Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday's Interview -- Cindy Speer

Today's featured author is Cindy Speer fellow writer of fantasy with hints of other genres.

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

I do write in more than one...I primarily write in fantasy, but I like

to mix in mystery, especially murder, and romance.

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

I have always had a fascination for magical things, for folk stories

and myths, so fantasy seemed like a natural choice. I can't write

without it, really, I'll be writing a perfectly mundane scene and

suddenly something supernatural happens. So I guess you can say it

chose me!

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

I don't think I could write westerns! I kind of want to try some

Science Fiction but I am not sure if I have the right education or

mind for it.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I read anything that happens to hit an interest...mostly mystery and

fantasy, but also historical novels (I'm reading Philippa Gregory

right now) or anything else that takes my fancy.

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

I've been writing most of my life...I've always told stories, and I

started writing them down in my early teens. I've always had a very

over active imagination.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

That is a hard question to answer...I love all my characters, even the

ones that don't deserve it. I do want to revisit Zorovin from Blue

Moon, though.

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

You always need a villain, at least in mysteries. They were created

the way any character is created...I know everything about them. You

need to...round characters are important because, while sometimes you

want to make sure that the villains are people that your readers enjoy

hating, sometimes you also need to make them more subtle, so it's hard

to guess that they are the killer. So, I guess, I use a combination

of subtlety and just treating them like any other character.

8. What are you working on now?

A novel called The Queen of the Grey. It's hard to describe...the

main character is the queen of this forest, and of all the creatures

that haunt the night, wolves, owls, and so on. A war is coming, and

they will join forces with a rag tag army to fight them back, but that

is just the beginning of the story.

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

The idea for Unabalnced came to me because I have always loved

vampires and werewolves, but feared their story had been told, so I

tried to take another look at the lore, to create something different.

Something that would still please readers and allow me to work with

those types of characters.

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

opening of the book around 400 words.



black cloak tighter. It was an impractical thing, fastening only at the

throat, the wind parting it at will, but she liked it. Her usual

winter coat lacked the elegance needed at these sorts of parties.

The noise from that too-loud, too-glittery party faded as she walked

up the path, her feet crunching on pale gravel. She sighed with relief at

her temporary escape. The people here were not the kind she felt comfortable

with. The food was elegant, the music was good, and everyone

was nice enough, but she couldn’t seem to relax. She kept fighting the

feeling that, any minute, she was going to do something awful and embarrassing,

exposing her to the world as the classless slob she was.

Then there was Alaister.

She looked up at the night sky and watched the clouds pass across

the waning moon. She was mad at herself for coming, for trying to

wedge herself into a place where she fit about as well as an egg in a sack

of marbles. I guess I’m just lonely, she admitted with a bit of asperity, her

eyes panning the treetops, noticing how the branches met and interlaced.

She continued along the path, the woods surrounding her. For a few

minutes, until the cold chased her back to the party, she was free. She

paused and picked up one of the pale water-smoothed pebbles. How

expensive, she wondered, would a path of all white river stones be?

A twig snapped, and she jumped. For a second, her fancy made the

sound into a gunshot. She clutched the stone to her chest, peering into

the woods on either side of the path. Thick brambles and bushes obscured

her view. She tilted her head, listening.

Nothing, she decided, considering going back. But she wasn’t ready

to face the crowd yet, and she remembered there was an old greenhouse

farther down the path. Being out alone in the dark didn’t bother her—

she’d gotten over that fear long ago.

There was a bend in the path, and when she turned along it, the

moon removed its mask. The trees were suddenly outlined in light, their

shadows so crisp they seemed tangible. The path glowed, trailing like a

satin ribbon to the greenhouse that glittered, dark and jewel-like, in the

middle of a tiny clearing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday -- On Plot -- Using Patterns

Plots often involve patterns and patterns can be repetitions. This doesn't mean using the same word over and over or showing the same seene again. We've all seen stories where some action is repeated again and again, like the eating or restaurant scened that really add nothing ot the story but seem to be there to add words. Maybe in days gone by the author was paid by the word and there could be some markets that still use this process but those kind of repetitions slow the story down. People want to see things happening.

So how can repetition of a pattern work. This can be done by choosing an article in the room where the scenes occur or a bit of dialogue that will remind the reader of what has happened before in that room. A repeated emotion also does the same thing.

Patterns are connedtions of one scene to the next. Often this means the same characters and sometimes not. There can be a pattern that's a repetition but with two different characters occurring in the same space or with the same emotions.

Many times in the repetition scene something changes. Maybe it's knowledge for the character or characters. Sometimes the repetition scene has a different outcome.

So build patterns with care and show how each scene in the story is connected to the next one by a clever use of repetition.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday's Inspiration -- The Courage To Create

Rollo May wrote a book in 1977 called "The Courage to Create." I found it on one of my book shelves and pulled it out thinking that it could be a good jump off for writing about things that inspire. The book is geared to all those in the creative art sector but for me writing is where it's at. What surprised me is how I underlined passages and wrote in the margins little notes about my own creative process. This was read during a time when I was exploring all the facets of where I was headed in writing. Short stories, poetry, novels and sort of why I wanted to write.

I have many friends who write and I have friends who have written and who have given it up. Are they on hiatus while ideas are germinating. I'd like to think so, but I fear many of them have lost the courage to create.

Writing is a solitary business and yet it's one peopled with people and places we want to know or to visit. So exactly what is courage?

To me courage for the writer is the ability to get past the fear that there's nothing new to say. Most stories have been told before, but each person tells the story in a different fashion with different people and different places. Courage is doing when one is afraid, when one looks at despair and reaches for the distant stars.

Courage requires a knowing of one's self. Courage isn't rash, Courage is allowing the seeds inside to blossom. Do you have the courage to create?

Monday, June 27, 2011

27 June -- Week behind and week ahead

Another week has passed and though I was away for the middle days, I managed to finish a good deal of A Sudden Seduction. Only have three chapters to finish up so give or take two weeks and that will be done. Then it's on to a new project one I hope will be as successful as the one in that series was. Received a wonderful review from RT for The Warrior of Bast. Made my day.

I'm gearing up for a contest to start in July for those who are my followers. I'll be giving away print copies of most of my books. There are some that aren't out in print yet but will be by Christmas. I'll add those to the Christmas contest.

Waiting to hear about The Henge Betrayed Quests and The Moon Pool. Both are due to be released soon. That will be all until I finish writing things otherthan those that are just electronic that will be coming in print. But it's a good year so far.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday A bit about the Tarot Reviews and other things promotional tips and other things

Saturday, June 25, 2011

1st Chapter Saturday -- Gemstones

Gemstones is the only Regency I've written but was a fun story to tell.

Chapter 1

Calcutta, July 1810

"Miss Nicola. Miss Nicola."

The whisper woke Nicola Gordon. Like wasps around ripe fruit, tales of native uprisings swarmed in her thoughts. She groped beneath the pillow for the knife she kept there.

The girls. She had to protect her sisters.

"Miss Nicola, wake up."

"Who?" She tried to keep fear from clogging her voice.


"What are you doing here? Where’s Papa?" Just two days ago, she had seen her father and his young native assistant off on a buying trip. Fear gripped her spine. The knife fell from her fingers.

"Your father. You must come."

"I can’t leave my sisters. What if they wake and find me gone?"

"They will be safe. Your papa needs you. We were set upon by thugs and he was hurt. I found a safe place for him to stay until I am sure we were not followed."

Nicola pushed aside the netting that enclosed the bed. She found her shoes and grabbed a dark cloak. Her heart thudded in her chest. Though she and Sarad had engaged in mischief years ago, her childhood friend had become sober and responsible. So had she.

"Where is he?"

"The place is not far." He slid open the door to the verandah. Nicola followed him to the gate in the compound wall. The aroma of wet earth rose from the garden, but outside the gates, the recent rains had failed to mask the scent of exotic flower and spices of the odor of garbage. The absence of the moon created an ominous darkness. She hurried through alleys and along streets beside her silent guide. Her thoughts conjured a thousand tragedies.

She stumbled. A groan escaped.

Sarad gripped her arm. "Be silent as the tiger stalking prey."

His warning chilled her. Who knew what would happen to an Englishwoman caught in the streets at night.

Ahead, she saw the looming shadow cast by one of the city’s many temples built to honor one of India’s multitude of gods. Why had they come here?

Sarad pulled her into a dark passageway that led into the temple. Their passing stirred the dust of the ages, musty and dank. Finally, they emerged in a torch-lit room. She followed her friend to a recessed alcove.

"Papa!" The blood-stained bandages around his chest and head alarmed her. "Papa, oh, Papa." She knelt on the stone floor beside him.

His dark eyes were unfocused. His skin felt hot.

"The eye. Siva. The eye."

"I don’t understand."

"Nicola. Must warn. Must tell."

"She is here, Sahib Gordon."

Nicola gripped her father’s hand. The flickering torchlight revealed his pain-filled features. "Papa, I will take you home and see to your wounds."

He took a shuddering breath. "Must leave Calcutta."

"Where will we go?" She couldn’t think of leaving. Calcutta was home.

"To England. Ian Grey will send an escort." He gasped a breath. "Your grandmother and Denmere. Old Earl dead. Marry the new. Distant cousin."

His words shocked her nearly as much as her memories. "My grandmother did not protect Mama. I don’t want to marry and live with strangers." Why was he saying this? He would get better and until then, she could care for her sisters. For ten years, since her mother’s death, this had been the case.

His fingers tightened around hers. "You must. Danger for you. For sisters." He struggled to sit up. "Your knowledge. Gems."

Fresh blood seeped through the dried stains on the bandages. "Rest, Papa." Tears rolled down her cheeks. "I cannot leave you."

"Protect sisters."

She chewed her lower lip. "I will keep them safe."

He sank back. "Promise. Marry Denmere."

She couldn’t say the words. "Papa."

He pressed a velvet pouch into her hand. "For you and sisters. Not Fergus. Now go."

Though she thought about disobeying, she kissed his cheek. As she and Sarad left the alcove, tears cascaded down her cheeks and blurred her sight. She stopped to wipe her eyes and stifled a gasp.

Torchlight illuminated statues and wall carvings of men and women engaged in activities she had read of in the Sanskrit manuscripts her teacher had given her. Her eyes widened in astonishment. She hadn’t believed the human body could assume such convoluted positions.

Sarad grasped her arm. "We must go."

His whisper broke the spell. She tore her gaze from the figures that fascinated and repelled. Her cheeks burned as though she stood beneath the mid-day sun. She followed Sarad into the dark passageway.

