Monday, February 28, 2011

The week of writing past and what's ahead. - Feb.28

Coming this week is an interview with Karen Wiesner the lead Jewel in Jewels of the Quill. She has written in many genres and has a lot of books out there in fiction as well as non-fiction. She was an acquaintance made in Omaha at the first EPICon and later became a friend through the Jewels. As usual tomorrow will have the Inspirations bit from Bird by Bird, Wednesday more on characters, Friday Becoming Your own Critique Partner Saturday a chapter, not sure which book but there are still a few in my quiver. Sunday I'll be visiting.

Am looking forward to next week when I head for Williamsburg and the EPIC conference. There will be blog posts missing unless I figure how to do them ahead.

As for my writing. Still working on Confrontations and will soon have it four fifths done. My goal is the end of March so we will see. Dreaming up adventures is a bit hard when you have so many characters and so many villains but it's moving.

Reading old books with a view to ridding my shelves of some. That's hard. Last week was revisiting Jenna Kernan, critique partner and great writer. Odd thing is that re-reading her earlier works is like discovering them again. Thanks for some great reads.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Three Blog visits

ttp:// - Here's a chance to have the first chapter of your book to be seen by people who visit her blog. blog has a lot to do with fantasy. I was interviewed last week and I'm hoping the winners of the books I offered will email me so I can send the books. This is a blog for romance writers with posts that speak of writing life, about books and often there are guest bloggers.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Secret of the Jewels -- First Chapter Saturday

By Janet Lane Walters
DiskUs Publishing
Seven Jewels and seven threads. Find them, twine them, bind them into a braid to discover how to unlock the secret of the Jewels. What was pale becomes dark and dark changes to light. Sometimes destruction is the way to end a cycle of tyranny. Blazing sun and icy moons unite in the Yellow Jewel. You must go over land, across the sea and back again. Seek the thread and learn this lesson. What makes a home does not have to be a place. Fears may lurk and fears are faced when one learns to trust.
Disa turned and waved farewell to the Holders and their Chosen who remained at the mages’ stronghold. All but she and Brader stayed to tend to the living and the dead. Just days ago, the elderly healer had appeared and had given prophecies to all. The moment Disa had heard those words she knew she and Brader had to leave. Their role in the destruction of the mages lair had ended. The overland journey to Quato where they would board a ship to Thanis would take a seven day.

She prodded her horned horse and caught up with her companion. “Must we race like prisoners released from a dungeon?”

He slowed his steed. “Why not? I wish to reach my home as soon as I can.”

Home, she thought. Hers had been a peddler’s wagon and then the tavern in Pala. She didn’t understand his being drawn to a place. “Thy home won’t run.”

He laughed. “Thee are right, but some inner yearning pushes me to hurry to High Sanctuary. What if the mages have established a refuge there?”

She made a face. “Didn’t Andalor mention a ship filled with Queen’s Guards and mages that arrived in Quato around the time when thee did?”

“One or more might have remained. I need to find out.”

She supposed he was right but that wasn’t his real reason for the rush to return to his home. He wanted to visit his mother’s grave to bid her farewell. Did he really believe her spirit lingered on this plane waiting to hear of the success or failure of Liara’s quest?

At dusk they arrived in Desert’s Edge where they purchased enough supplies for the journey. She nearly suggested they stop at the Healers’ House for medicinals, but could think of none they would need before they reached the market in Quato.
Eight days of traveling from dawn to dusk brought them to the seaport town. On the outskirts they passed the villa where she had received her Jewel. “Remember our time here?” she asked.

“Clearly. What a pompous fool I was. Attacking Valmir when he wasn’t the enemy. Angering Liara and thee.”

She reached for his hand. “Thee feared someone would harm her and keep her from the quest.” She sighed. “I wonder how the others fare.”

“If there were problems couldn’t they reach us on the inner path?” Brader asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve listened every night and the voices have grown fainter. Should we stay here or go directly to the docks?”

He prodded his horse. “This is too far from town. We’ll find an inn. Word of ships leaving for Thanis will be heard at one, but we can’t leave for a day or two.”

She nodded. “We have to sell the horses.”

“And arrange for passage. We’re too late for today’s animal market.”

Once inside the town Disa led him to the inn where she and Andalor had stayed. They were in luck and one of the suites on the third story was available. After leaving their packs in the suite’s central room, they ordered a meal to be brought as soon as they finished in the baths.

A short time after returning to the suite, Disa opened the door for a serving woman bearing a large tray of food. Disa inhaled the aroma of brewed chokla and grinned. She slipped the woman a coin. Brader entered from his sleeping chamber.

He fastened his amber colored hair at his nape with a thong.

