Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inspirations - Vogler again

We're nearing the end of The Writer's Journey. I've learned a bit about structuring a book and I hope what I've gleaned and tried to put in my view as a writer has hoped people. This time it's called Resurrection. Comes as the hero or heroine emerges into the real world. I puzzled over this since it seemed as if the hero or heroine has a second dark moment. After thinking for a time, I decided at least in my case this means the hero or heroine will bring what they have learned into their life. For me what comes after the character is totally convinced they will lost whatever they strive for and this negative belief is shattered. Then comes hope and knowledge. Those are the things the hero or heroine should bring to their life.

The knowledge gained makes the character a new person, not completely but the goals may change or the manner of obtaining them may be different. So in a way the character is resurrected.

How do your characters deal with this aspect of their story? Are they changed?

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Writing week - Nov. 29 -- Plus a contest

First, I've decided to hold a contest that will start December first. Those faithful followers of my blog will get first pick and if they don't bite, I'll let other people who sign the post of the day have a chance. I have sixteen paper copies of my books to give away. A different one will be the book of the day. All one has to do is put their name in the hat by leaving a note. The second day I'll announce the winner and then post the next book on the giveaway. The winner can email me and I'll learn where to send the book. Unfortunately because of the shipping costs the books will be given to those United States and Canada winners. Hope you enjoy.

Now to the second news. I've joined a group giving away kindle editions to our men serving in the military, I believe on foreign soil. More about this when I hear more.

Now to the writing. I'm continuing with Confrontations and hope to see the end to this in the next two months. Hard book to write since there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up from the previous three books. At times I feel as if I'm in a time warp that won't release me. There are two stories chaffing in my head waiting to be told. I've been putting a bit about them on paper so I don't lose what the characters want to say.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Six Sentence Sunday - A Sudden Seduction

Taking a step away from fantasy into contemporary here. Of course it will be months before I get to the tale of the fourth member of a magazine owning family who meets his match. Not happy with the title but I need an SS thing to fit the others.

Matt revved the engine and roared down the highway thankful for the helmet that blocked the cries of his family. "You're next." As the only surviving single in the family he intended to remain that way. He liked bachelor life and he liked women. Plural. Marriage wasn't his idea of fun.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Chapter Saturday -- Murder and Mint Tea

Murder and mint Tea is one of my favorites. After being turned down by many NY publishers for various reasons I turned to electronic publishing and never looked back.This book was an EPPIE finalist in the first year of the awards. There is also an audio version floating around. Here is the first chapter.

Murder and Mint Tea
By Janet Lane Walters
DiskUs Publishing
ISBN 978-0-7572-0121-9

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 Prescott's house.”

“They’re away.” I sipped the tea and savored the cool mint flavor.

“The Randal’s’ then.” 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 a great idea.”

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.

* * *

During the night, Saturday’s few snowflakes became a blizzard and prevented an early morning walk. Though I could have returned to bed, habits formed during my years of being at the hospital before seven AM were hard to break. I sat on the window seat in the living room and stared through the glass at a white world.

When I converted the small Victorian house into two apartments, the second floor with its view had been my choice. In the autumn after the leaves fall, the Hudson River is visible. River watching has always relaxed me. This morning the heavy snowfall kept visibility to inches. No cars moved along the street and no people strolled on the sidewalks.

I poured a second mug of tea and scratched Robespierre’s head. Moments later he yawned and stretched, arching his back with a suppleness that brought a sigh of envy. He leaped from the window seat and stalked to the kitchen. The doorbell rang and I went to answer. The young boys from across the street stood at the top of the steps. They stomped snow from their boots.

“Boy, Mrs. Miller, there’s two feet of snow and it’s still falling.” Larry Randal grinned.

“But there’ll be school tomorrow,” Jamal said. “Bummer.”

“Thought you liked school.”

He shrugged. “It’s okay but I need a vacation.”

“You just had mid-winter break.”

“I know.”

I chuckled. Blonde hair stuck around the edge of Larry’s cap. His cheeks glowed apple red. The cold had burnished his foster brother’s coffee-colored skin. The boys jostled in the doorway each trying to be first inside.

“If there’s no paper, why are you here?”

Larry held up an orange plastic bag. “We brought the part that came yesterday.”

“We have to shovel your walk.” Jamal grinned. “And invite you to dinner this evening.”

“I’ll let your mother know.” A glance inside the bag showed the New York Times magazine was there. Part of my Sunday routine remained. “Want some cookies to take home?”

Identical grins spread across their faces. “You bet,” they chorused.

“If you come, could you bake a chocolate cake?” Jamal asked.

“Brownies,” Larry said.

“I’ll see.”

“All right.” Two hands pumped in the air. “You always say that when you mean yes.”

I took a plastic bag of cookies from the freezer and filled a middle-size tin. “Share them with Becca and the twins.”

“Yes.” They dashed downstairs and banged the door on the way out.

After pulling the magazine from the bag and opening it to the puzzle, I snapped on the radio. Instead of classical music, a lengthy list of cancellations poured from the speaker. Looked like no one was going anywhere. I tackled the puzzle until the phone rang.

“Mom, guess I won’t pick you up for church.”

“Not unless you bought a snow mobile.”

“Even then I wouldn’t chance the trip.”

Andrew is thirty-nine, a psychiatrist and cautious. He’s never made a decision without weighing the possibilities at least three times.

“I’ll be fine. The boys have shoveled the walk and Sarah invited me to dinner.”

“Mom’s second family.”

Was there a trace of envy in his voice? Though he and Bob Randal had been friends since infancy they had drifted apart. Sadly their chosen lifestyles made the difference seem almost permanent and I had no solution.

“Andrew.” A note of chiding crept into my voice.

“Tell Bob hello.”

“You could do that yourself.”

“And risk Sarah snagging me to speak to one of the groups she champions. I’ve no desire to talk about the trauma of potty training to the development of a child’s personality.”

His dislike of Sarah puzzled me. Perhaps the cause was Sarah’s open and liberal nature. Andrew is exactly the opposite.

“Where were you yesterday afternoon?” His voice held a demanding tone.


“All afternoon and most of the evening. I stopped calling at ten. You need an answering machine.”

“I had dinner with Lars. He left for New Mexico last evening. Was it important?”

“Since your recent encounter with those criminals I worry. As you well know, you could develop problems from the blow to your head. How could Pete allow you to be involved?”

“He didn’t. Barging in was my choice.”

“I’d feel better if there were tenants in the apartment.”

“I’ll call the real estate agent Monday.” My patience with his over-protectiveness thinned. Lately he’s been acting as though I’m hovering inches from senility. “Let me talk to Andrea.”

While I assembled the ingredients for the chocolate cake my granddaughter chattered about her week. She had earned a role in the school play and had been chosen for a solo in the spring dance recital. Andrea had inherited my love of music. Instead of an instrument for expression she uses movement. After saying goodbye four times I hung up and called Sarah to accept the dinner invitation.

By four o’clock the heavy snowfall had stopped. I stood by the bedroom window and watched the wind blow snow from one drift and drop it on another. After pulling on a pair of russet wool slacks and an ivory blouse with a matching cardigan, I reached for my boots.

I tucked the slacks into the knee-high boots and put a pair of shoes in a bag. The boots are sturdy and warm but the thought of clomping around in them for hours held little appeal. In the kitchen I checked my jacket pocket for house keys, shook some food into Robespierre’s dish and picked up the cake container.

Downstairs I paused in the doorway to allow my vision to adjust to the blinding whiteness. The branches of a pair of dogwoods on the corner of the yard next to the driveway bowed beneath the weight of the snow. Rose bushes along the walk resembled small igloos. Since only a skim of snow covered the walk the boys must have recently shoveled the walk. Each of my exhalations sent a cloud of condensed vapor into the air.

The snowplows had left a cleared trail along my side of the street. Someone had cut an opening in the high bank of snow at the curb. In the distance I heard the scraping noise of the plow signaling a return.

While grasping the shoe bag in one hand and the cake container in the other, I strode across the cleared area. Moments later I plunged into virgin territory. The snow reached the top of my boots. With care I calculated the distance to the curb. I stepped up. On the downswing my foot hit something buried beneath the snow.

I lost my balance. The shoe bag flew toward the sidewalk. The cake container flew into the air. I hit the ground and learned how little cushioning snow provided. “Not my hip.” My cry echoed above the scraping snowplow sound. I’d seen too many older women deteriorate after a hip fracture and wanted no part of that fate.

My leg folded under me. A sharp pain resulted. The cake container opened. Chunks of chocolate cake showered on and around me. Snow seeped beneath my jacket collar and brought shivers.

“Help! Help!” My voice sounded faint. Did snow absorb sound? The scraping noise increased in volume. Visions of being scooped by the blade, loaded in a truck and dumped in the Hudson River evoked a scream. I pushed my elbows against the ground and tried to sit. The exquisite jolt of pain brought tears to my eyes. My screams rose to ear-shattering heights.

“Jamal, it’s Mrs. Miller.” Larry knelt beside me. “Get Mom and Dad.”

“Bummer.” Jamal made a face. “The cake is ruined.”

His expression and the realization that I’d been rescued brought a rush of tears. “So am I. Tell them my leg is broken.”

