Friday, October 18, 2019

Book Tour and Giveaway: What Heals the Heart (Cowbird Creek Book 1) by Karen A. Wyle

Title: What Heals the Heart 
Series: Cowbird Creek Book 1
Author: Karen A. Wyle 
Publisher: Oblique Angles Press
Publication Date: October 15th 2019
Number of Pages: 266
Genre: Western Historical Romance 
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Joshua Gibbs survived the Civil War, building on his wartime experiences to become a small town doctor. And if he wakes from nightmares more often than he would like, only his dog Major is there to know it.

Then two newcomers arrive in Cowbird Creek: Clara Brook, a plain-speaking and yet enigmatic farmer’s daughter, and Freida Blum, an elderly Jewish widow from New York. Freida knows just what Joshua needs: a bride. But it shouldn’t be Clara Brook!

Joshua tries everything he can think of to discourage Freida’s efforts, including a wager: if he can find Freida a husband, she’ll stop trying to find him a wife. Will either matchmaker succeed? Or is it Clara, despite her own scars, who can heal the doctor’s troubled heart?

Joshua made the blacksmith drink down the first glass of water and powder before he left with a pouch holding six more doses. Whether he’d keep taking it, well, that was the blacksmith’s problem, for now anyway.

There was no one waiting, but before Joshua had time to do more than take a book down from the shelf, the door opened and a woman walked in. No, more like sailed in, a proud vessel, a four-master. She took off her coat to reveal a well-tailored dress, fitting snugly on her large, well-upholstered frame. Her graying, wavy hair peeked out from under a truly astonishing hat.

He hadn’t met this woman, but he believed he’d heard about her. Another newcomer to town, from somewhere back east; a widow; and apparently Jewish. That’d make her the first Jew he’d met.

She held out her hand. “Doctor! I’m so pleased to be meeting you. I’m Freida Blum.”

He shook her hand, studying her. He’d never heard her accent before, or not quite. It wasn’t as thick as the accent of that German he’d tended the last year of the war, when he’d turned medic; he could understand her without straining. But “Doctor” ended in a rough, husky sound, and “meeting” sounded more like “meetink.” There was something different about her vowels that he couldn’t put a word to. And her speech had a rhythm and a melody to it, almost like singing, or chanting anyway.

But here he was standing and gawking when he needed to be doctoring. “Please come through to the back and sit up on that table. Then you can tell me what brings you in today.”
She strode after him, passed him, and got on the table with a little jump, the wood creaking as she landed. “Oh, I’ve just had some aches and pains, here and there. And I get tired by afternoon. My age, you don’t expect to feel like a spring chicken. But I thought I’d stop in.”

She was studying him quite as much as he’d studied her. Whatever she’d heard about him, he guessed it was her curiosity more than any medical need that had sent her his way. But he’d check her over. He picked up his stethoscope.

“So young, for a doctor! But that’s just an old woman talking, I suppose.” (He wouldn’t call her old, exactly. Not quite. She might be in her middle fifties or a little older.)
Speaking of talking, she would need to stop. “If you could just take a deep breath, and then another, while I listen to your lungs.”
“Of course, of course. How can you do your job —” (“yure chob”) — “when I’m rattling on like a freight train? Samuel always said to me, Freida, the way you talk, when do you manage to breathe?”

“Mrs. Blum. Please.”

Praise be, she stopped talking and took deep breaths as he commanded. Her lungs sounded good. But she winced as she took the third breath. And she put a hand to her back as if it was paining her. She might have her reasons for being there, at that.

Or she could be lonely. Lonely people without enough to do sometimes felt sicker than they really were. “What do you do during the day, generally?”
The woman beamed at him as if rewarding the question. “I sew for so many people! This dress, I made it. All I have to do is walk around town, it’s as good as putting an ad in the paper. And I’m setting up the social library in the schoolhouse, me and the teacher, such a bright young woman. And my little neighbor, she’s like a daughter to me, I take care of her babies sometimes so she can get her rest.”

Not idle, then.

He pressed the stethoscope to her ample chest, giving thanks once again to the inventor who had spared him the even more awkward necessity of putting his ear there instead. Her heart sounded good — or did it? There might be a faint suggestion of a galloping rhythm.

Laudanum would help her with those aches and pains. He reached for a bottle, but Mrs. Blum stopped him, exclaiming, “Oh, I have that at home! May I come to you for more when I run out?”

Joshua pointed next door. “I get mine from the pharmacist. You can do the same.”

