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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Saturday Snippet – Savannah’s Bluebird

bluebird_small webI released Savannah’s Bluebird a year ago. It stemmed from a vivid dream I had, and though it didn’t take me months and months of research as with my historical novels, it still holds a place in my heart. It’s the story of a man and woman who tried desperately to get married, but everything stood in the way of their wedding day – including death. I published it on February 11, 2014.

I dreamt it and wrote it in 2012, the month before we found out my future son-in-law had cancer. In late 2013, I finally dug it out of the archives and finished writing it. My boy was getting worse by the day and the wedding was canceled only a week before it was to occur. The day after I published Savannah, I received a call from my daughter that our boy had been admitted to the hospital. Within days, he was placed in hospice, and he took his last breath on February 24, 2014. I always read my books after they’re released, but my heart is still broken, and I can’t bring myself to read this one. It’s a little too close to home, but there’s a reason I wrote it and a reason it’s out there in the world. Perhaps someday, I’ll find out what that reason is. Here is a snippet of Savannah’s Bluebird where Savannah is having a flashback to her childhood.

Dedicated to my beautiful son

Trien Duong

June 15, 1981 – February 24, 2014

You will always be the brightest star in our sky

13.4.danacody_1934

 

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August teased her. “If you remember correctly, I asked you to marry me twenty years ago under your dad’s apple tree.”

She sighed, closed her eyes in front of the foggy mirror, and absentmindedly began brushing her teeth. She could picture that big old apple tree like it was right in front of her. The branches spread out across the sky like an enormous umbrella shading the picnic table beneath it. At the end of a good summer, so many apples would be on the tree, the branches would almost touch the ground, burdened by the weight. The old paint-peeled table beneath the tree was a favorite place for the squirrels to sit and eat the apples, leaving half-eaten cores when they scampered off. August and Savannah spent many, many afternoons talking and playing and telling childhood secrets under that tree.

In the warmth of the late fall afternoon, Savannah sat alone at the picnic table with an array of colored silk threads spread out in front of her. The leaves had fallen a few weeks ago, leaving only a few stray apples on the ends of the branches. The sun shone through the branches, warming her hands, and the sweet smell of decaying apples and the crisp smell of dying leaves surrounded her, making her head swim with happiness. Fall was her favorite time of year. She stared at the woven fabric she was embroidering and sorted through the colored threads on the table.

An ocean inlet ran along the back of the property, and she could faintly hear the soft babble of the water splashing on the rocks, as well as the buzz of dragonflies and katydids. August appeared out of the dying brush that was only a few weeks ago thick summer bushes. He was wearing a brown button-up shirt, suspenders, and dirty trousers darkened by wetness up to the knees. Obviously, he had been playing at the inlet, probably trying to catch frogs or crawdads. He ran over to the picnic table and plopped down across from her.

“Watcha doin’?” He was short-winded from running.

“I’m working on a pillow covering for home economics class,” she answered.

She picked up the fabric, turned it around, and held it up for his approval.

He wrinkled his forehead and said, “It looks like a bird. I thought you liked dogs.”

“I do like dogs, but Mrs. Thompson said we have to create something that flies.” She rolled her eyes and placed it back in front of her on the table.

“Well, why don’t you sew a spaceship with a robot or something?” he asked, wrinkling his forehead.

“Only boys would make spaceships and robots.” She scowled at him. “I want to make something else. My dad told me this story about a bluebird. He said a gypsy woman told him the bluebird represents love, and if you’re with someone you love and see a bluebird, you’ll be with that person forever.” She picked up the blue thread and attempted to thread her needle. “So, I’m embroidering a bluebird.”

“Was it one of those gypsies down on the beach?”

“No, he said it was a gypsy woman in New Orleans a long time ago—before I was even born. He was working on the railroad down there when he met my mother. He said the day after the gypsy told him that story, he and momma saw a bluebird. They were married a few days later.”

When August didn’t respond, she looked up at him—and froze. Right above his head, on the lowest branch of the tree, sat a little bluebird. It was bright blue on top with a reddish-brown throat, and it was no more than a foot from them. She didn’t move, half afraid of scaring it away and half amazed that their conversation had suddenly manifested itself. August turned to follow her gaze and froze also. Neither of them dared breathe as they watched the bird—and the bird watched them.

“Will you hand me that towel?” August asked.

Savannah didn’t respond.