The arrival of Bob and Sarah brought a reaction a toddler must feel when parents rescued him from an unpleasant situation. They made a chair with their hands and carried me to the house.

“I’ll call the police,” Bob said. “They’ll know which roads are cleared and if I should drive you.”

“My hair. I can’t go to the hospital looking like a refuge from a food fight.”

“I’ll wash it,” Sarah said. “In the kitchen. We’ll pull the table to the sink.”

“I do not believe this.” Bob’s hair flopped onto his forehead. His body moved in concert.

The jerky movement sent knives of pain through my leg. I bit my lip. “Believe. It’s called vanity.”

“Shock,” he said. “Shouldn’t we make a splint?”

“The boot acts like one. No one not trained in trauma care was about to touch my leg.

Jamal, Becca, Larry and the two-year-old twins danced around raising the noise level to cacophony. Jamal’s cries of “Bummer. She gets all the cake,” lodged in my thoughts.

Forty-five minutes later, escorted by the police I arrived at the hospital. Before removing the boot, one of my former colleagues gave me an injection. While drifting between pain and nirvana I wondered if my beautician made house calls.

* * *

Monday was a day of learning truths. Other than to give birth to Andrew I had never been a hospital patient. I’ll admit I liked being on giving not receiving side of care. As I waited for the transport team to take me to the OR for the insertion of a pin in my left leg, my thoughts focused on all the dire complications I could remember. Some were the product of an imagination out of control. My heart thundered. My mouth was dry. Tears filled my eyes.

“You’ll be fine,” Beth Logan, neighbor and nurse said. “We’ll take good care of you.”

I clung to the assurance in her voice. “Just think of all the things that can go wrong.”

Beth patted my hand. “Just remember how seldom they occur.” In that moment I realized how important sympathy is for a patient. Before we could say more, the team arrived and wheeled me away.

The rest of the day passed in semi-consciousness. Drowsiness from the anesthesia and the pain medication scrambled my thoughts. Even Andrew’s scolding about my foolishness barely registered.

By Wednesday I felt caged and tired of pale green walls, gray tile floors and white sheets. The television turned low and switched from channel to channel failed to divert me from an aching need to escape confinement.

Dr. Beemish had promised to discharge me once crutch walking was mastered. By noon, the physical therapist hadn’t arrived. I toyed with my lunch and prayed for mint tea and the serenity of my apartment.

Lars, my friend and bridge partner, called from Santa Fe. He spends most of the winter months at his home there. He hoped I would heal quickly and grumbled about my penchant for adventure.

When I hung up I waved at Pete Duggan. He held a bouquet of yellow mums. “More flowers. Why?”

“Seemed the thing to do. You chose a dumb way to turn down my offer of a partnership.”

I laughed. “Breaking my leg wasn’t my first choice.”

He slouched on a chair and told me some stories about the storm. The tales made me laugh.

The arrival of Edward Potter, pastor of St. Stephens, ended Pete’s visit. The small, dapper man’s ringing tenor voice dripped with sympathy and gossip. While he regaled me with stories I would rather not have heard, Paul and Maria Prescott arrived. I eyed the thermos in Maria’s hand and sighed in anticipation. One of my wishes had come true.

“Mrs. Miller, I was so sorry you have the accident and I am not here to give you the help. When Paul and I come home last night Mrs. Sarah tell us you have the misfortune. I have brought the tea.”

Edward coughed. I made the introductions without mentioning Paul and Maria’s last name. Edward’s face showed a hint of disapproval. He stared at the gold hoop dangling from Paul’s ear. Edward kissed my cheek. “Katherine, I’ll keep you in my prayers.”

Would his prayers be for my healing of about my choice of friends? I hadn’t told Edward that Paul owns the most successful antique store in town or that Prescott Reproductions is on the way to success. Maria designs jewelry and has a growing reputation in her field.

Paul and I had met the year I converted the house. He’d come to evaluate the antiques I’d decided to sell. We had become friends. Several years later on a trip to Spain he’d met Maria. After their marriage he’d purchased the house next-door.

Maria opened the thermos. Some people crave caffeine. My choice is mint tea. Like a starving woman I reached for the cup, breathed in the aroma and sipped. The hint of chamomile made me smile. “Heavenly. Thank you. How was your trip?”

“We have the beautiful time. My madre and padre are happy to have us home again. Paul find many beautiful things for the shop. My niece, Bianca, want to live with us so she can go to school. Paul and I think on this.” She sat in the chare beside the bed.

Paul leaned against the door frame. His shoulder length blond hair had been pulled into a club at his nape. “I hear you nabbed the neighborhood thieves.”

I grinned. “With help from the police.”

“Good show. Any hope they’ll recover the loot?”

“Call Pete. He should know.”

The Prescott’s house had been the scene of the first robbery. A gold and emerald ring Maria had designed for a national juried show had been taken.

Maria shook her head. “I do not know how you could let the thieving men in your house. I would scream and run.”

“I didn’t think. Just acted.”

Paul crossed the room. “Now, why don’t I believe that? Have you ever acted impulsively?” He shook his head. “Bet you dismissed any options before you acted.”

He stood with his hands on Maria’s shoulders. She looked up at him and the love in her eyes made me sigh. Her dark coloring and near perfect features complimented his rugged handsomeness.

Maria patted my hand. “I should never have go away. First the bad man hit you. Then you fall in the snow. What if no one find you?”

“I’d be part of an ice floe on the river.” Her frown said she didn’t understand and explaining the town’s snow removal system was beyond me. “I’m fine, child.”

“When you come home I will care for you. My house takes just one hand.”

“We’ll see.” I looked up in time to catch Paul’s not. “When do you start remodeling?”

“Late summer. Once they spring you and you’re on your feet, stop by the ship and check out your investment.”

Three years ago when Paul started the reproduction workshop he needed a backer. I invested some of my savings. “I trust you.”

He laughed. “Could get you in trouble.”

“Maria would never let you cheat me.”

“Few people could.” Andrew stepped into the room. “Her trusting air is an act.”

“Is that a nice way to speak to your mother?”

He stood with his hands clasped behind his back like the presenting doctor for Grand Rounds. “Paul, Maria, good to see you.” He acknowledged their greetings with a nod and walked to the bed. “Can’t stay long or I’ll be late for office hours. Ruth will drop by this evening. Are you sure you won’t consider Hudson House for a few weeks?”

“Never.” Though the local nursing home was exclusive and expensive I wanted my own apartment and bed.

Paul clocked his heels and saluted me. Maria kissed my cheek. “Not to worry, Dr. Andrew. When your madre come home I will tend her.”

Andrew sat on the chair Maria had vacated. “Mom, I’m serious. If not Hudson House, let me hire a nurse.”

“There’s no need. With Ruth’s, Sarah’s and Maria’s help I’ll manage very well.”

“You are the most stubborn woman in existence.” He patted my hand. “I’ve found a tenant for your apartment. Then I won’t have to worry about you being in the house alone. She’s a friend of Ted. Divorced with two children.” He smiled. “Rachel’s a lovely woman. They’ll move in the end of the month.”

Though I preferred to select my own tenants, I decided to let him win this round. “Rachel what?”

“Rodgers. Ted sent her to me for some therapy sessions. Her divorce was messy. She even lost custody of her children. Ted helped her regain custody. She needs support. You’ll be good for her.”

Something about the way he said her name bothered me. For the past year I’ve noticed an inner restlessness about him. He seems discontent and to be searching for illusive answers. I sighed.

He pulled a paper from his briefcase. “Here’s the lease. Ted drew it up. Rachel has signed.”

I found a pen but first read the brief document. “This is different from the one the realtor provides.”

“Simpler. Ted said you and Rachel would be protected.”

“The terms favor the tenant.” I scratched out several of the terms. “Tell Ted to have this retyped and then I’ll sign.”

“Mom.” Andrew looked at what I wrote. “This is hardly fair to Rachel.”

Something in his voice raised a flood of questions. Before I had a chance to ask my son what was happening, the physical therapist arrived. Andrew left.

For forty-five minutes I embarked on an exhausting attempt to master the extra set of legs. I returned to bed and slept until the nurse woke me for dinner.

Shortly after the trays were collected Ruth arrived. “Mother Miller, you look so much better.”

“But bored.”

She smiled. “Andrea’s in the hall near the elevators. Let me find a wheel chair
and take you to her.”

“I’ll use the crutches. Follow with the chair in case I falter.” I slid to the edge of the bed and positioned the crutches. I noticed the concern on her face. “I should be fine.”

“Of course you will be. I think you can master anything you try.”

“Thank you.”

My daughter-in-law isn’t beautiful but she knows how to dress. She keeps her dark brown hair cut in a style that’s perfect for her narrow face. Though she graduated from college with honors and could have had a brilliant career she’s chosen to serve as Andrew’s handmaiden. Even when his ideas clash with hers, she doesn’t disagree in public.

“Ready.” Ruth appeared at the door with a wheelchair.

Slowly at first and then with greater confidence, I walked toward the cluster of chairs near the elevators. A drop of perspiration slid down my back. Another made a path down my nose. One hundred steps. Fifty more. Then ten. The trip seemed longer than my usual morning walk.

“Grandma.” Andrea bounced from a chair and dashed toward me. Her dark brown hair had recently been cut and curled around her face. “Crutches, how neat. When you don’t need them could they be mine?” Hazel eyes like mine and Andrew’s sparkled with excitement.