“What of our plans for tomorrow?” Disa filled a mug with her chosen drink.

“Sell the horses. Find a ship. Purchase some extra food for the journey. Ship’s food is plain and sometimes not tasty.”

“Will we have to wait long?” Though they’d taken coins from the mages’ treasury, if they were forced to stay too long their coins would vanish.

He shrugged. “Who knows? I’ll slip down to the common room. Someone there will know about sailings.”

Disa lifted a banta leg. “No tragon.”

He laughed. “Guess Liara told thee how little tolerance I have for spirits. I’ll stick to ale.”

Though Disa had planned to stay awake until Brader returned, the soft mattress lulled her to sleep.

In the morning as soon as they broke their fast, they led their steeds to the animal market. After selling the horses and gear they had enough to buy passage on the ship Brader had heard about the evening before.

Disa walked to the dock with him. While he boarded to arrange for berths, she sat on a bench. She stared at the ship. Seemed sturdy but she had no knowledge about boats. As she watched, burly men carried crates and bales up a wooden ramp to be stowed in the holds.

Her thoughts drifted to the prophecy. Did it mean they would remain on the isle? Would they find more danger in Thanis? In two seasons she’d been part of two arcane battles. One to destroy the Black Jewel and the other to destroy the stronghold of the mages. Would the changes she, Liara and Stilenta had spoken about ever come to fruition?

For an instant, she pressed her hand against the Yellow Jewel she wore beneath her tunic. Did she control the gem or did it play subtle games with her thoughts? She rubbed her arms and felt as though the sun hid behind a cloud. Until she knew the answer she would be cautious about using the Jewel.

“Ho, Disa.”

Brader’s deep voice broke into her thoughts. He descended the long ramp from the ship. His broad grin spoke of success. She ran to him. “When do we leave?”

“The ship sails on the morning tide.” He made a face. “I don’t like the idea of sailing but there’s no other way to reach High Sanctuary.”

“Will there be storms like the one that stranded Stilenta on that isle? Or nearly drowned thee?”

“This isn’t the season. I’ve just no liking for the sea.”

“When thee came this way thee had wound fever. Liara feared for thy life. She said the sea water aided thy healing.”

He nodded. “All wasn’t ill. We found Valmir and Stilenta. Do thee think the Jewels played a role in the shipwreck?”

Disa looked away. If she admitted her concerns about the Jewels they might become true.

He grasped her arm. “Do they?”

She heard fear and curiosity in his voice. “I don’t know. Tell me what else troubles thee.”

He stared at the ground. “When the wind fills the sails and the waves roll, the motion of the ship is unsettling. My gut complains and my appetite flees.”

“There are herbs that can help. I’ll buy some.”

“And food, too. The trip can be as long as a lunar and a half or as short as two tendays. Ship food isn’t the best. Thee can shop and I’ll trade some of the gems from the stronghold for coins.”

Disa linked arms with him. They left the booming shouts and grunts of the stevedores and entered the noisy market square. The aroma of food and spices, the colors and varieties of the wares enchanted her. Brader headed to a shop with a wide selection of jewelry glittering behind the glass window. She strolled along the booths and made choices.

The last time she’d visited this market, mages had made dark blotches to gloom the atmosphere. Today there were none and only a few Queen’s Guards.

What would she and Brader find when they reached the isle where he and Liara had been raised? With a sigh, Disa thought of the friends they’d left at the mages’ stronghold. How did they fare? What secrets had they discovered?

She bought a mug of cider and sat on a bench beneath a canopy. As she sipped the cool liquid she sought her friends on the inner path. She heard faint buzzes but no words. Was the distance too great or was Brader’s help essential? She finished the drink and returned the mug. Had the choice to scatter been wrong?
Worrying about what couldn’t be changed wasted time. She stopped at a basket maker’s stall and purchased two lidded containers. At the herbalist’s she filled the compartments of one with a selection of herbs, spices and medicinals.

The aroma of chokla drew her across the square. She indulged in a powder for beverages, some candies for the voyage and two large pastries for the evening meal. After choosing other treats she carried the baskets to the inn.

When she reached the suite, she found Brader rolling their blankets. Their packs sat on the floor along with two sacks. “When are we off?” she asked.
Brader looked up. “After the evening meal we’ll board the ship.”

“But they don’t sail until morning.”

Brader chuckled. “The tide goes out at dawn. We need to be aboard before then.”

“Why? We’ve paid them. Wouldn’t they wait?”

“Not for a moment. Days from now we’d find another ship and have no coins to spare.”

Disa reached for her pack, blanket roll and the two baskets. “Then we’ll do what we must. I wish we didn’t have to go.”

