Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday - Who She Was Before - Mari Manning #MFRWauthor

1. What were you in your life before you became a writer? Did this influence your writing?

I've been lots of things that were writing-related. I've been a staff writer and editor for a news magazine, I've written dozens of newsletters for various industries, I've been manager for a national accounting firm. Currently I'm director of marketing for a local accounting firm.

2 Are you genre specific or general? Why? I don't mean genres like romance, mystery, fantasy etc. There are many subgenres of the above.

I am not genre-specific, but my tendency when I write romance is to go with suspense or mystery. Romance needs tension beyond the will-they-or-won't-they question, and character arcs are hard for me. So I go with some kind of mystery, although in the book I'm planning now, I'm trying to avoid mystery and use character arc to move the story forward. 

3. Did your reading choices have anything to do with your choice of a genre or genres?

No. I don't read romance when I am writing it, because I don't want to be influenced by others work. That said, I have a subscription to Audible so I will listen to it at times when I am driving and working out just to see what people are up to. I am not an auditory learner so I don't retain much of the stories once I finish them. I am actually a very eclectic reader. If you want to follow what I read, find me on Goodreads. I list all the books I've read or listened to, plus I do at least a short review of each.

4. What's your latest release?
My latest release is the first in my Murder in Texas series, Stranger at My Door, which came out in January. The second book, Stranger in My House, will be released on June 13. I am still waiting to see if Entangled will take the third, Stranger in My Bed. Hopefully they will.

5. What are you working on now?

I have just finished two mainstream mysteries, and I am working on the first in a series of romances for Entangled's Bliss line, which is sweet, small town romance.

6. Where can we find you?

I am at Check out my Facebook page or follow me on twitter @mari_manning

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday's Opening Scene - Horu's Chosen #MFRWauthor #Alternateworld #fantasyromance

Horu's Chosen

Chapter 1

Seth slumped in the subway seat and shielded his face with a newspaper. Of all the luck. He was on his way to a meet with his handler and he didn’t want to be recognized. With care he moved the tabloid to study Tira. Panic showed in her expression. Perspiration dotted her forehead. Her tee shirt bore dirty smudges. She snatched a piece of paper from the seat beside her and seemed to study the words. As the car slid into the third stop she jumped to her feet and followed the crowd.
Another bit of bad luck. His stop, too. Just before the doors started to close he jumped out and headed up the stairs. When he reached the surface he searched and saw her running across the street. She entered the coffee shop. Strike three. That was the site of his meet.
Damn. Not a good idea to go inside. He would be late but late was better than made. Not that he didn’t trust Tira, but Ramos wanted her and the drug dealer had ways of making people talk. Tira’s sister had been a user and seller. Luci had angered Ramos by not paying what she owed and stealing drugs.
Seth slipped into a dark doorway and waited. Five minutes. Ten. At the fifteen minute mark Tira exited and stopped to use her phone. Moments later she dropped something on the sidewalk and hurried away.
Seth dashed forward and picked up the paper and read.
            Life got you down? Have unsolved problems?
            Looking for an escape? The answer is in your stars.
            A counselor is available night and day.
            Dial 1- 800- 555- ASTR
He read the paragraph again. Truth or scam? Had this piece of paper lured Tira into danger? Should he follow her? He frowned and peered down the street. She had vanished. When he’d warned her not to go home, he’d done more than he should have. But he liked her and knew she’d done nothing wrong. Her sister’s murder had put Tira in danger. The cops would have questioned and released her. Then Ramon would have stepped in. Seth hoped she had a safe place to hide. Holding this thought close he tucked the flyer in his pocket and entered the coffee shop.
As he slipped into the rear booth his handler glared. “You’re late.
“Better late than identified.”
Bob Tolena rubbed his hand over his receding hairline. “What?”
“The girl who just left the shop was Luci Gray’s sister.”
“And you let her get away?”
Seth shrugged. He grabbed the cup of coffee and drained the bitter brew hoping a caffeine jolt would unclog his head. If he didn’t get some rest soon he would make a fatal mistake.
The waitress arrived and refilled his cup. She slammed a plate with a burger and fries in front of Seth. He glanced at the older man. “Yours?”
“Not. Eat. You look like hell.”
As soon as the waitress left, Seth looked up. “That lead to Ramos is dead. What now?”
“If you see that young woman, have her picked up.”
“Why? She’s innocent.”
“Don’t you think someone official should make that call? No matter. We’ll keep an eye on her.” The older man slid a piece of paper across the table. “There’s some new info surfacing. You still have an in at that church-run community center?”
“Sure.” Seth picked up the burger and took a bite. How much longer could he continue undercover? For two years he had slunk through the alleys passing information to his handler. Three drug busts based on what he’d learned had gone down. But the bosses wanted more and more. Ramos would be the biggest.
Seth’s hands shook. Would he ever see the end? He felt older than his twenty-five years. “I want out.”
“Not yet. You’re young. Hang in there for another year or two. About the center, Ramos is sniffing around.”
The burger dropped to the plate. A year was too long. So was a month. He hadn’t gone to the academy or joined the force for this secretive life.
Bob clamped a hand on Seth’s wrist. “You’re good at this. Pete would be proud of what you’ve accomplished.”
Seth rose. He felt sick. “I’ll let you know if I hear anything.”

