Friday, December 31, 2010

Point of View -- Writer's Tips

This blog isn't so much about defining point of view but more about when and why. Also based on Becoming Your Own Critique Partner by Toombs and Walters.

We titled this chapter "Don't follow the Bouncing Heads. Part of the reason came from judging a contest when an aspiring author managed to get three points of views in one sentence and four in the paragraph. When an author choses a particular point of view they are showing what this character sees, thinks and feels. If shifting too frequently, the reader begins to feel like they have whiplash or are playing who's on first. We all know there is first person, I, second person, you, and third person, he/she. First person is both the easiest and the hardest to write. Easy because the writer can become the character. Hard because the I character tends to go off on tangents and to forget about the purpose of the story. Second person is seldom used in fiction but often in non-fiction. Most stories are done in third person and may be limited to a few characters or to step into the minds of many. The writer must decide what is right for the story they are telling.

Things to remember about changing POVs. Change when another character's vision is needed.. Allow enough time when changing to let the reader settle into a second person's shoes. Changing paragraph to paragraph and there comes the tennis ball volley. The length of the novel can also define how many characters heads the author is delving into. In a short work, too many POVs like too many cooks tend to spoil the action. Also make sure the POV character has a role to play in the story and isn't just a casual walk on.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Susan Palmquist - Interview

Today's interview is with Susan Palmquist. Met her on line. I'm not sure but I think we're exchanging interviews. Hope you enjoy.

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

Erotic romance, romantic suspense, paranormal and some erotica.

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

A little of both. I enjoy writing them and editors seem to like the stories too.

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

Maybe a horror…one day. I don’t think I’d try literary.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Mysteries, suspense, romance.

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

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’m very driven and sometimes when a story is going really well I can get lost for hours.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

I really like Andy from my current release, Mistaken Identity.

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

No, villains. I like to create characters who are sometimes their own worst enemies.

8. What are you working on now?

I actually have two projects in the works, an erotic paranormal and also a younger man, older woman story. Part of is set on the island of Mallorca.

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

It’s Mistaken Identity. The idea came about when I visualized the heroine breaking into a safe in this guy’s house. It was going to be a mystery but then evolved into an erotic romance.

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

It was an idea that was in my head for many months. I played around with a few ideas and wrote it. Then with some feedback from one of my critique partners, I changed some of the plot and back story.

Hannah’s hands shook. She’d never done anything like this before and wasn’t sure if she had the nerve to go through with it. Her instructions were to enter the house, then walk up the stairs to the master bedroom. There would be a painting of a vase of flowers on the wall and behind it a safe that she’d need to open.

Then the game would begin.

She lifted the painting off the wall and sat it on the floor. Glancing at her palm, she checked the combination sequence. Twenty-three right, thirty-two left and then nineteen right. Taking a deep breath, she turned the dial to number twenty-three. How had her friends managed to talk her into doing something like this?

A bead of perspiration broke out on her forehead. She turned the lock right to nineteen, causing the safe door to spring open and almost hit her in the face. Inside sat a box of condoms, some DVDs and a pair of stockings and garters.

Yeah, she’d made a mistake, all right. She swallowed twice. Could she do this?

Her hand hovered near the button she’d been instructed to push when she was ready to move to level two of the game.

“Hold it right there,” a man’s voice said.

She jumped.

She hadn’t pressed the button yet, so how did he know she was ready?

Was she ready? No, she didn’t think she had the nerve for this.

“Okay, turn around very slowly. And keep your hands up in the air where I can see them at all times.”

Okay, this was it. She couldn’t get out of it now, could she?

“Looks like I’ve been caught red handed,” she said, turning around.

Her best friends had assured her he was cute, but they’d lied. This guy was drop-dead gorgeous. Six foot two, maybe even three, broad shoulders, light brown hair, green eyes…just the opposite of Brad.

Why had she thought of him immediately upon setting eyes on this man? He was out of the picture now. She had to keep reminding herself of that little fact. Brad was history and this was her night.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

They’d told her if she played along with everything this guy said and asked her to do, it would add to her enjoyment. Here was her first opportunity.

“I didn’t steal anything from the safe. You can search me if you want.”

He walked over to the safe, looked inside and then rummaged through its contents.

“Okay, turn around, put your hands up on the wall and spread your legs.”

He sounded so official, just like a real cop or even a security guard. This guy was good.

Hannah placed her palms on the wall while spreading her legs wide apart.

What was coming next?

Would she chicken out as soon as his hands touched her?

She felt his warm breath close to her ear as he patted her down. He tapped her breasts but didn’t linger on them like she’d expected. He then made his way over her stomach. Next each leg was patted down. She closed her eyes.

She’d been nervous for nothing. This was already fun.

“Slowly turn back around and face me.”

Hannah did as he asked.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Action and reaction -- Character development

This may be something I remember from physics or it may not be since that is the only college course I failed to ace. I did not fail but nearly. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. For characters part of this may not be true though I;m not sure.

Just what is an action in fictional works. The action can be physical or verbal, usually. If someone slugs the hero or heroine with fists or with words, the hero or heroine is going to react. This reaction can tell you much about the character.

Since much of the way I develop my characters is by using a bit of Astrology, their reactions are usually geared to their signs. An Aries would hit back and usually not with words. A Scorpio wouldn't get mad but they would get even. These are just examples of reactions.

The kind of action the character chooses will also delineate their character. Are they upfront, subtle or some variation of these two. An action can be deliberate or unintentional. We all know people who open their mouth only to shove their foot inside. There are some people who will never act openly.

An action or reaction can come from outside the character or be an internal one. Think of how people operate during an emergency. Some panic and some take charge. Or when a value is challenged. Some may act in the open and some may do so in secret.

When developing your characters, imagine how they would react in a given situation and when putting them into action, think of how this particular character would act or react.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bird By Bird - Inspiration

For the next few weeks, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott will be my inspiration. I actually heard her speak at a PAN retreat during an RWA convention and I must admit I felt spellbound and went out to buy the book.

In her introduction I found three things that struck home then and still do to day. The first is what happens when you see something you've written in print for the first time. "It provides some sort of primal verification: you are in print, therefore you exist. I think that explains the feeling. The great thing is that this happens every time a new book you've written appears on the shelf.

Another piece of advice that proves true is something her father said. "Do it every day." This is something I've tried to complete. In fact, I find if I go for too many days without writing I become cranky. What one is doing when they write even if it's no more than a paragraph is establishing a habit. Once established, a habit is hard to break.

"Publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is." She's correct here. For me the reward for writing is not the money or the awards but the entering another world peopled by characters I know as well as myself. That's because every character contains a bit of myself.

How about you? Do you agree with the things I've pulled from this book that push me to write every day. Why? Because that's what I am.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Writing week - Dec 27

This will be the last post of the year so I've been looking at what this year has brought writing wise. I finished a novella that I thoroughly hated after the edits were finished. I still don't like it but at least it's out of my hands. I completed The Warriors of Bast and cleaned up a few old manuscripts that were released by their publishers. Five of them are live again. Mistress of the Moons, Healwoman Dark Moon, Murder and Mint Tea, Requiem Murder and The Midas Murders. I saw The Hudson House murders go live. And The Henge Betrayed -- Refuge came into being. I've been working on The Henge Betrayed -- Confrontations and have begun working on the fourth section and that means just one to go. Perhaps I'll finish it before Quests comes out. Target date for that is sometime in the third quarter of this year.

What really pleases me the most is the number of my writing friends who are published for the first time this year and the ones who are published once again. Always makes me feel good to see this happening so Congrats to them.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

3 Blog Visit Sunday

Blog visits again. Three ones you might enjoy. Here is a clever blog. The blogger is also a writer but one who finds interesting women who make quotes. She also talks about writine gand shows the romance in many interesting ways. This blog is titled Must have Romance, The writer is a soon to be pulbished writer and a fellow nurse. She has much about learning the ropes in this crazy career called writing. Here is a blog where a group of writers often post excerpts of their books and one where new authors and books to read may be found.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

First chapter Saturday - The Hudson House Murders

Katherine Miller solves another murder, actually a series of them, by going undercove at a nursing home for the well-off. This is my latest release.

The Hudson House Murders
By Janet Lane Walters
DiskUs Publishing
Chapter 1
Virus Attack

The sun of the early April day shone in a cloudless sky. Yesterday’s rain had left the ground moist and easy for digging. Daffodils and tulips added color to the scene and delight to my spirits. I knelt beside one of the mint patches and loosened the soul around the emerging shoots. Soon the numerous varieties would be high and provide leaves for drying and blending into teas. This year, I planned to use green tea as a base in some of the blends.

I pulled weeds, then sank back to admire my work. My Maine Coon cat lay beside the gardening mat. With a boneless movement, Robespierre stretched. I sighed with envy and wished I had his supple spine. He ambled toward the car pulling into the driveway.

Jenna Taylor, one of my first floor tenants, slid from the red hatchback and waved. “Hi, Mrs. Miller.”

I rose and gathered my tools. “How was class?”

She grinned. “Thanks for your help on the Psych paper. Got an A.”

“I’m proud of you.”

Her hazel eyes filled with sadness. “You’re the only one.” She took the basket and carried it to the porch of my “Painted Lady.”

The Victorian house I’d lived in since my dead husband and I had settled in this Hudson Valley village had been converted into two apartments. I chose the second floor with its view of the river and rented the first. A week after my return from Santa Fe, I’d acquired Jenna and her friend as tenants. The young women were students at the local college, Jenna in Nursing and Louise in Business.

I paused at the foot of the steps. “Why don’t you call your grandmother? I’m sure she’d be glad to see you and as proud of your accomplishments as I am.”

She shook her head. “And bring my problems with my uncle on her head. He hated my mother. After my dad died, Mom asked him for help and he refused.” Tears glittered in her eyes. “You should have heard the things he accused me of after my cousin’s death. I’m better off staying away from family.”

I touched her hand. “The accident was five years ago. Surely he’s over the loss by now.”

She combed her fingers through her short honey blonde hair. “He never forgives or forgets.” She handed me the basket. “Have to change for work. See you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” I echoed and followed her inside. Robespierre trailed me upstairs. There, I spilled a little food in his dish. He thinks he should be fed every time he returns from outside. I always indulge him by adding a few dry tidbits.

