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Kemberlee Shortland - A Piece of My Heart and chapter excerpt

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  • Kemberlee
    Thanks, Pauline, for the welcome. I ve really been looking forward to this week. I hope everyone here enjoys the discussions. I hope this is OK, but I ll reply
    Message 1 of 22 , May 5, 2010
      Thanks, Pauline, for the welcome. I've really been looking forward to this week. I hope everyone here enjoys the discussions.

      I hope this is OK, but I'll reply to your questions in order, but post them as separate messages so people can read and reply to the ones they're interested in. Plus I talk a lot and a single message might be daunting! ;-)

      >>>>Tell us a bit about the book you are promoting today and
      post some experts, pretty please!

      My current release is called A Piece of My Heart. It's a girl/boy next door story told Irish style. Mick and Kate had been childhood friends and were quickly growing into sweethearts. A bully at school came between them, and after graduation, Mick went away to Dublin to college, becoming a researcher and historian with the National Museum of Antiquities. Kate stayed in the west and attended college there, becoming a palliative care nurse...one who looks after dying people. That there tells us she has a heart of gold. And Mick really does have a love of history, even as he denies his own family's history.

      Kate has left the work force to care for Mick's mother who was dying from cancer. Mick was just finishing his degree at university and struggled with getting home often and not missing coursework. After her death, Mick brought his father a Border Collie pup to keep him company, which he calls his Hairy Molly...an Irish term for one with a LOT of hair. When the father falls ill, Kate steps in to care for him as well, and raises the puppy to work small jobs around the farm.

      The story opens in the solicitors office where Mick discovers Kate has been called in for the reading as well. Since their 'break up' ten years before, and even though she's been caring for his parents, they really haven't spent much time together. There's too much personal pain between them. Mick understood his father had paid Kate for her services over the years, so her being at the will reading was confusing...until the will is read.

      Chapter one is uploaded to my website at http://www.kemberlee.com/mybooks/apomh.htm and is the full scene in the solitictor's office and what Mick's father's will says. Read it first, then come back here to read chapter two, which is posted below. We see that Kate's heart is really made of PURE gold. Even through the pain of the last ten years and the heartache over Mick and what they'd lost, she still cares very deeply for him.

      Enjoy reading!

      Kemberlee Shortland
      http://www.kemberlee.com
      Available now
      - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland

      Chapter Two

      Okay, so she was running after all, even if it was disguised as a brisk walk through Galway City to its medieval heart. When she finally stopped, she found herself on the other side of the city in front of The Quays Bar. The pub’s colorful blue exterior with red trim and bright window boxes did nothing to lighten her dark mood.

      A winded Mick came up behind her as she reached for the door. “Could ye not walk any faster, woman!” His Connemara brogue came through in his voice

      “I could, but then I’d be through me first pint and still be waiting on the like of ye,” she mimicked. Not waiting to see if he stood on ceremony, she pulled the door open and stepped through.

      It wasn’t lunch hour yet, so The Quays was quiet. Several small bars were scattered around the pub on two different levels with tables tucked into corners, snugs, and any other cubbyhole that would take them. A few tourists occupied the tables near the front windows and what looked like a couple of regulars sat at the Gothic bar. Portraits of legendary patrons lined the walls in the oldest section of the pub. And the original hearths were ablaze with traditional peat fires.

      By far The Quay’s most striking feature was the church-like décor, which included intricate woodwork details, Gothic style faux windows, a pipe organ against the back wall, and a pulpit in front of the stage where live music could be heard nightly.

      She continued on to the back in the old section of the pub and slid into a snug behind the main bar.

      A waitress stepped over as Mick slid into a seat across from her. “Two pints of the black,” he said. The waitress nodded and went off to fill the order.

      “I guess since you ordered for me, you can pay for me, too.”

      “Smooth, Conneely. And here I thought you’d invited me for a pint.”

      “I had until you took charge. Can I assume you’ll be taking charge of the issue of the farm as well?” No sense in putting the subject off. If he got mad at her, one of two things was liable to happen. One, he’d find a way to make the will stand in his favor. Or two, he’d get mad enough to leave, which would give her the chance to relax again and sort through her reawakened feelings for him.

      And she’d have the two pints he’d ordered to herself. Both outcomes would be most welcome. The vision of a pint in each hand nearly made her smile. Nearly. But the look in Mick’s eyes as he stared at her stopped her.

      “What?” she asked, with more irritation in her voice than necessary.

      “What, what

      “You’re staring.”

      “Am I?” He leaned back, still staring at her, but seeming to relax a bit.

      “Aye. Why?”

      “Trying to figure you out, I guess.”

      She was taken aback by his statement. What was there to figure out? “Care to explain?”

      He fidgeted a moment. The waitress’s arrival with their pints gave him a few moments reprieve while he fished a few euro out of his wallet to pay for their drinks.

      “Will there be anything else?” the waitress asked.

      Mick looked back to her, waiting for her answer. “Nothing, thanks.” He tipped the woman then slid his wallet back into his back pocket.

      She ignored the waitress. Her gaze was locked on Mick. The simple motion of raising his hips off the seat to maneuver the wallet into place forced his shirt to draw tight over his chest. His muscles splayed across the fabric. Forcing herself to look away, she raised the pint to her lips and took a long sip, welcoming the bitter taste of the stout.

      When she looked back, Mick was staring at her again. She lifted an eyebrow at him in question.

      After drawing on his own pint he finally obliged her. “So tell me, what are you up to?”

      She sat back and crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t know what you mean.”

      He leaned his arms on the table and wove his fingers together, his gaze penetrating her. His challenging posture made her more anxious than she already was. She crossed her legs under the table automatically as if preparing to be attacked. Her foot bounced restlessly.

      “What are you about? Why would my father leave you the farm, let alone put you in the will at all? I don’t understand.”

      “That makes two of us then, Mick, because until I got the letter yesterday from Mr. Lynch, I had no idea your father put me in his will.”

      “Didn’t you?”

      There was no mistaking the doubt in his voice. She drew her eyebrows together. “What are you insinuating?”

      He sat back again, but his gaze never left hers “Nothing. Nothing at all. Just asking why my father would leave everything to a virtual stranger.”

      “I’m not a virtual stranger, and you know it. I’ve spent the last five years of my life caring for your parents while you fecked off to Dublin. I practically lived in that house. You should have been there.” How dare he call her a stranger! He should have been the one who cared for his parents. If anyone was the stranger it was him.

      She’d only seen him a handful of times. Even when he was home, he wasn’t, leaving her to care for his parents during holidays when they most wanted to see him. “You should have been there for them,” she repeated, this time her voice a mere whisper.

      Before she could stop it, a tear stole down her cheek. She squeezed her eyes shut trying to stop it. She roughly swiped at the tear and pulled the pint to her lips again in an effort to calm the quiver in her chin. All the while he kept staring at her.

      After a moment he backed down. “You’re probably right.”

      “Probably?”

      “Okay, you are right. But I have a job. I couldn’t just leave every time you called and expect it to be there waiting for me when I got back.”

      Kate huffed and shook her head. “You don’t get it, Mick. Your parents were dying. You should have been there for them. No job is worth keeping if it means losing your parents. Without them you have nothing left but a lonely, empty farm.”

      “Which you will own if I try to sell it.”

      “Aye. So I suspect you better find a way to keep it.”

      “What am I going to do with it? I never wanted the farm. Why do you think I went to Dublin? Farm life is not for me. It never has been.”

      “I never knew that to be an issue with you until you went off to university.”

      “Well, it has been. That’s probably why Dad wrote up that ridiculous addendum.”

      “What’s ridiculous about it? Donal worked the farm until he couldn’t work anymore. Like his father before him, and his before him. Fairhill has been in your family for six generations. It was one of the few farms that didn’t succumb to the famine. When your family couldn’t pay the rent, the landlord let them remain because the Spillanes helped to feed the starving by teaching the people to fish and to eat something besides potatoes. There’s more history on the farm, Mick, than your self-centered desires will let you see.”

      He flinched at her words as if she’d slapped his face. Well, good. He needed to cop himself on.

      He didn’t know much of the history of the place he’d once called home. Had he stayed to take care of his parents he would have been the one to hear the stories Donal told, not her.

      “You seem to know an awful lot about the place.”

      “Donal and I spent a lot of time together.”

      “It’s no wonder my father left you the farm.”

      “No, Mick. He left it to you. Don’t sell it and it’s yours for life.”

      “But I don’t want it.”

      “Then you’re in a right state because I don’t want it either. But I won’t hesitate to honor your father’s wishes if you try to sell.” She took the last swallow of her pint and put the glass down with a little more force than necessary, slamming down on the table like a gavel.