He gathered his share of the baggage. “We must. I need to tell my mother what occurred so she can leave this plane for the next.”

Did he really believe his mother’s shade lingered? She reached for the door.

“We’ll need a cart to carry these things to the ship.”

“Agreed.” Brader followed her into the hall. “Just pray the sea sickness doesn’t grab me.”

“I have medicines for that.” They walked downstairs and entered the common room.

Brader laughed at the chokla pastry and gave her part of his. When they finished the meal they hired a barrow boy to cart their belongings to the ship.

As they boarded, Disa noticed the name painted on the ship’s side. The Amber Lady. She turned to Brader. “With that name and my Jewel we should have a pleasant journey.”

Her prediction proved true. With sunny days, clear nights, the brisk breezes filled the sails. The ship seemed to dance across the waves. Eighteen days after their departure from Quato the shores of the isle appeared in the distance.

Disa stood at the rail beside Brader. Large gray birds swooped through the air and dove toward the water. They emerged with fish dangling from their beaks and circled the small fishing skiffs. “What are they?”

“Lorns,” Brader said. “Fishermen train them to catch the fish.” He pointed to one of the boats as they glided past.

Disa watched as a bird dropped the fish and flew away. A man placed the fish in a tub. “Enterprising but what about the poor birds being robbed of their catch?”

“They’re given the heads and entrails.”

Disa shook her head. “Each to his own. When will we leave for thy home?”

He grinned. “First we have to dock. Won’t be today or even tomorrow. I’d like to see if any merchants are headed toward the mountains.”


“If there are we can travel part way with them.”

She met his gaze. “Do thee expect trouble?”

He shrugged. “I’ve a feeling. Can’t explain. On our way here, Liara and I ran afoul of some Queen’s Guards. They might still be around.”

Disa sucked in a breath. Could he be right? But Liara was the queen now and any of the Guards should be sworn to her. Disa shouldered her pack and blanket roll. She lifted the nearly empty baskets and followed him down the ramp. Uneasiness settled in her gut.

They walked away from the wharfs and paused outside a large inn. Brader pushed open the door. “Looks as good as any.”

“There’s one of the merchants from the ship.”

Brader dropped the things he carried. “See to the rooms. I’ll discover what he plans.”

A short time later he returned. “He journeys in our direction and would be pleased to have us join him. He leaves in three days. We’ll have time to purchase hill ponies and camping gear.”

Disa nodded. “Having our own supplies is a good idea.” She looked around to see if anyone was near. “We need to keep silent about the Jewel I wear.”

He looked away. “Thee are right.”

Friday, February 25, 2011

From Becoming Your Own Critique Partner - The Information Dump

How much is too much. I'm sure everyone who writes and does research finds so many things that are interesting. Some writers try to put them all in a book. Then the story turns from fiction to a "let me tell you all about -----" That's what they've recently researched. I've been guilty of this, especially when I'm working in an historical period or with medicine, present and fantasy. Unfortunately just because some bit on information interests you, doesn't mean the reader will find this interesting. I once, while writing a medical inspired romance detailed an entire surgery, pages of what was fascinating to me, but when a friend read the scene she shook her head. "She didn't want to be a surgeon, all she wanted was the flavor of the operating room and the reaction of the characters in a short scene. My friend was correct so I condensed what I'd found so fascinating.

Here are some points to remember when putting facts into a story.

1. A little bit goes a long way,- Instesperse the facts with the meat of the story.

2.No long passages of fact. Enough to interest your reader but not to put them to sleep.

3. Don't let a character become a lecturer or a teacher unless they are one. Then tone down their teaching moments.

4. Make sure the information comes at the right time. Giving the facts to show a historical period too far into the book may leave the reader scratching their heads.

5. If you've chosen a career for your characters that you know nothing about, find someone who practices that field. They can give you little hints that make your character seem genuine.

6. Keep your time period in mind. Don't use words that pull the character and the reader out of the era of place you've chosen.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interview with Ann Patrick

Today's interview is with Ann Patrick, soon to be a Jewel of the Quill.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
Thanks for having me visit, Janet. I write inspirational romantic suspense under the pen name Anne Patrick, and inspirational romance under the name Kinzie Monroe.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
Oh, they definitely chose me. I'm a character driven panster. Once my characters start talking to me I just tell their stories. It's sort of like riding a roller coaster, I never know what's around the bend, and I love it.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
No, I'm pretty content where I am. But you never know, I might be visited by an alien someday who insists on me trying my hand at science fiction.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
Suspense, mystery, and thrillers mostly. Some of my favorite authors are Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon, Iris Johansen, Lisa Jackson, Tami Hoag, Stephen King...I could go on but I won't :-).