After I eased into the wheelchair Ruth lifted the leg rest to support the case. “Why would you want them?”

“To put them in a dance.”

“Only if you promise I’ll be in the audience.”

“Sure.” She kissed my cheek. “Can I write my name on your cast?”

“I’d love that. You’re the first to ask. Guess my friends think I’m too old for cast decoration.”

“Not you. They’re the old ones. When you come home I’ll stay and be your nurse. Dad thinks you need one.”

“What about school?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Guess I can’t them.”

“Tell me what you’ve been doing?”

Those words released a spate of stories. To each I responded in the proper manner. When Andrea ran out of stories Ruth pushed me back to my room. She held the wheelchair while I transferred to the bed.

“Are you sure you can manage when you come home?” she asked. “You know I’ll be glad to help unless I’m tied up with Andrea’s schedule.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Andrew blames himself for the accident.”

“If anyone’s to blame it’s his fool mother. If I’d waited twenty minutes the street would have been scraped on both sides.” My sigh was part exasperation and part worry. “He’s too serious.”

She nodded. “It’s a phase.”

Ruth usually read Andrew like an expert but this time she was wrong.

“He’d feel better if he could do something. He loves you.”

“I know that.” Her concern for my son brought a ripple of guilt. My stubborn pride loosened its grip. “Why don’t you suggest he hire a woman to come every morning for a few hours? Now a nurse, mind you. Just someone to help me dress and do some light cleaning.” My sense of the ridiculous rose. “Have him get me a portable toilet.”

Ruth giggled. In that instant she looked no older than her daughter. “That’s wonderful. I can’t wait to see his face when I tell him about the commode.”

My laughter joined hers. “I tried to make the suggestion to him but couldn’t. He has a view of me I don’t deserve. He’d be embarrassed to think his mother has normal human functions.”

She patted my hand. “He does tend to put you on a pedestal. I’d better leave and get Andrea home.”

After she left I turned on the television. The program, one of the crime shows I always watch, barely registered. My thoughts centered on my son and some nameless concern for him.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Writing Tip - Modifying

Again, this is from Becoming Your Own Critique Partner written by Jane Toombs and myself and published by Zumaya. This books was also an EPIC award winner in 2003.

What does modifying mean? Part of the meaning is changing the meaning of a noun, especially or a very by the use of adjectives or adverbs. This chapter of the book is called Modifying To Death. And we do mean death. I'm sure all of us have read and perpahs some of us have written a lush description full of adjectives, just strung them along like pearls on a string. Or we've come up with three or four lovely similies or other such modifying kind of things. Sometimes these strings of words all say the same thing and the reader will wonder if you can't make up your mind. Or you run these adjectives to death and you end up with a great passage of purple prose. Now if this is what you're aiming for, go ahead. But a reader will often put the book aside for the picture is too lush and multi-layered for them to understand what you really mean.

Now we come to adverbs. Most of these end in ly and are often used in tag lines. She said sweetly. He said angrily. You all know what these are. It's not that they're wrong but there are other ways to get the point across. What a sweet baby," she cooed.
Seems sweet to me. But there are other adverbs such as very. She was very tired. He was very old. Other and better ways to show these things. So is another of these things. She was so tired. He was so old. This kind of writing isn't wrong. It is drab and doesn't give the reader the picture you're trying to create with words.

When you're ready to start revising what you've written take a red pencil and underline all the adjectives you've used in say three pages. Then take a green one for adverbs. Look at them carefully and see which ones are needed. Choose the adjective that gives the most vivid picture and change that verb and adverb to a strong verb.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


We've all heard that clothes make the man or woman. Is this true. When I began writing my characters were mostly nurses and doctors. Yes, their clothes showed a bit about their characters. How does this follow through to the people you put in your stories. The clothes a character chooses can give a picture of their personality. The colors they select. If your character always dresses in drab colors think about what this says about them. A character who wears tight fitting clothes made to display their body also says something about their nature. When out shopping or sitting in a restaurant, observe the clothes people are wearing and try ti put a word or two that you think fits their character. Does the elderly woman wear clothes suited to a younger person? What does this say about her. So when you're dressing your character think about what they choose to wear as another level in showing who they are.

Now let's look at a character's surroundings. Do they decorate with colors or go with plain and ordinary? What kind of objects are displayed in their space. A few short descriptions of how they live can bring them to life. One of my stories speaks about the character who collected cups and saucers and had them on every surface of the rooms where they lived. So decide how you're going to surround yourself. You don't have to put much in, just a touch will help show the reader what your characters are like.

Remember when doing this, a light hand is better than a heavy one. Stories used to abound in this kind of descriptions but these days they don't. But try to remember all the tricks to show others what your characters are like.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Inspiration -- The Writer's Journey continued - The Road Back

According to Vogler even though the hero or heroine has taken the treasure, the adventure isn't over. He or she must take the road back. Now this road isn't without danger. Often the character is pursued by enemies or by well-meaning friends who chase after them.

Thinking about this puzzled me for a bit until I thought about what happens when the hero or heroine has the knowledge that they can win. To have the victory this character must be able to show the world that they have defeated the villain, their inner problems or can win their dream. This isn't as easy as it seems.

Put me in mind of my cozy mysteries, while the heroine knows who or why a murder was committed she still has to prove to the world that what she knows is true. Because I like happy endings when writing of her quest to discover the murderer, this part of her journey must be played out in full. In Murder and Mint Tea she must attend a funeral. In Requiem Murder she needs to see that the innocent aren't destroyed. And in the other mysteries she has things to prove to others. Not always easy and not always the solutions others want.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Writing Life - Surprises Nov. 22

A gift from blog jog day will go to Suzanne Lieurance. She can either contact me or I'll hunt her down.

Surprises are a good thing. Today I learned that Healwoman - Dark Moon has been released in electronic form with the print copy to follow in a month or so. I'm beginning to lose track of how many this means this year. Though some had been electronic before three came to print. The problem lies in that I have two more releases plus an novella and then Pubs are caught up and I must write more. Writing goes slower than I'd like but that's because the holidays are approaching and there are other things to take my time,

Was going to talk about the Blog Jog that ran yesterday. Actually went fairly well. I visited about twenty or so places but for some I could not post a comment since one of the sites where blogs are hosted seldom takes my comments. Several of the blogs bounced me off the internet. I did gain two followers and posted to follow several others. I think I would do this again and hope the results were better.

Work on The Henge Betrayed -- Confrontations continues and hopefully I'll have it finished during the first quarter of next year.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Blog Jog Day and other things

Thank you for stopping by my Blog!
Please explore all this Blog has to offer, then jog on over to http://jcfloresinc.blogspot.com/

If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to http://blogjogday.blogspot.com.

As the title of this blog says, I write a bit of everything. There are cozy mysteries to enjoy. Look for the Katherine Miller mysteries available from http://www.diskuspublishing.com/
At http://www.diskuspublishing.com/ you can also find some romances and fantasies that are suitable for all ages.

Or if suspense is your idea of a fun read you can find some here.http://www.hardshell.com/

Fantasies for young adults can be found here http://www.mundania.com/index.

And fantasies for adults can be found here
http://www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com/ and herehttp://www.newconceptspublishing.com/heatherlinbooks.html

So settle back and enjoy what you find here and jog on to another place to see what you can find. I hope you return here again and again to find things like the Six Sentence Sunday or the First Chapter Saturday. Please leave a comment and check Monday's My Writing week, for a possible surprise for someone.

As usual I'll post my six sentences here. These are from Requiem Murder published by DiskUs

On Groundhog day when Robspierre, my Main Coon cat jumped from his seat on the window seat, one thought popped into my head. Who? After following him to the kitchen, I watched him push his bulky brown and black body through the hinged opening at the bottom of the door. Moments later I peered down the dimly lit stairwell. Robiesperre had sprawled in the center of the third step and blocked my visitor's progress.

"Good grief, Katherine, I hope he's not planning to bite me again." Edward Potter, pastor of St. Stephen's Episcopal church glared at the cat.

First Chapter Saturday -- Mistress of the Moons

Though this book starts with a prologue, I'm putting up the first chapter here.

Mistress of the Moons
By Janet Lane Walters
Vanilla Heart Press

Book One
New Moon
The Seat of Judgment

Fighting tears, Catherine Wheeler slumped on a bench at the end of the hospital corridor. The smell of disinfectant mingled with the odors of human suffering, fear and death. Ever since the young doctor had come to her husband’s room and pronounced Tommy dead, she’s felt like a ship torn from its moorings. She glanced at the wall where peeling green paint told of age and neglect. Place is old, like me, she thought.

The elevator creaked to a halt and the doors opened. A gurney with high sides and a dark cover emerged. As the grim men pushed the cart past her, the wheels squealed.

Though she’d told the nurse she was leaving, Katherine had needed to wait until her husband left the unit. Pain like the gnawing of a mouse bit into her heart and brought waves of dizziness.

The pain faded. The squeaking gurney returned. She half rose and sank back. Why couldn’t she take this final ride with him?

The rules, she thought. The unfairness of a system that kept people from their dead angered her. She should have been the one to wash his body and to close his eyes. A momentary desire to challenge the roles the way she’d fought other edicts years ago arose. But she was too old, too tired.

