It’s Read an Ebook Week!

5. GetInto - Read an Ebook Week

I admit I fought it with every ounce of my being. I love the smell, the feel, of a real book with real pages – the older, the better.

But…
Over the last couple years, I’ve discovered the simplicity of purchasing ebooks, especially with Kindle right on my iPhone, and though it goes against my gut, I have to admit, I haven’t bought a real book in about five years.

All that being said, it’s Read an Ebook Week at Smashwords!!

If you’re not familiar with Smashwords, they are a major distributor of ebooks for indie authors. They distribute to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, iTunes, etc., so when you purchase an ebook directly from them, you can download it in any format you choose. Yes! When you buy an ebook from Smashwords, you have your choice of formats. You can download it to your Kindle, your Nook, your Sony E-Reader, and even as a PDF for your tablet or your desktop. Well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Oh, wait! It does get better!!

This week, March 3-9, Smashwords is hosting Read an Ebook Week, and there are tons and tons of books on sale, and some are even free.

If you haven’t read Lori Crane books or have been putting off purchasing the next in one of the series, this week is the time! Lori Crane books are ALL 50% off this week at Smashwords. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/LoriCrane

If you’re confused about which books to buy or where to start, here is the bibliography.

The Okatibbee Creek Series: (Three books that do not need to be read in order.)
Okatibbee Creek – A woman who has lost nearly everything during the Civil War finds a way to rebuild her shattered life.
An Orphan’s Heart – Set in the late 1800s, a young woman travels the South to find her place in the world.
Elly Hays – Set in the early 1800s, a young mother finds herself in a war with a Creek Indian warrior. He doesn’t have much to lose, but she has everything to lose.

The Stuckey’s Bridge Trilogy: (Three books that should be read in order. No cliffhangers.)
The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge – A late 1800s serial killer you can’t help but love.
Stuckey’s Legacy: The Legend Continues – A character from the first book tries to live in the world of the rich. Turns out he’s a better killer than his predecessor.
Stuckey’s Gold: The Curse of Lake Juzan – The origin and completion of the Stuckey curse with characters from the first two books. This is the end. Or is it?

The Culpepper Saga: (Four books that should be read in order. No cliffhangers.)
I, John Culpepper – John Culpeper sets out to find himself in this 1600s coming-of-age tale.
John Culpepper the Merchant – England is in Civil War, and John Culpepper finds himself on the wrong side. He must escape before his entire family is beheaded.
John Culpepper, Esquire – John Culpepper sets up a new life in the American Colonies, which is not without its struggles, and a major tragedy puts him in the position of family patriarch, trying to hold his family together on two continents.
Culpepper’s Rebellion – John Culpepper finds himself in the middle of two colonial rebellions: Bacon’s rebellion in Virginia and Culpepper’s rebellion in North Carolina. The latter is headed by his own son, who will surely pay the ultimate price for his sins against the crown, unless John can save him.

Other Books:
Savannah’s Bluebird – A tragic love story that transcends the boundaries of this world.
Witch Dance – A family weekend getaway turns into a nightmare for a young family and pulls them into a vortex of tragedy and witchcraft.

Hop over to Smashwords and take advantage of this awesome sale!

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/LoriCrane

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FREE Kindle just for you!

I, John Culpepper” is FREE on Kindle through 4/19. Grab a copy and relax with a good book this weekend. Click here – “I, John Culpepper” at Amazon.

Below is the blurb and a snippet from the book.

51hHerBrPbL._UY250_I, John Culpepper

John Culpepper was born into a privileged childhood, surrounded by abundant wealth, vast land holdings, and stately English manors. As he grew, he was expected to follow family tradition—attend law school and serve in Parliament, following which he would retire to a quiet life as a country gentleman.

John, however, had different desires. He longed to captain a mighty ship, to hear the snap of the sails, to taste the salty spray on his lips. To follow his dreams, John would have to risk being disinherited by his unyielding father. He would have to defy family convention. He would ultimately be forced to choose between the woman he loved and his mistress—the sea.

