sorry. I know you’ve been so worried about the lad. But it’s not your fault.”

He shook his head. “Everyone tells me that, but it’s not how I feel. Could I speak to you in private for a moment?”

Claire’s heart fluttered at the thought of being alone with him. But he obviously wanted to speak about the private out of his earshot. “Of course, Lieutenant.”

He reached for her arm and escorted her from the tent. She followed his glance. Men milled around conversing and sipping coffee. The lieutenant bit his lip.

“How about back here?” He gestured toward the rear of the hospital tent where it abutted the forest line.

Claire hesitated. “I-I suppose so.”

His gaze slid over her. “I promise to do you no harm, ma’am.”

His boyish smile reassured her. Of course he wouldn’t dare accost her in camp.

She allowed him to lead her to the rear. Great oak and hickory trees cooled the spot. A boulder sat just a few feet behind the rear of the tent. She turned toward him, thinking he’d meant for her to sit on the smooth top of the rock, but instead, he reached his good arm around her back and drew her close.

Her pulse raced. “Lieu—” Her question was cut short by his lips pressed against hers. His kiss was soft and sweet, not demanding. He pulled away, his gaze dancing over her, a small smile on his lips.

“I must apologize, Miss Hirsch, but after being in your company, I couldn’t resist tasting. I hope you don’t think me a complete scoundrel.”

Although Claire’s first impulse was to protest such improper behavior, she couldn’t resist grinning. “Not at all, unless you want me to think of you as a scoundrel,” she teased.

“In that case…” He kissed her again, more thoroughly this time.

Little moans escaped her lips as she returned his kiss. Her eyes closed, and the thrill of his touch sent her toes curling. Her knees turned to jelly in his strong grasp.

He released her lips but held her fast. “I must apologize again, I’m afraid.” His eyes smoldered, and Claire wondered what else he had in mind.

“Lieutenant, I—”

His mouth took her lips again, sending shivers down her spine.

“Call me Cole.”

“But, Lieutenant, it’s hardly proper…” Her protest died at his intense gaze.

“We’ve shared an intimate exchange, and I’d like to share much more with you. I suppose it puts us on a first name basis, at least in private.”

She hesitated, but nodded.

“I’d like to see you later, in private.”

“I-I, don’t know…”

“Miss Hirsch?” The stern voice of an older woman broke the spell. Claire’s face burned as she realized it was Mrs. Benson.

Cole’s Promise, part of the ‘Love Letters’ series, coming 4/18/12 from The Wild Rose Press.

Leave a comment for the chance to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of the ebook, as well as other prizes. Scroll down for details.

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Cole’s Promise, my upcoming release with The Wild Rose Press is part of the ‘Love Letters’ historical series. To submit a story, it had to be historical and contain a letter that changed one of the main character’s lives. I was inspired to write this story due to what I’d learned about letter writing being the main form of communication during the American Civil War.

Although the telegraph was in use by this time, it was used mostly by the Union Army and newpapermen to communicate news instantly from the warfront, but the main form of communication from soldier to family back home was through  letters.

With e-mail, instant messaging, cellular phones, as well as land-line telephones, we of the 21st century don’t need to write letters to communicate and keep in touch with friends and family. But during the Victorian era, writing long letters was an important form of communication.

When plotting out my story, I thought of the Civil War soldier, desperate for news from home. But what if the news he received broke his heart?

During the Civil War, with families being separated for long lengths of time, letters became vital for both the soldiers and their families back home.

According to Bell Irwin Wiley, author of: The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union, “… letter writing was one of the most pervasive of camp diversions.” Civil War regiments sent out an average of 600 letters per day.

Letter writing soldiers often had to improvise. They wrote by candlelight, sitting on the ground, using another soldier’s back or a knapsack as a writing surface. They also used such things as “… knees, tin plates, books, cracker boxes or drumheads.” The Life of Billy Yank

Writing paper varied in quality from fancy stationery to ruled pages torn from record books. While men preferred to write with pen and ink, they often had to rely on lead pencils. Soldiers Blue and Gray

They wrote about such things as battles, health, weather and new places and people they’d seen and met.

Soldiers also looked forward to receiving letters from home. One New Jersey soldier wrote in a letter to his family: “You can have no idea what a blessing letters from home are to the men in camp. They make us better men, better soldiers.” Soldiers Blue and Gray

Men who felt they hadn’t received letters from their loved ones frequently enough would write angry letters home, demanding their loved ones write back to them.