She sucked in a shuddering breath and watched the gurney disappear behind the closing elevator doors. Tommy had been four years her senior and she was glad he’d gone before her. He would have been lost without her, just as she would be without him. Sixty-three years of living with the same man made thoughts of being alone frightening. He’d been her life. Together they’d faced problems and found solutions. With a sigh she rose and pressed for the elevator.

Outside the humid air, redolent with exhaust fumes and the stench of garbage made her cough. Pain circled her heart. Before crossing the street to reach the bus stop she paused to catch her breath. When her strength returned she plodded to the other side. There she glanced at a display of bears in a toy store window.

The images wavered. She pressed her hands against the glass. Three dolls formed a tableau against a painted background showing a mountain lake and a pale moon in the dark sky. The central figure caught her attention. The doll wore a deep amber robe and golden brown boots. In her hand she held a staff topped with an amber crystal.

The need to hold the doll burned as hot as the pain in her chest. As she opened the door a bell tinkled. The young woman behind the counter looked up, then began buffing her nails again.

Catherine lifted the doll from the case. Why this urgent wish to possess this doll. She had no child or grandchild. Pain, agonizing and exquisite, exploded in her chest. She crumpled to the floor.

The clerk jumped to her feet. Why had the old biddy wandered in? The young woman knelt beside the old lady. “Hey, are you all right?” When there was no answer she searched for a pulse. Her eyes widened. The woman was dead. She reached for the phone and called for an ambulance. Had the old lady taken something from the display window? A check of the bears showed none were missing.

Moments later, the ambulance arrived.

* * *

A moan of pleasure escaped the lips of the woman named Ashiera. As Sieper found his release his arms tightened around her. He rolled to his side and held her against his chest. His lips brushed her honey-colored hair. He inhaled the fragrance of the herbs she used as a rinse. As always her amber eyes were devoid of expression.

Sunshine streamed through the windows of the sleeping chamber clothing them in colored light. Chips of multi-hued crystals embedded in the headboard of the massive bed splashed bright tints on the sheets.

He stroked her smooth skin. “The Cabal and his mind mages named you as an undead. Thus I claimed you as my reward for their use of my skip for their cargoes.” His jaw clenched for the service hadn’t been a willing gift but one demanded. No man of Keltoi dared refuse the orders of the priests of the Lord of Shadows.

She pressed her lips against his chest. For years he’d carried her image in his heart but he’d never believed she would be his for more than the single night they’d once shared. Since then his life had changed again and again. From deck hand to officer and then to ship owner.

He thought of the day he and the Wind Skimmer had sailed into Zandara. The holds had been filled with exotic goods from the other nomes and he’d had hopes of enough profit to outfit a second ship. Alas, those dreams had come to naught. The priests had seized control of Keltoi. Since the defeat of the Mistress, the gray robes and their minions had ruled the nome. Their taxes had eaten most of his profits and for nearly thirteen years he’d sailed at their bidding.

His hands curled into fists. “I’ve worked hard and dreamed of a flight of ships but these hopes slip further from my grasp.” He stared into Ashiera’s empty amber eyes. “Why do I tell you these things? Do you even hear me?”

For an instant he thought he saw a flicker of awareness in her eyes. A foolish thought. Under the Cabal’s torture her mind had fled.

Gently he stroked her face and traced her lips. Nineteen years ago she’d been his for a night. He’d been the one she’d chosen for her passage from maiden to woman. Their joining, hot and urgent, had created a dream of forever with her.

He caressed her breasts. His nipples tightened and she moved against him. Though her mind had fled, her body remembered the ways of passion. He wanted to hear his name on her lips but since the day he’d claimed her from the pens she hadn’t spoken.

He kissed her. “My love, we must leave soon.” Regret that he’d begun what there wasn’t time to finish filled his voice. “The Wind Skimmer leaves on the evening tide. Until I return you will bide with Maran’s wife.” He pulled her to her feet. “Remember, you are mine.”

Had he seen a flash of denial in her eyes? Her forehead wrinkled and she opened her mouth. A croaking sound emerged. He waited. Would she speak?

After long moments of silence he walked with her to the bathing room where a glass dome filled the room with sunlight to heat the pool. Like a child she played in the water but she uttered no happy sounds, nor did the placid expression on her beautiful face change.

He dressed her in a shimmering spidersilk gown. The iridescent fabric reminded him of the gown she’d worn the night she’d walked in the garden of the Mistress and had taken his hand. He pulled on trousers and a shirt that laced at the sides.

“Come, we must eat.” With his hand at her waist he steered her to the garden room.

A wall of glass bricks let in light and distorted the lush growth outside. The table, set for two, stood near the wide door leading into the yard. A maid checked the clothes hanging on the line. Her spouse leaned against the wall and watched her work. In these days, no woman walked through town unguarded lest she be taken by the priests. Even in their homes, there was little safety. If a priest wanted new women for the pens, he took them.

“Ashiera,” Sieper whispered.

She stared. “Who is Ashiera?”

You and you are mine.”

As though a black curtain had been turned, her expression changed. “No.” She backed away.

He went to her. “What do you remember?”

Her eyes reflected myriad emotions. “Dying, yet I live. Heated winds searing my head. Falling into darkness. I am Ashiera but I don’t remember taking vows with you.”

“Much has changed in Keltoi. The Lord of Shadows has placed his shroud over the people. The Mistress and her servants are gone.”

“Gone! Who protects the land and makes sure the seasons follow their proper courses?” She bowed her head. “Once I sat on the Seat of Judgment. Once I knew the lore, the law and the legends. I solved disputes and made prophecies for those who asked for sight.”

He caressed her shoulders in an attempt to leach the tension from her taut muscles. “Those days are no more.”

She looked up. “All is gone?”

His thumbs brushed her cheeks. “Alas, ‘tis the truth. Since you are now aware I can’t leave you in Zandara. You must come with me for you are mine.”

His words frightened her. She couldn’t be a prisoner. Though his blue-green eyes were kind she couldn’t sail with him. There was a place she must find and she couldn’t let anyone stop her. Yet, she wished she could remain with him.

She touched his face and explored the rugged features. She ran her hands through his honey-hued hair that brushed his broad shoulders. He was a man she could love forever but the compulsion to flee his tender care became unbearable. Her muscles tensed for flight.

His arms closed around her like a cage. “Sail with me.”

She struggled to free herself from his embrace. She couldn’t. She had to leave. A voice sounded in her head. Come. Now!

Ashiera grabbed a heavy crystal salt cellar and smashed it against his head. He staggered and fell, pulling her atop him. Until she caught her breath she listened to the steady beat of his heart. He groaned. She jumped to her feet. As she raced across the garden to the gate she pulled clothes from the line.

* * *

Twilight darkened the sky before Ashiera found a hiding place in a dark alley doorway. The stench of rotting fish and the brine-laden air made her swallow against the burning fluid rising in her throat. Rustling noises brought a prayer that none of the alley’s denizens would attack her. She dozed, woke and dozed again. Memories of the past rose in broken fragments. Each time she woke she found more pieces were joined.

Sieper. Bits of the things she’d heard years ago in the marketplace were remembered. Rumors of his ability to read the weather surfaced. How could he possess such a talent? The Mistress touched women, never men. Did he serve the Lord of Shadows? He’d spoken of ownership and of her as being a reward from the Cabal. Had Sieper been one of the men who had lurked and awaited the arrival of the gray priests? She sighed. Would she ever regain all the memories of the time before her capture?

She rolled the too long trouser legs and used a scrap of cloth torn from her gown as a belt. The sleeves of the shirt hung well below her hands and she pushed them up. How fortunate she had been to find Sieper’s clothes on the line. As she’d fled through the alleys she had peered into the streets. The few women she’d seen had been escorted by one or even several men.

While she waited for true dark she fingered the scar on her wrist. Her hand flew to her mouth to stifle a scream.

An obese man, heat shaved and scalp oiled, faced her. He held a metal rod with a serpent curled around the staff. A globe of swirling mist topped the rod. Her body trembled. The evil in the priest’s thoughts nauseated her. The serpent raised its head. The fangs bit into her wrist and sent molten fire through her veins. An endless scream echoed in her head and she sought darkness as she had before.

When Ashiera emerged from the place where night was eternal a few stars shone in the sky. A pale sliver moon had risen. She struggled to her feet and exercised muscles stiffened by the cramped position.

Flee. Leave the city.

The urgency of the command made her lose all caution. “Who are you?”

The Place of Choosing. You must go there.

“Where is this place?”

In the Shanara Mountains.

As she left the wharf area she slid from shadow to shadow. Now and then she heard footsteps but whoever walked the streets moved with the same caution she employed. Finally the waterfront lay behind her and she strode along a broad avenue where the Seat of Judgment stood behind a high wall. The Seat no longer remained a refuge. The gray priests resided there. Shepas barked warnings. Several times she froze and fought the urge to run and perhaps draw attention to her flight.

At last she reached the market near the north gate. Guards in gray uniforms trimmed with waxy yellow marched two by two in front of the gate. Was she trapped? Was there no way to escape the city?

She slipped between two stalls and slid beneath a peddler’s wagon. The cold of the rough cobbles seeped through her clothes and made her shiver. She leaned against one of the wooden wheels. Despite her discomfort she drifted to sleep.