      He went quiet for a moment as he looked around the pub, his expression unreadable. When he spoke again, his voice sounded more resigned. “So, where does that leave us then?”

      “Not us. You. You need to find a way to keep the farm, and your precious career in Dublin it would seem.”

      Frustration seemed to tighten Mick’s features. “Where do I start?”

      She smiled wryly. “Are you asking me for help, Mick?”

      “Looks that way, doesn’t it, Kate?”

      She couldn’t help notice the use of her name. It reminded her of how much she liked the sound of it coming off his lips. She shook herself to keep her thoughts on track. “You tell me what the first thing should be. You’re the one with the degree.”

      “In literary history.”

      “And your point? Did they teach you nothing else at that fancy school besides Peig Sayers?”

      Mick inhaled deeply, then released the breath slowly. “I suppose I should go over the accounts to see what Dad owed and who owed him.”

      “That would be a good start. The accounts are in his desk in the parlor. I can also tell you he owed no one and no one owed him.”

      “How do you know?”

      “Because I spent the last two years with him since your mum died. I kept his accounts as well as cooked his meals, cleaned his house, and­”

      “Okay, I get it,” he cut in. “Is there any business going on the farm at all now?”

      The discussion was moving in a more positive direction. Good. There were a few things she’d love to tell him about the abandonment of his parents in their time of need, but this wasn’t the time or the place. She doubted there was a time and place for what she wanted to say. Not that it would serve any purpose except create more tension between them. She didn’t want that. She just wanted to help him find a way to keep the farm so she could get on with her life.

      She’d once been accepted into Galway General Hospital as a palliative care nurse, but she’d put the job on hold when Mary Spillane fell ill. She wondered if she could get the job again.

      “There are about a hundred head of sheep. Donal stopped most business around the time your mother was diagnosed with cancer. Once he finally acknowledged he had emphysema, he soon became confined to the house. Everything but cash business ceased. Anything he sold was paid for in cash. Anything he bought was paid for in cash.

      “Your father couldn’t get around the farm unassisted, so he was pretty much housebound unless Dad went over and got him up in the tractor to take him around the farm. Even though he couldn’t get about on his own, he still appreciated Dad taking him around the place to oversee it. It made him feel like he was still part of the goings-on.”

      “Do you know if the farm is paid off? Are there any debts to the bank?” His voice took on a businesslike tone.

      She shook her head. “Donal made sure everything was paid up so there wouldn’t be any debt on his death.”

      He cocked a brow at her statement. “You say that with such casualness.”

      “What? Death? I’ve been facing it every day for five years. Both of your parents knew they were dying, so there was no use in skirting the subject around them. Some delicacy, yes, but there was no denial about their health. At least not by them or me.”

      He grunted. “If Dad was housebound, how could he manage a handful of sheep?”

      “That would bring us to the next issue. Molly.”

      “Ah, right.” Mick sat back. “The dog. What about her? I’m assuming  if I can manage to keep the farm, Molly stays, too.”

      “You know what they say about assuming, Mick.”

      “Will this be another argument?”

      “I didn’t know we were arguing in the first place.”

      “Okay, let’s talk about the dog. She’s been working sheep for fun and pleasure?” he bit.

      “There you go again. I thought we were discussing the farm like a couple adults. Nothing will be accomplished with your snide comments.”

      There were no apologies forthcoming, so she continued. “Molly has been working the sheep for a couple reasons. First and foremost, so she can get trained as a proper sheepdog. Collies are working dogs and need a job to be happy. Also, your father wanted to keep some business going on the farm to feel part of it, so he and I struck a deal.”

      “I knew there was something going on.”

      “Nothing was going on, Mick. Jazuz!” Jesus, Mary and Joseph, he’s exasperating. “I trained Molly to work the sheep. Plain and simple. Occasionally someone would buy a lamb or ewe when the flock got too big. And we had to cull the rams. Molly is a good sheepdog, but she needs to work. I intend to take her back to our farm so she can work a few head there. She and I get on well together. Since your father left her to me outright, I will honor the gift.”

      “The dog wasn’t his to give you,” he told her matter-of-factly. “Molly’s mine.”

      “Molly was your father’s dog. You gave her to him when your mum passed. Now she’s my dog.” She looked him straight in the eye and dared him to challenge her.

      After a moment, once he’d managed to calm down, he continued. “If Molly has been working sheep on . . . the farm . . . then I assume there are sheep still there.”

      “Aye, there are. As I said, about a hundred.”

      “If you take Molly off the farm, then I’ll have to get another sheepdog to manage them.”

      “I suppose you’re right, if you’re planning to keep the place a working farm. You’ll need a shepherd, too. Dogs aren’t self-motivated. Alternatively, you could sell the sheep and stop all business. If you do that, then what will happen to the farm?”

      “Nothing, I suppose.” He probably hadn’t thought beyond his last sentence.

      A knot twisted in her stomach. “You can’t let the farm fall into ruin, Mick. That would be a fate worse than selling it.”

      “Can we compromise then?”

      “Depends on what you have in mind.”

      “Leave Molly on the farm. You can keep coming over to work with her there. She’s grown up on the farm. There’s no use in removing her just because Dad . . . isn’t there anymore.”

      She tried to ignore the hitch in his voice. “Not if you’re going to let the farm fall into ruin.”

      “If Molly stays on the farm to work the sheep, then there’s no reason for the farm to fall into ruin.”

      “So you plan on staying and running the farm?”

      He shook his head, a hint of a smile curving his lips. “Nooo.”

      She sat back again and refolded her arms. “So what you’re saying is that you want Molly to stay on the farm, you want me to go over and work her, but you aren’t staying on and you expect the farm to pay its own way. Is that right?”

      She could practically see the wheels turning in Mick’s mind as he sorted through this. “Well, yeah, I guess. If you’re there­”

      “No,” she said flatly.

      Mick seemed taken aback. “No?”

      “I’m not going to keep going over there as I had­as if I lived there­to do your job.”

      “But I thought that’s what you wanted.”

      “No, Mick. What I want is for you to find a way to keep the farm from falling into ruin. I intend to see if I can get my job back at the hospital. I won’t have time to run your farm and work at the same time. You’re practically asking me to move in and run the farm for you.”

      “I’ll pay you to run the farm. Anything you make off the sheep you can keep.”

      “Why should I when I can take over the farm free and clear if you try to sell it?” Good Lord, how could he assume such a thing? She didn’t want to be beholden to him for anything anymore. Now that his parents were gone, God rest their souls, she could get on with her life. “No, Mick. This is your responsibility.”

      “So leave Molly on the farm and go over on your days off to work her.”

      She sighed deeply, then looked into his eyes. “What good would that do her? Aside from being alone the whole time, who will feed her? She needs human interaction. She needs constant training. She’ll only get that by moving her to Conneely Farm.”

      “Well, help me out then, because I obviously don’t know what you expect me to do.” Mick threw his hand in the air in exasperation.

      She stared at him. Possible solutions tumbled around in her mind and crashed into her mix of emotions. Did he really think she’d agree to his outrageous proposal?

      She took a deep breath. “Why don’t I just take Molly home with me until you figure it out? I’ll get Dad over to help move the sheep and we’ll work them at our place. When you decide what you want to do, let me know and we’ll talk.”

      She started to gather her things before sliding out of her seat. She was stilled by his hand on hers. The heat of it shot through her like a flash of lightning, and she spun to face him.

      His eyes had softened. “Wait,” he said softly.

      “For what?” For a moment they gazed at each other. She wasn’t sure what she saw, but it looked a lot like pleading.

      Finally, “There has to be a solution. I just can’t see it for myself.”

      She sighed. “Why don’t you head back to the farm? Sleep on it. Think things through. Maybe you’ll find an answer in a day or two. I don’t expect you to make any decisions right now. Your father’s just died. You’ve received a huge shock over the will. Things are confusing for you right now. Give it a few days, then­”

      “Then, what?”

      “Ring me and we’ll talk about them.” She moved her hand from under his, the warmth of his touch evaporating, and slid out of the snug. 

      “Kate, I haven’t been to the farm yet.”

      She froze, unable to hide her surprise. 

      “I took a room at a hotel up on Eyre Square.”

      She eased back into her seat. She kept her gaze locked with his, searching for an answer. He lowered his gaze to his fingers, which were fidgeting with a spare coaster on the table. When he finally looked back at her, his eyes were filled with pain. She understood then that guilt haunted him.

      Slowly, she reached over and placed her fingers on top of his. He let the coaster fall to the table and took her hand in his. His gaze rose to their entwined hands. His thumb rubbed the backs of her fingers.

