View Full Version : More Excerpts for June 25th

Amy Gallow
June 24th, 2010, 06:20 PM
As “Mitchell’s Run” this was my first published book in 1999 and it had already won two national competitions along the way. Saltwater Press, a small Australian publisher decided to break into the US market and looked for a flagship novel to carry its imprint, but they thought it too Australian, many of its terms beyond the understanding of American readers, so they requested I Americanize it, not only in terminology, but in location as well.
So a story set in the Victorian High Country and locked in Australian history and literature shifted to Sacramento and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, giving me a research project that initially daunted me. In the end, it was relatively simple to change the location, but I’ve never thought it fitted quite as well as the original.
“Mitchell’s Valley”
It seemed an endless journey. The darkness hid everything familiar from her sight, making it feel as if they were traveling more through time than distance. Yet, Andrew seemed to know precisely where he was going, following the contours, choosing a path to avoid the undergrowth, breaking a trail to allow her to keep up. He kept his pace within her ability, checking often, glancing over his shoulder and adjusting his tempo to the slope to keep her two ski lengths behind.
The mindlessness of following in his tracks gave her time to think … and feel a little ashamed.
Andrew Mitchell had compromised a profitable illegal operation to save her life, risking his own in the process. He’d given her a lesson in chess, tolerated her pettiness and then refused to take advantage of her gratitude. This was a very rare man. It was up to her to find a way of repaying him he would accept … and he’d find she didn’t give up easily.
It came as a surprise when he stopped at the crest of a ridge and swung his skis until they were pointing back along their tracks and waited for her to reach him. She stopped with her skis parallel to his, but facing the other way so that they stood right shoulder to right shoulder.
“The lights you can see,” he said, extending his right arm to point down the slope before her. “Are a Ranger’s house. Follow the fire trail and you’ll come to his front gate. I can’t go any further and still get back.”
Cynthia, struggling to bring her breathing back to normal, nodded, breathing as deeply as she could to catch her breath.
“I have two souvenirs for you.” She could see his smile. “This.” He took the nugget she’d examined from his pocket and tucked it into the zippered top pocket of her jacket. “is for the others. It will prove it actually happened … and this is for you. I want to make certain you remember me.” He swept her into his arms and kissed her.
Cynthia cooperated enthusiastically. If he would accept a kiss, she’d make it the best she was capable of giving. She surrendered totally, allowing herself to become pliant as his arms held her firmly against a body hard with the physical labour of mining. She could taste the herbs he had used in the stew and bite of black coffee on his tongue, but his lips were surprisingly gentle on hers. This man would take only what she ceded willingly.
A very pleasant experience, nothing more, although she damned the thick winter clothes for their interference…until she was ambushed by the memory of his naked body pressed against hers. Need flared into a furnace heat, threatening to consume her utterly as she thrust against him. Yet, he broke their embrace, her strength nothing to him, as he pushed her away and moved back to open a gap between them, leaving Cynthia teetering uncertainly on her skis, disoriented by the interruption.
His voice seemed to come from a distance...“It’s time for you to go back to your world. Don’t forget me too easily. I know I’ll never forget you. You’re truly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” He pushed off with his stocks and accelerated smoothly down the reverse slope, away from her. “Goodbye, Goldilocks!” was the last thing she heard.
She stared after him, physically drained by the brief burst of passion, incapable of any action other than to watch him leave, acutely conscious of her disappointment. Only when the glow from his cap lamp had faded completely, did she realize her danger. The snowfalls were increasing rapidly and the lights were barely visible. Soon she would have nothing to guide her. She sighed gently, set off cautiously, and skied steadily down the fire trail, returning to her own world.
The dogs alerted the Ranger and he met her at the gate, a tall man bulky in his winter uniform. “Hi,” he said. “You lost?”
“My name is Cynthia Sheldon. I became separated from a guided cross-country ski group on Saturday.” She’d been rehearsing the words all the way down the slope.
“A lot of people are going to be very glad to hear from you.” The Ranger opened the gate for her. “Come on in. We’ll get you inside first and then call them.”
The next hour was chaotic. Lucy, the Ranger’s wife, a trained nurse, insisted on a full physical examination. Her father insisted she come to the phone halfway through it and she had to tell lies to explain her survival standing wrapped in a blanket before an open fire while her father kept interrupting. Then Charlie, the Ranger, intervened, taking the phone. “She’ll call you back. Put the Chief on. We’re snowed in.”
Lucy, who’d overheard, was looking at her strangely. “That’s an amazing tale. Imagine finding a cave with no bears so close to the lake. With all your clothes soaked …”
Cynthia had kept to the truth where she could, unsure how much was known. Sheltering in a cave had seemed reasonable because she’d forgotten about hibernating bears. She gnawed her lower lip as she reviewed her story, wondering what other holes would appear. She must protect Andrew Mitchell!
