Saturday Snippet and Sale

51w5TKRgkCL._UY250_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.

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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.

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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!

Backstory of “Stuckey’s Bridge”

Here’s a little background on my series – The Stuckey’s Bridge Trilogy.

stuckey's bridge from VA Iron and Bridge Co on wikiMy childhood: I grew up in Meridian, Mississippi and heard the legend of Stuckey’s Bridge my whole life. It actually began in a book about the area written in the 1970s. The local paper, The Meridian Star, picked up on the legend from the book and the story spread like wildfire. The bridge instantly became THE place to party on the weekends, searching for ghosts and frightening girls into cuddling closer. (If you want to go there: head south out of Meridian on Interstate 59. Turn right at exit 142, then a quick left onto Meehan-Savoy Road. Travel 2.2 miles until you see a dirt road on your left. That is Stucky Bridge Road. The bridge will be about two miles down the dirt road. It is now closed, so you’ll have to turn around to leave. After you read the following legend, you may not want to go.)

The legend goes: In the late 1800s, a former member of the Dalton Gang came to Lauderdale County, Mississippi to find his fortune. He opened an inn near the Chunky River and stood on the old wooden bridge at night, flagging down merchants with his lantern, offering them a warm bed and a hot meal. Supposedly, he murdered his victims in their sleep and buried their bodies on the banks of the river. In 1901, the Virginia Bridge and Iron Company began rebuilding the old bridge and the bodies were discovered. The innkeeper, Old Man Stuckey as he is known to the locals, was hung by a posse from the iron rails of the new bridge.

Stuckey's cover_webIf you know me, you know I couldn’t stop searching until I figured out who this Old Man Stuckey really was…that became the first book in the Stuckey’s Bridge Trilogy – The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge. (Check out the book trailer here…creepy!)

unnamedWhile writing the story, I didn’t want Old Man Stuckey to be alone all the time, so I had him run across a young boy named Levi. In the story, young Levi took on a creepiness all his own, and I received tons of emails and messages asking what Levi’s past was. As usual with my overactive imagination, I was more interested in his future than his past, so I wrote Stuckey’s Legacy: The Legend ContinuesAt the end of that book, Levi “got his” and the story became focused on the young woman Levi met during the story – Penelope Juzan.

Back to my childhood: There was a second legend around the area where I grew up. Supposedly there was an inn on Lake Juzan in the 1840s where an innkeeper murdered his guests for wealth, much like Old Man Stuckey. The man’s name was Pierre Juzan, and he dumped the bodies in the lake with the help of his Indian sidekick. Toward the end of the legend, one of them killed the other for the wealth of gold they had confiscated.

Side note: There were also a couple different accounts of trunks of confederate gold disappearing as they traveled through the area during the Civil War.

I thought all these stories had a similar thread, and I wondered if I could separate them or maybe combine them.

stuckey Gold Cover smallBack to the trilogy: I came to the conclusion that these legends were indeed different stories, but thought they were probably connected in some way. Those crazy ideas in my head became the third book in the trilogy, Stuckey’s Gold: The Curse of Lake Juzan.

These tales tickled me pink while writing them, and I hope you enjoy them too!

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Saturday Snippet – Stuckey’s Bridge

51ae9DloKqL._UY250_If you haven’t yet heard about Old Man Stuckey, he’s a little like Dexter, but with less conscience, and he’s a lot more lovable. The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge got its start when I wondered about the real man behind the ghostly legend I grew up with in Mississippi.

You can find the Kindle version of The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge at Amazon!

Here’s a creepy scene featuring Old Man Stuckey in his younger days…

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He stood silent and still for a long time, not knowing what to do next. It wasn’t like he had ever killed anyone before. He didn’t have this planned out. He was certain his father would beat him to a pulp when he found out. He stood with his back against the barn door, gazing down at his dead brother, and came up with a plan.

He gathered piles of hay and arranged them in mounds in the middle of the floor. He then pulled matches out of his coat pocket and set the hay ablaze. He added more hay. And more. The fire came to life and roared as he watched. Black smoke filled the air. He felt as angry as the fire looked. His brother deserved to die and to burn—in hell. This was as close as he could come to creating the real thing.