I put the kettle on. I hurt for Jenna. She’d seen more tragedy in twenty-three years than anyone should bear. Her father’s death, her mother’s alcoholism and series of abusive relationships. Orphaned at fourteen, she’d gone to live with her grandmother. Three years later, there’d been the accident and her cousin had died. For some reason I hadn’t learned until recently, Jenna had become a runaway.

In January, I learned from an acquaintance who taught at the college that Jenna had enrolled as a student and was looking for an apartment. When she was a child, I’d felt sorry for her and angry about the way her uncle had treated her. I offered her the first floor apartment at a reduced rate and had signed a lease with the girls. Over the past few months, Jenna and I have become friends.

After a quick wash-up, I brewed a pot of mint tea. Robespierre began his greeting dance. Before I had a chance to see who had arrived, the cat slipped through his door. When I saw him on the landing with my young friend, Robby, I called a greeting.

“Mrs. Miller, can I visit?” Robby asked. “I need to ask you something really important.”

“Over milk and cookies?”

He nodded. “Mom said I can have three.”

“How does peanut butter with chocolate chips sound?” His grin provided my answer.

“Oh, yes.” He bent and scratched Robespierre’s head. The large cat rumbled like the sound of distant thunder.

Once the ritual greeting ended, three cookies and a glass of milk waited on the table. Robby pulled a stool to the sink and washed his hands. “See. I ‘membered.”

“So you did.” While he ate the first cookie, I filled a mug and sat across the table from him. “Do you want to tell me what’s bothering you?”

He propped his elbows on the table. “How can a boy be happy his grandma died? If I had one, I’d be sad.”

I sipped the tea. “That’s a hard question. Want to tell me how you learned the boy was happy about her death?”

He leaned forward. “He’s in my class. Always saying bad things ‘bout her. Said she was rich and mean ‘cause she wouldn’t buy him all the toys he wanted.”

“Sounds like he’s greedy.”

Robby’s head bobbed. “He sure is. Always saying how his things are better than mine ‘cause they cost more.”

“So why was he happy she died?”

“’Cause his mom and dad don’t fight with his grandma ‘bout her money. They got it all.”

I cradled the mug. “Is he happy now?”

“Guess so. He says so but he’s still mean.” Robby reached for a second cookie. “He got a new bike and lots of video games. He’s gonna live in a big new house. They can ‘ford a new one ‘cause no more money goes to that place.”

“What place?”

“You know, the one on the river where old people go. Our class went there once to sing. They liked us.”

“Hudson House?”


The private nursing home is where the rich of the area go to recover from surgery or to spend their final years. The boy’s grandmother must have had the means to pay for the luxurious service. I patted Robby’s hand. “I’m not sure I have answers for your questions. I’m not sure there are any.”

He looked up. “If I had a grandma, she’d be just like you.”

“Thank you.” I patted his hand. “Tell you what. Why don’t I become your adopted grandma?”

His eyes widened. “You really could be mine. Like the puppy Pete said we’ll ‘dopt from the shelter.”

Being compared to a puppy tickled my thoughts. Laughter brought tears to my eyes. “Since I’m an experienced grandmother, I won’t need training in how to behave. The puppy will.”

He jumped up and hugged me. A frown wrinkled his forehead. Mom says I have to call you Mrs. Miller. A grandma should be called Grandma.” He bit the third cookie and swallowed. “I know. You can be Grandma Mrs. Miller. Wait ‘til I tell Mom and

Before he left, I gave him a tin of cookies. “Make sure you share.”

“Have to.” He giggled. “Pete would chase me around the table making pig sounds. I’m glad Mom married him.” He tucked the tin under his arm and opened the door. Robespierre dashed ahead of him. “Bye, Grandma Mrs. Miller.”

Just then, Jenna stepped from the downstairs apartment. “What was that about?”

“He wanted a grandmother so I adopted him.”

“That’s so nice.” Her voice broke.

“Come to church with me on Sunday.” Her grandmother was a member of St. Stephen’s. So was I. Martha Garner and I had become friends when we worked on several Women’s Guild projects. I know she often wondered what had happened to Jenna. Though I’d wanted to tell Martha about her granddaughter, I hadn’t broken my tenant’s confidence. Maybe the rift could be breached there.

“Not a good idea. Can’t you picture Uncle Marcus standing on the church steps with pointed finger and yelling, ‘Sinner, begone. Your kind isn’t welcome here.’ I wouldn’t want to tempt him to appear as less than a good Christian.”

The note of bitterness in her voice saddened me. She’d been alienated from her family for too long. Surely, there was a way to bring about reconciliation, at least with her grandmother. An idea occurred. When I returned to my apartment, I made two phone calls.


Two days later, Martha and I entered Le Lune, a local restaurant where Jenna worked as a hostess/waitress. The small room holds a dozen tables in a cozy atmosphere offering exquisite food. Silver moons decorated the pale blue walls. On the tables, metal lanterns with moon cutouts held flickering candles.

As we waited to be escorted to our table, Jenna looked up. “Mrs. Miller. Gran!” She dropped the menus and hugged Martha.

“Child, you look wonderful. Why haven’t you called the house? It’s been five years since I’ve seen you. I’ve missed you.” Tears trickled down Martha’s cheeks.

“You know why.” Jenna looked away but not before I saw tears glistening in her hazel eyes.

Martha nodded. “You could have let me know you were all right.”

Jenna made a face. “I couldn’t. Uncle Marcus warned me to stay away.”

Martha tisked. “I don’t understand him. Where were you all this time?”

“With Dad’s cousin. She died this fall so I decided to go to school.”

“But she lived so close.” Martha grasped Jenna’s hand. “Don’t think we didn’t try to find you. Your uncle hired a detective. How long have you been in town?”

“Since January, right before classes began at the college.” Jenna retrieved the menus. “Let me show you to a table.”

“I just don’t understand why you didn’t let me know,” Martha said.

“Uncle Marcus knew I was here. He told me not to call or visit. He was afraid you would be upset and have a heart attack. He said you’re not well.”

Martha shook her head. “My heart is sound. I don’t understand why he’s still grieving over what happened so long ago. Child, what did happen that day? He won’t tell me.”

Jenna led us to a table and held the chair for her grandmother. “I won’t either.” She handed us menus. “The veal dishes are great and I recommend the house dressing.”

We decided on veal piccata. After Jenna took our orders, she headed to the kitchen.

Martha’s gaze followed the young woman. “She looks wonderful. Thank you for arranging this meeting. I’ve always refused to believe the stories I was told.”

“And what were they?”

“That she was abusing alcohol and using drugs. I never saw any evidence when
she lived with me.”

“Who told you that?”

She frowned. “Maybe...I’m not sure but Sophie might have been the one.”

“How much did Marcus say about the accident?”

Martha took a deep breath. “That Jenna was high on something. I didn’t notice that when she left the house.”

“Why would he say that? Her tests were negative.”

“He said she and Mark quarreled and Jenna grabbed the keys. Mark tried to stop
her, but she sped off and crashed into the tree.”

“But Marcus wasn’t there.” I stared at the candle. Why had her son lied? Mark had been the driver and his blood alcohol had been well over the legal limit.

A few hours after the accident, the first he’d seen since he’d joined the police force, Pete came to the house. He’d known Mark. Pete was upset for another reason. As owner and editor-in-chief of the local newspaper, Marcus had kept the details out of print. How could I tell Martha, her son was a liar?

“Are you sure you heard everything he said?” I asked. “After all, you both were in shock.”

Martha frowned. “I’m sure he said Jenna was driving. You know, she walked out of the hospital and ran away. Why didn’t she come home?”

“You’ll have to ask her.”

Our salads arrived. Jenna had been right about the dressing, a raspberry vinaigrette. When the entree arrived, the veal could be cut with a fork and the sauce had a bold lemon flavor.

Jenna returned to refill out cups and to deliver creme brulee. “You’ll enjoy this. My treat.”

Martha caught her hand. “Why are you working here?”

“The usual reasons.”

“I...” Martha shook her head.

“Gran, I’m doing fine.”

When Jenna left to deliver another customer’s meal, Martha leaned forward. “I just don’t know why the detective Marcus hired couldn’t find her. She was living an hour from here.”

Had he really hired a detective? My few encounters with her son regarding church matters made me doubt he did. Marcus Garner believed his way was the right and only way. Over the years, I’ve watched him manipulate others, including his mother. I believed he had no intention of sharing his mother’s wealth with a soul, especially not his niece. His young daughters were spoiled. His second wife was years younger and she thought money could purchase anything or anyone.

“Why didn’t Jenna come to me for help?”

“Maybe she doesn’t want money.”

“But that’s why she quarreled with Mark. She believed he was my sole heir and that wasn’t true.”

The last spoon of dessert slid down my throat. “Let me handle the check and take you home.” I couldn’t answer her question. Would she ask the one person who could? Her son.

She touched my hand. “You don’t want to be involved and I don’t blame you. Family problems shouldn’t spill onto friends.”

I was already involved. Jenna was my tenant and Martha, my friend. I would find a way to mend the shattered pieces. How, I didn’t know.


The April Saturday held a hint of summer. With a pitcher of iced mint tea on the table between us, I quizzed Jenna for a test in Anatomy. A car pulled in at the curb. Jenna’s shoulders tensed. When I looked up, the reason for her uneasiness was evident. Marcus Garner strode up the walk. He’d inherited his height and build from his father. Only his black hair and dark eyes came from Martha.

“Marcus, what brings you?”

The owner of the local newspaper glared. “The pair of you.” Anger darkened his eyes. “Katherine, my family doesn’t need your interference. I don’t appreciate what you did with my mother the other evening.”

I rose and faced him. “Just what’s wrong with two friends having dinner at the best restaurant in town?”

“I know what you were up to.” He stabbed his finger toward me. “Stay out of my business.” He turned to Jenna. “What did I tell you when I heard you were back in town?”

“Not to see Gran.”

“But you did and you have her all upset. She doesn’t need another addict siphoning her money.”

