Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I have decided Novellas are the hardest thing in the world to write. I have written some and they are usually fairly successful but I find it takes me as long to write them as it does a full length novel. A short story is fairly easy to decide what to write because a short story from one to five thousand words relates an incident that has an impact on a person. There is little room for a lot of description and backstory. The emotion and the lesson to be learned is where the story shines. The characters are ones who have a real problem. One of mine is about a doctor who was sued for malpractice when he stopped at the scene of an accident and while he didn't lose the case, he lost his practice. This story starts when he comes across another accident and it involves his decision to stop or not stop.

A novella has more word but not as many as a novel. Therefore the author has to decide what to include and what to leave out. I find I often leave out things that should be put into the story. In a novel I would have no problem deciding what to include and what to leave out. This is an area where I really can't make a decision when I'm writing short. I usually end up with what I think is wonderful but confuses my critique partners and other readers. I may never write one again. I can write real short or long but the medium length totally baffles me. If anyone has any ideas about how to accomplish this, let me know.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My writing life -- Formatting

I have been spoiled and now I am learning that some publishers want a writer to format their manuscripts according to their guidelines. While this is no real problem, it would be nice if they wanted the same things in their formatting. Also in their writing style. One editor has a thing about contractions. If you use one you must use them in every sentence. If not you must write our each in two words. What does this do but make a writer stop the flow of their prose to see if they are doing things right. Another difference is commas. I'm and only use commas when they're needed to make sense of a sentence. Some editors think each phrase must be set off with a comma. I've been praised for using few and told I was writing a rough draft when I chose not to use them

I've come to a conclusion about commas. The rules we've learned for sprinkling our prose with them are written for the person who reads aloud. I'll admit I'm a rapid reader and commas make me pause and sometimes lose the sense of the sentence. I'm not sure what a writer can do about either thing but to learn each publisher's ideas about what makes their story fit their house. Worrying about the story becomes secondary to figuring out the rules.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Writing tip -- Words

I began re-reading John Gardner's Becoming a Writer, a book I often read for inspiration. I came across two questions he asked about a new writer. Does he have enough words? Does he have too many words? I'll add a third. Does he have the right words.

When we begin writing, we often fall into the first question, Not having enough words and we write lean sentences that are often passive. Think of the books you read in grade school These were short sentences. Then we discovered adjectives and adverbs and headed in the other directions. I'll admit I love adjectives and try to shun adverbs. There are some times when adverbs are useful and necessary.

Adjectives are a different thing. They can bring life to a stale sentence but they can also form strings to confuse the reader. The object is to select the right one, rather then the three or four that come close. The beautiful woman. That's very ordinary. The tall, lean, striking woman. That's descriptive. How about the streamlined woman. One thing that often happens and I've been guilty of this is to use the same adjective over and over again. Why? It's the first thing that pops into the writer's mine. What one has to do when revising is look for the right word for each of the beautifuls.

Now we come to phrases and the like. There's nothing more exciting to read is a clever turn of phrase. Some writers can't get enough of them and will string wonderful ones together, one after one after one. Sometimes the problem is they are all clever and seem to fit the character or the action. The problem lies is by luring the reader into seeing the beauty of the words and forgetting the characters and the story. Story is what it's about.

So when writing there are three questions to ask Do I have enough words to tell the story? Do I have too many words? Do I have the right words? Revise until you feel you do but try not to agonize over every word in the story until all you are doing is replacing one word with another.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Interview with Shoshana Evers

I met Shoshana at an HVRWA chapter meeting and heard her read from a work in progress. I was taken by her facility with words and knew she would soon be published. She recently sold her first story to Ellora's Cave. I'm pleased to interview our latest soon to be published author.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I write erotic romances. I’ve tried my hand at other genres, but I
think this is my niche – at least for now.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

Hmmm. Well, my first stabs at writing erotic fiction were written
privately, meant for my husband’s eyes only. He suggested that I try
to get published. After a few of my less sensual romance novels were
rejected, I decided to see if anyone liked the super sexy stuff. And
that’s what sold. So I don’t know if I chose erotica or it chose me.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

There’s nothing that I wouldn’t like to try, but there’s probably
things that I shouldn’t try. I don’t have the patience for things that
require tons of historical research. So as much as I love to read
Regency romances, I probably won’t be writing one anytime soon. I
found out the hard way that historical knowledge does not seep into my
writing via osmosis from reading other novels.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I read a lot of erotica, specifically erotic romance, and even more
specifically BDSM flavored erotic romance. I also read memoirs and
thrillers and anything someone tells me is a good read. I find pretty
much all reading to be enjoyable. If I don’t have a book to read at
the breakfast table I will literally read the labels on food and read
junk mail just so I can be reading!

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

I just turned thirty, and I’ve been writing since I first learned how
to read and write. So, I was five. My first “books” were handwritten
and three pages long, but I would always write “Chapter One” at the
top of the first page, with the intention of writing a very long book.
Of course, one of the hardest things about writing a novel is
finishing it, so I had a lot of false starts until I was about twenty
years old, when I finally wrote a novel through to the end. It was
absolutely a piece of garbage, but at least it was complete. Since
then I wrote another three novels to completion, and it was the fourth
one that sold.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

I think I fall in love with each of the Heroes I write, and I relate
to the Heroines. Picking a favorite would be like picking a favorite
child, so I can’t.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

Sometimes I write villains, but if you asked them they would say that
they are the good guys. No villain thinks he’s the bad guy. Everyone
has to justify his behavior to sleep at night.