He felt the flames hot on his face, and the smoke made him cough. He covered his nose and mouth in the crook of his arm, and breathed through his sleeve as he watched the flames grow higher and larger. The fire crackled and hissed as it quickly raced up the dry wooden ladder into the storage loft above. There was nothing up there but last summer’s hay, which lit with a whooshing sound.

He looked up. The dimness of the barn had been replaced by a bright yellow glow. Within a few short minutes, the fire had spread all the way across the loft and the roof. While he watched the loft, he didn’t notice the fire had spread all around him, eating everything in sight. Even with his nose covered, he began to cough violently, and he made his way through the black smoke to the barn door.

He pulled on it. It wouldn’t budge. He pulled it again. It wouldn’t move an inch. His brother’s dead body was lying in a heap in front of the door, blocking his escape. He bent down and grabbed the arms and attempted to pull the body out of the way, but the dead weight was far too heavy for his small, slender frame. He gave up, coughing even harder, and tried to pull the door again. He was having trouble breathing and thought he should have planned this better. He was going to die in this barn with his brother.

Suddenly, he heard his mother’s voice outside. “Is anyone in there? Thomas? Wilson?” She pounded on the door.

“Ma?”

“Thomas?”

“Ma, I’m in here. I can’t get the door open,” he yelled over the roar of the flames.

“Thomas, is that you? Pull the door!” She was screaming now, hysteria building.

“I am! It won’t open!”

The fire was thunderous; it was almost as loud as a train roaring down the tracks. He never realized fire made such a deafening noise. The flames spread quickly toward the door, licking at his feet. He looked behind him, and all he could see were yellow flames and black smoke.

“Push the door, Ma!”

He pulled the door as she pushed from the outside, and it inched open just enough for him to squeeze out. She grabbed his arm, and they ran about a hundred yards before they stopped and turned to look back at the barn. Black columns of smoke billowed into the sky, and the flames were a continuous rumble.

When he took his initial breath of fresh air, he coughed even harder. He wrapped his arms around his mother’s waist, buried his head into her bony shoulder, and hugged her tightly. She asked again if Wilson was also in the barn, and tried to pull away from him to go check. He coughed more through tears and hugged her even tighter. Again and again she tried to pull away from his grasp to go search for her other son, but he wouldn’t let go until he was sure the fire had erased all traces of his deed.

When the walls collapsed and the flames finally began to die down, he released his grip on his mother and said, “Thank you, Ma. I’m fine now.” He glanced at the smoldering rubble, then back at his mother, and added, “I don’t imagine Wilson is, though.” He turned toward the house and walked away, leaving her standing in the field with tears streaming down her smoke-stained cheeks.

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5-star-largeA five-star recipient at Readers’ Favorite, THE LEGEND OF STUCKEY’S BRIDGE is available in Kindle at Amazon. The paperback is also available. Pick up a copy and root for the bad guy for a change.

The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge by Lori Crane is a page-turning winner. This is a five star winner and Lori Crane is a must-read author.” ~Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite
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“Lori Crane is a Southern storyteller of the first order.” ~Writer’s Digest

Saturday Snippet and Sale

51-lUHhsD7L._UY250_Okatibbee Creek (pronounced oh-kuh-TIB-be) is the story of Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly and her trials and tribulations in Mississippi during the Civil War. As her brothers and husband went off to war, a deadly typhoid epidemic swept through the county and decimated what was left of her family. Following the loss of so many loved ones, including both parents, she took in her orphaned nieces and nephews and focused on survival. When the war finally ended, she had to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and begin anew. But how?

Okatibbee Creek is a real place. The characters are real. The events are real. The book will leave you crying and cheering. It is written in first person, present tense, diary-style, allowing you to see inside of Mary Ann’s heart and experience every emotion she felt.

The Kindle version of Okatibbee Creek is on sale at Amazon March 4-8 for only $0.99!

The following is a snippet of the scene when Mary Ann received word that her husband had been killed in the war.

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When I reach the bottom of the stairs, I see him. I do not recognize his face, but I recognize his clothing. He is a Confederate soldier. He is standing in the open doorway of the store with the gray, cloudy sky at his back. He is dressed in a wrinkled gray uniform with a dirty yellow cummerbund. His trousers have holes in them, with mud caked around the bottoms of his pant legs. His jacket is missing some buttons, and he looks quite thin and weary. He is wearing shoes that are covered in red Mississippi mud and probably have no soles on the bottom. He is holding his tattered hat and a piece of paper in his dirty hands.

