Monday, June 18, 2018

A Real Place for a Story - #HistoricalRomance #CivilWar #Nursing

A Place in Your Heart cover

By Kathy Otten (Guest Blogger)

My new novel, A Place In Your Heart, takes place mostly at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, DC. In doing research for the day to day organization of a hospital at that time, I relied heavily on the book, Diary of a Civil War Nurse by Amanda Akin, who had been a nurse at Armory Square.

Before the war began, Washington was a relatively rural town with limited medical accommodations. There were no military hospitals and very few medical facilities.

By the end of the war there were over 56 hospitals in and around the Capitol.

The military soon realized that the current facilities were inadequate and public buildings were turned into hospitals. One wing of the Patent Office became the Patent Office Hospital. Patients were cared for within the walls of the Capitol. Reynolds Barracks Hospital was set up on what is now the south lawn of the White House.

Other buildings used as hospitals included Georgetown College, Water’s Warehouse, and St. Elizabeth’s Insane Asylum. Hotels and private schools were taken over for a monthly fee.

Soldiers were kept in field hospitals and when the regimental tents filled up, nearby homes were commandeered. Sick and wounded were only sent to the Washington hospitals after their conditions had worsened to the point of barely being able to survive the trip.

Because of the informal set up of these Washington hospitals, security and privacy for the sick were non-existent. People wandered in and out, looking for wounded friends and family. Pastors came into pray and convert the wounded. Patients became the victims of theft.

Mothers, wives and sisters were allowed to care for their loved ones. But they tended to ignore soldiers in adjacent beds or would only help those wounded from a particular state, and would scoff at Confederate wounded.

These hospitals averaged about 500 beds. Sanitation and ventilation were poor. The hospitals were not heated well. There was no sterilization of instruments and used bandages littered the floors.

As a result, blood poisoning, tetanus and gangrene were common. Mosquitoes and flies abounded spreading malaria and other diseases.

Wounded soldiers were fed the same food as soldiers in the field. Cornmeal and hard tack, fried in pork grease. Fruits and vegetables were never fresh and seldom available. Scurvy and malnutrition was rampant.

In June of 1861 the U.S. Sanitary Commission was organized. Their purpose was to give advice based on the most current medical knowledge of the day. Its goal was efficient, decent health care for the sick and wounded. The Commission directors were men of high professional standards and had the political means to apply pressure when needed. The Sanitary Commission became the driving force of Civil War Hospitals.

Armory Square Hospital, where most of my story takes place was one of six model hospitals built in 1862 according to the specifications of the Sanitary Commission. It was located on 7th St. across from the grounds of the Smithsonian, just beyond the canal, which itself was little more than an open sewer at that time, with floating dead cats and reeking with fetid odors.

Armory Square Hospital

The hospital consisted of eleven long pavilion style buildings placed side by side with their gables facing the front and rear of the grounds.

There was a main pavilion which functioned as an administration building. It contained a reception room and offices for the surgeon in charge, a man named Doctor D. Willard Bliss.

Also inside was a dispensary, a linen room, post office, and officers quarters, (where my hero, Dr. Charles Ellard had a room).

A general kitchen, laundry and mess hall occupied the rear portion of the building.

The remaining 10 pavilions were positioned 5 on each side of the administration building. Each ward was 149x25 ft. with an average height of about 13ft. and held about 50 beds.

Covered walkways connected the wards rather than closed corridors designed to improve ventilation in the sick rooms.

A side door opened about half way down near a cabinet with a table and chair in front of it.

Each ward held about 50 beds. A section at the rear served as a dining room (grub room) and lodging for female nurses. There was an area partitioned off (the wall didn’t go all the way the ceiling), and it closed with a curtain. At the end of the ward were the bathroom, water-closet, knapsack room and the ward master’s room.

 Patients in the ward

In the summer of 1863 the hospital received a $300.00 donation and new quarters were built for the lady nurses.

Ward E is the ward where Amanda Akin worked as well as my heroine Gracie McBride.