A shade of what might have been disappointment crossed her face. For whatever reason, she apparently found doctors more interesting than druggists. Her next questions suggested as much. “How did you learn so much about medicine? Did you go to one of those new schools?”

He shook his head. “I picked it up during the war, to start with.” And that was all he was going to say about those years of floundering and failing, the lives lost all around him, the suffering he could do little to ease.

The bell on the front door jingled a welcome chance to escape more questioning. Maybe he’d be summoned to some nicely far-off homestead to attend a stolid farmer, someone who had less to say for himself. “Excuse me, Mrs. Blum.” Without waiting for an answer, he stepped back into the front room to see a familiar face, a farmer’s youngest son, shifting his weight from foot to foot, his hands clutched together in front. The boy’s hair was wet — it must have started to rain since Joshua’s sunny morning walk. Good news for the farmers.

“Please, doc, we need you to come see to Paw. He was sharpening the coulter for the plow, and it fell over on his leg. It’s cut something awful.”

Joshua’s lips tightened, and he barely avoided a frown. That’s what wishing brought you. You’d think he’d learn. “I’ll get my bag.”
Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle's childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9.

Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.

Q. What inspired you to write What Heals the Heart?
A. Durned if I know! Some of my novels have grown out of news items, whether current events or accounts of scientific or technological advances. At least one started as a dream. But my earliest recollection of the seed for this book is a saved text file in which the protagonist was not a doctor but a private detective.

Q. What led you to self-publish your novels?
A. Once I finished the rough draft of my novel Twin-Bred, I began reading every blog and Twitter feed I could find, as well as several books, about the publishing process. At first, I was learning how to query agents and publishers, and how to format a manuscript for submission. But the more I read, the more I realized two things:

–Self-publishing was eminently feasible and would give me much more control over content, marketing and timing.

–In the current state of the industry, there are serious risks involved in the traditional route. More and more agency and publication contracts include language that can seriously limit an author's future options, while offering relatively little in exchange. Nor will the publisher who's preparing your book for publication in eighteen months necessarily be in business that long.

Q. Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter have inspired you?
A. Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God are brilliant treatments of the theme of human-alien communication difficulties, the subject of my Twin-Bred series. Like me, she started with science fiction and then turned to historical fiction. Her books inspire me even as their excellence intimidates me.

I have also tended to gravitate toward novelists who explore themes such as the irrevocable impact of actions and decisions, whether obviously momentous or seemingly trivial – novelists from the 19th Century author George Eliot to current YA author Caroline Cooney.

Q. What do you like best about being a writer, and what do you dislike most about it?
A. I love it when the story decides to write itself! It's a bit like being a medium and channeling some spirit. I also find it extremely rewarding when readers tell me that one of my novels has moved them or even helped them through a difficult time.

My greatest ongoing gripe is the amount of work involved in trying to increase my visibility in the crowded literary landscape. However, as that difficulty is inextricably connected to the greater opportunities for authors these days, I try to focus on the positive.

Q. Do you plan to write more historical romance? More historical fiction in general? More about Cowbird Creek and its inhabitants?
A. Having taken the plunge into historical fiction – which I hope readers will consider an apt description of this novel, despite its belonging in the subgenre of historical romance – I think it likely I’ll paddle around for a while. First up will probably be a second romance set in Cowbird Creek, focusing on a couple of the secondary characters in What Heals the Heart. I’m also intrigued by the possibility of dealing more thoroughly and seriously with the impact of the Great Grasshopper Plague of 1874-1875, about which I learned only late in the process of writing this novel. After that – who knows?

I will, however, strive to finish editing another near-future SF novel, Donor, and may well publish it before the second Cowbird Creek book.

Q. Why are most of your previous novels science fiction?
A. I’ve been reading (and to a lesser extent, watching) science fiction for so long that I tend to view experiences, such as walking my dog and wondering what she’s smelling, and new information, such as news stories about conjoined twins or womb twin survivors, through a science fiction lens.

Q. Which of your previous novels are most likely to appeal to readers who enjoy What Heals the Heart?
A. I hope that even readers unfamiliar with science fiction will, if they give my SF novels a try, find a similar style, sensibility, and thematic focus in those stories. That said, perhaps the novel closest in tone to, and whose subject matter has most in common with, What Heals the Heart is Wander Home, a family drama with mystery and romance elements set in a re-imagined afterlife. This afterlife has features which lend themselves to the confrontation of lingering personal issues and unfinished business. For example, you can relive any memory in perfect detail – and if someone else who took part in the remembered scene is there with you, you can trade places and remember the events from the other person's perspective. There are other aspects of the afterlife that, while serving this same purpose, are also just plain fun. You can be any age at any time, and visit any place that you remember or that anyone you meet – from any time in Earth's history – remembers.

