About       Books

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jo Grafford and the Lost Colony Series

Astraea Press released Jo Grafford's novel, BREAKING TIES around the same time as the television show, Sleepy Hollow featured a segment on the same subject, the Lost Colonists of Roanoke Island.

Jo Grafford guest hosts today. Here's her update on her fascinating Lost Colony Series.
Welcome, Jo Grafford! 

Jo Grafford:
So many exciting things happened in March – not the least of which was receiving that magical “call,” or email in this case when Astraea Press offered a contract last week for book two TRAIL OF CROSSES in the epic Lost Colony Series.

Book one BREAKING TIES is based on real people and events. Narrated by Rose Payne the ship clerk who was simply trying to outrun a broken heart, it traces the last known whereabouts of a gutsy band of English pioneers – ninety-one men, seventeen women, and nine boys - who would soon become known as the Lost Colonists of Roanoke Island.

Book two TRAIL OF CROSSES tracks a remnant of these English colonists inland where they embark on a dangerous game of survival amidst warring tribes. In a region on the brink of explosive change, Jane Mannering and her ragtag outfit of brick masons and blacksmiths ride a mighty upheaval of centuries-old cultures. Will a newer, better nation arise from all the breaking, or will they descend into utter chaos?

For a quick and dirty summary of the latest Lost Colony archeological finds, click on this news article:

For regular updates on the Lost Colony Series and the ongoing search for the Lost Colonists, please visit

Jo is a mega reader of all genres and loves to indulge in marathon showings of Big Bang Theory, CSI, NCIS, and Castle. Her favorite books are full of rich history, Native Americans, and an occasional creature from the otherworld – dragons, vampires, and time travelers.
From St. Louis, Missouri, Jo moves a lot with her soldier husband. She has lived in the Midwest, the deep South, and now resides in Bavaria. Jo holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, college finance instructor, and high school business teacher. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter. 
Jo writes historical and paranormal romance. She is currently writing a series published by Astraea Press, which is based on the Lost Colonists of Roanoke Island – one of the world’s most intriguing unsolved mysteries.

Twitter: @jografford


Barnes and Noble: 

BLURB – BREAKING TIES, first book in the Lost Colony Series:

An intelligent woman ahead of her time, ROSE PAYNE'S world is shattered after a secret betrothal to the duke’s son costs her job as a clerk in his father's household. Without a letter of recommendation, Rose becomes an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Desperate for work, she signs up for a risky overseas venture and sails for the New World, vowing never again fall for a wealthy gentleman.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, CHIEF MANTEO is bewitched by the elusive, fiery-haired ship clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in BREAKING TIES.

A cursed island – all who enter will be lost.

Based on real people and real events, Breaking Ties is the "rest of the story" of the Lost Colonists from Roanoke Island.

BLURB – TRAIL OF CROSSES, second book in the Lost Colony Series:
JANE MANNERING can shoot a rifle, throw a knife, and handle a sword as well as any Englishman. However, she is no match for the red-painted warriors who ambush her section of the Colonial caravan the moment they beach their rafts on the shores of Virginia.

During a forced march inland, Jane plots their escape, sketching hasty maltese crosses along the trail – the pre-agreed upon signal of distress should they become separated from the main party. All the while, she fumes over what interest their captors could possibly have in a spinster like herself and her rugged band of brick masons, sawyers, blacksmiths, saddlers, and cutlers.

When CHIEF WANCHESE intercepts them at the crossroads of the Great Trading Path, Jane’s worst fears are realized. It’s a pity the handsome devil happens to be the most ruthless and feared tribal chief in the region. Engaging his attentions was certainly never a part of her escape plan.

Hostile territory. Thirty-one English colonists. No witnesses.



     Sometimes murder isn’t as messy, up-close, and personal as many people imagine it to be. Sometimes it is distant and impersonal – as simple as crossing a line through a name on a sheet of paper. Or one hundred and fifteen names in our case.