I, John Culpepper is a work of historical fiction based on the life of the 17th-century man historians refer to as John Culpepper the Merchant. He is believed to be the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers. He was my 10th great-grandfather.

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Here’s a snippet from the day John was born. The photo is the replicas of the ships mentioned in the scene. These replicas were built in the late 1900s and are currently docked on the James River in the Jamestown settlement where the original ships were heading. Road trip! Let’s go!

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susan constant, discovery, goodspeed replicas on the chesapeake1606, Blackwall, London

“Master Culpepper! Master Culpepper!” the servant boy shouted over the bells clanging from the church steeple. He pulled the scratchy scarf tightly around his neck to ward off the chill as he pushed his way through the masses gathered on the foggy banks of the Thames.

The crowd had been gathering on the wharf for nearly two days to witness the departure of the ships, and they were prepared for a spectacle unlike any they had seen before. When the tide came in, the three ships carrying one hundred forty passengers and sailors would depart England on an exciting adventure. The air smelled of salt and tar and sweat. This was a remarkable place, a magical place, where the preparations were as exciting at the coming voyage. The anticipation in the air was nearly as thick as the fog.

The boy stopped for a moment as a wooden cask was rolled across the cobblestone in front of him. He watched as workers carefully rolled the barrel up the tilted gangplank. He remained frozen in the middle of the bustling crowd, staring at the ship. He had never seen anything so majestic in all his twelve years, and his jaw dropped at her sheer size. She was an enormous castle-like structure, at least eighty feet in length, her belly bulging at the side where the last of the cargo was being loaded in. Crates and boxes were continually being carried up the gangplank, where they disappeared into the ship’s dark interior. The deck above the cargo area was much narrower and the boy imagined that’s where the sailors would remain during the voyage, climbing masts and hoisting sails. Circling the spiderweb of hemp ropes and yardarms, seagulls cawed as if singing along with the rhythmical clanging of a nearby metal object. The boy scanned the scene for the source of the sound and noticed a blind beggar sitting on the cobblestone near the bow of the ship, tapping a stick on a metal bowl.

Behind the ship floated a second ship, nearly as large as the first, and behind that loomed a third. Each hosted its own cast of sailors, supplies, vagrants, and gangplanks. As wavelets gently raised and lowered the vessels, moans of protest arose from the taut ropes, and the weathered wood creaked with each stomp of a sailor’s boot. Nearby, two mangy hounds barked and growled over some fish scraps, bringing the boy’s attention back to his task at hand. Remembering why he had come, he yelled, “Master Culpepper!” He spun around and around looking for the man, weaving between horses, carts, trunks, and sailors shouting commands. He darted in and out of the crowd, making sure he didn’t bump into any wealthy gentlemen, recognizable by their long cloaks adorned with colorful silk threads.

In April, King James had created the Virginia Company, which would finance sailings to Virginia and Plymouth with the aim of settling colonies and profiting from the land’s abundant natural resources. The aristocracy funded the expeditions with the expectation of making an exorbitant profit. The three ships embarking from Blackwall on this day would sail to Virginia and bring back riches. There were rumors of gold, silver, and gems merely washing up on the shore for the taking. If nothing else, there was surely timber to be harvested. The trees in England had long been felled and the rising price of timber would certainly bring the investors a hefty return.

After they finished loading supplies and the morning fog had dissipated, the ships would raise their sails and ride the tide down the Thames. They would enter the English Channel and cross the great ocean and return by summertime.

The boy bobbed in and out of the crowd, searching for his master.

“Who are you searching for, lad?” a man in a ruffled collar asked.

“Master Culpepper,” the boy replied, removing his hat and revealing his dirty blond hair, which was sticking this way and that like a wheat field in a mighty windstorm. He twisted the wool hat in his hands.

“Johannes or Tom?”

“Johannes Culpepper, sir.”