“Savannah, hello? Will you please hand me that towel?” August asked again, snapping Savannah’s attention back to the present.

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Lori Crane Books at Amazon

Saturday Snippet – SAVANNAH’S BLUEBIRD

bluebird_small webSavannah’s Bluebird is a love story with a ghostly twist.

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The bells rang from atop the steeple as Savannah struggled to pull open the ancient wooden door of the church. When she entered, she saw the backs of the heads of dozens of people sitting in the pews. She stopped in the vestibule and awaited the organ music to announce her entrance. She ran her gloved hand over her dark brown hair, adjusted her pillbox hat, pulled the tulle veil over her face, and smoothed down her ivory wedding gown. In her other hand, she clutched a dainty bouquet of white roses with sprays of baby’s breath. The smell filled her nostrils.

After a few moments, the organist at the front of the church played a fanfare and immediately followed with the “Wedding March.” She inhaled deeply and took a small step forward. After a pause, she took another step…and another. She hesitated, thinking it strange that the crowd didn’t rise and turn to face her. She inched forward again, pausing between steps. Surely the congregation would rise when the minister instructed them to do so, but she didn’t know what he was waiting for. She put a smile on her face as she admired the sun shining through the stained-glass windows, creating a mosaic of bright colors across the room, but as she reached the halfway mark of her grand entrance, the room darkened. The sun had disappeared behind a cloud, and the vibrant colors that bathed the room turned a dismal shade of gray. Her smile vanished also.

It was difficult to see through the netted veil, but she could have sworn she saw something large sitting in the center of the altar. She narrowed her eyes and, yes indeed, something was there. At the top of three small steps that led up to the altar, a white coffin rested in front of the minister’s podium. It was surrounded by beautiful sprays of flowers—roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, daisies. The sight reminded her of her father’s funeral and her head swam with the painful memory. She looked down at her bouquet and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them again, her breath caught deep in her chest as she watched her beautiful white roses faded from white to gray to black—black and dead. The leaves shriveled and a few of the petals gently fell from their stems, fluttering to the floor. She tightly clutched the bouquet and quickly pulled her left hand away when a thorn poked through her glove and punctured the skin of her palm. She saw the small hole in the satin fabric, but there was no blood.

She squeezed her hand into a fist to make the pain stop, and looked back up at the altar. Why was there a coffin on the altar, and where was August? Why was her groom not there to greet her? She staggered a bit as she took another step forward. The “Wedding March” kept pounding from the organ and she kept inching forward. She placed her hand over her heart in an effort to make it beat normally. Remembering the puncture wound, she looked down at her dress to make sure there was no blood on the bodice. She stopped dead in her tracks.

Her beautiful wedding gown was no longer ivory; it was now black. She thought she would faint, and looked up to search the crowd for someone to help her. When she looked through the mesh of her veil, she noticed it too had turned black. Panic rose in her chest and her throat constricted. The next breath wouldn’t come. She felt her knees quiver and she didn’t know if she could take another step. Her mouth opened and closed like that of a fish gasping for air, but she couldn’t form any words. She looked left and right at her family and friends, but no one looked back at her. They all stared straight ahead. It was as if they didn’t see her.

She stumbled forward a few more steps and noticed her soon-to-be stepdaughter, Emma, sitting alone in the second pew. She approached Emma and noticed tears running down the girl’s face, dripping off her chin and leaving dark spots on her pink cotton dress. She reached toward Emma, but stopped when the “Wedding March” turned into Chopin’s “Funeral March.” She looked up at the organ on the right side of the altar, but the organist did not look back at her.

Was Savannah in the wrong place?

She spun around in what felt like slow motion and looked at the stained-glass windows, the pews, the high, scallop-shaped ceiling. No, this was her childhood church—Fisherman’s Church. She had been coming here since she was a baby. Was she here on the wrong date? She turned again and looked at the people. She knew every one of them. She had invited every one of them. She knew it was August 25, 1936—her wedding day. Why was Emma here at a funeral? Why was she crying? More importantly, who was in the coffin?

She spun again and faced the coffin on the altar. Was she losing her mind? Where was August? Terror filled her as adrenaline rose like flames up the back of her neck.

Two men she had never seen before, dressed in black suits, stepped forward and gently opened the coffin’s lid, and Savannah saw the inside of the lid was lined with blood-red satin. Who is in there? And why was there a funeral here on her wedding day?