“Do you smoke?” Lucy’s question seemed without relevance and when Cynthia shook her head. “I don’t suppose you’ve any waterproof matches in that backpack.”
A light dawned. This was an ally. Cynthia shook her head again.
“We’d better find some before Charlie comes back.” Lucy went to a drawer and returned a small metal cylinder. “You bought these when you picked up your gear.” She unscrewed the top and emptied half the contents, recapped and handed it to Cynthia. “Put them in your pocket. Most of the caves have old fires in them. Be vague about where it was.”
“Why are you doing this?”
Lucy smiled. “Perhaps this will explain.” She led the way to the far wall and a framed front page of a newspaper. Yellowed by age, printed on coarse paper in the style of a bygone era, it carried a recognizable likeness of her rescuer!
“A distant relative of mine.”
Cynthia stared at the date. It was impossible! Andrew Mitchell’s disappearance was reported on August 21<SUP>st</SUP>, 1886!

Amy Gallow
June 24th, 2010, 06:47 PM
“A Soldier’s Woman” was my first book with Eternal Press, released August 2009, and impressed Hollie at Coffee Time Romance enough that she awarded it five coffee cups and named it a Coffee Time Reviewer’s Recommended Read. Night Owl Romance followed with five hearts. When it was first written, my son was with the first troops landing at Dilli airport with the INTERFET operation in East Timor and the story was a distraction from the constant news bulletins of the operation, all with the looming threat of the Indonesian TNI involvement. He’s still a soldier and has served overseas with the Australian Army in more hot zones since, but this was his first.
An imp of mischief prompted Megan and she stepped close to Michael, deliberately invading his personal space under the guise of moving towards the door. They’d have few opportunities alone tonight and she wanted to see how he reacted away from the confines of the office. She didn’t intend more than this, but her shoe caught the edge of a worn board and she half fell against him. His arms went around her automatically and they stood locked in a surprised embrace.
The effect on Megan was instantaneous, a massive chill followed so quickly by a flush of warmth she couldn’t differentiate one from the other. Her arms tightened around him and she looked up into his face, utterly certain he was about to kiss her…
Her eyes held his as she watched him fight the compulsion to complete their embrace, his need to hold her close hardening the muscles of his arms until they felt like steel bars against the softness of her flesh―except steel never quivers with tension. For a timeless interval, he managed to hold himself absolutely still, and then his head bowed towards her, bringing his lips within reach. Megan raised herself in the circle of his arms to bridge the gap and, as their lips touched, she closed her eyes to concentrate on the sensation.
His lips softened, his arms molded her body to his and Megan felt her senses reel with the sheer maleness of this man. Her lips parted to accept him totally…
The intercom speaker above their heads buzzed and a woman’s distorted voice announced. “Michael, we’re here.”
For an instant, Michael ignored the sound, his lips urgent, demanding, then discipline asserted itself, and he lifted his head to break the contact. Megan’s eyes snapped open and she stared up at him, stricken.
“No one could accuse my sister of perfect timing.” Michael looked down at her with a half apologetic grin and she felt his arms relax, no longer holding her deliciously close.
Almost by mutual consent, they disengaged and stepped back until half an arm’s length separated them, Megan shaken by the power of what had happened.
“Michael, can you hear me?” The intercom speaker interrupted.
Michael turned to thumb the speaker button “Yes, Diane,” he answered. “We’re on our way.”
He gestured for Megan to precede him and followed her back into the house, switching off the lights and closing the door behind them.
Megan walked numbly, still dazed by her reaction to Michael’s kiss. Her schoolgirl prank had triggered something far beyond her expectations and its power frightened her. The words of a famous limerick came to haunt her:
There was a young lady of Riga,
Who rode with a smile on a tiger.
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
They were too appropriate.
In <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on">Singapore</st1:country-region>, she’d cast Michael as a leopard, but she should have recognized he was really a tiger, for she felt a strong kinship to that foolish young lady of <st1:City w:st="on">Riga</st1:City>. She’d blithely decided she was in love with Michael, not understanding how powerful the emotion could be. A moment ago, she’d glimpsed something to consume her utterly and she wasn’t sure she was ready for it…now, or ever!

Amy Gallow
June 24th, 2010, 07:58 PM
“A Fair Trader” drew high praise from the reviewers, five books from LASR, five hearts from Night Owl Romance, the top rating from “You Gotta Read Reviews” etc., and was the source of a little private fun with a friend. She threatened me with dire consequences should I ever used her and her family in one of my stories, so most of the characters are named for her and her family, with physical descriptions close enough to be recognizable, even where the rest has no relevance and is drawn from my professional career. I sent her a signed copy of the book as a memento and we’re still on speaking terms.
