Here’s a snippet of my coming book, Witch Dance. Release is next week!!! 🙂
When the figure reached the center of the field, it stood up straight, as if being pulled upright by a string on the top of its head. As it uncurled, its hands extended to the sides with its palms facing upward, and it grew from what looked like an old hag to a healthy person. As if picked up by the same string, it rose straight up into the air. Chiksa’s eyes widened as the figure floated above the earth. A breeze caught the figure’s cloak and the edges swirled. A wind intensified, blowing around the figure, slowly spinning it in circles, but there had been no breeze a moment ago. A cloudy vortex formed around the figure, resembling tight circles of light gray smoke from a fire, extending from the ground into the clear heavens above. Even though he was known to be a mighty warrior, Chiksa’s hands began to sweat and his heart beat wildly, pounding in his ears. He had seen many things in his lifetime, but never anything like this. What kind of creature was this? When the figure hovered about four feet off the ground, the black cape dropped from its shoulders, floating to the ground like a fall leaf, revealing a woman. A young and beautiful woman. Her skin glowed under the stars as if she were the moon itself, coated in shimmering gold. Chiksa gasped and jumped to his feet.
The figure heard him and instantly returned to the ground. The vortex stopped so quickly, he wondered if he had imagined it. The woman retrieved her cloak, covered her nakedness, and walked toward him.
He couldn’t move from his spot. There was no sense in running.
She covered her head with her hood as she neared him. “Why are you here?” she asked in a cracking voice.
“I came to visit with my father,” he said in not much more than a whisper.
She cocked her head. “Your father?” She gestured around with both hands, indicating no one else was there.
He pointed to the mounds. “My father died a short time…”
She held her hand in front of his lips as if to silence him. Her fingers were long and bony, covered in deep wrinkles. Her nails were yellowed claws. This was not the beautiful young form he had witnessed only moments ago.
“There is great pain in this place,” she said.
“My people have recently lost their chief.”
“No. No people. Pain in you.” She pointed to his heart, her finger only inches from his chest.
He said nothing.
“Sa…lee…Salina?” she said slowly, her head cocked as if listening to something only she could hear.
“A great blackness has taken her.”
“She will die.”
He shook his head. “She can’t.”
“She can.” She paused and narrowed her eyes at him. “But she can be healed.” The old woman looked up at the sky and her cracked lips parted. Small black gaps between what looked like fangs emitted a foul stench that wrapped around Chiksa. Her yellowed eyes twinkled and she nodded toward the sky.
Chiksa didn’t move. He didn’t know if this creature had put a hex on him or if he was frozen in fear. It didn’t matter. She said Salina could be healed. That’s all he focused on.
“You can heal her?”
She was still staring at the sky.
He didn’t dare ask again. He didn’t want to anger her.
After a moment, she looked back at him. “Yes, yes, I can, but all things come at a price. I will decide the price and will be here again on the full moon. You come. Bring her.”
She turned away and moved toward the woods. He couldn’t say she walked; it was more like gliding, as if she floated just over the ground’s surface.
“What is your name?” he called when she reached the edge of the dark forest.
Lori Crane is a bestselling author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.
Look for Lori on “Most Terrifying Places in America” on the Travel Channel the whole month of October, where her book “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” will be featured!
I’m so excited about my new book, Witch Dance! It’s in the final stages of editing and will be available for pre-orders very soon. I’ll post the link here as soon as it goes live. The official release date is September 15th and will be available in ebook and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Create Space, Kobo, Sony, iBooks, and other online retailers. There will also be a blog tour and a Facebook release party, so stay tuned.
Just south of Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace lies a place of mystery called Witch Dance.
When Thomas and Margaret Speedwell took their twins to Witch Dance for a weekend camping trip, they never imagined they would be pulled into a vortex of witchcraft, tragedy, and karma. One of the girls goes missing; the other won’t say what happened on the other side of the hill.
The tragedy pulls together a cast of characters from Margaret’s childhood and beyond – Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Toltec ancestors, the extinct Hopewell tribe.
With the help of a childhood friend, a concerned newspaper reporter, and visions by a strange old woman, a two thousand year old mystery begins to unfold, uncovering missing children throughout generations. Who is taking them? Could it be the infamous witches of Witch Dance?
Not only earthquakes, but huge 6.8 to 8.8 earthquakes!! They happened back in December of 1811 and January of 1812, but they could happen again.
The New Madrid Seismic Zone, (shown here compliments of Encyclopedia Brittanica) is six times larger than the San Andreas fault zone in California. It lies centered in New Madrid, Missouri, and the last time it shook it’s ugly head was two hundred years ago. It’s waaaay overdue!! Back in 1811/12, there were over 2000 earthquakes and aftershocks that shook the midwest. They were felt as far away as NY, Boston, and Washington D.C. President James Madison felt them at the White House.