By bus and on foot he made his way to one of his hidey holes. He stretched on the bed and slept.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday's Writing Tip - Writing ABC - Setting #MFRWauthor #writing

Last week we looked at how Plot and Characters work together. Now comes what was a problem for me when I began to write - Setting. The first comment I received on my first manuscript went like this "Your characters exist in a vacuum." The editor kindly went to point and make suggestions in several scenes where showing the setting could have helped. I took those suggestions and when I re-wrote the book, I made sure to have settings. There were other editorial suggestions and other rejections but I finally published that book.

Back to setting. The settings of a book can do many things. Sometimes they are like a character in some ways. Settings can help show a character's reactions and actions. Settings can show the tone of a story drama, comedy or something between. Settings can show atmosphere either by nature of by contrast. Showing a house that's old and falling down can add to the atmosphere of the story by nature. Think ghosts and eerie events. Or by contrast show hope , history and many, many things.

I write a lot of fantasy stories and have used settings found in books of pictures. In an Egyptian alternate world trilogy, I've taken some of the ancient artifacts and changed them slightly. Even in modern stories the setting has helped the story flow. Showing a taste of a hospital room, a village group of homes. All these will bring the setting into the story and to the characters' lives.

So when revising, check to make sure you're using setting in the best possible way. When I'm doing revisions, I have one draft where I just look at setting and make sure it's clear. Thanks to that editor of many many years ago I've learned not to allow my characters to exist in a vacuum.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday's Inspiration - Giving #MFRWauthor #aminspired

While reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott there is an essay on giving. Her take on it is a bit different from mine. Yes, I agree that while writing you are giving your all to your story and your characters. In a way this is also giving to the readers.

What I think about with giving is giving to outhor writers. By reading what they have written. Also by giving them a helping hand. Giving of your experience and your ways of writing is another way. I've been doing this for years through my critique group, by judging contests that allow feedback and little tips to help new writers gain a path to publication.

What about you? Other than your stories do you give new writers a help by a critique, one that points them in a direction where they may have strayed. Or are you the kind who feels threatened by the new kids coming behind and when asked for critiques gives criticisms. This isn't giving. So when a new writer or one of your writer friends asks for help give it with as much as you give your stories, your characters and your readers,

Monday, April 25, 2016

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #poetry

Meander 1  Poem - Lent


The mountains of temptation,
Rocky, torturous heights.
Stand up and look!
Volcano rocks lie scattered
to the plain.
The way to peace is treacherous.
Denial is the past.
Deny your lusts, your secret dreams,
The hidden, hiding schemes,
Deny, deny, rings the cry.
Make a sacrifice.
Push back your fears,
Descend the rochs.
Scramble bloody, bruised.
For forty days and forty nights
Wrestle with yourself. The fasting silence screams with doubt,
And flagellates your soul.
Fires burn deep within,
Erupting sores and wounds
Till on the plain you stand
Truimphant - purified.

Meander 2 - Dandilions - My neighbors probably hate me. Their lawns are pristing green grass. Dandilions dot the grass with their bright yellow cheer. Maybe I'm a bit touched but I really like dandilions. The bright yellow flowers spread cheer in my heart. There are things I could do with them. I could cut the leaves when they're young and use them for a salad. I could make dandilion wine. I don't. Mostly I just look and even when the blooms turn white and the seeds are scattered on the winds, I still look at them with wonder. I also know no matter what people do to weed them from their lawns they will persist and com again.

