Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday's Interview - Pamela Kinney

Today's interview is with Pamela Kinney, another eclectic writer. I met her at EPICon in Williamsburg this year and enjoyed learning about her various journeys in the fictional world.

I write horror, urban fantasy, Y.A. (writing on a YA paranormal now), science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and nonfiction ghost books.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
I write what I like to read.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
Maybe mystery one day. I have no interest to do literary fiction.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Horror, urban fantasy, Y.A., science fiction, fantasy, poetry, paranormal romance, historical romance, romance, and nonfiction ghost books.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
I have been making up stories since I was eight years old, but was first published when I was 17, for three poems, “The Horse,” “Leopard,” and “Sands of Time” in Hyacinths and Biscuits Poetry magazine. I was paid for them, which was cool to a teenager. Several months later the magazine published another three poems of mine.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Of my fiction? Gosh, most of those are short stories, though I do have an urban fantasy now to start querying agents on. I think in the U.F. it would be Larry, the demon shaped like a large eyeball (size of a poodle). He gives new meaning in there’s now eye drops in Hell. Of my short stories in Spectre Nightmares and Visitations, it would be the werewolf in ‘Werewolf for Hire” and the alien ‘redneck’ in “Redneck.” Actually, I like all the characters in my short stories. It’s like asking a mother to pick a favorite child.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
There is in my unpublished urban fantasy—mainly, demons, and an angel gone bad. In my horror stories, there are a lot of scary “villains” in my tales.

8. What are you working on now?
A Young Adult paranormal/urban fantasy, plus the last edits and getting it altogether, my last and fourth nonfiction ghost book, Haunted Richmond II, to be sent off to Schiffer Publishing by beginning of April 2011.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
Spectre Nightmares and Visitations. I had some stories that been published in magazines, anthologies, and online zines and the rights to them mine again, plus loads of new stories. So when my editor at Under the Moon asked for something from me, Pamela K. Kinney, and not my pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, I sent her the collection.

In July 2011, I will have a new nonfiction ghost book released, Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations published by Schiffer Publishing (

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

Since Spectre Nightmares and Visitations is it, giving you not the first page, which is about it, but the poem, “Been Warned” and the first short story, “Werewolf for Hire.”

Been Warned

Darkness roamed
like a threadbare black cat—
Bad luck for the luckless.
No moon lighting my path,
Stars neither,
Only the whisper
of a cool autumn breeze.
I hurried home,
but slipped on damp rocks.
Caught myself
just in
time; pushed on.
Roots snaked out
hooked my ankle,
Damn it!
tripped me,
knocked the breath out.
Scrabbled to my knees. . .
What the hell. . .
A rancid odor on the night air,
Like something dead
for a long, long time.
They’d warned me
back at the bar.
Told me to beware,
Other innocents on
other nights,
stolen away:
never seen again.
No evidence,
no bodies.
They say whatever,
behind those other nights,
still waited for
another victim.
No one in the village
ever left
the safety of indoors,
when night slithered in.
Except, one foolish hiker
who didn’t believe,
not in urban legends.
At least . . .
not until now.

Werewolf for Hire
It was after sunset and the unemployment office was still open. A tall young man with long brown hair walked in. He went up to an empty window where on the other side an unemployment clerk stood, looking bored. The clerk looked up when he heard the footsteps stop and smiled automatically.
“How may I help you?”
“I need a job,” the young man said.
“Well, that’s what we’re here for. Your qualifications?”
“Well... I’m five-hundred years old. I like to howl at the full moon, eat little children–they’re sweeter-tasting than adults–dance in graveyards, and, in general... be the werewolf I am!”
“Yeah-right! Sir, your teeth look a little sharp. I really think you need to see a dentist.”
“Oh, for those good old days! That’s when I used to go to parties at the mausoleum, dance with other werewolves and she-ghouls, and have a howling good time.”
“Sir, you seem to be getting hairy. I think you need a shave.”
The young man sighed and shrugged his shoulders.
“I really need a job. It’s hard to be scary these days. It used to be that I would just howl, and people would get the shivers. But nowadays if I howl all I ever get is an old shoe thrown at me.”
“Sir, you’re getting a tail–I think.”
“I’m a has-been, a–”
“I do believe I see a full moon rising,” the clerk broke in with a frown etched on his face, “and by my watch it’s also time to close. Let me get another appointment for you.”
The loup-garou, whose shape seemed to be changing, and long silky hair sprouting over his face and body, stared out a nearby window. The sky had deepened into shadows of the night, an unrelenting shade of black. The only light that bathed the scene came from the round yellow moon that risen high in the sky. The shape shifter’s face longitudinally metamorphosed into a wolfish snout. He turned back to the clerk writing on an appointment card and who seem unaware of what was transpiring.
“Sir, I think it’s time for you to leave, but here’s an appointment time for you to come–”
* * *
The unemployment clerk patted his bulging belly and picked his teeth with a toothpick. He completely changed into a large black wolf that loped away, leaving the building. The doors closed shut behind him, locking securely for the night.

Pamela K. Kinney

Be prepared to take a journey into Pamela K. Kinney's fantastic dreams of horror, science fiction and fantasy, plus the ghosts and legends of two nonfiction ghost books, Haunted Richmond, Virginia and Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1,2 or multiple eyes. What does who tells the story have to do with Plot?

What does your choice of the viewpoint character have to do with plot? Actually a whole lot. Whether you choose to use a single character, two, three or more their eyes and voice will drive the plot. Let's look at some ways.

A single viewpoint can be in first, third and probably second person. If you choose a single person to tell the story the only things you can reveal to the reader are what this character sees, hears, feels and does. This can have limits and may make telling some types of stories difficult.

Choosing two or three is what many authors choose. Here they can use a hero, a heroine and a villain. Or just a hero and heroine. What this does is give two or more sides to the story. This works well in many genres. Here there are two or three voices and eyes to show what's happening. Confusion can come when the writer shifts the viewpoint character and manages to muddy the plot.

There are two types of multiple character viewpoints. One is omniscient where all points of view are given but the writer is actually the person telling the story. This can become confusing and the reader can get lost. Sometimes the writer manages to switch the viewpoint in the middle of a sentence, Not comfortable for the reader.

The second kind of multiple viewpoints is to have a group of characters each with their own chapter or scene and showing the action through their eyes. This can be difficult when the writer forgets whose head they're in.

Though some writers switch viewpoints during a scene others don't. Too frequent switches make the reader feel like they're watching a tennis match.

No matter what kind of viewpoint you choose to write remember you should establish the pattern early in the story and stick to the pattern. Changing midstream or at the end of a book can confuse the reader.

Remember while writing the story you can change your mind about what viewpoint to use. Sometimes experiment with shifts can make the plot come alive.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Inspired by Bird by Bird - Coming to the end

Off to a slow start today. Anne Lamott in the latest piece from Bird By Bird asks this question. How do you know when you're done? I think every writer has been in this place and asks this question, How many times can you go over a manuscript and make small changes like a for the her for the. The list could go on and on. Some writers go on and on with revisions and never seem to reach the end. The reason seems to be a quest for perfection. What I learned in this small essay is perfection is never reached. The end of a piece comes when you've done the best you can at this point in your career. Go back and look at your own early writings. They're usually not as wonderful as what you're doing today, but they were the best you could do at the time.

I have this feeling when I know the book I'm working on is done to the best I can do at the time. I become thoroughly sick or the characters. Thinking about doing one more read through makes me want to toss my guts. Then I know it's time to move on and find new characters to let into my life and become my latest obsessions.

How about you? Do you have a point at which you say "This is the best I can do. Need to send this out into the world."

Monday, March 28, 2011

28 March - Week Behind and Week Ahead

I'll do this backwards. First is a complaint. I hate paper cuts. I have them on two fingers and typing becomes interesting especially when I have to put on a bandair. Not that's off my chest let's look at the week ahead. I'll be inspired by Bird By Bird tomorrow, More exploration of Plot on Wednesday, Thursday will be an interview when those I've sent out are returned, Friday I'm nearing the end of Becoming Your Own Critique Partner for Writing Tips. Saturday will see part of a chapter from All Our Yesterdays, actually part of a section since there are no chapters in this book. Originally written as a serial but combined into a book. Sunday I'll pop around and find more blogs to visit.

Last week's writing went well and am within about 3 to 4000 words of finishing Confrontations. Always a sad and a happy time. Sad to leave the characters behind since I've spent many years living with them but happy to see all the loose ends tied up. At least I hope I've managed this. Looking forward to a new start on a new story. Not a book this time but a novella. Though for me a short piece takes proportionally the same time or longer than a novel. I have trouble thinking short and many times in reading shorter pieces feel cheated in some respect.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

3 Blog Visit Sunday This blog has a visit with Jane Toombs and other interesting data For fantasy lovers with indepth reviews and interviews More fantasy articles and interviews

Saturday, March 26, 2011

1st Chapter Saturday - The rest of Whispers Out of Yesteryear

In Whispers, I may have broken every law of writing that I know, except I don't think I did. Whispers is a reincarnation vovel based mych on the past lives of the characters and I do mean events from the distant past and of the near past. This story is also based on a past incident in my own life. Hope you enjoy.

Whispers Out of Yesteryear
Janet Lane Walters
DiskUs Publishing

July 2000
"Not the children!"

Willow Carey jerked into a sitting position. Her heart thudded in her chest. Waves of terror flooded her thoughts. She gulped deep breaths of air.

She stared at the familiar surroundings and wondered why the bedroom seemed alien. Like a shroud, the sheet had twisted around her legs. She tugged it free. Her sleep shirt, soaked with perspiration, clung to her skin. She shook her head to dislodge the fragments of the nightmare that had awakened her. Terror, grief and rage had followed her into consciousness. What? Why?