Voice woke her. She peered around the wheel and saw two men.

“’Tis the first day of the last lunar of the year. An auspicious day to begin our journey.”

“Father, watch your tongue. ‘Tis the first day of Dar. If you plan to remain on the road you must learn the words our new rulers have ordained.”

The first man laughed. “Peto, my son, you will do well. An old man has trouble remembering new ways. Are we set to leave?”

“The wagons are loaded. The cart is stocked. Our permits have been bought and sighed. All we must do is pay the gate tax.”

“You do that. ‘Tis my last trip as master peddler. Time for an old man to sit by the fire and tell his grand children tales of the road.”

“Then harness the bovies while I’m gone.”

Ashiera watched as the younger man left. She crept from her hiding place. Surely one who failed to learn the new ways would help her.

“Months, not lunars,” the old man muttered. “Not allowed to speak about the Mistress.” He led a pair of massive brown beasts to the first wagon and fastened them in the traces. “Blessed be the Mistress. Years ago her seer predicted a son for Sari and me. A miracle for a woman past her fortieth year.”

“Peddler,” Ashiera whispered.

He turned. His dark brown hair was touched with strands of ebony. “A woman in men’s clothes. If the priests find you they’ll drag you to their pens.”

She pushed up the sleeve of her shirt. “I’ve been there.”

He drew closer. “You!” A reverent tone crept into his voice. “You are the one who said I would have a son.”

Ashiera had no memory of his face among the many seekers at the Seat of Judgment. “I pray my prediction brought you joy.”

“He has.” He touched her wrist. “Why did they mark you?”

She shuddered and pushed the dark memories away. “My mind fled under their torture.”

He dropped his cloak around her shoulders. “Tales are told of the ones who resisted and died, and of one who accepted but none of you. How can I help?”

“I must reach the Shanara Mountains by lunar’s end. Is there a way out of the city?”

“’Tis a far way to travel.” He nodded. “Small steps come first.” He harnessed the bovies, then opened the door of a brightly painted wagon. “Years ago my spouse traveled with me. Our son was born on this bed.” He lifted the mattress and the wooden frame. “For storage. A small space but once we’re past the gates I’ll let you out. You must stay in the wagon. We travel with some who fawn on the priests.”

Ashiera traced the sign of the Mistress in the air and took hope from the golden glow. “Blessed be. Have you water? I would drink before I hide.”

He filled a cup. “I’m Penro.”

“Thanks be.” She savored the water and drank a second cup before climbing into the cubby.

When Penro replaced the frame and mattress she fought the urge to scream. Memories of her imprisonment by the Cabal filled her thoughts. Before the snake had marked her she had been kept in a small dark pit for days. The stale air, the cramped position and the absence of light in the hiding place seemed the same.

The cart moved and then stopped for what seemed like hours. Her nails bit into her palms and her heart thudded. If they found her what would she do? Finally the cart rolled forward. The gentle rocking motion lulled her to sleep.

When she woke the cubby was hot and the air flat. Sweat made her clothes cling to her body. She gulped deep breaths until her head spun. Frantically she pushed against the wooden frame. Tears rolled down her face. Then a rush of cool air reached her.

“’Tis night.” Penro helped her from the small space. “You slept through the day. Couldn’t wake you when we stopped at midday. There’s food and drink on the table and some coins I’ve collected from those who won’t betray you. I’ve the names of several inns on your way where the Mistress is honored in secret. My friend, Thamis has clothes for you.”

Ashiera stretched her aching body. “Are there many who oppose the priests?”

He shrugged. “In every village and hamlet there are those who keep Her in their hearts. There are no leaders. The warriors from the Hall of Defense were defeated. Her servants in the nomes across the mountains have refused to join the battle. The taxes for women tear families apart. Few have coins to pay so their daughters can escape the pens.”

Ashiera sat at the table. “Taxes for women?” She dipped a spoon into the bowl of stew. Though she wanted to gulp she took small bites.

He nodded. "Each man of Keltoi can have but one woman of child-bearing age in his house. For all others he must pay a tax.”


“Indeed ‘tis that.” He filled a mug with hot spiced tea. “Where once daughters were a blessing, they’re now a curse. Rumors of hidden places in the forest and the hills spread among the people but what parent would send a child into the wilderness?”

Ashiera considered his words. Always more women than men were born but there had been places among the servants of the Mistress for those who chose not to take a spouse. She shook her head. “Their ways are evil.”

He nodded. “Finish your meal. I’ll return with Thamis.” He slipped from the wagon.

Ashiera felt sadness enshroud her. What happened to those girls who were taken by the priests and put in the pens? A flash of memory shook her. The girls had been auctioned for nights of service with any number of men. Some were sent to serve the priests in their houses. She shuddered. “Mistress, why has this evil come upon us? How did we fail you?”

When Penro returned, a short man with dark brown hair followed him. He dropped a bundle on the bed. “Thamis, she is the one,” Penro said.

“Blessed be.” The symbol Ashiera sketched glowed.

“Thanks for the blessing.” Thamis bowed. “Penro said you were more my size than his. I’m honored to serve one who belongs to the Mistress.”

She opened the bundle. “My thanks to you.”

“Two of my daughters served in a House of Healing. My youngest son died defending them.”

“The priests carried the war even to the healers?”

“Even there,” Penro said. “They slaughtered the ill. ‘Tis said they gain power from pain and death.”

Anger made Ashiera tremble but now wasn’t the time for action. Quickly she changed into Thamis’ clothes. She embraced Penro. “Your house will prosper.”

He bowed. “If you have a need I will come.”

“Listen to the winds for a call.”

She followed Thamis outside. Keeping to the shadows she walked with him to the yard were stolid bovies mingled with fleet equines. He whistled. A shaggy pony trotted to the fence.

Thamis opened the gate. “’Twas a present for my grandson but you have a greater need.” He dropped a blanket over the sturdy beast’s back and hung a pair of panniers over its rump. “Supplies for your journey and goods suited to a journeyman peddler.”

“Thanks be to you and Penro. Your family will grow and fare well but they must take care in the days to come.” She traced the globe and crescent. Then she tugged on the pony’s rope and led him for nearly a kil before mounting.

* * *

Lugal, the Cabal, stared into the globe atop the serpent rod and willed the mists to clear and show the past. He never tired of watching the defeat of those who had served the Mistress of the Moons. The battle had depleted his predecessor’s powers and had allowed Lugal to challenge for the rod that marked him as one of the Triad of rulers. The swirling clouds parted to reveal a woman’s face.

A roar of rage rose from his lips. He knew that one. He’d questioned her and watched the serpent animate and mark her with its fangs. Thus she belonged to the Lord of Shadows. What had gone wrong? Had her flight into darkness nullified the venom? The veins of his neck were engorged by rage. He sought to clear her face from the globe.

“Not so. I won’t have this.”

His jaw clenched and he thought of what he’d seen nearly thirteen years before. The then Cabal and the mind mages had joined the champions of the Gladius and the minions of the Thamaturg. The forces of the Mistress had been defeated. His anger escalated. Something had gone wrong. Now, a second eclipse approached.

The globe darkened. The woman’s face vanished. Lugal’s anger erupted. As though a miniature cyclone entered the room, wind whipped his robe. Papers whirled through the air. The draperies at the windows shredded beneath the storm. The shutters crashed against the wall. Outside the sky darkened. Lightning flashed and crackled. Rain fell in torrents.

Slowly Lugal’s rage subsided. He lumbered down the hall to the audience chamber of the building that had once been the Seat of Justice. Upon his entrance the coterie of first level mind mages rose. He walked to the dais. As he sat his robes swirled around his ankles. “The women. The one who was a seer. Ashiera. Bring her from the pens.” His fleshy fingers tightened around the rod. The snake stirred.

The Right Hand snapped his fingers. Two mages departed the chamber. A short time later they returned. The master of the pens walked between them.

“Where is she?” Lugal asked.

The pen master knelt on the first step. “Two months ago a sea merchant, one Sieper, came to me. He bore an order from you giving him his choice of women. After paying the tax he took her.”

Lugal leaned forward. Why hadn’t the man reported the incident? He curbed the desire to lash the pen master’s mind. He had no time to train another. He turned to the Right Hand. “Send Mages and guards to the sea merchant’s house and bring the pair to me.” If she’d slipped from his grasp his plans for gaining ascendancy were ruined.

Four mages marched from the room. Lugal called for food. Women dressed in diaphanous robes of rainbow hues glided across the gray-tinged yellow marble floor. One bore a flagon of wine. Others held platters of fruit, cheese and sweets. Three women played flutes, two plucked lyres and one tapped a hand drum. A half dozen women danced to the music, contorting their bodies into near impossible positions.

Lugal leaned forward. He ran his tongue over his fleshy lips. While sampling succulent bits of pina, manga and quava, he selected the women who would attend him this night. He reached for the wine cup and signaled the servant to pour. He slid his hand beneath her ankle-length robe and kneaded her hip.

Once his appetite for food had been sated he clasped ring-clad fingers on his obese abdomen. His thoughts centered on his plan to seize control of the priesthood. The Lord of Shadows had no need for swords of fire or noxious poisonous vapors when Lugal and his mind mages could use the wind to control the people. Lugal wondered why he had the share the rule with Sargon and Gamish.