“I saw him down by the front ship—the Discovery—only moments ago. He was standing right on the dock.”

“Thank you.”

The boy nodded, replaced his cap, and shoved through the workers and onlookers toward the front ship. As he passed the first ship, he looked at the name written on her side and sounded out the letters. He couldn’t make any sense of the words Susan Constant, but when he reached the second ship, he could read God…speed. He wondered if the Godspeed was true to her name. If he were to sail, he would rather sail on the Godspeed and get there faster. From what he understood, it was a two-month voyage if the weather was bonny, maybe four months if the ship ran into rough seas.

He had once spent a morning in a small fishing boat and instantly became green with sickness that lasted for days. He didn’t think he would be able to survive the time it would take to sail to Virginia. He gawked at the bow of the Godspeed as he ran past, witnessing a young lad about his age. The sailor dripped with sweat, even in the chill of the damp morning air, as he coiled ropes and folded sails. What a great adventure it would be to sail to Virginia, but alas, the boy would never get to do such amazing things. He was a servant, a gift from His Majesty King James I to Johannes Culpepper. He would always be a servant, but perhaps someday he would be fortunate enough to serve the king. Even though Master Culpepper was good to him, he wished to someday live at court and be somebody. At least he had the slimmest of chances. His sister had been placed in the kitchen of some castle in Wales. She would never be anything more than a scullery maid. Women would never hold a place in society. They were not welcomed on this voyage, either.

He hopped up and down, unsuccessfully trying to look over the crowd. “Master Culpepper!” he called.

A man turned and pointed. “Culpepper is right over there, son.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The boy sprinted in the general direction, and when he pushed through a couple workers conversing on the dock, he saw him.

“Master Culpepper!”

The boy ran up behind Johannes Culpepper and patted the back of his master’s arm, hopping up and down. “Master Culpepper!”

Johannes turned and looked down at the boy, his square jaw set and his blue-gray eyes burrowing into the lad. “What is it, boy? Why are you making such a commotion?”

The boy panted, out of breath from running. “Master Culpepper, m’lady is havin’ the baby, sir!”

Johannes’s face turned red as he glanced around the crowd to see if anyone was eavesdropping. When he saw no one was, he folded his arms across his chest and stroked his beard. “You came all this way to tell me that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very good, boy. You run along home now.”

The boy didn’t move. How could his master not be excited about this news? Did he not want to return home and see his wife and child? Was there anything the boy could say to convince the man to accompany him back to the house?

“Go on. Run along.” Johannes waved the boy off with a flip of his ringed fingers and abruptly turned his back.

“Yes, sir.” The lad backed up, keeping his eyes on his master, wondering what he would tell the governess when he returned home without his master in tow. He had ridden nearly four hours to get to Blackwall this morning, most of it in the dark as the sun had not even risen when he left. He would have a four-hour return trip to think of something. He turned and walked back in the direction from which he had come.

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Get your FREE copy by clicking HERE.

New Release and a FREE Book!

Culpepper4The fourth book in the Culpepper Saga – Culpepper’s Rebellion – is here!!!! You can pick it up at Amazon by clicking HERE. If you haven’t yet read any of the Culpepper Saga, you can pick up the first book – I, John Culpepper – for FREE through November 4th by clicking HERE. The four books are the continuing story of the life of John Culpepper, the patriarch of the modern-day American Culpeppers, from his birth in 1606 in England to the end of his life in 1680 in Colonial Virginia. Check out the book blurbs below.

Culpepper_1I, John Culpepper

John Culpepper was born into a privileged childhood, surrounded by abundant wealth, vast land holdings, and stately English manors. As he grew, he was expected to follow family tradition—attend law school and serve in Parliament, following which he would retire to a quiet life as a country gentleman.

John, however, had different desires. He longed to captain a mighty ship, to hear the snap of the sails, to taste the salty spray on his lips. To follow his dreams, John would have to risk being disinherited by his unyielding father. He would have to defy family convention. He would ultimately be forced to choose between the woman he loved and his mistress—the sea.