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
Well, as a kid I always knew I'd either be an actor or a writer because I was always acting out these wild adventurers that would magically appear in my head. Probably as a way to keep me out of trouble, my mother encouraged me to write them down. I've been spinning stories ever since. Currently I have more than a dozen novels published and five more under contract. When I'm not chasing bad guys or lurking in dark alleys, I like spending time with family and friends. I also like to travel to foreign countries to experience new cultures.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That's a tough question, but I'm going to go with my sassy and head-strong fire investigator in my novel Fire and Ash. She's traveled a rough road to get where she's at, and because of some unfortunate circumstances in her life she doesn't feel worthy of God's love. I enjoyed watching her transformation through the book. Can I add that Fire and Ash has been nominated as 'Best Book of 2010' at Long and Short Reviews. It's also the #1 bestselling suspense/romance ebook at

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
Absolutely! My inspiration for several of my villains came from when I worked for a security transport service. I was part of a two-person team who transported prisoners to correctional facilities and to court. It was the most interesting four years of my life.

8. What are you working on now?
I've just started the second inspirational romantic suspense book in my 'Wounded Heroes' series. Many of my characters are war veterans who are currently serving or have just returned home. Books two through five take place on the mysterious Dauphine Island. The first book in the series, Kill Shot, releases in November.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
Dangerous Deception, releasing March 1st, is a short story included in a Mystery/Suspense anthology from Victory Tales Press. The inspiration behind it was the civil war in Sierra Leone in the nineties. Since I've set the story to modern day, it could be compared to any of the uprisings taking place in the middle east.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.
Here is the blurb for Dangerous Deception: Journalist Gwen Jacobs thrived on dangerous assignments. That is until her ambition led to the massacre of an entire African village. Now, a year later, she’s been offered a chance at redemption and the opportunity to expose the men behind the slaughter. Unaware of the secrets she carries, or the danger they could bring if exposed, philanthropist Jack Peterson and his small group of humanitarians welcome Gwen on their journey of hope with the understanding she will tell the world of the atrocities taking place amidst a civil war. But when Gwen’s deception is uncovered and a rebel commander learns who she is, not only is Gwen’s life on the line, the whole group could die.
And the excerpt:

Gwen Jacobs answered the knock at her door and came face to face with the worst mistake of her life.

The dark, piercing eyes of Michael Garrison scanned the length of her body before meeting her glare. “Hi, Gwen.”

It took every ounce of her restraint not to slap the smile off his face. “I was just on my way out.”

“This won’t take long.” He brushed past her.

Gwen closed the door, leaning against it for support. She hadn’t seen Michael since their last assignment together for the BBC.

He scanned the modest living room. “Nice place.”

The simple one bedroom flat was the only thing she could find within her budget, her landlord’s generosity and leniency making up for its lack of comfort and style.
Both journalists, they’d met in the states four years ago on assignment. After a year of dating, he’d asked her to move to London with him and like an idiot she did. “What do you want Michael?”

“I have a job offer if you’re interested.”

She immediately turned and opened the door. “No thank you. I’m freelance now, remember?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen your editorials. Cute photo by the way.” His smile widened. “Face it, Gwen, you’re not cut out for human interest stories. You were born for the frontline. Besides, from what I hear, the pay isn’t so good.”

“The pay is fine. Now, if you don’t mind I’m late for an interview.”

He walked to the door, but instead of exiting he nudged her aside, closed the door, and took hold of her hand. “Please, just hear me out.”

She jerked loose, leveling her glare on him. “I said I wasn’t interested.”

“You’ve been hoping to go to Lerato, am I right?”

“You’re offering me an assignment in Dewana?” she asked somewhat leery. For months she had wanted to go to the small country located in West Africa to expose the atrocities taking place in the midst of their civil war.

“According to a reliable source in Chizoba, the RFAGC is planning to take Lerato in the next couple of weeks unless their demands are met, including the release of Chidike. I’ve set up a meeting on the 20th.”

It wasn’t exactly the assignment she’d been hoping for. The Revolutionary Front Against Government Corruption, under the leadership of Akua Chidike, was responsible for much of the mayhem in the poverty stricken country. Committing some of the worst war crimes ever reported. “I thought international travel into the country has been suspended?”

“I got you a seat on a private charter with an American businessman by the name of Peterson. He’s with some religious organization. They’re going in on a humanitarian mission. They leave day after tomorrow.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Characterization - a few more tips -- Telling passages

For amny writers the hardest ways of characterization are through using narration, exposition and analysis. I have to agree. It's easy to show your character through action, through their speech both internal and external.