At Armory Square Doctor D. Bliss was the surgeon in charge of all the wards. Each ward had a surgeon, who had an orderly. At times a surgeon and his orderly might handle two wards. Each ward had a nurse who also had an orderly. There was a ward master and a cadet surgeon to dress wounds. Three attendants to each ward and 2 night watchers. Nurses were generally men, soldiers assigned the duty, who at the time of my story, were being sent back to the regimental field hospitals as more and more women volunteered.

During the summer months when the casualties were highest, tents were set up on the hospital grounds to handle the over flow of wounded.

Armory Square was known for receiving the worst cases from the battlefields of VA. It was situated nearest the steamboat landing at the foot of Seventh St. and was nearest the line of the Washington and Alexandria railroad. They were the first stop for wounded who wouldn’t survive the trip to any other hospital and they also received the soldiers who died enroute. As a result Armory Square had the highest number of deaths of any Washington military hospital.

Between August 1861 and January 1865 there were 1,339 deaths recorded out of 18,291 admitted patients.


Gracie McBride isn’t looking for love; she’s looking for respect. But in this man’s world of Civil War medicine, Gracie is expected to maintain her place changing beds and writing letters. Her biggest nemesis is the ward surgeon, Doctor Charles Ellard, who seems determined to woo her with arrogant kisses and terrible jokes.

Charles is an excellent surgeon. He assumed he would be well received by an army at war. He was not. Friendless and alone, he struggles to hide the panic attacks that plague him while the only person who understands him is a feisty Irish nurse clearly resolved to keep him at a distance.

But, Charles is sent to the battlefield, and Gracie is left with a wounded soldier, a box of toys, and a mystery which can only be solved by the one man she wishes could love her, both as a woman and a nurse.


No. I want you to go home before the death of that ten-year-old boy becomes so ordinary that one day you wake up and realize you no longer have the ability to feel.”

She squared her shoulders and stepped toward him. “Me own husband was a doctor, sir. I’ve birthed babies and stitched wounds. I stood by William’s side during surgeries and passed him instruments. I helped him clean the intestines of a man gored by a bull, before putting it all back inside that man’s belly. Me delicate sensibilities did not send me into a swoon then nor will they here. I thank ye for yer concern, Doctor Ellard, but ’tis who I am. And by the saints, as long as I have breath in me body, I will feel, and I will care.”

Their gazes locked in that moment and something flickered in his icy depths, overshadowing his usual cynicism with what she suspected might be admiration. The harsh lines of his face softened.

Saint Jude must indeed be watching over you, Mrs. McBride.”

That he is, Doctor Ellard, that he is.”

He gave her a brisk nod and opened the door. “You’re not going home then, are you?”

She turned. “Ye know us Irish, Doctor Ellard. We don’t know what we want, but we’ll fight to the death to get it.”

A Place In Your Heart is available at Amazon

About the Author

Kathy Otten is the published author of multiple historical romance novels, novellas, and short stories. She is also published in contemporary romance and historical fiction. She is a Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star winner and Utah/Salt Lake RWA Hearts of the West finalist. A Place In Your Heart is her fourth full-length novel. Currently, she is putting the finishing touches on a contemporary young adult novel.

She teaches fiction writing online and at a local adult education center, and is a regular presenter at area events. Kathy also does manuscript assessments and editing. She lives in the rolling farmland of western New York where she can often be found walking her dog through the woods and fields. She has been married for thirty-four years and is the mother of three grown children and one grandson.

Kathy can be contacted at

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Celebrating Pride Month - #lgbtq #Lesfic #GayRomance #PrideMonth #FreeBook

Rainbow Pride flag

I hadn’t planned to release three lesbian titles during Pride Month. It was pure serendipity.

Late in May I received an email from my primary lesbian publisher, indicating that they were reverting the rights to the books I’d published through them. It’s true that neither title had sold very well, but I was still disappointed.

I scrambled to revise, reformat, repackage and republish the work. Of course I didn’t want to put out exactly the same book as they had, so I added some new content.

The new version of The Witches of Gloucester includes a bonus story, “Late Show”, which originally appeared in Best Lesbian Erotica 2015. It’s one of my favorites, a second-chance lesbian romance featuring two very different characters.

Meanwhile, I’ve collected some of my most erotic lesbian short stories into a new collection entitled Burn, Baby: A Sapphic Six Pack. This second book includes a never-before-published tale, “Countertransference”.