* * * *

Drew Barlow, Earl of Denmere, slouched on the brocade sofa and crossed his legs at the ankles. His highly polished Hessians gleamed in the light from the fire. He stared at the flames that danced and sent sparks flying up the chimney.

"What does an impoverished earl do?" He addressed his question to the portrait above the chimney piece. To restore the estates pillaged by his predecessor, marriage to an heiress with a considerable fortune and probably a father in trade was essential. While some members of the ton would look askance at his choice, his family had created enough scandals to make the taint of trade a mere blemish.

He groaned. His mother’s passionate nature, his father’s drunken behavior, the late earl’s obsession with gaming. All played a part in his need to wed and his antipathy toward marriage.

A log fell and sent a rain of sparks flying. The Dowager Countess of Denmere was the only woman he respected. His need to marry money was as much for her as for the estates and to pay the debts left by his distant cousin.

Aldora had rescued him from a drunk and abusive father. She had seen to his education, and thought not related to him other than by marriage, had treated him like a son. She deserved the comforts he couldn’t afford to give her.

The library door opened to reveal his host. Drew’s London house had been rented, and for the past two weeks, he’d been a guest in his friend’s Mayfair townhouse.

Tristan Atwell, Duke of Cairnton, strode into the room. Only a white shirt relieved the stark black of his riding clothes. He held a crop in one hand and leaned against the Adam’s mantelpiece to study Drew. "Town is a bit thin of company these days."

Drew nodded. "I should have come in March but I had a dozen problems to untangle."

"I have the acquaintance of a wealthy widow who would favor an earl as a second husband. Would you like me to arrange an introduction?"

Drew shook his head. "A widow is used to controlling her own fortune and bestows her favors where she will."

Tristan lifted a crystal decanter and filled a glass with port. "A loan? My pockets are deep."

Drew considered the essential purchases needed to put the estates in working order and shook his head. "They’re not bottomless. I didn’t come to town to drag you into my financial problems."

"Let me have your cattle. A team of grays might lighten my reputation."

"And ruin your image." Drew chuckled. "Why not one of whites?"

Tristan shrugged, "You make being a friend difficult."

Drew looked up. Would Tristan, who always had blunt to spare, understand the need to pull himself from the River Tick? With an infusion of a goodly sum, the farms and herds would bring a profit. "Tattersall’s will do the honors. Having me as your guest is enough."

Tristan shook his head. "Anyone who contemplates marriage is either a fool or desperate."

"I plead guilty to both conditions." Tristan’s raised eyebrow and sardonic expression made Drew laugh. "I do what I must. What do you hear from Michael and Niall?"

"From Niall, nothing."

"I’m sure he’s in the thick of action. He was always one to love a fight. And Michael?"

Tristan’s stance relaxed. "He’s awaiting the birth of his heir or heiress. Never thought he’d be the first caught in the parson’s mousetrap." He turned from the window. "What say you join me for an evening at Eugenie’s? Her charming cousin, the fair Janine, frequently asks about you."

"Another time." Drew followed his friend to the door.

While women looked on him with favor, he seldom accepted their invitations to dally. To surrender was to flirt with the loss of control, something he couldn’t afford. Too often, he’d seen what happened to a man who gave in to his passions.
A footman approached. "Your Grace, a message for the Earl has arrived. His man’s in the kitchen and awaits an answer."

Drew accepted the note. As he read the contents, he frowned.

"Bad news?"

"She wants me to come home. She has received a letter concerning something I must attend to at once."

"Another demand for money from some tradesman?"

Drew’s casual shrug belied a deep sense of frustration that threatened to drag him to the depths. In the year since his distant cousin’s death, there had been many such demands. "The note is vague and so unlike her. I fear the news has overset her. I’ll leave at once."

* * * *

The tapping at her bedroom door roused Aldora, Dowager Countess of Denmere, from a reverie. For a moment, she felt the strange blend of sorrow and joy she’d felt when she’d read the letter from Ian Grey. She reached for a woolen wrapper. Moonlight shimmered around the edges to the partially open draperies and sent a path of light to the door. She turned the knob.

Greene, the elderly butler, stood in the hall. "My lady, the Earl has arrived. He’s supping in the library."

"Thank you."

"Do you wish me to wait and go down with you?"

She shook her head. With too few servants remaining at the manor house, the stoop-shouldered man did more than his share of work. "There’s no need. Go to your bed."
After he left, she lit a taper and picked up the letter. Before leaving the room, she read the words again. This time, she held her tears inside. If Drew saw she’d been weeping, he would find a way to blame himself. A habit she believed stemmed from the way his father had heaped the coals of his own failures on Drew’s head.
Holding the candlestick high, she descended the broad and curving staircase. The study door was closed. She tapped lightly.

Drew stood behind a battered desk and held his hands toward the flames in the fireplace. Light from candles on the mantelpiece made his hair appear as black as lacquered ware from the Orient. His gray jacket molded the muscles grown firm from his labor on the estates these past two years.

She crossed the room. He turned. His eyes, the color of fine Persian turquoise, showed concern. "Aunt Aldora, are you all right?"

The unofficial title he’d bestowed on her years ago brought a rush of warmth and love. She placed the candle on the desk. "I never meant to give you fright, but I received a letter --"

"Demanding payment of yet another debt we have no way to prove is false." His hands tightened on her shoulders. "Damn him for leaving you in such a state."

Aldora stepped away. "The letter concerns another matter."

"And that is?"

"Sorrow and hope."

He slumped on a chair behind the battered desk he’d brought from the estate manager’s office. For years until it had been sold, a magnificent oak piece had graced the room. "Whatever do you mean?"

She opened the letter. "This is from Duncan Gordon of India. He rescued Alice and married her. Drew, I have three granddaughters." Joy radiated from her eyes and filled her voice.

"How do you know this isn’t a trick to foist some merchant’s chits on you so they can be presented to the ton? News of your daughter’s flight were wide-spread."

She shook her head. "He mentions things only Alice knew. And he sent me this." She held a locket. "I gave it to her on her twelfth birthday. She always wore it."

"And now this merchant sends his daughters so you can bear the expense of them. How, when we can barely feed and clothe ourselves?" He scowled.

"Why are you so cynical? My son-in-law wants his daughters away from India. He suggests you marry the eldest girl and become guardian of the younger ones. They stand to have substantial fortunes."

Drew walked to the window that looked into the rear courtyard of the H-shaped house. He pulled aside the musty draperies and stared at the night sky. What else could he be but cynical? He had land he couldn’t sell, houses he couldn’t repair, and people dependent on him he couldn’t help.

Had Duncan Gordon married Aldora’s daughter? How could he be sure the girls were what they said?

"Perhaps he recently learned Alice is the daughter of an earl and wishes to use your position to see her daughters marry well."

"I don’t believe that’s the reason. With the dowries mentioned in the letters, the girls can marry for love."

"Love is a dream." The words emerged clipped and cold. He’d never understood how such a vague emotion could turn a man or a woman into a fool. He remembered the many times he’d heard his mother cry about her love for his father. Then her love for another man had caused her to abandon her family.

He heard the rustle of Aldora’s skirts and inhaled the sweet smell of lavender. "He heard of Edgar’s death. He knows about the mountain of debts and how hard you have worked to discharge them."

Drew turned. "Then why hasn’t he written before?"

"Before Alice died, he promised he would protect her daughters from their grandfather’s greed. That need has passed."

The tears that glistened in her brown eyes brought an ache of sadness to Drew’s chest. His questions about these girls didn’t matter. To see Aldora smile and for her to have the comforts she deserved, he had been willing to marry an heiress. Why not this one?

He patted Aldora’s shoulder. "Would this marriage please you?"

"You know it would."

He nodded. "I need an heiress, and if the marriage will bring you joy --" He couldn’t say the words yet.

She brushed her hand over brown hair that was liberally sprinkled with white. "The directions for my son-in-law’s solicitor and business partner are in the letter. You must write him at once."

He felt trapped by her enthusiasm. "I’ll return to London tomorrow and seek him out. Would you like to come with me? I’m sure Tristan would be delighted to have your company."

She laughed. "La, Drew, I doubt that rascal would want an old woman meddling in his affairs." She patted his cheek. "There is much to do." Her radiant smile warmed him. "Three granddaughters. Nicola, Elizabeth and Margaret. This is more than I dreamed."

For an instant, her smile faltered. He knew she thought of her four daughters, each lost in some tragic way.

"And you have me." His need to have her confirm his importance to her startled him. He had neither right nor reason to feel threatened by these unknown chits.

The brilliance returned to her smile. "And you have brought me much joy." She lifted the candlestick. "I’ll see you at breakfast. Oh, Drew, I must make ready for my girls."

He felt a touch of regret that he hadn’t been the one to bring laughter to her voice. "There is time. The voyage from India is long."

"I know I must wait, but ‘twill be hard." She closed the door.

He picked up the letter and read the contents. Marriage to an heiress was the only way to restore the estates depleted by the late earl’s gambling. Drew groaned. He had all but agreed to the union.

He crumpled the letter. Marriage to one of the coming Season’s heiresses would never bring the weight he felt pressing on his chest. He had intended his marriage to be one of convenience, providing a title for his wife and money and an heir for himself. How could he have that kind of marriage with Nicola Gordon when she was Aldora’s granddaughter?

The crumpled paper fell on the desk. Aldora would expect him to love her granddaughter. Love was an illusion. He could never love any woman, even Nicola Gordon. He would never allow her to have that power over him. Never!

* * * *

Calcutta, September 1810

"Never!" Nicola held back her tears. She glared at the dark-haired man who stood on the other side of the table her father had used as a desk. Fergus Crawford always made her think of a snake. His dark and hooded eyes gleamed with the hypnotic power of a cobra. She swallowed the lump fear had formed in her throat. "My sisters and I will stay here. This house is ours."

His lips curled into a sneer. "Calcutta is no place for three lassies ta live with na male protection. Your pa and me were partners and cousins. He’s sure ta name my guardian."

Nicola drew a deep breath. He didn’t know about the arrangements her papa had made for them. "We will not leave our home."

"Then I will come here. ‘Tis a finer house than mine." His smile chilled her. "Time has come for me ta take a wife. Your canny eye for gemstones had made a fortune for your pa and me. I ain’t about to lose your skills."

Nicola swallowed a rush of bitter fluid. She needed time. If the escort didn’t arrive soon, she would have to take her sisters and flee.

He leaned across the table. "I think you’ll do nicely. You’ve a fortnight to make ready for the wedding. I’ll be away. Your pa lost something of great value. You sure there was na goodly sized sapphire in the last lot you sorted?"