Some of the most beautiful love letters were written by lonely soldiers to their wives and sweethearts.

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Union soldier, Sullivan Ballou to his wife, dated July 14, 1861, while contemplating the possibility of his death in battle:

But O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night–amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours — always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.” http://www.civil-war.net/pages/sullivan_ballou.asp Click the above link for the complete letter, plus samples of others.

Another site where you can find samples of actual Civil War letters is: http://www.civilwarhome.com/letters.htm

People of the Victorian period were sentimental and their letters show it.

Sources: The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union by Bell Irwin Wiley Soldiers Blue and Gray by James I. Robertson, Jr.

http://www.civil-war.net/pages/sullivan_ballou.asp http://www.civilwarhome.com/letters.htm

Leave a comment on this or any of my upcoming posts, up to and including April 18th, release day for Cole’s Promise, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of the ebook. See post below for all the details.

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Release day for my newest Civil War romance ebook, Cole’s Promise, is April 18, 2012. I’m running a contest from now until the release for anyone who leaves a comment on any day, including this one, will be included in a drawing to win one of three prizes.

1st prize – copy of Cole’s Promise ebook

2nd prize – choice of one of my backlisted books in ebook format, Erin’s Rebel or Confederate Rose

3rd prize – $5.00 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press

So, start leaving those comments. Each comment you leave gives you another entry and chance at one of the prizes.

Blurb for Cole’s Promise, part of the ‘Love Letters’ historical series from The Wild Rose Press  – Cole Manning, a Union lieutenant serving during the height of the American Civil War, expects a letter from his best girl who promised to wait for him.  But her post contains an unwelcome surprise.   Heartbroken, he vows no woman will ever fool him again.

Claire Hirsch’s fiancé died in battle during the first year of the war.  Scarred by his death, she realizes loving a soldier can only lead to heartache.  Not wanting to sit home and mourn, she volunteers to assist doctors in the camps.

As the war rages around them, Cole and Claire find solace in each other’s arms. But is their love strong enough to overcome the fear of losing the one they love?

Find more info about my upcoming release at my website.

I’m also posting my ‘This Day in the Civil War’ post over at Slip Into Something Victorian on the Confederate defeat at Kernstown.

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As they made their way over darkened farmland, Jon tried to make conversation, but the reverend seemed reticent. In the darkness, Jon’s uneasiness grew.

“Reverend, if you please. I believe my camp is back the other way.”

The man turned to Jon and something shifted in his pale face. “I never said I was taking you back to camp, I told you I’d take you someplace safe.”


“Here.” Arnwolf pointed to a barn.

Although difficult to see in the dark, Jon made out a door hanging open on broken hinges. The structure appeared deserted and dilapidated.

“Why on earth would you bring me here?” Jon eyed the man, his pulse pounding.

“Go inside and you’ll see.” Arnwolf smiled, holding out an arm in invitation.
Jon sucked in a deep breath, suddenly afraid of what waited inside. “Sir, though I appreciate your help, I really think I should be on my way.”

Arnwolf’s eyes glowed red. Heart pounding, Jon turned to run. The man lifted one thin arm and shoved Jon into the barn.

Jon landed on his knees, the breath knocked out of him. He reached for his revolver, but dropped it when Arnwolf shoved him again.

He tried to rise, but the reverend dropped on top of him, pushing him face down to the hay strewn over the ground. Fetid earth and the sweet scent of hay intermingled. Jon struggled, but wasn’t able to throw off Arnwolf’s hold. Strong arms pushed Jon onto his back. His eyes widened as he was forced to face the man.

The face wasn’t that of the pale minister who’d offered him aid, but a hideous demon’s face. A death’s head. The demon’s mouth opened exposing two sharp fangs. Jon’s stomach clenched, and he nearly gagged from the creature’s foul breath.

He summoned the last of his strength and tried to push Arnwolf off, but he couldn’t budge him. Fangs descended and sank into his throat. His body clenched in the throes of pain that quickly changed into intense pleasure. He slumped to the ground, dazed, as he felt his life drain from him.

For more info and to read review, visit my vampire romance page  http://susanmacatee.com/myvampireromances.html

Sweet Redemption available on Amazon as a Kindle book http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Redemption-ebook/dp/B0056ICETQ/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313157188&sr=1-7

as a Nook Book from Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sweet-redemption-susan-macatee/1018988355?ean=2940043310798&itm=3&usri=sweet%2bredemption

from The Wild Rose Press

and All Romance Ebooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sweetredemption-391948-139.html

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A Civil War battle inspired my historical vampire romance, Sweet Redemption. The story opened with the hero pinned down on a battlefield on a bitter cold night in December.

