Archive | November 2017

Music Behind the Story – Under the Western Sky by Dellani

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500

Quite often, my characters are musicians. A lot of them play guitar because my sons do, and it’s what I’m familiar with. Also, I’m totally hooked on guitarists like Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Dave Gilmour and Carlos Santana. Santana’s music features in Under the Western Sky, a romantic suspense novel set in Western Nebraska in 1976. One of the main characters is Bobby Menendez, a young Mexican man who loves to play the guitar. He is always telling his best friend, Danny, that bands like KISS won’t last, but in 30 or 40 years, people will still be listening to Carlos Santana and Led Zeppelin.

At one point during the story, the characters gather at Bobby’s home and have their own version of Name That Tune.

Excerpt from Under the Western Sky

After they ate, Evanston and Bobby got their guitars. Some of the others also had musical instruments and they sat down to play. Rico kept time tapping on the bowls, dishes and table top. Libby and Toni sang. Jim surprised everyone by turning up with a banjo and Toby rushed home for his bass guitar and amp.

Once the improvised band was assembled, they sat down to find a song or two they all knew. Most music they didn’t have in common until Evanston played a very distinctive melody. Laughing, they all joined in playing Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bobby played rhythm and the girls sang, their voices blending beautifully.

With barely a break, Bobby started Free Bird, improvising the solo since he had never stopped to figure it all out. From there, he launched into Europa by Santana. Before he was finished, the others dropped out, listening to him in awe. Realizing that he was playing alone, he came to a halt, looking around him, wondering if he’d done something wrong.


Libby leaned over, kissing him lingeringly. “I had no idea you could play that well.”

“Where have you been keeping that, Babu?” Maria asked him breathlessly.

Bobby had trouble focusing, his attention still on the music. “What do you mean? Was it bad?”

“It was so good, I couldn’t even keep up,” Link said with a grin. “Damn, kid. That was something else!”

“Really? I just played.” He shrugged, suddenly embarrassed by their compliments.

“Is the concert over?” Toby sounded disappointed. “I was just getting into it. Come on, let’s keep playing. I’m itching to play something else. See if you can figure this one out.”

Flexing his fingers, he started to play. Although it was an octave lower, he played a melody Libby had loved for years. Evanston joined in with a grin and Rico improvised drums on a plastic container full of potato salad. When it got to the vocal, Bobby started to sing, looking at Libby.

“Well she’s walking through the clouds with a circus mind that’s running around. Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams and fairy tales….”

He knew how much Libby loved Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix. If he could have sung it to her alone, he would have taken that moment to propose because all the love he felt for her washed over him, making him dizzy. When the vocal ended, he joined Link on the guitar, taking melody as the older man slid into harmony. They played several minutes, Link following Bobby’s lead as he improvised an intricate solo.

This time they didn’t stop playing, wanting to listen to the magic that came from his fingers. No one wanted to disturb his focus, causing him to quit. When he stopped, the others were staring at him again and he got very embarrassed. Seeing how he was feeling, Jim hopped in with his banjo.

“I’m feeling left out,” he plucked a few notes. “See if you can follow this one.”

Laughing loudly, Evanston played the same notes, which Jim repeated. The two launched into a lively rendition of Dueling Banjos from Deliverance. When they had finished, Jim went directly to Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

It was getting late and Connie decided they all needed to go to bed if they were going to get to church in the morning. As a finale, the girls sang His Eye is on the Sparrow so perfectly, even the men were near tears.

They parted reluctantly, especially those going back to motel rooms. Bobby walked Libby across the street with Grace and Toby trailing behind them. They went inside, feeling oddly self-conscious with the adults in the living room saying good night.

“I didn’t realize it was so serious between them,” she whispered, smiling happily. “I’m really happy for her.”

“Me too,” Bobby said, not wanting to talk about Libby’s mother.

His lips covered hers before she could speak again, kissing her deeply. His arms wrapped around her, holding her close. He infused his kiss with his love, hearing Little Wing play in his mind as they embraced.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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I apologize for not having a link to Little Wing. It’s really hard to find and doesn’t seem to be on You Tube at all. I did find Skid Row’s version of the song, which, while it’s not Hendrix, is still pretty good.

When Tis Done – Part 8

When Tis Done coverNeil, Dora Finley’s brother, has returned after nearly two decades. Could he be the replacement that the Center Circle needs to heal it?

“Yes, the way Mama fixed it. Me, I’d have burnt it to a crisp.”