He nodded. His quest for supremacy had been born in poverty. His skills as a thief had brought him to the attention of the priests and his talent had been revealed. Rapidly, he had risen until he’d become the Right Hand of the former Cabal. He would succeed in Keltoi just as he had since entering the service of the Lord of Shadows.

Hours passed before the quartet of mages returned. They bowed and their leader spoke. “The sea merchant’s house is deserted and the servants are gone. His ship sailed on last evening’s tide.

“The woman?”

“She must have gone with him.”

Lugal’s hands clenched. “Send the fastest clipper and an octet of mind mages after him. The woman is mine.” He rose and in a swirl of robes lumbered from the audience chamber.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Writer's Tip - Scenes

Scenes are vital to telling a story. When making sure all your scenes need to be in your story, there are points to remember. When Jane and I wrote Becoming Your Own Critique Partner, we called the chapter Is This Scene Necessary? Now I know I've written scenes that read well and may even be funny but they aren't necessary to the story. When developing a scene, one has to know the purpose of the scene. PURPOSE is the key word.

Scenes do one or more of four things. The more of these elements in a scene the more interest it gives to the story. They give life to a character, they advance the plot or they give the reader information. Now this doesn't mean setting up a scene that's a lecture. Writers have to be sneaky and get the information to the reader in ways that the reader might not immediately recognize. A scene also locates the character in time and place. Another time when the writer can get carried away. Remember writing stories is like painting pictures.

When writing a scene, the writer has to develop it. Summary is good for making quick changes but if what's happening in the scene it needs to be played out.

A scene is built by using some blocks. Description, dialogue both outer and inner and by physical action. All of these can be used in several ways such as characterization, in foreshadowing and setting up a problem to be solved.

One thing to be sure of is to have your major characters run the scene rather than minor ones. Minor characters can contribute to the situation but this isn't their story. The story belongs to the major characters.

So remember Purpose and direction. advancing the plot

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interview with self

There are two people who need to send me their interviews but haven't so I didn't want to have a blank space. I decided to interview myself using the same questions I send to others. May you enjoy.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
I tend to be a dabbler. There are mysteries, suspense of the medical flavor, romance from sweet to spicy, fantasies from YA to adult and some paranormal that touch on reincarnation or on alternate worlds. I've also done some short stories and published poetry. I once wrote a play in blank verse and also did a college paper on Milton in Miltonian blank verse complete with footnotes. There are several non- fiction books among written when I was a ghostwriter for doctors and one on writing written with Jane Toombs.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
Decided to combine these two since I'm always a bit scattered.
I think I tend to write what I like to read. Unfortunately I like to read most everything so I tend to scatter myself over the genres. It's more like what I do not like to read. I do not like horror and don't think I'll ever write in that genre. While I like action adventure I don't think I have the mind for writing that or science fiction, though I enjoy the genre I'm really not scientifically oriented.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure? Actually reading has sort of been covered in the last question. I am a re-reader and some books I've read more than once. I spent a number of years when I began writing reading many of the classics and some not so classical. I've read Pride and Prejudice 15 times, War and Peace twice and Anna Karenina many times beginning that when I was in third grade. I don't do Steven King. Those kind of stories creep me out. Used to love Dean Koontz but that was when he was writing science fiction.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
I tell people I've been writing since the dark ages. That means typewriters and carbon paper. I still have a draft of a manuscript on carbon paper. Someday I might see if it's of value. My first short stories were published in 1968 and the first novels in 1972. They were sweet nurse romances and that's where I learned my craft since in those days editors often sent wonderful letters of critique and advice on how to make the story better. Time was taking out to return to a career as a nurse to help put four children through school. In 1993 I returned to writing full time and found a world that confused me. Synopsis and partial manuscripts wanted. So here I am and here I sit.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Authors are like parents. To speak of a favorite character would be difficult. Most of the time, the one I am allowing to tell their story is their favorite but if I was pushed, the villain - Fred - in Obsessions would be my favorite. Who doesn't like a bad guy.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
There are villains in a number of my books. I'm not sure they're developed but they sort of grow. Nasty people are usually easier to write that the clean-cut kind. At least for me. Mostly they come on stage fully developed and I allow them a bit of room for their evil.

8. What are you working on now?
The fourth and final book of The Henge Betrayed series and saying goodbye to these young people seems to be very hard. Or maybe it's that the holidays are approaching and there are other pulls on my time.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
Latest release was book two of the Henge Betrayed series. How did the idea arrive? When I reached somewhere between 75000 and 80000 words and hadn't even reached the first third of the outline I'd done for what was to be a single book. That's when I knew there should be a second and a third and maybe a fourth.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.
Since I put first chapters up on the blog, I'll skip this but if you're curious you can read some of the first chapters I've put up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Characterization -- Beyond Astrology

There are some other things that help define a character. Names are one thing. Choosing how to name your characters can be sometimes harder than writing the synopsis. Well, maybe not. I spend a lot of time naming characters and looking through books of names including those like New Age Books. Once I had a computer program to help with this but that was many computers ago and the program came on one of those large floppy discs. Sometimes the name comes easy. When I was writing The Warrior of Bast, I needed names that sounded like they could be coming from Egypt and so I sat with books on Egypt and looked at the names of the pharaohs and queens and then did variations. The characters in The Henge Betrayed series are plays on my grandchildren's names. mostly with new endings added to their names, thus Brandon became Brandien, Kyla became Kylandra and so forth. Sometimes when I'm reading books particularly those set in historical periods one sees names that don't fit what we think of as being pleasant names today but in the time period of the historical the names are perfectly fine. Or names that once were men's names are now used for women. So one has to decide to be true to the period or true to today.

Another way of defining a character is posture -- How does a person stand. Do they slouch or stand like there's a rod in their spine. Are their shoulders hunched or straightened. I once read a description that was sort of like this. He walked as though he had no bones. Does that mean graceful or did he ooze across the stage. Posture can also show a person's mood. Ways of moving also do this. Does your heroine always strice or does she mince. Does he walk with a heavy tread? A lot about a person's nature can be shown by the way they walk or stand.

What about expressions. What does this statement make you think. He wore his perpetual sneer. Doesn't make me what to like this person. She was never without a smile. Eyes danced with laughter. Just seeing how another person views the expressions a character wears can give a picture in an instant.

There are more ways that I'll get to another time. Just remember when you're showing your characters try to show more than a static description. If possible avoid having them look into a mirror.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Inspirations - More on the Writer's Journey

In The Writer's Journey Christopher Vogler Moves onto the Reward or Seizing the Sword. This comes after the Black mOment and for a long time I puzzled over this. In many of my books there isn't an object that comes as a result of the dark time when all is believed to be lost. Then one phrase struck me and that was knowledge. Knowledge is valuable to the writer and this is what I've taken from this part of the journey he writes about. Often my characters through a search of themselves or of communicating with other people what is true and what is not. They may also learn more about the person and discover what they believed was false.

I've been re-reading some of my favorite novels by Jo Beverly and she uses the idea of knowledge one character believes to be trus and learns it is false or the character's idea of what it means has been skewed by their own insecurities.

One of my books The Warrior of Bast really does have the heroine and hero recovering treasures after undergoing some adventures that would have ended their lives. But recovering the treasures didn't end the book. They had more steps to take on their journey.

Monday, November 15, 2010

y Writing Life - November 15

We all have days when time seems to rush away on hurricane wings. Not that the holiday season is on the way it will be more so. Last week was mine. There were two days when little writing was done. For most people this wouldn't mean much but I have self-imposed deadlines that are more stringent than those set by editors. The last time I sold a book before it was completed, I had a deadline of January 51st. I sent the completed book to the editor before Thanksgiving. That was on my time schedule.

How are you at setting deadlines for yourself? Often that seems to be many writer's problems. They can't pace themselves and allow someone else to set limits. Which kind of writer are you. A self pusher or another person pusher?

Back to my week. Did have a meeting with two writer friends and we set up what we hope will be some speaking engagements at libraries or other places where people like to listen to writers talk. One will see what happens. There's also something else in the works with this group and we'll see what happens in the future.

Saturday at HVRWA we had a guest speaker, a knowledgeable editor for Wild Rose Press. She talked about writing and editing and gave some very good tips to those
attending. Since I'm in a fantasy mode these days, this isn't the place for me but who knows what will happen when I finish the multitude of works I have outlined and will finish the clusters of stories I started.

Now to my current work in progress -- Confrontations. I am now 2 fifths done with thestory but it took an extra day to reach that goal. Wanted to finish this before the first of the year, but feel it will be the end of January before I come up and can start a new project. Not sure how other writers feel, but I'm always heading to the new work but know the old must be finished before I can move on. I think the pull is because the hero of the next book has finally accepted a heroine. I have presented him with three and the story stopped after the opening scene. He did not like the woman he met. I believe he will like the fourth since she has a good reason not to like him.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Six Sentence Sunday -- Mistress of the Moons

Here are six sentences from Mistress of the Moons available from Vanilla Heart Press.

Cautiously she opened her eyes. Where was she? The bed -- no,a cot for her hands could touch the sides. She turned her head from side to side and saw the cot was one of several in a long room. Torches set behind glass shields provided light.