      After a moment, he met her gaze. The last ten years seemed to have never happened and they were back to being the best of friends; the best of friends who’d always shared their thoughts and feelings. But in a blink, the reality of the situation brought her back to the present. Nothing had changed between them since he’d pulled away from her ten years ago. Her heart ached to comfort him, but she reined in her emotions.  She would treat him with as much distance as he treated her.

      “I haven’t been able to go.”

      Her other hand came up to pat his. “It’s okay, Mick. I understand.”

      “I just can’t go alone. I drove by when I got in from Dublin, but­”

      She thought about what she was going to say next before she actually spoke. She wanted to be sure she was doing the right thing. By all rights she should let him sort through his feelings. After all, he’s the one who got himself into this mess. He should get himself out. It was the look in his eyes now that changed her mind. For a moment, just a split second, she thought she could see into his soul again.

      “Do you want me to go with you?”

      He gazed up at her then. “I­”

      “I was going over anyway,” she lied, cutting him off. She stood again and pulled him up with her. If he was going, it had better be now or he’d never go.

      “Kate­”

      She squeezed his hand before releasing it. “Come on, then.”












    • Kemberlee
      ... your leads, who would they be? Do you have someone in mind as you write your characters? What kinds of character aids do you use in your writing process?
      Message 2 of 22 , May 5, 2010
        >>>>Let�s talk characters. If you could cast an actor/actress for your leads, who would they be? Do you have someone in mind as you write your characters? What kinds of character aids do you use in your writing process?

        Wouldn't it be great to have ones book made into a movie? I know a few lucky authors have, but what a boon, eh?!

        When I wrote A Piece of My Heart I had a couple people in mind, Julianna Margulies and Paddy Casey. Julianna, as we know, stars in the Good Wife, is such a beautiful woman and has the looks I wanted for Kate. Paddy Casey is an Irish musician. I love his curly hair and his down home country look. He was perfect for Mick.

        Quite often I have a character in my head, but have no one famous to attach them to. Though, when I saw Colin Farrell in the trailers for Ondine I immediately pictured Kieran from my next book Rhythm of My Heart. While Farrell's Ondine character is a quiet fisherman, it's not hard for me to picture him having a bit of an attitude as Kieran! Kieran's love interest is Eilis. She's not so easy to find a celebrity to attach to her because she's a full size woman, and frankly, there just aren't a lot of us on the big or small screens!

        As for aids, sometimes I'll just troll through stock photo sites until I find people that look like how I imagine my characters might look. But what I find helps the best is just people watching. The mall is great for that! I try to write real characters, people who are believable and who readers will bond with. It's fine to write about billionaires and the uber posh, but I want to read stories about real people in real situations...as someone once said...ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

        But for A Piece of My Heart? Yeah, Julianna and Paddy, for sure...

        THIS picture of Julianna...
        http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMTMxMjUzOTEzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjAwOTA4Mg@@._V1._SX360_SY480_.jpg

        and this of Paddy...
        http://buzzworthy.mtv.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/paddy-casey.jpg

        Kemberlee Shortland
        http://www.kemberlee.com
        Available now
        - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland




      • Kemberlee
        ... Not sure about this one. Crazy is relative. I suppose the craziest thing I ve ever done period was going down a mine shaft in Wales a couple years ago with
        Message 3 of 22 , May 5, 2010
          >>>>What�s the craziest thing you�ve ever done to figure out a book?

          Not sure about this one. Crazy is relative. I suppose the craziest thing I've ever done period was going down a mine shaft in Wales a couple years ago with my husband on a tour of the Big Pit Mine. I'm claustrophobic but I didn't realize how much so until I was down there. And they told us to shut off the lights on our miners helmets! Man!! You never know what absolute dark is until you're in that situation. I'm proud of myself for not flipping out, which I almost did, but dang! I'll never do that again. BUT I will use it in a story some day and be able to draw on real experience to write the scene.

          We used to take our Border Collies sheep herding for fun. We just don't have time for sheep, but we were curious to see how well our dogs would do. Our older dog, Daisie, was a natural. The trainer, a hill shepherd in south Cork, offered to buy her from us the first day he put her in the field with his flock. It was amazing to watch a dog who'd never seen sheep before in her whole life run up the field, gather the sheep, and bring them down to us. Amazing.

          Poppy, we think, came from cattle stock so she's bored with sheep. But taking them training was great research for writing scenes in A Piece of My Heart. There's a scene where Mick is trying to use a whistle. I could just never get it the knack for it, and neither could poor Mick.

          I've been trying to find someone in Ireland to teach me sword fighting. My one source turned out to be a dead-end, but I'd really love to learn. I guess it would be my version of learning martial arts for a story, which my friend Isabo Kelly does. She writes kick-ass heroines and heroines who kiss ass because of her training for research.

          Otherwise, I've been known to troll castles and churches, ruins and restored structures. I'm an avid castle hunter. No two are the same, and there's always a secret chamber or corridor to explore.

          I can't really think of anything crazy though. The day is early yet!

          Kemberlee Shortland
          http://www.kemberlee.com
          Available now
          - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland








        • Kemberlee
          ... With the popularity of the internet and online resources, I have to say books don t usually get cracked open too much these days, and not just because
          Message 4 of 22 , May 5, 2010
            >>>>What are some writing books that you use again and again?

            With the popularity of the internet and online resources, I have to say books don't usually get cracked open too much these days, and not just because they're still in storage from our move last year.

            Of those I do use, there's one called Dress in Ireland by Mairead Dunlevy...
            http://www.amazon.com/Dress-Ireland-Mairead-Dunlevy/dp/1898256845/

            The book is out of print now, but it's a fabulous source for how the people of Ireland dressed over the centuries. She relied on archeological and historical discoveries, researching art from each period, historical documents, etc.

            Another is called Atlas of the Rural Irish Landscape...
            http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Irish-Rural-Landscape-Aalen/dp/0802042945

            This is a fabulous HUGE text with amazing photos, graphics, interpretations and text about the land in Ireland and how people have used it over the centuries. It also explains how places got their names and the people who lived on and worked the land.

            Sometimes there's not one book that helps me with topics. I've been a travel consultant for around 15 years, and because I've traveled around Ireland extensively and taken tens of thousands of photos, I've been able to take those photos and what I learned from locations and post them on my website. I learn a lot just by researching particular places and things, and sometimes I'll find there's a great story to tell in those locations...
            http://www.all-ireland.com/attractions

            For example, in my current WIP, working title The Diary, I was visiting Torc Waterfall in the Killarney National Park. As I sat on a big stone looking up through the trees at the water coming down over the rocks, the idea for The Diary came to mind.

            I'm not discounting the importance of using books for research. Quite often there's information in books you just won't find online. I love those discoveries!

            Kemberlee Shortland
            http://www.kemberlee.com
            Available now
            - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland





          • Kemberlee
            ... or your choice of genre? If you could meet any author who would it be? (Living or dead) I grew up reading Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood,
            Message 5 of 22 , May 5, 2010
              >>>>Favorite authors? Have any particularly influenced your writing or your choice of genre? If you could meet any author who would it be? (Living or dead)

              I grew up reading Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, Julia Grice...for a while I thought to be a successful romance writer I had to have a name starting with "Ju"! LOL I loved their books before they changed genre. I devoured them time and again. When I started writing my first story I was told my style was a lot like Deveraux. No wonder. I read her stories repeatedly, more than the others, for sure! But I had to find my own style...now called voice. That meant reading a lot more than just historical romances set in Scotland and England.

              One of the benefits to moving to Ireland has been that I haven't been able to get a hold of American written romance novels very easily. Amazon and I have been great pals over the year, and Borders when they had a short visit to Dublin. But being forced to read other books has allowed me to find my own voice and tell my stories in my own way.

              I've also learned to look at other author's work as a learning experience. One author who will always be at the top of my list is Elizabeth Chadwick. She wrote a couple traditional romances to break into the industry and was asked to write the book to accompany the movie First Knight, but her historical fiction is incredible. Especially in the last ten years. Reading her books is like stepping back in time. I've heard this over the years of other authors, have even said it myself when I was reviewing books. But the phrase really hit home when I discovered her books.

              The series that's really catapulted her into Queen of Historicals status is the series about William Marshall, who was the greatest knight in all of England. The first book is titled The Greatest Knight, followed by the Scarlett Lion and A Place Beyond Courage. The research involved, the time and energy to get into her character's heads, the visits to historical locations, photos taken, and her incredible work with akashic records...everything... has enthralled me.