She climbed the three steps to the altar and placed her hand on the side of the coffin. She reluctantly looked inside.

It was a woman—a dark-haired woman in an ivory wedding dress.

She gazed down into her own face and heard a scream escape her lips.

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Savannah’s Bluebird is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

Saturday Snippet – Savannah’s Bluebird

bluebird_small webHere’s a snippet from my brand new book, Savannah’s Bluebird.

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She strolled down to the beach of Lake Pontchartrain and found a quiet spot on the bank. She stared at the ripples of water lapping the shore, mesmerized by the sound, which was accompanied by seabirds whistling and cawing as they flew overhead. She closed her eyes and let the sounds wash over her, attempting to block out the awful world she now lived in. The noise of someone clearing her throat interrupted Savannah’s reverie. She looked around and saw an old woman emerging from the tree line behind her. The woman was covered in layers of bright and ornate scarves and wraps that curled around her in the breeze. Her dark red hair was in a bun on top of her head, but stringy ringlets dripped around her face and neck, tangling themselves in her large hoop earrings.

“I thought I’d find you here.” The old woman cackled as she approached.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You must have me confused with someone else. Do I know you?”

“No, I don’t have you confused with anyone else, dear, and no, you don’t know me.” The old woman had a bulge of tobacco in her cheek, and she spit some sweet-smelling brown juice on the dirt.

Savannah started to rise to leave, made uncomfortable by the weird old woman.

“No, chavi, you need to stay and speak with me. I came down here from Biloxi because I have a gift for you here in my bujo.”

“Your bujo?”

The woman held up her large bag.

Savannah reluctantly sat back down, now curious about the woman.

“You’re from Biloxi?”

“No, dear, I’m from New Orleans, but I’ve lived in Biloxi a few years.” The woman plopped down next to her and began digging deep into the bag. She fished around for a long time and eventually pulled out a small object wrapped in a dirty handkerchief. She looked at it strangely for a moment, and then held it toward Savannah, who did not reach for it.

“Here.” She thrust it into Savannah’s chest. “This is for you. Take it.”

“I’m sure I don’t need any gifts, ma’am.”

“Just open it. It’s baxtalo. You would say…lucky.” She placed it in Savannah’s hand.

Savannah stared at the handkerchief and didn’t move.

“Open it,” the crone demanded.

Savannah placed it on her lap and tried to touch the filthy handkerchief as little as possible as she unfolded it to reveal a small blue object made of glass. She held it up between her thumb and forefinger and saw it was a two-inch-tall bluebird. She turned and awaited an explanation from the old woman.

“I knew you’d like it.” The woman smiled through missing teeth. She twisted her chin to the side and spit more tobacco juice onto the ground.

“But why?”

“I know you’ve had a difficult time since coming here, and I thought this would make you feel better.” The woman turned and stared at the water. Her expression grew solemn and she continued speaking without looking at Savannah. “Fate may not be kind to you, young lady, and you will need this item to face your future.”

“Ma’am, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, you don’t, do you? Tell me about Thomas Blakely.”

“What?”

“Your father.”

“What do you know about my father?”

“I met him about fifteen years ago…right here on this very beach.” She thumbed a direction over her shoulder. “Right over there at a little watering hole I worked at. He was courting your mother at the time.” She smiled. “I was young then, too, and I must admit, he was a handsome man, and I had eyes for him as well. He was working on those railroad tracks my people destroyed. They were angry that the train was going to go through their homes. I don’t mean near their homes, I mean right through the middle of them. My people have always lived off the land, not in those fancy houses like you live in. It was because of us that your father was here working at the time. It was because of us he met your mother, so I guess it was because of us that you were born.” She paused and kept staring at the small wavelets. “He sure was a handsome man. Too bad he wasn’t one of us.”

“You’re a gypsy.”

The woman nodded.

“Do you live on the beach in Biloxi?”

“Sometimes. Sometimes I live here.”

Savannah looked down at the glass object in her hand. “You’re the one who told my father the bluebird story.”

“Yes, child, I am.” She turned toward Savannah. “The bluebird is magical, and it can do some surprising things.”

“Yes, my father told me.”

The woman didn’t acknowledge her comment. “Sadly, I didn’t plan on him seeing the bluebird while he was with your mother. I was hoping he would see it while he was with…oh, never mind about that. Things happen and life goes on. We all have our own private destiny to live out, even if it affects others.”