Once her heart rate slowed, she reached for the alarm clock. Too late to go back to sleep and too early to get ready for work. As the effects of the adrenaline rush faded, her sense of uneasiness grew.

She hugged her knees. Once again, she had failed but she couldn’t remember who or how.

Moments later, she stood in the shower. Warm water washed away the sour smell of fear. The nightmare wasn’t new. Six years had passed since the last time the cry had jolted her awake. Always the same urgency and the same surge of emotions. No matter how hard she tried, she never remembered more than the cry.

She stepped from the shower. After pulling on a blue terry cloth robe, she stripped the bed and stuffed the damp sheets in the hamper.

What had triggered the dream? With the thoroughness of a pathologist seeking the cause of death, she examined the past few days and found no incident that could be called a trigger.

As she made the bed, she recalled the first time she’d dreamed. She’d been sixteen. She and her twin had been at Indian’s Sorrow visiting their aunt. Willow had always loved staying there. This time had been different. One memory lodged in her thoughts.

"Willow, come here. This is so neat." Brooke had opened the gate at the side of the garden.

Willow halted at the opening. She looked beyond her sister. "Get away from the edge."

"I’m fine." Brooke leaned forward. "The rocks look like a giant’s teeth. Come see."

"I can’t."

Brooke laughed. "Chicken."

"Something dreadful happened here."

"And I thought I was the one with the imagination and you were the logical one." Brooke spun around. "I love this place. Do you think Aunt Willow will leave it to us? She doesn’t have kids."

"I don’t..." Willow had turned away. She hadn’t been able to say she didn’t want Indian’s Sorrow. The land had been in the family forever and something bound her to this place.

That night she’d dreamed. Terror had slid insidious fingers of fear into her sleep. When the summer had ended, she’d been happy to go home.

Until her aunt’s death, she hadn’t gone back. Then she learned the house and the land were hers, not a legacy to be shared with her twin.

Brooke had been furious. She’d accused Willow of taking advantage of their aunt. Since that day, their relationship had been strained. Brooke’s coldness had hurt.

Willow sighed. The land was hers but she’d lost her sister.

She sat on the edge of the bed. Where was Brooke? Five months ago, they had talked for a few minutes at an art gallery exhibition of Brooke’s paintings. Silly surface chatter with no meaning and no sense of their old bond.

Was her twin all right? She used to know when Brooke was in trouble, but the connection they’d shared had vanished. Willow tore her thoughts from the void left by the rift.

By six fifteen, she was ready for work. She put a bright yellow smock embroidered with Native American symbols over her white uniform. The children loved to trace the lines and learn the meanings. So did she. Her apartment reflected her interest in that part of her heritage.

She paused to study the portrait Brooke had painted of the Three Sisters -- Corn, Squash and Beans. Though Willow had posed for the picture, her twin could have painted herself. Long black hair, warm brown eyes, cheekbones that added a hint of the exotic. Mirrors on the outside but opposites inside.

A sliver of the nightmare slid into focus. Brooke screamed. As though touched by a blast of frigid air, Willow rubbed her arms. What did it mean? Was Brooke in danger? She searched but the bond remained closed.

She had no appetite, but she brewed a cup of herbal tea and toasted a bran muffin. As she picked at the food, her thoughts returned to the nightmare. Why today and why when she wasn’t at Indian’s Sorrow? She scraped the remains of the muffin in the garbage and washed the dishes.

A persistent question nagged. What did the dream mean?

She tucked a pouch containing a Kelly clamp, bandage scissors and pens in her pocket.
With a stethoscope draped around her neck, she headed across the street to West End Hospital where she worked as a pediatric nurse.
July 1755

Too late. Too late.

Jonathan Reed stopped for a brief rest. For two days since he’d seen signs of the Ottawas in the forest, the refrain had echoed in his thoughts. After he’d discovered the dismembered bodies of their captives, he’d known Rene DuBarri led the band of warriors. Such brutality was the man’s signature.

Dread filled his thoughts. The Long House. Corn Dreamer. The men and women who had befriended him were in danger. He feared he wouldn’t arrive in time with the warning.

He rubbed dirt into his hair to disguise the color. Hair of Fire was his name among the clan.

After gulping water from the skin he carried, he looked for signs of the enemy’s passage. Another mile or two and he would reach his goal. Though most of the warriors had traveled north, if he arrived in time, those who had remained could hold off the enemy until the women and children escaped.

The silence of the forest troubled him. No bird songs, no noises that signaled the presence of small animals. His fears rushed to the surface.

Too late. Too late.

No, he prayed. For with the clan and in the Long House, he’d found healing for his spirit and had learned to forgive himself. The guilt he’d felt after his wife’s death by her own hand had turned him into a wanderer. Corn Dreamer had helped him find peace and had taught him the skills of a healer.

Too late. Too late.

He pushed his fears to a corner of his mind and slowed to a walk. With caution, he slipped from tree to tree, senses alert and prayers forgotten. He was close enough to hear the songs of the women and the children's laughter. He felt a chill as icy as the winds of winter.

He staggered into the clearing and stared at the ruined Long House. Bitter acid burned in his throat. He had arrived too late.

As he stared at the scene of the massacre, he saw the broken bodies of his friends. Two warriors lay atop several of the enemy. He crept from the shadow of the trees and examined the strangers. Ottawas from DuBarri’s pack.

He edged toward the Long house. Sprawled bodies of women, infants and the older boys caused him to weave a serpentine path to the entrance of the bark-covered building. Just inside the entrance, he halted. A cry rose in his throat.

"Corn Dreamer." The man who’d taught him about medicine lay sprawled among the furs. The gaping hole in his chest told Jonathan what had been done.

‘Twas an honor. He sank to his knees. How could such a death be deemed an honor?

Swift on the heels of grief, anger rose. He backed from the Long House. This time he examined the bodies for the one he feared to find.

A soft cry startled him. He studied the clearing and saw no one but the dead. The sound came again. He strode toward the trees. Gray Squirrel Chatters huddled in the brush. Dried blood on her head showed where she’d been struck.

"It’s Hair of Fire. Where are the children? Where are the Willows?"

"Gone. Those who stink of fish have taken them."


She shrugged. "They do not have Willow Who Bends. She went to gather medicines."

"In the forest?"

"To the place where those who gave her a name grow. North by the stream."

He lifted the elderly woman and carried her to the cave where last fall he and the warriors had killed a bear. Though he wanted to search for the one whose image filled his thoughts, he owed Gray Squirrel Chatters care for the meals she’d shared with him. He cleaned her wounds and returned to the long house for furs, food and water. Only then did he set out to look for Willow Who Bends.

Too late. Too late. The refrain beat in his thoughts. Not this time, he vowed.
July 2000

The persistent ring of the telephone pulled Reid Talbot from a disturbing dream. He felt as though he’d run for miles and never reached his goal. He rubbed his eyes and groped on the bedside stand for the phone. "Dr. Talbot here."

The gravely voice of Ben Rodgers, Greenesville’s Chief of Police requested Reid’s presence at the scene of an accident. "Two victims. Car slammed into an embankment on County Road 7."

For a moment, Reid wondered if he’d heard a hint of emotion in the usually stoic man’s voice. "Be right there."

"Don’t rush. One accident’s enough."

Reid pulled on a pair of jeans and a blue polo shirt. Who this time, he wondered. He hadn’t asked and Ben hadn’t said.

After jotting a note for his live-in housekeeper, he lifted his medical bag from the dresser. Before heading to his car, he stopped to look in on his sons. Gary lay curled on his side. The covers had barely been disturbed. Rob’s bed looked like a major battle had been fought. The boys’ red hair, several shades lighter than his, shone bright against the white sheets.

Twenty minutes later, he rounded a bend in the road and spotted the patrol car. A sick feeling settled in his gut. He knew the van and he knew the victims. In the four years since he’d settled in Greenesville, Warren and Nancy Carey had become his friends.

He parked behind the patrol car. Ben strode over. "You need to check them."

"I know." His stomach knotted. He looked at the shattered front end. There was no way either could have survived. Thoughts of his wife’s broken body arose. Her accident had taken place not far from here.

He grabbed the medical bag. Ben’s round face mirrored the same sick feeling that roiled in Reid’s gut. "You all right?" he asked.

"Good as I can be."

Reid reached the van. He sucked in a breath and felt for pulses.

"How long?" Ben asked.

"Can’t say without an autopsy. Six hours or so. Is there a need?"

Ben shrugged. "Won’t know ‘til the van’s been checked over. Was on my way to town for breakfast when I come on them. Not many folks travel this road at night."

"What do you think happened?" Reid turned away. There wasn’t a thing he could do and that made him feel helpless.

"Dear, I reckon." Ben rubbed his balding head. "Found a dead one ‘crost the road." He frowned. "Wonder what brought them home in the middle of the night. Thought they was staying in New York City a couple of weeks. Haven’t been gone more than one."

"I thought so, too."

"Asked me to check on Miss Mary and the kids. Talked to her yesterday morning. She didn’t mention they were coming back."

Reid averted his eyes from the van. He couldn’t look; he couldn’t even grieve. Not in public "Maybe she called them. Children could be a handful, especially for a seventy year old."

Ben chuckled. "She sure snookered you. She’s past eighty and she’s not one for admitting she can’t handle anything." He shook his head. "Them coming back don’t make sense."

Reid nodded. Warren and Nancy had been excited about the contract for a series of informative and witty histories of Colonial days. They’d talked about plays, museums and people they wanted to see. Would knowing why they cut their trip short explain the accident?