Meander 3 - Writing - A bit slow this week. Computer needed 2 looks to see what the trouble was with amking it so slow. Problem solved so next week I will hopefully complete what I need to do.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday's Book - Horu's Chosen - Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #fantasy #alternateworlds

Seth, an undercover cop has been betrayed by his handler. To escape he calls a number on a flyer and is transported to an ancient Egypt he doesn’t understand. He must rescue the Daughter from the evil priests of Aken Re.

Merin is the Daughter. She must find the man who by wedding her will become Pharaoh. She plots to escape the priests of Aken Re and flee to those who years ago saved her life.

Can Seth and Merin find a way to defeat the priests? Is love the answer to their problems? Can they join with the Warrior of Bast and of Horu to bring unity to the Two Lands?

RT Review
Following on the heels of The Warrior of Bast, this story is filled with magic and fascinating characters. Those interested in ancient Egypt will find this an enthralling tale. A satisfying ending is presented for the hero and heroine, with a promising lead-in to the next story.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday's Blurbs featuring Books by Gail Roughton #MFRWauthor #paranormal #susepnse

Paralegal extraordinaire Ariel Anson’s life isn’t going at all the way she planned. Not after private investigator Chad Garrett of War-N-Wit, Inc. roared into her life in response to her urgent call for a skip-trace. Instead of settling down with her steady CPA fiancĂ©, Ariel’s swept into another life entirely. How could she know War-N-Wit stood for Warlock and Witch? Or that Chad Garrett was a warlock in search of his eternal soulmate, the witch he’d reincarnated with through many lifetimes? The witch he insisted was – her! From Vegas to Savannah to Daytona Bike Week and back to Vegas, this series takes the characters on some out-of-this-world adventures! 

What goes around comes around. That’s justice. Especially in small towns where everybody knows how many eggs you ate for breakfast before you've even left the Scales of Justice CafĂ©. Funny thing, though. Usually what everybody thinks they know—they really don’t. Take the folks in Turkey Creek. Oh, everybody knows Maggie Kincaid doesn’t speak to her father. They think they know why. But they don’t. They know Billy Brayton died twenty-five years back. Too bad nobody told him. Because now he’s home. And it’s time to right some past wrongs. Time for justice. Country Justice. 

Deep in the woods that slide off into Stone Creek Swamp, teenage drug dealers retrieve their stash and receive an unexpected dividend—the unwitting resurrection of Cain, powerful Bokor of Black Magic. Atop Coleman Hill, two young attorneys renovate a decrepit relic of a house for their home and office. A house with a past it wants to share, showing Ria Knight tantalizing scenes of its original owner, Dr. Paul Devlin. Dr. Devlin’s not exactly alive and well, but he’s not dead either. With Cain’s resurrection, the battle between the two first begun in 1888 rages again. Because the past, like evil, never dies. It just—waits. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday - Who She Was Before - Gail Roughton #MFRWauthor

1.      What were you in your life before you became a writer? Did this influence your writing?

To a certain extent, I think every writer is born a writer. It’s something that’s just there, the urge (and hopefully the ability) to make something that lives only in your imagination come to life for others through your words, and I say this because without that urge (and hopefully ability) writing in the sense of telling a story’s just not possible. That being said, of course there’s that day-to-day thing of making a living. In my case, I worked as a paralegal for forty-one years and yes ma’am, that’s had a huge impact on my writing, both in technique and subject matter. I’m also a country girl raised in the small town Deep South, which has definitely had a major impact on my writing. I’m also a wife, mother, and grandmother, and since everyone’s life is their own novel, that’s also a great source of material.   

2.       Are you genre specific or general? Why? I don't mean genres like romance, mystery, fantasy etc. There are many subgenres of the above.

I’m all over the place. I never set out to write a specific anything. A story occurs to me and I tell it, and it’s whatever genre or subgenre it turns out to be. In general, if I have one thread that does recur in my work, it’s a paranormal slant.  Sometimes a little, sometimes a whole lot; sometimes humorous, sometimes anything but. 

