Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday - On Plot - Rules, rules

Every fictional world has rules and these rules are set by the writer. Sometimes the moral of the story is painted in black and white and sometimes in shades of gray. The characters may seem to be facing a situation that seems to have no conclusion. Sometimes the antagonist seems to be the one winning rather than the protagonist. This deepens the meaning of the story.

"Writing a story without presenting a meaningful opposing force is propaganda." Ronald B. Tobias

What does this mean? As the writer you need to know the moral rules of your world. Two characters stand on opposite sides of an issue. Is one going to win and the other lose or is the solution somewhere in the middle? What the writer has to do is stand in the middle and act as a referee between the two forces.

The good or bad guy can't be so one-sided that he becomes a puppet the author dangles on strings. Though in real life the writer may choose sides of an issue in the fictional world he has to give each character an equal opportunity to win or lose. Taking sides makes one character or one side of the issue too strong or two weak and the reader will find propoganda. What this boils down to is making the characters have strong and for them logical reasons to win or lose.

One of my favorite characters is a story is the villain in "Obsessions." Now he chills some readers but everything he does is centered around his obsession for what he sees as justice. Opposing him is a heroine who is a care-giver to the end. Neither of them ever steps out of their view of the world even to the end of the story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday's Inspiration - What's in a person - free writing

We often use bits of people we know when writing a story. So the free for today is to take someone you know and see how many things you can learn about them. One of my granddaughters started this off by looking at her younger sister and using terms to describe her. Talkative, silly, loud. Those terms went on for a long list and gave one picture of the child but in this free writing exercise as an inspirational bit take one of the characters you're about to put into a story and start with the physical description. Height, weight, skin color, hair, eyes and anything else that's particularly physical about them.

Once the physical is down go to the mental. How do they think, what education have they had, what is their philosophy of life that you know. What kind of job do they have? Select all the terms you can think of . Just make a list and put it aside.

Go to the social part of their nature. How do they react to others this is where the terms my granddaughter chose for her sister come into play. List as many as you can see.

The fourth list will be their emotional nature. How do they react to situations. Think of them angry, sad, thoughtful and jot down terms.

What you have is a list of terms that describe your character. Now imagine them in the opening scene of the book and using terms see what you can do with the character, remembering to use the senses to bring them to life.

Monday, November 28, 2011

28 November - Week ahead and week behind, contest, peeve

Once again I'll post the contest rules. They're simple. Starting on December 1st one copy of each of the books listed yesterday will be given away. If more than one person selects a particular book another one will be substituted. Th enter.
1. Visit the blog.
2. Leave a comment with how to reach you - email is enough.
3. If one of the books tickles your fance, mention it.
4. A drawing will be held each day of the contest until the last of the 27 books are awarded.
5. Books will be sent to US and Canadian posters.

Been doing a lot of reading about how people are protesting the legislation about the internet. What really puzzles me, is How does putting limits on what people can post interfere with "freedom of speech." Is stealing the intellectual property of others really freedom of speech? Doesn't seem that way to me. Theft is theft and especially when some of these people borrowing the works of others make money doing this. If someone can explain to me how someone taking the stories, songs, movies, under a person's copyright isn't theft but freedom of speech,I'll listen. Don't think its' possible.

Last week was fairly productive even with several days off for a short Thanksgiving trip. Am now 80% done with The Chosen of Horu. Will continue to work on it this week. Can't wait to finish and move forward. Soon be time to set goals for next year. I always have goals and I try to make them ones that I can overcome and go beyond.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday A piece on persistence A lot about filmmaking

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday's Chapter - Bunny Hills and Bikinis - Heather Thurmeier



Amelia stood at the end of a line directly in front of Evergreen Lodge’s check-in counter, trying desperately not to think about how much her feet hurt. It wasn’t working.

Stupid, impractical boots. The boots had heels so high any person in their right mind would pass them over in the store. Anyone but me of course.

She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, hoping to ease the pain and pressure in her throbbing feet. Before any relief had a chance to sink in, it was time to move another few inches forward as one person finally stepped away from the counter with their coveted room key in hand.

It was as if a million mosquitoes were nibbling the soles of her feet as pinpricks of pain pierced her skin. Streaks of heat shot up into her calves. Her toes cramped and ached—they might be permanently curled into the shape of the too-narrow boot by the time she was finally able to take them off.

Then she’d throw them in the flippin’ garbage. Stupid boots obviously made by a man who would never have to walk in them. No woman would ever make boots this torturous.

Come on already. She eyed the two people who had the all-powerful job of giving out room keys.

It had been an exceptionally long day already, starting with a two-hour delay at the airport, then ice on the runway, then baggage people who were too busy with other things to retrieve her bag from the underbelly of the plane. Now all she wanted was to get to her room and collapse on the hopefully comfortable hotel bed for an hour before she was expected at the kick-off dinner for the weekend-long workshop she was attending here at the lodge. Of course, it might take her the entire hour just to get through to the head of the line and check-in.

If they’re going to make us wait, they should at least give us drinks. Little “welcome to our line-up, it sucks!” martinis or something. Or anything garnished with a wedge of pineapple and a cherry piggybacking on a plastic spear—that would be fine too.

Amelia narrowed her eyes as she watched the other line start moving. Why, Universe? Why is it I always pick the slowest line possible? It was a curse, that’s what it was. The universe’s cruel curse on her designed to always make her late and annoyed. And to hurt her feet.

Pulling out her cell phone, she intended to check her email and prayed she’d find one that would confirm her suspicion that this trip was all a big joke. Like she was really supposed to be in Vegas, poolside with a drink in hand and a hot cabana towel guy answering to her every desire until the workshop started, instead of being bundled into her usual woolly sweater and her must-have-been-manufactured-by-Satan-himself uncomfortable boots.

Her cell phone beeped to life as the sound of a man’s voice from somewhere beside her broke through the white noise of the hotel lobby. The voice was so sexy it sent a river of heat straight to her core. She shoved her phone into her pocket, no longer caring if she had new email or not. Fantasies of hunky cabana guys and girly drinks could wait. Some things were more important than email and simple fantasies—like this voice. This very sexy, very intriguing voice.

“I’m looking forward to skiing. I haven’t been on these slopes before.” The deep voice resonated through the lobby from somewhere amongst the crowd of people waiting. Craning her neck to the side, Amelia tried to get a sense of where the voice had come from. It was as though it had called out to her, urging her to find it.

Something about a deep, sexy voice always made her melt into a puddle of goo. And this voice was very sexy—almost too sexy if that was even possible. It was deep and warm with a subtle hint of rasp in it, like the owner had just woken from a long, deep sleep. She could barely let herself imagine how this voice would sound after a night of passion and heavy breathing. It was heaven to her ears and bordered on intoxicating.

“You’re right, I should do that. Thanks.” The man with the voice laughed, a short chuckle that caused a wave of desire to ripple across her skin. Suddenly, it was a hundred degrees in the lobby.

Wow. His voice is like chocolate and sex rolled into one yummy nugget of pure deliciousness.

“Can I help you?” the man behind the counter said, his voice as ordinary as anyone could have.

“Yes you can.” Amelia gingerly stepped forward to take her place at the head of the line. Ouch. My feet hurt.

“I’m Amelia Brooks. I’m checking in for the weekend.” She handed over a credit card she knew he’d ask for next.

“You’re part of the team building workshop, is that correct?”

“Yep. Sounds fun, huh?” She tried to joke, but it fell flat. She didn’t think it sounded fun. She thought it sounded worse than a day at the dentist. The only reason she’d signed up to come was because she was determined to get away from Minneapolis for a little while.

That, and she had been tricked into coming.

Her bosses thought it had been funny to tell them that the weekend workshop would be held in California this year. After the volunteers were secured, they’d corrected themselves and clarified that it was not the sunny beaches part of California but the snowy mountain peaks of Lake Tahoe part of California.

Amelia hadn’t thought it was funny. She never would have volunteered if she’d known it was going to be somewhere cold. She already had ample amounts of cold in Minneapolis. What she needed was a weekend of warm sun and sand tickling between her toes—that’s what she volunteered for.

Since she’d been gullible enough to volunteer, now she was stuck in more freezing weather and working all weekend. That was everyone’s idea of fun, right?


The man behind the counter smiled at her but didn’t respond. A few clicks on his computer later and he slid a plastic card across the counter. “You’re in room 214.” He dropped a manila envelope onto the counter beside the key. “This is your workshop information and a map of the lodge. Do you have any questions?”

The only question in her mind was how fast she could limp to her room in her ever-painful boots. “Thanks, I think I’m good.”

“Enjoy your stay here at Evergreen Lodge.” He waved his hand for the next person to step forward as Amelia moved out of the way with her room keycard and envelope in hand.

Grabbing the handle of her suitcase, she started off in the direction of the elevators. Her arm yanked backward when her suitcase refused to roll. She tugged on it again with both hands, thinking maybe it had gotten caught up on the carpet.

Give me a frickin’ break. I just want to get to my room.

She forced herself to suck in a deep breath.

A short distance away, a small queue of people waited for the doors to open and she wanted to be with them to catch the next available elevator. As if on cue, the doors opened with a quiet chime and the group of people waiting surged forward. The doors closed again without her, defeating her and leaving her behind to struggle with her bag.