Jenna sprang to her feet. “I’ve never done drugs and I don’t abuse alcohol. I saw
how those things messed up my mother and Mark.”

“Liar. Mark had no substance abuse problems. For the last time, stay away from my mother.”

“She’s my grandmother and I love her.”

He raised his fist and swung. I grabbed his arm and deflected the blow. “Marcus Garner, you have no right to come on my property and threaten anyone.”

“Just stay our of my business.” He stomped to his car and drove away.

I shook my head. How could a middle-aged pillar of the community have so little restraint?

“You should have let him hit me.”


“He would have been talking to the police.” She reached for the tea. “Sorry.”

“What for? He’s the one at fault.” I patted her hand. “If Martha wants to see you, he has no reason to say she can’t.”

She sucked in a breath. “I shouldn’t drag you into my problems. Maybe I need to find another apartment.”

“Absolutely not. Your uncle and I have had our differences in the past. He doesn’t frighten me either.” I frowned. “He can be rude, but I wonder what has him so worried. Could he have a guilty conscience? Maybe he’s afraid your grandmother will learn the detective was a hoax.”

Jenna settled in the chair. “I doubt he feels guilty about anything. He’s afraid Gran will leave her money to someone other than him. When Granddad died, Uncle Marcus was furious when he received the paper and no money. He and Sophie had been married a year. She wasn’t happy either.”

My thoughts churned. If Marcus was living off the profits from the paper, he could be over-extended, especially with the show of wealth Sophie enjoyed. Was Martha subsidizing his lifestyle or was he counting on a large inheritance? I picked up the study guide. “Back to Anatomy.”


On Sunday morning, I rode to church with the Duggans. Since I usually have Sunday dinner at my son’s, my family would meet me in our usual pew. I slid into the back seat beside Robby.

“Hi, Grandma Mrs. Miller.”

Pete laughed so hard his cheeks nearly matched his red hair. “So, Sherlock, you have a new title.”

“I like it.”

Beth turned. Her eyes sparkled. “Robby has plans for you. Have dinner with us soon.”

“Love to. I’ll bring dessert.”

“Cookies.” Pete and Robby shouted in unison.

“Have you heard from Lars?” Beth asked.

“Last week.”

“Any news on the houses there?” Pete asked. “He needs to get back to keep trouble from finding you.”

“He’s hoping at least one of the houses will sell soon. But trouble? Haven’t had much lately.”

“Right.” Skepticism filled his voice. “What’s this I hear about a visit from Marcus Garner?”

“Just a verbal drive-by.”

When we reached St. Stephen’s, Pete let us out while he found a parking space. With three churches in two blocks, Sunday morning parking rivals the mall during the Christmas rush. I walked up the granite steps and stepped into the vestibule.

Martha stood with her daughter-in-law. She came toward me. “See me after church. There’s something I’d like you to do for me.” Her dark eyes glowed with -- anger, irritation?

“See you at coffee hour.” Hopefully, I could persuade Andrew to stay. I spotted my granddaughter and made my way down the center aisle.

Andrea hugged me. “Mom and Dad are parking the car. I came to save our seats.”

I winked. Since my resignation as organist, I’ve sat in this pew where the acoustics are wonderful. Everyone in the congregation knows this is my place.

While we waited for the service to begin, I chatted with several of my friends. The Garners walked down the aisle and settled in the second row, their accustomed place. The younger girl turned and stuck out her tongue. She mouthed something.

Andrea jumped to her feet. “Not here.” I touched her arm. “What’s this about?”

“Tammy’s a brat. She’s mad ‘cause I was picked for a solo in the spring recital. She didn’t get one.”

“Some people can’t handle losing.”

She nodded. “She put honey in my dance shoes. Mom had to buy me a new pair.”

“Are you sure she was the one?”

“She laughed and bragged to the other girls. They stopped talking to her. Tammy thinks because she’s rich and goes to that private school she’s better than us. And her mother --” Andrea rolled her eyes. “Mrs. Garner yelled at Miss Juliette about Tammy being stuck in the company. Miss Juliette said solos are based on talent and hard work, not money.”

“Miss Juliette’s right.”

“Tammy says her mother’s hunting for another dance company. There’s one across the river but you have to go to auditions. Miss Juliette told Mrs. Garner she could take Tammy out of the company, but she needed to pay her bill first.”

Andrew and Ruth arrived. In an instant, my granddaughter changed from village gossip to young lady.

When the service ended, I remained to hear the postlude. The organist, while competent, has none of Roger’s flair or charisma. A plus for the church but a loss to music lovers.

Instead of heading to Fellowship Hall, Marcus herded his mother toward the vestibule. She halted at the end of my pew. Marcus tugged on her arm. “Mother, we’ll be late.”

She glared. “I need to speak to Katherine.”

“Call her tonight or tomorrow. Sophie was fortunate enough to obtain luncheon reservations at Mountain View. We must be there for our seating time.”

“Later,” she called as he propelled her forward.

I followed. At the head of the steps, Martha shook off Marcus’ hand. Her heel twisted. She fell and slid down the steps. I dashed to her side and knelt. She grimaced. Her face was as gray as her hair. When I saw the way her leg was positioned, I was sure her hip was fractured. I felt for her pulse.

“Don’t try to get up.” I rolled my stole and slipped it under her head. “Someone call for an ambulance.”

Marcus glared at me. “Katherine, this is your fault.”

“Excuse me. If you hadn’t dragged your mother from the church, she wouldn’t have pulled away from you. Why don’t you accept the responsibility for your own actions?”

Marcus’ wife left her car at the curb. “Marcus, our reservations. We can’t be late. We won’t get another seating for months. You know the rule. They call your name three times and if you don’t answer, they give your time away.”

“Sophie, go ahead. Take the girls. I’ll stay with mother.”

“Fine, stay.” she snapped. She hurried to the car.

Amazing, I thought. Reservations at a restaurant were more important than her mother-in-law’s health.

The oldest daughter tugged on her father’s arm. “Daddy, I’ll stay.”

He shook his head. “Go with your mother.”

“What if Grandmother Garner has to have an operation?”

I looked up. “They won’t take her to surgery for hours, especially if she’s had breakfast.”

“Okay.” The child ran off.

My son arrived. “Ambulance is on the way. Her vitals?”

“Pulse rapid but steady. I’m sure the pain is at fault.”

Andrew nodded. He helped me to my feet.

“Katherine. Come. Tomorrow.”

“I will.”

We waited until the ambulance arrived, then drove to my son’s house. I tried Jenna’s number and gave up after ten rings. Ruth and I collaborated on dinner. After we ate, Andrew went to his study. A few minutes later, he motioned to me. “Just called the hospital. Mrs. Garner’s in surgery.”

“Who’s the surgeon?”

“Dr. Beemish.”

“Good.” He’d done the surgery when I broke my leg. Also, as a nurse at the hospital, I’d taken care of his patients and knew he was excellent.

The rest of the day was spent catching up with my family’s doings. That evening when Andrew dropped me off, I knocked on the door of the first floor apartment.

Jenna answered. “What’s wrong?”

“Your grandmother fell on the steps at church. She fractured her hip.”

Jenna blanched. “Will she be all right?”

“She has a good surgeon and for her age is in good health. They did the surgery this afternoon. I called but you weren’t here.”

“I worked brunch and part of dinner. I’m going to see her.”

“Are you sure that’s wise?”

“Probably not, but I have to be sure she’s all right.”

While I understood her concern and need, I hoped Marcus would understand.

Later that evening as I enjoyed a mug of tea, I heard someone at the door. “Who’s there?”

“Jenna. Can I talk to you?”

I opened the door. Her eyes were red from crying, but her posture telegraphed anger. “What happened?”

“Gran is fine. Awake and alert.” Jenna sank on one of the kitchen chairs. “Uncle Marcus dragged me from the room and told the private duty nurse I wasn’t allowed to visit again. I saw Gran for a moment. The nurse followed me down the hall and said Gran had come through surgery with no problems. Why is he so mean?”

“I wish I knew.” I filled a mug for her. “I’ll visit tomorrow and keep you posted. You can always call her.”

“And have him remove her phone.” She sampled the tea. “What really happened? He said the accident was your fault.”

“She wanted to tell me something, but he was rushing her. When they started down the steps, she pulled away, slipped and fell. I don’t understand your uncle. Why would he lie?”

“Maybe to make trouble between us. Won’t happen.” She smiled. “Did Sophie really rush off to lunch?”

“She did.”

“Someone at the restaurant laughed about her haste. Shows her priorities.”

“My very thought. I’ve always known social climbing was her forte. The oldest daughter offered to stay, but Marcus sent her with her mother.”

“Maybe she’s Gran’s favorite the way Mark was.”

“I don’t think your grandmother had favorites in the past or now.”

“But I heard --”

“What someone wanted you to hear.”

Jenna drained her mug. “I think you’re right.” She rose. “Thanks for the tea and the shoulder. I’d better go. Early class tomorrow. When you see Gran, tell her I love her and I’ll find a way to visit.”

“Will do.”


I waited until after lunch to visit Martha at the hospital. As I walked down the corridor of the Surgical Unit, the familiar scents and sounds made me wish I was back in uniform. A very bad idea. I remembered what had happened when I resurfaced as a church organist. Maybe the desire to return was akin to an old racehorse wanting to take another lap around the track.

I paused outside Martha’s private room and listened for voices. Hearing none I wanted to avoid, I tapped on the partially open door. The nurse who appeared had been a colleague until she opted for private duty.

“Kate, how nice to see you. Heard you retired. Are you visiting someone?”

“Martha. We’re old friends.”

She shook her head. “Her son doesn’t want anyone other than family visiting. She needs to rest.”

“Think of this as a pastoral call. We attend the same church.” On occasion, I made hospital calls for our pastor.

“Katherine, is that you?” Martha asked.


“Let her in. It’s vital for me to speak to her.”

Fran shrugged. “Go ahead. You can sit with her while I grab lunch. Her daughter-in-law was due to relieve me a half hour ago. Her son doesn’t want her left alone.”

To keep out visitors who didn’t meet his approval was my take on the order. “Thanks.” I entered and went to the bedside. “How are you feeling?”