3.      Did your reading choices have anything to do with your choice of a genre or genres?

Undoubtedly. I’ve always been an eclectic reader, and my preferences have changed over the years. I’ve always loved romantic suspense and thrillers, I’ve always preferred novels with a paranormal element. I used to be quite a horror fan, but with age I’ve grown away from that. Life’s sometimes horrible enough, just watch the news. In the last few years, I’ve preferred to read lighter suspense, especially the ones with humor. I read for entertainment, and in fact, I write for the same reason. Entertainment. My own. So my hope is in entertaining myself, I manage to entertain readers, too. 

4.      What's your latest release?

Let me think, it’s been a while, actually. I’ve just retired and my last two years in a law office were rather—well, brutal, and didn’t leave me much mental stamina for writing.  But my actual last release was the fourth War-N-Wit, Inc. novel, MeanStreet, LLC.  That’s a light, paranormal romantic suspense series with lots of humor in it (that is, I hope it’s got lots of humor in it, that’s what I’ve been told anyway.) I tend to throw a lot of genre elements into one book. 

5.      What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working (and have been working) on the second novel in the Southern Justice series (Country Justice being the first novel in that series), titled Black Turkey Walk. Those particular books are small town suspense/thriller novels which are very dear to my heart. As I’ve always said of the first book, I know the places of Country Justice because I live there, and I know the characters of Country Justice because I’m part of them and they’re part of me. I also write occasionally with friend and fellow writer Jude Pittman and she asked me a few months ago to collaborate on a book she’s working on, the fourth of her A Murder State of Mind series titled Deadly Lights featuring private investigator Kelly McWinter. There was one plot line in there just screaming the name of one of the characters from my Southern Justice series, a character readers know as T-bone. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. So T-bone’s making a guest appearance. 

6.      Where can we find you?

I’m at Books We Love, Ltd. and available on Amazon. Readers can also visit on Facebook and at my blogs, Writin' With Southern Stylin'! and Flowers on the Fence.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday's Opening Scene - Bast's Warrior #MFRWauthor #Alternateworld #paranormal #swords