The ambulance arrived. One of the men approached. "You gonna sign the certificates now or later, Doc?"

Reid’s hands clenched. "At the hospital." He strode down the road and kept his back to the van. Sadness view with anger. Why these two? The accident was senseless and unfair.

Ben joined him. "They’re gone. You able to handle this? Know you was close."

"Yeah. Have you called Miss Mary?"

Ben shook his head. "Couldn’t face her. Don’t know how she’ll take this. Been living with them since her cabin burned down."

Reid nodded. Life in a small town had annoying moments but the closeness and caring when trouble occurred were among the reasons he’d remained after his wife’s death.

"I’ll tell her and call Warren’s daughters."

The older man snorted. "Wouldn’t surprise me none if they didn’t come."

"Willow will," Reid said.

Ben raised an eyebrow. "They why ain’t she come to visit?"

"She’s a nurse and works crazy hours. Warren, Nancy and the children visit her once a month."

Ben walked to the patrol car. "Seems one way to me. Makes me see red when families fall apart, Best you call them. I might shove my foot in wrong. See you."

After the patrol car pulled onto the road, Reid slumped in the driver’s seat. Warren and Nancy. Why?

He stared at the crumpled van. How was he going to tell Miss Mary and the children?

Five minutes later, he turned into the tree-lined lane leading to Indian’s Sorrow. For the hundredth time, he wondered how the place had been named. This morning the name seemed apt.

Sunrise tinged the white clapboard of the house pink. Doric columns supported the portico roof. He dashed up the steps and rang the bell.

Miss Mary opened the door. "What brings you here? Be needing one of my tonics?"

He shook his head. "Warren and Nancy."

"T’ain’t back from the big city. Why a body would want to go there is beyond me."

"I know they’re not back. They’ve been in an accident."

Her shoulders slumped. Her face aged to match the years she’d lived. "They was coming in the night. Hoped they’d changed their minds. Might as well come in." She headed past the stairs leading to the second floor and into the kitchen wing.

"Where are the children?"

"Tykes be sleeping." She filled a cup with coffee and put it in front of him. "Don’t have a notion why Warren and Nancy changed their plans, ‘cept he was mad ‘bout something. Heard it in his voice."

Reid inhaled the aromatic steam and gulped a mouthful. The bitter taste matched his thoughts. The hot liquid burned a trail to his stomach but failed to warm the frost that had settled deep. How would the children handle the loss of their parents? He remembered how his boys had grieved when their mother had died. Though she’d done little to earn the title, they had loved her.

He put the cup in the saucer. "They were almost home when they had the accident."

Miss Mary sank on the chair across the table from him. "Feared as much when they didn’t come. Need to tell the tykes when they wake. Pains me. Tired of telling folks ‘bout death." Her hands opened and closed. "Was me what brought Willow Grant the news ‘bout her man and baby. Place sure lives up to its name. Don’t know a body what lived here that don’t lose a loved one in some tragic way."

He put his hand over hers. "I’ll call Warren’s daughters."

She snorted. "Guess they’ll come. That Brooke was here ‘bout two months ago. Brought some slick city fella. Didn’t like him one bit. Had greedy eyes. She and Warren had a real fuss."

Reid frowned. Warren had seldom talked about Brooke.

"And that Willow. Had hopes for her. When she come summers, she helped me with my herbs. Day after her aunt’s funeral, she run and ain’t been back. House and land be hers."

"Thought it was Warren’s."

"Land goes to the oldest girl in each generation. Willow and Brooke be the last in the direct line, so it’s hers. Them things don’t mean much to young folks these days."

"She’ll come for the children."

Speculation flashed in her eyes. Reid looked away. Even Warren hadn’t known about his connection to Willow and how he’d destroyed her trust by withholding the truth.

"Believe that when I see her. Run out of here that morning like ghosts was on her tail."

"She’ll come," he repeated. "I know her. She was a nurse at the hospital where I did my residency. Do you have her number?"

"I’ll fetch the book."

While Reid waited for the elderly woman to return, vivid images of Willow filled his thoughts and stirred memories of how much he’d needed her love, of how she’d been the one to fill the emptiness he’d felt all his life. He groaned.

Miss Mary dropped an indexed book on the table. "I’ll check the tykes. Tell them girls they’d better come flying. They be needed."

He opened the directory to C. Willow’s name and number were scrawled in Warren’s bold script. Brooke’s had been added by Nancy. He tried that number.

"We’re sorry but the number you’ve reached has been disconnected."

He frowned. He’d hoped to speak to Brooke and let her pass the news to Willow. Even thinking about her stirred regrets and guilt. He dialed her number. After six rings, her throaty voice informed him she was unavailable but to leave a message.

He slumped in the chair. What now? His news couldn’t wait and he didn’t want to leave a message. Was she at the hospital? Had she changed her shift from evenings? He called West End Hospital and asked for the Pediatric Unit.

Five years ago, he and Willow had met at a patient’s bedside. After her shift, they’d gone to the cafeteria to discuss the case. That had been the first of many late night meetings. Memories of their first kiss flooded his thoughts.

He’d cupped her face and kissed her lightly. "I feel as though I’ve known you forever."

"Forever," she had repeated. "To the spirit world and beyond."

Those words had sounded right and as though she’d said them to him once before. Except, he’d believed she hadn’t been talking about the past. She’d wanted a future he couldn’t promise.

"Pediatrics, Miss Carey speaking."

Her voice curled around him like a velvet glove. "Willow, it’s Reid Talbot."

"Dr. Talbot." Her voice flattened. "What can I do for you?"

Love me, he thought. Her formality doused his hopes. Did she still hate him? He recalled the night she’d walked away. Her obsidian eyes had flashed with anger and her long black braid had slapped against her back. "I have some bad news."

"Not the children." Her words echoed the ones that had awakened her.

"Your father. Nancy. An accident. They were killed."

For a moment, his words failed to register. Tears trickled down her cheeks. "Were they mugged?"

"Their van. Just outside Greenesville."

"But they were in New York." She didn’t understand. Like a gush of molten lava, anger flashed in her thoughts. I’ll follow him to the spirit world and beyond. I will have revenge. Her hands shook. What am I thinking? "Why were they coming home?"

"I don’t know."

"Mara and Pete?"

"With Miss Mary. Will you come?"

Was there a choice? She sucked in a shuddering breath and wiped her eyes. "Yes." A whisper from the past brushed her skin. She shivered. "As soon as I can arrange relief here. Sometime later...this afternoon or early evening."

"If you need anything, Miss Mary has my number."

"Thank you."

He heard grief in her voice and marveled at her control. Except, she’d always shown a stoic’s face to the world. "We need to talk..." He swallowed the rest of his words. Today wasn’t the time to tell her he was a widower. "Will you be all right? Is there..."

"I have to be. Mara and Pete need me...Does Brooke know?"

"Her number’s been disconnected."

"I’ll find her."

He hated the sorrow he heard in her voice. He reached for the now cold coffee and drained the cup.

Miss Mary shuffled into the room. "Tykes still be asleep. Them girls coming?"

"Willow will be here this afternoon."

The elderly woman sniffed. "Why so long?"

"Nurses can’t just abandon their patients. The nursing office will have to find a relief." He waved away a refill. "Couldn’t reach Brooke. What’s she like?"

"On the outside, a body’d think she was Willow, but she’s soft inside and easy led. Kind of selfish. Carried on something fierce when she learned the place was her twin’s and not for them both."


"Willow’s oldest by fifteen minutes. Just ‘cause they’re twins don’t change the giving."

Reid rose. "I must get to the hospital. Call if you need anything."

She followed him to the door. "Always been a Willow here to now."

Would Willow stay or would she take the children to the city? Could he persuade her to give the town and him another chance? He paused on the porch. "Want me to stay until the children are up?"

"I’ll be doing what’s needed." She remained at the door. "Willow be the one to need you."

Will she? From the ice he’d heard in her voice, he believed she’d be the last person to ask for his help.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2 Kinds of Time - help from Becoming Your Own Critique Partner

There are two kinds of time the writer must deal with. One is chronological and the other is subjective.

Chronological time in a piece of fiction is the time span from the beginning of the story to the end. This is objective time. This can sometimes throw a writer off. I once wrote up a storm and had several impossible events happen at the same moment in different scenes. I've learned to make a sort of calendar when I'm revising to help me catch these moments. When dealing with chronological time the reader needs to know. Using things like the summer day, the month of may, 1997, morning, afternoon, and other descriptive words for time lets the reader know when the characters are. I've read books where each segment has a time line as the opening. Tuesday, July 20th 1997 9 AM. This gives the reader a specific time to hone in on and helps the author remain on track. Not letting the reader know the when can confuse them and make them scratch their heads trying to figure the when.

Now there's subjective time. This is a matter of pacing. When a character dreads a coming event, the time span seems endless. Using long sentences, introspection can help the reader find the same sense of dread. On the reverse when a character looks forward to an event the time can either drag or speed. The use of pacing by the author can bring the reader along. Chase scenes are ones where time tends to speed. This is true of all action scenes. I've made myself nearly breathless along with my characters while writing an action scene. To me this means I've accomplished what I wanted to do. Often these are the scenes that need little revision.

One thing about time is to remember how much time occurs between the events when moving to a new scene. I recently read a book where the heroine woke, heard noises and rushed downstairs fully dressed when there was no time for her to change our of her night clothes. Irritated me as a reader and perhsps irritated other readers. I hope not for the story was a good one. Using a little time, the writer could have had the events not be almost spontaneous but a lapse of a short time to allow the young lady to don those clothes she wasn't wearing at the top of the steps but at the bottom.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday's Interview Anne K. Albert

Today's interview is with Anne k. Albert, a fellow Vanilla Heart author. She writes in two of the categories that I do and her books will soon be on my reading list. We also read some of the same books.