Portsmouth, England, April 26, 1587

     “Yer bum’s hanging out the window!” My brother banged his empty mug on the inn table. He ran both hands through his hair, as red as my own, standing each flaming lock on end.

     My lips turned up despite the heaviness in my chest. It felt good to hear him lapse into the Gaelic brogue of our childhood. “Och, Donnen!” I reached across the table to clasp his large hands and grimaced at the stench of salmon and sweat hanging in the air. “I dinna bring ye here to quarrel. ‘Tis my first job offer in weeks.”

     I dared not share my other reason for leaving.

     “Nay, ye can stay with me till ye find a different job. Crossing the Atlantic unwed is bad enough, but these—” He shook my upraised palms, “are ink stains. Blast it all! Ye’re a clerk, not a sailor.”

     “Indeed?” Saints alive, he acted as if I was still twelve instead of nineteen. “Well, good news. I shall be accompanied by other women – whole families of people, for that matter – and ‘tis a clerk they need.”

     “Only because—“ Donnen glanced around the room and lowered his voice. “The last one left in a frightful hurry along with half the crew all in the same night.” His glare was fierce. “Rumor has it the entire fleet is bound straight for Jonah’s watery vault. I don’t suppose that came up during the bloomin’ interview?”

A peek at the middle...

     "You want my help." 'Twas an accusation.


     His eyes darkened. "I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage." He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.

     I stumbled back.

     "You give nothing in return," he snarled. "You only ask for more."

     "I would had I something to offer," I whispered. "But I have nothing. I am nothing."

     "Then what use are you to me?" He wheeled away.

     I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.

     Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. 'Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.

     "I know our location." His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. "I could swim ashore from here."

     "Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?"

     "Governor White gave his word to deliver me home."

     "We are going to starve, Manteo. 'Tis only a matter of days now."

     "Nay. You alone starve. The others eat."

     "I have no appetite."

     "You act as one already dead."

     I straightened my back. "I accept what I cannot change."

     "And I change what I cannot accept." He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.

     I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. "'Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you."

     "Very well."

     My eyes flew open. "Ye will do this for us."

     "For you." His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.

     I smiled tremulously. "I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is." The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.

     "I have yet to name my price."

     I stared, confused.

     He grunted in disgust. "You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services."

     I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.

     "I will entreat the Dares for payment."

     "Nay. You are the one in my debt."

     I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.

     "You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too."

     "Ye would hire me as clerk?" Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.

     "My people have no clerks." His eyes narrowed. "We have slaves."

     My breath hitched. "Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?"

     "Nay, I only wish to marry you."

     I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.


     "Say no more. I will do it. 'Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.

     Exultation flickered briefly across his face. "You would give up your freedom to save your friends?"

     "Without question."

     "Swear it," he said grimly.

     "I swear it."

     His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly 'til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.

     "Now you will eat," Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.


     "I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations." He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.

     I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.

     "And send for Anthony. I have need of him."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

YA Author Brenda Maxfield Discusses the Edgemont Series

My guest today is Brenda Maxfield, author of The Edgemont Series.
Our publisher, Astraea Press, just released the fourth book in the series, Lizbet's Lie.
Brenda, please bring us up to speed on your series.

What inspired you to write The Edgemont Series?
My students!  I teach high school, and I’m privileged with wonderful students. They share their lives with me. I watch them every day — overcoming struggles, showing amazing courage, and sometimes laughing their heads off! I wanted to write a series honoring them, while also giving them good reading entertainment.
Do your students read your books?
Yes! And their compliments mean everything to me. Nothing excites me more than seeing them with their heads in one of my books.
Which book of the series is your favorite?
Hmmm. That’s a bit difficult. I’m attached to the first two because they were my beginning! But then I really grew to love Farah, although she can be completely horrid! She got herself in a major mess in Farah’s Deadline. I think Lizbet’s Lie got to me the most. I was in agony when I wrote that book. I felt so deeply for Lizbet and was so angry at her circumstances.
Are there more books in store for the series?
There aren’t any in the works right now. I do have another series out: Ocean Mist. I’m having fun with this one because it takes place on the Washington Coast where I grew up.
What’s ahead for you right now?
Okay, this totally shocks me, but I’m having an absolute ball putting together young children’s books under the pen name Lynda Raymond. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I’d love writing for the wee ones, too. Who knew? Ain’t life grand?
And may I just take a minute to thank all my wonderful readers. You guys are the absolute best. Thank you SO much for your support!