The Merchant ebookJohn Culpepper the Merchant

For hundreds of years, the Culpepper family backed the monarchy, but when King Charles disbanded Parliament, married a Catholic princess, and appointed an archbishop who was a Catholic supporter, the royalist Culpeppers found themselves at odds with their friends and neighbors.

Years earlier, against his family’s wishes, John had purchased a merchant ship, sailed to Virginia, and spent most of his time there. While on American soil, he received word of the uprisings that followed the king’s actions.

When civil war began, John feared for the safety of his family in England. He was horrified when the king was captured, convicted of high treason, and beheaded. Would John’s family be next? The only way to rescue them would be with his ship, under the cloak of darkness. Would he succeed, or would they all be caught and tried as traitors?

JC Esquire (1)John Culpepper, Esquire

John Culpepper was a prominent figure in colonial Virginia, a merchant in Jamestown for two decades and a resident since the disastrous civil war that shook England to its core. The Culpepper family, decimated by the war, had known great defeat, but none as heartbreaking as the tragic event that abruptly left John in the position of family patriarch.

He struggled with this newly acquired role, marrying off his nieces to eligible colonialists, sending some of the boys back to England, purchasing a ship for his sons against their mother’s wishes.

Upon the collapse of the English Commonwealth, members of John’s family escorted the exiled prince back to London to be crowned as King Charles II. Would the Culpepper family finally reclaim the power and prestige it had once possessed? And how would John hold his family together on two continents?

Culpepper4Culpepper’s Rebellion

John Culpepper thought he had done right by his family when he married off his niece to his childhood friend, Sir William Berkeley, the governor of Virginia. When his cousin Nathaniel Bacon appeared and began an uprising against Berkeley, John was caught in the middle. He did everything in his power to advise his friend, protect his niece, and honor the crown.

He was unaware that during Bacon’s rebellion, his own son was planning a rebellion in Carolina. John had spent most of his life defying his father and the status quo, but when his son was arrested and charged with treason, he was forced to examine every idea he held about his life and his past. The legal training John had rebelled against in his youth would now be the only thing standing between his son’s life and death.

 

Saturday Snippet – Father/Son Troubles

In celebration of the fourth book in the Culpepper Saga, “Culpepper’s Rebellion,” coming out October 31st, I’ll be reviewing re-living moments from the first three books. Some are triumphant, some are heart wrenching. If you haven’t read any of the story yet, follow along for the next few Saturdays and witness occasional tense and often loving moments between John Culpepper and various members of his family. The following snippet is from the first book in the series, “I, John Culpepper,” which is the story of John’s youth and his turbulent relationship with his father. In this snippet, John’s young niece has died and the family is meeting at the church for the funeral. John’s father, Johannes, has just arrived.

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51hHerBrPbL._UY250_December 3, 1630

John stood in the doorway of the church and watched his father climb down from his carriage. Sporadic blasts of cold wind whipped at Johannes’s thinning, gray hair and ruffled the hem of his cloak. He refused help from his footman and grunted with each movement. He was pale and wrinkled, his shoulders hunched by the weight of his sixty-five years. He leaned on his cane as he hobbled toward the church, favoring one leg over the other. When he reached the door, he looked up at John with tears in his bloodshot eyes. John stepped forward to take his father’s arm and escort him inside.

As they stepped through the stone archway into the church, Johannes grumbled, “Bloody flux.”

John nodded, not knowing if the comment required a reply. “Where’s Ann?” he asked instead.

“She’s visiting at her son’s house. I didn’t have time to go fetch her. I came straight here.”

John nodded again. He led his father to the front pew and helped him be seated. John stood in front of the pew and looked around at the family in attendance. For the first time in John’s life, he felt as if he needed to be the man in control of the family. This was an unusual sensation because his father or brother always filled the role of patriarch, but John accepted it for the time being. He returned to the door, just in time to see Thomas and Katherine enter.