Squatting down to get a closer look at her suitcase, she flipped it over and realized right away the cause of the problem. One of the wheels was completely broken. A deep crack in the plastic wheel caused a sharp edge to poke out at an odd angle, essentially preventing it from spinning. She’d been able to drag it from the airport okay, but apparently while waiting in line here, it had finally decided to give up its fight and die.

She pushed on the sharp edge carefully, trying to nudge it back into place while not impaling the tender flesh on the heel of her hand. It was no use. She stood up from the floor, frustrated and even more annoyed. Now she’d have to call the airline and report the damaged bag, which was just about the last thing she wanted to do. She wanted to rest and attempt to avoid the headache she knew was bound to hit any second now, not fight with airline employees over a stupid suitcase.

The elevator door chimed again. “Hold the door, please,” she called, trying her best to hurry. A man stepped in to the elevator. “Wait.” She raised her voice hoping it was louder this time, urging the man to hear her over the noise of the busy hotel lobby.

Realizing there was no other option, she quickly heaved the bag into her arms. It was heavier than she remembered and she wobbled under the weight of it. Her high-heeled boots weren’t meant for manual labor either apparently. At this rate, she’d be lucky if she made it all the way to her room without twisting her ankle. She took a few more wobbly steps toward the doors before they started to close without her.

“Wait. Please, wait.” She wondered if he could even hear her over her own panting. She was quickly losing her breath under the weight of her suitcase and yelling was getting harder and harder.

Determined to make it in time before the doors closed, she surged forward. Almost there. She had to make it before the doors shut or be forced to wait for yet another thing again today.

Amelia made it to the elevator doors just as they closed in front of her with a soft thud. Dropping her bag in disbelief, her mouth fell open in outrage. She couldn’t believe that someone could be so rude and uncaring that they wouldn’t even bother to hold the door for her as she obviously struggled with her heavy bag.

Enough already. That’s it. Amelia ground her teeth together trying desperately to hold herself back from reaching her breaking point. Headache fast approaching migraine. Awesome.

“Thanks a lot, jackass,” she yelled at the elevator before she could stop her outburst. “Slimy, inconsiderate son of a bitch.”

She took in a deep breath, ready to let out another string of profanities when the now familiar chime of the elevator sounded again.

What the—? That was too fast.

The doors slid open, and the words waiting on her breath disappeared like a puff of smoke.

Oh great. I just had to yell.

The doors opened and inside stood a man with his arm outstretched and a finger pressing firmly against one of the buttons on the numbered panel. He stood silently while a small grin spread across his face as she picked up her bag and stepped into the elevator.

Oh good, he’s hot too. Excellent.

Her cheeks burned, turning into what had to be a deep scarlet as she realized there was no way he hadn’t heard her yell. She never yelled. She never lost her cool—until now. And of course she had chosen that moment of weakness to be witnessed by an incredibly hot guy.

“Can you press two please?” She tried to sound distinguished and put-together as she stepped inside the small compartment. As she turned back to face the doors, his finger left the door open button to press the button for the second floor. Her embarrassment rose with the elevator as she realized that not only had he heard her yell, he’d tried to hold the door for her, and all she’d done in return was call him a string of nasty names.

The elevator doors closed and they stood in awkward silence except for the instrumental version of a song that should never have an instrumental version played softly in the background. The warmth of humiliation filled her. She needed to apologize, needed to explain that she’d just been having a terrible day and that she didn’t really mean to call him those awful names. But as she opened her mouth to speak, she had no words to say.

The elevator began rising with painful slowness. There was no way she could endure the entire ride up to her floor without addressing what she’d done.

She steadied her nerves with a deep breath and turned to face the good-looking man, intent on apologizing properly while she had the chance. And then her breath caught in her throat as she swallowed the words that had been on the tip of her tongue just moments before.

Holy. Crap.

He wasn’t just good-looking, that was a complete understatement. He was gorgeous—seriously gorgeous. He could be a model with that strong jaw and messy-yet-styled hair. His shoulders were broad and he must have stood six feet tall. She peered into his deep brown eyes, having lost her focus along with any idea of what she’d wanted to say to him.

His lips twitched into a smile as she stood there staring at him stupidly. Find words, idiot. Suddenly, she snapped out of her funk and tried to speak. Saying anything was better than saying nothing, right?

“I—I guess you heard that, huh? The um, yelling and all that—I mean it’s too much to ask of the universe that maybe there’s a chance you didn’t hear what I just said, right?” She stumbled over her words, not giving him a chance to answer.

Maybe saying nothing would have been better.

He nodded his head slightly, which only helped to fan the flame of humiliation she already had glowing inside of her. Of course, the hottest guy she’d laid eyes on in as long as she could remember had heard her curse at him. That was the way the universe worked for Amelia.

She and the universe had a love/hate thing going on and this was just its newest attempt to prevent her from finding happiness. The universe was also inadvertently preventing her from enjoying the hunky body that towered over her in the elevator. She could actually see the little ripples of abdominal muscles contracting under his thin shirt. It reminded her of the surface of a lake after you’ve dropped a pebble into it.

I wonder if I could bounce a quarter off those.

As he opened his mouth and drew in a breath to speak, she quickly snapped back from her thoughts which had strayed into dangerous—and very interesting—territory and began rambling on again, not wanting to hear what he had to say about her outburst. At least until after she’d had the chance to finish apologizing, then she would let him talk.

“I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to call you those names. I’ve had an awful day. I swear I never would have yelled at you if I’d known how hot you were…I, oh crap. I mean—” Her voice trailed off while her cheeks burned hot with embarrassment.

She mentally kicked herself for letting that little tidbit slip out. Her head spun and she worried she might actually faint. She didn’t know how it was possible, but somehow she’d managed to make a bad situation even worse.

“Oh, god,” she continued. “I shouldn’t have said that. I didn’t mean that. No wait. I didn’t mean that you’re not hot. You are. Oh boy, are you ever hot.”

She grabbed onto the side of the elevator, feeling the world spin on its axis faster than it should. Panic washed over her at the idea of speaking again. Every time she opened her mouth, it was as if someone took control of it and made her spew words incoherently. It was awful. She wanted to die.

Okay, Universe, you’ve had your fun. Now kill me.

She almost did a little happy dance right there in front of Mr. Hunky when the elevator finally chimed, signaling they’d reached the second floor. She held her breath as she waited for the elevator to bump to a stop and the door to release her from the chamber of hell that she’d created for herself.

One Mississippi, two Mississippi. Come on. Open.

The moment the doors parted, a huge sigh whistled out from between her lips and she bolted through the opening with her suitcase cradled in her arms like protective armor. “Sorry,” she called again not waiting for an answer.

“It’s okay,” a deep, raspy voice said. A slight chuckle wafted out of the elevator as the doors closed behind her.

She froze.

That wasn’t just any voice. That was the voice she’d heard while waiting in line downstairs. The same voice that sent a spark of heat straight to her stomach each time she’d heard it. And, it was probably the only voice that could simultaneously arouse her and mortify her at this very moment.

Well, that’s just frickin’ wonderful.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How She Does It --Heather Thurmeier

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

I absolutely agree. I usually get the Who and the What first. Then I have to sit and figure out When, Where, and Why. Then I start to plot my outline and I figure out the How. If you can answer all those questions, then I think you’re on the road to a solid novel.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

I think my characters come organically. I start with some general idea of them in a situation. Then I start figuring out who they really are, how they got to where they are at that point in their lives, and finally what they look like.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

I’m a plotter. But I’d say that my characters come first. I usually have a tiny plot bunny about a specific character. Then, I let my characters grow and guide me through the outline process so that the story makes sense for them. However, it’s not unheard of for my characters to raise their voice while I write to tell me they want to tell the story in a slightly different way.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

Yes and no. Sometimes I know exactly where I want the story to start and stop, but many times it’s just a general concept at first. That’s when I plot my outline. So by the time I start Chapter One, I know—at least roughly—where I’ll be when I type The End. How I get there, or where ‘there’ is exactly may change a little as I write, but generally I know where I’m going with the story right from the start.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

Every book is different. For my Meadow Ridge series, the Meadow is a completely fictional place. I just imagined the kind of place I wanted my characters to be from and started creating it. First the building facades, then the streets, then names of shops, etc. And the beauty is, I can expand it and manipulate it anyway I want. For Love on Landing (coming next year!) I used my personal memories of Paris as a guide. For my new wip, I actually had to look up maps of NYC so that I could be true to the city layout while my characters raced through subways, churches, gardens and bridges to escape capture!

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

Everything I do is online these days. I can find everything I need with just a few clicks and I don’t have to leave my writing chair!

Heather Thurmeier

~Heart, humor and a happily ever after.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday's Interview - Malcolm Campbell

Malcolm is a fellow Vanilla Heart author who also writes fantasy.

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

Two of my four novels are contemporary fantasy, one is magical realism and one is comedy/satire.

Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

I chose fantasy because it’s an outgrowth of who I am and what I believe. Many of the “techniques” mentioned in Sarabande and The Sun Singer (the fantasies) as well as in Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey (magical realism) are real. That is, they are taught in mystery schools and self-improvement courses, and are widely known by mystics, shamans and psychics. (That’s my story, anyway.)