Matthew shifted his position in the bed by degrees, allowing Ruth ample time to adapt to each small movement before he moved again. When he was flat on his back, he stopped and lay there, wide awake and staring up at the darkened ceiling.
She murmured sleepily and snuggled into his body, her head coming to rest in the hollow of his shoulder with her forehead nestled against the hinge of his jaw. He could feel the gentle fan of her breath on the side of his neck and was aware of the surprising surge of tenderness. He didn’t feel particularly sleepy. It had been a long day, but his mind now welcomed the lack of external distraction. The observer who lived somewhere in the back of his mind could claim front stage—it was his time—and his dry skepticism always made Matthew do his best thinking…and there was a lot of thinking to do.
Turning back now would be extraordinarily difficult. Ruth had whispered “I love you” from the edge of sleep, speaking so softly he was able to pretend he didn’t hear. Indeed, she may not have intended to speak aloud, merely experimenting with the sound of the words in her mind. The affair he’d reignited on Thursday evening now had a momentum of its own. At the critical point in the day just gone, he’d crossed his personal Rubicon.
It had been the moment he’d realized his actions had put Ruth’s life at risk. She could have died because of his bravado in deciding to overload the aircraft in an attempt to lift everyone out of danger in a single flight. He’d never forget his sick horror when he realized they were trapped less than three feet above the ground with the flood surge bearing down on them, the terror, not for himself or the other passengers, but for the woman at his side. If there’d been a choice, he would have sacrificed them all, his life included, to save her.
Too pragmatic an individual to fool himself, Matthew accepted he’d fallen in love with Ruth. It had always been a risk of pursuing her, but he’d not expected it to happen so suddenly. It would be all the more difficult to allow her the control she appeared to need for her own comfort, now his emotions were driving them as well, but haste could spoil everything.
She stirred slightly, and he willed himself into immobility until she settled again.
It was all so convenient, as if he’d subconsciously man-aged the situation until it suited his needs. She would be in Melbourne, separated from his work, in Darwin and this was just a little too good for him to believe that it was an accident, particularly with his career moving to its crisis point—when he would either break through to corporate management or be condemned to remaining a technical manager. Paul Knudsen believed they were in direct competition for the next slot, and he could well be right.
If either of them missed the chance…
Matthew clamped down on the thought of failure, returning to the almost accidental convenience of the situation. It was true. All too often in the past, he’d looked back at the development of a situation and seen the ruthless hand of his unacknowledged needs in the apparently pointless decisions he’d made. He was proud of his conscious control of his own destiny, and the realization his subconscious had subtly out-maneuvered him once more made him uncomfortable.
Ruth shifted slightly beside him and murmured something unintelligible, the fingers of her left hand flexing on his shoulder to draw him closer. He turned his head enough to kiss her forehead, and she sighed like a contented child as she relaxed back into sleep.
A memory from his childhood popped unbidden into his mind, and he smiled at its warmth. It was of his father, kissing his mother’s forehead comfortingly as she embraced his body in the euphoria of winning a dance competition. He’d been looking directly at Matthew and had winked conspiratorially.
It was the moment that Matthew first saw his parents as people and became aware of the nature of their love. It changed his world to recognize that their relationship existed outside of his knowledge. His parents’ need to touch constantly had embarrassed him previously. It had been the butt of too many schoolyard jokes. Now he recognized the intensity of his mother’s need, and the jokes lost the ability to mock his father’s caring response.
Everyone had the secret desire for someone to need them, he supposed. He certainly welcomed the distraction of caring for someone other than himself.
She saved him, stretching like a cat, as her left hand came to rest below his navel and wandered casually downwards. He grinned to himself at the effectiveness of the distraction and felt himself harden in response as her hand reached its target. He kissed her forehead once more and was not surprised to see her eyes were open.
“He’s awake too,” she told him.
He laughed aloud this time. She’d adopted completely his own habit of referring to the emblem of his manhood as if it were a separate, somewhat undisciplined, individual.
“He really deserves a kiss for waking so promptly,” she continued, her head disappearing beneath the continental quilt to make good her decision.
Ruth had brought to their lovemaking a sense of wonder, childlike in the very best sense. It fascinated him. He’d grown blas&#233; on the passenger ships, and the last five years had been a feast or famine affair. He suspected Ruth was going to change all those arrangements. He’d find it difficult to be satisfied with a casual affair after this.
He concentrated on thanking her properly for rescuing him from his thoughts. Their bodies joined without urgency, moving without haste to a fulfillment coming and washing over them like the tide, and they slept once more.
Matthew escaped his relentless self-examination completely this time and relaxed into a dreamless sleep. Something he rarely experienced.

Amy Gallow
June 24th, 2010, 08:24 PM
I promised a second excerpt from “Snow Drifter” and here it is. Allison has just returned to Sydney from the Ferguson home in the Mount Perisher snowfields and is meeting her best friend, Georgia.