Narration is tell, so are exposition and analysis. We constantly hear show, don't tell but too much show can send the pace of the story into overdrive leaving the reader with no time to take a breath and to think about what the story is about.

The secret to good characterization is for the author to identify with the character, almost to become the character. Does this mean writers have split-personalities? Perhaps. The writer's belief in the character is what brings the reader into the story. They are the second part of what makes a character.

With all these ways of showing a character by using the tell move, there are several things to avoid. Giving a list of traits and telling too much. We've all read both and probably done them. Turn the lists into something else and only telling the reader what they need to know about a character. Those lists and all that information the writer needs but it doesn't need to go into the story, at least not in one huge gulp.

So how does one use these telling ways to show the character. Suggestive words and phrase. Choosing verbs and nouns that describe and have an impact. Tilly tensed and waited for the slam of the door. George always announced his departure with a final punctuation of his angry diatribe.

Pictorial writing is another way. This means using words to capture images. The senses can always add to a telling passage. Not just sight but all the senses, touch, smell, taste, and sound. Figures of speech are also good ways to tell readers about a character. There's contrast. A good thing is to evoke the reader's memory of images and sensations. Let the aromas of food tell the reader a bit about how the character enjoys the aroma of coffee, the taste of chocolate chip cookies. There are images and sensations that most people have experienced.

Do you use only action, dialogue and thoughts to show your characters? Take some time to explore other ways in an active rather than a passive way.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Inspirations based on Bird By Bird

Running behind today and not sure why since the sun is shining. Butthe chapter I read form Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott is on plot. I'm sort of sideways to her take. She feels plot stems from characters and their interactions. While I partially agree, I also look at plot as a series of events where characters act and interact. My plots aren't driven by the characters but the plots don't drive the characters. To have a plot you need need people with desires. That's a point of agreement. Plot can be choosing the incidents and what drives the characters. As she says these do become more defined as you get to know the characters.

Another point where we agree is learning what the characters desire most in life. But for me that is a goal I've given them and not one they've given to themselves. Characters are bits and pieces of ourselves, people we know or have read about or even total inventions.

Even using the same characters with the same desires ten or twenty writers will come up with as many different stories. That's the beauty of being a writer, making the story into our vision.

Anne Lamott says some people know the climax of their stories before they begin and others don't. This is the time when one of the characters dramatically changes. I definitely agree and I;m one of those people who generally knows the end before I begin the beginning,

The point of this whole thing is not to get so involved in developing the story that you forget the characters but don't get so involved in the characters that you have a story going nowhere.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The week in review and what's ahead - Feb. 21, Contest winners

The winner of Healwoman - Dark Moon is Shannon Leigh. I'll get in touch with her later for an address to send it to. Anonymous, Cat's Lady and Candy Girl will receive a download of the Vanilla Heart book. I'll need an email from Anonymous. She can email me at Shady L 717 @ without the spaces.

Last week was just about the same as the other weeks with a lot of work on Confrontations. This book has taken me longer than most. Wonder if it's age or an unwillingness to let the characters go. Perhaps it could be because the next story up hasn't reached the point of I have to write this. That always spurs me to finish what I'm working on. I'm pretty much a one story at a time and I do envy people who can work on more than one at a time.

Are you a one book at a time or work on several at the same time?

Been re-reading books in my library and doing some sorting. I'm doing this alphabetically but some people write under more than one name. I was putting Kat Attalla's books off until I reached Taylor but decided to jump her to the head of my list of favorites. Homeward Bound will always be my favorite of all the ones she's written and I'm sure Sex and Key Lime Pie will come in second.

This week coming up Tuesday still on Bird by Bird, Wednesday more on Characterization, Thursday an interview, I'll add who in a bit. Friday is Becoming Your Own Critique Partner. Saturday another chapter. There are still a lot of books to go. Sunday more blogs to visit. The interview will be with Ann Patrick a fellow Jewel of the Quill

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three Blog Visit Sunday Visited this blog several times this week since she had an interview of me up. There are also other articles of interest, Wendy is a chapter member and a new seller. She now has a new blog so I thought I'd let people know. She writes at present medical romances. A former critique partner is a member of this blog and there are many articles of interest and interviews.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

First Chapter Saturday -- The Brotherhood of Mages

This is the second in the trilogy published by DiskUs Publishing and was a finalist in the Dream Realm awards.

The Brotherhood of Mages
(Book 2 of the Jewels of Earda)
© 2005 By
Janet Lane Walters


The Way of the Healers
Much is demanded of a Healer and inner peace is her only reward. She must seek neither power nor wealth. To walk in the Way is difficult and not all succeed.
When a Healer names a man as Chosen, she must leave the House for she must think only of her craft and those who need her care. If she elects to depart, her knowledge of the healing arts will be stripped from her mind. She will be left with only those skills known to commoners who do not follow the Way.