She shook her head. She refused to tell him about the pouch her father had given her and the gems she hadn’t examined yet. "You saw all the gems there were."

"Search again. I want that sapphire." He clamped his hat on his head. "Twa weeks, lassie."

Once he’d vanished, the tears she’d held inside burst free with the same force as the monsoon rains now lashing the house. She sank to her knees on the carpet and pressed her forehead against her father’s chair. For a short time, she allowed grief and fear to dominate. Then, she wiped her face on the skirt of her black silk afternoon dress.

When would the escort arrive? Her insides churned at the thought of being forced into a marriage with Fergus Crawford. If he claimed guardianship of her sisters, who in Calcutta would protest? Why hadn’t her parents said more about their families? Papa had been an orphan and Mama had only spoken of a cruel father and a timid mother. She’d never mentioned where in England they lived or said their name.
Nicola had believed her life would continue in the pattern set after her mother’s death. She would run the house, supervise and teach her sisters and evaluate gemstones for her father. The trade in jewels provided monies for household expenses and to be sent to London to be invested.

She rose from the floor and entered the parlor where her sisters sat. Margaret jumped up. "Did he hurt you?"

"He wouldn’t dare." At least not yet. Nicola shuddered.

"But I heard you crying."

"He says I must marry him." She gulped a breath. "He can’t stay here. We must be gone before he returns to the city."

"Where will we go?" Elizabeth asked.

"Papa wrote to Mr. Grey months ago and asked for someone to escort us to London." Nicola grasped the back of a chair. "We will go to our mother’s family." She would see her sisters safe in London. Then she would return for she couldn’t imagine living elsewhere."

Margaret ran to the amah. The plump woman held the ten year old against her chest. Prabha’s ebony eyes filled with tears. The amah had been with the family since Nicola’s birth. She was the only mother Margaret knew."

Margaret stamped her foot. "I want to stay with Prabha." Her voice rose to a wail.

To forestall more tears, Nicola made a promise she wasn’t sure she could keep. "She will come with us. Sarad, too. You must pack your things and be ready to leave."

Once her sisters and the amah left the room, Nicola slumped on a chair. The fear she had hidden from them leaped into her thoughts like a tiger pouncing on a victim.
A short time later, she stepped onto the verandah and strode toward the rear of the house. The heavy rains had lightened, but the day remained gloomy.

She hadn’t told her sisters that their father had arranged a marriage for her. She thought of her parents and the closeness they had shared. She wanted to find the same kind of love, but how could she with a stranger?

"Papa," she cried. "Why did you leave us?"

"Young Seeker."

Nicola whirled. "Namtase, Yogi Yakshi. I didn’t expect you today."

"There is much I must tell you before you leave this land." He put a hand on her arm to still her cries of protest. "You must listen."

She bowed her head. "I will hear."

"There is a gem, the Third Eye of Siva. The one who has the gem as a gift will receive all he deserves."

She frowned. Papa had mentioned Siva and the Third Eye. Cousin Fergus had demanded a large sapphire. Were they the same?

"I don’t understand."

"This is not the time for understanding. It is the time of flight from danger."

"Why did Papa leave us?"

The elderly man took her hand. "My child, each of us remains on this plain for an allotted time. Your father has completed his cycle and now embraces a new existence."

"How can you be sure?"

He smiled. "This is the way of things."

Nicola knew he would say no more on the matter. She leaned against the railing.

"In the distant past, wise men cast horoscopes for those born in the future. I have seen yours. You have tasks to perform. In a far land, you will meet one who needs your loving spirit to release him from the bonds he has tied around his heart and soul."

What did he mean? The yogi’s teachings were often oblique and filled with mystical meanings. "I don’t want to leave my home."

"To stay is to court danger." Dark eyes filled with wisdom captured her gaze. "Once you look into the Third Eye of Siva, all will be clear."

She swallowed. "I don’t understand."

"You must leave this land and fulfill your destiny. Forget not my teachings and choose your path to maksha carefully. The way of liberation from the cycles is difficult, yet each time you make the journey brings you closer to perfection."

Sadness wove a dark pattern in her thoughts. "I will return. I can’t live forever in a strange land."

"Love will bind you to the place of your people. The path to kama is strewn with boulders, but in the end, you will find all the love you seek. My blessing goes with you."

Nicola bowed to him. "May your days be filled with enlightenment."

"And yours with learning. We have met before and our lives will be joined again."

"I pray you are right."

"Miss Nicola," Sarad called. "A man has come."

Nicola watched the yogi until he reached the garden gate. She wanted to call him back and ask him to change the words he’d said and to give her hope of a return. After he vanished into the mist, she followed Sarad into the house.
A slender, foppish man with graying hair paced from one side of the parlor to the other. At Nicola’s entrance, he paused. "Miss Gordon."

"Who are you?"

"Isaac Timmons, at your service. Mr. Grey sent me to escort you and your sisters to London."

Relief flooded Nicola. "When do we leave?"

"The ship sails in a week. I trust you will be ready."

She nodded. They would be safely away before Cousin Fergus returned to Calcutta. "We’ll be ready. We’ve already begun to pack."

"Very good." he smiled. "By the time we reach London, the Earl of Denmere will have signed the marriage contracts."

She wished to forget that part of her father’s plans. She turned away. Why must she wed a stranger?

After Mr. Timmons was settled in the guest room, Nicola went to her bedroom. She lifted the pouch of gems her father had pushed into her hand the night he died. In England, her sisters would be safe. She tucked the pouch in her trunk. The gemstones would provide a means for her return.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday's Writing Tip == Reading for Revision

Now that you've decided and used which ever method of revision you'll be using what happens now? Done, done, you think. That's not necessarily so. What you need to do at this point before you send the mss out is to do a read through, Often in reading the story you';; find the little things that take away from the story being as perfect as you are capable at the moment. The words the spell check missed because they're really a word but not the right one like way for was or other words like this. You might also find punctuation marks, particularly ? marks you've missed. There are other things to read for. My method is to print out the story in single space and to use a ruler to go line by line. This keeps me from becoming so involved in the story that I forget why I'm reading. There are other points to consider.

Point of View == Is this consistent and the changes smooth, Are you forcing the reader to follow the bouncing ball>

Show not tell -- Are there passages when you go back to read that you're told when showing will make the story sing?

Sequencing - Does the action in a scene flow in a direction that the reader can follow or do you have several sentences that are out of place. Once write a scene when the hero discovered something before it happened.

Does a scene run past the effective point sort of like those goodbyes that go on and on when no one wants to close the door? This calls for some cutting.

Has the tone been consistent or have you thrown in a section that sounds like someone else has written it> I've found this often happens when research material has been introduced and the writer turns to the teacher voice.

These are things you may not find either when revising as you go or doing a number of drafts and could be a chance an editor won't buy or a reader will hate your book.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Interview Hal Thompson -

Here are the questions. Which Yorktown? Janet

That Yorktown, the one in Virginia. The first book I sold to Zumaya was a fictional account of the siege told from the POV of several characters, historical and fictional. When the publisher wanted me to create a Yahoo email account, I tried to use halthompson as my username. But it was already taken. So halthompsonyorktown it was.

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

I write in several genres, including historical, fantasy, science fiction, and non-fiction, but so far I’ve only had publishing success with the historicals. I placed four novels with Zumaya Publications, all of them historical, and I’ve had one short screenplay produced by a film director other than myself, and that was also an historical.

I should mention too that the novels are also military adventures. That makes them cross genre, I suppose.

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

I made a very conscious decision to try my hand at an historical novel after having written four awful fantasy novels and one bad novel about law students. It was about 1994, and as my interest in fantasy literature began to wane I started reading C. S. Forester, Bernard Cornwell, and Patrick O’Brian, all great writers of historical military and naval adventure. I’d been working summers at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, a Victorian era British fort in Canada, and had both a wealth of historical information at my fingertips and a passion for history. Somewhat discouraged by my previous failures, I decided to take a crack at a novel set during the Crimean War, just as an experiment. After all, I thought, history and fantasy have a great deal in common, fantasy being - in some ways - a type of mythical history. There was the added bonus of having the skeleton of a plot laid out for me. All I had to do was choose point A in history as my beginning and point B as my ending. I would fill in the rest with my characters and their dilemmas.

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

I’d still like to try fantasy, though in the young adult category. I have a first draft of a YA fantasy novel finished, but it needs a lot of work. I’m not sure there’s a genre I wouldn’t try. If I have an idea I like, it doesn’t necessarily matter what genre it falls into. I tried romance once, though my idea fizzled. I can go through periods of leaping from subject to subject, sometimes finding it hard to concentrate or focus until I finally land on something sticky.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I read tons and tons of historical novels, most of them with a military theme. I’ll probably read one science fiction, fantasy, or straight literary novel for every five historical novels. I also read a lot of non-fiction, history and science mostly.

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

I’m really a very ordinary person. I have a family, a house in the suburbs, a garage, two cars, and a full time job during the day with Parks Canada (the Canadian equivalent to the US National Parks Service). I develop visitor programming at the Halifax Citadel, which is really another form of storytelling. I often think of myself as a storyteller more so than a writer, since I dabble in several forms of media, including film and graphic novels (there’s that leaping from thing to thing again). I started writing for my own amusement as soon as I could read, when I was five. I wrote comic books and strip cartoons for fun when I was a kid, but the ambition to write a real novel didn’t strike me until junior high school. By grade twelve I’d finally managed to finish something, the first of those four lousy fantasy novels.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

I have two favourite characters. The first is William Dudley, the star of the For Empire and Honor series. Dudley is a Victorian era British officer, a naïve idealist who believes in the glory of the British Empire. I know Dudley well after taking him through three books so far, and I look forward to writing his fourth adventure. I love his optimism and enthusiasm, even though some of that gets beaten out of him after his part in two savage wars.

My other favourite character is my fictional version of George Washington from my upcoming novelization of the siege of Yorktown during the American Revolution. Although I’m Canadian, I’m a big fan of Washington, who turns out to be quite a misunderstood figure. I enjoyed reading about him during the research phase, and enjoyed portraying him on paper even more.

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

The first William Dudley book, Dudley’s Fusiliers, has a villain of sorts, but he reforms by the end and the main antagonist is really injustice. Guns of Sevastopol, the second Dudley book, has a clear villain named Captain David Neville, but the third book, The Sword of the Mogul, again doesn’t really have a clear villain. Some characters do villainous things, but ignorance is the real bad guy. That was just the story I preferred to tell, the one that suited the historical period best, and after the selfish villainy of David Neville, I didn’t want to repeat the same plot points.