Naturally, a lot of the material in these books truly is fantasy, the kind of thing that occurs to a writer when s/he allows the imagination to run amok; but it’s a publishing convenience to call the psychic and mystical material fantasy because most people don’t have (or pretend they don’t have) those kinds of experiences.

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

I like magical realism, but the public is generally uncomfortable with the approach. I see magic in day-to-day life and magical realism captures that. Even so, it would be fun to write another novel in this genre. I’ll never write anything classified as occult. I don’t believe in the so-called occult because it’s totally fabricated and based on a corruption of mystic and psychic practices. It’s also a form of propaganda that some religions use to denigrate other religions and, as such, Hollywood and many writers have had a field day with it.

What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I read a wide variety of books. I just finished reading “The Help” and I’m now reading Laura Hillenbrand’s World War II nonfiction, “Unbroken.” I have also enjoyed Katherine Neville’s “The Eight” and “The Fire,” and D. J. McIntosh’s “The Witch of Babylon.” And then—switching more into literary fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed Jamie Ford’s “Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” and Patricia Damery’s “Snakes.”

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

Most of my career has been spent as a journalism instructor, training materials writers, technical writer and corporate communications director. It was only after a post-9/11 layoff by a large computer company, that I looked again at fiction. I’ve been a writer since 1968 when I served as a Navy journalist. My first novel, The Sun Singer, was published in 2004.

Which of your characters is your favorite?

Janet, I like many of my characters, but if forced to choose, then Robert Adams, the protagonist in The Sun Singer, and Sarabande, the protagonist in Sarabande are my favorites. Both face many dangerous moments and some hard decisions, yet they persevere. Persevering is, of course, a strong theme in fantasy whether the climax is heroic and epic or whether it is a personal transformation.

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

A temptress named Dryad came out of nowhere in The Sun Singer and became more of a factor in Robert Adams’ journey into the alternate universe of Pyrrha than I expected. When I write, I begin with only a few plot points in mind, so I really should know better than to expect one thing or another. Dryad wanted to corrupt Robert, and she was such a pervasive character that she showed back up in Sarabande with even a larger and nastier role.

What are you working on now?

Robert’s grandfather, Thomas Elliott, in The Sun Singer is rather like a modern-day Gandalf even though you would never suspect it if you saw him in a store or city park. He’s another favorite of mine. He also appeared in Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey and I’d like to bring him back again in a follow-up story to Sarabande. When my muse is ready, so to speak, I’ll go from the thinking about it stage into the writing stage.

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

My latest release, Sarabande, came out August. While it’s a sequel to The Sun Singer, it can be read as a stand-alone fantasy. My title character, Sarabande, was featured prominently in The Sun Singer. The evil nymphet Dryad is her sister. Dryad attacks Sarabande near the end of The Sun Singer and, when Sarabande killed her in self-defense, I knew Sarabande and Dryad would return as protagonist and antagonist in my next book about Pyrrha. You understand, Janet, that in contemporary fantasy, the fact that Dryad is dead at the beginning of Sarabande isn’t a deal breaker.

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

Sarabande bled on the leading edge of the Angel Wing while the moon was dark. The grey-green rock at the summit accepted her flow without complaint. Yesterday, Gem said sky wasn’t a fit place of renewal: dark woods and tents served best for bleeding. “Tccch,” she said without finesse, “why expose yourself on that strange spur of rock at the high end of the valley? You’ll catch a cold sitting on unforgiving stone above that cold glacier.”

Indeed, but it suited her.

During the night, Sarabande heard the beating of her heart. She heard the voice of water flowing eastward out of the cirque that hugged the glacier snuggly against the Continental Divide. Water called her attention to a world on the other side of time, a world with a road running truer across the plains into dawn than golden eagles, a world with destiny straighter than cedar arrows, a world called the World of the Dead. There was a dead horse alongside the road. Past the horse, an angry fire gave off black smoke that lifted away from the prairie and the straight road like a prayer.

Water’s voice distracted her from the discomforts of the joyful dying of a synodic month and the sad birth of another. She sat within her sacred circle at 7,430 feet above the level of oceans she had never seen and evaluated the thirty-six new moons that had come and gone since Osprey, who is also called the Sun Singer, left them for his home on the other side of time. Those who did not believe in the other side of time said the Sun Singer was dead.

Yes, Goddess of the Night, the thought as she ate a handful of roughly ground flax seeds from her leather pouch, the moons are cycles of rebirth—even for creatures of the sun. Sarabande meditated on flax seeds and the potentials of flax seeds from the center of her compact circle while sipping the nettle and stonewort tea she brewed in a tiny kettle over a tiny fire. She placed sacred objects: to the east for air, a hawk owl feather; to the south for fire, a drum; to the west for earth, a red and yellow rattle; to the north for water, the flow of the glacier in a copper cup. She traced her name in blood on a shard of bloodstone, then sheltered it within the cat’s cradle of her hands.

Though she waved the feather, banged the drum, shook the rattle, and drank the water, her visions were of death rather than life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday - On Plot - Down to Basics

One of the beauties of writing is that there's no one way to approach plot. Each writer after a lot of trial and error finds the way that works best for them. One person goes after characters. One sees events. One knows the end before writing the beginning. One must get the beginning down before they can move forward. Some people write in drafts. Some people revise as they move forward. Each writer discovers what works best for them.

Just how many plots are there. Some people say a hundred or more, others think there might be two or three. If we go back to the very basics and look at the Greeks we see tragedy and comedy. This can be also seen as action and mental. No matter which way you tend to identify what a plot entails every story needs one. Because a plot is a road map leading characters from the beginning to the end.

Plots either depend on action which is a story that depends on doing something. On the other hand the plot may depend on the inner workings of the minds of the characters.

In an action plot the writer is attempting to solve a puzzle. How does the detective find the killer? How does the hero get the girl? How does the young wizard defeat the evil one? One can find this kind of plot in most genres.

Now the mental plot differs in what happens is the characters are searching for meaning. There can be action but the mental aspects outweigh the action.

So when you fnally decide to write a story, the decision becomes is this story to be plot driven or character driven? In plot driven stories the characters are there to move the action forward. The goal is the object. This doesn't mean there aren't internal struggles for one or more of the characters. It means the doing is more important than the being.

Character driven stories are more about the people and what they're doing, feeling and thinking. The action or plot part of the story isn't stage center. More the writer sends the characters on a journey of discovery to learn something about life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday's Inspiration - Adding emotion to a scene - Making lists

Let's look at today's free writing session as a way to explore the emotions of a scene and more. Take a scene you're working on and decide what the central core of the scene might be. Say your heroine or hero first glimpses the person of their dreams. Or the detective sees a body of a murder victim. Or the fantasy protagonist comes upon the villain. This doesn't mean they come in direct contact with the opposing person but they see them.

Write down the core reaction of the character. Now what is happening to your character may not be something you've experienced exactly but you do have similar situations. Take that core and just free write down what you might be feeling. Add to this all the senses, What do you see. Just jot down the words. No sentences, just words. Is there an odor that you might smell. A texture you might touch. Sounds you might hear or the absence of sound. Do you taste something in the air.

Your word list might look like this. Remember what you remember from a similar situation in the past can be filtered through your imagination. This is something I often do when I'm writing mysteries. So here's an example.

Shocking discovery. Body. Dead. Smell. Urine. See. Orthopedic supplies. Cart. Potential weapons. Fear. Speechless. Touch. Body cold. Body war, How long ago. Who did this? Didn't like. Gossip queen.

I continue for ten or fifteen mintues. then look at all the things I've written down and suddenly the scene forms in my head and I begin to write. I have stepped into the character and become her rather than the observer from the outside. This adds emotion to the story and emotion is what your characters need to make them vivid to the reader.

Monday, November 21, 2011

21 November - Contest - Week behind and week ahead

Again the contest rules. Starting on December 1st one copy of each of the books listed yesterday will be given away. If more than one person selects a particular book another one will be substituted. Th enter.
1. Visit the blog.
2. Leave a comment with how to reach you - email is enough.
3. If one of the books tickles your fance, mention it.
4. A drawing will be held each day of the contest until the last of the 27 books are awarded.
5. Books will be sent to US and Canadian posters.

Last week was a busy one and I'm now 75% done with The Chosen of Horu. Makes one feel good to know the end is in sight and I can now start to think of the next project. A S. Sedcution. Now to discover the title. I'll spend time with the Thesarus to come up with one. Know the hero but the heroine hasn't revealed herself yet. But that's for the future. Attended a meeting of NJRW. Quite different from HVRWA. More formal and have much more going on but they have many members. Am considering joining them but I'm not sure how many meetings I could attend since Saturdays are no car days for me.

This week is Thanksgiving so I'm not sure how much I'll finish but I'll keep plugging. Would like to finish this draft so I can see where I am as to reaching the end of the book.