Jindera left the herb storage hut and strode toward the cottage. Clouds dimmed the morning sun, then slid away. The leaves of the oka trees rustled in the summer breeze and the mingled scents of herbals and seasonings swirled around her. The coming of clouds meant a storm approached, but she felt certain no rain would fall this day.

Would the medicinals she would brew from the herbals she'd selected be of any help? She could only hope. All night, she'd fought the fever raging through her mother's body and had seen no change.

Mama, why did you leave the Healers' House? Her mother could have remained and raised her children with the sons and daughters of the other Healers. On his tenth birthday, Jindera's twin would have been sent to his father. But Jindera's mother had chosen to leave. Love for a man had been her reason.

Tears blurred Jindera's sight. She had loved her father dearly. His death seven lunars before had brought sadness to a home where love had ruled.
Rays of sunlight glinted on the golden stones of the cottage and brightened the dull yellow of the thatch. Jindera hurried along the garden paths that meandered among the beds of herbals and seasonings.

The plants flourished. Lajin's touch, she thought. Her brother had only to tend any ailing plant and it thrived. She paused at the cottage door and peered along the road from the village. Her twin should return soon with the staples he'd gone to fetch.

The stench of illness pervaded the room where her mother lay on a narrow cot. Jindera's breath caught. For a moment, she thought her mother had left this plane without the blessing to release her.

Holding back a sob, Jindera fled to the kitchen to blend a fever potion. She carried the mug of steaming liquid to the sick room and spooned the medicinal into her mother's mouth. A drop or two fell on the linen sheet and spread like the tears Jindera held inside. She inhaled deeply. She had to hold grief and fear at bay. When the mug was empty, she rested her head on the edge of the mattress and prayed the remedy would work.

She jerked awake. How long had she slept? The light in the room told her 'twas near midday.

The rasp of labored breathing filled her ears. She felt her own breaths fall into the same pattern. She raised her head and turned toward the door. Where was Lajin? She tried to reach him on the inner path where they could speak in secret. Flight. Fear. What had happened to him? Her hands and body shook. His fear or hers?

Jindera rose and looked outside. The fragrant scents of the garden brought a welcome calmness to her troubled spirit. 'Twas a false hope. If Mama dies, what will Lajin and I do? Having but sixteen years, they weren't old enough to hold the land.

She heard a rasping cough and turned back to the cot. Her mother's eyes were open. A wave of hope spread through Jindera. "Mama."

"Leave. You. Lajin. Soon. Danger comes."

"We can't leave you without saying the blessing."

"Must." Racking spasms shook her mother's body.

"Mama, don't talk."

"Must. Once. Three sisters."

Jindera listened to her mother's halting words. A grandsire who was a Master Mage. Mama born on the desert and leaving with her older sister for a Healers' House. How her two sisters wanted power and schemed to obtain control of others. One who had talent. One who had none. Mama who had talent and wanted love.

"Ralor. Comes. Hurt. You. Lajin. No Healers' House. Not good."

"Mama, be still." Jindera pressed her hands against her mother's shoulders.

"Starflowers. For Ralor. Make tea. He sleep. Then flee. Remember, danger from Healers."

Jindera chewed on her lower lip to keep from crying. The door opened and for an instant, she feared her father's brother had arrived. The garden, the guardianship, the cottage would pass to him and to the one the Healers sent to tend the garden. The door opened. She turned.

Lajin stood in the doorway. His flushed face and panting breaths told her he'd been running. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Black robes in the village. Taking boys. What will I do if they come here?"

Jindera shivered. The mages would learn about Lajin's talent for nurturing plants. They would take him. "You must flee to the forest and hide. Go now."

He knelt on the other side of the cot. "Not until we say the blessing."

"Son. Daughter. Go."

Jindera grasped her mother's hand. Lajin took the other. "Mama."

The heavy breathing slowed, then stopped. Had she willed her death?

Jindera's voice joined Lajin's. "Fare well, Mother. May the sun shine on your days and the moons light your nights. Let your shade depart and do not hover between this plane and the next."

Jindera met her brother's gaze. "You must go. I'll follow."

"The grave must be dug."

"Lajin, why must you linger? You heard Mama. You must go."

The door of the cottage slammed against the wall. Jindera saw the man in the doorway and shivered.

Her uncle grasped the frame. "So she's passed. The land and you are mine." His slurred speech spoke of drunkenness. He pointed to Lajin. "Boy, dig the grave. I would see her in the earth before sunset. Should have time before they come."

"Who comes?" Jindera asked.

"Mages," Ralor said.

