Once Upon a Midnight Waking

People often ask where my book ideas come from. The truth is every book is different. WINTER HAWK began with a single scene.  It woke me up in the middle of the night fully formed, very much as you see it below. I have had other ideas come from dreams but never one so completely developed. I didn’t have a story, or even a concept for one at the time, and I still have no clue where it came from, or even if it was a dream. The book WINTER HAWK didn’t come along for a while, but when I needed a family to travel on the wagon train, I thought of Morgan and her three brothers. All four of them appeared in THE JINX AND THE PINKERTON as children and again in WINTER HAWK as adults. I hope you enjoy this small preview. I will be launching WINTER HAWK next week, so stay tuned!

They went without me!” she cried, sliding down the wall to the floor. “I should have known.” Morgan leaned back and shut her eyes. Will and the twins probably left the minute they were sure she was asleep. Drat them anyway. Her brothers needed her, but they’d left her behind without hesitation. Why couldn’t they let her take some of the load just once?

            Fine, she’d stay behind and do something none of them’d been able to. She’d find out what was going on. Their baby sister would single-handedly save their hides and prove herself once and for all. 

            Jason Sommers was the key to this somehow. Trouble was, she didn’t have a clue how to get close to him. The best she could hope for at the fort was a job as a laundress. She might get close to Jason Sommers’s underwear that way but certainly not him.  If her mother hadn’t died when she was born, she’d have learned a woman’s skills and might know how to handle situations like this. 

            As she sat there wallowing in her inadequacies, a sudden glimmer of an idea began to form. All right, so she couldn’t do it as a woman; maybe there was another way. Morgan got to her feet and crossed to her dresser. She gazed into the mirror critically.

            Strong featured, her father had always said proudly. No man would ever mistake his daughter for a milk and water miss. She’d been nearly grown before she realized it was a nice way of saying her nose was too big and her eyes set too far apart to be pretty. In fact her extraordinarily long eyelashes were the only feminine attribute on her face. A slight trimming would take care of them.

             She ruffled an eyebrow with one finger. For the first time in her life she was glad they weren’t delicately arched like her mother’s. A little darkening and they would look nearly as thick as a man’s. Even her voice was deep enough to pass for an adolescent boy. That left her hair.

             Morgan’s mouth twisted into a frown as she pulled the thick flaxen braid over her shoulder. Unbound, it fell past her hips in a lustrous cloud, one that would have reached her knees had she been a shorter woman . A hundred strokes every night, a special soap that only Sadie knew the recipe for, the task of braiding it before bed, Morgan had never minded the extra work even as a child. She’d always fantasized about gifting the man she loved with its silken richness on their wedding night. It was her one vanity, her identity as a woman, her beauty.

             Suddenly she imagined the braid in her hand transformed into a hangman’s noose and the muscles in her jaw tightened resolutely. No sacrifice was too great to save her brothers. Ignoring the lump in her throat, Morgan took a deep breath and reached for the scissors.

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