“Thanks, Peanut. This is great!”

“I’m Lucy, not Peanut!”

“Oh, sorry Lima Bean!”

She stamped her foot, pretending to pout, but the giggle escaped her. “You’re silly, Uncle Neil.”

“I got it from Mommy. She made me silly before we were born.” He stood slowly, rubbing the kinks from his thighs.

“You were twins!”

“Yep, we still are. Me first, Mommy five minutes later.”

She gave him a hug around his knees and ran in the yard after her sister.

“Come in and have a bite,” their mother said, after hugging and kissing him ardently.

“Mama, I could sure use a shower first.”

“Of course! Daddy’s inside. It’s hard for him to get around these days. His C.O.P.D. is real bad, Sugarbean.”

Neil followed his mother, shuffling his feet. It was hard enough coming home after all these years, but to see his formidable, robust father reduced to a tired, old man, was almost more than he could bear. His father sat in his comfortable, blue recliner, feet up, watching TV top volume. He looked up and grinned at his son. Releasing the lever, he lowered his feet and stood.

Neil held his father gently, afraid he’d bruise him, or worse. His father’s embrace was a shadow of what it had been, but the strength was there—briefly.

“Damn good to see you, son. Been too long since you were home.”

“Way too long, Daddy. I’m sorry….”

“Nonsense. You did what you had to. But you’re home now. By God, boy, you stink!”

“My air went out around Memphis.”

“No wonder, evil old place, Memphis.” He winked. A native of Tennessee, he enjoyed poking fun. No one else had better do it in his hearing, though. In his younger days, he’d been in more than one fight because of it. “Let this boy have a shower, Mama,” he said to his wife. “He reeks to hell and back.”

“That I do.”

“Go on up. You’re in the guest room. The girls are sharing your old room. Chase is in the basement.”

“There’s two rooms down there, you in both, boy?”

“No, sir.”

“I’d as soon be down there, Mom. Suits me to be underground.”

“Whatever you want, Sugar. There’s fresh towels and sheets on the bed.”

He gave her a kiss. Chase showed him to the basement. It looked much as it had in his youth. It was freshly painted and the pattern of the bedspread had changed, but the overall feel of it said home to him. He’d always liked the basement rooms. Built into the side of a steep hill, the back of the house was exposed, with a beautiful view of the woods. As a child, he’d spent as much time here as he could, reading, working on his school projects and daydreaming about his life to come. On cool days, he’d fling the French doors open to the outside, lie on his belly and watch the trees move, their leaves singing in the breeze.

“Takes me back a piece,” he told Chase. “Which you in?”

Chase pointed to the left. Neil nodded, heading to the room on the right. He put his bags in the floor and headed directly to the small, interconnecting bathroom. His shower was long and as hot as he could get it. It felt so good to get the road grit and sweat off his body, he indulged himself. Once he felt cleaner, he made sure to shave before getting dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. His mother insisted that they go without shoes in the house, to save the carpets. He didn’t mind, preferring going barefoot to wearing socks and shoes. His dirty clothing, accumulated over the last few days, went in the washer and he started a load. His mother might object, but his clothing reeked of sweat. He hardly wanted to touch it himself, let alone make his delicate mother do it.

Waiting in the sitting area, he found Chase. His nephew looked old beyond his years, care worn and down trodden. The emotions radiating off him were enough to make Neil gasp and take a step back. He’d always been empathic, but now—something was new here. Something had changed. Or maybe it was he who had changed? He didn’t know. Crossing the room, he sat by the boy, putting his arms around him as he drew him close.

“Let it out, son. If you can’t cry in front of me, who can you? I’ve been in your shoes, boy. Let it out.”

Chase sobbed, his body shaking with the horrendous emotions he’d tried so hard to contain. He wept for his father, and for his mother having to go on without him. He cried for himself, missing his father so much it hurt, and for his sisters, who would grow up without their daddy. He also wept for his grandparents, who missed their son.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

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Misfortune of Vision – Book 4 in The Druid’s Broach Series Now On Pre-Order

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Misfortune of Vision, book #4 in The Druid’s Brooch Series, by Christy Nicholas is on pre-order NOW! Just 99 cents until release date on January 10, 2018. Get your copy now!

~ Prophecy can be dangerous ~

In 12th century Ireland, Orlagh has been Seer to her king for forty years. He doesn’t want to hear her prophecies of war and destruction, and dismisses her efforts to warn him. Therefore, she is determined to fulfill her own quest: to find a worthy heir for her magical brooch.