“Sore. Dumb. Awkward. I’m glad you came.”

“Jenna says she loves you and she’ll find a way to visit.”

“Tell her to wait until I go to Hudson House. Marcus is so over-protective. When I’m there, he’ll know I’m recovering and he won’t worry so.” She clasped my hand. “Give me my handbag.”

I looked in the bedside stand and the closet. “Not here.”

Her forehead wrinkled. “That’s right. I had it put in the safe.”

Why hadn’t she sent her valuables home with her son? “I guess whatever you wanted to give me will have to wait.”

She nodded. “There are some things at the house I want you to remove.”

What’s going on?” I turned. Sophie Garner stood in the doorway. She flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder.

“I’m visiting,” I said.

“Marcus doesn’t want Mother Garner disturbed. Did that stupid nurse let you in? I’ll see she’s fired at once.”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort.” Martha’s voice held an iron edge. “I pay her and if I think she deserves to be fired, I will. You’re almost an hour late to relieve her. Kate kindly volunteered to stay while the nurse had lunch.”

Sophie waved her red-tipped fingers. “Did you expect me to walk out on Linda Eliot? She’s a very influential person around the county.”

Martha snorted. “A newcomer with new money. The Garners have been forces to reckon with for over a hundred years, but you always did like flash.” She dropped her hand on the bed. “Don’t let her vulgar money sway you, but there’s no sense trying to make silk from trash.”

“How can you say that? I’ve given you two lovely granddaughters.” Sophie turned to me. “You can leave. When I tell Marcus you were here, he’ll be livid.”

“You’ll tell him nothing.” Martha glared. “Sophie, step outside. I want to speak to Katherine alone.”

“I will not.”

I clasped Martha’s hand. “It’s all right. I’ll talk to you later.”

Martha nodded. “Let my nurse know Sophie’s here and she has no reason to worry or hurry her break.”

“Will do.” I slipped past Sophie and strode down the hall. At the nurses’ lounge, I opened the door and passed Martha’s message to Fran.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pacing - The third area

Pacing is what keeps people reading a book. If the pace drags, the book can be put aside. I was sorting through my books the other day trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to send to other lives. These are all novels. I picked up one and saw that I had only read about thirty pages. Thinking I had a new book to read, I sat down and began to read. The first three chapters that I'd read dragged and I knew I wasn't getting into the story by that time so that book went to another life.

Scenes are part of pacing. Each scene has a beginning, a middle and an end. There's one thing different for each scene must have an ending that draws the reader to turn the page and read the next scene. Again I'm using Becoming Your Own Critique Partner written by Jane Toombs and myself as the writing book for this session.

The pacing of individual scenes can vary depending on the writer's purpose for the scene. What purpose have you designed for the scene. Characterization, plot development, or for needed information. Choosing the length of sentences can either speed or slow the scene.

What kind of scene is needed. There are four. Mood or tone, action, reaction or genre. Mood or tone means things like mysterious, romantic, funny. Action scenes are ones like chases, fights, decision making as examples. Reaction scenes are often slower, use much internal dialogue and generally short. Genre - each genre has a definite style of pacing with a number of variations. A long and detailed love scene in the middle of an action adventure can throw the pacing off. This is just one example.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Interview Three most viewed Gianna, Sherry and Smokey

The interview I had scheduled for today came and I couldn't open the post so I;ve decided to post the interviews of the three ones most viewed on my blog.

Here's the first -

Now for the interview. Known the Gianna Simone for a long time and she's been a member of my critique group for some time.

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

Primarily paranormal – various types, though I've written others as well. I've found I tend to prefer stories with those elements, vampires, witches, time travel. I've set them in fictional cities, real cities, modern times, and the past. And I also have stories set in various times that have no paranormal elements at all, though it's been some time since I've written a story without. The piece I'm working on for NaNoWriMo is a straight medieval, no otherworldly elements at all. Though I sort of have a ghostly encounter for my hero towards the end.

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

It definitely chose me – I've always been drawn to paranormal beings and happenings. I love a good ghost story, and as my critique partners, including you, Janet, know, I love vampires and witches.

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

Well, I'd like to write something in a science fiction type setting, I even have the beginnings of one, but it's not a genre I generally read, so I'm not as comfortable with some of the elements that belong in the genre.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Lots of things – primarily romance fiction. I’ve been leaning toward the erotic authors and titles more and more, but I will always read my long-time favorite authors. I loved the Harry Potter series so much, I find myself re-reading that, and sometimes even some of the books my 14 year old daughter is reading for English class. I also read fan fiction, though it's been a while since I read anything new in that area. If I do read fics, I stick to authors I know are good (and there are a lot of amazing writers out there in the fan fiction world that are as good as any published writer I've read). You have to be careful with fan fiction – something that sounds intriguing can make you want to burn your eyes out with acid once you read it.

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

I hate this part! I love to talk about myself, lol, but when asked point blank, I never seem to know what to say! I’m proud of being a born and bred Jersey girl, but don’t ask me about any of those idiots on TV. I, and no one I know, is anything like them. I have two wonderful kids, and also work a full time day job, which seriously cuts into writing time.

As for how long I’ve been writing – as long as I can remember. I have very clear memories of writing short stories for extra credit in fourth grade. The teacher would give writing prompts – she’d cut out magazine pictures and staple them to paper, and we could write a story about it. I wrote all the time, and a lot of what I wrote was fan fiction, which I didn’t know it was called at the time. In my freshman year in high school, I wrote my first complete novel, which, in looking back, was a romance as well. My English teacher, Sr. Maureen read it for me and urged me to try and publish it, but I was too afraid to try. So I continued in my own little world, until I wrote a fan letter to Brenda Joyce I think. Her book “The Conqueror” really got to me, the hero was a real jerk, and treated the heroine so horribly, but I loved it. She wrote me back and urged me to find RWA. That was almost 20 years ago, and I’ve been at it ever since. Well, with a couple of lulls thanks to a couple of kids showing up! 

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

I can’t say for sure. Devlin Marchand holds a top spot, but I love Cole from Texas Tempest, Royce Langley from Heart of the Panther, and Adrian duLac from The Taste of Magic. Someday Cole’s and Royce’s will get out there.

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

The funny thing is most of my heroes are inspired by villains! So the villains in my story have to be really really evil or insane and crazy. I’ve always liked the “bad boys” as it were – one of my favorite villains of all time is Hans Gruber in Die Hard. So suave and sexy – and downright evil. But creating villains in my own work is hard – I basically try and make them be someone who keeps the hero or heroine from getting what they want. Or they're someone that wants something of the hero/heroine's and does everything he/she can to obtain it.

8. What are you working on now?

Right now I am wrapping up my NaNoWriMo story – the sexy medieval I'm at the moment calling Passion's Vengeance. Then it's on to revisions, and I'm also working on revisions for the sequel to In The Devil's Arms. I hope to be done with both of them by January sometime, then I may go back to the sci-fi-ish piece I started. But I have another idea for a story set in the Magiste world in New Orleans.

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

In The Devil's Arms came to me because, as I mentioned earlier, I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter books, and I wanted to write something in a magical world. So I just started tossing around ideas and characters, and they started to come to life in my head. Once I could visualize them, the story came into play. Of course, very few people know this, but when I sat down to write it, I just wanted to write what I felt like writing, and the damn thing took on a life of its own. The first final version was over 300K words! The characters just took me over and their story kept going. Of course, I've removed so many of the subplots, and can reuse them for other stories with new characters

Hi, Sherry. She's another of my friends on Obscure YA authors, and another fantasy author.

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

Hi, Janet! Thanks for interviewing me!

Aside from the very occasional short story, I write YA fantasy. Nearly everything I write is set on Narenta—a planet that may or may not be in our galaxy. The planet has its own three intelligent peoples and, in some ways, a radically different ecology than Earth’s. Narenta’s culture has superficial resemblances to medieval Earth—but magic, both good and evil forms, are very real. Occasionally young people from Earth—chiefly high school kids—are mysteriously taken to Narenta where they find that they have a specific and usually dangerous Outworlder task to perform. Not all are pleased when this is revealed to them.

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

Funny thing is when I was a kid, my friends and I used to come up with SF and time travel stories. Reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings changed my focus in early college. From then on, fantasy glommed on to me and couldn’t be shaken.

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

I’ve played around with mild horror in short stories but writing short really isn’t my thing. I don’t know enough science to make a go of SF, as my one SF story made clear. So fantasy is it.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Madeleine l’Engle, Susan Cooper, Jane Louise Curry, Lloyd Alexander, Diana Wynne Jones, Barbara Hambly, Charles Williams. Many others.

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

Well, I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid, which was a long long time ago. I’m 63 years old now. I began writing the first draft of “Seabird” in 1979, when I was in my early 30’s. Once I started writing drafts of fantasy novels, I couldn’t seem to stop. However, I only found a publisher for the first book two years ago.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Eew, not sure if I want to say this, because all of the other characters are going to get jealous. And I’ll probably disconcert some readers.

Most “Seabird” readers (all two of them) would probably choose Cara Marshall as their favorite. Cara is at the beach for her summer vacation between her 11th and 12th year of high school when she is “world-napped” to Narenta. She’s not pleased. For one thing, she had an arcade date for that evening. My loyal two readers were surprised and disappointed when their favorite character didn’t reappear in the next book, “Earthbow”.

If you have room, here’s the blurb for “Seabird”:
“When Cara Marshall is transported to Narenta, she is proclaimed champion of its people against the sorcerous daemagos. Amid the grateful welcomes, Cara protests that she has been "world-napped," and wants neither her title nor her mission. "They've got the wrong person and they're going to get me killed because they won't admit it." With no knowledge of weapons or magic, can she save the Narentans and find her way home?”

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

Yes, all of my books have villains. Some are obvious and some are a surprise. I create them like I do all of my characters—by writing down their role in the story, adding a few bare facts about them, and then spending a –very- long time getting to know them inside and out. I enjoy developing all characters even more fully than needed for their roles in my stories.