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

Anne – I write both mystery and romantic suspense stories that chill the spine, warm the heart, and soothe the soul…all with a delightful touch of humor.

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

Anne – Both chose me! As a child I read Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden, then as a teen discovered Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler and so many others. I’ve always loved to figure out whodunit!

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

Anne – I could never write a psychological thriller, nor could I write a story that includes graphic violence. It would gnaw at my very soul. As much as I’m awed by the genius of the writers responsible for the Dexter television series, I stopped watching after the second season. I found I could not sleep at nights, and even now, just hearing the theme music from that show causes all sorts of heart palpitations!

One genre I have dabbled in, and would like to do more, is young adult. I’ve written the first draft of a story, but it’s a long way from publication. Completing it, however, is definitely on my bucket list.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Anne – I read what I write - cozy mysteries and sweet romantic suspense stories. I prefer the blood and gore to be left off stage, and that goes for sex scenes as well. I’ve always been more interested in the action and suspense.

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

Anne – I’ve been writing for ever, but it began as letters to friends and family members. (This was long before email, text messaging, Facebook and Twitter!) I used to write pages and pages and my husband’s grandmother would always comment that I should be a writer. I never took her seriously because, well, in my mind, ordinary people like me did not write books. Then, one day, it occurred to me that perhaps I could do it. I had no idea how to write a full length book, of course, but I was determined that my story would have a dead body, a puzzle to solve and interesting characters.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Anne –I love all of my characters in different ways, but if I had to pick just one it would be Val from FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL. She’s Muriel’s aunt, in her sixties, lives life to the fullest, and is not afraid to age or be herself. She’s warmhearted, eccentric, and fun.

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

Anne – Oh, yes, I always have a villain in my stories. They’re people like you and me, but somewhere along the road of life they took the wrong path. They’re not necessarily evil or wicked, but they have no objection to trampling over people to attain their objective.

8. What are you working on now?

Anne – I’m writing “Protecting Hope”. It’s the second book of my romantic suspense Piedmont Island Trilogy series. It will be released in e-book format in August 2011 and the print version comes out September 2011.

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

Anne – My latest release is FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL. When I began this story I had no intention of it ever being published. I viewed it as a fun, entertaining read for my eyes only. But within a few chapters, I knew I had something worthwhile. I’m very proud of this book, the plot and its characters. It’s available in e-book format with the print version available in July 2011.

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

Anne – It’s the week before Christmas when the stress of the holiday season is enough to frazzle anyone's nerves. To find a missing woman Frank and Muriel must deal with an embezzler, femme fatale, kidnapper, and of course, Muriel's eccentric, (but loveable) family.

Beginning excerpt from FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL:

Imagine my surprise when Frankie Salerno showed up at my front door one cold, December, Monday morning. Displaying a set of dimples that could make a grown woman cry, he gave me a quick once over and let out a long, slow, wolf whistle. “You’re looking good, Brian. Real good.”

Being ogled at is one thing. Being called that ridiculous nickname after a fifteen-year hiatus another. I felt a knot form in the pit of my stomach as my thoughts traveled back to Ms. Traynor’s ninth English class when Frankie wrote me a note. I have no idea of its contents. Nor do I care. All I know is the teacher intercepted it. She read it, raised an eyebrow, and zeroed in on me.

“I believe Frankie had you in mind when he wrote this,” she said.

To my horror, she began to read the note aloud. She got as far as the salutation he’d printed on the outside of the folded sheet of three-ring notepaper.

“To the Brian.”

The class erupted into fits of laughter and Ms. Traynor, satisfied we’d suffered enough humiliation for one day, returned the note to Frankie and resumed her lesson. From that day forward, I was the girl named Brian, and Frankie became my sworn enemy.

From where I stood a decade and a half later, not much had changed except that I’d grudgingly accepted my fate. Having a few more brain cells than feminine curves had advantages. If Frankie thought otherwise, so be it. He was entitled to his opinion. But really, who needed it? Or him?

“I’d like to say it’s great to see you again,” I said, “but we both know I’d be lying. Let’s end this before it gets messy, shall we?”

“Aw, come on.” He pressed his large, square hand on the screen door. “Do you have any idea how many Reeves are in the phonebook? It took me more than an hour to find you. I had to check the listings in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Lackawanna–”

I held up my hand to silence him. I’d lived in western New York state all of my life and did not need a geography lesson. What I needed was to get on with my life. Without him. Still, I could not resist getting in the last word.

“It would’ve been quicker if you’d looked under ‘M’ instead of ‘B’,” I said.

“I was kidding about the Brian part.”

“Then why’d you say it?”

“I dunno. I was a jerk back in high school and some things never change. Besides, it says a lot more about me than it ever did about you. I’m the one who couldn’t spell brain.”

* * *

Thanks for featuring me today, Janet. It was such fun! I’d like to invite readers to visit me at my website: or my main blog:

If they leave a comment mentioning this interview, I’ll enter their name in a draw to win a .pdf copy of FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL. The winner’s name will be announced on my mystery blog: on April 1, 2011.

Anne K. Albert

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

3 plus a few more things your opening should show -- On Plot

Openings of stories need to do three things.

1. Start the story moving - this means showing the reader what kind of story this is to be.

2. Introduce and show what the main character is about, who they are and what they want.

2. Engage the reader - This means making a promise that this story will be a good one.

There are a few extras like establishing the tone or mood of the story, perhaps showing a viewpoint character who isn't the hero or heroine but an observer, and perhaps throwing in a minor character or two who have a role in the story -- not too many for this becomes a mob scene.

How does a writer do these things? Talking here about the first 3 to 5 pages of a book/

1. Open with a scene - this is the easiest to do since it can show the main character or characters in action, give a hint of the setting. Things to avoid are long descriptive passages, huge sections of back story or opening with a bang that becomes a promise not kept during the rest of the book. This kind of opening can work for an action story.

2. Open with dialogue but before long one must add other elements.

3. Open with description - must be a masterful. 3 to 5 pages of description could bore the reader.

4. Start with a philosophical statement - As long as this doesn't go on for pages. Too much and it becomes preaching.

Remember the opening of a book is a promise of a good read and to do this revision is the way to go. Finish the book and then go back and revise. The opening may need to be changed and that's all right. Revision can be as much fun as getting the initial story down.

3. Open with Description - takes a master and

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inspired by Bird By Bird -- Plot Treatment

Reading this section of Anne Lamott's book brought to mind many of the times I've struggled and found myself backed into a corner when writing a boot. So many times I've done what she did and went back to the beginning to figure where I went wrong. She speaks of the book she'd worked on for two years and had her editor say it didn't work. I imagine the way she felt. After reading Bird By Bird for the first time, I began something that has worked for me.

The rough draft may wander all over the place and much of it won't be in the final version. No one sees this but me. Why? Frankly it doesn't make sense. Once I have the rough draft out of the way, I sit down like she did and do a treatment for each chapter of the book. Usually not more than a paragraph or two. Now some of these change as the story evolves, but having a plan is better than spending weeks and days on writing something that's not going anywhere. Whether it's flawed characters which hopefully you've made part of your psyche. Writing is something like acting. You need to become the characters you write. A flawed plot. Deciding where the important segments should be placed and you won't end up writing a book that wraps up the entire journey in a page or two.

Try a story treatment. Look at each chapter and find the purpose of that segment. Are you developing the characters, advancing the plot or giving needful information. If you can do more than one in a scene congratulate yourself and if all three figure in, you should have a scene that makes the story and the characters live.

Monday, March 21, 2011

21 March - Week behind and week ahead

Spring came yesterday and winter returned today. All right it's March when anything can and does happen. That's also the way it goes with writing. Just had a release Jewels of the Quill Anthology is now available. Struggled over this story which is a Repunzel take except it's the prince who ends up in the Amber Tower. Story was kind of a struggle to make this a romance since my mind wasn't working that way but with several edits the romance came about. Sometimes one has to listen to editors.

Writing during the past week was a bit slower than usual. Having to rejoin a story after a week's absence can take a bit of time but I'm on target now and hopefully this book will be done soon. This brought up something I find interesting. Are novellas really books. They are fictional stories but I don't count them as books. One of my publishers is going to release three novellas in print and I wonder if they will be together or they will be separate. June will make me their featured author and of this I'm very glad. It's nice to be featured. But that's in the future.

This week on the blog I'll be as usual still doing Inspired by Bird by Bird and by Becoming Your Own Critique Partner. That's Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday there will be more on Plot Development still on the opening chapter or so. Saturday will find the remainder of Chapter one of Whispers Out of Yesteryear. That's book 19 for First Chapter Saturday. Thursday's interview will be with Anne K. Albert a fellow Vanilla Heart author.

Then I'll start asking those people I met at EPICon and told about the blog. I collected cards and there is an eclectic selection of authors.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday Of interest to those with indie publishers. For those who love western romance. A bit about writing. Found a bit on the remaking of Conan interesting

Saturday, March 19, 2011

1st Chapter Saturday - Whispers Out Of Yesteryear.

Not really the complete first chapter but the opening scene. This is a reincarnation novel triggered by a vision I experienced many years ago that scared me a lot. Finally was able to take that and turn it into a novel. The rest of the first chapter will come next week.