8. What are you working on now?

I’m working on two pieces right now. One is an erotic romance
tentatively titled “Hollywood Spank”, and the other is a short story
I’m hoping will work for Christmas. That one’s going to be less erotic
romance and more like erotic fetish fun.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

“Punishing the Art Thief” will be released by Ellora’s Cave, hopefully
before October when Romanticon 2010 will be held. I don’t have an
exact release date. The idea for that book came when I was perusing an
FBI website (don’t ask) and learned that there are several famous
paintings - including Rembrandt’s only seascape - that were stolen in
an art heist in 1990 and they are all still missing. I started
wondering where that Rembrandt was… and that’s when the idea started
to come together.

10. How does your latest story start? Give us an excerpt of the
opening 400 to 500 words.

This is the as-of-yet unedited opening to “Punishing the Art Thief” by
Shoshanna Evers, to be released by Ellora’s Cave.

Melissa Dwyer had never actually seen the dark stone mansion before
because it was set so far back off the road. The party guests arrived
for the fundraiser via a long, winding private drive and left their
Mercedes and Porches for the hired valets. She knew that Westchester
County, a half hour north of Manhattan, had a lot of rich folks.
Melissa had just never been invited to mingle with them before.
And she wasn’t invited now, either. She wore the same long, sea green
satin gown that she wore whenever she crashed a black tie affair. Her
curly brown hair was swept neatly off her lightly made up face. She
looked like she belonged. As far as Melissa was concerned, she did.
She probably loved art a whole lot more than any of these other posers
who were just there for the hors d’oeuvres. Why shouldn’t she go to
the grand unveiling of Mr. Hamilton’s new addition to his personal art
gallery? Just because she wasn’t able to pay a thousand dollars a
head, even if it were for Hamilton’s charity du jour, didn’t mean she
couldn’t appreciate the artistic beauty of a good painting.

Mr. Hamilton may have been old, but he had excellent taste in art. The
walls of his estate were adorned with a tasteful mix of classic
works—originals, Melissa had no doubt—and talented new artists.
There were several men milling about wearing sunglasses and dark
suits, talking into radios in hushed tones. Mr. Hamilton had spared no
expense to protect his private collection. One of the security guards
kept looking over at her. Did she really stick out so clearly as
someone who wasn’t supposed to be there? Melissa turned away and tried
to blend with the throng of guests heading for the main hall.

But the security guard tapped her shoulder. Melissa nearly jumped out
of her skin before arranging an aloof smile on her face and turning to
him. Her heart sank as she realized that she was busted. The worst
part was that she had really been looking forward to seeing Mr.
Hamilton’s new pieces. “Yes?”

The security guard smiled. She wasn’t expecting that and the sight of
his grin made the fake snobby society smile she had put on turn into a
genuine smile. This guy was an intensely good looking man. He had
dark, closely cropped short hair and olive colored skin. He looked
like he was about her age—mid thirties, maybe? “Sorry,” he said. He
lowered his sunglasses and looked at her with intense green eyes. “For
some reason I thought you looked familiar.” The glasses went back up.
She could feel him assessing her beneath his dark glasses, and she was
suddenly very aware of the fact that he was a man. Beneath his gaze
she felt almost like prey, waiting to be eaten up. A vision of those
strong, powerful arms holding her thighs apart as he licked her slowly
filled her mind and she had to turn away before she blushed. She
didn’t even know his name. She’d have to find out.

“I’m pretty sure I would have remembered you,” she said.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Excerpt -- start of new work

I've decided to do something a little different here and have posted the opening of the book I've just begun. Some of you have heard parts of the others in the Henge series. I'm inviting people to comment.

I Easren


While those on kitchen duty bustled around her Ash sat at the massive granite table and searched the winds of the princedoms. She brushed the thoughts of three friends who also had an affinity for Air. What would they learn? Steam from an aromatic tea blend reached her and she savored the aroma of mints. What she read on the winds ruffled her calm center. Voices shouted of pain and fear. These cries rose from each of the four princedoms.

With a mournful sigh she turned her search for information to the highlands. She found few troubled thoughts but the number of blank spaces aroused her curiosity. One marked the protective dome they’d woven over the lodge where the four heirs of the princedoms lived. She believed at least one of the other ones marked Dom Senet’s hiding place. She shuddered as remembrances of the evil man who sought her and her companions rose.

Once more she focused on the lowlands. In Easren the rains continued. Flooded lands present the people of this princedom from raising crops. Hunger cries assaulted her. With the approach of the venal equinox melting ice and snow in the highlands would add to the already raging rivers.

The news from the other princedoms seemed as dire. In Soutren the deserts grew and threatened to invade the fertile lands along the coast. The rivers were mere trickles. Before long Soutren would become a barren wasteland. Epidemics swept through the animals of Nortren and spread to the people. In Wesren the airborne dust caused by the destruction of the henge rode the winds and brought blight to the forests, orchards and farms.

A questing thought stabbed her barriers. She closed her affinity with a snap. Who had quested? The touch had been rougher than the probes Dom Senet sent.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Writing Life New book begun

Started something new last week and frankly, when I do this I feel rather edgy. Not sure why but finding the place to start can be hard. Once the first few thousand words were down, this time I knew I began in the right place but had to reorganize the rest of the first chapter, I guess you could call it that, or maybe just Part One. What this book involves is four groups of four young adults who set out to cleanse four princedoms of evil and to face the evil dom and He Who Walks With Evil. The story is related from eight viewpoints of these young adults and one very bad guy. Actually when I began, there were three little side groups, but I decided that was too many. What this meant was that I had to realign the segments of Part One. The first view point stayed the same as will the last. There was a good reason for this choice since I needed to get a bit of what the story is about into the first viewpoint character's story.