Savannah stared at the woman’s face, realizing the woman wasn’t as old as she initially looked. She carried herself like an old woman, but there wasn’t a crease on her face, not a wrinkle around her eyes or lips. She was actually quite pretty in an exotic way.

“So, you were friends with my father?”

“You could say that.”

Savannah didn’t like the cryptic answer. Did this woman love her father? Was the bluebird story a spell to make her father fall in love?

“Tell me about August.”

A shiver went up Savannah’s spine. “How do you know about August?”

“I know everything, child. I know the past, the present”—she looked Savannah in the eyes—“and the future.”

“Are you a fortune teller?”

The woman shrugged. “No, I am no drabarni—fortune teller, as you say.” She spit again and shrugged. “Some people call me a witch, but I’m no witch, either. I just know things. Some people around here call it voodoo, but it’s not voodoo. My people come from a faraway land and some of us have special gifts.”

The woman slowly climbed to her feet with a few grunts and groans. She leaned forward a bit, half hunched as if her back was aching. Her scarves blew wildly around her head as the wind picked up, giving her a mysterious aura. She looked like a witch.

“I will tell you one thing before I go. My son, Bernard, and your August will meet someday, and you will need that little bluebird when the time comes. Keep it close to you. Remember the magic your father told you of the bluebird, and know that this one holds even more power than the story. It is a mulevi. It will make your deepest wish come true if only you will ask. But be careful how you use it, and don’t use it frivolously. You will know beyond a shadow of a doubt when the time comes, and it will be the most powerful thing you will ever witness.”

“What’s a mulevi?”

“An item to reach the dead.”

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Lori Crane Books at Amazon

The unlikely birth of a new writer

Rodgers, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter JollySometimes people ask me when and why I started writing.

I usually tell them about the road trip my trophy husband and I took to Mississippi and the hour we sat at the foot of the grave of my 3rd great grandmother. I told him all about her life and her struggles during the Civil War, and he said, and I quote, “You should write a book.” Yes, her life was amazing, and yes, I did write the book. It became Okatibbee Creek and was followed by two sequels, An Orphan’s Heart and Elly Hays. Then I began working on a crazy Southern legend I grew up with. It became The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge, and I am currently finishing the second in the trilogy, Stuckey’s Legacy.

But the journey started long before that. I just got a little sidetracked.

About six months before the Mississippi trip, I had a dream. There was a man and woman who were trying to get to their wedding ceremony and everything under the blue sky fell in their path to stop them…including death! But, they loved each other so much, even death couldn’t keep them apart. The dream was both frustrating and deeply emotional, and the end froze me in my tracks. I woke at 4:00 a.m. in a cold sweat with my heart pounding. I ran downstairs and wrote down the story and was still writing when the sun rose.

Often, a dream will cease to make sense in the light of day, but when I related the story to my trophy husband, he said, “That’s a good story; you should write a book.” The next day, I told the story to my daughter who said, “I just got goosebumps; you should write a book.” Later that evening at dinner, I told the story to my son who said, “Wow! You should write a book.” On the way home from dinner, we passed a billboard on the side of the freeway. It read, “PUBLISH YOUR BOOK.”

Okay, okay, I get it!!! Stop yelling at me!!!

I’ve spent the last two years navigating the self-publishing industry, and I’ve won awards for Okatibbee, Orphan, and Elly. I was best selling with Elly sitting at the #1 spot in Native American stories on Amazon for short minute. I’ve even reached #23 of the Top-100 Historical Fiction authors on Amazon, so I guess I’m doing the right thing, and I’m glad the universe yelled at me.

Long story short, the rough draft of the dream that started it all has been collecting dust in my computer for two years, and last fall I felt the need to finish it. Since I write Southern Historical Fiction, I placed my star-crossed lovers in the 1930’s in Biloxi and New Orleans. It’s the most current era I’ve ever worked in, and it was a pleasure for my cast to have telephones and automobiles for a change.

bluebird_small webSavannah’s Bluebird will be released February 28, 2014 on Amazon Kindle. Paperback, iBook, and Nook will follow shortly after. I hope readers like Savannah and enjoy the twist the story takes. I want them to say, “Hey, wait a minute!” and feel the need to flip the pages back and re-read from a different perspective.

Lori’s Amazon Authors Page