Can's come up with a new peeve this week. Just thinking about how some people believe if they can take something that's on the internet and share it with whoever they please or even earn money from the work of others is totally wrong. Thieves of intellectual property should be made to pay.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday Interesting article secong book in a series and how it differs from first Interesting artivcles

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday's Chapter Wulf's Redemption by Wend Petzler


“Mayday! Mayday! We are going down. I repeat -- we are going down,” the pilot shouted. “We’ve been hit. I repeat -- we’ve been hit and are going down!” Sweat beaded on his high forehead, dripping down into his eyes, blurring his vision. Risking it, Dave swiped his arm across his face, grabbing hold again the airplane’s violently vibrating steering wheel with a death grip. Teeth bared, he fought to keep the plane’s nose up. He shot a frightened look at his equally terrified co-pilot.

“Steve, we’re in deep trouble here. Go back there and wake ‘em up!”

“It’s morning, Dave! They’re in sleep mode.”

“Just do it,” Dave screamed, desperately holding onto the steering, praying the vampires would be able to wake up in time to save their lives.

Steve yanked off his headphones, unbuckled his seat belt. Holding onto the walls to steady himself as the plane bucked and dipped, Steve wrenched open the cockpit door. He froze. His mouth slacked in surprise at what greeted him.


“What?” Dave shouted, bracing his feet to hold the steering wheel straight.

Steve shouted over his shoulder, “We’ve got a fucking hole in the rear wall!”

“Shit! Are the coffins safe?”

Scanning the back end of the Jet, the chrome coffins gleamed in the faint light cast from the jagged hole “Yeah, they appear to be in one piece.”

“Then wake up Walker! He’ll know what to do,” Dave shouted, desperate to hold the shuddering plane steady.

Struggling against the rushing wind and roller coaster of the plane struggling to stay in the air, Steve made his way to the larger of the chrome coffins and unsnapped the three locks and opened the lid. Dark gold and brown hair whipped about Alexander Walker’s sleeping features. Walker slept on, oblivious to the disaster befallen them. Handsome to the point of being too good-looking, there was in the set of his mouth the grimness of a man who’d seen more than any mortal dreamed. Then again, Walker wasn’t human -- he was vampire.

“Forgive me, sir. We need your help!” Shaking the unresponsive vampire to no avail, Dave’s frantic gaze dropped to his wrists, and an idea struck him.

Grabbing a knife from the bar, Steve cut his wrist as he rushed back to the vampire. Dripping blood onto the vampire’s lips, it had the effect he hoped. Walker licked his lips, unable to resist tasting the fresh blood. Without warning, the vampire’s eyes flew open, glowing bright green in the shadows of the coffin. In a blur of movement, Walker was out of the coffin. Fangs long, the vampire paused, staring in surprise at the large, jagged hole in the right side of the plane, toward the rear. The vampire rushed over to open the other coffin and checked to make sure his companion, Kai Jordan, wasn’t injured.

Shielding his eyes from the faint sunlight, Walker demanded of Steve, yelling over the wind, “What the hell hit us?”

“Don’t know, sir, but we’re going down,” Steve shouted back.

“Where are we?”

“Thirty miles from Magdeburg, Germany.”

“Magdeburg?” The vampire’s eyes closed briefly, as if physically pained by the name of the city. His eyes flew open as he cocked his head, listening to something. Then he grabbed Steve, shoving him toward the cockpit.

“Tell Dave to get your parachutes on,” Walker shouted, hurrying back to Miss Jordan’s coffin.

“What’s going on?” Steve demanded as he grabbed the bundled items from under the seats.

The fiery blast as the rocket hit the plane’s tail sent them crashing upward into the ceiling before dropping them hard onto the floor. The tail of the plane splintered, metal shredding as the wind grabbed hold and ripped it all the way off. Steve screamed, sucked out of the cabin. The earsplitting roar of the engines sputtered. Coming back to life, the high-pitched whine split the air as the plane careened, heading full speed toward the heavily-treed forest below.

Alex fought his way back to the now upended coffin. Wrestling it upright, Alex opened it and swept the unresponsive Kai up into his arms. Conflicted about what to do for Dave, he heard the hissing of another rocket launched. Running with his precious load, Alex leapt out of the plane by way of the missing tail. Clutching Kai to him, he struggled to slow their descent when the full force of the mid-morning sun struck him.

The skin on his face started to burn, his flesh caught on fire. Screaming in agony, Alex could not hide from the bright sun, nor could he stop their fall toward the heavily treed forest below. Unchecked, the vampires fell faster and faster out of the sky. Pain beyond anything he’d endured in his life engulfed Alex. Blood blurred his vision. The explosion as the plane hit the ground made Alex flinch, aiming away. The wreckage sent a massive ball of jet fuel and flames shooting upward through the trees.

Focusing all his power inward, Alex forced his dying body to partially shift, growing bat wings large enough to carry him and Kai. Smoke and flames rolled off him. Swooping downward, Alex made for the trees. The God-awful pain of burning alive forced all rational thought from him, replaced by the overpowering instinct to survive. The leathery vanes of his wings ignited like crepe paper. Alex cried out. He shielded Kai as they hit the first branch, unable to slow their decent. Jagged limbs struck his legs, sides, tearing at his clothes and burning flesh. Stars of bright light blinded him when he smacked the back of his head. As they neared the ground, Alex dropped Kai’s legs, using his body to buffer her when they met the hard earth with a ‘thud’.

The huge trees mercifully blocked out the glaring sun. Groaning, he struggled to open the earth. Alex used the last of his strength and rolled into the grave, taking Kai with him. The soil covered them, bringing an end to his suffering. The earth would heal him.

To heal.

Before sleep engulfed Alex, the word so hated, so filled with anguish and torment arose in his mind.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday - How She Does It -- Wend Petzler

Plot is vital. Characters are defined by the story. In order to write a compelling story with characters who make you want to like, associate with, fantasize about, I feel it is tied to the story and background. Otherwise, you just get a quick read without really getting into the story and rooting for, booing , or falling in love with your characters.


1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

The story background defines who the characters will be. Once I get the time period down, or in the case of my Borne Vampire series -- which vamp I lead the story with, then I create the hero and heroine.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Sometimes. I've had a few who I built the story around. For instance, Lucian Martine in Lady Thief. I searched for a historical pinpoint that would bring my hero's strength and weakness out.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

Most times in a general way. Sometimes the plot and the characters change the ending.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

I try to find legends, little know historical settings to bring to readers, giving them a fresh story. My main source of research is the History Channel, the internet (but I have to triple check on resources used there), and real estate ads.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

Guilty of using online more than from books. Quicker and easily checked for accuracy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday's Interview -- Susanne Rock

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

I write mostly paranormal erotic romance. I have my first contemporary erotic romance (a ménage) coming out in January 2012 and have just finished my first mainstream romantic suspense that I’m shopping around.

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

Erotic romance chose me. I tried for over a year to write category and mainstream paranormal, but nothing sold. Then at the urging of a friend I tried my first erotic romance, an urban fantasy type of shifter story with sci fi elements. That story, Spyder’s Web, sold to Loose Id and was released in June 2009.

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

I’d love to write mainstream romantic suspense. I have so many ideas! I wrote one and am shopping it around. Thrillers and paranormal are my two favorite sub-genres of romance.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I tend to go in spurts. I read a lot of paranormal and thrillers, since they are my favorite. I’ll also read historicals for a while, or steampunk. I love mysteries and fantasy as well. Any type of commercial fiction, really.

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

I wrote a lot as a kid, but my parents pushed told me that I needed to choose something else for a career because I’d never make any money as a writer. The writer’s life was too hard, they said. (They were right!!) So I put the keyboard away and became a scientist. Fast forward 15 years. During this time I focused on my writing career, but the writing bug never left me. I’d write technical reports and memos and such that other people didn’t want to write. Then I had my second child and I realized that life was very short. I was getting older and if I didn’t at least try to become a published writer, then I was going to regret it.

I started writing in December 2007, right after my daughter was born. I became part of the eharlequin community, honed my craft and submitted to the harlequin category lines. No bites. Then in the fall of 2008, I met Juliana Stone and Lauren Hawkeye, who both changed my life. They were also members of the eharlequin boards and liked a few things that I had written for the community there. They asked me to become their critique partner. It was Lauren Hawkeye who introduced me to Megan Hart’s books, and Megan introduced me to the world of erotic romance.

After reading a few of Megan’s works, I wanted to try it for myself, and soon discovered that I had found my niche. I contracted my first book, Spyder’s Web, in December 2008, almost one year after I had begun writing. Soon after that I started the Kyron Pack series, also for Loose Id, then the Immortal Realm series for Red Sage. Then, a few months ago, an Ellora’s Cave editor contacted me about writing for them. Unholy Pursuits, the first book in my Unholy Series, is the result of that correspondence.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Whichever character is in my work-in-progress, lol. I feel special attachment to all of them.

I love how Tony in Down on the Boardwalk feels compelled to take care of his younger brother Nico, and how his world shatters when he realizes his brother doesn’t need him anymore.

I love how strong Aleta is in Cria, and how she is willing to fight for her freedom.

I love how Darien struggles with his inner darkness and tries to keep from hurting Arianne both emotionally and physically. Deep down, he’s really got a heart of gold.

I love how Rose confronts and overcomes her fears in Whispers (coming out Nov 22nd).

I love how Chloe gets the courage to stand up to her father in Up on the Housetop.

I love how Spyder’s Curse causes Spyder’ to question her views of right and wrong in Spyder’s Web.

The list can go on and on. The characters are like my children. I love them all, although for different reasons.