"Why?" Lajin asked.

Ralor laughed. "For you. Do you think I want to live with one who in time will challenge me for the land? The Healers usually send their elderly to spend their last years in a garden. Such a one would be no threat. Girl, to the kitchen. I would eat."

Jindera sought her twin on the inner path. Go to the forest. I'll fetch the packs. When he's at his meal, I'll follow.

Lajin shook his head. I'll see Mama in the earth before I leave.

Why must you be so stubborn? Your pack will be at the kitchen door. Take it and flee before 'tis too late.

She hurried to the kitchen and pulled the soup kettle from the warming shelf. She hung it over the fire. In the pantry, she grabbed the packs she and Lajin had prepared and tossed them into the yard. On a cutting board, she put roast antel, cheese, bread and the last of the appa pie.

"Uncle, the food is ready." She dished the soup and filled a mug with kaf. After she finished serving Ralor, she slipped out the back door and lugged the packs to where Lajin dug the grave. "Go now."

He lifted a shovel of dirt. "Not 'til Mama lies beside Papa. We'll go tonight when Uncle's sleeping."

"How can you be so sure he won't hear us creep from the loft? What if the mages come? Mama is beyond our care. She bade us leave." Jindera's hands clenched. Why didn't he feel afraid?

"If they come, I'll hide." Lajin continued to dig. "Mayhap Uncle lies and 'tis tragon speaking."

Jindera frowned. Ralor had been drunk. "Then I must go into the forest."


"To gather starflowers to make sure he sleeps." She grabbed her brother's shoulders. "I wish you'd leave now. I have the feeling trouble comes." She groaned. He had that stubborn look she hated.

"We go together." He jammed the shovel into the earth.

She saw the tear-tracks on his face. He grieved, too, but his eyes showed a determination to have his way. "Come with me."

He shook his head. "When I'm finished and Uncle sleeps."

She wanted to thump him on the head, though what good would a blow do? When he had these stubborn notions, there was no way to move him. "Take care. I won't be long. Mama told me things you should know.'

She ran toward the line of dark trees. Something puzzled her. Where had Ralor gotten the coins to buy tragon? Since her father's death, her uncle had lived at the cottage and earned enough from the sale of milk and eggs to buy brew. Had he some scheme involving the garden? Once he was named land holder, one third of the herbals and seasonings would be his. She and Lajin would be little more than servants. But her uncle had said the mages were coming. Didn't Ralor know her twin was the one with Mama's touch with plants?

Jindera sighed. She wished she'd been blessed with the talent. Her abilities lay in the blending of herbals into medicinals and knowing what an ailing person needed. Mama had called her a Healer born. Yet she knew without training, she couldn't practice except in the village. Her parents had refused to send her to a Healers' House and her mother's learning had been blocked when she'd left the Way.

As the dim light of the forest surrounded her, Jindera set aside her grief and scented the air for the dulcet yet spicy aroma of starflowers. She needed enough blossoms to brew a sleeping tea so she and Lajin could escape.

In a small clearing where sunlight dappled the surface of a pond, she found clusters of the pale flowers. With care not to pull the roots from the ground, she collected a bunch. The aroma soothed her grief.

For a moment, she leaned against an oka and breathed the scent. Where would she and Lajin find a refuge? Though Mama had cautioned against the Healers was there another choice? Any Healers' House would take her, but her twin was too old. Since the Houses were located in towns, she wondered if he could find work nearby. His ability to coax plants to provide rich harvests should excite any farmer.

Jindera straightened and started back to the garden. As she neared the forest's edge, she heard shouts.

Jindera, help me. They want to take me. Lajin's plea on the inner path startled her. She stumbled and nearly fell.


Black robes.

In order to see what occurred, she dropped the starflowers and climbed an oka. She saw Lajin struggling with several black-robed men. Don't fight. I'll follow and help you escape.

Now. Help me before they make me one of them.

Stay calm. I'm coming.

No. Flee. 'Tis you --"

Lajin's voice ceased abruptly. With a suddenness that made her gasp, pain shot through her head. Feeling dizzy, Jindera clung to the rough bole of the tree. Where was her twin? She couldn't see or hear him. He couldn't be dead.

The mages mounted their horned horses. As they rode away, she climbed to the ground. Not caring that she trampled the plants, she ran across the herb beds. She stumbled over her uncle's body and nearly toppled into the grave. Tendrils of smoke rose from the house. She grabbed the packs.

"Girl, help me. They lied."

"Who, Uncle?" She dropped the packs and knelt beside him.

"Black robes. Bought me tragon. Asked about you and your brother. Took him. Wanted you. Told them no. One stabbed me." He groaned.