Neville was actually based on true stories of bad British army officers, an amalgam of several real people. He represents the negative side of the British officer corps in the Victorian period. He seemed an obvious and necessary character for a series based within the Victorian British Army, and I wanted to introduce him early in the series to just get that ball rolling.

8. What are you working on now?

I have several projects on the go, and am having a difficult time deciding on which I should devote the most time. One is a science fiction screenplay with the working title of Into the Stars. The other is an historical graphic novel about General James Wolfe at Quebec in 1759. The third is the YA fantasy novel I mentioned earlier, which I really should try to fix.

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

I currently have only one book in print, which is Dudley’s Fusiliers. Guns of Sevastopol should be out soon. It was actually published in an earlier edition in 1998, but I suspect the new edition will contain revisions. It’s the natural sequel to Dudley’s Fusiliers and picks up right after the first book ends, finding William Dudley recovering in hospital after having been wounded at the Battle of Inkerman. It answers the question, “So what happened next?”

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

Well I guess that would be a sequel to question 9. Here’s the raw, uncut and uncorrected opening to Guns of Sevastopol.

Chapter One

March, 1855

Ensign William Dudley stepped through a side door of the colossal Barracks Hospital. The March sun bathed him in its rich light, and he drew in a deep breath. Winter was over, and the air smelled of spring, a season that came early to the Turkish empire. It was now almost as warm as a summer day in Hampshire, Dudley's native county in England.

He clapped a wide-brimmed straw hat onto his blond and curly head. As he adjusted the hat, he studied a batch of feathery clouds hanging low in the north. Somewhere beneath those clouds a war was raging. The British army would be preparing a new offensive, and Dudley would join it just in time. In four days he would return to the front, to the ongoing siege of Sevastopol, a siege that was five months old now.

Four days. Four days before he returned to the blood and carnage, the mud and the sleepless nights, and the endless crashing of the guns.

The prospect should have disturbed him, but it did not. He wanted to rejoin his men, and it would be a relief to leave Scutari, to be free of the Barracks Hospital. So grand from a distance, the cavernous building had meant certain death for many a wounded man. For Dudley it had meant sickness and misery. He would not miss it. There was only one thing about Scutari that he would be sad to leave.

Movement caught his eye, and he turned to see a slight female figure approaching from his left. Quickly snatching off his straw hat, he said, "Good morning, Miss Montague."

The nurse who had saved him returned his greeting with a suppressed smile. "Good morning, Ensign Dudley," she said. She did not pause to chat, but continued on her way, following the outside perimeter of the huge building.

Dudley watched her receding form, fingering his hat.

A hired caique took Dudley across the smooth surface of the Bosporus Strait. Other caiques plied the water, their slender hulls gliding between the pleasure yachts, fishing boats, and larger European vessels. Dudley watched a trio of British men-of-war on his left, solid and dominating where they lay at anchor. A flock of white birds swooped in amongst the tangle of masts and spars, rising and falling but never coming to rest. The French called the birds corps damne, for the Turks believed them to be the souls of unfaithful wives, condemned to perpetual motion for their sins. Angry husbands often bound such women into sacks and cast them into the strait to drown. To the Turks, it was reasonable to assume that the unworthy souls of those women would remain here in some form.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday's Inspiration -- Bird By Bird - The Last Class

Finally finished Bird By Bird for who knows how many times. Have enjoyed exploring the things Anne Lamott writes about as a way of helping other writers. She titled this one, The Last Class. Most of the segment is a summary of what was written before.

What struck me this time is the bit about writing from vengeance. Here's my take on this. Writing about the painful moments or the people who have caused them can be cathartic. Of course you must be careful to disguise the people you're either making villains or lampooning. One doesn't want to give grounds for being sued. I have used this devise many times in my writing. Taking something that hurts or someone who has hurt you can help your own growth. Often I do this in a humorous way and sometimes not. One can also take this incident or person and turn them one hundred eighty degrees and make the event or the person be what you would like them to have been.

That's the beauty or writing. Taking the things you feel, the people you both love and hate, the times that have changed or not changed your life and turning them into a story with a basic truth at the bottom, often buried but it's there to be polished and enjoyed.

Thanks to Anne Lamott for being an inspiration to me. If you haven't read the book, I suggest you find a copy and enjoy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

20 June - Week Behind and Week Ahead

Last week was full of interesting things. I finished keying in the four books that will go with bwlpp and two of them have been released. The Doctor's Dilemma and Gemstones. Finished the galleys of The Henge Betrayed -- Quests so that book will be out soon. I seem to do things in blocks these days. Have finished the rough draft of a Second Seduction and will be busy getting it in order to send out. Then it will be on to something new.

During the coming week on Tuesday I'll do the last Bird By Bird inspiration and will find a new book to see what I can garner. Wednesday will find me again doing a post on Plotting, Thursday's interview is with Hal Thompson, a fellow Zumaya author. Friday will be more on revision. Saturday the first chapter of Gemstones and Sunday three more blogs to visit. Unless I find something wonderful and unusual I'll be posting the blogs belonging to my followers. So now it's back to work.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday A site that does reviews Has an interview up with me One of my followers

Saturday, June 18, 2011

1st Chapter Saturday -- The Doctor's Dilemma

The Doctor's Dilemma. Had fun with this story. The story begins in an airport with the heroine and two babies expecting to see the hero and ends up in the same place with the hero and the babies waiting for the heroine.

Chapter 1

Streams of people eddied around Nora Harte, the pile of luggage and the double stroller. She scanned the faces of the crowd. A babble of voices filled the air. In an impatient rhythm, she tapped her foot against the floor.

Where is he?

Since Thursdays were almost a universal doctor’s day off, the trip had been scheduled for today. He knew the flight number and the time of arrival. The plane had been on schedule.

She groaned. The simple baby run had become anything but easy.

The loudspeaker crackled. “Would passenger Nora Harte pick up one of the courtesy phones?”

When the words blared a second time, with a start, Nora realized the message was for her. Yeah, right. She stared at the three suitcases, one diaper bag and the pair of car seats. She’d need the arms of an octopus to fulfill the request.

What had kept Dr. McKay from the meet?

One of the twins puckered his mouth and added his screams to the cacophony in the baggage claim area of the Dallas airport. Nora crouched and stroked the baby’s cheek. “It’s only a minor delay. We’ll be out of here soon.” At least, she hoped they would.

The strident voice issued the command again. “How?” she asked. The logistics of the move defeated her. She couldn’t abandon the babies or the luggage to search for a phone. She’d been deputized to deliver Molly and Tod Jamison to their guardian and she took this duty seriously.

The sight of a man in a gray uniform pushing an empty luggage cart solved the problem. “Sky cap, over here.” She used the voice that had parted crowds on busy New York City sidewalks. The one she hadn’t used since she’d moved upstate.

“Take these bags and the infants.”

“Don’t load babies on the cart, ma’am.”

“Sorry. I know that. I meant the infant seats. I have to answer the phone.”

“Excuse me.” His expression projected the idea she had flipped.

Maybe she had -- last week when she’d agreed to deliver the babies to their guardian. “The page. Nora Harte. That’s me.”

He pointed to the far wall. “Courtesy phone’s over there.”

“Thanks.” Nora gripped the stroller handle. She pushed through the crowd like a subway rider aiming for the last seat. The noise level made her wonder if she’d be able to hear the message.

An easy trip, she thought. A way to add to her dream house account. Just fly to Dallas with the infants, meet their guardian and be on her way.

So far nothing about the trip had been a snap. Why had she thought her experience as a nurse would make the mission a breeze? Even a three month tour of duty in a busy city hospital nursery hadn’t prepared her for the reality of caring for twins.

She hadn’t counted on the surround-sound screams that they’d raised in protest of being air-borne. Or of juggling two infants who wanted a bottle at the same time. Not finding their guardian at the airport had been the final episode in her nightmare of the week.

She lifted the courtesy phone receiver. “Nora Harte speaking. I believe you have a message for me.”

The voice on the other end of the line explained that Dr. McKay had been unavoidably detained. Ms. Harte was to proceed to the car rental desk to pick up a car and the directions to the doctor’s house in Prairie, Texas.

She gritted her teeth. This deviation from her agenda added another problem she should have expected. Why had she believed anything about this trip would work?

Drops of frustration splattered her thoughts. If Dr. McKay had attended his foster sister’s funeral, this disaster would have been avoided. He could have taken custody and faced the journey from hell on his own.

She waved to the sky cap. “Where’s the car rental desk?”

“This way, ma’am.”

He pushed the cart with the finesse of an obstacle course champion. Nora threaded the stroller through the gaps he opened. Tod’s cries changed to gurgles. Molly’s began.

Nora patted the infant girl. “Please, honey, no more tears.”

She groaned. Now she sounded like a commercial, but life had no easy solutions like those found in ad campaigns.

The sky cap halted in front of a counter. “Want me to wait?”

“Yes, please. At least until I learn where to find the car.”

He grinned. “You sure have cute babies and they sure favor you what with that yellow hair and them big blue eyes. Their daddy sure must be proud of them. Bet he can’t wait to see you all.”

Right, Nora thought. So eager he forgot to come. “They’re not...I’m not...” She closed her mouth. She was just the courier on this baby run, but there was no need to explain that to a stranger.

She stooped and dried Molly’s tears. In coloring, the babies did resemble her. What if -- An ache of longing filled her chest. She shook her head.

Not these babies.

Someday, she’d find a man who wanted the same things she did -- a family, a home, roots. As yet, she hadn’t found the one who’d made her dream of forever.

She gave her name, driver’s license and credit card to the clerk. In return, she received the keys to a four door sedan and a detailed set of directions.

Prairie, here we come.

She prayed Dr. McKay would be waiting. The delay had added hours to her trip to her parents’ house. Her plans called for her to be in Santa Fe by tomorrow evening.

The skycap pushed the baggage cart outside. Nora and
the twins followed. A breath of hot air seared her lungs. In New York, the temperature had been in the seventies. Here, it must be near ninety.

Once the baggage had been stowed in the trunk and the infant seats in place, Nora looked at her watch. Before starting the trip, the twins had to be changed and fed. She found the nearest rest room.

She picked up Molly, changed and cuddled the little girl for a few minutes. Then she did the same with Tod.

Adorable, sweet, lovable. She sighed. She couldn’t let these babies steal her heart. In two hours, she’d be in Prairie and on her way out of their lives. She fed them and pushed them to the car.

She studied the map. Seems like a straight shot west and a little south, she thought. Maybe this leg of the trip would work. She backed out of the parking space.

“Babies, we’re on our way.