Katherine was holding their eight-month-old baby Anna in her arms. John walked straight toward her, softly placed his hand on the infant’s head, and looked into Katherine’s eyes. “Katherine, I am so very sorry. Mary was such a beautiful little girl.”

Katherine looked down at Anna. Her lip quivered and tears rolled down her cheeks.

“And little Anna is just as beautiful.” John kissed the sleeping baby on the forehead.

“We had hoped for a son,” said Thomas quietly, “but we were happy to have Anna as a playmate for Mary. Sometimes plans and dreams just don’t work out.” Thomas’s voice cracked.

John understood that statement well. He looked into his brother’s face and realized he had never seen his brother so sad. If he could figure out a way to take this pain from him, he would. Katherine began to sob, and the men escorted her to the front pew.

After a long and dismal hour, the sermon finally ended and the family gathered outside in the graveyard, surrounded by stone monuments and chiseled epitaphs. Blustery snowflakes wafted through the air, twirling around bare branches of dormant oaks, as the family placed young Mary Culpepper in her tomb and solemnly left the grounds. John followed Thomas and Katherine home to Greenway Court. He left Johannes to fend for himself.

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The first three books of the Culpepper Saga are available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

culpepper saga-001

#2 Behind William Freakin’ Shakespeare!

My book I, JOHN CULPEPPER is sitting at #2 behind William Shakespeare…YES, THE William Shakespeare. If for some crazy reason I pass him, I will consider it my best. day. ever. 🙂  Pick it up HERE for $0.99 and make it happen!

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Saturday Snippet – I, John Culpepper

Culpepper_1My new book, I, John Culpepper, has been released!!

It is the story of young John Culpepper, whose only dream is to own a merchant ship. As you will see in the snippet below, his aristocratic father is not the most supportive. Some of the story occurs simultaneously with historical events we know well. The follow snippet happens on September 6, 1620.

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Fourteen-year-old John stood on the banks of the Thames and stared at her. She was the most majestic creature he had ever seen. He admired her pear shape, her curved lines. From the beak of her prow to the tip of her stern, she must have been nearly one hundred feet in length. Three masts towered above her decks and her white sails billowed, straining against their ropes. Fluttering atop her mainmast, the red-and-white English flag proudly announced her pedigree. She rode the gentle waves toward the English Channel, sailing into the rising sun. Her sharp silhouette stood in contrast to the backdrop of a clouded pink-and-purple sky.

“What are you looking at, boy?” his father bellowed from the carriage.

He pointed at the river as he turned. “Look at the ship, Father!”

“Stop gawking and get over here and unhitch these horses.”

“Yes, sir,” John mumbled. He trudged back toward the carriage, wondering why there wasn’t a footman or stable boy to take care of the animals. He walked around to the other side of the horses and wrapped his fingers around one of the halters.

He peeked around the horse’s nose, watching his father march through the puddles as he crossed the road toward the inn. His father’s long black cloak billowed behind him, caught by an unexpected breeze. John looked up at the sky. Last night’s storm clouds were dissolving and large pockets of blue sky were beginning to show through. When he looked back at his father, the man’s shadow was walking beside him, just as formidable as the real man.

Thomas appeared by John’s side and plopped their father’s large trunk on the ground at John’s feet. The horse jumped and John quickly released the halter.

Thomas complained under his breath, “You’ll never learn, will you? That’s not one of our ships sailing for the Virginia Company. That’s a competitor’s ship. Father isn’t interested in that ship. As a matter of fact, Father has lost so much money investing in these expeditions, he’s not interested in any ships or your fascination with them.”

“How much money?”

“What?” Thomas asked from the back of the carriage, where he was now retrieving another trunk.

“How much money has he lost?”

“I don’t know exactly, but he’s been waiting for shipments of timber from Virginia that never arrived. He said the men who sailed there were too busy trying to survive to cut any trees. So, each time a ship returns empty, Father loses money.”