Janet Lane Walters
Whispers Out of Yesteryear

DiskUs Publishing
ISBN: 1-58495-281-4

Whispers Out of Yesteryear
Chapter 1
July 1755
Willow Who Bends stood at the entrance of the Long House and stared at the sky. Though the sun shone brightly, to the west dark clouds gathered and carried the threat of a storm like the one she felt inside.

She knelt beside the father of her spirit. Corn Dreamer had raised her and taught her the ways of healing. She prayed he would wake but feared he wouldn’t. Sorrow rode the beats of her heart and threatened to spill in a rain of tears.

"Corn Dreamer, must you travel to the spirit world and leave this one behind?" Her voice cracked and she caught a breath to still the ache in her throat. "The men have taken the warriors’ path in answer to Waraghuyagey’s call. The-Man-Who-Understands-Great-Things speaks for the redcoats, those men who want our help. What have we to do with the ones who fail to live in harmony with the land?

Not all the pale-skinned men, she thought. A smile crossed her face. There was one who often stayed in the village and sat at Corn Dreamer’s feet to learn.

Near a moon ago, a message had come for Hair of Fire. He had left the Long House and journeyed west. A shiver crawled her spine. Was he safe? In these days, danger rode the currents of the air the way carrion birds circled a kill.

She returned to her teacher’s side and pressed her fingers against his wrist. What had made him fall into sleep yet not sleep? Why did his heart flutter like humming bird wings and then slow. She wished for a way to rouse him for he would know the answer.

"Corn Dreamer, spirit father, medicine man, this woman is not ready for you to leave. What can this one do to help?"

She closed her eyes and sought among the things he had taught her. An answer arose. "This one must go into the forest to gather fresh leaves and bark."

From her sleeping place, she lifted a bark basket by the carrying strap and left the Long House. As she stepped outside, she heard the children’s laughter and the voices of the women raised in the growing chant. The sound chased her sorrow.

Across the clearing, her sister sat with the ones too young to work with the women. Though born of the same mother and on the same day, she and Willow by the Stream had been raised at different fires. On the outside, they wore a single face as reflected in a still pond, but their inner natures were different. As the first born, Willow Who Bends had been given to Corn Dreamer to learn about the ways of medicine and the spirit world. Her sister had been raised as a woman of the clan.

She drank in the sight of her sister. Soon Willow by the Stream would take a husband. That was good and right, but the change would further separate their lives.

Willow Who Bends sighed. We are alike and not alike. This one has been trained to stand alone. Willow by the Stream needed someone to care for her.

The small ones giggled. Willow Who Bends waited until her sister finished the story of the fox and the bear. Then she approached the group.

"Corn Dreamer is no better. This one must go into the forest to gather fresh medicines."

"A gift for you." Willow by the Stream presented a small deerskin pouch. On one side dyed porcupine quills formed an image of the sun, and on the other precious trade beads patterned the Three Sisters -- Corn, Squash and Beans.

"Are you not afraid to go into the forest alone?"

"Who would harm a medicine woman?"

"The enemy. Those despoilers and their pale friends move along the trails like weasels seeking prey."

"They were seen to the south and west a moon ago. This one will go north and east to the place where the willows grow beside the stream. Since you fear for me, listen with the ear that opens between us. If this one finds danger, she will cry a warning."

"This woman will listen."

At the edge of the trees, Willow Who Bends paused, and for a short time watched the people of the Long House. Her foster mother and the mother who had given her life worked side by side in the garden. Four nearly-grown boys practiced with their bows under the eyes of the warriors who had remained to protect the clan. With a wave, she stepped into the shadows cast by the forest.

As she moved among the trees, she stopped to gather medicines -- birch leaves, bloodroot, ginseng, bee balm. Slowly, she made her way to the stream where chill waters swept down the hill to join other streams and form a river.

The leaves of the willows had darkened from pale spring green to the darker hues of summer. All the catkins had dropped away. She pressed her hands against the largest of the cluster.

"Sister Tree, one who shares your name has need of your bark. Will you let me cut your skin?" She pressed her forehead against the tree and waited for an answer.

The scream that sounded in her head caused her to stagger. Her legs refused to hold her erect. She slid to the ground. With a terror that matched her sister’s, through the link between them, she witnessed the destruction of the Long House. The faces of the enemy burned into her head.

"Not the children!" The scream caused the earth beneath her body to shudder.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Inspired by Becoming Your Own Critique Partner - Theme, Symbols and Writer's Voice, Thanks Debra Dixon

Many of us have taken lit classes in high school and in college. Find the Theme is a game the instructors like to play. When they come to a conclusion, are they right or is theme something else? Last week I heard Debra Dixon speak on Voice and one of those ding ding moments occurred to me. Authors are always striving to find their voice as a writer. Voice is part of who you are. So is theme and I realized theme is part of voice.

Themes are often written in cliches and that's because they're universal. They can be a single word like love, hate, revenge, obsession. I'm not sure when I write I deliberately choose a theme, except once. Yet there are themes in many of my books. Good wins in the end. Love finds a way. Always dark before the dawn.

But while listening to what Debra said about a Writer's Voice and that moment I realized there were some perhaps not themes but symbols in my writing that were part of my voice as well as part of the themes in my books. I often use caves or other dark places in various ways. They can mean fear, despair or beauty. Jewels are another of the things I use and these jewels are used in different ways. I'll probably be spending a lot of time deciding what these underlying symbols mean to me as a writer and what do the themes have to do with my voice. Debra, thanks for giving me another way to look at what I do.

How about you? Are there themes and symbols that are found in most of the things you write? Do these themes and symbols impact your Voice as a writer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Regina Andrews -- Interview

Regina is a soon to be member of Jewels of the Quill. Though we haven't met, the group alsays brings new and interesting internet acquaintances. Welcome Regina. She aslo shares my non-desire to write horror.

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

I write good old-fashioned Inspirational Romances, mostly contemporary but one was set in WWII.

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

What a great question. It totally chose me. When I wrote non-inspirationals, I think they were okay technically but my heart wasn't fired up about it. What I love about inspirationals is they give me the voice to be able to share a mission of God's love through writing uplifting, inspiring books in His honor. It's so basic, to me -- to gladden people through reading, and to bring the Word of God to their lives in another way, and to reinforce the love of God in their hearts.How come there's so much unhappiness? It seems like there's a vast expanse waiting to be brightened!

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

Well, I'd love to try both SciFi and Fantasy if I ever have a chance to research them a bit ! lol I probably wouldn't touch horror.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I really enjoy Barbara Delinsky, Maeve Binchy, Candace Bushnell, Danielle Steele, Jennifer Weiner and love turning to my classic friends -- Dickens, Dumas and Defoe

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

My mother read to me early on and instilled a love of reading in me that eventually led me to start writing, I think; after all, I still had a story to tell, even if there was no one around and the 'real' story I had been reading was finished! She sparked my imagination and guided me beautifully, and I am very thankful for that.

I live in Providence, RI, and grew up in nearby Barrington. After graduating from Providence College I attended the University of Delaware and eventually earned my Master’s Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. I love nature although I am a complete klutz and not at all athletic! I dream of having a weekend cottage where my husband and I could escape. We really enjoy visiting nearby Cape Cod.

My hobbies include Travel, Museums, Theater, Classical Music, Choral Singing, Stargazing and Gardening. For over twelve years I have been a radio host for In-Sight, an association dedicated to providing services to the visually impaired of all ages. My partner Andy and I (yes, we are known as 'Andy and Andrews') have a live show where we read the news, banter back and forth, discuss current events and take calls from listeners. Fun!

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Janet, I can't believe you asked me that! Of course, I honestly love all my characters. But just this week I am completely crazy for my newest heroine, Maryanne Lynch of "Angels of the Heart", book two in the Sterling Lakes Series. Before, I would have said Haley Hawthorne and Aaron Carrier from 'In Good Faith' who are still near and dear to my heart. But Maryanne lost her faith long ago and has just experienced a beautiful reconnection with God. I wasn't sure that was going to happen, and I'm so happy for her that she opened her heart and let it occur.

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

There is a shady group of hoods in 'In Good Faith', and of course there are many villains in 'Spotlight on Love', the WWII romance but no one specifically integral to the plot. The hoods are archetypal crooked businessmen.

Personal demons, but no villains in 'Destiny's Designs' and catty, jealous co-workers in 'The Perfect Proposal' but they are not villains.

The Sterling Lakes Series has the elements of man's inhumanity to man, and unkindness, rather than traditional villains.

8. What are you working on now?
Right now I am doing "Angels of the Heart", book two in the Sterling Lakes Series. The ms is due April 1st and the book will release in August.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive? (see below, please)
10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

Thank you for asking, Janet! My newest book is "Light of the Hart" and it just released on Tuesday March 1st from Desert Breeze Publishing

It is centered around a stained-glass artist based in Boston, Cascade Preston, whose world is a kaleidoscope of color and beauty. She has overcome a dark childhood in of Sterling Lakes, deeply shadowed by domestic violence. When she is approached to design new windows for a refurbished church in Sterling Lakes, she ignores the request. But when the no-nonsense Project Manager Dan McQuay appears looking for the window plans, the project takes on a whole new light. Will Cascade be able to keep the dark, protective cocoon she has built around herself intact, or will McQuay break through and shine new light into her heart? Is it possible that God’s plan for Cascade will lead her to forgive the town that ignored the situation her family?

Excerpt from “Light of the Heart” by Regina Andrews

Cascade's heels clicked efficiently with her every crisp step, and she made sure to shuttle as closely as possible alongside the beefy guard who escorted her from the holding room. Getting into her Corolla, she whispered a prayer. "I don't think I'm doing any good here, Lord, but I feel you telling me to stick with it. So I will. Maybe this is the kind of thing that saved my mother." She tried to block the images of her mother's bruises from her mind, but they wouldn't go away. They never did.