Wander Home concerns a mother who desperately wanted a child, but who left that child in the care of her parents and grandmother for unknown reasons. The child, grandparents, and great-grandmother die in an auto accident four years after the mother's mysterious departure; the mother dies of stress cardiomyopathy ("broken heart syndrome") some time later, and is reunited with the family she left behind.
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60 comments:

  1. Thanks so much! Kelly Martin of KAM Design did the cover -- no mean task, as I'm a pretty demanding (okay, obsessive) client. I'm thrilled with it.

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  2. The excerpt has me wanting to read more. Thanks for your thoughts and sharing!

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    1. You're welcome! Great to hear you're intrigued!

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  3. I really like the cover, congrats on the release!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad so many people like the cover, which I adore.

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  4. happy saturday thanks for hosting

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  5. I like the cover-thanks

    tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

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  6. Nice sweet book cover, and the book sounds interesting.

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  7. Cover art looks great & excerpt sounds intriguing!

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  8. Replies
    1. Thank you! I look forward to your reading it! :-)

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  9. What authors to you enjoy reading?

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    1. Sorry about the late reply! I didn't see the question earlier -- for some reason it didn't show in my Google Mail inbox until now.

      I enjoy authors writing in many genres, including Mary Doria Russell (formerly SF, now historical fiction); John Scalzi (SF); Naomi Novik (fantasy of various kinds); Lois McMaster Bujold (SF and fantasy); Tessa Dare (historical romance) . . . and many more. If you follow me on Goodreads, you'll see others.

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  10. Love the cover Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Sounds like a great read.
    Patoct

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    1. Thanks so much! And my apologies for the late reply -- I've been having problems with Google Mail.

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  12. This sounds like a sweet story.

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    1. Thanks so much! And my apologies for the late reply -- I've been having problems with Google Mail (probably due to my own ignorance of its workings).

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  13. I think this looks like a fun read. Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. You're most welcome! (My apologies for the late reply -- I've been having problems with Google Mail (probably due to my own ignorance of its workings).)

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  14. Replies
    1. Thank you! (My apologies for the late reply -- I've been having problems with Google Mail (probably due to my own ignorance of its workings).)

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  15. I like the cover. It def draws me in. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you! Kelly Martin of KAM Design did the cover. (My apologies for the late reply.)

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  16. Awesome cover! Thanks for the opportunity to win.

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  17. Replies
    1. Thank you! Kelly Martin of KAM Design did the cover.

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  18. The cover looks very sweet. Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway.

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  19. It sounds like a good read and I like the cover.

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    1. Thank you! I hope you'll find it a good read if you give it a try.

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  20. Sounds really good. My friend and I share these books. She still has not entered contests though!

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    1. Good luck! I hope you win a copy and that you and your friend enjoy it!

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  21. Replies
    1. Thanks so much! Kelly Martin of KAM Design did the cover and put a great deal of work into it.

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  22. Beautiful cover, thanks for sharing :)

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    1. You're welcome! All hail Kelly Martin of KAM Design!

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  23. What a gorgeous cover.. Romantic!! ☺

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    1. Just what I was aiming for! Kelly Martin of KAM Design found just the right way to convey the feel of the story.

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  24. I think the cover is sweet and romantic. I wonder what is in Clara's past that is holding her back from love.

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    1. I'll say this: what's in her past is holding her back from more than just love. Cryptic enough? :-)

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  25. I love the book cover, It's scenic and romantic. Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks so much! Kelly Martin of KAM Design is responsible for the cover.

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  26. I love the cover. It reminds me of a movie or a tv show! Thanks for the chance. Rebecca Orr bekki1820cb@gmail.com

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  27. I think the cover looks interesting. It is well done. <3

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    1. All hail Kelly Martin of KAM Design, who persevered despite much wrongheaded interference from me! (She'll be doing the cover for Book Two in this series, and I intend to be much less obstructive this time.)

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  28. The cover is very pretty and western romance looking.

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  29. I think the cover is very vivid. I like the way the characters pop compared to the backdrop.

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  30. I love the romantic look to your cover.

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  31. Thanks to all those who've liked the cover! Kelly Martin of KAM Design is responsible.

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