Blurb for Lizbet’s Lie  (The Edgemont Series Book Four)

Assaulted and pregnant, sixteen-year-old Lizbet Morgan is shipped off to give birth in secrecy and hand her baby over to strangers. When she returns home to her family’s strict religious community, she is expected to pick up where she left off.
But the nightmare isn’t over. Her friend Johnny isn’t the only one asking questions, and Lizbet fears that the reason for her absence will soon be discovered.  She must decide whether to tell the truth or continue to obey a religious system that forces her to tell intolerable lies.

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble:
Astraea Press:!/~/product/id=34826687

Blurb for Farah’s Deadline (The Edgemont Series Book Three)

Sassy, strong-willed, and pregnant, Farah Menins plans to be married at sixteen after her dad dumps her in a “special home” to be rid of her. Trapped in a place full of rules, Farah refuses to admit defeat — not when marriage would give her an out.

Farah’s roommate Lizbet hides her own painful secrets, and together, they forge an unlikely friendship when Farah sneaks off to confront her baby’s father. A dead baby, a mystery brother, and a house fire threaten to derail Farah’s plans. The confusion is compounded when Lizbet’s brother shows interest in her. With time running out, will Farah be able to salvage any of her dream?

Purchase Links:

Astraea Press:

Blurb for Along Came Jordan (The Edgemont Series Book Two)

When it comes to love, sophomore Emili Jones is famous for brainless decisions. At her new school, she falls for Jordan Lawman but stuffs down her feelings, believing they can only lead to pain. When Laine Meadow, the reigning social queen, sets her sights on Jordan and senses competition in Emili, war is declared.

On top of Laine’s jealous torment, Emili struggles to help her little sister who suffers from selective mutism and will speak only to Emili. Her mother’s suspicious behavior and her father’s job loss add to the turmoil.

Can Emili save them all while learning to love again?
Buy Links: 

All links are available at:
Barnes and Noble:

Blurb for The Lance Temptation (The Edgemont Series Book One)

Sophomore Emili Jones has had it with being a boring, straight-A student. Itching for excitement, she sees plenty of it in classmate Farah Menin’s life of frequent dates and edgy adventure. Hoping the popularity will rub off, Emili latches onto Farah and manipulates herself into best friend status. The connection helps her land the hot new guy, Lance Jankins, but there’s a catch. Now a pawn in Farah’s dating games, Emili is on a crash course to betrayal. Will she realize it in time to save herself?

Buy Links:

All links are available at:
Astraea Press:  
Amazon Paperback link:
Barnes and Noble:

Author Bio

My passion is writing! What could be more delicious than inventing new characters and seeing where they take you?
I'm a teacher so I spend most of my waking hours with young people. I love chatting with them and hearing their views on love and life. My students are magical, and I am honored to be part of their lives.
I've lived in Honduras, Grand Cayman, and Costa Rica. Presently, I live in Indiana with my husband, Paul. We have two grown children and three precious grandchildren, special delivery from Africa.
When not teaching, I love to hole up in our lake cabin and write -- often with a batch of popcorn nearby. (Oh, and did I mention dark chocolate?)
I enjoy getting to know my readers, so feel free to write me at: Join my Newsletter Gang and get the latest news, contests, releases here:  Visit me to learn about all my books:  Happy Reading!

Contact Links:
Amazon author Page: