First, There is a River

A family conceals a cruel secret.

Emma Perkins' life appears idyllic. Her husband, Jared, is a hardworking farmer and a dependable neighbor. But Emma knows intimately the brutality prowling beneath her husband's façade. When he sends their children away, Emma's life unravels.

A woman seeks her spirit.

Deep in despair, Emma seeks refuge aboard her uncle's riverboat, the Spirit of the River . This is Emma's story and the story of the colorful characters working and living along the river: captains, mates, engineers, the rich, the working class, moonshiners, prostitutes, and Gage--the Spirit's reclusive engineer. Scarred for life from a riverboat explosion, Gage's insight into heartache draws him to Emma, and as they heal together, they form a deep and unbreakable bond. Emma learns to trust that anything is possible, including reclaiming her children and facing her husband.

A man seeks revenge.

Jared Perkins makes a journey of his own. Determined to bring his wife home and teach her the lesson of her life, Jared secretly follows the Spirit. His rage burns cold as he plans his revenge for everyone on board. Against the immense power of the river, the journey of the Spirit will change the course of their lives forever...

Available Now! from Medallion Press

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Jasper Mountain

Two lost souls struggle to find their way in the unforgiving West of 1873...

Jack Buchanan, a worker at the Jasper Mining Company, is sure of his place in the outside world, but has lost his faith, hope, and heart to the tragedy of a fire.

Foreign born and raised, Milena Shabanov flees from a home she loves to the strange and barbaric America.   A Romani blessed with "the sight," she is content in the company of visions and spirit oracles, but finds herself lost and alone in a brutal mining town with little use for women.

Surrounded by inhumane working conditions at the mine, senseless death, and overwhelming greed, miners begin disappearing and the officers of the mine don't care.

Tempers flare and Jack must decide where he stands: with the officers and mining president--Victor Creely--to whom Jack owes his life, or to the miners whose lives are worth less to the company than pack animals.   Milena, sensing deep despair and death in a mining town infested with restless spirits, searches for answers to the workers' disappearances.   But she can't trust anyone, especially not Jack Buchanan, a man haunted by his own past.

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Reviews for First, There is a River

Remarkable, haunting and utterly unforgettable. Emma captures the reader's heart; you desperately want her to find happiness and healing. You hope she'll find a way to love again even though she's suffered so much pain.   Her inner strength is admirable, all she needed to escape her husband's cruelty was someone to lend his or her aid and support her during the healing process. First, There Is a River will remain with you long after you finish the last page. -- Sharyn McGinty, www.inthelibraryreviews.net

Kathy Steffen provides her audience with a powerful historical fiction that focuses on the lack of rights for women and the lack of protection for children. Emma is a fabulous as the only reason she remains with abuser Jared is their offspring, but once he sells them into child labor, she has no ties. The support cast including the river and the boat is strong as it brings out a bygone era. -- Harriet Klausner, bookcrossing.com, bloggingauthors.com

A supremely contemporary story in an authentically depicted historical setting. A novel that will ring true with women readers of all types. -- G. Miki Hayden, Edgar and Macavity winner, and author of The Naked Writer.

Set in 1900, Steffen's debut presents a captivating view of life aboard a riverboat a century ago. -- Publisher's Weekly

The healing power of the river and the magic of love are explored in this emotionally fulfilling and beautifully written tale of good triumphing over evil. Readers will cheer for Emma." -- Barb Anderson, RT Book Reviews

First, There is a River wins first place...

...in the 2008 CRW Award of Excellence for Published Authors in the Mainstream with Romantic Elements Category!

Here is a complete list of all the awards for First, There is a River in the finalist category:

PMA 2008 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Voice (Fiction).

2008 HOLT Medallion Award for Best First Book.    (HOLT: Honoring Outstanding Literary Talent)

2008 Write-Touch Reader's Award in the Mainstream with Romantic Elements Category.

2008 Best Historical Cover Award in the Cover Café's annual contest.

A double finalist in the 2008 Desert Rose Golden Quill Award, both in the Mainstream with Romantic Elements Category and Best First Book.

2008 finalist in the Women's Fiction / Chick Lit / Mainstream category of the 2008 Beacon Contest - Published Division.