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

In some of my books, yes, there are villains. In Unholy Pursuits, the demon lord, Bathin, is what drives the external conflict. In his pursuit to take over earth, he forged a stone with great power to cross from hell to earth. This dark power taints anyone who touches it. The first book is about finding the stone and destroying it to save Earth from destruction.

8. What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to Unholy Pursuits. The twins who are part of Darien’s FBI team will be the heroes in this ménage story. I’m torn between calling it Unholy Embrace or Unholy Cravings. Does anyone have a preference? *grins*

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

My latest release is Unholy Pursuits. This is the first book in the Unholy series. In this series, the portal between earth and hell are guarded by an ancient, mystical race, called the Iatros. These fairy-like creatures protect humans from the creatures of the underworld by preventing their passage to Earth. For years they have worked in secret, until a demon lord finds a way to neutralize their powers and strengthen his own. He uses this new-found magic to form a relic called the demon stone and uses it to gain access to Earth.

The Iatros are unable to fight the strengthening demons on their own, and in desperation recruit the paranormal investigation unit of the FBI to help. This unit, lead by the sexy and egotistical Darien Lange, belittle the Iatros‘ powers and believe that they can defeat the demons on their own.

In the first story, Unholy Pursuit, Darien charms one of the guardians of the portal, a young Iatros named Arianne, and gains access into hell. There things don’t go as planned and the team is captured. After months of captivity some of them escape, but the demon taint is on their soul, and as a result they have an increasing need for sex and violence. Only becoming an Iatros spirit mate can stop their slow transformation into creatures of the underworld, but doing so would admit that they need help, and then they would become bound to one of the mystical creatures forever. How the team manages to escape hell, remove the taint, and combat the demons is the basis for this series.

The idea for this story started with the Lord of the Rings movies.  When I watched them, I thought of the elves and how they were tied to the land and how they were great healers. I looked up the word “healer” in many different languages. In Greek, the word is Iatros (pronounced ee-at-ros). The word literally means “physician” and is written like this: ἰατρός . I envisioned a race of people who were tied to the land and who used their magic to heal the earth and creatures that lived there. This Greek word seemed like the perfect fit.

These creatures wouldn’t have been very good protectors if all they could do was heal, right? They need to be strong and skillful warriors to guard the portal and not let any demons pass. Since demons could only be killed by decapitation, the Iatros needed to be proficient with magically-enhanced swords, knives, daggers, etc. Instead of being bound to the land, I made them bound to the fabric between earth and hell, so they could sense where the wall was weakening and go strengthen it.

Once I had the Iatros creature worked out, I created an anti-creature, everything that the Iatros was not. These dark creatures, called deamhans, are in constant battle with the Iatros for power. After that, the story kind of wrote itself. ;)

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

My latest story is Unholy Pursuits. I first wrote this as a novella back in 2009. I wrote up my novella and submitted to every epublisher I could think of -- including Ellora's Cave. It was rejected by each and every single one. Frustrated, I buried it deep on my hard drive, determined that it would never see the light of day again.

Fast forward two years later. I had six books under my belt, all with different publishers, but the characters of this story, remained in the back of my mind. Darien in particular wanted me to give him a second chance. When I had a break in between novels, I decided to pull out my old, dusty novella to see if I couldn’t breathe new life into the story.

I didn't realize just how bad it was. My quick polish became extensive rewriting, including adding depth to the characters and plot. After many cups of coffee and even more late nights, Unholy Pursuits was resubmitted to Elloras Cave. This time there was a new editor and well, after all of that rewriting, a new story. She loved it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here’s the beginning:

They were coming. Arianne King couldn’t see the team of FBI agents, but she felt their presence as surely as she felt the chilly winter air on her skin. She could hear their footsteps crunching on the snow; smell the scent of masculine sweat in the air. Those agents had walked long and hard, pushing through most of the night. Soon they’d reach the clearing, and when they did, she needed to be ready.

Arianne hid behind the bushes and waited. It had snowed hard during the night and lingering flakes still dotted the air and landed on her nose. She brushed them away with her gloved hand. It was early dawn, a time when most sane creatures would still be asleep.

Not her, though. She hadn’t had a nice, normal sleep pattern since she had taken on this assignment over a year ago. What she wouldn’t give to be wrapped up in her warm bed right now instead of hovering on the edge of a clearing on the middle of nowhere…

She reminded herself that this was the life that she chose, not one that was forced upon her. Her sister, the queen, would only be too happy to have her sit beside the throne under protective guard. Arianne was never one to sit idly by, however, especially when her people were suffering.

No, she had defied her royal destiny and trained her entire life for this moment, an opportunity to make a difference, a chance to protect her people. She liked being useful and thrived on the adventure being a royal guard brought to her life.
Where were those agents? Had they stopped to rest? It would be unlike Darien Lange to give them such a luxury. The hot-headed FBI leader was more likely to charge into a situation he knew nothing about than take his time and plan. Stupid male.

Ever since she had started watching his team a year ago, she had been forced to watch his arrogance. He handled his men with the same bravado that brought scores of women into his bed. He was slick, polished. Arianne could see that it was all a façade, why couldn’t others? The man was so handsome, so charming, that everyone seemed to hang on his every word. It was disgusting. This time his hotheadedness was going to get himself and his whole team killed.

Arianne pulled her maroon cloak around her and glanced at the large portal only a few short steps away from where she hid. The enormous gaping hole hovered in the air and swirled with the colors of the rainbow. It called to her, like it always did, for the portal was born from Mother Earth and was the source of her power. She was linked to the gateway. If it was ever destroyed, then she’d be destroyed as well.
Icicles hung down from the surrounding trees, acting like prisms to the light the portal generated. The beams cast the clearing in a soft glow that would have been impressive if the sky was black as midnight and not the soft gray of early morning snow had just started to fall, adding to the untouched white landscape. Everything was calm, peaceful. A sharp contrast to the true danger the portal brought into this world.

Her people, the Iatros, had been guarding it for centuries. Each generation had been successful in keeping the foul creatures of the netherworld from spilling over into Earth and spreading their filth. Now it was her mission to prevent anyone from passing through the portal and to protect it at all costs. She had failed her people once and Bathin had caused great destruction. She couldn’t fail them again.

How Bathin, lord of the deamhans, had managed to focus his power and pass through the portal was nothing short of a miracle. Thankfully, he had only been able to bring one or two of his minions through with him at a time. Heaven help them all if he managed to cross over into Earth with an entire army.

The sharp snap of branches echoed off to her left. Finally, those FBI idiots had arrived.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday - 4 more plot points to remember

Back again, finishing up the plot points to remember from last week.

5. Reemmber that plot is the road map to the story's end. If a character decides to take a side trip and runs with an idea make sure the diversion advances the plot or defines the character. If not take it out. Too many side trips will lessen the tension.

6. Remember this word - Reason and repeat it as you write. Don't shove the important items in the reader's face. Use a laid-back technique. Be casual until you need to be direct.

7. Forget the god in the machine or a concindental happening. This is a real life event but not in fiction. If your character is going to overhear something important make sure liestening to others is part of their nature and not something stumbled on.

8. Don't wimp out during the climax of your story. Have the hero or heroine stand in the center of the action and be the direct focus of the event. This character must act rather than be acted upon or just react.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday's Inspiration - Details, Details

Looking at Discovering The Writer Within and came upon a bit about details. To me this didn't mean sitting down and loading a person, place, event, time or any other part of the story with a lot of details. Used to be writers went on for paragraphs and even pages loading detail after detail until the reader wasn't sure what the scene or not-scene meant to the story. This sometimes happen and I've often gone in the opposite direction with the detail absent.

We've all heard "the devil in in the details." Looking at this also made me wonder about just how many or how few details were needed to develop a scene, show a character in action, give a picture of the placeor the time an event is occurring. What is really needed are "telling details."

So for the free writing session today take the idea you've been developing and choose character, setting, time period or actually the who, where, and when of the story and think about finding a detail for each one that makes them unique. This may mean sitting down and either writing out or writing in your head everything you know about the who where and when of the story.

Does your character have a particular trait, manner of expression, even a look that distinguishes him or her from the million characters roaming the pages of thousands of stories. Once you find that single defining detail, then think of ways to use it without saying every few sentences that say his or her lip curled in disdain, or he was seven feet tall, or the house had seventeen bedrooms, the scents of spring. Then you're on the way to finding a way to exploit a particular detail and bring your characters, setting or time frame to life.

Monday, November 14, 2011

14 November - Contest rules. Week behind and week ahead. Peeve

Again the contest rules. Starting on December 1st one copy of each of the books listed yesterday will be given away. If more than one person selects a particular book another one will be substituted. Th enter.
1. Visit the blog.
2. Leave a comment with how to reach you - email is enough.
3. If one of the books tickles your fance, mention it.
4. A drawing will be held each day of the contest until the last of the 27 books are awarded.
5. Books will be sent to US and Canadian members

Last week I reached the 60% goal on The Chosen of Horu the second in the ancient Egypt alternate world stories. The story is moving forward and I finally have the ending in the proper sequence.

This week I intend to move ahead, hoping to reach my goal of chapters revised. My next story is beginning to simmer but I've learned even though a new story beckons finishing the one you're working on should be the priority unless there's something wrong with the story you're working on. For me, one at a time is what I must do.