8. What are you working on now?

Funny you should ask that. Dave, my publisher at Gryphonwood Press, asked me the same question in an email earlier today. I haven’t answered him yet because I’m torn between two different directions.

I have an incomplete and relatively short novel where the events take place between “Seabird” (1st published book) and “Earthbow” (2nd published book). On the other hand, I should be working to complete the very long series, tentatively titled “The Gryphon and the Basilisk”. (I frequently call that “the behemoth” or “the book that intends to eat Delaware”.) G&B follows the events that take place during “Earthbow”, which makes it the third in the Narenta series.

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

“Earthbow Vol.1” ( ) was released in late March. Volume 2 should be out in about a month. Together, they tell the story of Cara’s younger brother’s adventure on Narenta. However, other characters share the story with him:
1. Coris is a young fighter who was just made knight and who has come to realize that his lord is a cruel usurper. What to do?
2. Harone reprises his role from “Seabird”. A Narentan friend of Cara’s, he is now an enchanter apprentice. He begins by serving as escort and guide to Xander, Cara’s brother, but discovers that he has a –much- more dangerous role to play.

If you have room, here’s the blurb for “Earthbow”:
“Cenoc, the self-styled Lord of Latimus, learns of hidden treasures that can make him even more powerful. Few dare oppose his will, even as they witness his growing madness. However, a remnant stand in his way: a newly knighted young man who is torn between his mission and an overwhelming desire for revenge; an enchanter-initiate who finds himself facing terrors even greater than the danger of opposing Cenoc; a teen Outworlder from Earth who has been gifted with the Earthbow and told he will learn its purpose- just before his mentor abandons him. Return to the world of Narenta in the first installment Sherry Thompson's Earthbow.”

met Smoky through the Vanilla Heart lists. She's one of my fellow writers there and writes both fiction and non-fiction. I think she moves from one side of her brain much easier than I do.

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

I’ve published both literary fiction and nonfiction books. My passion is fiction writing; I have two novels out, Redeeming Grace and The Cabin. I’ve written two books specifically for writers, Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside You From Start to Finish and Left-Brain, Right-Brain: 366 Writing Prompts and Exercises. The former is based on my years of teaching fiction writing workshops; the second is daily exercises to keep your muse challenged. My most recent book is Observations of an Earth Mage, a collection of photos, essays, and poems about my experiences in the great outdoors.

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

A little bit of both. I started my professional writing career as a freelance feature writer, but I’d always wanted to write a novel. Redeeming Grace started out being more of a romantic novel, but the characters had different ideas. It ended up being a literary examination of the way the Bible can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, to the detriment of women. I had no idea this was what I was going to write about when I set out to write the book! But I’m very proud of the way it turned out, and proud of the statement it makes. The Cabin is more of an historical time travel novel, but I don’t consider it fantasy, like most time travel novels.

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

Even though there is science fiction I enjoy reading, particularly the science fiction of my youth—I’m talking Ray Bradbury and Robert A. Heinlein, at the risk of dating myself—I have no desire to write in that genre. Today’s sci-fi readers want much more action, much more technology than the sci-fi writers of old, and I simply don’t enjoy reading modern sci-fi as much. I’m not a big action fan. I think I’ll stick to my literary novels and my earth-centered nonfiction writing. That’s what most of my fans prefer, anyway.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

My current favorite is Jose Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel-Prize winning author. Death With Interruptions was absolutely the best book I ever read. I also enjoyed his The Gospel of Jesus Christ—quite a novel take on the Jesus story, no pun intended. I loved Helen of Troy by Margaret George, and Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. I adored The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland, the fictional account of the life of Canadian artist Emily Carr. I guess you could say my literary taste is wildly varied.

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

I was born and raised in the Midwest, and started out studying to be a clinical social worker. When I was thirty-two, I was struck by lightning and nearly killed. During my long recovery, I started writing professionally for my hometown newspaper. Freelancing afforded me the opportunity to work when I felt well enough, yet enabled me to not work when I was sick and hospitalized with lightning-related issues. I’ve been writing professionally now for about twenty years! I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2003, for my short story, “The Last Flight Home.” I moved to California two years ago to help my daughter pursue her dream of becoming an actress, and a few months after my move, met my husband, Scott. Together we go on grand adventures throughout California, which I chronicle in my blog on Xanga ( Kimberlee Williams at Vanilla Heart Publishing suggested I compile my blogs and other nature writings into what became my latest book, Observations of an Earth Mage. After three nonfiction books, however, I’m ready to return to fiction writing, and am just now starting to write my third novel.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

That would have to be Cora from The Cabin. Cora is thrown into the modern era from pre-Civil War Virginia, losing her husband and two children in the process. But she adapts, and through that adaptation helps orchestrate a daring plot to save her daughter and the man her daughter loves from a terrible fate, changing her family’s history in the process. Cora is the woman I would like to be: brave, intelligent, and quirky.

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

Luther in Redeeming Grace, could be considered a villain. He is Grace’s father, and after the death of his wife and two of his children, he slowly goes mad. He becomes verbally abusive to Grace and physically abusive to Grace’s little sister Miriam, spouting Bible verses as justification for his actions. Luther is definitely evil, although Grace still has compassion for him. She remembers the kind and loving father he was before tragedy hit the family. And that, to me, is what makes an antagonist believable: they have to have redeeming qualities. There are good qualities in the most evil of people; Hannibal Lechter of The Silence of the Lambs, for example, murdered people and then ate them, yet he loved good art, good music good literature. Putting a glimmer of good, no matter how small, in your villains is always a good idea.

8. What are you working on now?

I’ve just started a brand-new project with the working title, The Madam of Bodie. I don’t want to say too much about it right now, because it is just in its infancy.

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

Well, I already told you about my latest book release, Observations of an Earth Mage. I have a short story called “Breakfast at the Laundromat” in Vanilla Heart Publishing’s new Passionate Hearts anthology. I love this story and its characters. I got the idea at the laundromat. We live in a teeny tiny cottage with no place for a washer and dryer, so my husband and I have to take our clothes out to wash. We really enjoy people watching while we are there, and the story evolved from there.

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

I don't usually write—or read—romance novels. Somehow, they always seemed slightly silly to cynical me. People finding their soul mates—as if soul mates really existed! Really, give me a break ...

But then ... I met my soul mate. And suddenly, romantic stories don't seem so silly to me. Oh, I'm not talking bodice rippers—I still have no use for those. But stories with a strong element of romance, or the possibility of romance, now appeal to me greatly.

Then my publisher requested that I submit a short story to their upcoming Passionate Hearts anthology, and surprise! I find I actually even like to write romantic stories!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Characters - What are they thinking

One great thing about being a writer is that one can be a mind reader, something we can't do in real life. We can put in words what out characters are thinking. This is one way of adding depth to a character for the reader can see more of the character's nature. Using thoughts can show a villain's dastardly plans or give hints to what he plans as in foreshadowing. The hero or heroine can be shown agonizing over a decision. A character can say one thing and think another. Putting a character's thoughts will give the reader another dimension of the character.

Here are some things to remember. Use the character's way of speaking when thought-reading. Thoughts aren't always complete sentences is another thing to remember. Have your character think of specific things and not in generalities. What's important to them is the best way to show his or her nature. Make the character's emotions a part of his or her thoughts. Havign a character debate silently can also show more about his or her nature.

I once read a novel that was all in the head of a character who suffered from a stroke. This was a tour de force but an effective piece of writing. I wish I could remember the title or the author but I learned a lot about internal dialogue from this story. If anyone has any suggestions as to who the writer was and the title of the story, shout away. I think the author was a mystery writer usually.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Inspirations -- Two books - Words

Words have always fascinated me. When I was young, I used to read the dictionary when I'd read all the books in the house at least twice. Since I've turned my hand to turning the words that fascinate me into stories I've learned one thing and that is not to use too many unfamiliar words for that will turn people off if the unfamiliar are strung in rows. The trick is to use one of the different words in a way that people can understand the meaning. Then I began writing fantasy. And here unfamiliar words can be a plus. There are two books I use frequently in my stories, and not only for having new words but sometimes for names.

The first book is a Seven Language Dictionary that goes from say French to English and English to french. There is Italian, German, Russian, Hebrew, Portuguese and Spanish. Here I might find a word I can use for horse but one that makes people understand the creature I'm describing. I came upon lobo for wolf. This book also has a section of Proper names and one of Geographical names. Great when you are using a character from another land or wanting to name your characters and perhaps using a geographical name for a last name. My only problem is getting lost in exploring and forgetting what I am looking for. Also in the print for soon I will have to use a magnifying glass.

The second book is The concise Dictionary of English Etymology. What fun this is when building a world that's foreign to the one we live in. Here one can find ways to spell a word that still makes it seem familiar to the reader. Take Amber, the Middle English word was aumbre in French ambre and in spanish Ambar amd Arabic anbar. Actually the word went from French to Spanish to Arabic and was called amber for its resemblance to ambergris.which is really a different substance. But if I used any of the three spellings in a fantasy, especially when describing a gemstone. people would know that is amber.

So look up these books especially when you're writing fantasy or if you have someone from a foreign land in your stories.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My writing week - Dec 20th - Solstice thoughts

Once again the solstice approaches and as usual I will spend moments during the day considering what I want to happen during the next year. Last year's thoughts were concerned with having more books ready to be read. Part of that thought was because I had a number of releases and re-releases sitting at the publishers and I was writing a book for a new publisher. Did the meditation work. I'd say it did. Three new books released and five re-releases either in electronic form or in print. This year my thoughts will take a different direction but that's for me to consider alone.

I'm also gearing up for our annual critique Christmas party. The group though much changed has been in existence since 1990. There were four of us in the beginning. Of this group, I'm the only one still belonging. A few years later we began meeting here and the group expanded. Over the twenty years there have been many members and a few who have stuck around for the long haul. Some of those who don't come any more have gone on to great success as writers. Some have vanished completely. Some have dropped out for many reasons. I hope some of them are still writing for among those who came to the group, some were very good writers.