Both books are available now, at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and your other favorite booksellers.

Finally, I’ve released another title, Velvet, for free on Smashwords. I plan to get it up on Amazon as a free read, too, but that may take a while, since I have to provide them with evidence that I’m giving it away on other sites.

By the way, at the back of Velvet you’ll find a 50% off Smashwords coupon for Burn, Baby. Yes, I’m hoping to tempt you to spend a bit of money on my book, but even if you don’t, you can read Velvet for free.

By the way, if your tastes run to gay erotic romance, check out my paranormal romance Necessary Madness, my science fiction romance Quarantine, or my recent bisexual tale Dragon Boat Blues.

Lesbian paranormal erotic romance

Its not about power. Its about love.

The historic port of Gloucester, Massachusetts has a special charm, due in part to its resident witches. For decades, raven-maned Marguerite and red-headed Beryl have lived among its hard-working inhabitants, making magic and mischief. To reach their full potential, they need a third witch to complete their circle. Platinum-haired newcomer Emmeline might be the woman theyve been waiting for.

Lesbian erotica

Six-alarm lesbian lust

Desire burns hot in these six sizzling tales by Lisabet Sarai. A high-powered executive and a Goth rocker collide on a rainy Manhattan night and succumb to the attraction of opposites. An unorthodox therapist rekindles the libido of a traumatized fire-fighter. A nun fights her forbidden lust for the voluptuous hooker resident at her womens shelter. Burn, Baby includes many of Lisabets lesbian favorites as well as a searing, shocking new tale,Countertransference.

FREE lesbian erotic romance!

Rules were made to be broken.

I must really be horny, to be sitting here fantasizing about the keynote speaker. Marta Hausman, CEO of, controls the stage. I can't take my eyes off her.

Finally she concludes, and sits down. She scans the audience, looking bored. For a moment, I have this bizarre notion that she's staring at me.

Dream on, girl. What interest would a hotshot like Dr. Hausman have in you?

Happy Pride Month!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

I’m no murderer, but I do kill people - #Texas #songwriting #steamyromance @TalkinTwang

By Ann Everett (Guest Blogger)

Early in every writer’s career, they’re told to write what you know. For me, I need more information before I can make good use of that advice.

Even though I write romance, I’ve written stories that include murder, a sociopath, and an alcoholic. Personally, I have no first-hand experience with any of those. I’ve certainly never killed anyone… though in reality, I’ve wanted to knock my husband upside his head from time to time. Especially when he tells me how to drive!

The beauty of fiction is I can commit murder without actually doing it! I did that in my first book. I killed off a character based on a person I didn’t like. Her identity has never been revealed, but I know who she is—and that’s enough.

The definition of a sociopath is “disorder which manifests in extreme anti-social behavior and lack of conscience. The closest I’ve come to that is eating chocolate in secret without a single regret!

As for knowing the burden of alcoholism, I’ve never even been drunk. I know—hard to believe, but it’s the truth. I’m somewhat of a control freak and the thought of not being in charge of all my faculties scares the pee-pee out of me. Hey, there are cameras everywhere. I don’t want to wake up the next morning and find a post of me doing drunk karaoke, getting a tattoo on my ass, or having announced I waxed Mount Vagina!

I’ve also had characters who were chicken farmers, Texas Rangers (the lawmen type, not the baseball player types), a bartender, horse trainer, Tarot card reader, and auctioneer, just to name a few. You guessed it, I know nothing about any of those!

The great thing about writing is you can find real people who do know about those things. And, there’s always Google. In the first New Adult Romance I published, TELL ME A SECRET, main character, Maggie even googles a blow job. Later, her love interest, Jace, is thrilled that she did.

I’m lucky to have a medical doctor and police detective who are willing to answer any question I have concerning medical issues or police procedure. They are a real treasure because it’s important to get the facts right. If you think you can get away with misinformation, you’re wrong. A reader out there somewhere will be an expert on just about every subject and call you out on them!

Write what you know works in some instances. Like locations and descriptions. I don’t write about New York City, even though I’ve been there. All of my stories take place in Texas because I’ve lived here all of my life. We talk funny, but I steer away from overusing y’all, fixin’ to, ain’t, and bless your heart, along with other things we say in everyday life. Readers get tired of that—even Texans!

I like to use Texas names for characters. Rayann, Jay Roy, Synola, Saint, (yeah, I had that name in my family long before Kanye and Kim came up with it.) And I generally use real locations like Austin, Houston, Lubbock, Brownsboro (iddy-biddy town where I grew up) Tyler, Athens, etc. However, in my last book, and the one about to release, I made up a name so I wouldn’t have to be exact concerning its whereabouts. Plus, I kind of like Bluebird, Texas. It gave me the opportunity to build the town anyway I wanted. I like it so much, I decided to write a series of companion books tied together by that small- town location.

The love scenes in my books are steamy and can be a bit graphic. One reader recently wrote and asked—"how do you know all the explicit details for some scenes?

As much as my husband likes to take credit, imagination is so much better than real life. Heck, that’s why we read romance. The answer to her question is—research. I do a lot by reading magazine articles and internet searches.

As readers, do you like to read what you know? Or, do you like reading about new places or fictional locations? Is the setting even important? Do the character’s occupations play any role in you choosing a book?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a “Come Fly With me to Bluebird, Texas” tee-shirt. Sizes large and extra-large available. This prize is only for US residents. Out of country winners will receive a digital eBook of both Bluebird, Texas Romance Novels Chirp, and True, my latest release. 


Sometimes it takes losing everything…

True Shanahan must be the unluckiest woman in the world. Either that or she’s cursed. After another failed relationship, True leaves Dallas with a broken heart and new attitude. It’s time to walk on the wild side. But when she makes a wrong turn and ends up in Bluebird, Texas, the only man she wants is anything but reckless.

to find all you’ve ever wanted.

Ritter Malone is the town’s favorite son and has the local hero awards to prove it. Seems he’s always in the right place at the right time. But when he crosses paths with True, his life takes a turn he never sees coming. Her songwriting skills may be questionable, but her ability to turn him inside out is indisputable.

Welcome to Bluebird, Texas.

Where a chance meeting gives two people a chance at love.


Once seated on the bench, she ran her fingertips over the keys. Other than the few notes she’d hammered out at Ritter’s, she couldn’t recall the last time she’d played, but figured it was like riding a bike. 

Jessie scooted a chair closer, spun it around and straddled it. “Any time you’re ready.”

I should warn you. Apparently, I’ve had some bad breakups, so my songs are a bit on the—”

Sad side?”

No. More on the I’ll-write-a-song-to-get-even-with-you side.”

Jessie chuckled. “I’m anxious to hear them.”

Okay, here we go.”

When True finished all the verses, Jessie’s face had turned red with laughter. “That’s pretty cute. Got another one?”

Depending on how risqué you’ll allow me to be, here’s one I call, “There Was Nothing Between Us but Your Penis.”

Jessie threw his head back, and belly laughed.

She launched into song.

This time when she ended the number, he laughed harder. “Girl, you may be just what this place needs. I’ll try you for a couple of weeks and see how it goes. If you’re the hit I think you’ll be; we’ll work out a salary. What night you interested in?”


Find all of Anns books here:

About Ann

Ann Everett writes about small-town Texas, where the women are sassy enough to say what they want, and the men are panty-melting hot with plenty of southern charm.

She's an Amazon bestselling author. She's won awards. She’s a top reviewer on a major writing website and a regular speaker at Wordwyse Exposytions. No need to bore you with the details. Here are ten things about her more interesting than accolades.

- She’s married to her high school sweetheart.

- She loves shopping at thrift stores.

- She doesn’t remember her first kiss.

- She hates talking on the telephone.

- A really sharp pencil makes her happy.

- She secretly wants to get a tattoo.

- She believes everyone should own a pair of cowboy boots.

- She’s thankful wrinkles aren’t painful.

- She sucks at math.