              If there were any single author I'd want to meet face-to-face, it would be Elizabeth Chadwick. Just to spend a day in the life of that woman must be incredible. I've known her casually online for a few years so I know she'd be the first to say she's just a mother and wife with a great job, which she is, but as an author, she's penned some of the most fabulous books ever written. Any writer could learn so much from just reading her books. I've learned not only a lot about British history, but also the importance of research and taking the time to get things right in order to make a story believable. If something didn't exist in the 12th/13th century, she won't put it in her stories. I really admire that.

              OK, yes, I admit it. I'm a huge Chadwick anorak! (a British and Irish slang term for someone with an obsessive interest in a thing or topic...ie train spotters, figuring collectors, etc)


              Kemberlee Shortland
              http://www.kemberlee.com
              Available now
              - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland


            • Kemberlee
              ... That s difficult to say. I find if I m not enjoying a story I just back up to a place where I was still having fun and try a different path. From what I ve
              Message 6 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                >>>>What book was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest to write?

                That's difficult to say. I find if I'm not enjoying a story I just back up to a place where I was still having fun and try a different path. From what I've published so far, I think the two in the No Law Against Love anthology were the funnest...Tutti-Frutti Blues and Dude Looks Like A Lady. They were quirky, full of fun, and I just loved Jake and Hank!

                Probably the most difficult to write was The Power of Love because it touched on some really difficult subjects. It's truly a romance in every way and has an HEA. But it takes the characters from an absolute high to rock bottom in the space of one sentence. The climb back up is rugged and emotive for not just the characters but the reader too. I think because it was the most emotionally difficult for me to write, it's also probably the best short story I've written to date.

                I really enjoyed writing A Piece of My Heart too. I like the characters so much that I wrote a short story sequel called Constant Craving. I'm hoping it will be available soon. Anyone who loved Mick and Kate will be interested to see how life has been one year on.

                Kemberlee Shortland
                http://www.kemberlee.com
                Available now
                - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland


              • Kemberlee
                ... I d love to advance my ability enough that my stories don t need editing. But that may be a pipe dream. I m sure even Nora needs an editor. ;-) I d like to
                Message 7 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                  >>>>In 10 years, where do you hope to be with your writing?

                  I'd love to advance my ability enough that my stories don't need editing. But that may be a pipe dream. I'm sure even Nora needs an editor. ;-)

                  I'd like to think I'll be making enough to support my own yarn habit. That seems more realistic.

                  Wherever I am in ten years I hope I'm still writing what I like to read and that people still like reading what I write. Maybe you can come back to me in ten years and see if that's happened :-)

                  Kemberlee Shortland
                  http://www.kemberlee.com
                  Available now
                  - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland


                • marianneatlasr
                  I don t think we can ever really edit our own work completely... so, yeah, you ll probably always need one. BUT, maybe not as much as you do now? I need
                  Message 8 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                    I don't think we can ever really edit our own work completely... so, yeah, you'll probably always need one. BUT, maybe not as much as you do now? <G>

                    I need to earn enough to support my eBook habit. Ever since I got my Nook, it's just WAY too easy to buy stuff.

                    What do you use the yarn for? Knitting, crocheting, strangling evil neighbors?

                    Marianne

                    --- In LongAndShortRomanceReviews@yahoogroups.com, Kemberlee <lists@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > >>>>In 10 years, where do you hope to be with your writing?
                    >
                    > I'd love to advance my ability enough that my stories don't need
                    > editing. But that may be a pipe dream. I'm sure even Nora needs an editor. ;-)
                    >
                    > I'd like to think I'll be making enough to support my own yarn habit.
                    > That seems more realistic.
                    >
                    > Wherever I am in ten years I hope I'm still writing what I like to
                    > read and that people still like reading what I write. Maybe you can
                    > come back to me in ten years and see if that's happened :-)
                    >
                    > Kemberlee Shortland
                    > http://www.kemberlee.com
                    > Available now - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series,
                    > Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of
                    > western Ireland
                    >
                  • marianneatlasr
                    I think those books that really tear your heart out are the hardest to read and write. But definitely have the biggest payoff in the end, yes? At least if the
                    Message 9 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                      I think those books that really tear your heart out are the hardest to read and write.

                      But definitely have the biggest payoff in the end, yes? At least if the ending is happy (no, I'm not a Nicholas Sparks fan ... why do you ask?).

                      What's your favorite "tear your heart out" book that ends happily?

                      Marianne

                      --- In LongAndShortRomanceReviews@yahoogroups.com, Kemberlee <lists@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > >>>>What book was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest to write?
                      >
                      > That's difficult to say. I find if I'm not enjoying a story I just
                      > back up to a place where I was still having fun and try a different
                      > path. From what I've published so far, I think the two in the No Law
                      > Against Love anthology were the funnest...Tutti-Frutti Blues and Dude
                      > Looks Like A Lady. They were quirky, full of fun, and I just loved
                      > Jake and Hank!
                      >
                      > Probably the most difficult to write was The Power of Love because it
                      > touched on some really difficult subjects. It's truly a romance in
                      > every way and has an HEA. But it takes the characters from an
                      > absolute high to rock bottom in the space of one sentence. The climb
                      > back up is rugged and emotive for not just the characters but the
                      > reader too. I think because it was the most emotionally difficult for
                      > me to write, it's also probably the best short story I've written to date.
                      >
                      > I really enjoyed writing A Piece of My Heart too. I like the
                      > characters so much that I wrote a short story sequel called Constant
                      > Craving. I'm hoping it will be available soon. Anyone who loved Mick
                      > and Kate will be interested to see how life has been one year on.
                      >
                      > Kemberlee Shortland
                      > http://www.kemberlee.com
                      > Available now - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series,
                      > Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of
                      > western Ireland
                      >
                    • marianneatlasr
                      I cut my romance teeth on the same authors as you, which is sort of funny since I seldom read historicals anymore (and I used to LOVE them). I pick one up now
                      Message 10 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                        I cut my romance teeth on the same authors as you, which is sort of funny since I seldom read historicals anymore (and I used to LOVE them). I pick one up now and then, but tend to gravitate toward romantic suspense lately.

                        I saw in your interview that you're a Koontz fan, too. He's one of my faves (though his recent stuff has been tough for me to read ... darker than usual somehow).

                        Maybe it's his fault I've moved toward suspense?

                        Do you find you prefer to read most in the genre you write in?

                        Marianne

                        --- In LongAndShortRomanceReviews@yahoogroups.com, Kemberlee <lists@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > >>>>Favorite authors? Have any particularly influenced your writing
                        > or your choice of genre? If you could meet any author who would it
                        > be? (Living or dead)
                        >
                        > I grew up reading Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood,
                        > Julia Grice...for a while I thought to be a successful romance writer
                        > I had to have a name starting with "Ju"! LOL I loved their books
                        > before they changed genre. I devoured them time and again. When I
                        > started writing my first story I was told my style was a lot like
                        > Deveraux. No wonder. I read her stories repeatedly, more than the
                        > others, for sure! But I had to find my own style...now called voice.
                        > That meant reading a lot more than just historical romances set in
                        > Scotland and England.
                        >
                        > One of the benefits to moving to Ireland has been that I haven't been
                        > able to get a hold of American written romance novels very easily.
                        > Amazon and I have been great pals over the year, and Borders when
                        > they had a short visit to Dublin. But being forced to read other
                        > books has allowed me to find my own voice and tell my stories in my own way.
                        >
                        > I've also learned to look at other author's work as a learning
                        > experience. One author who will always be at the top of my list is
                        > Elizabeth Chadwick. She wrote a couple traditional romances to break
                        > into the industry and was asked to write the book to accompany the
                        > movie First Knight, but her historical fiction is incredible.
                        > Especially in the last ten years. Reading her books is like stepping
                        > back in time. I've heard this over the years of other authors, have
                        > even said it myself when I was reviewing books. But the phrase really
                        > hit home when I discovered her books.
                        >
                        > The series that's really catapulted her into Queen of Historicals
                        > status is the series about William Marshall, who was the greatest
                        > knight in all of England. The first book is titled The Greatest
                        > Knight, followed by the Scarlett Lion and A Place Beyond Courage. The
                        > research involved, the time and energy to get into her character's
                        > heads, the visits to historical locations, photos taken, and her
                        > incredible work with akashic records...everything... has enthralled me.
                        >
                        > If there were any single author I'd want to meet face-to-face, it
                        > would be Elizabeth Chadwick. Just to spend a day in the life of that
                        > woman must be incredible. I've known her casually online for a few
                        > years so I know she'd be the first to say she's just a mother and
                        > wife with a great job, which she is, but as an author, she's penned
                        > some of the most fabulous books ever written. Any writer could learn
                        > so much from just reading her books. I've learned not only a lot
                        > about British history, but also the importance of research and taking
                        > the time to get things right in order to make a story believable. If
                        > something didn't exist in the 12th/13th century, she won't put it in
                        > her stories. I really admire that.
                        >
                        > OK, yes, I admit it. I'm a huge Chadwick anorak! (a British and Irish
                        > slang term for someone with an obsessive interest in a thing or
                        > topic...ie train spotters, figuring collectors, etc)
                        >
                        >
                        > Kemberlee Shortland
                        > http://www.kemberlee.com
                        > Available now - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series,
                        > Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of
                        > western Ireland
                        >
                      • Kemberlee
                        Hi Marianne, I love the idea of the neighbors thing! We have one with a barking dog... I learned to crochet from my aunt. She was 96 at the time and had one
                        Message 11 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                          Hi Marianne,

                          I love the idea of the neighbors thing! We have one with a barking dog...