The drive back into Boston passed by quickly, without too much traffic. "Lean on Me" blasted from her audio system, and she sang along with all her heart. At twenty-seven, she knew it was technically an oldie, but to her, it was fresh and filled with meaning. Cascade wondered as she sang what it would feel like to have someone to lean on, because she had always been alone.

"There's only one thing that could make tonight perfect," she mused as she pulled into the parking area for her condo complex, "and that's not going to happen, for sure."

Images of her long-gone fiancé, Kevin, came into her mind and heart. Where was he this fine June evening? More importantly, why were things so much better for him without her in his life?

A form crossing her path brought her back to reality. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed someone walking towards her car. A guy -- a big guy she did not recognize.

She shaded her eyes from the late day sun. Dark hair and outdoorsy looks. Work boots. "Nope,” she murmured to herself, “I don't know him."

Hopping from her car, she said, "Can I help you?"

"If you're Cascade Preston, you sure can."

He folded his arms across his chest. With all those muscles moving, Cascade could only imagine the stress put on the seams of his light blue cotton shirt.

"And you are..."

"Dan McQuay." He extended his arm towards her. "From the site."

"Hi." Cascade pumped his strong hand, lost in his sky blue eyes. "What site?"

He tilted his head. "The construction site."

"I'm not following you."

He looked at her steadily. "I'm project manager for the retrofit on the church in Sterling Lakes. The one that you're doing the windows for."

Cascade’s heartbeat quickened. Just hearing the name of the town where she grew up made her anxious and tense. "It seems there's been a misunderstanding. No way am I working on anything in Sterling Lakes." She started to bustle past him. "Now if you'll excuse me?"

"Don't run away, Ms. Preston. There's a problem here."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

3 Places to Start Your Story -- Plotting

After analyzing and discovering this is indeed a story for you to tell one has to know how to begin. The opening few pages are what catches a reader's or an editor's eyes. So where to begin? There are three places. The reason for a story is because of a change occurring in a character's life. This change can be in environment, in social life or in the interior life.

1. A moment before the change occurs. One problem with starting here is the desire to put the whole back story in before the event occurs. Long passages of prose tend to turn a reader off; One has to quickly establish the character. Sort of like this.
The final words of the minister sounded. "I now pronounce you man and wife." Lars turne and kissed me. At last, I thought. I turned to face the members of the congregation and frowned. Where was Molly? My best friend had promised she would be here. Without waiting for Lars I dashed down the aisle and headed for a phone.

2. In the middle of the action. Problems here is to get the when and where into the action without again, large blocks of prose.
Bullets slammed into the wall above Jane's head. Who and why? The streets of the small town had always been safe. She rubbed her arms against the chill sunless November day. There had to be an escape.

3. A moment after the event. Here, telling a bit about the event that triggers the story can once more evolve into long passages of prose and back story.
Susan stood on the balcony of her new apartment and stared at the river. Her life had changed. A bit scary but thinking of the new challenges excited her. She went inside to finish packing.

These are sort of done off the top of my head but they give an idea of what is meant. More on the important opening pages of a story next week.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Inspired by Bird By Bird -- False Starts

This week, I sort of got blindsided when reading this bit from Bird By Bird. I often do the start of my book many times when beginning the story. After re-reading the segment on False Starts, I sort of slapped my head. What she meant by false starts was not knowing our characters before beginning the story. There's a bit about paying attention to one aspect of the character and not looking at the others.

Take the physical. A number of writers concentrate on getting the character's physical description out there. Editors have been known to want more details about the character's physical attributes. Perhaps this is one on my downfall areas but I'm much more interested in a characters actions and reactions than I am about what they look like. I don't cut out pictures of men and women and base my characters on them. Am I wring? I want my readers to expand their imaginations. I also get bored by reading long paragraphs describing the hero or heroine.

My false starts may be drafts long. I don't really know my characters until I've spent time with them and watched them interact with other characters. I don't look on these as false starts but as getting-to-know you explorations.

How well do you know your characters before you begin the story? Do you spend hours writing up descriptions or do you explore them during the unfolding of the story? As a draft writer I explore. I;m not the kind of writer who has to perfect each paragraph before I go to the next. For me this is boring but isn't it wonderful that everyone develops their own system for creating a story?

Monday, March 14, 2011

14 March = Week behind and week ahead

Just back from EPICon and what a lot I learned there. Heard a speaker from the Copyright Alliance who spoke about the importance of copyright for all artists and especially for authors. The second thing that really struck me was the conference binder came on a CD. No more bulky note book with more pages that you cared to see. The only paper I had to carry was a single sheet with the schedule and one with a map of the facility. That was necessary since there was a bit of walking to do. Heard several great speakers and met old friends and made new ones. Putting faces to the names of those you see on the different group digests is great. Got to see some interesting belly dancers at the banquet and managed to present the two awards I was presenting to people who were there to receive them. Both were friendly acquaintances I've met at other conventions of the group. Heard a lot about promotion and talked to other people about what they were doing. I may have some ideas and again I may not.

Came to this conclusion, If you're published electronically you should be an EPIC member. The group is professional - writers, editors, publishers, promotional people. Almost all the members are published. Those who aren't are intimately involved in the industry. Also it costs less than many professional organizations.

As to writing -- little done last week. This week I will do better.

WHAT'S COMING -- Tomorrow - more inspired by Bird by Bird, Wednesday - Getting into Plot, Thursday's interview will be wit Regina Andrews. Friday Becoming Your Own Critique Partner writer's hints, Saturday Ist chapter of one of my books and Sunday, more blog visits.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday Here we have reviews and interviews plus some contests. A bit about mysteries and interviews Other things as well as 6 steps to doing an internew video

Saturday, March 12, 2011

1st Chapter Saturday -- Prescription For Love

As Promised here's the first chapter of Prescription for Love.

Chapter One

Two years later

Ginny stepped from the shower and briskly dried herself. The hot water had washed away the remnants of sleep, but a knot of anticipation remained coiled in her stomach. As she dressed in a white uniform, the feeling that her life was about to take another turn persisted.

Not now, she thought. Not when her life rolled smoothly along the road she'd mapped at eighteen.

At nineteen, she had encountered the first roadblock. Then two years later, she had sped around a corner and met a barrier she had deftly steered around. Pride straightened her spine. This time, she'd avoid a detour, but first, she had to discover why she felt edgy.

She smoothed the hand-made blue and green quilt that covered the large brass bed and shoved a small purse in her pocket. Pride was the driving force of her life. Pride in who she was and what she'd accomplished made her strong. She couldn't allow vague feelings to weaken her resolve.

Before heading downstairs, she paused in the doorway of the girls' room. Light cast by the early morning sun shone through the orange, yellow and brown print curtains. The September day promised to be beautiful.

Two year old Manda slept face down with her rear in the air. She clutched the well-worn teddy bear Ginny had found in the paper bag Joey had left.

Ginny chuckled. Eight year old Honor, clad in a short nightie and blue socks, as always, had pushed her covers on the floor. Ginny blew a pair of kisses and pushed away a desire to grab the girls and run.

Foolishness, she thought. She slid her hand along the smooth wood of the banister and walked downstairs. She had no reason to worry, not with her position as Patient Care Coordinator of the orthopedic unit at Hudson View General Hospital.

Though there were ruts to be smoothed, she enjoyed the challenge. The job had allowed her to fulfill so many of her dreams. Escape from the city and the means to raise the girls in a safer environment. The chance to be a home owner instead of a tenant in a fourth floor walk-up. The opportunity to implement the educational program for nurses and patients she had developed.

"Girl, if you don't get the lead out, we're going to be late." Annette stood beside the stairs.

Ginny swallowed a gasp. "Like the hair but next time, tip the ends with bells. I could use a warning." The aroma of coffee filtered into the hall. "Why are you so early?"

"Your alarm broke, right? Mama and I've been here a good twenty minutes. It's twenty-five to seven."

"I got caught up in my thoughts." Ginny followed her friend to the kitchen.

"You do too much of that. Doesn't pay to plan every breath you take."

Ginny wasn't sure Annette was right. Without plans, life would be chaotic. Sure surprises happened, but if the possibilities weren't considered, a person could be thrown off balance by events.

She entered the kitchen and smiled at Miss Nellie. "Good morning."

Black hair, liberally sprinkled with white, framed the older woman's round face. "Morning." She handed Ginny a glass of juice and a slice of toast. "No sense making a proper breakfast when you don't get down here on time. Child, you could stand a bit of fattening up."

"How come you never say that to me." Annette headed to the door.

"Honey, I can't remember you ever missing a meal." Miss Nellie pointed to Ginny. "Eat."

"Yes, ma'am." Ginny chewed the toast and washed it down with juice. "Honor's lunch money's on the table."

Miss Nellie's hands rested on her plump hips. "How are you going to be sure that child's getting the proper nourishing? She's nothing but skin and bones."

Annette grinned. "Just like her mama." She opened the door. "Let's go, boss lady. Maybe you can stroll in late, but I've got a date with a time clock."

Ginny closed the door and followed her friend across the yard. How fortunate she'd been to find a duplex and that there'd been an opening at Hudson View for Annette. Ginny slid behind the wheel and started the ancient station wagon.

"What's got you acting like you're crawling across a bed of nails?" Annette asked.

Ginny backed into the street. "Just a feeling things are about to fall apart, You know what happened the other times I've felt this way?"

"Nate and Joey."

