Excerpt from AFTER THE FALL – August 2015 Release!

As promised, for a little Valentine’s Day treat, here is an excerpt from AFTER THE FALL, the second novel in my World War II series.


Darkness pressed in upon him with a tangible weight. The blackness was heavy. Moist. Filled with menace. Consciousness returned to him in a symphony of pain–the low throbbing undercurrent of bruised muscles…the sharper, high-pitched sear of open wounds. And through it all, the rhythmic jabs to his chest every time he tried to breathe.

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been able to take a gulp of air without moaning. Instead, he tried to sneak the oxygen into his system, praying he could baby his broken ribs and remain as small and imperceptible as possible.

How many days had it been? Nine…ten?

Less than that?


He couldn’t remember. The days had begun to blur together as he slipped in and out of consciousness. His stomach gnawed at the emptiness in his belly until he curled into a ball to ease the ache.

And he was thirsty. So thirsty.

It would be so easy to give in. Give in and give up. But settling deep within the pit of his ravenous stomach was a knot of anger that twisted as powerfully as his hunger. His body might succumb to the hell that surrounded him, but his mind would never surrender.

Not now.

Not ever.

Not until he’d seen her one last time.


Excerpt of My March Release – Into the Storm

Dearest J.,

Sadly, I have only one happy memory of my father.

I think I was about five–maybe six? Yes. I was six. I remember distinctly because my younger sister hadn’t been born yet and I was leery of a “little stranger” being sent from heaven to live with us.

According to the way Mama tells the story, I was a precocious girl, always getting into cupboards or her sewing box. Worse yet, I had an uncanny knack for escaping without her knowledge. New latches on the doors and a neat fence around the yard made very little impression on my wayward spirit. I didn’t want to entertain myself within the confines of the tiny house. As far as I was concerned, the cramped, four room shack was lacking in imagination. The same was true of the rocky lawn. And the fence? I regarded the neatly painted pickets with the same contempt a prisoner might eye his cellblock bars.

No, I wanted to explore the thick forest that meandered through the valley below the sawmill. There were age-old pine trees and fairy circles as well as squirrels and chipmunks and raccoons. Even better, away in the distance, I could see an enormous emerald pool—an abandoned quarry which had filled with water. I’d been warned countless times about staying away from the old limestone pit, but the mysterious blue-green lake became an obsession. I was sure that something so beautiful must harbor untold magic.

That fateful afternoon, while my mother bent low over her washboard out front, I found a rough wooden crate in the larder and dragged it up to the back door. Carefully climbing atop it, I leaned forward as far as I could and slipped the hook free from the latch. As soon as it worked free, out I tumbled, coming to a soft landing in the midst of Mama’s four o’clock blossoms.

I’m not sure how long I lay there, inhaling their musky scent, my body pulsing with the thrill of being free. I hadn’t been caught.

I hadn’t been caught!

Quick to finish my escape, I scrambled upright and wriggled beneath the fence in the same spot our dog Lucky had used earlier that week.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see the dappled sunlight. And the smells! Rich pine recently washed clean by a summer storm, loamy earth, and more subtly the pungent odor of pitch and resin.

At a trot, I headed for a forbidden path that wound through the towering evergreens. I would be back long before my mother finished the washing. No one would ever know about the adventure I’d had.

The trail was easy to follow, the ground cocoa-brown against the new spring grass. Birds chattered from the trees overhead—fat chickadees and vibrant jays. Squirrels darted in the shadows, chirping angrily at me for disturbing their idyllic afternoon, their bushy tails flipping and twitching indignantly in their wake.

Although my ultimate goal was the green-blue water, I became distracted by nubby toadstools, patches of multi-colored wildflowers, and bewitching butterflies. Without considering the consequences, I left the path and wandered deeper into the woods.

I don’t know how long I explored. It could have been minutes or maybe an hour. But gradually, I realized that my surroundings had become completely unfamiliar. I’d lost sight of the house, the trail, and even the pool.

I stopped, making a slow, complete circle as my enchantment evaporated. Shadows cast by the pine trees crept ominous fingers across the ground. The familiar noises of the forest faded, overlaid by the guttural croaking of frogs and the incessant creak of crickets. More ominous still were the rustling sounds coming from the undergrowth.