Now to my own writing. I'm finally back on schedule on Confrontations. Should have the third section done by the end of this year and then two more to go. I've lived with these characters for a number of years and though I could have extended the series for more books I decided to allow these children of the mind to rest after this story ends. After all I think I have a dozen more books in the planning stages.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Three Blog Visit Sunday

Finished my blog visiting today and have three to share with you, Two are my friends and one is a blog I happened upon since I like mysteries. Here you'll find a lot of interviews with other authors and a bit about the life of an author. There's a good bit about NANO that has just finished. As yet unpublished, this beginning writer speaks about some of the trials and tribulations of writing. She also has some great first sentences. There are interviews here and a lot about the art and craft of mysteries.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

First Chapter Saturday - The Midas Murders, Winner

The winner of the final book in the giveaway is Liz Arnold. I'll be emailing her soon. Thanks all who joined in and one of these days I'll have another contest. It's been fun reading the comments and also in giving a bit back to those who have become members of my blog.

The Midas Murders
Janet Lane Walters
Published by DiskUs Press.
Chapter 1
El Sueno Dorado

This year the Christmas season held little joy for me. There were a few brief moments of pleasure that vanished all too soon. Seeing a small child’s delight in the twinkling tree lights. Selecting gifts for my family, friends and neighbors. Watching my granddaughter perform the role of Clara in a local production of the Nutcracker. Those times did little to halt my feelings of regret and grief.

On Christmas Eve I sat with my family in a pew in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and huddled in my coat. The chill I felt had nothing to do with the voices of the choir raised in joyful celebration, or in the message of hope and peace contained in the sermon and the liturgy. My feelings were caused by things I had and had not done.

Though we sat several rows in front of the place where death had stained the stones of the floor, my awareness of past events nearly drove me to leave. Remembering last month’s Evensong and the death of the choir master brought frost-filled memories and stirred my guilt. For my covetousness had brought him here, and I’d been the one to discover the body.

Your fault. Your fault. Those words had circled in my thoughts for weeks.

As the candles were lit at midnight, I prayed my role in Roger Brandon’s death would fade and I could forgive myself. I also knew my decision to welcome the New Year in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my dear friend, Lars Claybourne, was mete and right. Thoughts of the trip had become my golden dream.


The night before my departure, I carried a half dozen tins of dried mint to the bedroom. These were the last items for the suitcase on the antique sleigh bed. As I paused in the doorway, the urge to laugh was almost impossible to contain, but a stern approach was needed.

“Robespierre, an open suitcase is not a bed.” I glared at the Maine Coon cat who had curled among my neatly folded clothes. “You aren’t being abandoned. Maria and the baby are excited about your visit.”

The look of disdain on his face brought my laughter bubbling forth. I dumped the tea on the bed, scratched his head, then lifted twenty-five pounds of cat from the case. “Be gone.” As he stalked from the room, his tail twitched to signal his displeasure at being banished.

After tucking my stash among my clothes, I closed the case. With a supply of teas for every occasion, I felt prepared to face my flight to an unfamiliar destination. I wheeled the suitcase and carried a hanging bag to the kitchen where they would be on hand for my early morning departure. My son had grumbled about the hour, but he’d promised to get me to the plane on time.

Robespierre now lay on the kitchen floor and stared at the case containing my belated Christmas present for Lars’ granddaughter. I plugged in the electric kettle, this year’s gift from one of my neighbors, selected an assortment of mints and stuffed a tea ball.

Once the tea had steeped, I poured a mug and headed to the living room where I settled on the window seat. The lights from the Tappan Zee Bridge vied with the moonlight dancing on the dark waters of the Hudson River. Stars formed patterns in the sky. I never tire of watching the river and my early morning walks often end at the river’s edge.

The shrill ring of the phone startled me. I grabbed the receiver. “Hello.”


“Lars, is something wrong?” Why was he calling when he’d see me tomorrow? Had something happened to make it necessary for me to postpone my visit?

“Jitters. Afraid you’ve changed your mind. You’ve never come before. And...there is something...” His voice drifted into silence.

Something was bothering him, but extracting a story long distance is hard. Face to face is better. “My bags are packed and the tickets are in my purse.”

“Good. I’m looking forward to having you here.” He paused. “What are you doing with the cat?”

“He’ll be staying with Maria and the baby.” I chuckled. “At this moment he’s peeved. He tried to use my suitcase as a bed and I chased him.”

Lars laughed. “Guess he wants to come along. You could bring him.”

“Are you out of your mind? You want me to bring the creature who hates cars and being confined. He’ll be fine at the Prescott’s house. I’m looking forward to freedom from his tyranny.”

“He does tend to act like a dictator. Kate, we’ll have a grand time while you’re here. I’ve so many things planned for us to do.”

I set down the mug. “That’s not why you called. What is bothering you?”

His deep sigh rumbled in my ear. “The problem is...I’m not sure what’s going on.”

“So tell me what you can. Are Don and Megan all right?”

“They’re fine.”

“And...” I hesitated to ask if his daughter had staged a scene when she learned I’d accepted his invitation. “Is there a problem because I’m coming?”


“Something else?”

“I’m not sure there is a problem.” He paused. “It’s just...vague...and...You know I plan to retire. I’ve been avoiding all the paperwork necessary for months. Last week I looked at some of the companies I’ve seeded. Something odd is going on.”

For years Lars has looked for new and sometimes unique businesses and provided funds for expansion and promotion. Most of these ventures have been successful and repayment of the loans with interest has made him a wealthy man.

“Someone’s stealing.” The words just popped out.

“Maybe, but I hope not. Except just before Ramona’s accident, she hinted she’d discovered a number of discrepancies. We found nothing in her records or her computer. I figured whatever she’d learned had been destroyed when her car burned.”

Eight months ago Lars’ daughter-in-law had died in a tragic accident. A chill crawled along my spine. “Do be careful.”

His laughter boomed. “You’re telling me to be careful. This warning comes from a woman who set herself up to be robbed, who had tea with a murderer, and who single-handedly trapped a killer.”

“I wasn’t in any danger.”

“If you say so...What time does your flight arrive? I’ll meet you at the airport.”

“No need. I’ve rented a car.”

“Why? I’ll be on hand to provide taxi service.”

The image of a glowering Lars stomping after me while I flitted from shop to shop made me chuckle. “How wonderful. Are you volunteering to go shopping with me? I plan to spend at least a day in the shops. Probably more.”

He groaned. “You win. See you tomorrow. You’ll need to announce yourself at the gate so I can buzz you in. Oh, bring an assortment of your mints.”

“Already packed.”

“And warm clothes.”

“Yes, Lars. Let me go so I can head to bed.”

“Do you remember the name of the estate?”

Why was he so reluctant to let me go? Tomorrow I planned to ask him a lot of questions and discover the answers. “How could I forget? Good night, Lars. See you tomorrow.”

After I hung up, I stared at the night sky. Something troubled him and I’d learned nothing from our conversation. Was I headed into another messy situation?

Stop it! Just because my nerves were frayed didn’t mean trouble lurked in Santa Fe.

Robespierre leaped to the window seat and rubbed his head against my hand. His rumbling purr soothed my nerves. An uneventful visit was my goal. There’d been enough mayhem in my life.


A plaintive cry rose from the carrier on the front passenger’s seat. When the cry rose to a shrill pitch, I tapped on the mesh.

“Don’t blame me. My cat made me do it.”

Actually, a small girl’s fascination with Robespierre had led me to select my
howling companion. The kitten’s wails grew louder.

“Your brother wouldn’t protest so vocally.”

Robespierre seldom voices an opinion. He has other methods of communication. To gain attention he butts with his head and to show disapproval when he’s been banished, he’s been known to trash my bedroom.

Bringing a kitten from my Hudson River village to Santa Fe wasn’t among my greatest ideas. From the moment we’d arrived at the airport in Albuquerque, the kitten had loudly protested. Stroking and cajoling had had very little effect on the creature’s unhappiness. She wanted out of the cage, but I wasn’t willing to let a kitten free to roam around the car.

With a prayer music would soothe the wee beast, I turned on the radio and dialed around. An excerpt from Mozart’s Requiem filled the car. My abdominal muscles tightened. A scream raised by memories pulsed against my vocal cords and demanded release. As guilt curdled my thoughts, tears threatened. I wallowed in remembrance and tried to block the comforting voices that sounded in my head.

Stop blaming yourself. How could you have known the woman was insane?

I should have and I should have found a way to divert her anger. I should have pushed the search committee to investigate the choir master’s past.

Mom, stop beating yourself. There were other committee members. Didn’t Edward Potter hire the man on the spot? Did the Vestry protest?

The words my son had said time and time again were true, but I had aided and abetted the selection. I’d trusted Roger Brandon. His charismatic charm and his mastery of music had blinded me to his manipulative nature. Lives had been radically changed because of my silence and because I had coveted his music for St. Stephen’s.

The music on the car radio slid from Mozart to Handel. My thoughts drifted to Lars. I prayed this visit would permit me to forget what I had and had not done and that I could help solve whatever problem troubled my friend.

For the first time since leaving the airport, I noticed my surroundings. Though the road rose toward the distant heights, the ascent was gradual. On the left, a vast plain of barren earth studded with bushes stretched toward the horizon, and to the right, sharp hills and tumbled rocks provided a contrast. Patches of snow clung to brown slopes. Towering snow-covered mountain peaks rose in the distance.

I’m not sure why the sight of snow bothered me except I’d thought of the area as desert, hot and covered with sand that would gleam like a golden road. Not the case at all. Santa Fe lays seven thousand feet above sea level.

For years Lars had been after me to join him during one of his stays in New Mexico. Part of my reluctance had stemmed from the animosity of his two youngest children.

There’d been a time after the deaths of our spouses when Lars and I had considered marriage. His only daughter, Bonnie, had been opposed. Her twin, Don, had echoed her protests, though he’d thrown none of the tantrums followed by threats to run away from home the way Bonnie had.

Lars and I had put our plans on hold. His family’s wishes had prevailed. Rather, Bonnie’s had. He’d never been able to deny her demands or deal with her tantrums. We had remained friends and ignored the yearnings for a more permanent relationship.

A year ago Don, his wife and young daughter had come east to a gallery exhibition of his paintings. Ramona and I had instantly found rapport. Don and I had reached, not friendship, but accord. Megan had fallen in love with Robespierre, thus the kitten.