“But money aside, how can he not love them? All of them. They’re beautiful. Imagine where that ship is heading, sailing off to some enchanted seaport. Silk from the Orient, cotton and tobacco from the colonies. I can picture it coming ashore in Virginia, where one can view rolling land as far as the eye can see, so much land and it’s nearly free for the taking.” John turned to gaze again at the ship as it rounded the bend of the river. He took a step away from the horses so he could see her better, if only for the next few moments until she disappeared.

“Don’t admire that ship too fondly. She’s not going to the Orient. She’s called the Mayflower and she’s going to Plymouth.” Thomas looked at the ship. “And she’s not so grand. As a matter of fact, she’s rather old. She’s already crossed the ocean quite a few times.” He looked back at John. “And why are you talking about rolling land? You’ll never own land.” He laughed as John struggled with the horse’s buckles. “Father will leave everything to me. You will be sent to Middle Temple to be trained as a lawyer, and someday you will oversee my estates.”

John gave up on the buckles and marched toward his brother. “I don’t want to oversee your estates. Oversee them yourself.”

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I, John Culpepper is available at Amazon.

Stop by the Culpepper Saga Facebook page to see more of the people and places of the series.

Saturday Snippet – I, John Culpepper

Culpepper_1My new book, I, John Culpepper, has just hit the shelves! I’m so excited.

If you haven’t heard anything about it yet, John Culpepper is my 10th great-grandfather, born in England in 1606 and the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers. The book is the first of four in the Culpepper Saga, the story of John’s life, beginning on the day of his birth, through the settlement of the American colonies, the turbulence of the English Civil War, and the rebellions in Virginia and Carolina which one-hundred years later would lead to the Revolution. It is a series of historical fiction, filled with drama and danger. Yet, there are moments of lightness and humor in John’s life.

When John was fifteen, he attended law school in England, and he was under the understandable impression that his headmaster resembled a goat. The joke between him and his friends carries on for quite a few chapters, as young boys typically can’t let a good laugh go without beating it to death with a stick. At one point, they played a prank on the man just as John’s father stormed into the school, angry about John’s behavior.

Below is one of my favorite scenes featuring John, his brother Thomas, his father Johannes, and Headmaster Barnaby.

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Johannes Culpepper stomped in through the archway of the library door. His heavy boots echoed off the stone floor and paneled walls and disturbed the quiet room, causing every student to look up from their studies. Johannes’s sheer size was daunting, and in his broad-shouldered jerkin with his large hat, he looked even more intimidating. His face was red and his eyes were narrowed. His jaw twitched in anger. He marched straight to the table in the center of the room where John, Thomas, and their friends sat.

Thomas looked up in surprise. “Father! What brings you here?”

“I’ve gotten word in London that someone is misbehaving.” He glared across the table at John.

“No, Father, that’s not true,” countered John.

“We will discuss this outside. Both of you, come with me.” He marched out the back door and into Temple Garden with John and Thomas trailing close behind. By the time they reached the middle of the yard, faces of schoolboys had pressed against the diamond-shaped panes of glass, watching and listening for the heated argument that was surely to begin.

Johannes stood with his hands on his hips, chastising the boys about something, but the students inside the library couldn’t make out what he was saying. Johannes’s face was red and veins bulged from his temples, but John didn’t look angry. As a matter of fact, he looked quite amused.

John and Thomas faced their father, and directly behind him, picketed in the middle of the garden, was a white goat, dressed in a black robe with gold cords around its neck. Next to the goat stood Barnaby, his hands on his hips, his face purple with anger as he glared at the goat. The goat looked up at Barnaby and let out a loud “baaaa!” John couldn’t stifle his laughter. He turned away from his father and pretended to have a coughing fit.

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I, John Culpepper is available at Amazon.

Please stop by the Culpepper Saga Facebook page to see photos and to find more information about the settings and characters.