The hair on my arms stood at attention and I was swamped with foreboding. I had disobeyed my mother and she would be cross. And my father…

I didn’t even want to consider his anger.

Lisa’s Top Ten Romantic Date Ideas (or Wishes?)

Lisa’s Top Ten Romantic Date Ideas

(And yes, I am aware of the fact that most men would duck and run at some of them. But hubby’s batting 6/10.)


  1. A picnic lunch on a blanket under a tree—or even better, a picnic dinner while watching a multitude of fireworks displays from the side of a mountain.
  2. A Broadway show.
  3. Cuddling together on the sofa watching old movies on television.
  4. Dinner at a beautiful, romantic restaurant (rather than a place where the menu is bolted to the wall.)
  5. Having pizza delivered to you in a park.
  6. Dancing.
  7. A surprise, overnight excursion.
  8. A walk on the beach.
  9. A production of a Shakespearean play. (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, Twelfth Night and Troilus and Cressida are some of my favorites.)
  10. A winter’s ride on a horse drawn sleigh for two. (Ah…memories of my honeymoon!)


What are your most-longed-for dates with your significant other?



Creating a Romantic Reading Area

Do you have a special place that you like to read? As much as we’d love to have a comfy sitting room or library (such as in Downton Abbey) most of us have never had the luxury. So why not create a romantic reading corner?


First, find a place to sit that’s comfy. Choose a plush, overly-stuffed chair. (A recliner, a glider, a settee, or a nice sofa should do.) Next, you’ll need some good lighting. If you can, choose someplace with a natural light source near a window. If you can’t, find a good lamp. Even if you’re reading from an e-reader, it’s more pleasant to read in a well-lit area. You’ll also need something for your feet to rest upon, so if you don’t have a recliner, then find an ottoman or an extra-large pillow.


Now, for the romance. Drape your chair with a soft blanket—one you save for reading alone. Add some pretty throw pillows for those times your back needs extra support—or to rest your elbows on if you’re reading a book cover to cover. If your lamp is a little harsh, drape a scarf over the top. (Just make sure the wattage isn’t so high that it overheats the fabric.) I like to have a little table or stool next to my chair as well so I have a place for a cool beverage, hot chocolate, or a little snack. If you want, you can also light a little scented candle, or spritz your blanket with your favorite scent.


Or, if all else fails…lock yourself in the bathroom.


Here’s a teaser from Desperado!

As promised, here’s a little teaser from Desperado, my June release from Berkley.  Enjoy the first scene…




P.D. Raines had learned early in life that she couldn’t give up, couldn’t give in—even though it sometimes felt as if the world was out to get her. Take her name, for instance. The moment P.D. announced she was Prairie Dawn Raines, it was a foregone conclusion that strangers would assume she was a stripper or a fanatical, tree-hugging activist. Even worse, with such a fanciful name, they assumed she didn’t have a brain in her head–and she wasn’t being overly sensitive. Time and time again, she’d been told she would never amount to anything.

But P.D. refused to believe that she was predestined for failure because she’d been raised by a pair of drug-addicted, free-loving parents who drove from place to place, searching for Nirvana in a home-on-wheels fashioned from a refurbished school bus. Defying the odds—and the lack of a public school education—she’d sworn to herself that she would go to college, get a degree, and have a career. One that would pay for a house with a foundation dug solidly into the earth, honest-to-goodness electricity, and indoor plumbing.

Her determination hadn’t always been so iron-clad. Even her parents had scoffed at her plans, telling P.D. that her dreams were the “milksop of a blind Western capitalist society” and even worse, a denial of the freedom the elder Raines’ had taught her to value. Nevertheless, as the years had piled one on top of the other, P.D. had grown increasingly dissatisfied with her parents’ itinerant lifestyle. She wanted to live like the other families. Those with warm golden windows that flashed past her as they traveled down back road highways to the next “perfect spot.” She wanted to know what it was like to sit at a table and eat casserole from a steamy dish or cuddle on overstuffed couches in front of a glowing television set. More than anything, she wanted to belong somewhere. To be…

In the end, P.D. had refused to let her parents dent her enthusiasm–especially when it became more and more apparent that Summer and River Raines thought she was an inconvenience, a burden that detracted from their own need for oblivion, and worse yet, a voice of conscience when they really didn’t want one. She’d ignored their lack of physical and emotional support as well as their callous regard of her dreams, and she’d begun to plot out her own future.