In the course of events, she must pass judgment on a thief, escape a Norman war camp, and battle wits with a Fae lord. She receives some prophecy of her own and enlists the help of a grizzled old warrior, who happens to be a long–time friend.


January 24, 1177 AD Dún Dá Leathghlas (Downpatrick), Ulster, Ireland

Clodagh, do pay attention. Someday your woolgathering will get you in trouble. What happens if you forget you’re making a tincture? Some of these herbs will burn and turn to poison if you aren’t careful.”

The girl hung her head. “Yes, mistress.”

And don’t ‘yes, mistress’ me so meekly! I won’t bite your head off child. But if you’re meek, the world will treat you like a slave. You must be strong to survive. Have you learned nothing from me?”

Yes, mistress.”

Orlagh sighed. She despaired of ever making something of this sweet child. Ever since that incident at the market, she’d watched the girl closely, but nothing else happened. Perhaps it had been an isolated incident. With a growl, she measured more celandine into the concoction she was making. A little more hemp nettle? Not too much. It was poisonous in great quantities. Just a little helped soothe the stomach. Speaking of soothing the stomach, she needed another drink. She took a long swig on her meadskin.

Go on, then. Clean those bowls and then pull down the herbs. Check each one for mildew. You know the signs to look for, yes?”

Yes, m—”

Call me mistress again in that tiny voice and you’ll feel my hand, child.”

Yes… Orlagh.”

That’s better. Now go, do your work. Ask if you have questions.”

With Clodagh appropriately occupied, Orlagh turned to her tincture. The tincture was an excuse. She could make this compound in her sleep if she must. What she needed was quiet time to concentrate. She’d had a troubling dream the night before, and many years of prophecy had taught her not to ignore her dreams. It had been chaotic and confusing. There was fighting, but not with Gaelic soldiers. Could they have been Normans? She had a flash of short hair and odd helmets. Not the Ostmen, then. Their hair and beards were longer and wilder than the Gaels. No, it must be the Normans. Unless there was a yet unknown threat. But the Norman army was only in the southeast of Ireland. They had never ventured north of Dublin, and that was far to the south.

Never say never, she reminded herself. There was always a first time, and for something disastrous, that first time always came when you could deal with it least. Normans, then. Normans coming north for the tuath of Ulaidh.

© 2017 Christy Nicholas

To Pre-Order Misfortune of Vision, book,4 in The Druid’s Brooch Series 

Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Andy and Josh

TODAY, November 13, 2017 at 4 PM EST (3 CST, 2 MST, 1 PST) on Blog TalkRadio

Can you believe it’s November already? Where did the year go? The scent of fall is in the air—at least it is other places, but not Florida. I’m still running my air conditioning. Halloween has passed and Thankgiving looms ahead. As we prepare for the onslaught of the holidays, it’s nice to relax and enjoy talking to my two handsome, amazing guests!

First up, returning to the show, is award winning, dark fantasy author Andy Peloquin, author of Child of the Night Guild, Thief of the Night Guild, Different, Not Damaged and others. Welcome back, Andy! We’re so glad to have you with us again.

New to the show is Joshua Robertson, award winning author of The Blood of Dragons Series, Thrice Nine Legends Saga, The Hawkhurst Saga. Welcome to the show, Joshua. We know you’ll have fun with us!

Both authors write dark fantasy, I don’t know if I did that on purpose, or if it’s just a happy accident. Either way, sit back, have a listen, enjoy the show and join us in the chat room if you dare! Who knows what treats these gents have in store!

Tune in Live or Listen at Your Convenience!

When Tis Done – Part 7

When Tis Done coverChase and Marissa have a serious talk and start mending their relationship. Heath and Jackie are worried about them because they help stablize the Inner Circle.

“Miles and Maribelle are nuts to have Elise so late,” Heath said.

“You know how much they wanted another child. The rest of us have so many. For them, it was only ever Brian,” Jackie replied.

“I have a feeling that baby girl is going to be a lot like her brother.”

“Oh, surely not. There’s only one per family.”

Heath pressed his lips together, shaking his head. “Not entirely true. I’ve been going through the archives with Chase and Cynthia, trying to make sense of Cliff’s system. We came across something. I haven’t said anything to the others yet. I don’t want Maribelle to worry. Once in awhile, a second child can also be chosen by a Circle. It’s rare, but it happens.”

“Lord have mercy, I was so hoping that Maribelle would have one normal child.”