The respirator. The tubes. She closed her eyes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Chapter Saturday -- The Warrior of Bast

By Janet Lane Walters
Vanilla Heart Press

Chapter One

Tira wanted three things in life and she had little chance of gaining any of them. She wanted to be financially independent. She wanted to go to Egypt and study the ancient ruins. And she wanted her sister to stop using drugs.
The last desire brought memories of this morning’s quarrel. Luci had taken the money Tira had squirreled away to see them through the rest of the month. “Luci, why?”

“You don’t understand,” Luci screamed.

True. Tira didn’t understand why her sister needed to escape into a drugged stupor instead of studying and working to step onto the road leading from the slums. Tira’s hands stung with the memory of slapping her sister. And the words she’d shouted as she slammed out of the apartment echoed in her thoughts. “I hate you. I wish you were dead.” Tira shuddered. She hadn’t meant those words. As soon as she reached the apartment she would tell Luci.

With a sigh she turned back to the museum display. The Egyptian artifacts awed her. For a short time she allowed the beauty of the objects to carry her into dreams of pyramids and temples, of gods and pharaohs and of digging in the earth to uncover treasures of the past.

The dream hovered beyond her grasp. Her chances of gaining a position on a dig in Egypt were slim. Positions were avidly sought by students who had chosen the right colleges and the right professors. Those choices had been beyond her financially. She sucked in a breath. Instead of adventure, when the summer ended, she would take her place in front of a classroom teaching history at an inner city high school.

A glance at her watch said dreamtime was over. She had to reach the apartment in time to change for her evening shift as a restaurant several blocks from the cramped fifth floor efficiency she shared with her older sister. Once again flash moments from the morning’s quarrel exploded in Tira’s thoughts. She’d been so upset she’d missed her morning martial arts session at the local center.

Tira cast her dream self aside and donned the role of practical sister. She hurried to the exit and stepped from the past into a steamy August day. Heat shimmered from the sidewalk. The air hung heavy and filled with the odors of the city and the noises of traffic. She strode along the crowded area taking advantage of every opening.

Ten days to dream. Ten days to walk the halls of the museum. Ten days to study the artifacts that had become her lodestones. She breathed the aromas of real time, spices of cooking foods, metallic scents of passing traffic and the odors of people, some pleasant and some not.

Several blocks from the apartment building the crowds thinned. In an alley she glimpsed furtive movements in the dark shadows. She hurried past. On the corner across the street a group of gang members gathered. She sucked in a breath and held her head high. For all her twenty three years she’d avoided the gangs. As she strode past she heard the usual crude remarks about her body and her attitude.
Get a life, she wanted to scream.

When she saw the ambulance and two cop cars in front of the building where she lived she halted so abruptly she stumbled. A hand caught her arm. Tira saw the gray-streaked beard of one of the winos who slept in the doorways or the alley. “Get your hands off me.”

“Don’t go home,” he whispered. “Lose yourself in the crowd and keep your head down.”

Tira saw a keen intelligence in the man’s dark eyes. Who was he? He wasn’t as old as she had imagined either. “Why?”

“Your sister’s dead. Cops’ll be looking for you. They heard about the fight.”

Tira’s stomach clenched. She blinked away a rush of tears. Though hearing about her sister’s death wasn’t unexpected another dream shattered. There would be no rehab for Luci. “Junkies O.D. every day,” she said.

“She was murdered.”

A chill slithered down Tira’s spine. A rush of acid burned her throat. What? Why? Who? Keeping her eyes on the ground she inched away from him.

“Murder. Murder.” The murmured word spread through the crowd gathered on the sidewalk and stung like attacking wasps.

The EMTs wheeled a gurney from the building. When Tira saw the body bag strapped to the frame her nails bit into her palms. Despite the heat of the day she felt chilled. A wave of guilt made her knees buckle. She stuffed her fist against her mouth to keep from crying aloud.

What now, she wondered. The apartment was a crime scene. Until the cops finished their investigation she wouldn’t be allowed inside. An officer stepped from the building. “More along, folks. There’s nothing to see here.” He stepped from the stoop. “Anyone seen her sister? We have some questions for her.”

“Most evenings you’ll find her waiting tables at Louie’s,” someone said.

Tira hunched her shoulders. As people dispersed she slunk away. All her life she’d avoided trouble. Even if she wasn’t a suspect she knew too much about Luci’s friends and suppliers to be safe. She needed to hide and think. Where could she go?’

As she retraced her steps she noticed the home boys had vanished from the corner. Show’s over or just about to begin, she thought. She feared she was destined to become the star in a life or death drama. She continued the slow amble away from the apartment building.

Every instinct urged her to run but that would attract the attention she didn’t want. As she passed the alley someone grabbed her arm and dragged her into the shadows. The man who held her arm and the other at his side were large and scary but not as menacing as the slender man who joined them.

Tira fought to control rising panic. She felt as though she would faint. Center. She had to escape. All she needed was an opening. Her muscles tensed in preparation. “What do you want?” Had her voice remained calm or had fear coated the edges?

“My drugs. My money.”

“I know nothing about either.”

The slender man laughed and the sound chilled her. “She was your sister. She told you everything.” His smile turned feral. “Her last words were, ‘Tira knows.’”

Anger flared and slashed the fear and grief holding her immobile. “And you believed her?”

“Why not?”

His silent companions edged closer. One held a knife. The other reached for her. Tira sucked in a breath. She whirled and kicked. The toe of her sneaker caught the knife holder’s arm. Her sudden movement pulled the second man off balance. She grabbed his arm and knocked him into the knife man. They landed in a tangle.

Tira ran. As she darted around the corner something whizzed past her. She didn’t stop to learn what. Where to go? Just ahead she saw the steps leading to the subway. She pulled her Metro card from her pocket and bounded down the steps. A shout sounded. She kept running. At the gate she swiped the card, ran onto the platform and into a waiting car. A bell dinged. The doors closed.

As she peered through the smudged glass she saw one of the thugs reach the platform. She breathed a sigh of relief. For the moment she had escaped. Where did the rattling car take her?

Was there a way to get the things she needed from the apartment? The drug dealer’s men would keep watch. Who could she ask? Not the cops who either believed she had killed Luci or wanted information she didn’t have. She barely knew the neighbors. She and Luci had moved into the building in June. Could she sneak into the building after the cops left? Doubtful. Her few friends from college wouldn’t be willing to enter the scene of a murder.

Tira sank on a seat. Once again tears threatened. Why had Luci lied? Tira swallowed convulsively. When she understood the reasons for the betrayal she could grieve. Now wasn’t the time.

For seconds or minutes Tira blocked the groping fingers of fear. At the moment she was safe but she couldn’t ride the subway forever. She considered her options. She had some change, her Metro card and the twenty she always kept for emergencies. Not enough to rent a room. Going to work at Louie’s was out. Until her first pay check from the teaching job arrived she was broke.

Think. Plan. Where was the nearest homeless shelter? Sure they could be dangerous but she could protect herself. Tira wiped her hands on her jeans. Even if she could hang out for ten days she couldn’t begin her first day as a teacher wearing dirty jeans and a sweat-stained tee shirt.

On the seat beside her she noticed a crumpled piece of paper. Curiosity stabbed. She smoothed the wrinkles and read the words twice.

Life got you down? Have you unsolved problems?
Looking for escape? The answer is in your stars.
A counselor is available night and day.
Dial 1- 800 – 555 – ASTRO

Tira frowned. She could answer yes to all the questions. Had the paper been left for her to find? She smiled at her magical thinking.

When the car stopped at the next station she grasped the paper and rose. She followed people to the street. Should she take a chance? Did she have a choice? Across the street she saw a coffee shop. She had to consider her options.

She jogged to the small restaurant and entered the dingy place with the paper clutched in her hand. A flutter of nervousness settled in her chest. What to do? Call or not call? Go to the cops? Find a shelter? She sat at the counter and ordered coffee. As she sipped the bitter brew her thoughts raced. The answer to the last two options was a definite no. She frowned. If the answer was in her stars they certainly hadn’t brought her a sliver of luck. Would making the call produce a change?

Tira swallowed the last of the coffee. She would make the call. If the paper was a hoax she would devise another plan. She stepped outside and opened her cell phone. In the fading light she read the number and dialed.

“Can I help you?” a woman asked.

“I can answer yes to all your questions.”

“Do you need help?”

“Yes.” She wasn’t sure what this woman could do. By accepting the offer she would be off the street and buy time to plan.

The woman gave an address. Tira repeated the street and house number.

“We’ll be waiting for you. Ring the bell. Remember, the answers are in your stars.”

At the corner Tira looked at the street sign. Fourteen blocks. Not that far. Unless a bus came along she would walk. Though the neighborhood wasn’t the greatest hers was worse.

She walked briskly and directed her attention to the surroundings. Occasionally she glanced over her shoulder to check for followers. Once she glimpsed a large man and nearly froze. Her heart skittered but the next time she looked he had vanished.
Her imagination took fire. The drug dealer might not know where she had left the subway but the route was known. He could have snitches everywhere. He believed she knew where his drugs and money were hidden. Luci, what did you do?

She glanced at the numbers on the buildings she passed. Would the drug dealer’s men try to discover where she went? Probably a given. By the time she neared her destination her heart pounded. She saw three men behind her and knew she’d been made.