Unbeknownst to her parents, P.D. had taken what little home-schooling her mother had provided to keep Social Services at bay, and she’d read anything she could get her hands on: art, literature, philosophy, science. As soon as she’d turned eighteen, she’d struck out on her own, finding a community center that would help her to complete her GED, take the ACT, and win a plum, full-ride scholarship. Within another four years, she’d earned double degrees at Nebraska State University. And the minute she’d had that diploma in hand, she’d vowed to put the pain of her adolescence in her rear view mirror and forge a future for herself as a world-class physicist.

But life had a way of biting a person in the butt by giving them what they wanted most. After a failed relationship with a coworker, and a stint in a research lab which had been nothing short of torture, P.D. decided to follow her passion rather than a paycheck. She’d returned to the one spot on earth where she’d felt most at home during her childhood wanderings.

Bliss, Utah.

The name itself was inspiring.

But even with the courage borne of such experiences, as P.D. pulled to a stop in front of Elam Taggart’s half-built cabin and the dust settled around her rattle-trap truck, she knew she couldn’t go through with this. She could not ask a man like Elam Taggart for help.

Not now.

Not ever.

“I’ll talk to him first,” Bodey Taggart said, gathering his crutches and opening the door. “Don’t come out unless I give you the signal.”

“Bodey, I—“

But just as she’d been about to beg Bodey to drop the whole thing, a figure rounded the corner of a half-finished upper deck at the rear of the house. In that instant, P.D.’s protests died before they could ever be formed.

Oh. My. God.

A man stood illuminated in the late afternoon light. As if the moment had been staged for a special-effects shot for the Hallmark Channel, rays of gold slipped across the contours of his bare chest, the faint patch of dark hair at his breastbone, and down, down, to the low-slung jeans and dusty boots.

“That’s your brother?” P.D. whispered.

“Yeah, that’s him.”

Elam Taggart stood still for several long moments, one hand raised as he tried to discern who had interrupted his solitude. At the sight of wide shoulders, well-developed arms, and a set of abs that looked like they’d been carved with a chisel, warmth flooded P.D.’s body, settling low in her belly and causing her breath to hitch in reaction.

God bless America, she thought, echoing the code phrase that her best friend Helen used whenever a fine specimen of manhood crossed her path.

Bodey struggled to slide from the truck with his crutches, orthopedic boot, and cowboy hat intact, but P.D. hardly noticed. Elam Taggart bent and grasped the edge of the deck with his hands, then swung down to the ground, the muscles of his arms, shoulders, and back rippling. He landed softly—making the “dismount” look as effortless as jumping from the curb.

He walked toward the pump a few feet away, his jeans slipping even further to reveal the weight he’d lost and a killer set of obliques. As he moved, P.D.’s gaze followed the hard ridge of muscle separating his abdomen from his hips until her eyes came to a stop at the faint line of dark hair that disappeared beneath his fly. She’d always been a sucker for low-slung jeans on a well-built man—not that she’d seen anyone in Bliss who could qualify for being truly “gawk-worthy.”

Until now.

Unaware of her prurient behavior, Elam unlatched the pump handle and waited for the water to run cool. Now that he was closer, P.D. could see that his bare arms and chest gleamed with sweat and a fine layer of sawdust. Over six feet tall, Elam was built like a runner, all lean, sinewy strength. The work he’d done on his cabin had given him a tan that blended well with the coffee-colored hair that brushed his shoulders and a beard that darkened his jaw.

When he leaned over to duck his head beneath the running water, P.D. could not have yanked her gaze away if her shoes were on fire. Instead, she watched like an adolescent Peeping Tom as he thoroughly doused his head, then snapped back to attention, droplets of water flinging into the air around him. The movement could not have been choreographed better had he tried. Bits of liquid scattered jewel-like into the air while rivulets cascaded down his face and chest. Then, he stood there, dripping, waiting for Bodey to approach.

Thunder Down Under, eat your heart out, P.D. thought. Because this wasn’t a man who manipulated his sexuality. He was completely unaware of the powerful picture he presented—or the fact that he could probably bring any woman to her knees with a single glance.