Heath chuckled. “Baby, it’s not like any of our kids are exactly normal. The boys grew up knowing their baby sister was going to be the chosen one from their generation. They know about more weird stuff than some folks twice their ages.”

Chase and Marissa were still talking quietly on the porch when the house phone rang. Jackie reached for it.

“Hello?” She listened for a moment. “Oh, hi, Dora. Yes, Chase is here. He’s kind of—occupied at the moment. He and Marissa have been talking.” She nodded. “Yes, exactly. Well, good. Thank you for letting me know.” She turned to her husband, worried frown on her face. “He’s almost here. She wants Chase home for when he arrives.”

* * *

Crossing into the city limits of Miracle, his skin tingled. It wasn’t unpleasant, exactly, more along the lines of a sensual touch from someone he didn’t know. It felt great, and disconcerting at the same time. He was hot, sweaty and exhausted. His air conditioner had crapped out somewhere south of Memphis and he’d made the remainder of his trip with the windows down, praying it wouldn’t rain.

Rolling up to his parents’ home, a place he hadn’t been in close to twenty years, was strange to him. He’d left, not under the best of circumstances, putting Miracle, Mississippi and all its oddities, behind him. He’d seen his folks a few times, when they came to see him. He loved his family, but he’d never been able to live with the disappointment of who and what they were—that he wasn’t.

Shutting off the engine, he stared at the house without moving to get out of the car. Couched in a grove of giant magnolia trees, it looked magical. A snort of laughter left him feeling weak. Magical…. Yeah. Stepping out onto the gravel driveway, he inhaled deeply. The scent of pine trees, magnolia blossoms and the tang from the river, filled his nostrils. Closing his eyes, he inhaled again, feeling something sweep over him, knocking him back a step. He couldn’t put a name to it, but it was a sense of belonging that he’d never felt before. It comforted and scared him all at once.

It’s so beautiful here. I never noticed just how stunning it is.

The front door opened and his family walked out. He hardly recognized the two girls, Katie and Lucy, having only seen them in pictures. His sister looked older and care worn, not unexpected under the circumstances. And Chase….

God, he’s the image of his dad!

Seeing his nephew, he burst into tears. The boy, now man, raced down the steps, hurling himself at his uncle.

“Uncle Neil! It’s so good to see you!”

Neil clung to his nephew, weeping. He’d held himself together through the entire trip, only to lose it right before he walked in the door.

Some Marine you are, Braxton, he mentally chided himself. The girls drew back from him, but Dora rushed down the front steps, flinging herself into his arms. He held his fragile, slender twin, as she wept uncontrollably.

“Oh, Neil! I’ve missed you so!” she sniffed and sniffled.

He became aware of how rank he smelled and how damp his shirt was. “Sorry, I’m not real fresh. Damn air in the car conked out. Maybe you can help me fix it later?” he appealed to Chase. “Your daddy said you’re pretty handy.”

“We’ll pop the hood tomorrow.”

“Come meet the girls,” Dora said, taking his hand. “Katie, Lucy, this is Uncle Neil.”

Katie, the older of the two, stepped forward, smiling up at him. Throwing her arms around his waist, she hugged him. “Welcome home,” she said.

Lucy came forward shyly. He went down on one knee to be on her level. She handed him a drawing of two men standing together, a huge fish hanging between them.

“This is you and Daddy fishing,” she said with a gap toothed grin. “I copied the picture on Mamaw’s dresser.”

“Yes, I remember this day. We went to the river and caught that granddaddy catfish. He was some good eating, wasn’t, he Dora?”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

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Excerpt from Sidetracked, My 2017 NaNo Novel

sidetracked coverSidetracked is my 2017 NaNoWriMo novel. For those who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, click here.

Sidetracked turned into something far different from what I had intended. I wanted to write a cozy mystery, but what I got was far from cozy. This moment is, however, really cute, so I decided to share it.

“I promise. With all my heart,” Vanessa said.

“Good.” Jasper gave her a final squeeze and pat on the back. “Love ya like a sister,” he whispered.

“Love ya like a big goombah,” she replied just as quietly.

“No fondling the detective,” Scott said with a laugh. “What brought on this tender moment? And do I get one?” He held out his arms.

Jasper hugged him, pulling him so tightly, Scott gasped.

“Not you, f*ckwit!” Scott laughed.

“I needed Scotty Snuggles,” Jasper teased.

“Get to work,” Scott replied.