                          I learned to crochet from my aunt. She was 96 at the time and had one eye. I kid you not! She was born in 1884 and used to tell me stories about traveling west in a covered wagon and living in sod houses. She told me how she lost her eye, and everything else. Her mind was clear as crystal. I still have a blanket she made for me, and some dolls she made from Ivory soap bottles!

                          I learned to knit when I was young too and picked up the needles again a couple years ago. I just finished a great boatneck pullover for myself. Of course, now the weather has warmed up so I won't get much use out of it for a while. I also make hats, scarves, socks, other sweaters, shawls. I mentioned in one of the questions I sent about being in the middle of a shawl called a clapotis. I thought it would be daunting, but it's pretty easy. This is my second one. I usually give stuff away, but occasionally make it for me.

                          Next on the needles? Dunno. But I'd love to learn more lace stitches to make a light and lacy shawl. But something for the neighbor would be well worth considering ;-)

                          I have an account on Ravelry.com. If anyone here is a member there you can look at my projects. I go by my first name there...Kemberlee.

                          Kemberlee Shortland
                          http://www.kemberlee.com
                          Available now
                          - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland





                          At 05:38 PM 5/5/2010, you wrote:
                          I don't think we can ever really edit our own work completely... so, yeah, you'll probably always need one.  BUT, maybe not as much as you do now?  <G>

                          I need to earn enough to support my eBook habit.  Ever since I got my Nook, it's just WAY too easy to buy stuff.

                          What do you use the yarn for?  Knitting, crocheting, strangling evil neighbors?

                          Marianne
                        • Kemberlee
                          Hi Marianne, I can t say I m one to cry at movies or books, but I do get choked up quite a bit. The one book that really got me was Kiss Me While I Sleep by
                          Message 12 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                            Hi Marianne,

                            I can't say I'm one to cry at movies or books, but I do get choked up quite a bit.

                            The one book that really got me was Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda Howard. The first time I read it I thought "OMG! That scene is so heartwrenching." I won't say what the scene was because it comes at the end, and for anyone who might want to read it, they would not appreciate the spoiler, but it really got me.

                            Kemberlee Shortland
                            http://www.kemberlee.com
                            Available now
                            - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland





                            At 05:41 PM 5/5/2010, you wrote:
                            I think those books that really tear your heart out are the hardest to read and write.

                            But definitely have the biggest payoff in the end, yes?  At least if the ending is happy (no, I'm not a Nicholas Sparks fan ... why do you ask?).

                            What's your favorite "tear your heart out" book that ends happily?

                            Marianne
                          • Kemberlee
                            Hi Marianne, I still read historicals. I love them. I m just more particular these days. I think Scotland as a setting is worn out, for example. And I don t
                            Message 13 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                              Hi Marianne,

                              I still read historicals. I love them. I'm just more particular these days. I think Scotland as a setting is worn out, for example. And I don't read the same genre as I'm writing at any given time. I don't want to be influenced or get upset because another 'thing' I thought was unique was used by someone else. And like I said, I'm a Chadwick fan to my bones!

                              Dean Koontz set a lot of his earlier store is in my home community. That's probably what drew me to his work in the beginning. He also did business with my family's business so maybe buying his books was my way of giving back. Truthfully, he's just a great storyteller.

                              Yes, he's gone a bit darker. I just came off a Koontzathon. I read all of his Odd Thomas books in one go, followed by Breathless and Relentless. I loved the first Odd Thomas book (called Odd Thomas), but was only so-so with the others. Sometimes sequels with the same characters can be difficult. Though I thought he did a great job with Fear Nothing and Seize the Night...both set in my hometown.

                              Anyway, Relentless was a bit of a no-go for me, which is saying a lot as a long time fan. On my scale of read again or not (my version of thumbs up or down) I wouldn't reread it. I just didn't 'get' why a book reviewer would want to stalk a writer. And certainly not to the degree of trying to destroy the writer and his family and everyone standing in his way to get to the writer. Basically, I didn't see it as believable. Breathless was more believable, and that was pretty unbelievable. I did love it though for the Wolfhound. Go figure ;-)

                              I never read romantic suspense, or straight suspense, much other than Koontz until I was introduced to Linda Howard. My husband loves courtroom drama, police/detective novels, and crime stories (Grisham, Childs, Crais, etc), but I just have to have romance! Fortunately for me, Linda Howard has a backlist a mile long so I've been reading and collecting for years now. Would love to find someone else who writes great romantic suspense. Any suggestions?

                              Kemberlee Shortland
                              http://www.kemberlee.com
                              Available now
                              - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland







                              At 05:47 PM 5/5/2010, you wrote:
                              I cut my romance teeth on the same authors as you, which is sort of funny since I seldom read historicals anymore (and I used to LOVE them).  I pick one up now and then, but tend to gravitate toward romantic suspense lately.

                              I saw in your interview that you're a Koontz fan, too.  He's one of my faves (though his recent stuff has been tough for me to read ... darker than usual somehow). 

                              Maybe it's his fault I've moved toward suspense?

                              Do you find you prefer to read most in the genre you write in? 

                              Marianne
                            • marianneatlasr
                              Okay... I read Kiss My While I Sleep and I don t know what scene you re talking about. Going to have to read it again (not a big chore: I love Linda
                              Message 14 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                                Okay... I read "Kiss My While I Sleep" and I don't know what scene you're talking about. Going to have to read it again (not a big chore: I love Linda Howard).

                                And I cry at everything, lol...

                                Marianne

                                --- In LongAndShortRomanceReviews@yahoogroups.com, Kemberlee <lists@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > Hi Marianne,
                                >
                                > I can't say I'm one to cry at movies or books, but I do get choked up
                                > quite a bit.
                                >
                                > The one book that really got me was Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda
                                > Howard. The first time I read it I thought "OMG! That scene is so
                                > heartwrenching." I won't say what the scene was because it comes at
                                > the end, and for anyone who might want to read it, they would not
                                > appreciate the spoiler, but it really got me.
                                >
                                > Kemberlee Shortland
                                > http://www.kemberlee.com
                                > Available now - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series,
                                > Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of
                                > western Ireland
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > At 05:41 PM 5/5/2010, you wrote:
                                > >I think those books that really tear your heart out are the hardest
                                > >to read and write.
                                > >
                                > >But definitely have the biggest payoff in the end, yes? At least if
                                > >the ending is happy (no, I'm not a Nicholas Sparks fan ... why do you ask?).
                                > >
                                > >What's your favorite "tear your heart out" book that ends happily?
                                > >
                                > >Marianne
                                >
                              • marianneatlasr
                                Romantic Suspense authors? There are tons of good ones: Brenda Novak Carla Neggers Catherine Coulter (her FBI series) Julie Garwood (she has a bunch:
                                Message 15 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                                  Romantic Suspense authors? There are tons of good ones:

                                  Brenda Novak
                                  Carla Neggers
                                  Catherine Coulter (her FBI series)
                                  Julie Garwood (she has a bunch: Killjoy, Mercy, Slow Burn, and more)
                                  Lisa Gardner
                                  Sandra Brown
                                  Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick
                                  Andrea Kane
                                  JD Robb
                                  Paula Graves

                                  I could go on. And on. And on.

                                  But I won't.

                                  Marianne


                                  --- In LongAndShortRomanceReviews@yahoogroups.com, Kemberlee <lists@...> wrote:

                                  Would love to find someone else who writes great romantic suspense. Any suggestions?
                                • Kemberlee
                                  Marianne, It s the one at the end where she said Kiss me while I sleep. I read the book a couple times after that and *got* the scene, but it still chokes me
                                  Message 16 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                                    Marianne,

                                    It's the one at the end where she said "Kiss me while I sleep." I read the book a couple times after that and *got* the scene, but it still chokes me up.