This week's peeve is rather minor but I often wonder why people join a group andthen don't come to the meetings or even do much as far as participating. Are they there just to be able to say they belogn? Is it because as writers, they believe the members of their group will buy their books? Puzzles em.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

27 book contest A Different Sunday

Usually Sunday is the day I do a three blog visit but today I'm letting followers and others know what's coming up in my contest for an early or late Christmas present from me. A lot of print books to be given away, one of each I currently have in print, each one autographed and mailed to those who pop by and make a comment on the blog and leave me a way to get in touch with them. So here goes with the list. They are listed in the order they will be given away.


1. Shortcut To Love
2. Becoming Your Own Critique Partner
3. Moon Pool
4. A Double Opposition
5.The Doctor's Dilemma
6. Gemstones
7.The Warrior of Bast
8. Healwoman Dark Moon
9. Mistress of the Moons
10. All Our Yesterdays
11.The Temple of Fyre
12. The Dragons of Fyre
13. Sweet Seductions
14. Flight
15. Refuge
16. Quests
17. Come Into The Light
18. Obsessions
19. The Quest For The White Jewel
20. The Brotherhood of Mages
21. The Secret of the Jewels
22. Whispers Out Of Yesteryear
23. Prescription For Love
24. Murder and Mint Tea
25. Requiem Murder
26. The Midas Murders
27. The Hudson House Murders

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday's Chapter - Murphy's Law Kat Attalla

Kat is a good friend and this is one of her stories that I've loved when she read bits in critique and after it was finished.

Murphy’s Law
Chapter One

Lilly McGrath refused to surrender. She ran down the narrow pathway and rounded the corner. She slipped on a small rock, and only her hand gripping the edge of the stucco building stopped her from tumbling head first onto the road. Her ankle throbbed, but she kept going.
Her mind raced as fast as her heart and faster than her feet. Who was he? In the past month she'd crossed paths with him a dozen times in almost as many towns. He’d nearly grabbed her in Lisbon. If not for that besotted Portuguese fisherman who wanted to make her his wife, she’d probably be dead.

The man was good; she’d grant him that. When she calmed down, she’d take pride in the fact that her ex-boss sent the best.

She darted into an old church and hid in the empty confessional. The stale air in the tiny cubicle and feelings of claustrophobia left her gasping for a normal breath. Why did she think Europe would be safe? No matter where she ran, he always turned up. She never got a chance to find work. The ten dollars in her pocket wouldn’t get her a bus ticket, assuming she could lose him again. And just this morning she’d discovered all her credit cards had mysteriously been canceled.

She finally caught her breath and cursed her own folly. When would she learn to keep her mouth shut? Mr. Santana hadn't hired her for her brilliant mind. He didn't want her to notice the inconsistencies. When her apartment blew up, she realized that she should have kept her opinion to herself.

Her father warned her she would end up in trouble if she moved east to work in New York. "Farm girls from Iowa have no business going off to work in the big city. They should marry and raise a crop of babies," he’d told her. Wouldn't he just gloat if he saw her now?

The thud of heavy footsteps heading in her direction came to an abrupt halt. She sucked in a deep breath as her body broke out in a nervous sweat. Someone yanked at the curtain.

"An dio. Mi dispiace," the flustered, white-haired woman sputtered and pulled the curtain shut again.

Lilly stared at the black sheet of fabric, paralyzed in fear. After a few terrifying seconds, she realized that the local woman making her weekly visit to the parish priest posed no threat. Lilly must have lost her pursuer, but not for long if she didn't get moving. She couldn't risk going back to the hostel for her clothes. He apparently knew where to find her again.

If she were prone to flights of fancy, she would believe Mr. Santana had sent a psychic. That man seemed to know exactly where she'd turn up when half the time she didn't know herself. How did he always find her? She made no calls and only used her credit cards just before leaving a country.
Lilly pulled a bandanna from her neck and wrapped it tightly around her ankle for added support. She couldn’t remain in the church unless she planned to make a confession to the Roman Catholic priest. Now that would be a story to tell. If she lived long enough, she might do just that.

She stepped out the door and glanced down the narrow street. Only the tourists braved the blistering Italian sun. Wary, but less nervous, she made her way along the maze of streets into the town center of Genoa. Eager bargain hunters filled the shopping market, allowing her to blend in with the crowd.

A pain to her backside initiated her into that fine Italian custom of rear-end pinching. She whirled around. Two strong hands gripped her shoulders and pushed her back into the wall. She opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out.

Numbness washed over her. She slumped into the man’s arms.He’d drugged her. "Help me," her mind shrieked to the people who stopped to look, but they only stared.

"Lilly, honey," the man muttered lovingly. He wiped his hand tenderly across her damp forehead. "I told you to be careful of the Italian wine. It's far too strong for you, baby." He glanced up at the crowd of onlookers and shrugged. "She's not used to drinking." He made a gesture with his hand and repeated his words in fluent Italian. The bastard had them laughing at her. No one would help her. "Come on. The car is just around the corner. What? You can't walk?"

He swept her up in his arms as everything went black.

* * * *

Jack braced his hands against the wall as the small boat pitched from side to side on the churning sea. He glanced at the petite woman sleeping on the bunk bed. Nylon rope bound her hands together. Guilt over tying her up left a bad taste in his mouth but she possessed more ingenuity than he’d expected. That little slip of a woman had given him a really hard time.
He'd followed her since she left the States two months ago. In that time, she’d made contact with no one. The department wanted to move on her ex-boss, Santana, so Jack had planned to bring her in a month earlier when they were in Lisbon, but he got blind-sided by a love-struck bear of a man. The crazy fisherman almost killed him. By the time he regained consciousness, she’d disappeared again.

Five days later he caught up with her in Madrid. He knew she needed money since he'd lifted her wallet before she got away. A contact confirmed that she’d finally shown up at the American Express office for a cash advance.


Jack closed the cabin door and turned towards the voice. "Yeah?"

"There are storm warnings. We'll have to bring her into port in Nice."

“Shit.” He pounded his fist against the wall. "Damn it, Stucky. I told you we needed a bigger boat. It's too risky."

"It’s the best I could do. Did you want me to advertise?"

Jack massaged his throbbing hand. What choice did he have? They couldn't exchange the boat for a larger model since they appropriated the vessel illegally. The owner had surely reported it missing by now.

He planned to keep the boat out at sea until they could meet their contact in Tangier. Bringing Lilly into port in France could put the mission in jeopardy, and might prove fatal. His two-week assignment had turned into a two-month ordeal.

"Okay. But I need a jeep as soon as we dock. Get in touch with Anton and see if he can find me a safe house—as far away from people as possible. I have a feeling our guest is going to be screaming like a banshee when she comes to."

"Give her another shot."

"No. I didn't want you to drug her the first time. I could have handled her without it. The idea is to bring her back alive."

Stucky scratched his head. "And they’ll be able to convince her to testify?"

"It's not our problem." Stucky returned to the deck while Jack remained below. "It's not our problem," he muttered again.

The job ended when he delivered her to his boss. He’d never obsessed over what came next. Only Lilly McGrath wasn't a hardened criminal and something about this job stuck in his throat. For the first time he wondered what would happen when she was no longer useful to them.
* * * *

Lilly rolled to her side and groaned. The bright morning light sent a searing jolt of pain across her forehead. She squeezed her eyes shut. Drums pounded in her ears. When she tried to stretch she found her hands bound tightly together at the wrists. Forcing her eyelids opened again, she looked around the sparsely furnished room.

What had happened?

A flood of memories came rushing back. Italy—the laughter—and that man who had tormented her across half of Europe. She needed to escape. But how?
She swung her legs over the side of the bed and slipped to the floor on her knees. All her muscles felt stiff but she demanded they respond and pulled herself up.

Where was she? According to her watch, only two hours had passed. Impossible. She checked the date and amended her thoughts. Twenty-six
hours. How far could they have taken her in that time? Someone would have noticed if they tried to put her on an airplane.

She swallowed and noticed the lingering taste of salt. She must have been near the sea recently. A boat? Of course. How else would they plan to cross borders?

Shaking off the fatigue from her muscles, she walked to the boarded window of the rustic cabin. An old newspaper on the dresser below the window appeared to be written in French, so hopefully she was still on the European continent. She reached for the door but withdrew her hands quickly when she heard voices on the other side. Footsteps headed in her direction and she darted back to the bed.

The door opened and he walked in, carrying a tray. He placed it on the table. "How are you feeling?"

She glared coldly at the man she’d learned to recognize as readily as her own father. Thick, sable brown hair fell in soft waves over his collar. The corner of his mouth lifted in an arrogant grin. His piercing eyes, straight nose and rugged jaw gave him an alarming appeal, and a full day's stubble on his chin added to his rakish appearance. She remembered that he'd had a moustache the first time she saw him, but after Lisbon he gave it up.

He wore a cable knit sweater and brown corduroy pants, giving him a distinctly Mediterranean look. Like a chameleon, he had a unique talent for resembling the locals, no matter where they crossed paths.

Tall, dark and handsome.

Every woman's fantasy was her nightmare.