No other quakes have produced so much damage in the history of the world. The Mississippi River ran backwards, crevasses opened up in the land, and missing people were assumed swallowed by the earth. It created two waterfalls in Mississippi.
The prediction for the future?? Some say an earthquake this size will split the United States in two. Some say we haven’t seen any activity from the New Madrid fault for two hundred years, so why worry about it now?
My book Elly Hays opens with Tecumseh’s prediction for the quake, and the quake is the cause for the family moving from Tennessee to the Mississippi Territory. The story isn’t about the 1811/12 quakes, but they are the reason the story happened. Elly Hays is based on a true story and is the tale of my 5th great grandmother Elizabeth Hays Rodgers. It is the epic clash between a fearless warrior with nothing to lose and a young mother on the verge of losing everything.
This week’s snippet is from An Orphan’s Heart. It’s the story of a girl who was orphaned during the Civil War and her quest to find the love she lost as a child. Martha Ellen Rodgers, simply Ellen in the book, grew up in a large, loving family in Mississippi. Her parents died of typhoid within days of each other when Ellen was nine. She spent the rest of her life searching for love and a place to belong. Her travels took her to Alabama, back to Mississippi, and eventually to Texas where she found the love of her life – only to have everything ripped from her in a shattering turn of events.
Note: You’re going to need a kleenex for this one.
An Orphan’s Heart is being offered for only $0.99 this weekend (March 18-22) on Kindle at Amazon.
Enjoy the video trailer and a snippet below.
Ellen is staying at her aunt’s house in Alabama and helping with the children. She met a handsome boy named Milton who has unexpectedly dropped by while no one was at home.
We make ourselves comfortable at the table, and as we sip our coffee, we chat about his family and farm, but his deep brown eyes make it hard for me to concentrate on anything he’s saying. We chat about his siblings and his hopes for the future. He even mentions that he might like to go to a big city someday, which brings up his desire to ride a train. I would tell him of my dreams of riding a train also, but I can’t seem to get a word in edgewise. Throughout the one-sided conversation, he’s very friendly and open, and I think I may like him a lot more than my first impression, especially his penetrating gaze. Nothing else in the world exists while I’m under that gaze.
Hours later, in the middle of a sentence, he suddenly stops and pulls out his pocket watch. “Oh, it’s getting late.” He rises from the table. “I need to get back to the farm, and you probably need to pick the children up from school.”
Reality hits me like a lightning bolt. I hadn’t thought about the time since we sat down. “Yes!” I jump up from the table. “What time is it?”
“It’s almost three.”
“I do have to go get the children right now. I only have a few minutes to get there. Please excuse me, Milton. It’s been nice spending the afternoon with you, but I really must hurry.” In one move, I grab my bonnet and head toward the door, hoping he’ll hurry behind me, but he seems to be taking his time. I stand with my back against the open door, ready to close it the moment he exits.
As he nears the door, I impatiently wait for him to walk through, but he stops an inch from my face. I think he may kiss me and I feel panic rise in my chest and can’t breathe. I close my eyes for a moment, but then think maybe I shouldn’t because it’ll look like I want him to kiss me, so I quickly open them. His full lips, that cocky grin, and those dimples are enough to set a girl’s head spinning. I’m late to pick up the children, but for that split second with his mouth an inch from mine, I really would like him to kiss me. But then I get this uncomfortable feeling that spending this afternoon with him has been highly inappropriate, so I sidestep away from him and move outside onto the porch.
“Thank you for coming by, Milton. It was very nice seeing you, but I really have to run.”
He steps out onto the porch, with his head cocked to one side, looking at me through squinted eyes. The afternoon sun in his face shows the slightest beginnings of lines around his eyes, and I think as he ages, he’ll become more and more handsome. He shrugs and his smile widens. His smile is filled with a knowledge and confidence that’s alluring, but it also unnerves me in a way I can’t explain. I wish I was more attractive, more assured of myself, more experienced with boys.
I slide behind him, pull the door closed, then quickly move around him again to step off the porch. He watches me with the look of a lion stalking his prey as I climb onto the wagon.
“The visit was my pleasure, Miss Ellen, my pleasure,” he says as he strolls over and places his hands on the worn wood of the wagon.
“I really do have to go now. Please come by again anytime,” I mumble. Did I really just say that? Did I just invite him over again?
“Oh, I’ll be back. You can count on that.” He winks and his eyes twinkle.
I snap the reins and coax the horse away from the house. I take off so fast, I almost rip Milton’s hands off, but I refuse to look back and check. I know he’s standing there watching me. I will not look back. I will not. No.
As I reach the bend in the road, I glance back. Sure enough, he is still standing in the yard with his arms folded across his chest, watching me and smiling. And now he knows I looked back. Oh, what a mess.
An Orphan’s Heart is only $0.99 on Kindle March 18-22 at Amazon.
Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day. An Orphan’s Heart was a finalist in the 2014 Eric Hoffer Awards!
The 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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
The first three books of the Culpepper Saga are available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.