I suppose I could have started with a this is what has gone before but I don't read them when I buy books that are part of a series. I would rather read little reminders in dialogue or thoughts about what has gone before.

Since this story is five different battles, I decided to do them in a series of one might call them novellas but they really are a continuation of each other. I'm now in the process of redefining the nine segments so that there is some cohesion between the segments. The quartets are each heading to a different destination so I'm showing them on the road and then arriving. Now I could have done five more books to the series but I might never finish them so I chose my present course.

Choosing the course of a book especially when it's part of a series takes some study and floundering around. But i often flounder when I begin a book even though I'm a planner.

Someone on one of the loops I'm a member of was talking about pansters and planners. I think I take the middle ground. I lay out the road map and then let the characters choose the way they want to reach the destination.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Writing Hints -- Tags

When writing dialogue, letting the reader know who is speaking is a good idea. There are things about dialogue that I'll deal with at a different time. This is about speaker identification.

Using things like he said, she asked, he answered or responded are the easiest way but so often this falls into a pattern and the writer decides to get clever and to use different words. Sometimes the choice of the tag word seems silly. He hissed is one I find funny unless the writer has used a lot of words with esses. The funniest one I ever read was "Let me go," she ejaculated. I kid you not this was in a manuscript I was critiquing. One problem with using other things to avoid using said, a word many readers skip over, is becoming so clever the reader wants to see what interesting new word you're going to substitute and the story is lost.

There are ways of avoiding these and one is showing the speaker taking some kind of action. "I will not go with you." Mary crossed her arms on her chest.
Mark glared. "You certainly will." This devise can be especially useful when there are a number of people in the scene. Nothing confuses a reader more than having to figure which character is speaking.

Now we come to adverbs. He said angrily. She said coyly. The use of adverbs with every tag or with many of them also can annoy a reader. Adverbs are best sprinkled in very, very small doses. Instead of adverbs, show how the person is speaking by an action or a choice of words.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Interview -- Danielle Ackley-McPhail

I met Danielle on line and as a Mundania author. Then I shared her table at Lunacon where we sold books. Actually she's a great salesman and had other cool things for sale. Especially liked the horns. Have read a book or two of hers and enjoyed them though urban fantasy isn't my preferred genre to read. She kept my interest to the end.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I write primarily science fiction or fantasy, though I have dabbled in just about everything.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you? If more than one you can just focus on one or more than one.

I have always enjoyed speculative fiction more than drama or true-to-life scenarios because I can take what everyone is familiar with and play what-if. There is little challenge for me in writing strictly about the human condition, fiction based on everyday things. Though I read such things, I never could get very excited about writing them. I like to play. I like to find the spin I can put on events or settings that will make them unique and magical. My mind looks at things slantways and comes back with the last thing I would have expected but when it’s woven all together…it’s really, really cool!

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try or one you wouldn't?

I don’t have any interest in erotica because I find it boring to write, and most of the times to read as well. Mystery/Detective, not very likely either because I like to get into the characters’ heads too much, I find it very hard to be less than revealing with what is going on and what everyone is thinking.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I read pretty much everything, but mostly it depends on how much I don’t want to think…if I was to be mindless I read romance—now, I’ll tell the cyber-audience out there not to take offence. I’m not saying romance is mindless, but it is predictable. You know going in that girl will meet love interest, there will be some conflict, some fraternizing, and in the end they end up together. Romances are about being happy in the end. The journey is unknown, but the end point is not. I don’t have to keep details straight with a plot like that; I can just enjoy knowing I won’t be disappointed in the end (in theory). Romance takes me a few hours to read. With fantasy or science fiction, especially alternate reality/universe/made up setting/society, I have to focus to keep everything straight. Take much longer for me to read one of those.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.

I’ve been writing and putting together books seriously since I was twelve. Took me nineteen years before I finished a novel, twenty-one before it was published.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite and why?

I tend to get very attached to my background characters, mostly because they are comic relief, but also because in their simplicity, they are amazingly real and full of depth. I don’t mean that I spend a lot of page space describing them or anything, just that they come to the party boldly, if you know what I mean, crisp and clear and engaging. In my novel Yesterday’s Dreams it is a toss up between the cat, Pixie, and the pixie, Beag Scath. Both are almost solely there for comic relief, but they engage every reader. In The Halfling’s Court it is actually one of my villains, Smear, the road gremlin. And in my short story, Emberling, it is actually a creature called an embril. Now these have a special place in my hear both because I am so pleased with who and what they are, but also because for such simple features of their respective stories, they have all made a solid impact on my readers.

7. Are there villains in your stories and how are they created?

Not all villains are a “living” being. Sometimes it is circumstance, sometimes a group, or a thing…animal, god, mythical object. Few stories can exist without a villain of some type, it is the nature of fiction that to have a story there needs to be some conflict. For my work, it depends on the story. I’ve had villains of all types. Some of my villains have been a smokescreen for the true malevolence in the book, others are tools of a greater evil, some are just greedy, twisted grabbing types. Sometimes it is ourselves—or in case of the stories, some aspect of the main character. I borrow a lot from mythology and human nature itself. Some of my villains are completely and willingly irredeemable and others are forced into their role and are destined for redemption. I could write a whole paper on my various bad guys and what has made them that way…there are just too many to go into!