Shifting in her seat, P.D. knew she should look away.

Dear sweet heaven, she should definitely look away.

But she didn’t.

Not when she knew that at any moment, Elam would realize he was being watched by someone other than his brother and reach for the shirt that lay a few feet away.

And wouldn’t that be a shame.

Bodey had finally managed to traverse the uneven ground to his brother’s side, but P.D. had grown so distracted, she didn’t bother to listen to their conversation as they exchanged the internationally-recognized male-to-male greeting ritual—an awkward hug with lots of back slapping, an exchange of insults, then a punch to the arm. But P.D. was probably the only one who realized that–even though Elam went through the motions–the happiness that radiated from Bodey never even touched Elam’s eyes.

In an instant, the whispers of gossip that P.D. had heard in town raced through her head.

…too young to be a widower…

…Navy EOD…injured in Afghanistan…

…tortured soul…


P.D. had always dismissed the stories as being exaggerated and fanciful—and the nickname they’d given him, Desperado, had seemed ludicrous. But watching Elam now, in this unguarded moment with his brother, she began to believe that everything she’d heard was true—true and probably only the tip of the iceberg. It was obvious from the sharp, too-lean contours of his face and the raised scars that wrapped around one side of his waist, that Elam had been through hell and back—and he was pissed at the world. Even his posture–head slightly forward, shoulders tensed, hands held away from his body—relayed his wariness at what other obstacles Fate might throw his way.

He was the kind of man who could help P.D. with her current dilemma. Strong, determined, and stubborn–which was a moot point now. Because there was no way in hell that Elam Taggart would ever agree to her proposal. Even though, as was her prerogative as a woman, she had suddenly changed her mind again. She really, really wanted his help.

Geez. She was freakin’ out of her mind for even considering it.

P.D. killed the engine and strained to hear over the ticking metal. Bodey was talking now, and despite the growth of beard on Elam’s face, she could lip-read most of his end of the conversation.

What the hell happened to you?

He winced at Bodey’s response.

Don’t you know any better than to get out from under a horse before he rolls on you?

Then, he grew still, listening intently to what Bodey was saying.

P.D. froze, her fingers gripping the steering wheel, knowing that Bodey would now be presenting her case. Her gut tightened in apprehension and she was at once embarrassed and nervous.

Elam would probably say “no”.

There was no way he’d say “yes”.

But what if, miracle of miracles, he did agree? Did she really want to ally herself with someone so…intense? Could she withstand four days and nights of constant contact with a man like Elam without completely cracking from the strain? Or worse yet, begging him to—

P.D. brought her thoughts to a screeching halt, banishing the images of Elam Taggart wearing nothing but a smile. But the tingling that pooled low in her belly couldn’t be so easily dismissed.

She was nuts. Absolutely nuts.

Or maybe, much like Helen had repeatedly warned her, it was time P.D. brought a halt to her self-imposed “dry spell” where men were concerned and let it rain. Granted, a man like this would never look to someone like her for a meaningful, long-lasting relationship. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t have some fun if it were offered.

“I am so going to hell for even thinking about Elam Taggart that way,” P.D. whispered to herself. He was Bodey’s brother, for heaven’s sake. You didn’t mess around with a friend’s brother. It was an unspoken rule. Worse yet, it was asking for trouble.

But for the first time in her life, P.D. wasn’t sure if the “friend code” really made a heck of a lot of sense.

Another Goody Bag Contest!

Lisa’s Favorite Romantic Movie Moments


  1. Last of the Mohicans – Daniel Day Lewis, anytime, any frame. Who can forget?  “Stay alive. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.”
  2. Pride and Prejudice – Mr. Darcy’s proposal
  3. Jane Eyre – Jane reunites with the blinded Mr. Rochester. (Any version, I love them all.)
  4. Up! – Carl and Ellie’s lifelong romance scene. It reminds me so much of my parents that it always makes me cry.
  5. Beauty and the Beast – when Belle is given permission to use the library.
  6. Titanic – the sketching scene.
  7. An Affair to Remember – (Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant) their final reunion.
  8. North and South – (British Mini-series starring Richard Armitage) when Thornton frames Margaret’s face in his hands.
  9. North and South – (television mini-series) when Orry finally finds Madelaine and is introduced to his infant son.
  10. Sense and Sensibility – The proposal.