Ginny thought of the night she'd told Honor's father about the pregnancy. Her joy had shattered when he'd informed her he was married and his wife expected his first child in seven months. Ginny hadn't known he was married. She'd believed his declaration. His desertion had nearly wrecked her plans to escape the slums.

"You survived the rat and have a daughter who's beautiful inside and out," Annette said. "You've given your niece a wonderful home and lots of love."

"You're right, but --"

"Don't go looking for trouble. Who knows, the change might be a good one." Annette leaned back in the seat. "Dr. Marshall's son arrives today."

"What does that have to do with me?"

"Just changing the subject before you worry yourself gray. What's the scoop on the good doctor's plans? The rumor mills are grinding a new story a minute."

"When I stopped by yesterday, he said he'd be released soon, but he played dumb when I asked him when he'd be back to work."

"Let's hope he doesn't retire. He's the glue that holds that bunch of prima donna orthopods together."

Ginny had a hard time imagining the blue-eyed Chief of Orthopedics as a blob of glue. He was more like a teddy bear -- or a father. Something she'd never known.

"The surgeons aren't that bad...most of them."

"Some are okay, but what about Simon?" Annette asked.

Ginny nodded. "You're right. Greg Simon has an attitude problem."

"Maybe young Dr. Marshall will be as nice as his dad."

"We can only hope." Ginny stopped at the parking lot gate and inserted her card. "Except he's fresh out of a residency at 'Old Joints and Bones' and you know how those guys are. I think they have a course titled 'Disdain and Arrogance -- How to Project the Proper Hauteur."

Annette laughed. The beads on her multitude of braids clicked together. "Girl, you got to stop prying under every rock looking for trouble. There are enough problems floating around."

Ginny pulled the station wagon into a parking space. "I believe in looking ahead." She and Annette joined the scattered groups of nurses headed to the red brick, T-shaped building.

Inside, Annette ducked into the hall where the time clocks were kept. Ginny continued to the elevator. Before she reached her office on the third floor, she stopped in the nurses' lounge for a cup of coffee. In her office, she sat at the gray metal desk and stared through the window that provided a view of the hall. Today was one of the times she wished her office looked into the world so she could see the sky and sunshine.

Stop fussing and get to work, she told herself. Quickly, she sorted through the notes in the wire basket on the corner of the desk and stuffed the requests for days off in a folder. She read the report of an incident that had occurred on Saturday and made a note to thank Kathy Grant. Her vigilance had probably saved the hospital from a lawsuit.

Rounds, she thought. She rose and paused in the office doorway to wait until the couple ahead of her turned the corner. This morning, she couldn't face Dr. Greg Simon's sneering condensation or Lisa Kingsley's rudeness. The dark-haired surgeon and the blonde nurse were a perfect match, at least in their attitudes.

Once the pair vanished, Ginny headed to day surgery. Of the seven patients scheduled for orthopedic procedures, two had arrived and were being prepared for surgery.

"Hey, Ginny," a red-haired nurse called. "Any news about Dr. Marshall?"

"Which one?" another woman asked.

"The father. The son's an unknown."

How true, Ginny thought. She reported her latest visit and received reactions similar to Annette's.

A short time later, Ginny strode to the acute care area where fresh post-ops and those patients who needed special care were admitted. She stopped at the desk and studied the patient board.

Two of the nurses stopped talking. Lisa Kingsley smiled, but the blonde's smile wasn't friendly. Ginny looked for Betty Tawser, the third member of the trio who opposed every change on the unit.

With a nod to Lisa, Ginny left the desk and made patient rounds. When she finished, she starred several names of those who could be moved to make room for patients from the ER, ICU or the OR.

This done, she made rounds on the rehabilitation section of the unit and called Admitting. For the first time in weeks, there was no overflow of orthopedic patients on any of the medical or surgical units.

Wait until winter, she thought. But by that time, the nurses would have completed the educational program and the efficiency of the unit would improve.

She headed to her office. Her life was on schedule, so why was the knot of anticipation expanding?

A rap on the window broke into her reverie. A grinning Annette peered through the glass. "Girl, quit your dawdling. Young Dr. Marshall has arrived." She pressed a hand to her chest. "He's a man for every woman's fantasy."

Ginny shook her head. She pictured the older Dr. Marshall, subtracted years and added hair. Pleasant. Maybe cute, but hardly fantasy material. She rose. "I'm on my way. Wouldn't want him to accuse me of ignoring him."

"Won't happen. He seems as nice as his dad. Run, don't walk. Rescue him before Val drowns him in sweetness."

Ginny frowned. Val -- Sweet -- impossible. The unit's secretary was a mistress of the rude put-down.

When Ginny turned the corner, she stopped short. A barely contained urge to run in the opposite direction caused her to approach the desk with slow, measured steps. Young Dr. Marshall was tall, handsome -- and black. He was also the resident who two years ago had questioned her nursing judgment. Though she had been vindicated, a patient had suffered needless pain.

Her hands curled into fists. Dr. Marshall laughed at something Val said and then turned to Lisa. The knot in Ginny's abdomen swelled into her chest. No way, she thought. She wouldn't allow this man or anyone to detour her from her chosen road. She plastered a smile on her face that she knew didn't match the hostility she felt.

"Dr. Marshall, I'm Ms. Barr, Patient Care Coordinator for the unit. Welcome to Hudson View."

Lisa strolled away. "See you around, Dr. Marshall. You'll soon discover Hudson View is nothing like the University for interesting and exciting cases."

Ginny stiffened. Why did Lisa constantly bad mouth the hospital? If she felt bored, she should have stayed at the University.

A slow smile curved Dr. Marshall's lips. His dark brown eyes appraised Ginny with the intensity of a scientist peering through a microscope. He held out a hand. She resisted the desire to thrust her hands behind her back. Instead, she held her arms stiffly at her sides.

"Ms. Barr, Blake Marshall. My father speaks highly of you." He rested the hand she had refused to touch on the counter that separated the nurses' station from the hall.

"Then I must thank him. He has been eagerly awaiting your arrival."

She held back a groan. Stilted conversation had never been her forte, but this morning and with this man, she'd become an expert. The knot edged into her throat. She gulped a breath. Why did the air between them smell of ozone as though a bolt of lightning had struck nearby?

She saw a question in his eyes and wondered if he remembered the night they'd met. She had called him twice and the third time had demanded he come to assess a patient. She would never forget because that had been the night Joey had left Manda. Angry thoughts swept her into the past.

"I insist you come immediately." She gripped the phone and listened to the sleep-fogged voice question her about the patient. "I won't hesitate to go over your head. It's been a half hour since my last call and an hour since the first. The patient's pain is constant and excruciating. I've elevated his leg and applied ice. A possible compartment syndrome is no joke."

Five minutes later, he strode into the patient's room. His rumpled, green scrubs didn't disguise his muscular physique. His dark eyes had flashed with anger. He eyed her nametag. "An agency nurse. What do you know about orthopedics?"

She bit back an angry response. She could have told him she had worked in orthopedics for five years and that in three semesters, she would have a Masters as a nurse practitioner with a focus on orthopedics. But she wouldn't. His question didn't deserve an answer."

"Just check the patient," she said.

Once he examined the young man's leg and discovered she'd been right, she had expected an apology. He'd given none, just split the cast, made a note on the chart and strode away.

Her memory of the past faded. She couldn't allow that incident to influence her. "Would you like a tour of the unit? The renovations were completed in May just before I took over."

"Would be my pleasure."

His voice reminded her of velvet, smooth, lush and sensual. She swallowed and headed for day surgery. "Your father has an arthroscopy on the schedule. I thought you might be involved."

Was that her voice? The tight, clipped tones sounded foreign to her ears.

"Greg took the case. As of tomorrow, I'll be taking Dad's cases until he returns."

"Don't you intend to join the practice?"

He shrugged. "I'm not sure of my plans."

The hint of arrogance in his voice was no surprise, but the anger it stirred shocked her. The senior Dr. Marshall had spoken of his son's return with eagerness and pride. "Your father will be disappointed if you leave."

"Not for long. Dad's always encouraged me to pursue my own goals."

"How fortunate for you, but don't you think --" She stopped herself. Arguing would do no good. Didn't he think he owed his father anything?

As they passed through the rehab section, she spotted Annette and Mike, the orthopedic orderly. Annette grinned.

It's not what you think, Ginny wanted to shout. This man pushed her buttons and produced discordant emotions. She glanced at him. He raised an eyebrow. Her cheeks burned.

Blake turned his head to hide a grin. So Ms. Prim and Professional was human after all. The stain of color that darkened her brown skin pleased him. She seemed every bit as aware of him as he was of her.

Maybe he should tell her he had no intention of leaving Hudson View, but he wanted to see if he could break through her stiff exterior. Ms. Ginny Barr was one fine woman. He inhaled her subtle perfume. In the past, he'd met and dated beautiful women and had appreciated them the way any man would. His intense and potent reaction to Ginny Barr surprised him.

He frowned. Some vague memory of having seen her before arose. No way, he thought. If he'd met her, he would have pursued the acquaintance. He planned to do just that, but not today. Her wariness intrigued him; her coldness presented a challenge.

After they returned to the nurses' station, he smiled. "Thanks for the tour. I'm looking forward to our next meeting."

Frost gathered in her eyes. She walked away. Instead of leaving, he leaned against the counter and watched the sway of her hips. Once she vanished, he headed to the elevators. Before going to the office and a meeting with his father's partners, he wanted to stop in Coronary Care.

Four days ago, the call from Mrs. Connor, the family's housekeeper, had accelerated his plans to leave the university. Though he would have welcomed another year as part of a prestigious team, his father's heart attack had made Blake realize he and his father needed each other.