A meow sliced into my thoughts. “Right on cue. You’ll be out of confinement before long.” At least I hoped we’d soon reach our destination.

Lars lived on an estate within the city limits. His son and daughter also had homes on the property. This meant I’d have to deal with Bonnie, a thought that made me uneasy. In the past, her attitude toward me had been insultingly rude. Had she changed?

When I reached the turnoff to the street where Lars lived, the temptation to drive into the old town to explore clamored and was pushed aside. The constant complaints of the kitten added a discordant theme to Beethoven’s Fifth. Another day I’d drive there and browse in shops and visit the historic sites I’d read about.

Lars had promised a tour of the town and surrounding area. As I recalled his invitation, I smiled. “Can I tempt you to stay longer than three weeks? You’ll need months to see everything.”

I couldn’t stay. A young couple who were friends of mine had planned a February wedding. Since neither of them have a living mother, I’ve been tapped to play a dual role -- mother of the bride and groom.

The directions Lars sent took me into an area of large houses. Most of them were behind walls. I counted gates. Had he said four or five?

Then at the foot of the dead end street, I saw the sign. Casa de Oro. House of gold, indeed. Bonnie had chosen the name, but in a way it suited Lars. Years ago my husband had teased Lars about his Midas touch for nearly every business he touched prospered.

The gate stood open. I frowned. Lars had said I’d have to announce myself and he’d open the gate. I’ll surprise him, I thought and drove into the compound.

At the top of the rise I saw the reason for Bonnie’s choice. Bathed in sunlight the two-story house at the top of the rise appeared to glisten. The golden adobe wasn’t my destination. On the lower end of the horseshoe drive were two smaller houses.

The adobe with a long porch on the left side of the drive was Don’s. The H-shaped ranch on the right belonged to Lars.

Though Bonnie’s choice was above the gate, Lars’ name amused me. He called the estate Las Casas de Los Tres Osos. The houses of the three bears.

Laughter bubbled forth. Was I Goldilocks? Not according to my hair color. Mine is a rich auburn shade courtesy of my beautician.

I pulled into the carport beside Lars’ silver Mercedes, twin to the car he drives back east. The house seemed larger than my “Painted Lady,” circa 1890. The difference was that mine has two stories and an attic while this house is on one level.

With the kitten carrier in one hand and my purse in the other, I walked to the front door and rang the bell. To my surprise, the door was ajar.

When no one answered, I rang a second time. Where was Lars?

What now? My foot beat an impatient rhythm against the flagstone walk. The kitten cried and scrambled around the carrier making my hold iffy.

I pushed the door open. “Lars, I’m here.”

He didn’t answer. I set the carrier on the slate floor of the foyer. Since the door was open and his car sat in the carport, he was probably in the rear of the house or at one of his children’s. I returned to the car for my suitcases.

I left my luggage in the foyer and stepped into the living room. A portrait of my friend hung above the massive fieldstone fireplace. Several Navaho rugs hung on the cream colored walls.

Through the archway I glanced into the dining room. The table was set for one. The sight of a partially eaten breakfast sent fear surging through my veins.

“Lars, are you here?” My voice echoed in the deserted room.

What if he’s had some kind of attack? A stroke or his heart.

Those thoughts propelled me through the dining room and into the kitchen. I glanced into the pantry and stepped into the sunroom.

Lars, where are you? Had something dreadful happened? Was my visit responsible for his disappearance?

Don’t be a fool. The world does not revolve around Katherine Miller. He’s at Don’s or Bonnie’s.

Those thoughts failed to staunch my rising panic. Though I felt like an intruder, I made a quick tour of the house. I found three empty bedrooms, a deserted office, two powder rooms and three bathrooms and nowhere was there a sign of my friend.

I returned to the dining room. The food was cold. A fork lay on the oak floor. What had happened here? Lars and I are in our sixties. He’s my senior by six months, but his health has always been excellent.

In the living room I reached for the phone. Whom could I call? Other than Lars and his children, I knew no one in Santa Fe. I opened the directory. Were their numbers even listed?

My legs trembled. I sank on a chair and glanced through the bay window. Don and his daughter walked across the drive. I went to the door.

Megan, clad in a bright pink puffy jacket, dropped her father’s hand and ran up the walk. “Told you she come.”

Don reached us and hugged me. Warmth infused my thoughts. I believed we’d moved beyond accord.

“Aunt Katherine, you look wonderful.”

The spicy scent of his aftershave was a welcome addition to the sterile air of the deserted house. “You look great and Megan has grown.”

The dark-haired child danced around us. Her blue eyes sparkled with excitement. She pointed to the carrier. “That’s a suitcase for pets. You bring Rose Prairie. Let me see him.”

Momentarily I pushed my concern for Lars aside. No need to upset Megan, especially since she’d lost her mother just eight months ago. “He didn’t come this trip.” I looked at Don. “You may hate me when you see what I’ve done.”

“Never.” He ran his fingers through his hair, a color between blond and brown. “Never hated you. Back then I let my sister run my life.” He closed the door.

I opened the carrier and lifted the kitten. “This is who I brought.”

“Rose Prairie, you shrink.” Megan’s blue eyes widened and she touched the kitten’s brown, white and sable fur. “Him soft.”

“This is Robespierre’s baby sister. Thought you might like to take care of her.”

“Me! Daddy, can I?”

“Yes.” Don met my gaze. “Thanks. This is the most animated she’s been since Ramona...” Sadness clouded his blue eyes.

I grasped his hand. “The kitten will help Megan with her grief. Rose Prairie has had all her shots and you won’t have to worry about offspring.”

“Bless you.”

“Megan, why don’t you take the kitten to the sunroom and let her run? I need to talk to your dad.” Ever since they’d entered the house, I’d wanted to blurt what I’d found, but my concern for Megan had stopped my tongue.

“What’s wrong?” He trailed me to the living room. “Where’s Dad?”

“Hoped you would know. When I arrived the gate was open. So was the front door.” I halted in the archway to the dining room. “This is what I found. Looks like he left in a rush.”

Don frowned. “That’s not like Dad. Maybe he went to the office.”

“His car’s outside.”

“He could be at Bonnie’s.” He put his hand on my arm. “She’s planning a bash for New Year’s Eve and might have needed his advice.”

“Call her.”

Don did. The housekeeper said Bonnie was out.

“What now?” I asked.

“Maybe Carl drove him to the office.”

That explanation didn’t quell the fear that had grown steadily since my arrival. Was Lars’ disappearance linked somehow to the problem he’d spoken of in vague terms last night. He’d mentioned his dead daughter-in-law. Had he learned Ramona’s death hadn’t been an accident but was part of something more sinister?

I wasn’t ready to ask Don those questions. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know anything other than Lars was all right.

“Try the office.”

He nodded. “First let me show you the guest room. Then I’ll make a number of calls. Don’t worry. I’ll find him.”

He carried my suitcase and the hanging bag to the bedroom and put them on an ornate Spanish Mission oak bed. If my neighbor had been here, he could have told me if the room’s furniture was antique or just excellent reproductions.

After hanging my clothes in the closet and filling the bureau drawers, I carried my stash of mint to the kitchen. Don followed me. The kettle on the stove held water so I turned on the burner.

“Did you learn anything?” Hope filled my voice.

Don slumped at the table. “Carl and Damon were in a meeting. The secretary refused to disturb them. She said Dad wasn’t with them and she hadn’t seen him since the middle of the month.”

“What now?”

He rested his elbows on the inlaid painted tiles of the table. “Have you seen Consuela? She’s usually here by eight.”

“No one was here.” The kettle whistled.

As I reached to turn off the burner, a stout woman with ebony hair entered by the kitchen door. She carried two bags of groceries.

Don jumped up to help her. “Aunt Katherine, this is Consuela.”

“Welcome, Senora.” She looked around the room. “Donaldo, where is your padre?”

“I don’t know. He wasn’t here when Aunt Katherine arrived. Did he say anything about going out?”

“Nada.” She opened one of the bags. “This morning I make his breakfast. Then he gave me the list for the store. Was very crowded today with people buying food for the New Year celebrations. I have lunch with my cousin and come back.”

I added a selection of mints to a tea ball. “Was he expecting anyone?”

“Just you, Senora. He was happy for the visit. He tell me you have been amigos for years.” She opened a cabinet and took out a teapot. “Maybe Senora Bonnie come for him.”

“She isn’t home,” Don said.

Consuela shrugged. “Senora Bonnie is always on the move. Maybe they go somewhere.”

My choice of mints included one to clear my thoughts and several to calm my nerves, a badly needed thing. Not knowing where Lars was and fearing something awful had happened to him made me want to scream.

Consuela showed me where they kept the mugs. “While you wait for the tea, I’ll show you the bedroom for the guests.”

“Already done,” Don said. “Just what did Dad talk about this morning?”

“He talk about the Senora’s visit and tell me how she grow the mint in her garden. He laugh and say when he drink a cup at night, he think of her.”

“Lars?” I laughed. “Always thought black coffee was his preference.”

She shrugged. “I never see him drink the tea, but he is a truthful man.”

Megan ran into the kitchen. “Consuela, look. Rose Prairie.”

Consuela took the kitten from Megan. “La gatita.”

“Megan, why don’t you get her dishes from the carrier?” I asked. “She’s probably hungry and thirsty.”

“Okay.” Megan darted away.

Don followed her. He returned with the litter box and took it into the sunroom. “Looks like Button and I need to go shopping.”

“I’ve a bag with enough food and litter for several days in the bedroom.” I filled a mug with tea. “Remind me to get them before you leave.”

“Will do.” He smiled. “It’s hard to believe she was out of my sight for more than five minutes without crying. This is the first time for months.”

“How are you doing?”

“Coming to grips.” He sighed. “Considering a drastic change. Hope you don’t mind being used as a buffer when I tell Dad. He has his own ideas about my future.”

His mention of Lars brought my uneasiness to the fore. “We need to do something about your father, but I can’t think of anything.”

“The police?”

My knowledge of what happens when a person is missing is limited. There was
something I’d heard about twenty-four hours except when a child was missing. I think there were other factors like age and mental status.