Bast’s Warrior

Chapter 1

Tira wanted three things in life and she had little chance of gaining any of them.  She wanted to be financially independent.  She wanted to go to Egypt and study the ancient ruins.  And she wanted her sister to stop using drugs.
The last desire brought memories of this morning’s quarrel.  Luci had taken the money Tira had squirreled away to see them through the rest of the month.  “Luci, why?”
“You don’t understand,” Luci screamed.
True.  Tira didn’t understand why her sister needed to escape into a drugged stupor instead of studying and working to step onto the road leading from the slums.  Tira’s hands stung with the memory of slapping her sister.  And the words she’d shouted as she slammed out of the apartment echoed in her thoughts.  “I hate you.  I wish you were dead.”  Tira shuddered.  She hadn’t meant those words.  As soon as she reached the apartment she would tell Luci.
With a sigh she turned back to the museum display.  The Egyptian artifacts awed her.  For a short time she allowed the beauty of the objects to carry her into dreams of pyramids and temples, of gods and pharaohs and of digging in the earth to uncover treasures of the past.
The dream hovered beyond her grasp.  Her chances of gaining a position on a dig in Egypt were slim.  Positions were avidly sought by students who had chosen the right colleges and the right professors.  Those choices had been beyond her financially.  She sucked in a breath.  Instead of adventure, when the summer ended, she would take her place in front of a classroom teaching history at an inner city high school.
A glance at her watch said dreamtime was over.  She had to reach the apartment in time to change for her evening shift as a restaurant several blocks from the cramped fifth floor efficiency she shared with her older sister.  Once again flash moments from the morning’s quarrel exploded in Tira’s thoughts.  She’d been so upset she’d missed her morning martial arts session at the local center.
Tira cast her dream self aside and donned the role of practical sister.  She hurried to the exit and stepped from the past into a steamy August day.  Heat shimmered from the sidewalk.  The air hung heavy and filled with the odors of the city and the noises of traffic.  She strode along the crowded area taking advantage of every opening.
Ten days to dream.  Ten days to walk the halls of the museum.  Ten days to study the artifacts that had become her lodestones.  She breathed the aromas of real time, spices of cooking foods, metallic scents of passing traffic and the odors of people, some pleasant and some not.
Several blocks from the apartment building the crowds thinned.  In an alley she glimpsed furtive movements in the dark shadows.  She hurried past.  On the corner across the street a group of gang members gathered.  She sucked in a breath and held her head high.  For all her twenty three years she’d avoided the gangs.  As she strode past she heard the usual crude remarks about her body and her attitude.
Get a life, she wanted to scream.
When she saw the ambulance and two cop cars in front of the building where she lived she halted so abruptly she stumbled.  A hand caught her arm.  Tira saw the gray-streaked beard of one of the winos who slept in the doorways or the alley.  “Get your hands off me.”
“Don’t go home,”  he whispered.  “Lose yourself in the crowd and keep your head down.”
Tira saw a keen intelligence in the man’s dark eyes.  Who was he?  He wasn’t as old as she had imagined either.  “Why?”
“Your sister’s dead.  Cops’ll be looking for you.  They heard about the fight.”
Tira’s stomach clenched.  She blinked away a rush of tears.  Though hearing about her sister’s death wasn’t unexpected another dream shattered.  There would be no rehab for Luci.  “Junkies O.D. every day,”  she said.
“She was murdered.”
A chill slithered down Tira’s spine.  A rush of acid burned her throat.  What?  Why?  Who?  Keeping her eyes on the ground she inched away from him.
“Murder.  Murder.”  The murmured word spread through the crowd gathered on the sidewalk and stung like attacking wasps.
The EMTs wheeled a gurney from the building.  When Tira saw the body bag strapped to the frame her nails bit into her palms.  Despite the heat of the day she felt chilled.  A wave of guilt made her knees buckle.  She stuffed her fist against her mouth to keep from crying aloud.
What now, she wondered.  The apartment was a crime scene.  Until the cops finished their investigation she wouldn’t be allowed inside.  An officer stepped from the building.  “More along, folks.  There’s nothing to see here.”  He stepped from the stoop.  “Anyone seen her sister?  We have some questions for her.”
“Most evenings you’ll find her waiting tables at Louie’s,”  someone said.
Tira hunched her shoulders.  As people dispersed she slunk away.  All her life she’d avoided trouble.  Even if she wasn’t a suspect she knew too much about Luci’s friends and suppliers to be safe.  She needed to hide and think.  Where could she go?’
As she retraced her steps she noticed the home boys had vanished from the corner.  Show’s over or just about to begin, she thought.  She feared she was destined to become the star in a life or death drama.  She continued the slow amble away from the apartment building.
Every instinct urged her to run but that would attract the attention she didn’t want.  As she passed the alley someone grabbed her arm and dragged her into the shadows.  The man who held her arm and the other at his side were large and scary but not as menacing as the slender man who joined them.
Tira fought to control rising panic.  She felt as though she would faint.  Center.  She had to escape.  All she needed was an opening.  Her muscles tensed in preparation.  “What do you want?”  Had her voice remained calm or had fear coated the edges?
“My drugs.  My money.”
“I know nothing about either.”