Blake had been an infant when the Marshalls had adopted him. He'd grown up in a white home. As for his birth parents, he'd never asked questions or entertained curiosity about them. His adoptive parents had given him love, security and education. Unlike so many adopted children, he had never rebelled.

Not like Susan, and she hadn't had adoption as an excuse. From infancy, his blonde, green-eyed sister had fought every rule and restriction. When their mother died, Blake had been in his last year of medical school and too involved in building his career to have time for Susan. She'd chosen the wrong friends and the wrong activities. Three years ago, she'd become a runaway and a year later had died. For months, Blake's guilt had been a hot flame. Even now, the remains lay like embers waiting to flare again.

He paused outside the door of the cardiac unit and calmed his emotions. His father had never blamed anyone but himself for not being there for Susan, and Charles Marshall had understood Blake's need to immerse himself in surgery.

After pushing the door open, he strode past the desk and stopped in the doorway of his father's room. How old and drawn he looked, Blake thought. Funny how he'd always imagined his father as ageless.

Charles Marshall opened his eyes. "I thought you'd be in surgery. I had a knee on this morning's schedule."

"Greg suggested I take today to look things over and settle in." Blake recalled the hint of anger in Greg's voice when he heard Blake's plans to remain in Hudson View. "Tomorrow, there's a knee replacement and a hip pinning. I'll scrub on them."

"What do you think of the ortho unit?"

"She's nice."

Charles Marshall laughed and the patina of age vanished from his face. "The unit, not the coordinator."

"It works." Blake stared at the wall. What had that woman done to him?

The older man leaned back against the pillows. "Speaking of Ginny Barr. Didn't I tell you she was the best thing to happen at Hudson View for ages?"

"She seems to be in control of the unit." The blatant admiration in his father's voice alarmed Blake. Just what was going on?

"Is that all you're going to say. Ginny's bright and she's gutsy. She's risen through the ranks and has a number of projects in the works for improving patient care. Since I'm knocked out of action, I hope you'll lend her your support." He winked. "She's a lovely woman."

A protest rose in Blake's thoughts. Then he saw the grin on his father's face. Blake shook his head. There was no way he would let his father play matchmaker. He could handle the situation on his own. For some reason, the prim Ms. Barr didn't like him, but she offered a challenge he couldn't resist.

Friday, March 11, 2011

4 ways to set the mood of a book - Inspired by Becoming Your Own Critique Partner

Just what is the mood of the book. Several times I've been disappointed when what I thought was going to be a funny story suddenly turned dark or even the reverse. Or what started out suspensful turned into a bit of melodrama of the worst kind.

How does one maintain a not of humor, drama or even melodrama when the scene could be very different, It's a matter of word choice.

When developing the mood or tone of a story there is form. Comedy, Drama, melodrama.
Then comes atmosphere. The writer can choose light or dark.
There are hundreds of emotions the writer wants to bring to the reader. Laughter, poignancy, threat. More than I care to name.
The fourth is expression - masculine (just the facts) or feminine (using description.

The one thing about mood is sustaining the one the writer has chosen throughout the book. The answer lies in word choice and showing, not telling.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Interview - Sarah-Jane Lehoux - Fantasy and horror fictionn

I met Sarah-Jane on line at one of the many digests on my blog. We agreed to exchange blogs. I'll be on her's sometime later this year. Here's hers.

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

I mainly write fantasy and horror, but lately I’m branching out into comedy.

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

I write what I enjoy reading. I like anything with some sort of supernatural angle to it, and I like it even more if it has some kind of darkness to it. I also enjoy writing stories with outlandish plots so that I can test the humanity of my characters. I’ve often said that the human condition can best be explored when characters are put into extreme conditions, where they are forced to see if their morals will hold up in life and death situations.

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

As I mentioned above, I’m currently trying to write a comedic novel. It’s still fantasy based, but unlike my other novels that border on horror, I’m going for a lighter, more surreal tone with RED ROVER. So far I’m happy with the results.

I don’t think I’d ever write a romance novel. Not that my stories don’t have a bit of romance in them, quite the contrary in fact, but I would never want romance to be the focus of the story. And I’m not a fan of the usual romance conventions, such as an alpha hero, a virginal heroine and a happily ever after, so even if I were to write a romance, it probably wouldn’t appeal to most fans of the genre.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Nowadays, I don’t read a lot of fiction. I prefer reading about mythology, folklore, and the preternatural. The most recent fiction I’ve read has been old classics, such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.

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

I grew up in a small Northern Ontario town, and as I was a shy child, I spent most of my time off in the woods by myself, daydreaming. I think it was then that I developed my love of writing, but I had always considered it a hobby until my mid-twenties. It was then that I completed the first draft of THIEF and decided that I wanted to make a go of writing professionally.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

I think Glor from SHADES OF WAR is my favourite creation. I don’t want to reveal too much, but Glor is a mentally and physically handicapped child who holds a great secret. I enjoyed creating the duality of Glor’s character, especially in juxtaposition with the novel’s villain. I also enjoyed the way that Glor viewed the world. It was a refreshing change from the doom and gloom attitude of some of the other characters.

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

There are conventional villains in my books, but most of the characters have villain-like qualities to them. I am a firm believer in moral relativism—no one is purely good or purely bad. Everyone has a dark side to them, and sometimes the world brings out the worst in them. I think it’s important when creating a villain to recognize this. There are reasons for why they behave the way they do, and if I want to raise them above a stereotype, I have to make sure that every character in my books views themselves as the “good guy.”

8. What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working on MASQUERADE, the third book in the Sevy series, which we hope will be released in November or December of 2011. I’m also working on RED ROVER, the comedic fantasy that I mentioned earlier.

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

SHADES OF WAR was released in November of 2010, and is the sequel to THIEF. The idea for Shades came about while I was still writing Thief. I realized that Sevy’s (the main character) story was still far from over, and that I wanted to see it through to the finish. And the finish will be five books in total, so I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me!

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

Here’s the opening for SHADES OF WAR:

Sally’s pub, a dismal little dive located in the south-eastern quarter of Eloria, was as it had ever been: dank, run down, and saturated with the body odor of the city workers who made up the bulk of its clientele. But what it lacked in ambience it made up for in cheap ale, of which Sevy was currently partaking.

Seated at a table near the fireplace, she was in her own world. The other patrons knew not to bother trying to chat up the tall brunette; her temper was as quick as the sword that hung at her waist. She surveyed all with glacial green eyes as emotionless and piercing as a bird of prey’s, her mouth seemingly fixed into a frown except for the times she allowed it to slide into a sneer.

The message was clear to even the most drunken or stupid of men: stay back.

The only one courageous enough to approach her was Hal, the barkeeper. His back was more hunched than it had been in years past and his eyesight was weaken­ing, but he could confidently invade Sevy’s bubble of personal space without fear of reprisal. So long as he always brought more drinks. Wordlessly, they exchanged coin for ale. Their familiarity didn’t demand stilted attempts at pleasantries.

Sevy took one long swallow after another until the mug was empty save for the last slippery bits of fragrant foam. Satisfied, she sank low into her seat, folded her arms over her stomach, and rested her feet up on the opposite chair. The fire warmed the timeworn leather of her boots. She wiggled her toes and stretched out her calf muscles, their soreness almost pleasurable now that they had a chance to rest and recuperate.

Her eyes closed. Her head fell to the side. The clinking of glasses and low mur­murings in the room around her faded into a blissful blur.

“Ma’am? Excuse me, ma’am?” a tiny voice chirped into her ear.

Sevy made no effort to conceal the scowl that crossed her face. A sigh shook her chest as she looked up at the intruder through hooded lids. Before her was a young girl. Fourteen, fifteen maybe. Very gaunt and lanky. An uncertain grin revealed crooked teeth and excessive gums. She pulled self-consciously at the threadbare dress she wore, as well she should. It was a few sizes too small and didn’t leave much of the girl’s burgeoning, if not angular, womanhood to one’s imagination.


Sarah-Jane Lehoux

Author of fantasy and horror fiction

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

4 ways to see if the idea will become a plot.

Ideas are all around us. I'm sure you have at least a dozen ideas floating in your head. Maybe more. Not all of these will become stories and not all will be right for you. So before we begin to look at plots in depth let's explore which idea works best. Then we'll get into plot.

Remember this, a plot is a plan or a roadmap for characters on their way to a goal. There are scenes but they must be significant and have an impact on the characters as they aim for their goal.

1. Is it your story to tell? There are some stories I could never write and there are probably some you can't. For me, horror is one, another westerns and a third science fiction. Not that I don't enjoy reading them, maybe not horror since I'm a chicken. So when an idea suddenly appears think if it's one you could write. Make a list of those type of stories that aren't for you. Maybe you like mysteries but police procedure is your kind instead of cozies or hard-boiled detectives.

2. Is the too personal to engage a reader? Some experiences are too close to you or there are some you feel like preaching about. These will turn a reader off. While our own experiences are fodder for fiction, it must be remembered that the characters are the ones experiencing the event of what ever you're writing about. While there is some of you in the character, the character isn't you.

3. Can the idea go somewhere? Maybe after twenty or thirty pages you start spinning your wheels and the story stops flat. Might mean taking a second look at where the story is heading and seeing where you stalled.

4. What's at stake? What's at stake for the character? Are the protagonists equal? With unequal characters there's no real conflict. If your villain or villainess is so evil the hero or heroine stands no chance, the idea won't work. If the hero or heroine is so plum perfect and strong and the bad guy or girl weak does what's at stake really matter.

So when an idea pops into your head, look at each of these areas and if all are a go, then run to your computer and begin to tell your story.