* * * *

"Coffee?" Jack asked, holding out a cup of dark steaming brew. Lilly took the cup he offered in her two hands.

He realized his mistake the second he read her intention. He turned just in time to miss being scalded in the face by the hot liquid she hurled at him. "You vicious little brat!"

The coffee seeped through the sweater, burning the skin on his back. He quickly pulled the garment over his head and draped it on his arm. He suppressed the urge to retaliate. In her shoes, he would have done the same.

He’d underestimated her again. Two months ago, she’d been a frightened woman running for her life; an export clerk who stumbled onto something she shouldn't have noticed. She knew enough to make her a liability but not enough to keep herself safe.

At least, she appeared to be innocent. She could be involved right up to her baby-blue eyes, but that would be the most incredible acting job he'd witnessed. Since leaving New York, she'd become tougher, but she still didn't strike him as the criminal type. She didn't possess the hardness it took to live that kind of life.

"Didn't care for the coffee? Perhaps you’ll like the food."

She kicked her leg out and sent the tray flying from the bedside table. Stucky's efforts at an edible breakfast littered the hardwood floor.

Jack reached for the door handle. "When you get hungry, you can scrape it off the floor."

He leaned against the outside wall and listened while she vented her frustration with him. Luckily, the room didn't have much furniture, because even with her hands tied she managed to toss a few wooden chairs around the room. She recovered most of her strength, which alleviated his guilt about Stucky giving her those shots.

He chuckled. Let her get it out of her system, he decided. She'd be so exhausted by evening that he wouldn't need to drug her again.

"What's going on?" Stucky asked.

"She didn't like your cooking." Glass shattered against the door and Jack groaned. "When can we get moving again?"

"Tonight maybe. Tomorrow at the latest. Give her another shot."

"No." Although he'd been assured that, in moderation, the drug left no permanent damage, he wasn't a doctor.

Another flying object crashed against the door and his partner jumped. "Do you have a freaking death wish? You'll never be able to control her like that."

Jack thought about the woman he’d tailed for the past two months. An uncomfortable tightening stirred in his loins. A reaction that happened far too often recently. He mentally shook himself. A death wish? The fiery beauty in the other room was no threat to his life, only his hormones.
Casting the dangerous thoughts aside, he returned his attention to the older man's worried expression. What the hell was Stucky's problem? If they couldn't handle one small woman, they should retire.

Normally his partner had cast iron nerves but this job appeared to be getting to him. Although Stucky had tried to decline the assignment, Jack insisted on having him for back up once he actually grabbed Lilly. Unable to fully trust anyone within his own department, he preferred to bypass the normal channels and sneak her back into country. To accomplish that goal, he needed Stucky's expertise to get them in and out of ports undetected.

They disagreed fundamentally on the way to handle themselves but Jack still had a tremendous amount of respect for the older man. Where Stucky played by the established rules, Jack preferred to make his own rules.

"We'll see how the day goes. You go into town and get supplies. I don't want to stop again before we get to Tangier."

Stucky nodded and seemed relieved. A few colleagues hinted that Stucky had lost his edge after the death of his partner the year before. Jack dismissed the charge at the time, but now he wondered. Stress had taken down more men than the job itself.

* * * *

Jack slouched in a chair to read the local paper. At dinnertime, he decided to make another attempt to feed Lilly. If she became weak, they might be delayed longer. He discarded the idea of cooking an egg in case he ended up with it on his face. How much damage could she do with a sandwich and cold water?

He peered around the door and entered carefully. A faded white sheet covered her body curled up on the cot. "Lilly?"

Although she pretended to be asleep, a muffled hiccup gave her away. An unfamiliar wave of regret washed over him.

He walked around the bed, carefully avoiding the shattered remnants of her temper tantrum, and knelt down in front of her. "I know you're awake."

Her eyes flew open and her arm shot out from below the sheet. A fragment of broken glass, clenched tightly in her fingers, sliced into his cheek. He recoiled at the same time her foot landed in his chest and sent him flying backwards into the wall.

* * * *

Lilly rolled off the far side of the bed and sprinted down a short corridor that lead directly to the living room, kitchen area. Footsteps echoed through the house. Without looking behind her, she sprinted out the front door and into the wooded area beyond the house. Her body stayed in motion on pure instinct.

She zigzagged through the brush, scraping her arms on the bark of the trees she used for balance. Leaves and branches rustled beneath her feet. She kept a careful watch on the ground. Her ankle still hurt, and she couldn't afford to twist it again.

Between the tall pines she caught sight of a house. The smoke from the chimney rose like a beacon, leading her to safety. Surely, someone would help her. Less than twenty feet from the clearing, something in front of her moved.

She stopped short and stared straight into the snout of a wolf. The gray canine growled and eyed her warily. Her heart thumped against her ribs. She ran her tongue along her top lip, tasting the salty warmth of her nervous perspiration. Wolves don't normally attack people, she reminded herself. Unless of course they're rabid, her over-active imagination added.

"Don't move," a deep voice ordered from behind.

The wolf’s ears arched into an attack position. She had a tough choice deciding on the lesser of the two evils. Either one could mean her death. The wolf would be quicker.

"Back up, slowly. Don't turn. Don't take your eyes off it."

Lilly followed his orders and inched backwards. Her foot tangled in fallen branch and she raised her arm instinctively. The animal bared its fangs and took a step towards her. One shot rang out and the wolf yelped and took off in the other direction.

Before she had time to enjoy her relief, she was caught from behind and pulled to the ground. He straddled his legs across her hips to hold her down and grabbed both her wrist as she tried to pummel him.

The menacing eyes that glared down at her were as wild as the wolf's and infinitely more dangerous. The gash on his cheek still bled. He wiped his arm across his face, leaving a bright red stain on his white shirtsleeve.
She sensed that he wanted to hurt her, but something stopped him. Why didn't he just shoot her and get it over with?

He tied her wrists together with a piece of rope and helped her to her feet. "Don't try that again."

"What are you going to do, kill me?" she snapped.

He put his hand on her elbow and led her back towards the house. "No one's going to kill you, Lilly. We just need to talk to you."

She coughed to cover a nervous laugh. He couldn't think her that naïve. "Yes. I got the message you guys left for me at my home."

Jack exhaled a groan. "I had nothing to do with that."

"Oh, yeah. And I should believe you."

* * * *

Jack quickened his steps and pulled her along. He'd already drawn enough attention by discharging his gun. If a neighbor decided to check out the commotion, he would have a tough time keeping Lilly from yelling for help. "If I wanted to kill you, you'd already be dead. I've had more than enough chances."

"I always got away."

Jack chuckled. Apparently, she believed herself caught up in a misguided game of international intrigue. "You got away because I let you. Except for Lisbon, where I'll admit you got the better of me. I've always known where you were. If you saw me, I wanted you to."

She stopped walking and cast him a mocking glare. "Right. I'll bet that's what you told your boss too."

"Oh, come on, Lilly. I can tell you where you spent your first night in London. What you ate for breakfast everyday. Why, I can even describe the sexy black lingerie you bought last week."

Her eyes widened and her face flushed scarlet. "And why would you want me to get away?"

"To keep you moving. Every time you checked into a hotel you had to give your passport. It only takes a few days to track it down. I'm not trying to kill you. I'm trying to keep you alive."

Her bitter laugh spoke volumes. She didn't believe him. "I suppose it never occurred to you to tell me this in the beginning and save all this trouble?"

"Not really. I only told you this much so you'd see that I don't mean you any harm. I'd prefer not to have to drug you every time I move you. But if you make me, I will."

"Who are you? CIA? FBI?"

"You read too many spy thrillers." He tugged on her arm to get her moving again. "Who I work for isn't important. Just follow orders and we'll both live to tell our grandchildren about it."

"Am I allowed to know your name or is that classified information too?"


"Murphy? And does that come with a first name or should I just call you...?"

"Jack," he said before she labeled him with her choice of colorful nickname. They reached the front door and he pushed it opened with his foot. "And one more thing. It isn't much of a face but it's mine. Don't cut it again."

"I wasn't aiming for your face. I was aiming for your throat."

"I guess I can be thankful you didn't set your sights lower." She jerked her arm free of his grasp and stomped into the house. That attempt failed, but he knew she would try again. He could almost see the wheels spinning in her head as she walked towards the bedroom. "Stay here."

"I prefer to be alone."

"Tough. I wouldn't want you to cut yourself on the broken glass." Or to use another sliver to free herself from the rope again. The woman had guts for an amateur. She flopped down on the worn sofa with a grunt.

He stepped over to the old porcelain sink and splashed water on his face, keeping a watchful eye on her at all times. Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, he blotted the gash along his face.

"Excuse me, Mr. Murphy, but I need the little girl's room."

Jack shot her a nasty scowl. She shrugged and smiled innocently.

"Come on." He led her down the hall to the bathroom. She held her hands out in front and he removed the rope. When she tried to close the door he stuck his foot inside. "I think not."

Her eyes widened. "You can't be serious? I can't use the bathroom with an audience."

"If you really need it, you can. Leave the door open."

He took up a position just outside the bathroom. Humiliating her was not his objective, but he never made the same mistake twice. His little captive still possessed a fair amount of fight. "Turn on the water. It helps."

"Go to hell!"