8. What are you working on now? Wow…how much time do we have?

LOL…I am working on three novels: The Redcaps’ Queen, Kantasi, and the third, unnamed book in the Eternal Cycle series. In addition to that I am working on the following anthologies: In An Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, By Other Means (Defending the Future book 3), No Man’s Land (Defending the Future book 4) and Firebirds (Legends of a New Age book 2). Did I mention my motto is Better Busy Than Bored! All of those are for Dark Quest Books ( except for Kantasi and Eternal Cycle 3.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

Well, my newest books out are Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory, Dragon’s Lure (Legends of A New Age book 1) and New Blood, but since they are all anthologies, let me tell you about The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faeries Tale instead. It is my biker faerie novel based on the stories that originally appeared in the Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies. The stories were so popular with the reviewers and readers we had heard from that we had to expand into a novel. As for where the original concept came from for the Halfling’s Court, I was driving down to Virginia for a convention, Ravencon ( and about halfway there we witnessed an absolutely stunning sight, a full-blown biker stampede. It was so impressive that it really made a lasting impact on me seeing all of those hundreds of bikers reveling in the road and their cycles. But what was most impressive was seeing the police and rescue vehicle escorts and seeing the way the state police had closed the highway exits so cars could not enter the highway in the midst of all those bikers giving them a free run to their destination. It was like a royal procession and one of the coolest things I have ever seen. At about the same time, or soon after we began working on the Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies and I just KNEW I had to have biker faeries in there and to do it justice, I just had to write it myself ;) To date there are now three stories in the universe, one novel, and another on the way (the above-mentioned The Redcaps’ Queen).

10. How does the book open? Show the opening scene. -- 400 to five hundred words.

Prelude to The Halfling’s Court

ANAIPHAL BATTLED FOR THEIR CHILD. IF SHE LOST HIM, SHE might live; if the child survived, she would die. Cameron felt the shame of not knowing which to pray for.

Such was the way with curses.

He would never understand how a father, mortal or fae, could be so sick as to wish ill on his own child. Anai’s father, upon discovering she’d fled, had cursed her to death should she ever attempt to bear young that would challenge him. A curse so powerful and vile it overcame the spell ring meant to protect her again magic. Cam could barely conceive of such coldness. But then, the guy had been twisted enough to force Anai to marry him, hadn’t he? And all in the name of power.

Cameron still didn’t know the whole story behind that, but he shouldn’t wonder: the fae was mad. If not for her brother, Jonraphal, Anaiphal would have never escaped before her wedding night. Cameron would have never even met her.

And she wouldn’t be about to die.

Cam’s throat tightened and his gut went sour. She was certain she was doomed, but what of their son? There had been other halfling births, and things went fairly normal, but they had no clue what impact the curse would have on the child.

Cameron sat behind her and cradled her gravid body with his own, desperate to ease her pain. He tried to quiet his fear, but gave the effort up as useless. The room was already thick with the scent. Cam shut down the forward-thinking aspect of his mind and focused all his attention on right now, this second, on Anai. His hands, both frantic and gentle, kneaded her arms. His lips feathered her brow with kisses.

“Help her.” His voice was low and intent.

Jon’s mate, Delilah, moved about the room grabbing the things they needed for the trip to the hospital. Jon, Anai’s halfbrother, had gone to get Cam’s truck.

“Call them…’Lilah,” Anai gasped. “Call them all, there is no time, and I shall need help in the bearing of this.” Even as she spoke, a misty magic gilded her from the crown of her head to her clenched toes. Her abdomen rippled, wrenching a groan from her delicate throat. She seemed barely aware as Delilah hurried away to summon the fae members of their enclave. All of Anaiphal’s focus was on their child.

“Augh!” Pain lanced through his wife until her body shook with it. Impossibly, a wild wind seemed to whip about her and, as it swept across her, her grip on his hand tightened.

“Shhh….shhh…It’s gonna be okay, baby. It’s gonna be okay.” Cam did his best to believe it, but the words felt empty, forced.

“NO! No! Cam…promise me….You must promise me he’ll never know!” Her frantic plea was scattered and faint. “He must never know!”

Then her fae kin filled the room and laid their hands upon her. Their eyes glazed and their stances went rigid as they shared their strength to help her bear the burden of the pain. Mouths parted on a collective moan and the room was taut with a sense of waiting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Obsessions part 2

This segment of Obsessions is sort of a demonstration of how to get the reader to turn to the next page.

At ten fifteen, Susan pushed the med cart into the nurses' station. "If anyone wants me, I'll be in the back." Her feet ached. She needed the lift a cup of coffee would bring.

When the unit secretary turned in her chair, her red hair swirled like a matador's cape. "Bad news," Kit Carbonari said. "When I got back from break, I found a note about an admission. Guess who has the empty bed? It's a seventy-year-old with a fractured hip."

"Murphy's Law," Susan mumbled. No break tonight. The next half-hour would be spent with the new patient. She abandoned the med cart in the middle of the nurses' lounge, strode to the lounge and opened the door.

"Barbara, let's go. We're getting an admission."

No strident voice answered. No acrid aroma of cigarette smoke tainted the air. Where was the practical?

As she retraced her steps to the nurses' station, her shoes slapped against the dark green carpet. She paused at the desk. "Has anyone seen Barbara?"

Kit shook her head. "She didn't take break with us. Acted like she had a hot date."

"Guess it's gossip rounds tonight." One of the practicals giggled. "Think of all the juicy stories she'll have when she gets back."

"And the ones about us she'll spread." Trish reached for another chart. "Someone should plug her mouth."

Julie turned in the chair at the doctors' desk where she sat beside De Witt. "Is there a problem?" she asked. "Can I help?"

"Just an admission and no Barbara." On her way to the clean utility room, Susan paused beside the younger nurse.

De Witt captured Julie's hand the way a lion grasps its prey. "Don't be late." As he rose, he smoothed his ash blond hair and slung a black leather jacket over his shoulder. He strode down the hall.

"Go get the equipment," Julie said. "As soon as I finish this chart, I'll meet you in the patient's room."

Moments later, Susan entered the semi-private room and dropped an eggcrate mattress on the foot of the bed next to the door. Leaving the hospital at eleven thirty had become an impossible dream.

"I knew it was too good to last." The patient by the window raised the head of her bed. "Sure hope she doesn't snore."

"You'll soon know."

"What's wrong with her?"

"You know I can't tell you. After she arrives, you can share tales of your adventures."

"Maybe she'll be as jolly as my last roommate."

The traction apparatus from the former patient remained in place. Susan moved the weight bar from the right to the left. As she worked, she mentally listed the equipment she'd need. A foam Buck's boot, weights, ropes, elastic bandages, Barbara's help.

The clot of anger she had hidden from the other nurses loosened. The moment she saw the practical, Susan knew she would explode. Barbara had been away from the unit for more than an hour. Had she been the one to take the message about the admission? How typical of Barbara to leave without preparing the bed.

Susan pulled the sheets to the bottom of the bed. She lifted the foam mattress.

"I'll do that," Julie said. "Get the weights and stuff. Kit's calling around for Barbara."

"By the time she returns, the work will be done."

"Does that surprise you?" Julie asked. "You can always report her for being off the unit so long."

Susan sighed. She could, but would anything be done? The practical had been reported more times than the rest of the evening staff combined. She had never been warned let alone disciplined.

With quick steps, she headed for the storage room. To her surprise, the door was locked. "Why? Had Kit forgotten to open the door after the day shift left? Susan pulled the large ring of keys from her pocket. She unlocked the door and flipped on the lights.

The disorder made her groan. Why had the orthopedic cart been left in the middle of the room? The stench of urine assaulted her. Who had left a dirty bedpan behind?

The cart blocked the path to the shelves at the end of the room where most of the supplies she needed were stored. She pushed the cart toward the wall. The wheels caught on an obstacle. She tried a different angle with the same result. With a jerk, she yanked the cart toward the door and edged around it.

Her eyes widened. A harsh gasp escaped. "Barbara!" Guilt over her earlier anger warred with fear. She stepped closer. "Oh God!"

The streak of red on the practical's white uniform spoke of violence. Susan had seen death many times, but never like this. A soundless scream reverberated in her thoughts. Who had done this and why? She stared at Barbara's battered head and face and fought the need to flee.

Several minutes passed before the scattered hundred dollar bills registered. Susan blinked but the money remained. Who had given Barbara the money? Had it been her killer?

She inhaled. She had to do something. Like a robot programmed to perform a series of tasks, she knelt beside her co-worker. She pressed the bell of her stethoscope against Barbara's chest and stared at the sweep second hand on her watch. One minute passed. Then two. She heard nothing.

With a shudder, she rose. Questions fomented in her thoughts. The desire to bolt grew stronger. The clutter in the room impeded her escape. Step by step, she backed around the ortho cart. Three more steps took her into the hall. She held back the fear-generated sobs that threatened to burst free and hurried to the nurses' station.

There for stability, she grasped the counter of the U-shaped desk. She swallowed convulsively.

Kit held the phone to her ear. The two practicals sat at the long section of the desk. Trish lounged in the med room doorway. The mundane scene failed to erase the bizarre picture in the storage room.

"" The words emerged as a harsh whisper. She gulped a breath.

Julie stepped out of the semi-private room across from the desk. "What took you... Susan, what's wrong?"

"" Susan couldn't force her frozen tongue to form the words.

Trish strode across the green carpet. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

Susan cleared her throat. Her knees buckled. Only her grasp on the counter kept her erect. "In the storage room... Barbara..."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Excerpt 1 Obsessions

Obsessions has one of my favorite villains and this story is a medical suspense with a difference. No mad doctors. The doctors and nurses are the ones who are being killed. This book was an EPICaward finalist.

He crouched in the cemetery that embraced three sides of the hillside parking lot across from Bradley Memorial Hospital. A massive family marker shielded him from view, yet allowed him a clear view of the steps, the street and the door of the Emergency Room. Dark clouds slid across the surface of the moon. Lights, set high on poles around the perimeter of the lot sent finger shadows groping among the cars.

The watcher straightened and edged from behind the granite marker. White puffs of vapor from the shallow, rapid breaths he took coalesced around his face. He held his body as rigid as a tombstone. As he waited for the evening nurses to end their tour of duty and hurry across the street to their cars, his narrowed eyes focused on the brightly-lit hospital entrance. Every night for a week, he had watched while excitement and anticipation had circled like a swarm of hornets. Would she come tonight?

"I'll never leave you." When he was eight, Mommy had said the words that had become his litany. That broken promise had brought him here.

He stared at the steps. When would Susan come?

When Mommy was a patient, Susan had been her favorite nurse. He had liked Susan, too, but she hadn't stopped those other people from hurting Mommy. His shoulders tensed.

"I'll never leave you. They'll have to kill me first."

The night Mommy had died was etched into his memories. On that dreadful night, he had begun his plan to make them pay.

Mommy would be unhappy about what he meant to do. To her, nurses were special and Susan more wonderful than the rest.

He rocked from his heels to his toes. The last time he had disobeyed, Mommy had threatened to tell everyone how bad he was. He had promised her he would be good. His hands curled into fists. Sometimes he wanted to feel the heat of accomplishment so much he felt sick.

He gulped a breath. Tonight the heat would blossom and he would feel powerful again.

Susan was like Mommy. She would tell. He chewed on his lower lip. Her death would free him to still the people who had hurt Mommy on that dreadful night.

His smile became a grimace.

He had trusted Susan but she had failed to keep Mommy safe. Though he wished to see the others dead, Susan had to be first. He had laid his plans carefully, and while he had considered all the things that could go wrong, days had become weeks and then months.

The bright lights across the street caught his attention and stirred his hopes. She had to come tonight. He wanted to be free.

His hand brushed Mommy's tombstone. He pressed his fingers against the engraved letters of her name. He cocked his head and listened to the whisper of the wind.

"Nurses give so much to others. Someone should take care of them."

Mommy's husky voice thrummed in a corner of his mind. Her face appeared. Tears spilled from her eyes. He shook his head. Why should he listen to her when she had left him?

Sometimes at night when he slept in her bed, he caught a glimmer of her presence. For fleeting moments, the scent of her perfume brought her to him.

He squared his shoulders. Since he was eight and Daddy died, Mommy had watched him carefully. One day, her vigilance had wavered. The neighborhood bully had fallen from a tree and broken his neck. That awful boy shouldn't have torn up Mommy's flower garden.

Mommy had liked the candy and the other presents he had given her every time he disobeyed. He groaned. Who would like his presents now?

Where was Susan? Waiting made him anxious. She had to come so she would be just like Mommy.

He saw her. Hazel eyes, sad eyes, Susan's eyes, Mommy's eyes. Brown hair swirled to hide her siren smile. He reached for her, but she vanished into the darkness of the night.

The chill November wind flowed across his nape. He jammed his hands into the pockets of his black leather jacket and touched the weapon he had brought.

The sound of leather scuffling against asphalt caused him to turn and scan the parking lot. When he saw no one, his gaze returned to the hospital entrance.

Someone dashed across the street. A flash of white showed beneath the woman's dark coat. He held his breath. Susan had come. It had to be her. A rush of anticipation built to a peak. She was here. The nurse ran up the steps beside the cemetery.

A darting shadow startled him. With stealthy movements, a dark-clad figure edged between the cars. The nurse paused beside a battered tan sedan. A hand stretched to grasp the purse that dangled from her shoulder.

"Susan, watch out." A bellow proclaimed his rage. If she was attacked, he should be the attacker.

Mommy wouldn't like that. "A good boy never hurts a woman." She had never guessed what he had done, not even when he had given her the tri-colored bracelet she had always worn.

"No," he shouted.

The dark figure fled and nearly tripped over the single strand of chain that separated the parking lot from the cemetery.

The watcher smiled. Mommy would be proud of him. He couldn't wait to go home and tell her what he had done tonight.

A shrill scream rose. From her? From him? He bit his lower lip and clenched his hands. He stared at the woman he had thought was Susan. She wasn't, but she had been in Mommy's room the night she died. Intent on completing what the mugger had begun, he stepped toward the chain. What was he thinking about? He couldn't, not tonight. Susan had to be the first. He returned to Mommy's grave. Her voice rode on the wind.

"What will become of you when I'm not here to look after you? I'll never leave you. They'll have to kill me first."

But she was dead and they had killed her.

"Mommy, don't leave me. You promised you would never go."

The nurse ran to the steps. She shouted and waved to the group of women who hurried across the street. He slid deeper into the shadows. Car doors slammed. Engines roared. He waited until most of the cars had left the parking lot before he went to his own. As he drove home, he wondered why Susan hadn't come.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Writing Life

I'm back to writing. Actually I've just finished two stories, one a novella and the other a full novel. Getting ready to send them out into the world. The Amber Tower is one of the Amber Chronicle stories done for a Jewels of the Qulll anthology. This one was harder to write than any of the others since the hero and heroine are kept apart. Like Rapunzel he's trapped in a tower for a month and to escape he must choose one of two princesses. The hard part was doing a courtship story when the two were separated. The second child to be sent into the world is the first of an alternate trilogy that in time will be a series of four trilogies not really related except that in each story a character is sent from our world to an ancient alternate world. The entire series is titled In Other Worlds. This one is Egypt but the title should probably be changed since there will be two other stories in that world. I think maybe The Warrior of Bast might be the title.

Another thing that happened in this writing world of mine told me a bit about my writing self or style or something. What I learned is I can't go back. I sent a book where my rights had been returned to another publisher. This short novel had been a fun one to write and was written on a dare, a spicy romance that earned a good bit of money during its stay at the publisher. What I received was a great letter with suggestions for revisions that would make the story a stronger one and one not so top heavy. The suggestions made sense but as I tried to make the changes, ideas came. I found I couldn't go back to something I'd written five or six years before. In my head it was done and not to be revisited. This may seem odd since I'm a Cancer with six planets in that sign. Cancers do love to hold on to old things. Must be Uranus, the planet of change sitting on my Ascendant that gives me the ability to move forward.

This brought up another idea. I have many writer friends and some who would like to be published. I see several things among them. One is sticking to the same old, same old story and not being able to reach for the next idea until they feel they've perfected what they're working on. Another is the lack of persistence. This sounds like a contradiction since they're persistent about the story they're working on. Persistence isn't for short term goals. It belongs to the long term. I'll be thinking about these things more in times to come

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Computerless days

The blog is for this week on a hiatus. I've just been able to get on line . On Monday my computer froze and what happened was a bad hard drive. Took my friendly computer person two days to get the thing working again. On Monday I will begin again with the five day schedule. Right now I'm busy getting back all my favorite places. The hundred or more are now gone and slowly coming back. Isn't life fun.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Writing Tip Pacing

Just what is pacing. I've thought about this a lot ever since a writer friend told others that my book Obsessions showed a mastery of pacing. Now this is a medical suspense so pacing was an interesting effort. Pacing has to do with the flow of a story. If you've ever read a book when you wanted the writer to speed up or to slow down, either condition is part of pacing.

Pacing can be tricky. When doing an acion scene, short sentences are better than long ones. Keeping the description tight can help a scene flow faster. One thing is not to keep up the rapid fire writing for too long or your reader amy be out of breath.

Long sentences full of phrases and clauses slow the pace. This gives a reader time to savor the story but continued for too long, this can make the reader want to fall asleep.

Pacing in ensemble stories can be useful. I do a lot of these and some that are essentially two view point characters. Even switching from one character to another can slow or speed up the pace according to the intent of a scene.

Pacing is also a devise that can pull a reader to turn the page. Ending on a note that causes curiosity can pull a reader to the next chapter.

Interview -- Allie Boniface

I met Allie several years ago at a local chapter meeting. She has a nice voice for romance. Allie was a finalist for an EPIC Ebook Award.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I started writing in contemporary romance and have published 5 novels in that genre. I still love that niche, but I’m currently tackling my first YA (young adult) novel, for something a little bit different!

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you? If more than one you can just focus on one or more than one.

I didn’t really realize I was writing romance until one of my early critique partners told me I was! I’ve always loved the complexity of interactions between people, and I love a happy ending as well, so I guess it makes sense that I’d be drawn to the romance genre. However, I’ve also recently become more interested in Young Adult, in part because I teach high school students, and I love to hear what they’re reading and enjoying.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try or one you wouldn't?

I don’t read sci fi or fantasy, so I probably wouldn’t write in either of those. Beyond that, I like experimenting, so we’ll see what comes!

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Lately I’ve been reading quite a bit of YA, both for research and pure pleasure (I’ll recommend John Green here as an author everyone should read). I also read historical romance, women’s fiction and sometimes a little horror (I’m a Stephen King fan) as well.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.

I live in the lower Hudson Valley (New York) with my husband, who’s also a teacher, and have been writing seriously for about 10 years,

6. Which of your characters is your favorite and why?

Oh, that’s so hard to choose! I do love Eddie West, the hero in the first romance I ever wrote (Lost in Paradise). He’s strong and sexy and has a soft side and everyone who reads that book seems to fall in love with him  He’s also one of the first characters who really didn’t change through all the revisions of that book.

7. Are there villains in your stories and how are they created?

One of my favorite villains is Sean McCabe, a corrupt police chief who stalks the heroine across five states in my contemporary romance One Night in Memphis. He was a lot of fun to write!

8. What are you working on now?

As I already mentioned, I’m in the middle of revising a draft of my first YA novel. I’m really enjoying this project because I get to write in a very different voice – first person, present tense. I’m also fortunate enough to hear this voice all day, every day, at my teaching job!

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

One Night in Napa just released in print – it’s my third “One Night” novel, which unfolds over twenty-four chapters and twenty-four hours. I was actually driving on a long-distance trip when this idea came to me, about a daughter who leaves home when she finds out a huge family secret – and then has to come back home to protect that secret, years later.

10. How does the book open? Show the opening scene. -- 400 to five hundred words.
It actually begins with our hero, who you will see has his own issues to deal with…

Grant knew it was going to be a long day when he woke up and couldn’t remember the name of the woman lying beside him. His head throbbed. His stomach roiled. Late morning sun slanted across his face, and he squinted. He lifted himself onto an elbow and ran one hand over his stubbled jaw, then rolled over and stared at a digital clock he didn’t recognize.

He heard the sound again, the one that had jerked him from sleep. Somewhere across the room, his cell phone beeped. What the he—? Was it the weekend yet? Or was he supposed to be at work? Why did the room smell like vanilla? He groaned and struggled to pull sense from his sleep-muddled brain.

“Babe?” A manicured hand snaked out from the covers and caressed his bare chest. “Everything okay?”

Babe? He blinked and the room swam into focus. “Um, yeah.” He slipped from between satin sheets, planted one foot on a throw rug, and ended up on his ass next to the bed.

She giggled.

He swore under his breath and pulled himself up. The room was small, decorated mostly in pinks and lavenders. A collection of candles sat on a pink-and-white dresser across the room and, for one horrifying moment, he thought a Hello Kitty stuffed animal stared at him with black plastic eyes. He shook his head and looked again, and the cat changed into a pink dragon with wings. Still a stuffed animal, though. He kept his gaze on the ground so he wouldn’t see any others. Near the door, his keys, phone, and boxers lay in a heap beside a leopard-print bra and something made of clingy red fabric.

Grant licked his lips and silently called himself a few choice words. Again. I did it again. Maybe his father was right, after all.

He searched the bedroom until he found the golf shirt and shorts he remembered wearing the night before. Shots of tequila, he recalled. And a blonde at the end of the bar with a gorgeous rack and pouty lips who wouldn’t stop staring at him. His two vices, served up neatly at Mick’s, the local watering hole conveniently located at the end of his block.

“Shit. I’m late. Really late.”

Now he knew what day it was, because he only hit Mick’s for their Thursday night wing special, which meant it was Friday. The day of his final interview with Francesca Morelli. And his last chance to please his father or lose his job, condo, and sports car in one fell swoop. He swore again and opened two doors before he found the bathroom.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Genres YA Fantasy

I've written a number of fantasies that I target as YA. Mainly because the characters are young teens. The Jewels of Earda series and the Henge Betrayed series are some of them. One thing I've decided is that fantasy when it doesn't involve heavy relationships is suitable for young adults.

Why does fantasy appeal to people. Imagination and magic. Dragons and elves. Ogres and fairies. So many strange and mystical creatures inhabit the pages of fantasies. So many of the stories we read as children have elements of fantasy in them. Fairy tales show worlds where things that we find unusual are normal there.

What are your favorite fantasy tales and your favorite writers? I find Mercedes Lackey writes fantasies that appeal to adults and young adults. They also address problems of children face growing up. Andre Norton is another though her books are also science fiction. The Witch World series is another. Harry Potter also lives in a world of fantasy. The Narnia Chronicles also hit on fantasy. And they are tales to be enjoyed by the young and the old.

Some of my friends write YA fantasy like Gloria Oliver and Kathy Sullivan. I'm blocking on the names of others but feel free to share ones you know.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Excerpt of the Week -- The Henge Betrayed -- Flight

The Henge betrayed Flight is available from Mundania Press in both print and ebook formats. This book is the first of a series about children with affinities for the elements, Earth, Fire, Water and Air. The characters are loosely based on my grandchildren whose astrological signs are Air, Water, Earth and Fire.


A flash of lightning brightened the sleeping chamber. Ash woke with a start and burrowed into the pillows. The scent of trouble rode the air currents that threaded through the open window slats. Her heart thudded in her chest. Like the beating of a giant’s club against a massive drum, thunder sounded. Again, lightning flashed and cast green, red, white and blue slashes across the sky.

The air held no threat of rain. ‘Twas like the heat storms of summer, unnatural at this time of year for the waning days of autumn marked the season.

Ash calmed her racing thoughts and tasted the air for that was her element. A frown formed within and without. From the land beyond the four walls of the henge, she caught the odors of fires, animals and men. From inside the keep, there was little except the aromas of her parents and siblings. Something was wrong. Where were those who served the Dom and Doma of Wesren? Ash propped herself against the pillows. If she had her younger brother’s affinity for things of earth, she could read the stones of the ancient tower and know what had passed while she slept. Where were the men servants and maids? ‘Twas as though the henge had been abandoned by those who lived within the four walls.

The chamber door creaked. Ash froze until a familiar scent reached her. “Mama, what’s wrong?”

The Doma Calanda slipped across the room and sat on the bed. “Ashlea, still your thoughts.”

Ash struggled to obey the sharp command. Her mother seldom spoke this way. “Why?”

“Thoughts travel on the wind and may be read by those who wish us ill.” She grasped Ash’s hand. “Dress in your warmest clothes. As soon as you’ve finished, go to the inner room.”

The urgency in her mother’s voice raised fear. “What’s happening?”

“We’ve been betrayed. An army surrounds the henge. Your father and I believe the secret of the openings in the walls is known by those who seek to force us to use our powers for their ends.”

“Who has done this? Do I know the enemy’s smell? Have I seen his face?”

“Several years ago, your father’s step-brother came to the henge. He’s one of those who stand against us.”

Ash thought about her step-uncle. His face slipped into her thoughts. Prince Zedron had brought gifts for her and her siblings. He’d seemed nice, but she had a vague memory of hearing voices -- his and her parents’ -- raised in argument.

Why would he want to destroy the henge? When Papa had shown affinities for the elements, he’d given up his claim to Wesren. Zedron of the House Wesren had been
named prince. As well as being papa’s step-brother, they were distant cousins.

Ash grasped her mother’s hand. “Why did he send the army here? Doesn’t he know what you and Papa do?”

“He doesn’t believe or care. Greed, envy and a lust to rule where once four henges held the land in balance drive him. He doesn’t act alone. Your father and I fear he’s aided by one of the Doms.”


“The one I suspect has no ties of kinship to us.”

“Why not someone from the low lands?”

Her mother sighed. “Though at times, those with affinities like your father are born in the low lands, I believe someone from the high lands has allied with darkness.”

Ash swallowed. “Why would anyone who could do good want to do evil? “Where are the people of the henge? Their scents are gone.”

“Away to safety.”

“Mama, what will we do?” Ash caught the edge of a thought and feared the Doma’s answer. She held back tears and hoped she’d misheard. After all, her talents was just emerging as were those of her siblings.

Ash and her twin would celebrate their fourteenth name day on Winter Day. Her younger siblings had seen their twelfth on Summer Day. How could they stand against one whose talents were fully developed?

“You and your siblings will leave the henge.”

This time, the thought behind the words was clear. “Alone?”

“You must. Your father and I will remain lest the destruction of the henge brings complete disaster.”