“Hello, sir, what can I do for you?” I ask as I approach.

“Hello, ma’am.” He nods. “Are you Mrs. Carpenter?”

“Yes, I am. And who are you, may I ask?”

“Private Joseph Brown, ma’am. Captain asked me to deliver the latest casualty list to you in person.” He holds the folded piece of paper toward me and looks down at the floor, like a child in trouble for doing something wrong.

“Why are you delivering this? It usually comes by a mail carrier,” I ask as I reach for the paper. I look at the boy’s face. He nervously avoids my eyes and keeps staring at the floor.

“Why are you delivering this to me?” I repeat.

“I promised I would. I’m sorry, ma’am. Goodbye, ma’am,” he murmurs, and backs out the open door.

I look at the piece of paper in my hand for a long time, wondering if I can open it. I don’t know whose names are on this paper, but I suspect the worst, and I don’t want to read it. My eyes sting with tears as I dread a simple piece of paper. I try to unfold it, but my hands are shaking, so I stop and hold it to my chest. I take a deep breath.

Martha Jane stands behind me, not saying a word or making a sound.

“Martha Jane, will you please go upstairs and mind the children for a few minutes?” I ask her.

She nods and quietly heads up the stairs.

I walk outside across the wooden porch and down the two stone steps onto the ground. I walk across the dirt road that is now filled with puddles of red mud from the rain. I keep walking straight ahead. I walk into the overgrown field across the road. I walk with purpose, with determination, like I have somewhere important to go. I want to run. I want to run away and never come back. I keep walking.

In the middle of the field, the thunder sounds above my head. I stop and look up at the ominous clouds that are almost as threatening as the piece of paper I hold in my hand. My hands are shaking as I slowly unfold it and smooth it open. My stomach feels like it has a hole in it. My eyes fill with tears. My hands are now trembling so violently, I almost can’t read it. The name at the top is the only name I see.

“Carpenter, Rice Benjamin: killed in battle 31 December, 41st Mississippi Infantry, Co C.”

Drops of water fall onto the page, but I can’t tell if they are raindrops or teardrops. Even God Himself is crying.

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Rodgers, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter JollyOkatibbee Creek is available March 4-8 for only $0.99 in Kindle at Amazon. Paperback and audiobook are also available. It is the first of three Okatibbee Creek Series books, but they are stand-alone stories. The second is An Orphan’s Heart. The third is Elly Hays.

Okatibbee Creek was the bronze medal winner of the 2013 eLit Book Awards in literary fiction. It also received honorable mention in the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival for regional fiction and was a nominee in the 2013 Global eBook Awards for historical fiction. It was also awarded Five-Stars at Readers’ Favorite.

Amazon Paperback Giveaways and Growing Twitter

Hi authors! I’m not dressing up this post with pictures and frills. This is business! If you’ve been trying to grow your Twitter following, this post is for you.

Amazon has a new program for authors of paperbacks. Scroll to the bottom of your Amazon paperback page, underneath your reviews. You’ll see “Set up an Amazon Giveaway.”

Here’s how it works:

You can offer as many books as you’d like, keeping in mind you have to pay retail price + shipping + applicable tax. You can set up the giveaway in two ways. 1) first come, first serve. Don’t pick that one. Or 2) offering your book to a lucky number (entrant). You can require your entrants follow you on Twitter. If you choose option 2, click “lucky number” and the button to connect to your Twitter account, select the winning entrant from 2-50,000, enter the number of books you’re giving away. The giveaway will run for one week. You cannot change the dates.