What are your favorite romantic movie moments? “Comment”or “Tweet” your response so we can all get some great new ideas. I’m going to be giving another reader’s goody bag away! You can also enter by “liking” any of the posts from now until midnight Sunday MST (2/8/2015). Or you can “like” or send your name and address via my webpage. (lisabinghamauthor.com) In honor of the event, I’ll be posting an excerpt of the first chapter of Desperado as a treat!

The Dangerous Side Effects of Being an Author

There is a dangerous side to an author’s life, so please be kind. In one of my earlier posts, I talked about what happens when characters come alive—how sometimes we see our scenes as inner movies, or our characters become so real that they begin to have their own minds.


Now…it’s time to expose the dark side. When the writing is flowing, we’re deep in a story, or we’re concentrating on a new plot…we authors become absolutely anti-social blithering idiots.


The Symptoms


Doo-hickey Disease – An author who is writing will suffer from “Doo-hickey Disease”. Suddenly, even though we make our living through words, we will not be able to speak in coherent sentences. The most basic vocabulary terms will escape us. You can identify the beginnings of this phase when you ask and author, “How are you today?” and we respond with “I…” and then they stare at you blankly. Or they approach you, intending to tell you your hair is on fire, but all that emerges is “Your…uh…that…up on top…of your…you, know, that thing above your shoulders, has…dancing red and yellow…thing-a-ma-bobs…whatever. Water.”


Anti-social Behavior – An author who is writing will become chronically anti-social. She will not call, text, or email–or if she does, all correspondence will be incoherent. (See “Doo-hickey Disease.) She will not attend social functions, wave to you in the grocery store or remember your name. If you stop to chat with her, she will appear distracted and impatient and stare at you blankly. Do not be alarmed by these symptoms. No personal slight was intended. Frankly, while you are trying to engage her in any kind of meaningful interaction, her brain is in a Regency England prison, a tornado in Kansas, or feeding grapes to a Scottish warlord. The sudden lack of correspondence is due to the fact that while you are thinking, “We should meet for lunch!” the author is thinking “I need to finish eighty pages before Wednesday on my contemporary project, I have an author signing on Saturday, I have copyedits to finish by the end of the week on the historical—I really should come up with another proposal!—and what the heck was the name I used for the dog’s puppies in book one of my trilogy?


Alarming Changes in Personal Appearance – The last of the symptoms you might note is an alarming change in an author’s personal appearance. The clues may be subtle—shoes that don’t match, a lack of coordinating clothing, or a dearth of makeup. However, in some cases, authors have been known to suffer from extreme symptoms such as hair poking up at odd angles, bags under their eyes, wearing the same clothes two days in a row, or pale skin that would do a vampire proud. Yes, we authors need to be pitied in these cases because we have probably not been out of our own personal hidey-holes for some time. We have probably been existing on Diet Coke, peanut M&M’s, and dill pickles for weeks. We are exhausted, anxious, paranoid, and living with enough characters rattling around in our brains to make a schizophrenic proud.


If you have noted any of these symptoms, do not be alarmed! Because the minute we receive a great review, meet a deadline, find our novels “in the wild”, or have a warm note sent to us by our readers…


We will return to some semblance of normality.

When Characters Come Alive

One of the most common questions I’m asked is: “Where do you come up with your ideas?” The simple answer…I eavesdrop.


Well, maybe not entirely, but in most cases, my ideas have come from listening carefully to what people say when they are around me. It can be a juicy piece of gossip being discussed by strangers in the grocery store checkout line, favorite family anecdotes, or those “I wish…” statements that people sometimes offer.


I’m also hyperaware of things that make me curious. The germ of an idea to write about a modern cowboy, came from an invitation to go to a SASS competition with a friend. (The Single Action Shooting Society members dress in Victorian clothing and hold shooting competitions based around fictional situations one might have encountered in the Old West.) Call of the Wild—my contemporary romcom novel about a woman who has to compete with a three-hundred pound gorilla for a man’s attention, came from watching a documentary on Coco the gorilla being taught sign language.