“I’m not sure they can do anything yet. We don’t know how long he’s been gone.”

His shoulders slumped. “Hours, but he could have left just before you arrived.”

“We need professional advice, but I don’t know anyone here. Are you acquainted with any of your local police officers.”

He straightened. “I know who to call. Ramona’s cousin Rafe. He’s a former cop and does some investigative work for Dad. He’ll know where to begin.” He strode to the living room.

My knowledge of this area was based on books. What I knew about my friend’s life here was limited. Though we indulge in bi-weekly phone calls, our conversations center around family and mutual friends. As I sipped the tea, a shroud of helplessness settled over me.

Lars, where are you?

Consuela stored the rest of the groceries and joined me at the table. “Senor Lars has given me the vacation while you are here. He said you would take good care of him. If you wish me to stay I will.”

“There’s no need. He’ll be home soon.” I had to believe Lars would walk in the door and tease me about my fears.

“Now let me show you where things are kept. Then I finish my work and go.”

She opened the door to the pantry and showed me the staples. Then we entered the laundry room that opened into the sun room. In the kitchen she opened cabinets and drawers. Stoneware canisters on the counter held flour, sugar, tea and coffee.

As we passed through the living room, Don covered the phone with his hand. “I’ll be here a bit.” He pointed to the couch where Megan and the kitten were curled on one end, asleep.

Consuela beckoned and I followed. Now that I wasn’t frantically searching for Lars, I could appreciate the paintings in the hall and on the bedroom walls. Some were Don’s, but other artists were represented.

“The linen closet,” Consuela said. “Here are the extra blankets, sheets and towels. In your bathroom, you will all you need for the bath.”

I nearly lingered in the office to look through the papers on the desk. There might be some clue, but I had no idea what I wanted to find.

Consuela paused in the hall. “I will finish with my work and go. Do not worry. Senor Lars will come.”

I leaned against the wall. Did she know something about his disappearance? Intent on asking, I followed her. A cold draft eddied around me. I dashed into the foyer. When I reached the door, my eagerness turned to disappointment.

“Daddy, we have to talk.”

Lars’ beautiful and willful daughter had arrived.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Writer's Tip - More on Pacing ' Winner Yesterdays, Last giveaway

First, Liz is the winner of All Our Yesterdays. I'll be in touch with her soon. The final book in the give away is Becoming Your Own Critique Partner, written by Jane Toombs and myself. This is a book about writing a novel and about finding the flaws when you don't have a critique partner or even when you do, There are checklists and exercises at the end of each chapter. Jane has published over a hundred stories and I have done about fifty. Not all of our works are novels, some are novellas and others short stories.

Now a bit more about pacing. This part of the tale on pacing is about the overall pattern of a book. The four most common patterns of a story are shown.
1.The steady progression. Here the story unfolds gradually. The beginning introduces the characters, the setting and the time frame. Facts about the background are woven in and the progress toward the end is steady with the tension gradually building.

2. The spiking pattern - There are high peaks and deep valleys. Think of the peaks as significent scenes that show the character in conflict. The valleys are periods of rest before the build up to a new problem or crisis begins. Each peak raises the stake for the focus character.

3. The roller-coaster. Here the story may begin gradually as in the steady progression but the tension rises to a peak with the crisis and the story then speeds downhill to the conclusion. A difficult task since all the ends must be tied up in the final event.. This can be a useful pattern for a scene or for a thriller or action story.

4. The circular can also be a difficult one to achieve. Here the ending must mirror the beginning. Tension builds as the story progresses. There is a conclusion and then a reflection on what was learned . There can be a here we go again momet and the ending though satisfactory may not be a happy one.

Next week pacing will continue with pacing in scenes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interview with Wendy Marcus -- Winner for Come Into The Light and New Book

First the winner of Come into the light is Jennifer P. and the next book up is All Our Yesterdays.

Captive of an ancient curse Astrid must journey through the ages, through deceit and betrayal to find true love and break the curse. Eight realms await her. Eight chances to redeem erself and break the curse holding her spellbound, perhaps for eternity. Remember a comment could win you this book. There is just one more after this one.

Now for the interview. Wendy is a new writing friend who belongs to the same RWA group as I do. She is a fellow nurse and someone I've enjoyed getting to know.

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

I write contemporary romance. Right now I’m focusing on medical romance, but I also have a military series I started that I’m looking forward to revisiting at some point.

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

I chose my genre in that I write what I like to read, fast-paced stories that are hot and humorous.

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

I don’t read much paranormal but I think it’d be fun to unleash my creativity and give world building a try. While I like to read historical romance I would never want to write it. (While I’m not opposed to research, I’m not big into researching history.)

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

While my first love is spicy contemporary romance, I enjoy all romance subgenres from erotica to light paranormal to historical (western and regency).

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

I am a registered nurse, but I haven’t worked in a hospital in years. Most recently I’ve worked in my own healthcare consulting business. I’ve been writing for about four years now. At the start of 2010 I decided to take a year off from work to really hone my craft, to network and see if I could get published. I joined a women’s writing group at my local library and actually read my work out loud to other people! When I saw I could do this without vomiting, I joined my local chapter of RWA, HVRWA, (where I met Janet) and actually attended a meeting. I joined RWA PRO loop and started a blog basically telling the world, or anyone who happened to stop by, that I was a writer of romance. There was no going back after that! I joined Writing GIAM (Goals in a month), a loop where authors post their goals and progress as well as support one another from the frustration of rejections to the thrill of publication. I credit all these things and the people I’ve met with helping me get published.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

It’s so hard to say, because each is my favorite while I’m writing them. The heroine from When One Night Isn’t Enough… is a feisty, sarcastic nurse named Ali who is ashamed of her past and was deeply hurt by the dysfunctional relationship between her philandering father and her unloving mother. Despite this, she’s a caring, professional, who remains open to the possibility of finding love.

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

Nope. No villains. My first draft had one, but Harlequin Medical Romance is not a fan of secondary plots.

8. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on my second contracted medical romance, a sequel to my first. The heroine is Victoria and she’s Ali’s best friend.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive? My upcoming release is When One Night Isn’t Enough… which will be available on 6/11/2011 as part of a 2in1 book with author Janice Lynn. (One of my favorites!) For those of you not familiar with 2in1 books they are two complete 50,000 word books bound together as one. Medical romances are often released that way in the UK then as single books in other countries including the US, although, in the US they are only available online.

It’s difficult to say how the idea arrived because the book being published is so different from the first (and second) final drafts. I wanted to write about a caring nurse (write what you know) who worked at a fictional hospital in a fictional town.

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

When One Night Isn’t Enough…is about Ali Forshay, a 25-year-old nurse who’s practically engaged to a man she thinks is perfect for her. Okay, so he’s predictable to the point of boring. (Sex once a week, on Wednesday night, in the dark, missionary position) But he’s also dependable and mild-mannered and can give her the stable, anonymous life she’s craved since childhood. Then his friend Dr. Jared Padget comes to town and hatches a plan to break them up. Not to have her for himself, even though damn, with each new day the idea holds increasing appeal, but because they’re not right for each other. Ali changes when his friend is around, and Jared knows from experience, a marriage based on pretense is a disaster in the making.

Chapter 1
Float nurse Allison Forshay glanced at the clock on the institutional white wall of the staff lounge in the Emergency Room, wishing she could accelerate time with the snap of her fingers. Then the eight hours and six minutes that remained of Dr. Jared Padget’s last shift would vanish in seconds.
Along with him.
The chorus of sopranos belting out a private concert in her head came to an abrupt halt when the door opened and chatter from the busy outside hallway overpowered her glee.
Ali cringed, keeping her eyes on the patient chart open on the round table in front of her, struggling to maintain focus on her documentation for little Molly Dawkins, her first patient of the night. The three-year-old, blond-haired, blue-eyed terror had tried to bite the triage nurse and kicked at Ali when she’d attempted to expose the girl’s infected big toe. Then Dr. Padget had arrived, complimented the pink polish on Molly’s tiny toenails, the delicate gold bracelets on her ankle and wrist, and the princess tattoo on her hand. In less than three minutes he’d charmed that little girl right out of her sandal, confirming Ali’s suspicion. Women of all ages were susceptible to the man’s charisma.
If there was a vaccine to protect against it, Ali would have opted for a double dose.
The subtle change in the air gave him away, some type of electrostatic attraction that caused the tiny hairs on her arms to rise and lean in his direction, her heart rate to accelerate, and her breath to hitch whenever he found her alone.
His blue scrub-covered legs and red rubber clogs entered her peripheral vision. He pulled out the chair beside her and sat down, brushing his arm against hers. No doubt on purpose, the rat.
“You’ve been avoiding me,” Dr. Jared Padget said.
“You’re hardly worth the effort it would take to avoid you.” Although, in truth, she was.
“I’m leaving on Monday.”
Yes! Finally! His arrival three months ago had thrown her life into a state of flux. Now, his temporary assignment over, his departure meant she could finally settle back into a normal routine free from his constant badgering at work and ‘coincidental’ encounters on her days off. With a flippant wave of her hand she said, “Here. Gone. Alive. Dead. Makes no difference to me.”
“Come on, Ali Kitten.” He snatched her pen. “You know you’re going to miss me.”
“About as much as I’d miss a painful hemorrhoid,” she said, glaring at him from the corners of her eyes. “And you know I don’t like when you call me that.”
“Yeah,” he said with a playful twinkle in his peridot-green eyes and that sexy smile, complete with bilateral dimples that tormented her in her sleep. He leaned back in his chair and clasped his long fingers, and her pen, behind his head. “That’s what makes it so much fun.”

Ali grabbed at her pen, making sure to mess up his neatly styled dark hair. He raised his hand over his head and back out of reach, his expression daring her to come closer.
She didn’t.
He chucked the pen onto the table.
“I hear a bunch of you are going out Sunday night to celebrate my departure,” he said, making no mention of the fact he hadn’t been invited.
She shrugged, tamping down the other, less joyful reason for the night out. “It’s as good as any other excuse for the girls to get together. And it’s easier and less fuss than burning you in effigy.”