                                    I was thinking about this after I sent the initial message. Another author whose stories I've gotten choked up over is Charlene Raddon. She published 5 star romances until a personal tragedy struck. She's trying to get back in the game again, but the books she wrote were amazing stories. Quite often I'd get choked up while reading. She writes emotion exceedingly well.

                                    Kemberlee Shortland
                                    http://www.kemberlee.com
                                    Available now
                                    - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland



                                    At 07:22 PM 5/5/2010, you wrote:
                                    Okay... I read "Kiss My While I Sleep" and I don't know what scene you're talking about.  Going to have to read it again (not a big chore:  I love Linda Howard).

                                    And I cry at everything, lol...

                                    Marianne
                                  • Martha
                                    Very nice chapters 1 and 2. They pulled me into their conflict. It also answered another question - whether the story involved horses. Sounds like it involves
                                    Message 17 of 22 , May 5, 2010
                                      Very nice chapters 1 and 2. They pulled me into their conflict. It also answered another question - whether the story involved horses. Sounds like it involves sheep instead. :) Love the accent that slips in. Thanks for sharing the excerpts! Martha

                                      --- In LongAndShortRomanceReviews@yahoogroups.com, Kemberlee <lists@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > Thanks, Pauline, for the welcome. I've really
                                      > been looking forward to this week. I hope everyone here enjoys the discussions.
                                      >
                                      > I hope this is OK, but I'll reply to your
                                      > questions in order, but post them as separate
                                      > messages so people can read and reply to the ones
                                      > they're interested in. Plus I talk a lot and a
                                      > single message might be daunting! ;-)
                                      >
                                      > >>>>Tell us a bit about the book you are
                                      > promoting today and post some experts, pretty please!
                                      >
                                      > My current release is called A Piece of My Heart.
                                      > It's a girl/boy next door story told Irish style.
                                      > Mick and Kate had been childhood friends and were
                                      > quickly growing into sweethearts. A bully at
                                      > school came between them, and after graduation,
                                      > Mick went away to Dublin to college, becoming a
                                      > researcher and historian with the National Museum
                                      > of Antiquities. Kate stayed in the west and
                                      > attended college there, becoming a palliative
                                      > care nurse...one who looks after dying people.
                                      > That there tells us she has a heart of gold. And
                                      > Mick really does have a love of history, even as
                                      > he denies his own family's history.
                                      >
                                      > Kate has left the work force to care for Mick's
                                      > mother who was dying from cancer. Mick was just
                                      > finishing his degree at university and struggled
                                      > with getting home often and not missing
                                      > coursework. After her death, Mick brought his
                                      > father a Border Collie pup to keep him company,
                                      > which he calls his Hairy Molly...an Irish term
                                      > for one with a LOT of hair. When the father falls
                                      > ill, Kate steps in to care for him as well, and
                                      > raises the puppy to work small jobs around the farm.
                                      >
                                      > The story opens in the solicitors office where
                                      > Mick discovers Kate has been called in for the
                                      > reading as well. Since their 'break up' ten years
                                      > before, and even though she's been caring for his
                                      > parents, they really haven't spent much time
                                      > together. There's too much personal pain between
                                      > them. Mick understood his father had paid Kate
                                      > for her services over the years, so her being at
                                      > the will reading was confusing...until the will is read.
                                      >
                                      > Chapter one is uploaded to my website at
                                      > http://www.kemberlee.com/mybooks/apomh.htm and is
                                      > the full scene in the solitictor's office and
                                      > what Mick's father's will says. Read it first,
                                      > then come back here to read chapter two, which is
                                      > posted below. We see that Kate's heart is really
                                      > made of PURE gold. Even through the pain of the
                                      > last ten years and the heartache over Mick and
                                      > what they'd lost, she still cares very deeply for him.
                                      >
                                      > Enjoy reading!
                                      >
                                      > Kemberlee Shortland
                                      > http://www.kemberlee.com
                                      > Available now - A PIECE OF MY HEART, part of the
                                      > Irish Pride series, Highland Press - An award
                                      > winning, 5 star romance set in the wilds of western Ireland
                                      >
                                      > Chapter Two
                                      >
                                      > Okay, so she was running after all, even if it
                                      > was disguised as a brisk walk through Galway City
                                      > to its medieval heart. When she finally stopped,
                                      > she found herself on the other side of the city
                                      > in front of The Quays Bar. The pub�s colorful
                                      > blue exterior with red trim and bright window
                                      > boxes did nothing to lighten her dark mood.
                                      >
                                      > A winded Mick came up behind her as she reached
                                      > for the door. �Could ye not walk any faster,
                                      > woman!� His Connemara brogue came through in his voice
                                      >
                                      > �I could, but then I�d be through me first pint
                                      > and still be waiting on the like of ye,� she
                                      > mimicked. Not waiting to see if he stood on
                                      > ceremony, she pulled the door open and stepped through.
                                      >
                                      > It wasn�t lunch hour yet, so The Quays was quiet.
                                      > Several small bars were scattered around the pub
                                      > on two different levels with tables tucked into
                                      > corners, snugs, and any other cubbyhole that
                                      > would take them. A few tourists occupied the
                                      > tables near the front windows and what looked
                                      > like a couple of regulars sat at the Gothic bar.
                                      > Portraits of legendary patrons lined the walls in
                                      > the oldest section of the pub. And the original
                                      > hearths were ablaze with traditional peat fires.
                                      >
                                      > By far The Quay�s most striking feature was the
                                      > church-like d�cor, which included intricate
                                      > woodwork details, Gothic style faux windows, a
                                      > pipe organ against the back wall, and a pulpit in
                                      > front of the stage where live music could be heard nightly.
                                      >
                                      > She continued on to the back in the old section
                                      > of the pub and slid into a snug behind the main bar.
                                      >
                                      > A waitress stepped over as Mick slid into a seat
                                      > across from her. �Two pints of the black,� he
                                      > said. The waitress nodded and went off to fill the order.
                                      >
                                      > �I guess since you ordered for me, you can pay for me, too.�
                                      >
                                      > �Smooth, Conneely. And here I thought you�d invited me for a pint.�
                                      >
                                      > �I had until you took charge. Can I assume you�ll
                                      > be taking charge of the issue of the farm as
                                      > well?� No sense in putting the subject off. If he
                                      > got mad at her, one of two things was liable to
                                      > happen. One, he�d find a way to make the will
                                      > stand in his favor. Or two, he�d get mad enough
                                      > to leave, which would give her the chance to
                                      > relax again and sort through her reawakened feelings for him.
                                      >
                                      > And she�d have the two pints he�d ordered to
                                      > herself. Both outcomes would be most welcome. The
                                      > vision of a pint in each hand nearly made her
                                      > smile. Nearly. But the look in Mick�s eyes as he stared at her stopped her.
                                      >
                                      > �What?� she asked, with more irritation in her voice than necessary.
                                      >
                                      > �What, what?�
                                      >
                                      > �You�re staring.�
                                      >
                                      > �Am I?� He leaned back, still staring at her, but seeming to relax a bit.
                                      >
                                      > �Aye. Why?�
                                      >
                                      > �Trying to figure you out, I guess.�
                                      >
                                      > She was taken aback by his statement. What was
                                      > there to figure out? �Care to explain?�
                                      >
                                      > He fidgeted a moment. The waitress�s arrival with
                                      > their pints gave him a few moments reprieve while
                                      > he fished a few euro out of his wallet to pay for their drinks.
                                      >
                                      > �Will there be anything else?� the waitress asked.
                                      >
                                      > Mick looked back to her, waiting for her answer.
                                      > �Nothing, thanks.� He tipped the woman then slid
                                      > his wallet back into his back pocket.
                                      >
                                      > She ignored the waitress. Her gaze was locked on
                                      > Mick. The simple motion of raising his hips off
                                      > the seat to maneuver the wallet into place forced
                                      > his shirt to draw tight over his chest. His
                                      > muscles splayed across the fabric. Forcing
                                      > herself to look away, she raised the pint to her
                                      > lips and took a long sip, welcoming the bitter taste of the stout.
                                      >
                                      > When she looked back, Mick was staring at her
                                      > again. She lifted an eyebrow at him in question.
                                      >
                                      > After drawing on his own pint he finally obliged
                                      > her. �So tell me, what are you up to?�
                                      >
                                      > She sat back and crossed her arms over her chest. �I don�t know what you mean.�
                                      >
                                      > He leaned his arms on the table and wove his
                                      > fingers together, his gaze penetrating her. His
                                      > challenging posture made her more anxious than
                                      > she already was. She crossed her legs under the
                                      > table automatically as if preparing to be
                                      > attacked. Her foot bounced restlessly.
                                      >
                                      > �What are you about? Why would my father leave