Neal McKay put the last suture in the jagged cut on his patient’s calf. He stripped off his gloves and stepped back from the table. He glanced at the clock. Nearly three PM. He should have been home an hour ago, but the day hadn’t gone as planned. As the only doctor in town, this was the norm.

As usual, his day off had been filled with emergencies. A fractured tibia, a case of congestive heart failure, an acute allergy attack and now this.

They -- his wards -- should be at the house. He groaned and felt no more prepared for parenthood than he’d been the day he’d learned about his foster sister’s death -- a week after her funeral. Even if he’d known, he wouldn’t have been able to leave his patients to attend the service.

He groaned. The thought of being responsible for the twins’ care brought waves of insecurity. None of his experiences in the past had prepared him for this day.

“Do you want to do the dressing?”

Neal looked at the red-haired nurse. “He’s all yours.”

“Thanks, buddy. I owe you one.” Jack Gardner glared.

“If you’re talking about the patch job, just doing my thing.” Jack’s reaction made Neal chuckle. In college, they’d spent hours one-upping each other. He missed the days when they’d been like brothers.

Jack raised an eyebrow. “Is there a problem you need solved?”

“You might say that.”

“I’m not sure I’m qualified.”

“I don’t know about that.” Neal watched Patty Sue Crawford’s gaze center on his friend. He grinned. Maybe today was the turning point. Since his arrival in Prairie ten months before, she’d pursued him like a wrangler after a runaway steer.

“Can I go back to the ranch?” Jack asked.

Neal frowned. “Only if you promise to avoid horses and cattle until the stitches are out.”

“How long?”

“A week.”

“I can do that.”

Neal doubted the truth of the statement. Since Jack’s return to the ranch last month, he seemed bent on proving he was Cowboy of the Year.

“I’d rather admit you for the night. Give you some intravenous antibiotics and injections for pain. Once the local wears off, you’re going to know you’ve been hurt.”

Jack slid to the edge of the table. “No hospital. What if I stay at my grandmother’s?”

“Might work, especially after I tell Miss Hattie to tie you to the bed. Your injury is nothing to take lightly.”

Jack laughed. “Grandmother will see that I obey orders. She should have been a general. You coming to the barbecue Saturday?”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Patty Sue said.

Jack looked away. “Honey, your presence is a given. I meant Doc here.”

Neal shrugged. “I’ll see how things go. My wards arrive today. I’ll probably be too busy learning how to be a daddy.”

“I can’t imagine you with a pair of doggies.”

Neither could Neal, but he wasn’t about to admit it. “I don’t have a choice.”

“Guess not. I kind of envy you. You’ve achieved fatherhood without the M word.” Jack chuckled. “Bring the doggies with you. The ladies will love them.” He shook his head. “Never thought you’d be saddled with kids. They’ll make big changes in your life.”

Patty Sue opened a dressing kit. “I think Neal -- Dr. McKay will be a wonderful father.”

How did she manage to make a deliberate slip of the tongue seem natural? “Thank you, Ms. Crawford. See that Jack has a copy of the discharge instructions and make an appointment for Friday.” He waved to Jack. “I’ll call the prescriptions to the pharmacy and have them delivered to Miss Hattie’s.”

“See you and the doggies Saturday,” Jack called. “I’m sure Grandmother expects to see you there.”

Neal nodded. He’d be at the barbecue with the twins or Miss Hattie would come for him. The town’s matriarch was used to having her way.

He strode down the hall to his office. Parties at the
Gardner mansion were events to be experienced, but he wasn’t sure he could handle an evening of listening to the benefits of life in Prairie.

He had to go -- home. But there were things he had to complete before he left. He welcomed the delay in facing this new responsibility and sat at his desk to phone the drugstore and write a note on Jack’s chart.

Home -- the twins -- his legacy. He groaned. Jack was right.

Two babies would force changes in his lifestyle that he wasn’t ready to make. He wasn’t even sure where to begin.

Instead of heading home, he reached for a stack of letters he’d received in response to his queries about another temporary position. The time to move had come. A year was long enough to stay in one place.

But he had a family now. His choice of where to head next had to include them. How could he make a home for the twins? He’d been raised as a foster child in a series of placements. A football scholarship had allowed him to escape the last foster home where he’d endured three years of being treated as an outsider. He slammed up barriers against the memories of those days.

Those memories brought no answers to his current dilemma. His lifestyle didn’t lend itself to an instant family. The longest he’d stayed in one place had been the four years in college and the same amount in medical school. Every time he considered staying in one place, his anxiety level peaked.

He shoved the letters in a drawer and left the office. He’d do his best for Sherri’s babies but he couldn’t promise them a stable life and a real family. With this thought firmly in place, he left the clinic and jogged down the street toward his rented house to face his foster sister’s attempt to turn him into a family man.


Twin wails drown the sound of the car radio. Nora wanted to pull to the side of the road, put her head on the steering wheel and add her cries to the ones pouring from the back seat. The two hour drive had stretched to three and headed for four.

“Hush, hush, now babies, don’t you cry.” Her voice sounded hoarse. “We’ll be there soon.” If the directions were right, they were about twenty-five miles from Prairie. She was too close to her goal to stop for another futile attempt to quiet them.

When she saw the sign announcing Prairie, Texas, population 10166, she nearly shouted with joy. She slowed the car to meet the speed limit. The crying stopped and so did the pounding in her head.

She looked around and saw houses that appeared to have been there forever. The business district had the same appearance. An odd excitement filled her. For an instant, she felt as though she’d come home.

A foolish notion. Home was an apartment in a town on the Hudson River not far from New York City. Years ago, home had been houses and apartments in myriad towns and cities, but never a place like Prairie.

What would it be like to live here, she wondered. She’d never know. She had a secure job and plans to buy a house and plant her roots in bedrock. She’d even found a house that fit her budget.

A moment later, she turned into Gardner Street and her dream house changed from a suburban ranch into a white clapboard three story house surrounded by a white picket fence. This was the kind of house she’d always dreamed of owning.

She pulled into a driveway that led to a detached garage. After unfolding the stroller, she put the twins in their seats and pushed them onto the wide porch that embraced the house. She rang the bell. Chimes pealed. The babies waved their arms and kicked their legs.

Nora chuckled. “I know the feeling. It’s good to be out of the car. Won’t be long before you’re settled in your new home.”

In the distance a clock chimes three times. She rang the bell again and tapped her foot against the porch floor.

Where is he?

She needed to settle the babies and be on her way. When there was no answer, she tried the door and to her surprise it swung open.

“Dr. McKay, we’re here.”

Her voice echoed in the hallway. She pulled the stroller inside and closed the door. Cool air bathed her heated skin and she sighed with relief. “Dr. McKay.”

Where was that man?

She pushed the stroller into the living room. The lack of homey touches confirmed his bachelor status. The white walls were bare. A couch, two chairs, a coffee table and an entertainment center were the only furnishings. A stack of taped boxes stood near the shelves that lined one wall. The sight stirred memories that made her gut churn.

Was he moving?

According to Lena Greene, he’d been here less than a year. Since finishing his residency, he had worked in two other towns. Because of his frequent moves, even in these days of rapid communication, locating him had taken more than a week.

She parked the stroller beside the couch and returned to the car for the diaper bag and the twins’ suitcases. Then she took a multi-colored afghan from the couch and spread it on the beige carpet. Once the twins had been changed, she laid them on the afghan with some rattles and a pair of teddy bears.

What plans had he made for the babies?

She had expected to see a playpen or even a portable crib. She left the room, found the kitchen and put several bottles in the refrigerator. After filling a glass with water, she leaned against the counter and sipped. Here too, the furnishings were minimal. Though she knew she shouldn’t pry, she couldn’t resist exploring cabinets that resembled Mother Hubbard’s cupboards.

When would he arrive?

Soon, she hoped. She looked at her watch. She hadn’t planned to spend much time here. Just long enough to give him a report and deliver the packet of official papers.

Nora chewed on her lower lip. She hoped he’d come soon. She needed to be on the road.

When she returned to the living room, she sat on the afghan. Molly and Tod reached for the ball on a string that she dangled for them. The hands on her watch crept forward. She fed the twins. Molly fell asleep in her arms. Nora brushed the infant’s soft hair and sighed. Someday, she thought. As soon as Tod fell asleep, she carried their suitcase upstairs. While she waited for Dr. McKay, she’d unpack their belongings.

She opened the first door beyond the stairs. The massive unmade bed and the spicy aroma told her who slept in the room. A stack of sheets sat on a chair. Next door, she found a bathroom. She eyed the large claw-footed tub with envy. The house she planned to buy had an ordinary glass-enclosed tub/shower. She used the facilities and left the room.

The other three bedrooms on the second floor were nearly bare. In one she found a twin bed and in another, an assortment of unpacked boxes. Visions of her childhood flashed in her thoughts. She was sure her parents still carried sealed boxes every time they moved. Remarks she’d heard so many times filled her head.

“We don’t need the things in this one.”

“Then let’s not unpack it.”

She hurried downstairs, but even there, she couldn’t escape her memories. She slumped on the couch and stared at the sleeping babies.

Tightness settled in her chest. He hadn’t made a single preparation for the twins. She knew what that meant. Like her parents he was a rover. Why had his foster sister named him guardian for her babies? Surely, the woman knew the kind of life he lived. How could she hand the babies over to him? There was no choice. He was their legal guardian.

She stared at her watch. She’d been here for over a half hour. Her simmering anger built like steam in a boiling kettle.

The man was irresponsible. He’d known they were coming. He could have left a note. He could have called to see if they’d arrived safely.

She knew a doctor’s life was filled with unexpected emergency situations, but he’d known for a week when they would arrive.

He could have at least bought cribs.

She heard the front door close. She straightened and tried to hold her anger in check.

A tall, dark-haired man strode into the living room. Nora sucked in a breath. A dark green knit shirt spanned his broad chest and made his shoulders seem massive. Well- worn jeans molded his muscular legs. His face was ruggedly handsome. On the physical side, he embodied her dream of the perfect man. Except, she had seen the unpacked boxes, one evidence of his restless nature, and in that, he fit her every nightmare.

He grinned and his expression was boyish and devil-may-care. As his gaze swept from her face to her feet, his smile changed.

“Dr. McKay, I presume.” She struggled to keep calm.

“At your service.” He leaned against the door frame.

“Where have you been?”

“At the clinic.”

“Did you forget we were coming? What are you going to do about Molly and Tod?”

His gaze met hers. She saw confusion there. “Raise them, I guess.”