The slender man laughed and the sound chilled her.  “She was your sister.  She told you everything.”  His smile turned feral.  “Her last words were, ‘Tira knows.’”
Anger flared and slashed the fear and grief holding her immobile.  “And you believed her?”
“Why not?”
His silent companions edged closer.  One held a knife.  The other reached for her.  Tira sucked in a breath.  She whirled and kicked.  The toe of her sneaker caught the knife holder’s arm.  Her sudden movement pulled the second man off balance.  She grabbed his arm and knocked him into the knife man.  They landed in a tangle.
Tira ran.  As she darted around the corner something whizzed past her.  She didn’t stop to learn what.  Where to go?  Just ahead she saw the steps leading to the subway.  She pulled her Metro card from her pocket and bounded down the steps.  A shout sounded.  She kept running.  At the gate she swiped the card, ran onto the platform and into a waiting car.  A bell dinged.  The doors closed.
As she peered through the smudged glass she saw one of the thugs reach the platform.  She breathed a sigh of relief.  For the moment she had escaped.  Where did the rattling car take her?
Was there a way to get the things she needed from the apartment?  The drug dealer’s men would keep watch.  Who could she ask?  Not the cops who either believed she had killed Luci or wanted information she didn’t have.  She barely knew the neighbors.  She and Luci had moved into the building in June.  Could she sneak into the building after the cops left?  Doubtful.  Her few friends from college wouldn’t be willing to enter the scene of a murder.
Tira sank on a seat.  Once again tears threatened.  Why had Luci lied?  Tira swallowed convulsively.  When she understood the reasons for the betrayal she could grieve.  Now wasn’t the time.
For seconds or minutes Tira blocked the groping fingers of fear.  At the moment she was safe but she couldn’t ride the subway forever.  She considered her options.  She had some change, her Metro card and the twenty she always kept for emergencies.  Not enough to rent a room.  Going to work at Louie’s was out.  Until her first pay check from the teaching job arrived she was broke.
Think.  Plan.  Where was the nearest homeless shelter?  Sure they could be dangerous but she could protect herself.  Tira wiped her hands on her jeans.  Even if she could hang out for ten days she couldn’t begin her first day as a teacher wearing dirty jeans and a sweat-stained tee shirt.
On the seat beside her she noticed a crumpled piece of paper.  Curiosity stabbed.  She smoothed the wrinkles and read the words twice.
Life got you down?  Have you unsolved problems?
Looking for escape?  The answer is in your stars.
A counselor is available night and day.
Dial 1- 800 – 555 – ASTRO
Tira frowned.  She could answer yes to all the questions.  Had the paper been left for her to find?  She smiled at her magical thinking.
When the car stopped at the next station she grasped the paper and rose.  She followed people to the street.  Should she take a chance?  Did she have a choice?  Across the street she saw a coffee shop.  She had to consider her options.
She jogged to the small restaurant and entered the dingy place with the paper clutched in her hand.  A flutter of nervousness settled in her chest.  What to do?  Call or not call?  Go to the cops?  Find a shelter?  She sat at the counter and ordered coffee.  As she sipped the bitter brew her thoughts raced.  The answer to the last two options was a definite no.  She frowned.  If the answer was in her stars they certainly hadn’t brought her a sliver of luck.  Would making the call produce a change?
Tira swallowed the last of the coffee.  She would make the call.  If the paper was a hoax she would devise another plan.  She stepped outside and opened her cell phone.  In the fading light she read the number and dialed.
“Can I help you?”  a woman asked.
“I can answer yes to all your questions.”
“Do you need help?”
“Yes.”  She wasn’t sure what this woman could do.  By accepting the offer she would be off the street and buy time to plan.
The woman gave an address.  Tira repeated the street and house number.
“We’ll be waiting for you.  Ring the bell.  Remember, the answers are in your stars.”
At the corner Tira looked at the street sign.  Fourteen blocks.  Not that far.  Unless a bus came along she would walk.  Though the neighborhood wasn’t the greatest hers was worse.
She walked briskly and directed her attention to the surroundings.  Occasionally she glanced over her shoulder to check for followers.  Once she glimpsed a large man and nearly froze.  Her heart skittered but the next time she looked he had vanished.
Her imagination took fire.  The drug dealer might not know where she had left the subway but the route was known.  He could have snitches everywhere.  He believed she knew where his drugs and money were hidden.  Luci, what did you do?
She glanced at the numbers on the buildings she passed.  Would the drug dealer’s men try to discover where she went?  Probably a given.  By the time she neared her destination her heart pounded.  She saw three men behind her and knew she’d been made.
A rush of heavy footsteps sounded.  She dashed up the steps of the brownstone.  With a staccato rhythm she pressed the bell.  Hurry, she thought.  She glanced over her shoulder.  One of the men was the knife wielder from the alley.
“Tira,”  he called.
The door opened.  An elderly woman pulled her inside.  “Welcome.”  She closed the door.  “Why have you come?”
“The answer is in my stars.”
The woman’s eyes held kindness.  “What is your name?”
“Tira.”  The woman’s eyes, her voice and smile eased some of Tira’s fears.  No matter what happened here she would rather face this woman than the men outside.
“Follow me.  We have time to find your proper place.”