                                      > you the farm, let alone put you in the will at all? I don�t understand.�
                                      >
                                      > �That makes two of us then, Mick, because until I
                                      > got the letter yesterday from Mr. Lynch, I had no
                                      > idea your father put me in his will.�
                                      >
                                      > �Didn�t you?�
                                      >
                                      > There was no mistaking the doubt in his voice.
                                      > She drew her eyebrows together. �What are you insinuating?�
                                      >
                                      > He sat back again, but his gaze never left hers
                                      > �Nothing. Nothing at all. Just asking why my
                                      > father would leave everything to a virtual stranger.�
                                      >
                                      > �I�m not a virtual stranger, and you know it.
                                      > I�ve spent the last five years of my life caring
                                      > for your parents while you fecked off to Dublin.
                                      > I practically lived in that house. You should
                                      > have been there.� How dare he call her a
                                      > stranger! He should have been the one who cared
                                      > for his parents. If anyone was the stranger it was him.
                                      >
                                      > She�d only seen him a handful of times. Even when
                                      > he was home, he wasn�t, leaving her to care for
                                      > his parents during holidays when they most wanted
                                      > to see him. �You should have been there for
                                      > them,� she repeated, this time her voice a mere whisper.
                                      >
                                      > Before she could stop it, a tear stole down her
                                      > cheek. She squeezed her eyes shut trying to stop
                                      > it. She roughly swiped at the tear and pulled the
                                      > pint to her lips again in an effort to calm the
                                      > quiver in her chin. All the while he kept staring at her.
                                      >
                                      > After a moment he backed down. �You�re probably right.�
                                      >
                                      > �Probably?�
                                      >
                                      > �Okay, you are right. But I have a job. I
                                      > couldn�t just leave every time you called and
                                      > expect it to be there waiting for me when I got back.�
                                      >
                                      > Kate huffed and shook her head. �You don�t get
                                      > it, Mick. Your parents were dying. You should
                                      > have been there for them. No job is worth keeping
                                      > if it means losing your parents. Without them you
                                      > have nothing left but a lonely, empty farm.�
                                      >
                                      > �Which you will own if I try to sell it.�
                                      >
                                      > �Aye. So I suspect you better find a way to keep it.�
                                      >
                                      > �What am I going to do with it? I never wanted
                                      > the farm. Why do you think I went to Dublin? Farm
                                      > life is not for me. It never has been.�
                                      >
                                      > �I never knew that to be an issue with you until you went off to university.�
                                      >
                                      > �Well, it has been. That�s probably why Dad wrote up that ridiculous addendum.�
                                      >
                                      > �What�s ridiculous about it? Donal worked the
                                      > farm until he couldn�t work anymore. Like his
                                      > father before him, and his before him. Fairhill
                                      > has been in your family for six generations. It
                                      > was one of the few farms that didn�t succumb to
                                      > the famine. When your family couldn�t pay the
                                      > rent, the landlord let them remain because the
                                      > Spillanes helped to feed the starving by teaching
                                      > the people to fish and to eat something besides
                                      > potatoes. There�s more history on the farm, Mick,
                                      > than your self-centered desires will let you see.�
                                      >
                                      > He flinched at her words as if she�d slapped his
                                      > face. Well, good. He needed to cop himself on.
                                      >
                                      > He didn�t know much of the history of the place
                                      > he�d once called home. Had he stayed to take care
                                      > of his parents he would have been the one to hear
                                      > the stories Donal told, not her.
                                      >
                                      > �You seem to know an awful lot about the place.�
                                      >
                                      > �Donal and I spent a lot of time together.�
                                      >
                                      > �It�s no wonder my father left you the farm.�
                                      >
                                      > �No, Mick. He left it to you. Don�t sell it and it�s yours for life.�
                                      >
                                      > �But I don�t want it.�
                                      >
                                      > �Then you�re in a right state because I don�t
                                      > want it either. But I won�t hesitate to honor
                                      > your father�s wishes if you try to sell.� She
                                      > took the last swallow of her pint and put the
                                      > glass down with a little more force than
                                      > necessary, slamming down on the table like a gavel.
                                      >
                                      > He went quiet for a moment as he looked around
                                      > the pub, his expression unreadable. When he spoke
                                      > again, his voice sounded more resigned. �So, where does that leave us then?�
                                      >
                                      > �Not us. You. You need to find a way to keep the
                                      > farm, and your precious career in Dublin it would seem.�
                                      >
                                      > Frustration seemed to tighten Mick�s features. �Where do I start?�
                                      >
                                      > She smiled wryly. �Are you asking me for help, Mick?�
                                      >
                                      > �Looks that way, doesn�t it, Kate?�
                                      >
                                      > She couldn�t help notice the use of her name. It
                                      > reminded her of how much she liked the sound of
                                      > it coming off his lips. She shook herself to keep
                                      > her thoughts on track. �You tell me what the
                                      > first thing should be. You�re the one with the degree.�
                                      >
                                      > �In literary history.�
                                      >
                                      > �And your point? Did they teach you nothing else
                                      > at that fancy school besides Peig Sayers?�
                                      >
                                      > Mick inhaled deeply, then released the breath
                                      > slowly. �I suppose I should go over the accounts
                                      > to see what Dad owed and who owed him.�
                                      >
                                      > �That would be a good start. The accounts are in
                                      > his desk in the parlor. I can also tell you he
                                      > owed no one and no one owed him.�
                                      >
                                      > �How do you know?�
                                      >
                                      > �Because I spent the last two years with him
                                      > since your mum died. I kept his accounts as well
                                      > as cooked his meals, cleaned his house, and��
                                      >
                                      > �Okay, I get it,� he cut in. �Is there any
                                      > business going on the farm at all now?�
                                      >
                                      > The discussion was moving in a more positive
                                      > direction. Good. There were a few things she�d
                                      > love to tell him about the abandonment of his
                                      > parents in their time of need, but this wasn�t
                                      > the time or the place. She doubted there was a
                                      > time and place for what she wanted to say. Not
                                      > that it would serve any purpose except create
                                      > more tension between them. She didn�t want that.
                                      > She just wanted to help him find a way to keep
                                      > the farm so she could get on with her life.
                                      >
                                      > She�d once been accepted into Galway General
                                      > Hospital as a palliative care nurse, but she�d
                                      > put the job on hold when Mary Spillane fell ill.
                                      > She wondered if she could get the job again.
                                      >
                                      > �There are about a hundred head of sheep. Donal
                                      > stopped most business around the time your mother
                                      > was diagnosed with cancer. Once he finally
                                      > acknowledged he had emphysema, he soon became
                                      > confined to the house. Everything but cash
                                      > business ceased. Anything he sold was paid for in
                                      > cash. Anything he bought was paid for in cash.
                                      >
                                      > �Your father couldn�t get around the farm
                                      > unassisted, so he was pretty much housebound
                                      > unless Dad went over and got him up in the
                                      > tractor to take him around the farm. Even though
                                      > he couldn�t get about on his own, he still
                                      > appreciated Dad taking him around the place to
                                      > oversee it. It made him feel like he was still part of the goings-on.�
                                      >
                                      > �Do you know if the farm is paid off? Are there
                                      > any debts to the bank?� His voice took on a businesslike tone.
                                      >
                                      > She shook her head. �Donal made sure everything
                                      > was paid up so there wouldn�t be any debt on his death.�
                                      >
                                      > He cocked a brow at her statement. �You say that with such casualness.�
                                      >
                                      > �What? Death? I�ve been facing it every day for
                                      > five years. Both of your parents knew they were
                                      > dying, so there was no use in skirting the
                                      > subject around them. Some delicacy, yes, but
                                      > there was no denial about their health. At least not by them or me.�
                                      >
                                      > He grunted. �If Dad was housebound, how could he manage a handful of sheep?�
                                      >
                                      > �That would bring us to the next issue. Molly.�
                                      >
                                      > �Ah, right.� Mick sat back. �The dog. What about
                                      > her? I�m assuming if I can manage to keep the farm, Molly stays, too.�
                                      >
                                      > �You know what they say about assuming, Mick.�
                                      >
                                      > �Will this be another argument?�
                                      >
                                      > �I didn�t know we were arguing in the first place.�
                                      >
                                      > �Okay, let�s talk about the dog. She�s been
                                      > working sheep for fun and pleasure?� he bit.
                                      >
                                      > �There you go again. I thought we were discussing
                                      > the farm like a couple adults. Nothing will be
                                      > accomplished with your snide comments.�
                                      >