What my hero, Union army Captain Jonathan Hackett, experienced at the start of the story, was based on the actual experiences of Joshua Chamberlain, hero of Gettysburg, when he was pinned down after the attack at Marye’s Heights during the Fredericksburg battle.

Chamberlain served under Colonel Adelbert Ames, when his regiment, the 20th Maine, was mustered in on August 20, 1862. Although the regiment was at Antietam during that battle, they saw no action. The attack on Marye’s Heights caused the regiment few casualties, but Chamberlain had no choice but to spend a cold night lying on the battlefield as Confederate troops fired down on their position. He sheltered behind frozen corpses to survive the night.

Chamberlain fought at Chancellorsville and at Gettysburg the following year .

The battle of Fredericksburg was fought on December 11 through the 15th in 1862. To that point, this battle was the largest and deadliest in the war. Union and Confederate troops battled in the streets of Fredericksburg and also engaged in “the first major opposed river crossing in American military history.”

No Civil War battle, thus far, featured a larger concentration of soldiers, nearly 200,000 combatants.

General Burnside planned to use 60,000 men to destroy Lee’s flank stationed on Prospect Hill. The remainder of the troops would hold Longstreet’s First Corps at Marye’s Heights.

Initially, the Union was successful against Stonewall Jackson, but due to lack of reinforcements, a Confederate counterattack defeated the effort.

Both sides drew heavy losses. 9000 were either killed, wounded or missing.

When darkness descended, the battlefield was littered with dead and wounded men. The Union army suffered 12,600 casualties, most in the battle at Mayre’s Heights.

The Confederates were victorious, but after the battle, Lee was quoted as saying, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”

For more on Joshua Chamerlain and the battle of Fredericksburg, visit these sites:


Blurb for Sweet Redemption: On a cold December night, Union infantry captain, Jonathan Hackett is pinned down on the Fredericksburg battlefield trying to escape Confederate fire. But a creature of the night, more dangerous than any enemy soldier, stalks him. Jon must fight for his life as well as his soul.

Maddie Emery has lost everything dear to her. Her husband and parents had passed on and her brothers are off fighting in the Confederate Army. She’s alone, trying single-handedly to hold onto her family’s farm, when a Yankee soldier collapses across her stoop.

Maddie and Jon form and bond of love and desire, but as Jon exhibits signs of becoming the creature he fears most, is their love enough to fight off the evil of a centuries old vampire bent on destroying them?

Find more info at my website: http://susanmacatee.com/mybooks.hml

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Just found out my Civil War time travel romance is on sale today at The Wild Rose Press for $2.50.
Thought I’d post the blurb and an excerpt.
Philadelphia newspaper reporter, Erin Branigan, is engaged to marry and up-and-coming lawyer, but dreams of a man from the past change those plans and start her on a journey beyond time. After a car accident, Erin wakes to find herself living in the 1860s in a Confederate army camp. Captain Will Montgomery, the man of her dreams, is now a flesh and blood Rebel soldier who sets her soul aflame. But the Irish beauty holds a secret he needs to unravel before he can place his trust in her. Can she correct a mistake made long ago that caused his death and denied her the love she was meant to have? Or is she doomed to live out her life with nothing but regret?
Excerpt :    The sound of her name on his lips made her skin tingle. She tore the paper off the package. At the sight of the brooch, her breath caught.
“Do you like it?” he asked anxiously. “I had it made just for you.”
Eyeing him, she had a hard time finding her voice. This was Erin O’Connell’s brooch, the very one that had sent her back in time. It shone in her hands, new and unworn from time and wear.
What did this mean? She must be following Erin O’Connell’s footsteps. As far as she knew her being here hadn’t changed anything. Will was still destined to die this year.
“I didn’t mean to upset you, Erin. If you don’t want the brooch–“
“No.” She clasped the pin against her chest as the meaning of his gift sank in. “It just means so much to me.”
His look of concern softened into a lopsided grin. “I’m happy you feel that way.”
“Thank you, Will.” She slipped the brooch into the pocket of her wrapper, then stood on her toes, lifting her arms to circle his neck. She kissed his cheek, inhaling his musky scent.
His mouth was on hers, hot and urgent. The softness of his moustache and chin beard tickled her lips. She opened to him, her tongue slipping inside to taste him thoroughly. He groaned, pressing the length of his body against her.
Read opening chapters


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