Jack laughed. No doubt one day he would. His wasted youth had earned him fire-front accommodations. No amount of penance could erase the memory or the guilt. He’d started out with such high ideals, but somewhere in the execution, he'd lost sight of the goals. His job of scaring the shit out of a woman not even charged with a crime left a foul taste in his mouth. Would he care if they’d sent him after a middle-aged spinster with a wart on her nose? He wanted to believe so, but no assignment caused him to lose sleep like this one. An air of innocence surrounded her, despite her ability to wrap a man around her finger as he learned from his incident in Lisbon.

"Are you still there?"

Lilly pounded her fist against the wall. He tried not to laugh when he heard the water running. Something like that had to be easier for men.
She finally emerged from the bathroom and returned to her seat in the living room. He admired her strength. She neither cried nor pleaded like many women in her position might do.

"Do you want something to eat?" he asked.

She shrugged her shoulders indifferently, refusing to admit she wanted anything, but he guessed she must be hungry. She hadn't eaten anything in the last day.

He opened the old refrigerator and removed cheese and a chunk of crusty bread. He handed her the sandwich and sat in the squeaky wooden chair across from her.

She drummed her fingers on the frayed arm of the sofa. “How much longer are we going to be in this resort?”

“Depends on the weather.”

"I suppose if I asked where we're going from here, you wouldn't tell me.

"Right. Think of it as an adventure."

"An adventure is shopping in New York City."

The sarcasm of her words failed to mask the anxiety reflected in her eyes.

"Nothing is going to happen to you," he said softly, hoping to calm her fears. "You have my word on that."

She leaned back in the chair and let out an exaggerated sigh of relief. "There's a comfort. You drug me, kidnap me and take me against my will over international borders. Now I should rest easy on the word of a terrorist."

He stiffened. "I am not a terrorist."

Lilly's stinging barb touched a raw nerve. His own family had accused him of something similar. After all, there wasn't much difference in the job, only in the people who paid him.

"That depends on your point of view, doesn't it? If what you're doing were legal, I'd be going through an extradition process. Even a criminal is permitted legal counsel."

He couldn't argue with the truth. Her job as an export clerk made her well versed in international law. However, he couldn't bring her back through the regular channels. Their survival might depend on no one knowing about her return to the States. If she tried to go back on her own, she might not make it there alive.

"Finish up your sandwich. And then you can get some sleep."

Judging by the tired look in her eyes, she could use the rest. So could he, but he also knew he wasn’t going to get any. Especially not when she discovered the sleeping arrangements.

* * * *

Lilly finished the last bite of her dinner. Eating in front of a man made her self-conscious enough. When Jack stared at her with his penetrating gaze, her embarrassment grew. She swallowed hard. Fear kept her heart pounding at a rapid pace. How was she going to get free?

He sat next to her on the sofa. Before she could spring from her seat, he took her hand and locked a cuff around her wrist. The other end he fastened to himself.

She tried to twist her hand out of the metal bracelet. “What are you doing?”

“I would have thought it was obvious. I’m too beat to spend the night chasing you through the woods, and you’re too good at getting out of the ropes. Should we sleep on the bed or right here on the couch?”

“Are you out of your mind?” Her voice pitched. “I wouldn’t share a bed with you if you were the last man on earth.”

“I guess than means you want the couch.”


“Then sleep on the floor. I’m sleeping here.” He stretched out full length. The old springs creaked. His solid thigh brushed against her hip and pushed her off the edge of the cushion. Her rear-end hit the floor with an indignant thump. The man possessed the manners of a wild boar and the personality to match.

She wrapped her arms around her waist, a gesture that brought his handcuffed arm right into her lap. As if she wasn’t already mortified, his fingers didn’t remain idle, but instead drummed playfully against the zipper of her shorts.

“Don’t touch me, you...animal.” She raised her hand, leaving his arm dangling in the air.

“I’m too damned tired for this crap.” He hooked her around the waist and hauled her onto the couch. With one leg wrapped across hers and his arm cradling her hip, he pinned her against his hard body. She twisted, trying to free herself from the entanglement. The more she turned, the tighter he held her. She managed to make herself aware of every inch of his rock solid body. Painfully aware.

When she gave up her struggle, he chuckled. “Much better. Now get some sleep or it will be a long night.”

If he thought she would be able to sleep like this, then he needed to have his head examined. How was she supposed to relax with his arms wrapped around her like two steel bands? How could she ignore the body heat that cocooned her like a fleece blanket? And how could she deny the strange sensations caused by his rhythmic breathing caressing her neck? Hell. With erotic reactions like this, she was the one who needed to have her head examined.

Yes, indeed. It was going to be a long night.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How She Does It -- Kat Attalla

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

I agree that in the end those elements have to be there. And usually in that order.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

When I start, I usually have the heroine in mind first. I have a sketchy idea of goal, motivation and conflict. And then I build my hero around the exact opposite of what my heroine wants. I read that if you make your hero a firefighter then your heroine should be an arsonist. Not really but you get the point.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

I usually fly by the seat of my pants. I just recently wrote a synopsis for the next story I want to write. We will see which works better for me.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

When I am writing with suspense elements I know how it will end and 'who done it." Then I work backwards to make sure all the clues are there but not too obviously. There's nothing I hate more that an ending that comes out of nowhere... unless it is an ending that is so obvious that I can't read to the end.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

Most of my settings are either in my Metro suburbs or in places I have lived. The specific settings are usually in buildings I am familiar with. A house I have been in, a town center where I spent time. I find when I read a book based on a real town, I am disappointed if they get the facts wrong. I prefer fictional towns unless you know for a fact that the "catholic church in on the corner of 5th and Main."

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

Mostly I research on line. But when possible, I like to take a road trip. I spent time on the Iroquois Reservation for Class Action. Road around costal Rhode Island for Sex and Key Lime Pie, and the mountains of Vermont for Codename: Romeo. The biggest challenge I ever hand was when the editor of my first book, Homeward Bound, asked me to change the setting from Oklahoma to New Mexico.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday's Interview - Liz Matis

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

Steamy romances, but I have 3 story ideas for women’s fiction, 2 young adult, 1 fantasy and 1 horror (short story).

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

Chose me. I read a lot of sci-fi when I was young but found Shanna by Kathleen Woodwiss on my mother’s night table when I was 15. (I still have the same copy)

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

I love, love historical romances – but my voice is anything but so I’ll just stick to reading them.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Pretty much anything and everything except Mystery/Thrillers/Horror

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

After finding that romance at age 15 I wrote mini romances for my friends
starring them and the boy they were currently crushing over.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

My heroes! I love them and somewhere along the line the heroines remind me that I’m married and to butt out.

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

No villains.

8. What are you working on now?

A novella titled Going For It - Hannah and Jakes’ story – two secondary
characters from my new release Playing For Keeps.

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

Playing For Keeps. I first started this story in my 20’s when I wanted to be a sports reporter. My uncle, who was one, discouraged this – way back then it wasn’t the easiest field – still isn’t but better than it used to be.

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

Here is a short blurb: Journalist Samantha Jameson always wanted to be one of the boys. Ryan Terell is a playmaker on and off the field, but when Samantha uncovers his moves, he throws out the playbook. Just as he claims his sweetest victory, Samantha’s investigation into a steroid scandal involving his team forces him to call a time-out to their off the record trysts. But then a life threatening injury on the field will force them both to decide just how far they’ll go to win the game.

Here is the opening: Playing For Keeps

“Miss, we need to see your credentials.” Two guards stood firmly in front
of the New York Cougars’ locker room.

With her index finger, Samantha pointed to the press card attached to her crisp white blouse. She tried to duck past them, but they didn’t budge.

“It says here, Sam Jameson.”

As other sportswriters breezed by, she conjured up a polite tone and
explained, “That’s my byline; it’s short for Samantha.”

“I’ll have to verify your credentials with the head of security,” the
taller of the two said. She read his name badge. Tom. The man stepped to the side, flipping open his radio like he was a Secret Service agent, while the other guard, Jerry, still barred her way.

Samantha said nothing. Being a journalist led to confrontations such as
this and she had more than her fair share, in far worse situations. Still,
frustration nagged at her, even as she reminded herself the guards were just doing their jobs. Though if she were a man she doubted she’d have this much trouble.

She bet the star tight-end for the NY Cougars believed women didn’t belong
in this inner sanctum, as well. He’d certainly come a long way since playing college ball with her brother, but she doubted that included his views on women as anything but playthings. Ryan Terell. The thought of him evoked vivid memories.

Shoulder length black hair falling in waves like rumpled satin, deep green
eyes that seemed to know what she was thinking at any given moment, and hands made for more than catching passes. Much more. Sure, great packaging, but underneath the chiseled exterior was a man who hadn’t socially evolved from dragging his knuckles on the ground. If only he’d worked as hard on his interior.

Thank God she was no longer a silly college girl who fantasized about him.
She was a woman now. She’d been around the world and around all types of men. Even big, hulking Marines who rescued stupid reporters. Yup, she was definitely over Ryan Terell.

If the arrogant egomaniac hadn’t changed since their days at Notre Dame,
her job would prove more difficult than getting banned from the locker room. And she needed this sports writing gig to work out. She couldn’t go back to writing hard news. Not ever.