In the main, Georgia just listened, making encouraging noises at all the right places, seeking clarification where un-familiarity with the surroundings confused her, but generally listening quietly, the expression on her face changing to reflect the emotions of the story. She pursed her lips in a soundless whistle when Allison described Kerri, looked thoughtful at the mention of Allison’s jealousy, and grinned happily when Allison reached the ending of the Walpurgis Night party. The discovery of the uniforms and the arrival of Stuart’s parents wiped the smile from her face completely, and she was quite serious when Allison came to the description of her arrival home and remained silent for some moments after Allison finished speaking.
“I see what you meant about getting something different from what you wished for,” she said eventually. “You’ve created a real problem by overreacting.”
Allison sat back in her chair. She’d not expected quite so blunt an assessment.
“Don’t worry,” Georgia comforted. “It’s not all bad.”
“Oh?” Allison’s doubt gave an interrogative lift to her voice.
“Yes,” Georgia said, nodding her head. “You’ve fallen in love with a man well worth the effort, which can’t be said for all of them, and the signs are he loves you too. Stuart Ferguson is burdened with a sense of honor, so we can assume his intentions are serious.”
Stunned by the pragmatic assessment, Allison said nothing. She just stared at her friend’s face as Georgia continued.
“This leaves only your behavior on being faced with the reality of what you already knew to be true, that Stuart was returning to Aspen for the snow season.” She paused for thought and then, in an apparent divergence from the subject, asked, “Did you like Stuart’s parents?”
“Yes,” Allison admitted. “They’re a little larger than life. Old John still has a very commanding presence. At Stuart’s age, he must’ve been a god.”
“And Stuart’s mother?” Georgia prompted.
“Clarice is from landed people in the Victorian High Plains. She’s gracious, intelligent, educated, and unfailingly kind,” Allison said more carefully, making Georgia eye her judgmentally.
“But she frightens you a bit?” Georgia guessed.
“Yes,” Allison admitted. “She’s so much a lady and still so beautiful I feel overawed by her. I can’t imagine ever having her poise. She makes me feel like a clumsy teenager.”
“I could cope with that,” Allison answered. “No. It’s not intentional. She did everything in her power to make me feel more comfortable, which made me feel even worse.”
“Which suggests the problem is yours rather than hers,” Georgia said, eyeing Allison shrewdly. “You feel bad because you’ve acted badly with her by not giving her son the chance to explain. The next time you meet her it will be different. You won’t be struggling to come to terms with your disappointment, and you’ll act more like the successful woman you are. We both know that Stuart must have a reason for his actions. Perhaps Big John is right and it is his iron sense of duty sending him to Aspen. He feels he’s committed himself and won’t let them down. Whatever it is, he’s too astute to see you as a one-night stand.”
Georgia’s logic, as far as it went, was faultless. She didn’t know about Ken Simpson’s plans, but it was obvious that Georgia had been a far better friend than Allison realized.
Cocooned in grief, she’d not seen her friend developing to meet the challenges of a changing world, protecting Allison from herself until it had become a habit. Allison felt emptied by the realization she’d accepted everything Georgia had done as a right and had then ridden roughshod over Georgia’s needs when it came to Stuart Ferguson, accepting his attentions without a thought to Georgia’s feelings.
Impulsively, she reached out and laid her hand on Georgia’s. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I’ve been incredibly thoughtless of you. I’ve only just realized how much you’ve done for me this last year. I feel terrible it’s taken me so long, particularly as you were interested in Stuart.”
“I never had a chance there,” Georgia said and laughed. “You were a wounded bird, and he’s the type to find them irresistible. As for the rest, we’re friends. You’d do the same for me without thought. It’s your way to mother us. The rest of us were glad of the chance to repay you.”
Once again, it was the implication rather than Georgia’s actual words that captured Allison’s attention.
“Have I been that bad?” she asked.
“You went through a terrible experience, and we all thought you handled Paul’s death magnificently, but it took so much out of you that you remained stuck halfway through the grieving process. It was frustrating to see you wallowing along in a rut so deep you couldn’t see out of it, even when you appeared almost normal on the surface.”
“Why didn’t you say something earlier,” Allison asked, feeling very small.
“You weren’t ready to listen.”
It seemed unanswerable, so Allison took a sip of the cappuccino the waiter had served unnoticed during the conversation. One thing was now quite certain. She’d leave this meal with more to think about than Stuart Ferguson.
Afterwards, they walked back to Circular Quay hand in hand, both aware that their friendship had moved on to another level. At the steps leading up to the rail station, they embraced emotionally and parted, Georgia heading up to the train and Allison continuing on to Pier Five to catch the ferry home.

June 25th, 2010, 12:20 PM
Oh sooo many great exerpts!!!!:popcorn: