Sunday, October 31, 2010

Six Sentence Sunday

Sentences today are going to be rather different. Actually they are the first six chapter headings from Becoming Your Own Critique Partner written by Jane Toombs and Janet Lane Walters and published by Zumaya. It's available via download or in print.

Your Tell Needs Showing.
Listen To The Mocking Bird.
Is Your Black Moment Really Gray?
Is This Scene Necessary?
Modifying To Death.
Just The Senses Ma'am

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chapters -- Chapter 1 of The Henge Betrayed -- Flight

Since no one wants to play the game of Two Sentence Synopsis, I've decided to start posting the first Chapters of the books currently available on Saturdays. I would have started with but since this is a series, I'll begin with Flight. The book is available from electronically. It's also available in print from both Barnes and and


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.”
Ash caught the picture of a place of sand and stone where not even a stunted plant
grew. “Where?”
“Soutren where the henge stood. That will not come to pass here.”
“If there’s an army and they know the secret of the walls, how will we leave without being caught? We can’t change into birds, fish or beasts the way the Doms and Domas in the old tales did.”
“That way isn’t for you. Remember the path beneath the mesa where you and I walked this spring? Remember the way and the refuges of the forest on the road to Cedris?”
Ash shivered. They’d been a day, a night and most of another day in the subterranean passage. “Must we take that road?”
“’Tis the only outlet yet unblocked. Enter Cedris through the gate I showed you and seek shelter in the hidden garden. Come, dress. I must wake Kylandra. You know how she hates being roused from sleep.”
Ash rubbed her hand and recalled the morning she’d been sent to wake her sister. The scar on her palm showed proof of Ky’s first calling of fire.
When the door closed behind her mother, Ash slipped from the bed and hurried to her wardrobe. By touch, she found a woolen riding skirt, a silk undertunic and an overtunic of mamar wool. She pulled on heavy stockings and picked up fur-lined boots and her cloak.
At the door, she paused, then ran back to her chest for the sack of coins her father had given her on each of her name days. Since the garden her mother had shown her was nearing the dormant season, coins might be needed in the city.
She stepped into the hall and tasted the air to be sure all was safe. Tonight, no torches burned. Deep shadows filled the space. She caught her twin’s scent and waited for him at the top of the spiral staircase that led to the keep’s lowest level.
“Ash,” Bran whispered.
“Here.” She gulped a breath. A tickling stirred in her head. She grasped his hand and pressed against the wall. “Shield your thoughts. Someone spies.”
Warmth rose from the massive stones at her back. Even in the deepest cold of winter, no fires were needed to provide heat. Only in the kitchen were there fireplaces. The accomplishments of the ancient builders awed her.
The spying sensation vanished. Ash tugged on Bran’s hand. “Let’s go.”
He put one hand on her shoulder and the twin bond clicked into place. Ash grasped the raining to use as a guide. When she paused on the third landing, a glimmer of light beckoned like a friend. She used the connection to her twin instead of speaking aloud. What did you sense outside?
No one is in the henge. Beyond the walls, men full of anger and greed are camped. The vapor in the air holds the bitterness of their sweat.
How many?
More than I had time to count.
Ash reached for the railing and started down the last flight of stairs. At the bottom, she halted so abruptly Bran nearly knocked her down. The usually open entrance to the inner chamber had vanished.
Before long, Doma Calanda and Ky arrived. The Doma’s fair hair hung to her waist. Each of the multitude of braids was tipped with a colored bead.
Ky rubbed her eyes. “Mama, I’m so tired.”
Ash turned and watched her father and Jay descend the last few steps. Her father’s bronze skin was the color of hers, but she had her mother’s near-white hair. So did her siblings. Ash and Jay had their mother’s facial features, while Ky and Bran favored their father.
Doma Calanda sang a series of notes. The edges of the wall parted to allow access to the inner room. A table in the chamber’s center was a slab of polished red stone. The walls were paneled with sheets of alabaster. Green marble shelves held talismans and other items used by the Doma and Dom to balance the elements of the Wesren quadrant. Beneath Ash’s feet, the blue stone floor felt cold. She sat on one of the chairs to pull on her boots.
Dom Jonden called fire to light the wax tapers set in sconces along the walls. He set the braziers burning. The aromas of herbs and spices filled the air. As though this were a lesson, Ash tried to isolate each scent to learn the blend and the purpose. Once the six had gathered around the table, the wall re-sealed. No thought or spoken word would be heard outside the room.
Ash sat beside her twin. Ky and Jay were on the other side. Before her parents took their seats, they carried talismans from the shelves and placed two before each child.
Ash saw a silver flute, not the wooden one she used in practice, but one whose notes would stir the air. Were the ones before her siblings’ gifts to activate their powers?
The Dom and Doma sat at either end of the oval table. Doma Calanda took Ash’s and Ky’s hands. Dom Jonden held Bran’s and Jay’s hands. Ash felt the energy pulse between them.
“We have been betrayed and you, the hope of the future, must leave the henge,” the Doma said. “Remember the things we have taught you. Ashlea will lead you on a road she has traveled before. In Cedris, you will find a place of safety. There, you will wait until a person comes for each of you and takes you to where you can learn and master your elements.”
Ash swallowed against the lump in her throat. The idea of being separated from her siblings brought tears to her eyes. There’d been no other children in the henge. The four had become more than siblings. They were friends. She sat the tear-glistened eyes of the two across the table. Bran’s hold on her hand tightened.
“The separation will not be for all time,” Dom Jonden said. “You will find each other and others of your kind. For in you and the ones you discover is a uniting of high and low lands.”
“Once there was one land with high and low united,” Doma Calanda began. “Came those who now dwell in the low lands. Came they seeking refuge form disaster. Those who now dwell in the high lands were rovers and most called no place home. Gladly they ceded the plains to the newcomers. They built four henges, each a home for a Dom and Doma.”
Dom Jonden took up the tale. “Some of my people were discontented with a simple life. They formed Houses and battled for the land. The four Great Houses could not defeat each other, so Wesren, Soutren, Nortren and Easren divided the land into four quadrants and each named one of their own as prince. Years later, three of the houses sought to seize the henges within their borders. Those henges fell and there was disaster in those quadrants. Only House Wesren refused to take arms against their henge. Where the other quadrants suffered, Wesren prospered. Alas, they now seek to destroy. Thus you children must leave.”
Questions without number bombarded Ash’s thoughts. Bran’s thoughts echoed hers. She saw the same puzzlement on Ky’s and Jay’s faces.
“In a secluded canyon at the foot of the mesa, there are ponies and supplies enough to last several weeks,” Dom Jonden said. “When you reach Cedris, free the ponies. You will have no need of them in the city.”
Doma Calanda rose. “Ashlea, to you is the mastery of Air. The flute and this stone are yours.” Over Ash’s head, the Doma slipped a silver chain with a crystal so clear it seemed nearly invisible. “To you the things of the mind, the reading of thoughts carried in the air, the knowing of aromas, the calling of the wind, music to stir the air into patterns to influence others and to open hidden doors.”
Dom Jonden stood behind Bran. “Brandien, to you is the mastery of Water. The scrying cup and this crystal are yours.” He fastened a blue-white chain holding a clear blue stone around Bran’s neck. “To you are matters of the heart, the reading of emotions and the balancing of fluids within and without. In the scrying cup, you will see images of what occurs in the land. Potions brewed in the cup will gain strength. To you, the ability to balance unstable minds and bodies, to take and feel the emotions of others. You will be able to find sweet water, no matter how deep.”
The Doma moved to Jay. “Jaydren, to you is the mastery of Earth. The staff of living wood and this crystal are yours.” A green stone dangled on a gold chain. “From beneath the earth and above, you will know when things are right. To you, the feeding of men’s bodies. With the staff, you can enhance the growth of all plants. You can unearth the riches of the earth. Stone, metal, crystals are yours to use for the well-being of others.”
The Dom placed a crystal on a red-gold chain around Ky’s neck. “Kylandra, to you is the mastery of fire. The flame sword is yours to bear. Fire is light and light brings courage. You are action and will know how to fire the spirits of others. You will mesh with all manner of beasts. Fire brings both life and death. This sword can be used for war or for peace. To have one, you must face the other.”
“Now, children, the time grows short,” Doma Calanda said.
Ash watched her parents’ faces change from Dom and Doma to the visages of the ones who had loved and raised her and her siblings. Grief showed in their eyes and subtly altered their scents.
A cup appeared in her mother’s hands. “Come, share this cup. Then you must
“Mama, Papa, come with us,” Ky cried.
Dom Jonden held Ky in his arms. “The henge will fall. Your mother and I must remain to see the ending causes as little harm as possible to the land and the people.”
Ash drank from the cup. Warmth infused her. She kissed her mother’s cheek and was enfolded for a moment.
“Be brave. Be wary. Trust not the ones whose thoughts are completely shielded. Trust the crystals for should you meet those who mean you harm, the stones will grow warm against your skin.”
She left her mother and went to her father. He kissed her forehead. “Go. Know you are loved now and forever. Make haste on your journey through the passage for we don’t know how long we can hold.”
Ash donned her cloak, took a bundle of torches, a packet of journey food and a flask of water from one of the shelves. She lifted her flute and played the notes her mother had taught her. The wall of stone at the rear of the chamber parted. The torch she’d freed from the bundle flared. Though she wanted to remain, at the head of her siblings, Ash stepped into the darkness.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Writing Tip -- Show and Tell

Years ago, Jane Toombs and I had a crazy idea to write a non-fiction book about writing. The book took us nearly two years to complete. Becoming Your Own Critique Partner won the EPIC ebook award known then as the EPPIE in 2003 for non-fiction. I thought I'd read it over and start to pull tips from the book for those who are writers, so here goes. Hopefully Jane will chime in when she has a chance.

The first Chapter is Your Tell Needs Showing and is about showing rather than telling. There's nothing wrong with an author using some telling in their story. Tell is facts and can be dry and boring. Tell generally takes fewer words than showing. Some tell passages can be adorned by multiple adjectives but they're still showing just the facts. Show is emotions and action.

As a draft writer, my initial telling of any story I'm writing is just that. Tell. There is little but the facts spelled out. On future drafts I must flesh out my story and make the facts interesting to the reader.

Look at this passage. The six foot tall John's shoulders were broad. That's telling.
John towered over her. Just how tall was he. Her sister said six feet, but she was sure her sister lied. His broad shoulders seemed about to split the seams of his
coat. That's showing.

Sometimes show is really tell. When two people tell each other what they already know. The author is telling the reader. There's no real action, reaction of emotion.

Something I have a tendency to do and get called on it all the time is to give a long list of items in an information dump. Don't forget it you want to give the reader a list, show them. This may take more words but it is more satisfying to the reader.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Interview with Lauren Harvey

Today's interview is with Lauren Harvey, a fellow Vanilla Heart author. I'm being interviewed on her blog today as well. Her blog is
Another thing I learned is that she's from Philly, a not far destination from New York.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
I consider my work contemporary fiction. Most of it is LGBT contemporary fiction, but all of my books translate to all audiences. I do have a suspense novel, and I am just about to embark on another thriller/mystery/suspense book. So, I write in a couple of different genres. :)

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
I guess you could say it chose me. I basically just write how ever the inspiration hits me. It's really all up to the muse! ;)
3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
I have to say science fiction is the one genre I'll be staying far away from. LOL. It takes a very special and creative mind to write like that. I enjoy writing in the here and now, that which I know. :)

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
I'll read almost anything. Romance, mystery/suspense, period pieces, classics, etc. There is very little that I won't read. I'm always up for a new author or new genre because (a) it's fun, and (b) I think it's good for a writer to learn, read and gain as much as they can from other authors.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.
Well, I'm originally from the Philadelphia area, but am now living in a quiet, small town in upstate New York with my partner, our four year old daughter, four cats and golden retriever. :)
I've been writing as far back as I can remember. Writing novels was my idea of play and fun as a child. I was nationally published in the U.S. for the first time at age fourteen. I've written fiction and non-fiction alike, but most of my writing has been non-fiction (historical and scientific pieces). I seriously began writing fiction in 2006 and have been going at it ever since. It's much more difficult than writing non-fiction, but it is so much more fun! :)

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That's pretty much impossible for me to say. :) Each of my characters in all of my books is a reflection of me in one way or another. It's akin to picking a favorite child. ;)

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
Yes, there are in villains in each book. Not that they are completely evil. No person is either completely evil or completely good. But there are some people who are mean, selfish, controlling, full of hate, etc. Those types end up playing the villains in my books. They were created as the story was created. I am the kind of writer who lets the story write itself. As it does so, the characters develop on their own. Including the bad guys. :)

8. What are you working on now?
Currently, I am finishing up the sequel to Imperfect, my latest release. After that, I am going to work on that second mystery book. After that, who knows? I have a lot of ideas floating in my head, so I'm never quite sure what's to come next! LOL.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
My newest release is Imperfect. It's basically the life story of a woman named Carol Mathers. She was born a sickly child in a somewhat emotionally unstable home. In the early 1980s, she receives a blood transfusion. The book actually starts on her twenty first birthday, when she meets the love of her life: Alexandria. They spend the next twelve years of their lives living, loving, laughing and crying. During this time, Carol discovers that she has acquired AIDS as a result of her blood transfusion. Now, she and Alex must learn to live new lives as AIDS patients. Life continues to be both beautiful and belligerent for the two. An unexpected tragedy causes Carol to wonder about the meaning of her life, or if there is any meaning at all.
The idea for this book came at a rather dark time in my life. It was a way for my to address my insecurities and personal issues at the time. It has turned into a book that actually helped and healed me. I've been getting some great feedback from readers, so it seems it's touching them as deeply as it has touched me.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

Carol had anticipated this day for years. Just like so many college students, the day she could legally drink was a great rite of passage in her life.

Marlene, Carol’s roommate, along with other friends and fellow students, had planned a wild night for their typically reclusive friend. Carol knew it would be a long, unpredictable night despite her early class. Carol didn’t care, though. She never went out and never partied. Her social life typically consisted of long nights with her textbooks. She deserved this one night to live it up.

At around seven, there was a thunderous pounding on Carol’s dorm room door. Wearing makeup and nice clothes for a change, Carol opened the door. A herd of people stood in front of her, some of whom Carol didn’t even recognize. She didn’t mind. This was her night. Tonight was her night to live, to laugh, and to enjoy.

“Surprise!” Everyone shouted, but the surprise was on them. Marlene was floored to find Carol wearing an uncharacteristically soft, delicate, slightly ruffled black blouse and a cute asymmetrical black skirt. This was Marlene’s first time in four years seeing Carol in anything other than a tee-shirt and jeans. Her outfit confirmed her ownership of this night. Carol grabbed her winter coat and purse and the crowd left to go paint the town.

Marlene had decided on the evening’s venue. Since her roommie was openly gay, Marlene led the crowd to the best lesbian bar in town: City Girls.

Carol’s troops wasted no time in splurging on shots, beer and a variety of hard alcoholic beverages. Carol, normally introverted, drank the shots and other intoxicating spirits; it didn’t take long for her to become inebriated.

Alexandria, a 24-year old local, watched the loud, raucous group and quietly chuckled to herself. She went to City Girls tonight to people watch and she certainly got an eye-full.

Suddenly, Carol got off her bar stool to go to the ladies’ room. Carol tripped over her own two drunken feet and began to fall forward. She saved herself by slamming her hand on the table in front of Alex. Embarrassed, Carol slowly pulled herself up to find the dark beauty smiling back at her. With skin like rich, dark chocolate, eyes that were beautiful, tranquil, bottomless pools, and neatly braided jet black hair, Alexandria took Carol’s breath away. The two paused and the world around them melted away as they intensely stared at each other.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Characterization -- Astrology - The Henge Betrayed characters

For the past twelve weeks I've posted the characteristics of each of the signsof the Zodiac, honing in on the Sun, Moon and Rising sign. Since The Henge Betrayed Refuge was released today, I thought I'd show you how to use the Sun, Moon and Rising signs were used to create these characters. First a general bit about how I do this.

It's a matter of picking one from each column to give depth to your characters. The Sun is a character's inner self, one they may or may not let other people see. The Moon shows their emotional nature and often how they act and react to the actions of other people. The Rising Sun is the self they show the world. These three aspects may work in unison or they may work in opposition. They will give the character motivations and sometimes motivations that are in conflict.

Before I get to the characters of the Henge Betrayed series, let's look at a character who has more than one level to her character. Suppose you have a hero or heroine with Pisces as the Sun, This gives a dreamy aspect to the character but the world may not see him or her that way since the Rising sign is Aries, a Fire sign meaning they are the kind to rush into action often without thinking. This will give the character some inner conflict. Then perhaps we'll choose a Taurus moon, giving them a need for beauty and luxury on an emotional level. As you can see this character has levels to their nature and there are problems built into their personality.

When I began the cozy mystery series, I must admit the character was based on my own astrological signs. Katherine Miller has a Cancer sun making her want to mother everyone. She also has a Cancer moon. This gives her an emotional attachment to those near and dear to her. Her Rising sign is Taurus, this her love or cooking, beautiful things and in her case music.

Now for one of the Henge Betrayed characters. Though this is an ensemble book, there are five who were there from the very beginning of the book. Ky and Zand are Fire. Not only are their suns belonging to one of the Fire signs so are their moons and rising signs. Ash is Air. Bran is Water and Jay is Earth.

Unlike my other characters these five have sun, moon and rising sign in one of the four major breakdowns. Ky has an Aries Sun, a Sagittarius Moon and a Leo rising sign.
In contrast Zand has a Leo sun, an Aries rising sign and a Sagittarius moon. This gives them slightly different personalities, needs and desires. Ky is more brash and daring while Zand has a desire to rule. Both have a natural way of bonding with animals and investing their emotions in the care of the animals.

So find yourself a good book on astrology that shows not just the sun but the moon and rising signs in each of the twelve Zodiac signs and add some extra flavor to your characters.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More pm Vogler - tests, Allies and Enemies

To me this is the most fun part of writing a story. Here the writer faces a number of tests that show their desire to reach their goal. During these times they meet allies. Some of these allies can become good friends. Some are little more than acquaintances but they will help the character on the way. Then there are the enemies. This enemy can be an evil guy or a rival who is wanting the same thing the hero or heroine wants. Sometimes a story has more than one hero or heroine and more than one villain. Sometimes in this sixth part of the journey one or more of the villains can be defeated.

I have a tendency to write what I look on as ensemble pieces. Mistress of the Moons soon to be released in paper is one of these. Here there are three heroines who must face off against three villains. They are joined by three heroes who come to their aid. During the journey the three and three meet people who help them and those who try to hinder them. They also meet those who are enemies though not necessarily a villain. Some are misguided and some are truly evil. That's what I like about fantasy. The bad guys can be really bad.

During this part of the story, the trials the hero and heroine face are the build up for worse ones to come. In Mistress of the Moons, Dian, one of the heroines is in a way betrayed by Kobe who is to become her hero. She escapes and he follows to recapture her but realizes he can't do this. But later in the story together they face a real trial.

Often there is a special place where the hero or heroine meets his or her friends and allies. In many stories it is a bar. In some of my stories it is the hospital, or a home.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My writing week

This week has been an interesting one. I'm nearing 1000 hits on my blog for the month. That seems a lot, but I'm sure some of them are mine. Other interesting thing is that one of my short stories is now available for the Kindle. The Funeral was written many years ago and revised for DiskUs Publishing since she does short stories and it's even in a mini book available on the site. Other news is that I'm waiting for Mistress of The Moons to come out in paper. Target date is the 29th of this month. Still waiting for the cover of The Henge Betrayed -- Refuge. Perhaps it will make it for the week. Also saw one of the funniest horror stories I've ever read Grave Robbers Wanted -- No Experience Necessary by Jeff Strand has been re-released. I do not like horror but this book made me laugh when I read it.

As for writing, I'm still working on Confrontations but think I've finally finished the first segment of the book. I should finish it in a matter of days and then there will be only four segments to finish. Of course the last segment needs much work.

I've also decided to use mine and Jane's Becoming Your Own Critique Partner for the Friday writing tip. At least there are a lot of chapters to go through there.

Here is the week's excerpt this time from Murder and Mint Tea, my all time best seller though there are several others that come close to it in sales.

Murder and Mint Tea
Chapter 1
Preparing The Ground

The pale winter sun shone through the kitchen window. I cleaned up the last of the mess from my adventure. The caper hadn’t gone as planned. How many do? In my many years of life, most of my plans had taken an unexpected turn.
Merup.” Robespierre my Maine Coon cat announced a visitor on the way. He’s almost as good as a doorbell. The firm rap on the door told me this wasn’t one of my female friends. “Come in.”
Pete Duggan strode across the room and thrust a bouquet of bright carnations into my hands. A red hue, almost as vivid as his hair, stained his face. “Mrs. Miller, got to hand it to you. I’ve come to eat crow.”
To hide a smile I buried my face in the flowers and inhaled the spicy fragrance. “How about chocolate chip cookies and mint tea instead?”
“Sounds great.” He straddled one of the chairs at the table and picked up the local newspaper. “Local Woman Thwarts Robbers.” His grin made him look like the ten-year-old who had moved into the corner house on my block. He cleared his throat. “The guys at the station ribbed me about this. Did you forget the plan?”
How, when the idea to catch the real thieves had been mine? A series of burglaries had plagued the neighborhood for months and had troubled me. Especially when the police had decided two teenage neighbor boys were the culprits. I knew the pair and had disagreed strongly enough to set myself up as a victim. Then I informed Pete.
“Did you forget?” he repeated. “When I crept up the stairs and saw you grappling with one of the men, I nearly had a heart attack.”
Heat singed my cheeks. “How was I to know my date would poop out early?”
After filling two mugs with mint tea I opened a tin of freshly baked cookies. How could I admit to a nagging doubt, or tell him I had wanted to be part of the action? In July I had turned sixty-five and in September retired from the nursing staff at Tappan Zee Memorial Hospital. Six months of placid existence had made me edgy. Lunch with friends, coffee with the neighbors and weekly bridge games with old cronies bored me. These events held none of the challenge of meeting crises at the hospital.
Pete scowled. “You could have gone to the Prescotts’ house.”
“They’re away.” I sipped the tea and savored the cool mint flavor.
“The Randals’ them.” He pulled the other mug across the table. “The guys insist the two of us make one perfect cop. Want to hire on?”
“I’ve no desire for a third career.” Until my husband’s death twenty-five years ago I had been the organist and choir director at St. Stephens Episcopal Church. Needing a way to support myself and my son, I enrolled in the nursing program at the community college. “Besides, I’m too old.”
“Old, never. You look the same as when we moved here.”
“It’s the dye.” His puzzled look tickled me. Dyeing my hair makes me look younger. “I came into the world with red hair and I intend to leave the same way.”
Laughter rumbled deep in his chest. “A worthy ambition you nearly fulfilled last night.” He touched my hand. “Thanks again. You kept me from making a mistake that could have ruined those boys.”
I lifted my mug and inhaled the aromatic steam. The evidence against the pair had been circumstantial and strong. They had done odd jobs at all the houses that had been burglarized. “I’ve known them since they were infants. Nothing I’ve ever seen in their actions to make me believe they were guilty.”
Pete made a face. “I’ve known them just as long. Didn’t stop me from suspecting them. How could you be sure?”
“Forty years of living in the same house has attuned me to the rhythms of the neighborhood.”
“Twenty years hasn’t helped me.”
“There’s living and living.” Some people are so concerned with the melody they never hear the underlying harmonics. As a musician I’ve learned to listen. As a nurse I know how to evaluate symptoms that are sometimes similar but are caused by different diseases. Those traits are a vital part of my nature.
I set the mug on the table. “Don’t blame yourself. You weren’t the only one to suspect the boys. No harm was done.”
He finished the cookie he held and rose. “No harm. Maybe some good. I’ll try looking beneath the surface.”
“That’s good.”
He grinned. “I’m out of here. Work tonight.” He zipped his green down jacket. “How about acting as my silent partner?”
I laughed. “Go away with your nonsense.”
Just them the cat door opened. Robespierre made a grand entrance. Flakes of snow dotted his brown and black fur. His gait suggested a mission. He halted in front of Pete and banged the young policeman’s leg with his head.
Pete crouched and scratched the cat’s head. “Not my fault, old man. She jumped in on her own.”
Robespierre’s rumbling purr suggested he understood and accepted Pete’s explanation.
“He’s been out of sorts since the thieves visited.”
“Me, too.” Pete hugged me. “Never again. Promise. We need you around. Think about being a silent partner. There are times when I need someone to listen.”
“If listening is all you need, I’ll be here. No more active involvement in crime for me.”
“See you.” He clattered down the stairs.
Until I heard the front door close I remained at the top of the steps. Silent partner, no way. I rubbed the tender spot on my head where I’d been bashed. I had enough experience with crime to last the rest of my life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Siix Sentences Sunday

My sentences today are from Murder and Mint tea, a cozy mystery that has had a long run. Been available since 1998 except for a few months.

The pale winter sun shone through the kitchen window. I cleaned up the last of the mess from my adventure. The caper hadn’t gone as planned. How many do? In my many years of life, most of my plans had taken an unexpected turn.

Merup.” Robespierre my Maine Coon cat announced a visitor on the way.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two Sentence Synopsis Saturday

This is from Murder and Mint Tea, the book of mine that has sold the most over the years.

Faced with a tenant she doesn't want and one who has managed to bring strife to Katherine Miller's neighborhood, she wishes for a way to rid the apartment of the woman, but murder wasn't the solution she sought.

Can Katherine discover the killer's identity when she fears one of her neighbors or family members is responsible?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Writing Tip - Keeping the Reader interested

The book is finished and on the shelves in either electronic form or paper. Someone has bought the book. How do you as the writer keep the reader interested.

The first thing is knowing your targeted audience and using your words to reach the reader. This means if you're writing in a specific genre or even a cross genre, your prose is directed toward the mind of the reader.

A second way is to give the character or characters a time deadline to accomplish their goals. The characters who must accomplish a task in a short time will draw the reader to see if they will succeed.

A third way is to promise the reader action, emotion or adventure. Let them know the events you're writing about are important to the characters in the story.

A fourth is to find ways to keep the characters from reaching their goals. Obstacles that are real increase the tension and keep the reader turning the pages.

Chapter endings is the fifth. Ending the chapter with something that leaves a question in the reader's mind may cause them to turn the pages. We're all been lead down this path by skillful writers when we say "Just one more chapter" tonight and find ourselves continuing turning the pages.

A sixth is to have interesting characters with real problems to solve. A reader will invest in a character they can believe.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Interview -- Taryn Kincaid

I've known Taryn since she had another name and I've heard much of her writing in critique group. She has a great sense of the sensual. I really remember one of the first scenes I heard her read, a kiss, a long kiss, a sensual kiss. Now she's published her first work of fiction. Wishing her much success.

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

The more the merrier.

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

Whenever we play rock-scissors-paper, paper always wins. Or, you know, pixels.

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

That's a mystery. Or maybe a cozy.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

What have you got?

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

Probably ever since I learned to scribble and string words together. In elementary school, I think I must have been in third grade, I wrote a story about a weather man, astronauts and the itsy-bitsy spider (yeah, one story) and they made me go read it to the fourth, fifth and sixth graders. I was totally mortified. And yet, oddly exhilarated. A little while later, I discovered I could relieve the absolute mind-numbing boredom of a summer job at the Department of Motor vehicles by scribbling into a notebook in between making check-marks designating the number of people signing up for the written portion of the drivers' test (I, myself, would not pass the drivers' test for another six years and three attempts) and then, a few years after that, I discovered a neatly-turned phrase could get me into rock concerts for free, pay the rent on my first apartment and car And put me through graduate school. So, not a bad deal. but I suppose i digress. Actually, I am back to writing about astronauts now, in a way.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Well, the boys, of course. It's always been the boys. sometimes their brothers. and their sidekicks. don't like the girls much. probably jealous of all the time they spend with my hunks.

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

they are hatched. for the most part.

8. What are you working on now?

I guess I could tell you. But then I'd have to kill you.

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

Sleepy Hollow Dreams, available now from the Scarlet Rose line of The Wild Rose Press,, and

It started out as a mild-mannered halloween story, just about a year ago, actually. it sort of morphed. i blame the mushrooms. And other things that go bump in the night.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about.

Didn't we just cover that? Pretty sure we did.

Okay, here's something new:

i started my blog around the same time I started what was then my little halloween story, and named the blog dreamvoyagers 'cause that's who the hero is. sort of. told ya I have a thing for the boys, right?

Y'all come visit now, ya hear?

Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

Sorry. Can't give you the very opening opening. (Naughty words and stuff.) But I will give you the close to opening excerpt:

Galloping hoof beats pursued her down the old post road.

Ghostly hoof beats. The legendary Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

Chasing her.

With deadly purpose.

Faster and faster.

Katy ran on, her sides cramping. Her flip-flops smacked asphalt but the clop of the demonic hooves echoed louder. She clattered into the street as the sidewalk ended, and gasped for air.

A piece of one rubber thong broke and she stumbled, tripping onto the grassy median bordering Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Her shriek ripped through the quiet suburban village. Utter fatigue claimed her, halting her steps. She collapsed in exhaustion, her sleep-drenched mind blanking as she fell.

Hard-muscled arms scooped her up before she hit the ground. The horse’s unearthly scream ripped through her as the beast thundered past. Her rescuer clasped her against his broad, masculine chest. A familiar glow of warmth stole over her, filling her with a sense of peace and security...

Beneath her ear, a strong heartbeat pulsed, quickening in time to the increased thudding of her own. His autumn scent seduced her as he swept her away, his long-legged strides purposeful and sure. She rested her cheek against his shoulder, her head fitting perfectly in the hollow of his neck. Her fear ebbed, replaced by desire.

A large hand slid over her breasts, her nipples already taut and straining with need against the thin cotton of her dress. She arched into him, rubbing herself against him like a cat in heat, rewarded by his harsh gasp and the ragged hitch in his breathing.

Moments later he carried her into the cemetery, and she felt the soft October earth, rich and spongy, at her back. Large, manly hands made quick work of the few clothes she wore.

“I’m dreaming,” she murmured.

“No. Not this time. Open your eyes.”

Enjoy! (And if you do, you might want to give me a thumbs up on amazon. Hint. Hint. nudge. nudge. nag.nag.nag.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Astrology -- Pisces - Sun, Rising Sign and Moon

Now for Pisces.

The Sun is the character's inner nature. The hero or heroine with a Pisces Sun will have a kind and loving nature. This person is generally amiable and sympathetic to people or animals in distress. He or she will be neat with a love of order. The hero or heroine may be timid and lacking in self confidence. He or she may be imaginative, idealistic and psychic.

The Rising Sign is the face shown to the world. With Pisces as the rising sign, the hero or heroine is truthful, confiding, kind and sympathetic. He or she is generally courteous and hospitable. There is an idealistic and impressionable side to the nature. The hero or heroine is quick to observe deficiencies in others. He or she often has a lack of self-esteem and can be hesitant about putting him or herself forward. He or she is very intuitive and discrete.

The Moon is the emotional nature of a character. With a Pisces Moon the hero or heroine can be retiring,and sympathetic. There is a love of luxury, comfort, beauty and harmony. This hero or heroine may meet obstacles that cause a down-hearted nature. He or she has a taste for reading. They are fluent and earnest in speaking. He or she suffers if placed in uncongenial surroundings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More on Vogler - Crossing the First Threshhold

This is one element I don't think I use as the end of Act 1 or start of Act 2 in some of my books. Often times my characters make a definite decision to act in the opening
scene. Because some of my stories don't have mentors. Vogel says often an outside force makes the character step over the threshold. This step could be forced by an internal force.

While thinking about this my mystery series comes to mind. In Murder and Mint Tea, the mystery becomes rather than a who done it as to a who is going to do it? Thus the turning points are different and the murder doesn't come until late in the book. Actually the story is all about why this person should be murdered. The heroine, Katherine Miller's problem is with her tenant Rachel and what she learns about this person as the story evolves.

The crossing is when the story begins in earnest. This kind of turning point rather baffles me. Does anyone else feel the same?

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Writing Life October 18

Sometimes I think it takes forever to write a book. Perhaps that's because I finished blocking in the last segment of The Henge Betrayed Confrontations and realized I had to rearrange the I suppose one could call them chapters. I knew where I wanted to end the story and how but the getting there has been a battle. I now know what has to be done and someday I can write finis on this.

Other neat things. My daughter read my suspense novel Obsessions on her phone and she really enjoyed the book. The ending that some people tried to talk me out of to her seemed absolutely right. What is the ending, you'll have to read it and learn.

Also learned that Shortcut To Love my tongue in cheek nurse doctor/nurse romance is now available in a number of places. Loved writing this story but keeping the tone light and amusing was hard and different from my usual kind of story. Written on a challenge to see if I could turn a man who seemed to be a Lothario into a real hero. I think I managed.
Another plus is my newest publisher Vanilla Heart Press has put my books up on this site and it looks good. Granddaughter is reading The Warrior of Bast. Soon Mistress of the Moons will be out in print.

Was a good week in some respects and a slow one in another.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Six Sentence Sunday

Since I've been looking at Shortcut to Love I've decided to post sentences from that book here.

Zelda wanted to pinch herself but she knew she wasn't dreaming. The bustle of her co-workers, the crackle of the public address system and the ringing phone told her she was fully conscious. Michael had returned home to practice surgery. She would see him every day. Maybe things would be different this time. Maybe she could find a crack in his stone heart and he'd know she was just right for him.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Two Sentence Synopsis Saturday

Since Shortcut To Love is now available from many places, I thought I'd show the two sentence synopsis I did for this one. The story is one of my favorites and is told rather tongue-in-cheek. It perhaps may be a satire.

Since she fell over the back fence into his yard, Zelda has loved Michael, first as the older boy and later as a man but when they encountered each other, disasters happened.

How can Zelda manage to show Michael she's the one when he seems to be working his dating ways through the alphabet and is only on D when she's a Z?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Writing Tip - The First Chapter

What needs to go in the first chapter? The writer wants to enchant the reader and make their book interesting enough for them to continue writing. I know I've started some books and was so bored by the first chapter I've wanted to give them a pass. Some I continued forward and the story became more interesting. There's a lot of things I've learned about writing from reading books both fiction and non-fiction. In Structuring your novel, I found a number of things that should be in the first chapter. In honor of a book I wrote years ago that's not on Kindle, Nook and other places with a new cover, I thought I'd look at the list of ten things and see if I managed to get them all in the first chapter.

1. The event outside that triggers the story. In Shortcut To Love, this was the return of Michael, not a surgeon to his hometown and home hospital. This sets off things in both his and the heroine's life.

2. The setting. Here, the hospital, the condo complex where they both live and the town where they grew up are shown in brief sketches to show the setting.

3. One big scene where the conflict is shown. Here the big scene is the meeting between Zelda and Michael at the hospital, her determination to snare this man and his determination not to be snared.

4. One or two small scenes to show the nature of the characters. The first shows Michael's arrival at the hospital. The second with Zelda's reaction to the other female staff's reaction to him.

5.Show at least one of the main characters including approximate age and physical description. Here both Michael and Zelda are shown through each other's eyes.

6.Let the reader know who is narrating the first chapter and if restricted or unrestricted viewpoint. In my story, there is a scene from his point of view and one from hers.

7. For exposition, narration and description depends on how much information the writer wants to give out. Because Shortcut To Love is a comedic story, these things are woven through out each of the scenes.

8. Give a clue about the time limit. Not sure I did this. For Zelda, the time wanted to gain her goal was short and for Michael the time might seem like forever.

9. Catch the reader's attention by showing major complication. Here it's Zelda's desire to find a shortcut to the love of her life since Michael seems to be going through the alphabet while dating women. Small scenes showing a minor complication that relates to the major one. Michael's interest in a woman with the letter D.

10. Establish the type of novel. Here one has to remember what genre they're writing on. In Shortcut To Love this is done by using a sly bit of humor, some tongue in cheek and making the scenes light.

What does this tell you. I think I once succeeded in following all the guidelines for developing one story. This book has sold steadily since it was first published and with the new cover, I hope it will continue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Interview - Jennifer Probst

I've known Jen for many years and have been in the past a critique partner, She;s a chapter member and a good writer. I'm hoping to talk her into sending me 300 or 400 hundred of her recent sale to Red Sage and I'll add it to the end of her interview.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one? My main genre is short contemporary, but I do write erotic novellas and have a children's book coming out within the year.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you? It definitely chose me. I have always been drawn to contemporary romance, even younger - always seeking out Silhouette Desire and Harlequin Tempations, and moving up to single title category. I guess I am a modern day girl!

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't? I don't think I will ever try paranomral, historical or Regency. I enjoy reading them, but don't feel the calling or the talent. Contemporary allows me to write novellas, category or mainstream, so I'm very satisfied with that niche. I would eventually like to branch out to longer contemporary novels in the future. It woudl be fun to delve more into secondary characters. And I love suspense but since plot is definitely my weak spot, I try to avoid hiding a killer in my books.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure? I have a vast array of books consistently on my table and they are across all genres. I am a huge Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan. I love all contemporary romance novels in category and mainstream. My new favorite book is the Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Brilliant book in its simplicity.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing, I'm happily married after many challenging years of trying to find Mr. Right. We met later in life so settled right down to domestic bliss: rescue dogs, two little boys 3 and 5, a house already way too crowded and two full time jobs. Whew.I live in the Hudson Valley and though I despise the winter, I love the mountains too much to move. I started writing when I was 12. I knew I would be a writer even when I was six years old. Other children would talk about being astronauts or teachers, I would state a writer. I wrote a young adult romance longhand, bound it in a folder and passed it around school. I continued to my second when I received a Word Processor for Christmas (how old am I?!) and never stopped.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite? I'm in love with each one during the process. I'ts the only way it works - to be madly in love with my hero and want to be my heroine.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created? When I tried to sell my first book, the editor called me and said to add a villain. I immediately created a lawyer to add conflict to the romance and it worked. My villains usually consist of the ex-lover or the hero/heroine's inner emotional fear - that is as villinous as any outside person.

8. What are you working on now? I'm working on a contemporary erotic novella entitled The Tantric Principle. It's pretty much done but I'm gutting with revisions and hope to get to the editor soon. Very soon. I'm also collaborating on a book with three other authors that I'm very excited about but we are in the research mode right now.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive? I have two books out now: Heart of Steel by Lionhearted Publishing and "Masquerade" by Red Sage Publishing in Secrets Volume 11. Heart of Steel was my first book, re-written for different editors over a five year span before finally being sold. My first children's book will be issuing within the next few months entitled, Buffy and the Carrot .The idea came from my 12 year old niece who wanted to tell me a story. It was so funny, I knew we struck gold. I told the story over and over to different groups of children and always got a big belly laugh. I revised and polished it up and now we will be co-authors on the book.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.


The low, gravelly voice stirred in her ear, and strong hands grasped her hips with capable fingers and pushed. Her body sunk down an inch. He hooked his bare feet around her ankles and leaned over her as if about to take her from behind. Arianna prayed for strength as her arms shook with the effort to hold her pose. Her spine automatically straightened, but he softened the movement further by gently placing both palms on her shoulders. Heat rushed through the thin material of her t-shirt and burned. With slow, conscious movements, he stroked down the length of her spine to settle at the small of her back. She kept her eyes closed, concentrated on her breathing, and mercifully, she felt him move away toward the next student.

Arianna Devlin took a moment from her relaxed stance to curse fluently. Well-versed in standard truck driver language, she applied her skills with enthusiasm. Not that her yoga teacher would approve. And the whole damn time she listened to him counsel her, she imagined getting rid of the stress in bed.

With him.

Arianna smothered a groan and pushed her concentration back to the class. The whole thing was ridiculous. She was twenty-six years old and had a crush on her yoga teacher. The thought made her fight back a blush, then tried to minimize the horror of the situation by creating a mental list. He introduced her to an ancient technique that changed her life. She was more relaxed, energized, and happy after practicing yoga for the last few months. She had transferred those emotions to him like a patient to a therapist, a college student to a professor. He opened her world and made it anew, so naturally, she had a crush on him. Made perfect sense.

So why couldn't she just get over it?

Arianna eased back onto the mat for final relaxation and cleared her mind. She let the annoying thoughts scatter and finally sank into a clear, peaceful state. By the time class ended, she felt a little bit more in control.

A shadow fell over her purple mat and she looked up. The cause of her distress stood above her, a slight smile curving his lips as he stared down. Arianna gathered a tight hold on her composure as if approaching a business meeting, and eased gracefully to her feet.

Her gaze swept his figure in a search for answers. He really wasn’t her type. Arianna was always attracted to the men in power suits, with short hair and quick movements. She enjoyed the energy of business men and their ambitions.

Grant Madison was completely different.

He wore his inky black hair long, past his shoulders. Tonight, he held it back in a ponytail, which showed off an array of carved features that was anything but handsome. His nose was too long. His mouth too sensual, with its full lower lip. A slight shadow darkened his jaw, and Arianna knew he was the type to forget to shave, maybe for days. Fierce, black brows set off those piercing eyes, the color a rich deep brown that seemed fathomless, and his skin was olive, as if he had Greek or Italian descent in his blood. He was tall, lean, and efficiently graceful. He rivaled an executive in a power suit, yet stood before her barefoot. Waves of tightly focused masculine energy hummed around him. She imagined his hot gaze locked on hers as he thrust himself deep inside her wet heat; imagined him gloriously naked with sinewy arms holding her down and muscled thighs riding her like a stallion.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Characterization - Astrology - Aquarius

The Sun is the inner self. Here's what the Aquarian hero or heroine's inner self shows. A quiet, patient and determined person with a faithful nature. They are usually refined and humanitarian. They have a cautious intellect with strong likes and dislikes. They often have radical and advanced ideas. While they are easily influenced by kindness they are slow to anger and will not be driven.

The Ascendant is the face shown to the world. The Aquarian hero or heroine will be determined and try to be unnoticed. As a rule they are faithful. The mental world holds a great appeal to them. They can become an active reformer with progressive ideas. He or she is unusually sociable with many acquaintances. They may exhibit eccentric ways.

The moon shows the emotional nature. A hero or heroine with an Aquarian moon will be friendly and courteous. They are sociable but independent. There is an unconventional side to this hero or heroine. He or she likes strange and curious things and events. An interest in the occult and secret societies.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More on Vogler -- Mentor

The fourth element Vogler mentions is the mentor. This is usually an older person with advice for the hero or heroine. The mentor can also encourage the hero or heroine to embark on the journey.

I'm not sure this figure is found in many of my stories. I can't isolate one in most of the romances I've written. I have found this character in most of the fantasies. There isn't one in the cozy mysteries either.

Of the mentor characters I've written in the fantasies, the yellow dragon in The Dragons of Fyre is my favorite. In The Henge stories, there is also a mentor in the figure of Doma Jandia. In some ways the evil Dom Senet is a mentor to those who follow him. Does the mentor always have to be a force for good? Is encouragement enough? Let me know what you think?

What about your stories? Do you have a mentor type character in them?

Monday, October 11, 2010

My writing life

Last week passed in a sort of blur. With helping a granddaughter get her education on track again and doing the read-through of the galleys for the upcoming The Henge Betrayed -- Refuge I didn't get as much done as I wanted.

Galleys for me are intensive. I print the book out and then go through line by line using a ruler to isolate each line. I don't read the story but look at the words. But I finished and got rid of typos, wrong words, and print errors. Sent it off but still haven't seen the cover or have an exact release date. One of these days I'm going to sit down and see how many books I've published. I don't consider novellas to be books or short stories either. One can't explain the way you feel when you see the galley and you know the book will be real. I won't even try.

One day I'll make a list. Should be fun.

Here is the opening page of The Henge Betrayed -- Refuge

Alizand prowled about his bed chamber. He paused beside
the window and pushed the heavy draperies aside. Another day
of confinement. Since the day his step-brothers had invaded the
suite, forcing Alizand to reveal his affinity for Fire, he’d been a

At least the guards at the door believed he couldn’t leave.
They didn’t know about the hidden sections and the secret rooms
and passages to be found beyond the walls. Though Alizand could
slip away, he should wait until night lest his room be checked.
Dom Senet often made random visits during the day. Only when
Alizand’s personal guard appeared could he escape these chambers.
The corridors and places he could go had to be kept secret.
He was bored. He even missed the tedious lessons he’d
been given by the clan elders during the short time he’d been
acknowledged as his father’s heir. Having his affinity exposed
had ended the dream of being deemed fi t to become a prince.
No one who could use one or all of the elements could rule the
princedom of Wesren.

He stared at the tray on the table. A maidservant had delivered
the food a short time before. Though he had eaten nothing
since yesterday’s midday meal, he had no desire to break his fast.
The back of Alizand’s neck prickled. Trouble approached.
Which of the many enemies he’d collected in his fourteen years
of life came to upset his day?

The door opened. Before the guard could announce the visitor,
a tall man entered. His ash blond hair hung in a single braid.
Black leather riding clothes gleamed in the light from candles set
in glass-shielded sconces on the wall. His dark green eyes sought
and held Alizand’s gaze.

A smile appeared on Dom Senet’s face. Alizand felt like a
tabby surrounded by a pack of ratis. He forced himself to breathe.
How could one man raise such a high degree of terror? Though
Alizand’s legs felt unsteady, he forced himself to remain on his

“Dom Senet.” A sense of pride filled Alizand’s thoughts. His
voice hadn’t cracked or risen to a high pitch to reveal his inner

The dom stroked the multi-colored gem he wore about his
neck. The gold chain glinted. “I have questions for you to answer.”

Questions, Alizand thought. What kind of trick was this?
He couldn’t relax his barriers or forget his suspicions of the dom.
Was this a new way to fool him into becoming the dom’s puppet?
Alizand needed to respond. To remain silent would expose his
fear. “What do you want to know?”

“About your kin, the children of your father’s step-brother.
I have a great need to fi nd them. Poor lost children who need a
home and a guardian.”

Alizand’s hands clenched. His friends had saved his life when
he’d been injured in the aftermath of the destruction of the henge.
With them, he’d been Zand, a person and not a creature to be
used. “I don’t know where they are. I told my father I didn’t and
I say the same to you.”

"I think otherwise.” The dom moved closer.

Alizand clung to his determination to resist. He felt icy
touches trying to push beneath his surface thoughts and invade
his memories. He pressed his hand against the gem beneath his
tunic and strained to hold firm against Dom Senet’s invasion.
“How could I know where they’ve been or where they’re going?
I’ve been a prisoner here for weeks.”

Dom Senet ran a finger along Alizand’s cheek. “And I imagine
you have no idea how the child escaped the circle room.”

“What child?” Though he had released Ky, he didn’t consider
her a child. The pressure in his head built until his vision
and balance wavered. “Is there a circular room in your suite?”
The pressure vanished so suddenly Alizand’s knees folded and
he fell into the chair.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Six Sentence Sunday

Here are the opening sentences from The Henge Betrayed -- Refuge soon to be released by Mundania Press.

Alizand prowled about his bed chamber. He paused beside
the window and pushed the heavy draperies aside. Another day
of confinement. Since the day his step-brothers had invaded the
suite, forcing Alizand to reveal his affinity for Fire, he’d been a

At least the guards at the door believed he couldn’t leave.
They didn’t know about the hidden sections and the secret rooms
and passages to be found beyond the walls.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday's Two sentence Synopsis

This two sentence synopsis has held true for 4 books. When I started The Henge Betrayed, I thought there would be one book but when I reached the 75,000 to 80,000 mark I hadn't come close to reaching the end. I am now on the fourth book in the series and it's coming close to 300,000 plus words.

The Two sentence synopsis
Four young teens, each with an affinity for one of the elements (Earth, Water, Air or Fire) are sent by their parents from danger and to find teachers to hone their talents.

Will they find their teachers and gain the skills to defeat the powerful wizard known as He Who Walks With Evil?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Writer's Tip More on Characterization.

Let's look at some other ways to show your characters. What about showing two characters who are opposites. Sort of like the song I say potatoes. you say potahatas. Not a great example but the idea is having the characters in contrast to each other. Such as the ambitious one vs the laid back one. This allows your reader to see a character in a different light.

Names are another way. I know I sometimes spend hours with the many baby books I have deciding on a name for the character. Other times the name seems to leap out at me.

Using exposition to reveal a character who is not in the scene. A discussion between two characters who have very different opinions of the character under discussion can give a picture that can intrigue the writer.

Of course description is another way but the kind of description that says something like this - John was six feet tall. His hair was brown and so were his eyes - isn't going to characterize him. Something like John loomed over the children. His brown eyes held a threat. Before he spoke he raked his brown hair with his long fingers.

Remember when developing your characters, you want ones that will leap into the reader's view as people not sketches drawn in black and white.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Interview with Villa Spiderhawk

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

My work has been classified as paranormal romance, as fantasy, and as historical fiction. Romance fits two of my books, but the other categories fit all four.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
Oh no question about it!

My genre(s) chose me!

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

I think I'd like to try writing mysteries, and maybe once I finish up with the Forest Song series I shall.

I don't see myself writing science fiction, but never say never!

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I actually very much enjoy 19th Century French literature. I go back and read those lovely old books every chance I get. It's wonderful stuff, plus it preserves my fluency in French, since I rarely speak it anymore.

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

I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. Seriously. I've always had a passion for language. In fact, linguistics was one of my majors in college. Other than that I'm just your average hermit living in the middle of the woods with five cats and a bunch of deer.

I'm a retired French teacher and have taught middle school, high school, at community colleges, and at SUNY Binghamton. I retired about eight years ago, though and decided at that point that if I didn't follow my bliss and actually write a book, I never would. And so I did. And then I learned that writing books was like eating potato chips. You can't stop with just one.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Oh I can't name a favorite character. Each of them is precious to me in an individual way.

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

There really aren't any villains in Hidden Passages. But in the Forest Song series, the Nazis are the villains. I had nothing to do with creating them, though.

8. What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on the fourth book in the Forest Song series.

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

The most recent of my books to be released is Forest Song: Letting Go. It continues the story of Judy Baumann, a German girl who finds her true home and calling in the German-Polish Corridor in the late 1920s. The series follows her life through the Second World War and maybe beyond. So the original idea came with the first book. From then I have simply been listening to Judy as she tells me her tale.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

In Forest Song: Letting Go, Judy encourages Inga, the young woman she hopes will be her protégée, to go out into the woods to decide if she wants to stay and mother the woods. Knowing that she is nearing the end of her life, Judy wants to be sure someone will remain behind to protect the sacred forest.

The first chapter is spoken from Inga's point of view. The second chapter, however, continues Judy's narration of her adventures during World War II. In this volume, Judy's friends face abduction, imprisonment, and even murder. And in trying to help, Judy confronts betrayal and failure and disappointment as well as stunning successes.