                                      > There were no apologies forthcoming, so she
                                      > continued. �Molly has been working the sheep for
                                      > a couple reasons. First and foremost, so she can
                                      > get trained as a proper sheepdog. Collies are
                                      > working dogs and need a job to be happy. Also,
                                      > your father wanted to keep some business going on
                                      > the farm to feel part of it, so he and I struck a deal.�
                                      >
                                      > �I knew there was something going on.�
                                      >
                                      > �Nothing was going on, Mick. Jazuz!� Jesus, Mary
                                      > and Joseph, he�s exasperating. �I trained Molly
                                      > to work the sheep. Plain and simple. Occasionally
                                      > someone would buy a lamb or ewe when the flock
                                      > got too big. And we had to cull the rams. Molly
                                      > is a good sheepdog, but she needs to work. I
                                      > intend to take her back to our farm so she can
                                      > work a few head there. She and I get on well
                                      > together. Since your father left her to me outright, I will honor the gift.�
                                      >
                                      > �The dog wasn�t his to give you,� he told her matter-of-factly. �Molly�s mine.�
                                      >
                                      > �Molly was your father�s dog. You gave her to him
                                      > when your mum passed. Now she�s my dog.� She
                                      > looked him straight in the eye and dared him to challenge her.
                                      >
                                      > After a moment, once he�d managed to calm down,
                                      > he continued. �If Molly has been working sheep on
                                      > . . . the farm . . . then I assume there are sheep still there.�
                                      >
                                      > �Aye, there are. As I said, about a hundred.�
                                      >
                                      > �If you take Molly off the farm, then I�ll have
                                      > to get another sheepdog to manage them.�
                                      >
                                      > �I suppose you�re right, if you�re planning to
                                      > keep the place a working farm. You�ll need a
                                      > shepherd, too. Dogs aren�t self-motivated.
                                      > Alternatively, you could sell the sheep and stop
                                      > all business. If you do that, then what will happen to the farm?�
                                      >
                                      > �Nothing, I suppose.� He probably hadn�t thought beyond his last sentence.
                                      >
                                      > A knot twisted in her stomach. �You can�t let the
                                      > farm fall into ruin, Mick. That would be a fate worse than selling it.�
                                      >
                                      > �Can we compromise then?�
                                      >
                                      > �Depends on what you have in mind.�
                                      >
                                      > �Leave Molly on the farm. You can keep coming
                                      > over to work with her there. She�s grown up on
                                      > the farm. There�s no use in removing her just
                                      > because Dad . . . isn�t there anymore.�
                                      >
                                      > She tried to ignore the hitch in his voice. �Not
                                      > if you�re going to let the farm fall into ruin.�
                                      >
                                      > �If Molly stays on the farm to work the sheep,
                                      > then there�s no reason for the farm to fall into ruin.�
                                      >
                                      > �So you plan on staying and running the farm?�
                                      >
                                      > He shook his head, a hint of a smile curving his lips. �Nooo.�
                                      >
                                      > She sat back again and refolded her arms. �So
                                      > what you�re saying is that you want Molly to stay
                                      > on the farm, you want me to go over and work her,
                                      > but you aren�t staying on and you expect the farm
                                      > to pay its own way. Is that right?�
                                      >
                                      > She could practically see the wheels turning in
                                      > Mick�s mind as he sorted through this. �Well, yeah, I guess. If you�re there��
                                      >
                                      > �No,� she said flatly.
                                      >
                                      > Mick seemed taken aback. �No?�
                                      >
                                      > �I�m not going to keep going over there as I
                                      > had�as if I lived there�to do your job.�
                                      >
                                      > �But I thought that�s what you wanted.�
                                      >
                                      > �No, Mick. What I want is for you to find a way
                                      > to keep the farm from falling into ruin. I intend
                                      > to see if I can get my job back at the hospital.
                                      > I won�t have time to run your farm and work at
                                      > the same time. You�re practically asking me to
                                      > move in and run the farm for you.�
                                      >
                                      > �I�ll pay you to run the farm. Anything you make off the sheep you can keep.�
                                      >
                                      > �Why should I when I can take over the farm free
                                      > and clear if you try to sell it?� Good Lord, how
                                      > could he assume such a thing? She didn�t want to
                                      > be beholden to him for anything anymore. Now that
                                      > his parents were gone, God rest their souls, she
                                      > could get on with her life. �No, Mick. This is your responsibility.�
                                      >
                                      > �So leave Molly on the farm and go over on your days off to work her.�
                                      >
                                      > She sighed deeply, then looked into his eyes.
                                      > �What good would that do her? Aside from being
                                      > alone the whole time, who will feed her? She
                                      > needs human interaction. She needs constant
                                      > training. She�ll only get that by moving her to Conneely Farm.�
                                      >
                                      > �Well, help me out then, because I obviously
                                      > don�t know what you expect me to do.� Mick threw
                                      > his hand in the air in exasperation.
                                      >
                                      > She stared at him. Possible solutions tumbled
                                      > around in her mind and crashed into her mix of
                                      > emotions. Did he really think she�d agree to his outrageous proposal?
                                      >
                                      > She took a deep breath. �Why don�t I just take
                                      > Molly home with me until you figure it out? I�ll
                                      > get Dad over to help move the sheep and we�ll
                                      > work them at our place. When you decide what you
                                      > want to do, let me know and we�ll talk.�
                                      >
                                      > She started to gather her things before sliding
                                      > out of her seat. She was stilled by his hand on
                                      > hers. The heat of it shot through her like a
                                      > flash of lightning, and she spun to face him.
                                      >
                                      > His eyes had softened. �Wait,� he said softly.
                                      >
                                      > �For what?� For a moment they gazed at each
                                      > other. She wasn�t sure what she saw, but it looked a lot like pleading.
                                      >
                                      > Finally, �There has to be a solution. I just can�t see it for myself.�
                                      >
                                      > She sighed. �Why don�t you head back to the farm?
                                      > Sleep on it. Think things through. Maybe you�ll
                                      > find an answer in a day or two. I don�t expect
                                      > you to make any decisions right now. Your
                                      > father�s just died. You�ve received a huge shock
                                      > over the will. Things are confusing for you right
                                      > now. Give it a few days, then��
                                      >
                                      > �Then, what?�
                                      >
                                      > �Ring me and we�ll talk about them.� She moved
                                      > her hand from under his, the warmth of his touch
                                      > evaporating, and slid out of the snug.
                                      >
                                      > �Kate, I haven�t been to the farm yet.�
                                      >
                                      > She froze, unable to hide her surprise.
                                      >
                                      > �I took a room at a hotel up on Eyre Square.�
                                      >
                                      > She eased back into her seat. She kept her gaze
                                      > locked with his, searching for an answer. He
                                      > lowered his gaze to his fingers, which were
                                      > fidgeting with a spare coaster on the table. When
                                      > he finally looked back at her, his eyes were
                                      > filled with pain. She understood then that guilt haunted him.
                                      >
                                      > Slowly, she reached over and placed her fingers
                                      > on top of his. He let the coaster fall to the
                                      > table and took her hand in his. His gaze rose to
                                      > their entwined hands. His thumb rubbed the backs of her fingers.
                                      >
                                      > After a moment, he met her gaze. The last ten
                                      > years seemed to have never happened and they were
                                      > back to being the best of friends; the best of
                                      > friends who�d always shared their thoughts and
                                      > feelings. But in a blink, the reality of the
                                      > situation brought her back to the present.
                                      > Nothing had changed between them since he�d
                                      > pulled away from her ten years ago. Her heart
                                      > ached to comfort him, but she reined in her
                                      > emotions. She would treat him with as much distance as he treated her.
                                      >
                                      > �I haven�t been able to go.�
                                      >
                                      > Her other hand came up to pat his. �It�s okay, Mick. I understand.�
                                      >
                                      > �I just can�t go alone. I drove by when I got in from Dublin, but��
                                      >
                                      > She thought about what she was going to say next
                                      > before she actually spoke. She wanted to be sure
                                      > she was doing the right thing. By all rights she
                                      > should let him sort through his feelings. After
                                      > all, he�s the one who got himself into this mess.
                                      > He should get himself out. It was the look in his
                                      > eyes now that changed her mind. For a moment,
                                      > just a split second, she thought she could see into his soul again.
                                      >
                                      > �Do you want me to go with you?�
                                      >
                                      > He gazed up at her then. �I��
                                      >
                                      > �I was going over anyway,� she lied, cutting him
                                      > off. She stood again and pulled him up with her.
                                      > If he was going, it had better be now or he�d never go.
                                      >
                                      > �Kate��
                                      >
                                      > She squeezed his hand before releasing it. �Come on, then.�
                                      >
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