As Tira walked down the hall she noticed a series of photographs on the wall.  One caught her attention.  A temple with stature of cats perched on plinths and a crook behind them.  Hieroglyphics were carved above the feline.  She traced the figure.
The woman turned back.  “So that’s the world to hold your interest.”
Tira smiled.  “Reminds me of ancient Egypt, a place that’s always fascinated me.”
“Perhaps your stars will show you the way there.”  The woman beckoned.  “Come along.  We must be ready when the planets align.”
Tira inhaled the aromas of cooking food.  Had she interrupted the woman’s dinner?  Tira’s stomach rumbled.  She’d had nothing besides the coffee since noon when she’d bought a hot dog from a street vendor.  They entered a large room.  The woman indicated a table.  “Sit.  Food is on the way.”
Tira stared at the wall across from the table.  A large circle divided into twelve segments covered most of the wall.  She moved closer and saw this was a horoscope wheel.  She had no idea what the wheel could be used for.
“Sit, child.”  The woman tapped a bell.
A second woman arrived with a tray of food.  Plates and glasses were taken from a buffet.  “Help yourself.”
Tira studied the tray.  Rice, meat and vegetables.  Once she filled her plate the second woman poured a fragrant beverage into three glasses.  The women joined her at the table.  Little was said until the meal was finished.
The oldest of the women smiled.  “When were you born?  We need the day, the month, the year and the time as accurately as you know.”
“May tenth, twenty three years ago.  My mother said my cries greeted the dawn.”
“Aries.”  Both women went to the wheel.  They turned an inner segment and placed colored balls in segments of the circle.  “A warrior born.  Quick to anger.  Speedy in action.  Sometimes given to rash decisions.  A seeker of justice.  A lover of adventure.  Now tell us about yourself and why you called for help.”
Some quality in the woman’s voice eased the tension and fear riding Tira’s spirit since she had arrived outside the apartment building and learned of her sister’s murder.  Between sips of the fragrant tea she spoke.  The reality of her sister’s betrayal slammed into her awareness.  Her voice broke.  “Luci, why?”
The second woman touched Tira’s hand.  “She did not mean for you to be hurt.  She was afraid and reached for your strength.”
“How do you know?”
“The seeds of the betrayal were written on your chart.  This aspect has passed but you must release your pain.”
Tira drew a deep breath.  Without warning the tears she had held inside gushed forth.  Sobs racked her body.  She cried until no more tears came.  A cloth was thrust into her hands and she wiped her eyes.  Another glass of a different beverage appeared.
The older of the two women clasped Tira’s hand.  “If you could go to ancient Egypt tonight, even if the Two Lands was not the one you studied, would you go?”
If, Tira thought.  A dream she had desired but impossible.  “Maybe.”
“Even if you had to remain there for all your days?”
This had to be a joke.  Tira could think of nowhere she would rather be.  There was nothing left for her here.  “I guess.”
The second woman stood behind her.  “Drink.”  She touched Tira’s shoulder.  “The price of the journey is a quest you must undertake.  The only knowledge you and take with you is what will fit in the time period you reach except for your fighting skills.  You will be unable to speak of this world or of modern conveniences.”
“Tell me more.”
“Many years ago invaders swept through the Two Lands usurping the rule and spreading unrest and chaos.  The army lay defeated.  The pharaoh became a prisoner.  The priests of the invaders brought their god, Aken Re, and sought to make him supreme.  The people rejected the new god.  For years the land and the people were crushed beneath the sandals of the foreigners.  Twenty years ago the men of the Two Lands rose and drive the aliens away.”
The older of the two women nodded.  “The sacred symbols of the rule were hidden and the location lost.  Though the invaders were driven away some of their priests remained.  They scheme to place a pharaoh of their choosing on the chair.  Should this come to pass the Two Lands will be destroyed.”
Tira felt confused.  Their stories deviated from anything she had read about Egypt.  Remnants of her flight, her fear and her grief coalesced.  “And if I don’t go?”
“You will leave this house and face whatever waits.  Will you go?
Tira thought about the men who waited outside.  If she left the house she would die.
“Will you go?”  The women spoke as one.  “If so, drink.”
Tira lifted the glass and swallowed the beverage.  What choice did she have?  As she drifted into a fog she saw the giant wheel on the wall spin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Writing ABCs - Plot or Characters #MFRWauthor #amwriting

Which comes first, plot or characters is much discussed by authors. There are some who find characters looking for a story and by using these chracters wants and needs a story evolves. Other writers have a whole plot down and are looking for characters. At least that's what they say. My truth is that plot and characters go hand in hand. Sometimes a character will take a turn that throws the story off balance and sometimes a plot wants to force the characters into actions they don't want to perform.

I've read some books that acually bore me. They show the characters in many scenes, incidents where they perform actions but these stories have no goal. There's no roadmap showing where they are going and what they want to achieve. They become chracter studies but not books.

Then there are stories that are all plot and the characters mean nothing to the road to the end. The characters could by anyone and often change their natures as the writer needs them to become.

So as you sit to write your story remember to keep your characters consistent and to have a roadmap they will follow to reach the end. This will make a satisfying story.