His answer brought her to a halt. For an instant, she felt sorry for him. He’d had little chance to refuse the responsibility. Then she remembered his lack of preparation.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday - Writer's Tip -- Revision For those who revise as they go

This isn't the way I generally write, but sometimes I do this with the opening scene and go to drafts from there. As with draft writing, there are advantages to revising as you write.

1. Writing sentence by sentence can be liberating. Why.
Makes the daily sting look easy since one doesn't have to write the entire book,
It isn't a draft so revision has already been done when the end is reached.
One can always go back and tinker if a block occurs and doing this may solve the problem.

2. From the first page, the style tone, pace and viewpoint is established,

3. Lets the writer understand who the characters are.

4. Problems can be solved the moment the occur.

5. One can work out the next scene or solve the problem while not writing more than a sentence, paragraph or a scene at a time.

6. Allows the story to develop and be controlled. One may have to go back and expand a scene or cut a scene or words but the writer who revises as they go along doesn't have to go back and change what's already happened.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday's Interview -- Debra Soles

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
Primarily I write Futuristic Romance, but occasionally I throw something unexpected in. Like, in June I have a Contemporary Romance called To Late coming out

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
It chose me and it was a major surprise. I always read contemporary or historical romances, normal stuff. My older sister was always the horror novel lover, into strange things. Don’t get me wrong. I’m one of the Buffy lovers, but when it came to books I just looked for the romance.
That was until one night I had a horrible nightmare that had be waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. The next morning I wrote down the details of that dream and before I knew it, that one dream had tuned into my four book Zogone series. The fourth book of the series, New Beginnings will be out in July.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
Honestly, I would love to be able to write Romantic Comedies. I have a great sense of humor, but my jokes aren’t quite up to snuff. As my twelve-year-old son is more than happy to say, “Ma that was lame.” He rolls his eyes and says to make sure I stick to what I’m good at, because I could never be a comedian with such lame jokes.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
As long as it’s romance I can read it. If there is no love, then it isn’t for me. My favorites would be a few of the greats Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, Charlaine Harris… I’m also a huge manga fan as readers can see from my dedication in Ancient Enemies.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
When I was twelve, I got my hands on my first Harlequin Romance. The picture on the front lured me in, but it was the love story that kept me coming back for more. Every romance I could get my hands on I absorbed as if it were life and death. By the time I was fifteen I had a collection of close to a thousand titles and knew I had to be a writer.
Years of failure and learning went by before I published a few poems and won a Writing Round Robin contest with Harlequin. After a while my rejections stopped being because I hadn’t learned enough yet and became about my ideas being to strange. When I found out about New Concepts Publishing, I knew I had found the perfect place for me. They embraced the odd, strange, paranormal, sci-fi ideas I had, loving my new different concepts. Now years later they have published four books, with two more coming out this Summer. With even more where my weird came from.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
This question I had to think long and hard about. My favorite character would have to be Arlene Hardigan from Old Dreams. The nightmare that started it all started with her. At the time she was called Colleen, a young girl growing up in Scotland hundreds of years ago. She warns her village that monsters are coming and days later six people are abducted by aliens, her being one of them. She falls in love with an alien scientist, Brian, but ends up escaping back to Earth after an attack on their ship. When she makes it back the village priest accuses her of witch craft and burns her at the stake. Though rescued she didn’t make it, only the child she was carrying. When she is reincarnated, she becomes Arlene. Meeting Brian again she falls in love with him once more, at the same time she is chased by the Puritan Vampire. It’s a fight to stay alive and find her way back to the life she should have had.
Arlene is an important character in all the Zogone books, being the main entity that pulls all of her loved ones together. After everything she goes through, she can still be happy, energetic, hopeful and help keep her family going no matter the odds. She adapts to life as an alien and delegate, even at such a young age she can become the grandmother to all the characters who came after her own son. All that aside, she would have to be my favorite, because she is the first character to ever make me cry. In a scene in Past Regrets Ginger has found Colleen’s son who was cloned and cryogenically frozen when he was a teenager. The moment Arlene sees him she knows who he is and cries, “My Baby!” Every time I think of that scene I can’t help, but get choked up.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
In the Zogone saga, there is an enemy alien race called the Baygers, half cyborg/ half were-wolf race. They came about purely by what if, questioning myself, wondering what you would get by mixing to scary monsters. The major villain of the Zogone saga is a priest called the Puritan Vampire. As a human he used religion as a means to his evil burning a young woman at the stake, swearing she was a witch after predicting their village would be attacked by monsters. After the girl dies the priest is attacked by a vampire and changed into one himself.
The girl is later reincarnated and the Puritan Vampire goes after her again, blaming her for what happened to him. He shows up in all four Zogone books in one form or another, along with the children he fathered after attacking and raping four women.
The new villain in book four, New Beginnings, will probably the most amazing and outstanding. My main character Megumi and her ex-boyfriend end up crashing his fighter plane and being taken prisoner by Queen Shiva. Shiva terrifying, beautiful is the Hindu Goddess of destruction and rebirth. She is in the form of what looks like a ten feet long albino ferret that likes to collect aliens of all types as play things. When she has an Earthling and a Zogone solider in her castle, they become her favorite playthings and she fully intends to keep them.

8. What are you working on now?
If romance novels are my first love, music would have to come in as a close second. So, I couldn’t help writing a book with a rock band in it. Talkers, is about a pilot/mechanic Shayle, with the reputation for being the best and being able to take care of herself. When the safety of Ritter’s band is compromised by stalkers his uncle recommends Shayle to protect the band and catch the stalkers.
Though famous, talented, gorgeous young men, they have a secret from their past that makes them who they are and fuels the stalker problem. While Ritter is looking for true love, his twin brother rejects it. When they were children their father a mean nasty alcoholic showed them the bad side of love through yelling and abusive to their mother. Seeing it, jaded Petrus, making him into a player who sleeps with a different woman every night. Making it no surprise when stalkers came after him.
When their mother remarried, Ritter saw the good side of love and became the opposite of Petrus, desperately seeking his true love. He finds her in Shayle and despite all her objects he swears to make her his.
Near the Summer when my next book comes out, I will be featured in Wildfire Newsletter, where my readers can get a sneak peek at a scene from Talkers.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
The last book of mine that was released is the third book in my Zogone saga, Ancient Enemies. Like a lot of my ideas, this too came from a what if. In the second book, Past Regrets Sam the half human/half vampire child born from an attack by the Puritan Vampire, and his partner Ginger goes missing. The Zogone ship he was on does a D.N.A. search for him and found two matches, one was Sam the second they fear could be the then thought dead Puritan Vampire.
Ancient Enemies is the story of Ginger’s brother Josh searching for that second D.N.A. sign and finding more lost children like Sam. The story came about after considering if Sam’s mother was attacked, who says other women weren’t too. Josh has also been a much loved character from the first Zogone book Old Dreams and I thought he deserved a love story of his own.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.
After the discovery of a D.N.A. trace, Josh is pulled back into action to once again protect his family from an ancient evil that refuses to rest in peace. After years of watching everyone else find love, it’s finally Josh’s turn, but it comes at a price. Finding more victims of the Puritan Vampire, one long dead and two more living children carrying the blood viral disease.
Tama has lived his whole life being ostracized by society and forced to live with the knowledge that he isn’t exactly human. The Zogones find him to offer help and he agrees to go into space with them as long as he can bring his sister, freeing her from Yankii gang life.

Ancient Enemies: Prologue

It was funny how one event could lead to another, and then another until a person's life completely revolved around that one moment. That was what Josh's life was like.
It had all started over five hundred years before when a young woman named Colleen Hardigan was brutally murdered by a monster known as the Puritan Vampire. Before she died, her body was recovered by an alien race called the Zogones. Colleen's husband was one of the Zogone's rookie scientists, Dr. Brianth Hardigan.
The head of the science team realized Colleen was pregnant and managed to remove the fetus before her death, though Brian never knew the child had survived. After death, Colleen received the last rites that would help her be reincarnated and her husband Brian was cryogenically frozen until the day the Zogone's main computers could locate Colleen's life signs after her rebirth.

And that is where Josh comes in. Colleen's son Borus not only survived but also thrived. He grew up, married, and became a successful scientist in his own long life, with a large family of kids and grandkids. Josh was one of Borus' great-great-grandchildren.

After five hundred years of their family waiting, Josh and his younger sister Ginger made sure they were positioned in the military to take the mission if Colleen was reincarnated in their time. The moment her life signs were picked up, Ginger had been contacted and Brian was recovered from the Cryo-freeze. Then along with Josh, they had found her on Earth reborn as a teenager named Arlene Garnet.
Over time, her memories of her past life were recovered and her killer, who was again chasing her, was killed. Or at least that was what they thought. Four years went by and their lives took another unexpected turn.

Just five months before Ginger had been sent on another mission to recover a kidnapped victim, the son of an important Galactic Security Colonel. The boy, Leap Qualtose, was taken by the Zogone's enemy, the Baygers, to their home planet.
Ginger didn't go alone, but was ordered to take along Captain Samuel Paddington. Sam was a friend they had made on Earth, whom Josh had found following the Puritan Vampire. His mother had been another victim of the monster. The Puritan Vampire had beaten her, raped her, and then left her with a blood viral infection, which had later killed her. However, not before she had given birth to a half-human, half-vampire child, Sam himself.

During the rescue mission Ginger and Sam were caught and their transmitter equipment destroyed. In order to recover them, the battleship Replacer had resorted to scanning for their D.N.A. signs, which had led Josh to where he was now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday -- Plotting

Last week was four of the ways to get the over the top into the story. Today the other four will be looked at.

5. Do not have a multitude of these events or situations in the story. Too many will confuse the reader and also make what you're writing seem to have no direction. If there seems to be more than one improbability make sure they are all connected to a single cause.

6. Don't undercut your improbability by treating it with humor if you want this to be taken seriously. Don't turn it into a dream or show it's really something that can be explained by a science that doesn't exist.

7. Don't discuss the improbability in narrative summary. Better to show this through dialogue or action. Dialogue is the best way since this makes it believable. You want the reader to believe in the possiblity of the improbable.

8. Do not let this improbability take over the story and taking away from the characters. If you're using a magical character, making him or her all powerful with no flaws will make the story fall flat. Each character must have strengths and flaws to make them shine. Don't have your monster in every chapter. Spread the effects of the improbable element show through the story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday's Inspirations - Bird By Bird - Story's finished.

When I read this essay by Anne Lamott I learned I'm a writer she wouldn't like. She talks about how after sending out a manuscript whether to a reader, an agent or an editor she spends days watching the mail, waiting for the phone call and being unable to write. She remarks that there are other writers who send out the story and immediately sit down to start something new.

What about you? Are you a hoverer or a moving along sort of person? My take on this and this is just my kind of writing is that once I've sent a story or a novel out into the world, I must distract myself from thinging about what ifs. What if whoever is reading the pages hates the story? What if they love it and consider it the best thing I've ever written? Those kind of thoughts would impede me. The story that has gone into the world is the best I could do at the time with the material conjured in my imagination. It's complete until I receive suggestions, critiques or whatever befalls the story.

Of course in the back of my mind these questions lurk ready to pounce out if I let them. Just remember this my husband was undergoing major surgery and was given a fifty/fifty chance of surviving. I sat in the hospital waiting room with clipboard, notebook and pen and wrote on the mss I had been working on at home. Why? If I could escape I couldn't think about what might happen. That's the way I feel when I've completed a story to my satisfaction and have sent it on its way.

What about you? Do you sit by the phone and every time it rings nearly have heart failure? Do you watch the mail or look at your email waiting for some response, any response? Or do you sit down and take that new idea and see where it leads, hopefully away from thinking about the what ifs?

Monday, June 13, 2011

13 June -- Week behind and week ahead.

A look at last week. Began the re-formatting of a Double Opposition and am well into getting it done. Am about half done with A Sudden Seduction and it may be among the hottest I've done for a long time, especailly since the last one was YA. Had a real upsweep in visits to the blog and have no idea why but I'll keep at it. Went to the June meeting of the chapter and had a good time. About 9 of us present. Several practiced pitches getting ready for the conference in New York. I'm not going. I'll leave that for the younger set.

Coming this week is to get further with both projects from last week and to begin the final one for re-edits. Tomorrow, more Bird by Bird, Wednesday more on Plotting, Thursday Debra Solus will be the interviewee, Friday more on revision, Saturday The Doctor's Dilemma will be ist chapter and Sunday, must find more blogs to visit.

One thought for today is about the friends who have fallen by the wayside in writing. I have at least two who are strong and interesting writers, much better than I am but for different reasons they have given up, one after being published and one who never made the published state. I wish I knew how I could push them to begin again but I guess each person must find it within themselves. What do you think?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday Interesting suggestions about branding yourself Interesting article on Kisses Interesting article on Amazon

Saturday, June 11, 2011

1st Chapter Saturday -- A Marriage Inconvenient

A Marriage-- Inconvenient shows if a past love can be reclaimed.

Chapter 1

Two hours of pep talks, a dozen whispered mantras and five sets of calming breaths failed to settle Carrie Graham’s acute case of nerves. Get a grip, she told herself. She was going to see Tony -- childhood defender -- teenage ego booster -- the one person who’d always listened. Besides, she’d already eliminated every other candidate for the position.
Who are you kidding?
From the moment she’d been presented with her current dilemma, he was the only possibility. All she had to do was convince him… But could she? Sure Tony listened, but he didn’t talk about his problems or his feelings.
The fading light of dusk made her slow the car in order to read the street signs. She’d planned to leave the apartment at noon but the short nap after her night shift had stretched until late afternoon.
She made the final turn into Fourth Street in the small West Virginia town established in the days when coal mining had dominated the area. She shook her head. Rundown houses and boarded storefronts were the norm along the town’s main street. Why was Tony practicing medicine in this end-of-the -road place?
She hadn’t seen him for years, not since several months after his marriage -- an event that had shaken her life. His wife hadn’t understood the friendship or Tony’s and Carrie’s mutual interest in medical mysteries. With a flash of anger, Carrie recalled the night that woman had stormed into the hospital cafeteria and spewed jealous accusations.
Carrie’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. She’d been embarrassed, hurt and angry -- enough that she’d walked away from her best friend.
She’d heard rumors that Tony’s wife had taken off for greener pastures. At least that’s what the hometown gossips had said. Not that Carrie believed in gossip, especially after the news of her inheritance had brought the tongue- waggers out in force.
She slowed the car to a crawl. Waves of panic lashed against her momentary calm. The place in her head where she’d filed his address was empty. She braked. The paper with the directions fluttered from the dashboard. She bent and grabbed them.
One glance was enough to retrieve the forgotten data. She eased off the brake and cruised the street. Half the houses had missing numbers. What now? Then at the foot of the dead end street, she saw the ones she’d memorized displayed in shiny brass on a massive gray house that looked like the setting for a Gothic novel.
A broad lawn fronted the house. The tailored grass stood in contrast to the tangles on either side.
“This is the place.” She gulped a breath.
After parking at the curb, she slowly released a held breath. She strode up the walk and onto the wide porch. Muffled shouts and noises came from inside the house. She rang the bell. What sounded like a slammed door nearly sent her back to the car. Who was staging a major temper tantrum? She thought Tony lived alone.
She rang the bell again, this time holding for several peals. The door opened and she forgot why she’d come. She forgot to breathe. Her eyes widened and her heart pounded in a staccato rhythm until she thought her ribs would crack.
He was more than she remembered.
Are you sure you want to be here?
“Tony.” His name escaped on a sigh. She felt like a teenager come face to face with the latest movie hero. This was the man she planned to ask --
She changed her mind. Time to retreat. The plan wouldn’t work, not with the things he made her feel and what he made her want.
“Carrie...Oh lord, it’s been ages. What are you doing here? You look terrific.”
She did? He must be blind. Even her coworkers had made comments about the deep smudges beneath her eyes. Most days, she felt as though she was suffering from terminal exhaustion.
“Come in.” He took her hand.
Exhaustion vanished. He’d always made her feet great, but this instant tonic-effect startled her. Coming to see him had grown corners she couldn’t see around.
“I can’t believe you’re here.” He drew her inside. “What brings you to town?”
She wanted to tell him, but the words caught in her throat. “Would you believe I was in the neighborhood?
Tony laughed. “No.”
She inhaled and the spicy scent of him invaded her space. “I came...” She couldn’t finish the sentence. He’d been her hero, her prince, her fantasy lover. In the flesh,
he relegated those images to black and white.
“I bet you came to apply for the nursing position at the clinic.” He steered her down a hall that needed paint
into a large living room. “Did you get lost on the way there? Unfortunately, I’m not the one you need to see.”
She shook her head. “Another job is the last thing I need. I already have two.”
She shrugged. “Necessity.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s a long story.” She sighed. “I shouldn’t have come.”
“What’s wrong? Sounds like you need a shoulder.”
The entire body, she thought. “You could say...It’s like this...I have a problem that needs a solution...It’s sort of...” Her throat closed. Maybe she should leave. Go home. Forget the plan. Find a new one. Except, he was her first, last and only choice.
“Be glad to listen.” He patted her hand. “Are you saying in all these years, you haven’t found anyone else to listen?
I haven’t looked, she thought. There couldn’t be a replacement for Tony. She couldn’t tell him that. “I thought...Maybe you can help.”
“Be glad to try. Go ahead.”
A crash resounded. Carrie jumped. “I think you’re the one with the problem.”
“You could say that.” Tony rolled his eyes upward. “My son’s protesting his punishment for his latest series of pranks. He’s grounded with no TV and no phone.”
“What did he do?” She sat on one end of a shabby brown couch.
“Do you really want to know?”
She nodded. Hearing about Tony’s problems could give her time to gather her courage.
He slumped beside her. “He glued the sitter’s clothes together. She left in a huff.”
“Don’t blame her.” Carrie frowned. “I thought your son lived with his mother.”
“He did until July. She’s remarried…to one of the Brinkers. She and her new husband are on a world cruise honeymoon. They didn’t take Chad.”
His blue eyes were bleak. Was his pain for his son or himself? How badly had his failed marriage hurt him? “Are you all right with the idea?”
He shrugged. “I’ve mixed feelings.”
His expression showed hurt and anger, not ones she’d consider mixed. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s great having Chad here, but he’s angry about the divorce, about living here, about his mother’s new
husband. Wasn’t a great summer. Even with him in school, there are problems.”
“Maybe I can help.”
“Don’t know how.” He winked. “I’m not without experience in dealing with angry kids. “Remember --”
“Yes and don’t even mention the first time we met.”
“Or my black eye? Lord, it’s great to see you again. Why don’t you tell me why you came all this way?”
She ran her tongue over dry lips. She searched for an answer and couldn’t find one he’d believe. If she asked him, he’d think she was crazy.
Good grief, my thoughts are scrambled. He was too -- too -- male.
And your feelings for him haven’t changed.
The demand in his voice made her feel like a child facing an adult. “It’s...” What sounded like glass shattering brought her to her feet.
Saved, she thought. “Don’t you think you’d better see what he’s doing before he trashes the house?”
He raked his ebony curls with his fingers. “You’re right.” He headed to the door. “Promise you’ll stay ‘til I settle him. Then we’ll talk.”
“I’ll be here.”
She sank against the cushions. Maybe he’d need the entire evening to deal with his son. This visit was an act of desperation. After all, it had been years. Maybe he’d changed.
She looked around the sparsely furnished living room. Most of the pieces looked like refugees from second-hand stores. What had gone wrong for him? He’d been on the fast track. He’d entered practice with one of the largest medical groups in Pittsburgh. From some of her classmates, she’d heard how wonderful her was, what a caring doctor he’d become, and how loyal he’d been to his wife and child. Had the end of his marriage caused him to turn his back on success? She hadn’t heard and she hadn’t asked until two months ago. Her jobs had been in hospitals where he hadn’t been on staff.
The sound of a throat being cleared made her jump. A woman with streaks of gray in her brown hair stood in the doorway. Who? Carrie wondered. Hadn’t Tony said the sitter had quit?
“Dr. Flynn wondered if you’d like something to drink?”
Carrie covered a yawn with her hand. “Coffee if you have some made. I’m Carrie Graham, an old friend of Tony’s.”
“Hazel Smithton, housekeeper and reluctant sitter for a spell. Be right back.”
A short time later, Carrie sipped the strongest coffee she’d ever tasted. Two iced cinnamon rolls helped her swallow the bitter brew.
The hollow feeling in her stomach vanished, but the matching sensation in her chest expanded. She closed her eyes and planned explanations for the question she’d come to ask. No matter how she phrased her reasons, the words sounded like a desperate plea. Over the years, she’d learned begging never worked. Would this time be any different?