What you may not know is that, one phenomenon most authors report is the fact that, when you’re really passionate about a story and its characters, the characters “come alive.” We actually see these characters interacting in our imaginations much the same way you might watch a movie. And if the characters really “come alive”, sometimes they will rebel against the author. They might insist on changing the conflict, reacting contrary to our outlines, or hijacking a scene. I have had characters who refused to cooperate until I changed their names or the color of their hair. I’ve even had characters who insisted on ending a book at a spot much earlier in my outline than I had anticipated. (In After the Fall, a group of soldiers insisted that I begin the climax of my novel while they were on patrol. In listening to this gut instinct, the novel ended up completely rewriting itself contrary to what I’d originally thought.) I even had a historical character once who insisted she wanted to be a nun—and the idea came from a rerun of the old sitcom Night Court. Go figure.


As a result, we authors can get a little crazy about saying goodbye to our characters. I’ve often gone into mourning when I couldn’t write about a certain character—or I’ve developed a sequel just to have another chance.


So next time you’re swapping gossip at a coffee house…you might want to check to see if anyone is taking notes. We authors are a sneaky bunch.

Between the Covers!

“Between the Covers”


Have you ever wondered why some book covers grab your attention while others barely warrant a glance?


Designing a cover for a book is an elaborate process. Publishing houses employ the use of focus groups or data from past sale records to determine what really “pops” on the shelves. Special consideration is given to the placement of the title and the author’s name, quotes from critics or other authors, and the back “blurb” which teases the consumer with character and plot information. After this information has been gathered, a publishing house may have several meetings with such staff members as artists, marketing specialists, and editors.


After a design concept has been chosen, an artist will be given a “brief”. I remember filling out ten page briefs on everything imaginable—outdoor scene, indoor scene, heroine’s coloring, favorite hobbies, allergies, and pet peeves. Well, maybe not allergies and pet peeves, but close. It always amazed me and my writer buddies that with that much information, sometimes the characters on the cover would have the wrong coloring—or they’d be pictured with a character other than the hero.


Once the artist has absorbed the brief, the books that featured characters on the front would then require the artist to “cast” models, dress them in period clothes, and then complete a photo shoot. One photo would then be selected and the artist would then do a painting. As a costuming specialist, it always irked me if the artist didn’t do his homework and he would use clothing from the wrong era in history. I always loved an artist who remained true to the time period. Lately, some publishers have opted to use the photographs themselves, rather than a painting.


In the past, authors were given very little control over any of the artwork that would appear on their books. This was often a nerve-wracking experience when we waited to see if we would get a “good” cover. I’ve had some great covers and some real “doozies” that made me cringe. More and more, however, authors are being allowed feedback and approval opportunities on their covers. Indie authors can oftentimes design their covers themselves, or hire graphic artists or specialty companies to design the artwork.


As with any products, the cover styles have changed over the years. Remember the “Fabio” bodice ripper covers of the Eighties? (I never had Fabio, thank goodness, but I had a few characters who clearly had mislaid their buttons.) In the nineties, “Valentine Covers” with raised details, delicate landscapes, and covers with frames that opened to larger paintings on a secondary cover were popular. Lately, many covers have adopted “hero only” artwork, landscapes, or the use of photographs rather than paintings.


So the next time you examine a cover, you might want to take a closer look and see how you’ve been teased into picking it up!


The winner of today’s goody bag is Mike Bird.  He commented that the “Taggart” name was a local one in our area and he had a relative who was a Taggart.  Good catch!  I purposely try to use names popular to my setting or of famous original settlers.  Keep trying, everyone!  All those who “like”, “share”, or “comment” between now and Saturday will be eligible for another goody bag I’ll be giving away that morning!
Thanks, everyone for the great response!

The Big Reveal…Desperado’s Artwork and Contest!


As promised, today is the day!  I’m revealing the artwork for the cover of Desperado, the first of three books being published by Berkley in the Taggart Brothers Series.  In honor of the occasion, I’ll be giving away a free reader’s goody bag!  If you’d like to be entered in the contest, all you need to do is “like”, “comment”, or “share” on Facebook, “retweet” on Twitter, or send your name and address to me via my website.  Contest will be open for entries until February 3, 12:00 noon MST

Tomorrow on my posting, I’ll give you an insider’s look on how coverart is developed.

Good luck!