MATH: I know what you’re thinking – if I give away 5 books, 1 to every 20th entrant, I’ll get at least 100 new Twitter followers. No, no, no, think bigger. That’s what I did the first time and the 5 books were gone in less than a half hour. Yes, I got just shy of 200 Twitter followers, but the giveaway was over before I even told my Facebook people to enter. Set it up for a BIGGER number. If you give a book away to every 1000th follower, you would get 5000 Twitter followers! FIVE THOUSAND. It’s taken me two years to get to eight thousand. Maybe even go bigger if you’ve got the guts! You need to fill out three short blurbs, one to announce the giveaway, one for the people who didn’t win, and one to congratulate the winners. The contest is instantaneous. The entrant learns if they’ve won or not at that moment, so they’re not going to put off buying your book because they want to wait and see if they’ve won. I filled out the forms like so: Enter to win one of five paperbacks of XYZ. – Sorry, you didn’t win this time, but stay tuned for future giveaways. – Congratulations, you’re the winner! Enjoy XYZ and please check out all my books.

WORK: The cool thing is that Amazon does all the work. They contact the winners. They ship the books. You do nothing! It costs more than hosting a giveaway yourself, but when’s the last time you got 5000 Twitter followers from your giveaway?

MONEY: My paperback sells for $9.99, so my total cost for 5 books with shipping and my Tennessee tax was about $82. I got $13 back in royalties from CreateSpace AND I got credit for the sales in my Amazon rankings.

THE PIS DE RESISTANCE: If you don’t give away all your books in the allotted week, Amazon will return your unused money.

If you try it, let me know your outcome. We’re all in this together. 🙂

 

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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.

Readers’ Favorite gives “I, John Culpepper” 5 stars!

Culpepper_1Readers’ Favorite has rocked my world! They gave I, John Culpepper a five-star review. In celebration of the release of the third book in the Culpepper saga, John Culpepper, Esquire, you can pick up I, John Culpepper through July 28 on Kindle for only $0.99!

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5-star-largeReviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

In I, John Culpepper by Lori Crane, John Culpepper had a lot of responsibilities and obligations to uphold. He was born into an enormously wealthy family. Growing up in an English manor was fun, he never wanted for anything in his life. But there are a lot of expectations and pressure from his stately family. They want him to become a lawyer, join parliament, serve the country, and retire as an esteemed country man when the time comes. However, this is not what he desires to do with his life.

He has a dream of one day captaining a ship and sailing it across the wide seas and oceans. He longed for the feel of the ocean breeze on his face, the taste of the salty water on his lips, and the excitement of what the undiscovered world had to offer. He loves his parents very much, and there is nothing he would not do for them, but he loves the ocean as well. When push comes to shove, he would have to choose between the money and the comforts of wealth, or his desire and following his dreams.

In I, John Culpepper, you will be transported back to the time John lived and you will feel like you are a part of John’s life. The experience of reading this book was out of this world. Granted, there are few too many characters in the novel and the reader has to concentrate to remember who is who, but once you get into the story, it is a magical experience and you will not want to miss it for anything! Amazing! I’m awed by what I read. Kudos!

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I, John Culpepper is the first book in the Culpepper Saga. The second book is John Culpepper the Merchant and the third is John Culpepper, Esquire. The fourth will be released in late October. It is Culpepper’s Rebellion.

They are available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

culpepper saga-001

Release Day for John Culpepper, Esquire!!

JC Esquire (1)Today is the release day for my new book, John Culpepper, Esquire!  It is the third in the Culpepper Saga, but is also a stand-alone story. The saga is the life story of the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers and my 10th great-grandfather.

The first book, I, John Culpepper, (on sale for $0.99 through 7/28) tells the story of John’s childhood in England, growing up with a wretched father whom he didn’t see eye to eye with. John always wanted to sail a ship but his father demanded he go to law school or face being disowned.

The second book, John Culpepper the Merchant, continues the tale as John tries to run his merchant business and raise his family while his homeland descends into a bloody and deadly civil war. By the end of the war, John’s ship is the only rescue for his family, now considered traitors.

In this third book, John finally gets his family to safety in Virginia, but their new start isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s the synopsis:

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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?

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The fourth book in the series, Culpepper’s Rebellion, will take John down a horrible and desperate road, where the law training he despised so much in his youth becomes the only thing standing between his youngest son’s life and death. It will be released in late October 2015.

There will also be a subsequent Culpepper book that is not part of the saga, but will refer back to the characters. The Culpepper-Fairfax Scandal will be released in early 2016.

The Merchant ebookLadyCatherineJC Esquire (1)

culpepper saga-001Thomas_Fairfax 5th baron of cameron, catherine culpeppers husbandCulpepper4Culpepper_1