After pausing on the stairs to listen to Hazel’s ultimatum about hiring a sitter, Tony climbed to the second floor. His thoughts churned with a dozen conflicting emotions. Carrie was the last person he’d expected to find on his doorstep. When the bell had rung, he’s braced himself for another confrontation with an irate parent who had come to complain about Chad’s unruly behavior. Instead, he’d found a friend.
His day had been filled with unexpected incidents that had set him on edge. A clinic patient had died and Chad had acted up in school and at home. The third sitter in as many months had quit and taken a large chunk of his bank account.
Carrie’s arrival, while not a disaster, had pushed his thoughts to what could have been. She was the girl he’d watched grow into the woman he should have married. The one he’d never told how he felt and the one he couldn’t tell now. He’d chosen to marry Marilyn and the reason for that ill-fated marriage was throwing yet another temper tantrum.
He groaned. He’d tried to make the marriage work. He’d tried to give his wife the things she’d demanded, tried and failed. At least he hadn’t been the one to walk out the way his father had.
Chad was testing his patience and his love. Tony frowned. He knew the reason for the constant outbursts and pranks, but they abraded. When would his son understand that no matter what he did, he was loved?
Tony reached the door of his son’s room and ducked to avoid the sneaker that sailed through the air and smacked against the wall. He and Chad collided. Tony pulled his son into a tight embrace.
“That’s enough,” Tony said.
“I didn’t do anything.” The scowl on Chad’s face reflected the anger in his blue eyes.
Tony released his son and closed the door. He fought to keep his anger and disappointment from erupting in a roar. “You didn’t attack the sitter’s clothes with glue? You didn’t talk your buddies into cutting school and heading to that tumble-down, abandoned house? What else didn’t you do?”
Chad looked up and Tony faced a younger version of himself, a version filled with the same anger Tony had felt years ago. He wanted to say that anger got you nowhere, but he couldn’t find the words.
“You don’t understand.” Tears filled the seven year old’s eyes.
“Then let’s talk about the glue. Why did you do it?”
Chad slumped on the bed. “She didn’t care about me. Just you.”
“I heard her talking to her girlfriend. Said you kissed her and was going to marry her. You can’t get married again.”
Tony groaned. “That’s what he got for hiring a college student. The next sitter would be someone Hazel’s age. “I never kissed her. And as for marriage, that’s not in my plans right now.”
Hope flashed in Chad’s eyes. “Good. You can marry Mom again. Then I won’t have to leave.”
Tony sat on the bed and put his arm around his son’s shoulders. “I can’t do that. She’s married to Brian and on her honeymoon.”
Chad thrust out his lower lip. “She’s playing a game.
I heard her. She said you’d be sorry when you heard she was getting married again. She said you’d come back.”
“I’m not. I hope she’s happy.”
“I hate her.”
“No, you don’t. You’re angry and hurt, but tantrums won’t change what had happened.”
“It’s not fair.”
“You’re right.”
Though he understood his son’s feelings, he couldn’t change what had happened. He’d been older when his dad had left, but he’d felt the same sense of abandonment.
“If she didn’t get married to him, would you marry her again?”
Tony’s shoulders slumped. Even if Marilyn hadn’t found another man, he wouldn’t have walked that street again. He had to find a way past his son’s stubborn insistence that life had to be his way.
“We’ll talk tomorrow. You need to hit the bed. You have school.”
“That’s not fair either. Why do I have to go to school when you’re off?”
A groan rumbled through Tony’s chest. “No more dawdling. To sleep, and tomorrow after school you need to clean this mess. I’ve got to go. I have company.”
“Another sitter?”
“An old friend.”
“No more sitters.”
Tony shook his head. “I can’t promise that. Someone has to be here in case I get called to the clinic at night. I can’t leave you alone and Hazel can’t stay every night. What if Ben needs her?”
“You left Mom at night. She was mad and she cried a lot.”
Tony gulped a breath. He wouldn’t criticize his ex-wife. She hadn’t understood the demands of his residency or that when he’d joined the medical group, he’d be the low man and subject to frequent night calls. He hadn’t been free to party the way she wanted. Until he’d discovered how often she had left Chad with sitters, he’d felt guilty about leaving her alone. He still felt guilty about what those years and the divorce had done to his son.
“I know your mom felt lonely and I’m sorry she cried.”
“I’m not coming down to meet your company.”
“That’s right. You’re going to sleep.”
Chad crawled beneath the covers. “Night, Dad.”
Though Tony wished for an apology, he could wait. He hugged his son. “Love you. See you in the morning. Good dreams.”
In time, Chad would realize temper tantrums wouldn’t soothe the pain her felt. Four months wasn’t long enough to
change his view of how to behave.
Downstairs, Tony paused in the living room doorway and studied Carrie. She was curled on a corner of the couch with the armrest as a pillow. A tangle of dark auburn curls framed her face. He smiled. Even in sleep, she looked like a sprite.
She also looked desirable. He shook his head. This was Carrie -- his buddy. Thank heavens she’d never known how he had felt. That would have multiplied his guilt tenfold when Marilyn had announced her pregnancy.
He couldn’t tell Carrie how he’d once loved and wanted to marry her. He wasn’t even sure they could be friends. His ex-wife had taught him there was no place in his life for love. His hands clenched and he pushed aside Marilyn’s ugly accusations.
The moment he entered the room, Carrie struggled to sit up. “I’m all right. I wasn’t sleeping. Who needs...I’ll be right there.”
“Whoa,” he said. “You’re not at the hospital. Are you always this beat?”
She blinked and then smiled. “Comes from working two jobs. Three thirteen hour shifts at WPH and three at Children’s. Nights.”
“So you said. Explain.”
“Mom needs special care. She’s in a wheelchair and has
a full-time aide.”
Carrie would do anything for her only parent, he thought. Mrs. Graham had worked two jobs to see Carrie had the same things as her friends.
“Sorry to hear that. She was always so active.”
Tears glistened in Carrie’s green eyes. “She hates being an invalid.”
He sat beside her. “So what can I do to help?”
She looked everywhere but at him. Her heart beat double time. Could she say what she’d come to ask?
When his fingers brushed her shoulder, warmth and comfort seeped into her pores. She resisted the urge to snuggle and turned so she could see his face. Frown lines wrinkled his forehead. His blue eyes held questions and an illusive quality. That hidden emotion puzzled her. She had to keep this matter uncomplicated by desire and unrealistic expectations.
“Is your son all right?”
“For the moment. I’m sure in time he’ll adjust.”
“Won’t he go back to his mother?”
“She relinquished custody. Her new husband has a problem with raising another man’s son.”
“How unfeeling. Does Chad know?”
“Marilyn said she told him he’d be staying here, but I don’t think he believed her. He doesn’t even accept her
His gaze captured hers and she saw pain that raised in her a wish to soothe. That wasn’t why she’d come, but if he agreed to her proposition, she’d find a way to help him and his son.
“I’m glad you came,” he said. “It’s been too long since we’ve talked.”
“Six years.”
“I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed you until I opened the door and saw you. Remember those nights when we hashed cases and treatments?”
How could she forget? “Sure do.” Did he still have the same enthusiasm for solving medical problems? Hers had vanished. Work had become duty and routine. “Why did you leave the city?”
“I thought...It doesn’t matter.”
Why not, she wondered. Had he closed down after the divorce the way he had the night Marilyn had accused them of things that hadn’t happened. She remembered what he’d said after Marilyn had stormed away.
“I’m married,” he had said. “Sure we’ve been friends for years, but Marilyn and the baby come first.”
“I understand.” She had smiled and with her head held high, had walked away. At least she’d never told him she loved him.
Tears blurred her vision. She forced the harsh memories away. “Did you come here to hide?”
“Hardly. I left a lucrative and hectic practice to hold my marriage together. I thought Marilyn would appreciate the sacrifice of money for more time with each other.”
“And you’re angry that she didn’t?”
“Not particularly.” He looked away.
“So why did you stay?”
“For the challenge. People her need me.” He cleared his throat. “Ready to tell me why you came?”
She took a deep breath. Her throat felt tight. “I need a husband. Will you marry me?”
“What?” His eyes focused on her abdomen. He’d kill the jerk. What lowlife would leave the woman who carried his child to bear the burden alone? “Who is he? And don’t make excuses for his behavior.”
Her cheeks flamed. “That’s not why I need a husband.”
The surge of adrenaline ebbed. Tony felt as though he’d run ten miles. “If you’re not pregnant, why do you need a husband?”
“I --” She started to rise.
He pulled her back. “You’re not laying this on me and bolting. Give.”
“So I can provide Mom with the things she needs and
only work one job.”
“You’re not making sense. Does it look like I’ll be much help financially?” He waited for an answer and prayed he could endure one of her convoluted explanations.
“I don’t need your money. Just your name. You see, my grandfather died and left me a lot of money.”
“Didn’t he die before you were born?”
“Mom’s dad did. This was my father’s dad. Just because he didn’t acknowledge me doesn’t mean he didn’t exist.”
“Am I missing something here? Why do you need to be married?”
“The money can’t be used without the approval of the husband I don’t have. Archaic, right?” What she failed to mention were the nights when her grandfather had been her patient and the conversations they’d had about her life and her love for Tony Flynn.
He paused. He wanted to help her, but marriage? Especially one with a built-in failure factor? Could he risk ruining the tenuous bond he had with his son for the woman who’d been his best friend. “Carrie...I...”
“Just until the money’s released and I have a trust set up for Mom. Then I’ll split. Please. You’ll hardly see me.”
“As in you’ll be working two jobs?”
She nodded. “I don’t even have to live here. I have an apartment in the city.”
“How would we see if the marriage will work?” He groaned. Why had he said that? Had he gone crazy? The last thing he needed was another marriage and another woman to disappoint.
“Why would you want to stay married?” she asked.
“I don’t believe in divorce.”
“But you are.”
She had him there. Not only was he divorced, but Marilyn had had the marriage annulled. “When do you need to know? I can’t make this kind of decision on the spot.”
“Tomorrow so we can get the license and have the wedding on Sunday.”
“Why the rush?”
“Because I’ve run out of time.” She stared at her hands.
“And you waited until today?”
“This hasn’t been the easiest thing I’ve ever done.”
The answer to her question wasn’t any easier for him. How would Chad react. “I’ll let you know.”
She rose. “I’ll leave my number. Call me early and please say yes.”
“Do you work tonight?”
“I’m off. Why?”
“Stay here. You’re beat and it’s a hell of a drive back. I’d worry about you having an accident.”
“One thing this house has is plenty of bedrooms. I’ll lend you a tee shirt. Oh, if I get called out, would you mind if I wake you?”
“No problem.”
“Good. I’ll send Hazel home. She worries about leaving her husband alone at night. He has emphysema.”
Carrie brushed his cheek with a feathery kiss. He clenched his hands to keep from grabbing her. She’d offered him what he’d wanted years ago and what he’d carelessly messed up.
Marriage -- Carrie -- Chad!
Oh lord, what would he say to his son?