A rush of heavy footsteps sounded. She dashed up the steps of the brownstone. With a staccato rhythm she pressed the bell. Hurry, she thought. She glanced over her shoulder. One of the men was the knife wielder from the alley.

“Tira,” he called.

The door opened. An elderly woman pulled her inside. “Welcome.” She closed the door. “Why have you come?”

“The answer is in my stars.”

The woman’s eyes held kindness. “What is your name?”

“Tira.” The woman’s eyes, her voice and smile eased some of Tira’s fears. No matter what happened here she would rather face this woman than the men outside.

“Follow me. We have time to find your proper place.”

As Tira walked down the hall she noticed a series of photographs on the wall. One caught her attention. A temple with stature of cats perched on plinths and a crook behind them. Hieroglyphics were carved above the feline. She traced the figure.

The woman turned back. “So that’s the world to hold your interest.”

Tira smiled. “Reminds me of ancient Egypt, a place that’s always fascinated me.”

“Perhaps your stars will show you the way there.” The woman beckoned. “Come along. We must be ready when the planets align.”

Tira inhaled the aromas of cooking food. Had she interrupted the woman’s dinner? Tira’s stomach rumbled. She’d had nothing besides the coffee since noon when she’d bought a hot dog from a street vendor. They entered a large room. The woman indicated a table. “Sit. Food is on the way.”

Tira stared at the wall across from the table. A large circle divided into twelve segments covered most of the wall. She moved closer and saw this was a horoscope wheel. She had no idea what the wheel could be used for.

“Sit, child.” The woman tapped a bell.

A second woman arrived with a tray of food. Plates and glasses were taken from a buffet. “Help yourself.”

Tira studied the tray. Rice, meat and vegetables. Once she filled her plate the second woman poured a fragrant beverage into three glasses. The women joined her at the table. Little was said until the meal was finished.

The oldest of the women smiled. “When were you born? We need the day, the month, the year and the time as accurately as you know.”

“May tenth, twenty three years ago. My mother said my cries greeted the dawn.”

“Aries.” Both women went to the wheel. They turned an inner segment and placed colored balls in segments of the circle. “A warrior born. Quick to anger. Speedy in action. Sometimes given to rash decisions. A seeker of justice. A lover of adventure. Now tell us about yourself and why you called for help.”

Some quality in the woman’s voice eased the tension and fear riding Tira’s spirit since she had arrived outside the apartment building and learned of her sister’s murder. Between sips of the fragrant tea she spoke. The reality of her sister’s betrayal slammed into her awareness. Her voice broke. “Luci, why?”

The second woman touched Tira’s hand. “She did not mean for you to be hurt. She was afraid and reached for your strength.”

“How do you know?”

“The seeds of the betrayal were written on your chart. This aspect has passed but you must release your pain.”

Tira drew a deep breath. Without warning the tears she had held inside gushed forth. Sobs racked her body. She cried until no more tears came. A cloth was thrust into her hands and she wiped her eyes. Another glass of a different beverage appeared.

The older of the two women clasped Tira’s hand. “If you could go to ancient Egypt tonight, even if the Two Lands was not the one you studied, would you go?”

If, Tira thought. A dream she had desired but impossible. “Maybe.”

“Even if you had to remain there for all your days?”

This had to be a joke. Tira could think of nowhere she would rather be. There was nothing left for her here. “I guess.”

The second woman stood behind her. “Drink.” She touched Tira’s shoulder. “The price of the journey is a quest you must undertake. The only knowledge you and take with you is what will fit in the time period you reach except for your fighting skills. You will be unable to speak of this world or of modern conveniences.”
“Tell me more.”

“Many years ago invaders swept through the Two Lands usurping the rule and spreading unrest and chaos. The army lay defeated. The pharaoh became a prisoner. The priests of the invaders brought their god, Aken Re, and sought to make him supreme. The people rejected the new god. For years the land and the people were crushed beneath the sandals of the foreigners. Twenty years ago the men of the Two Lands rose and drive the aliens away.”

The older of the two women nodded. “The sacred symbols of the rule were hidden and the location lost. Though the invaders were driven away some of their priests remained. They scheme to place a pharaoh of their choosing on the chair. Should this come to pass the Two Lands will be destroyed.”

Tira felt confused. Their stories deviated from anything she had read about Egypt. Remnants of her flight, her fear and her grief coalesced. “And if I don’t go?”

“You will leave this house and face whatever waits. Will you go?

Tira thought about the men who waited outside. If she left the house she would die.

“Will you go?” The women spoke as one. “If so, drink.”

Tira lifted the glass and swallowed the beverage. What choice did she have? As she drifted into a fog she saw the giant wheel on the wall spin.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Writing Tip -- Black Moments

This is the low point for the hero or heroine. Of course you can have black moments for more than one character in a story. There are certain steps to follow in building this time in a character's life.

The first step is belief. The character who is going to face this must believe they are about to lose everything. If the reader isn't convinced this is true, the moment will fall flat and no one wants this to happen in their story.

The writer needs to build toward this moment. Throwing it in at the last moment makes it seem contrived. Once the blocks are in place the moment arrives. The character suffers and squirms until the resolution time arrives. This resolution can be happy or unhappy depending on the kind of story the writer is telling.

Though there can be black moments for more than one character in the story, there are some points to remember when developing this part of the story and some pitfalls to avoid.

The wrong focus character.
The wrong timing.
Use of outside forces to precipitate the moment. The black moment should be centered on the character's inner conflicts.
Poor motivations/
Inner conflicts too easily solved.
The use of coincidence or misunderstandings.

So when planning for this part of the story, choose carefully and think this through carefully.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Interview with Amber Polo

Today's interview is with Amber Polo, a writer I met on line and offered to exchange interviews with. Hope you enjoy this as much as I have learning about a new and talented writer.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one? I'm published in paranormal romance and contemporary romance (or mainstream with romantic elements) and now am working in an urban fantasy genre.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you? My stories always dictate the genre. And often the paranormal aspects pop in on their own.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? I am working on a contemporary novel that covers 20 years, so it's sort of historical but doesn't fit in any genre. It's a romance where the hero and heroine part in the beginning and don't meet until the final page with lots of coincidences in between.

Or is there one you wouldn't? My stories are complicated enough, so mystery wouldn't be my forte.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure? A little of everything. As long as it's fresh and surprises me.

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

I spent most of my life as a librarian. (I think I even helped in my grade school library.) Does that say it all? I worked in a many types of libraries in a lot of states. Now I use all those places as settings in my stories. I like to say being a librarian (and an English major) held me back from writing my own fiction because I didn’t think I could compete with all those great books already published, so I wrote bibliographies and computer manuals. I've been writing fiction for ten years ever since I moved to Arizona.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite? I love them all. I guess they all have a little of me in them.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created? I have trouble making villains 100% bad, but some definitely seem that way.

8. What are you working on now? Urban fantasy where dog shifters are librarians.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive? My most recent is called Flying Free. I live on a residential airpark (like a golf course with a runway in stead of a fairway0 in Arizona. I realized my home was a unique setting that I couldn't resist sharing. Then I wondered what would happen in a "younger woman" moved in among the senior citizens and their airplanes and needed to learn to fly..

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

Flying Free(Treble Heart Books)

Contemporary Romance available in Print and ebook formats





Can a meat eating Texas advertising woman find love

with a vegetarian Buddhist and get her pilot's license

despite interference from her wacky Arizona airpark neighbors?

Excerpt -

Lia’s heart jolted against her chest. She was sure, if she opened her mouth, her heart would pop out and explode across the instrument panel. Her hands loosened a little and she whispered in disbelief, “I did it!” Another flight, one more hour of flight training finished. Almost. No time to think. All she had to do was stay calm and land the plane. Compared to landing, flying was a breeze.

She scanned the sky in all directions for air traffic as she had been trained to do and noted another plane to her left. Lia glanced down at the area surrounding the airstrip. The grid of the nearby town of Sunrise looked like a model train village in the tan mesquite-scattered desert. Close to the base of the airport mesa the Cottonwood River snaked through the valley and was easy to spot by the wide channel of green trees and farmland on either side. Near the river, small homes, trailers, and sheds crowded together like a poor third world village.

A gust of wind threw the plane sideways and the yoke twisted in her hands. As she fought to regain control—wham—another plane was right on her tail. Its red underside cut in front of Lia’s plane and dropped into the landing pattern—her landing pattern. Her instructor had been the only voice on the radio when she called her approach.

“I’m going to die.” Lia’s fingers gripped the yoke. “Damn you, Ben! I don’t belong here.” How appropriate. She was talking to her dead father, who with thirty years flying experience, died in a plane just like this one. But not before he wrote a will requiring her to learn to fly.

With a whoosh, the other plane passed so close, she bounced against the harness. Her head brushed the ceiling as her plane was buffeted by the near-miss. Engine roar filtered through her headset. Lia’s heart stopped beating. She tried to move, to think, but her body and mind froze. The cockpit closed in on her.

She pulled up and felt the plane rise.

It seemed like forever until she felt safe enough to whisper, “The danger is over. The danger is over. Do what Flo trained you to do.” Why didn’t small airplanes have flight attendants serving drinks or at least a mini-bar?