“That’s the problem working with your best friend,” Vanessa said, giving Scott a hug.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 6

When Tis Done coverJackie has a heart to heart with Marissa, telling her to show Chase a little more affection. Jordan and Brian demonstrate how close they’ve become, virtually reading one anothers minds.

The men came in with a pitcher of fresh lemonade and glasses of ice. There were bowls with sliced strawberries and sprigs of mint.

“I’ve been wanting mint most of the day,” Heath admitted as he poured lemonade in the glasses. “But I sensed that you wanted strawberries, my love.” He handed Jackie a glass of lemonade with sliced berries in it.

“Perfect, I do. Jordan, what would you like?” Jackie raised an eyebrow, her eyes moving between her daughter and Brian.

“She wants mint,” Brian said.

Jordan’s eyes widened. “I do! And I know you want berries like Mom.”

Brian chuckled as he poured her lemonade, dropping three springs of mint into the glass before handing it to her.

Marissa’s face fell and she hid behind her hands. Chase sprang across the room, kneeling at her side. His hand caressed her pale blonde hair.

“Hey, no tears, Riss. I know—I know it’s not easy with me. I’m a dumb jock. I’m—I’m a pain in the ass, babe. I know that.”

The others drifted off, taking their lemonade with them. Jackie lingered in the doorway, watching the dynamic between them, nodding.

“I’m so sorry I’m such a jerk, Marissa. I don’t mean to push. I just—”

“I see how happy everyone else is. I want that, too, Chase. I don’t know how to get that for us.”

“Would you be happier—without me? With someone—not me?”

“Now you’re talking nonsense.”

“It’s just, Heath said that sometimes the Circle messes up. That we get one do over. One of us can leave the Circle and another mate is found.”

“You want to cast me aside for someone else?” Marissa’s tone changed as her temper rose.

“Dammit, Marissa, I’m not casting you aside! I’m giving you the opportunity to decide if you really want me. If you want to continue with the Circle, find another mate, I’ll bow out. I’ll do that for you, Riss. Because—ice crystals on my dick and all, I love you. I would die for you. But I need more from you. And I’m not talking about sex, cause God forbid I say anything of the sort!”

His temper rose, feeding off hers. Taking a deep breath, he put that old argument aside.

“What I’m saying is that I need a hug once in awhile. I need a kiss on your lips. I need to know you love me, Marissa. Because, if you don’t, I’m giving you the chance to change your mind. If I’m not the man for you, say so. I’ll step aside graciously.”

“If I do, that means you get a different woman,” she replied, angrily tight lipped. “Is that why you’re being so magnanimous? You’d get rid of me.”

“No!” Chase sobbed, collapsing at her feet. “No,” he whispered. “It means my heart would shatter. It means that I would fall to pieces. But I would give you this, Marissa Pennybaker. I would free you from our bond, if that’s what you want.”

“Well, I just don’t know,” she replied stiffly, her movements sharp and birdlike. “I will have to pray about this, Chase.” Her mouth worked, her lips tugging downward. “Is this what you want?” she squeaked, her voice high and girlish. She wouldn’t look at him, her hands working in the folds of her skirt.

“I’m on the floor, at your feet, Marissa. Does it look like this is what I want? It’s killing me,” he sobbed. “I’m dying and you don’t even care.”

Marissa burst into tears, pulling him to her. She kissed him on the mouth, holding his face in her hands. Her prim attitude shattered as she wept, hugging him tightly. Chase’s arms went tentatively around her, pulling her to him as he knelt at her feet.

“Dammit, I love you, Marissa. You make me angrier than a broke back snake, but I can’t live without you.”

“That’s the sweetest thing you ever said to me,” she whispered, running her fingers through his hair.

In the kitchen, Jackie smiled. Not all the issues were resolved, but they’d made their choice. She was glad, because she knew that this Circle, of them all, would face many challenges. They’d already been tested more in the last two years, than her Circle had since its birth.

Heath came in, pulling her close. “I guess what we said helped. Thank God. I hate to think where we’d be if they had to initiate two new members.”

“Their Circle would falter without Chase and Marissa. They stabilize it.”

He nodded, holding her close. “You scared the shit out of me with that fried food meal.”

Jackie giggled, giving him a kiss. “Sorry about that. I couldn’t resist. I have been craving it, but the girls think it might be Louisa.”

“I just thank God it’s not us. I love our kids, but I’m ready for it to be just us two. Miles and Maribelle are nuts to have Elise so late.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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