Email ann.everett at rocketmail dot com
Amazon author page

Friday, June 15, 2018

Something About a Gargoyle - @ChrisRedding #Gargoyle #Fairy #Romance

Destiny of a Gargoyle cover

By Chris Redding (Guest Blogger)

As writers we do a lot of research on odd subjects. My latest release is the first in a trilogy of romance novellas about three brothers who are gargoyle shifters. I’ve been to Paris. I’ve seen the gargoyles on Notre Dame. They inspired me initially to write about them, but the story didn’t gel in my brain until I was in Ireland. The Emerald Isle doesn’t have that many gargoyles. The stories I’ve written actually were inspired by the west coast of Ireland. I imagined what magical creatures must have live there once upon a time. Being part Irish means I am a storyteller by nature. I certainly feel more Irish than anything else which is good since I’m a writer.

One of the things I learned about gargoyles from my editor was that not all the stone statues on buildings are considered gargoyles. That term has come to mean all of those, but the original gargoyles had a specific purpose. They conveyed water from the roof to the street. This made sure that the mortar and stone of the building wasn’t worn away.

I had always thought gargoyles were about protection. That’s what I used in my story Destiny of a Gargoyle.

The term gargoyle liked comes from the French “gargouille” which means gullet or throat. The water ran from the roof into a notch in the back of the gargoyle’s head and out its mouth. That is why so many of them are elongated. The further out they stretched the less damage on the building during a rainstorm.

When not made to move water off the roof, the statue is actually a grotesque or chimera. This is where the protection aspect comes in. They are supposed to frighten off evil spirits. In my mythos about gargoyles, long ago, they made a pact with fairies to serve as protection. The Foley family were elite gargoyles assigned to protect a specific fairy. Fairy royalty as it were. I guess they were the Beafeaters of fairy land.

The trilogy of When Gargoyles Love begins with a curse. The gargoyles are cursed into stone into their fairy comes along. Which makes me wonder what the gargoyles on certain buildings did to be cursed into stone. Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia has some grotesques on it as do many churches built in the early days of the city.

Being raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I often set things there. Everyone just used New York and I refuse to do that.

Ancient Egyptian gargoyles were usually lions. I used more of a dragon-like creature. I wanted it to be fierce and something that the modern-day heroine had never seen before. For me it added that the conflict. I wanted her to be initially afraid so that the gargoyle could truly win her over.

You will find gargoyles on churches built during the medieval times to show creatures from stories used to get commoners to convert to Catholicism. Since most people were illiterate at the time, gargoyles were often visual reminders of the oral stories told to them.

Gargoyles have a long history and I’ve just touched upon a small portion of it.


Out today!


Donal Foley was born in a time when magic ruled the Earth.

Gargoyles protected fairies from goblins. His family was a group of elite gargoyles who were assigned to protect a specific fairy. His father’s dereliction of that duty cursed his sons to become stone and wait.

Now reawakened in the twenty first century where no one believes in magic how is he going to convince his fairy that she is one and that she is in danger from a goblin?

He must do that without falling in love with her.


She’s it,” Donal said.

He could communicate with his brothers telepathically. Otherwise his time in stone might have driven him nuts.

You’re sure?” Sean said.

I’m sure. She’s it. I can feel my heart softening. She must be the one that I am supposed to protect,” Donal said.

Wow. After all of these years. And of course Donal finds his first. Lucky guy,” Declan said.

He is always the lucky one,” Sean said.

If I were that lucky I wouldn’t have been stuck in stone here with you two lugs,” Donal said.

He would have lived and died in his own time. Instead of watching what had happened to the fairies he’d been born to protect. They’d died off and somewhere along the line the fairies had forgotten who they were. He’d bet that Meg had no idea who she was.

About Me

Chris discovered at age ten she had a knack for storytelling. Ever since, she has wanted to be a published author. She was born and raised on Pennsylvania, holds a BA in Journalism from Penn State and is an established author of novels, novellas, shorts stories, newspaper articles and ghost-written books.

She has published mainly fiction, with a specialty in paranormal romance, but has written about contemporary romance, romantic suspense and cozy mystery for herself and for others. She is actively involved in the professional writing community, and conducts workshops to help other writers.
She lives in New Jersey with her family and animals. Writing is her passion and when she isn't writing, she practices yoga and runs.

Email: chrisreddingauthor [at] gmail [dot] com

Skype: Chris.Redding.Author