“Oh, good, Inga, you’re back. You were gone a long time,” Babcia’s grin was maternal when she welcomed me home. Pixie small and candle straight, her white hair loose to her waist, she flicked her wrist when I shrugged to explain my days-long absence. “No, I said to take your time. I knew where you were. I wasn’t worried. Have you made your decision?” I nodded. “Good, good. Now have some vegetable soup.” Sitting at her table, I accepted the soup and told her about my adventure. She didn’t eat. Instead she sat on the edge of her chair and, leaning on her elbows, tilted toward me, her peridot eyes going rapturous blue, anticipating a long and complex story.

Three days before, I had gone to explore the forest I would mother if I stayed. Pretending to feel safe, I’d hummed a cheerful little ditty while treading only on the sunny spots. But every rustle, every crunch, every snap of a twig had hauled my heart to my throat, had stopped me short. Arms extended, my fingers defensively splayed, muscles clenched into panicky knots, I couldn’t move my head but, working on their own, my eyes had scuttled to the menacing shadows.

Finding nothing, or at best a scampering squirrel, I’d gone on, fiercely working to trust September’s warmth. Ever watchful for snakes or the signs of a bear, though I didn’t know what those signs could be, I placed one foot in front of me, sniffed the air like a hare, hummed a note, and eased the other foot forward. In a month all the leaves would be gone from the trees, and the woods would be more light than shade. The snakes and bears would be safely tucked away in hibernation. In a month I would be much less endangered. In a month, I told myself, I could walk through the trees and smile at my soul-squeezing fear. But on that September day I dared not let my guard slip, for I could not see what lurked behind the curtain of leaves or what prowled among the whispering gloom.

“What are you doing?” I demanded of myself. The afternoon breeze puffed my hair into my face. “You don’t have to do this. It’s not your job to save the woods. Just say no and go back to your life.” My life wasn’t so bad if I squinted just right and ignored the dismal fact of Mama’s death. I could tell Babcia that I had decided not to stay. I’d go home and make peace with my father. I’d quit school, find a job. And when I had some time off, I’d visit the old woman, maybe bring her a gift. She’d understand and forgive. I turned around to go back, but I could no longer see her house.

Kids back to school? Time to relax with a SpiderHawk book or two!

Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones

Forest Song: Finding Home

Forest Song: Little Mother

Forest Song: Letting Go

Forest Song Cookbook

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Characters - Astrology - Capricorn

Capricorn sun -- The character's inner nature. This hero or heroine would be quiet, thoughtful and serious. They have a deep mind with good reasoning ability. He or she would be generally practical and would like to investigate all manner or things. They can act with dignity. The hero or heroine is ambitious but is often disappointed but never completely disappointed. He or she often meets heavy obstacles in the path of desire and often butt their way to triumph over obstacles.

Capricorn ascendant - This is the face shown to the world. This hero or heroine would be contemplative. He or she looks after their own interests with determination and persistence. They have organizing ability and can be cautious and calculating. This character would not be demonstrative in showing their feelings. They find sympathizing with others hard. They are self-reliant. He or she can meet with delays and disappointments in their search for wealth, power and position.

Capricorn Moon - This is the character's emotional nature. This hero or heroine would come before the public in a positive or negative way. They are often cold and calculating. He or she can have administrative ambitions. There is often a poor control of appetites. He or shecan also inspire confidence.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Inspirations -- another from Vogler

The third of Vogler's steps on the journey is the Reluctant Hero. As I read what he'd written about this, I wondered if all heroes or heroines were reluctant. For me this isn't necessarily the case. Some heroes or heroines are eager to undertake the quest. This is due to the development of their natures. Are they more or less interesting than the reluctant one? I don't think this is the case. A character who is eager and avid to pursue a goal can be interesting especially if they are faced with an opposite who is equally opposed to the character reaching a goal.

Now we come to the reluctant one. Is fear the only reason for a character being unwilling to take on a quest? Maybe but maybe not, unless fear engenders more that a fear of the unknown. The reluctant character may be afraid of hurting someone. They usually know what pain their actions might cause.

What about your characters? Are they among those who are reluctant or are they the kind that leap into action barely giving a thought to the consequences? Of mine, I think I have written both kinds. Since some of my works are ensemble groups of heroes and heroines, I can have both types in the same story. That often leads to a few complications that weren't planned but add depth to the story.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Writing Life

The past week meant keeping up my schedule and wishing I could get ahead of what the draft wordage I set for each week. Perhaps I'll get ahead this week. Had a little glitch since I print on both sides of the page I found several where I had over written. Should have been able to print them out again but in my haste since they were all new drafts, I sent them to outer space. Must learn to be more careful to avoid such glitches in the future.

Wrote my two sentence synopsis for the final seduction story. The very short bit will help me stay on target. Also posted six sentences. Not sure how long I'll keep this up but at least a few more weeks.

This is for the nurses among my readers. My granddaughter while organizing my shelves found a notebook of poems I wrote when I was in my poetry phase.

A Summer Sunday Spent With Strokes

Seven AM - already warm.
Summer Sunday -- different
Pat and I the whole large ward.
Baths, beds, feed and help.
Heat grows heavy.
Twenty-two beds precisely placed
against the walls.
U-shaped mouth engulfs us for the day.
Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Jones?
Who first?
Twenty-two strokes for morning care.
twenty-two fronts for her.
twenty-two backs for me.
Charity ward where elderly come,
no one left to care.
Pat and I could have cared a lot
but time is heavy - hot.
Beds and baths
Two student nurses
Heat oppressive
on a summer Sunday spent with strokes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Six Sentence Sunday

Here's more from The Henge Betrayed -- Confrontations. Introducing the third focus character

Sydli groaned. Four days after leaving the Rover's camp they entered Easren to find rain and more rain. Shards of discontent gnawed her thoughts. Instead of going to this princedom they could have traveled to Nortren. She knew the doma's reasoning made sense but she wanted to show her father and half-brother what she had become. In minutes, she and her friends could have Mandir begging for mercy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Challenge - Two sentence synopsis continued

This is the two sentence synopsis for the story I plan to start when I finish the one I'm working on. I know little more than the characters names and their occupations but this will keep me focused on the story.

Matt has no interest in leaving the bachelor life until he crashes into a heated encounter with the girl he wasn't nice to all through school and discovers she's not the nerd he remembered. As their passion escalates how can he convince Sara he's not in this for the fling but intends a serious seduction?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Writer's Tip More on Characterization.

When writing a fiction piece, there are many ways to show characterization and bring the people in the stories to life.

Conflict is one of the ways characters are shown. A character can be in conflict with his environment, with himself or with another character. The character's actions and reactions to a conflict situation will reveal his true nature.

Action is another way to reveal a character's nature, how does he walk, what are his mental and emotional reactions to a situation calling for action? Knowing these things before describing the character in motion can add to the picture of who he or she is.

There are a number of types of tags that will characterize a story person. These include physical tags, such as the blond hunk or the skinny geek, appearance tags. Does the character wear what for them has become a uniform. He'd never seen her in a dress. Didn't he have anything to wear other than those ragged cutoffs. Mannerism tags. Does the character have a definite mannerism, such as running his hands through her hair or her twisting a strand of hair around her finger when she's nervous. Facial expression tags, Arching the eyebrow, a permanent scowl.

These are a few ways to show characters to the reader. Next week, I'll add more.