She examined the gaping abdominal wound and noted the pool of blood around him. She had neither the knowledge nor the skill to mend the torn flesh. "I can't do anything. I'll run to the village for help." She swallowed several times to keep from losing her morning meal.

"Too late." His moan rose to a scream, then died in a whimper.

With a whoosh, the thatch of the cottage blossomed with flames. Long fingers of fire thrust into the air. Showers of sparks took flight.

Jindera tried to drag her uncle away. She fell into the grave. When she crawled out, he was dead. Bits of burning thatch fell on the paving stones. Would the garden take fire?

She grabbed the packs and ran. At the edge of the garden, she turned. The flames had died. A pillar of black smoke stained the sky. Jindera collapsed on the ground. Everyone and everything that had been hers was gone. She rested her head against her bent knees. Exhaustion swamped her.


A voice on the inner path. Lajin?


Not her twin. The voice repeated the command. Where? The order was the only answer. Who wanted her? She couldn't abandon her twin. She rose, wavered and nearly fell. She had to find a place to sleep. Then she would decide where to go.

She looked around. The clouds seemed heavier. Would the storm begin this night?
The fire hadn't spread beyond the stones separating the herb and seasoning beds from the cottage. The herb hut on the far side of the garden had been spared. So had the meadow where the antels grazed. With leaden steps, she made her way to the one room building.

Jindera burrowed beneath a pile of sacks. Lajin! Still no response. He lived. She would know if he'd left this plane. When she woke, she would search out the mages and steal her brother from them. Soft tears began and continued until she slept.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cliches -- Brought on By Becoming Your Own Critique Partner

Someone once said "I've never met a cliche I didn't like." Not sure who but that's a true statement. I've found cliches useful when writing and also when doing crossword puzzles. The real problem with using them when I write is finding all and getting rid of them. There are more than those nice little phrases such as white as snow, or blue as the sky. Cliches come in other flavors. There are cliche characters, effects, scenes and plots.

Some writers have made great use of cliche characters. I know I have. The grouchy nurse, the kindly doctor, the tough detective. Perhaps if these characters are just background people they can remain as cliches. If they have a purpose in the story they need to have a bit of individuality and personality.

Effects are a character's reaction to an event or a situation. Take the character's reaction during a lovemaking scene. Like fireworks. Soaring to reach the sky. We've all used them. What about battle scenes. Gut clenched. Try using a surprise when a character reacts.

Scenes can become cliched. The first meeting of the hero and the heroine often rings with the same words or the same actions. Find a way to change this. Instead of having the meeting be a comedy or a tragedy look for a way to show the expectations skewed. Can be a lot of fun devising ways to show the discovery of a body in a mystery or the plague in a space opera or the magical events in a fantasy.

There really are cliched plots. Pick up a book and begin reading. All of a sudden it hits you that you've read this story before. While there are only so many plots and so many ways to reach the end what the writer has to do is put a personal spin on a story. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl. We've read this story a million times but some writers find ways to make this seem fresh rather than cliched.

Finding ways to turn cliches from stale to fresh is the trick. When writing, remember the time, the setting and the genre and find that twist to make your story leave the road paved with cliches.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interview Diane Craver

Today's interview is with Diane Craver, a fellow Jewel of the Quill. This week I was interviewed on her blog. That's a cool bit of reciprocity.

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

I write in several genres. I've written chick-lit mystery, inspirational romance, women's fiction, and historical fiction. And my historical fiction happens to be my latest release, A Christmas Gift, which makes me feel old. The girl in this story is based on me as a child. When I told my daughter, I couldn't believe it was considered historical fiction, she said, "Mom, it wouldn't be considered contemporary."

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
I chose to write my first inspirational romance, No Greater Loss because I enjoy reading this type of romances. Next I wrote women's fiction, then a chick-lit mystery and etc.

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

I'd like to try writing a time travel romance sometime. I am not interested in writing erotic romance.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
I read a variety of fiction for pleasure. I might get on a mystery binge, then switch to romances. I enjoy reading both contemporary and historical romances.

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

I've been married to the same wonderful guy for thirty-five years. We live in southwestern Ohio. We were blessed with six children - five daughters and one son. Two of our daughters were born with Down syndrome and live at home with us. They are wonderful but can be challenging, so we try to get away for a day or two once in a while by ourselves. In the spring and summer months, I have a seasonal job scoring tests that students hate to take.

When our oldest daughter Sara was a toddler (she's 34 now), I started writing nonfiction. I wrote a partial book, Born to Love about her. I never finished it because no book publisher was interested in the story, but I did get a few magazine articles out of it. One was in Virtue magazine, one in Down Syndrome Today, and a few other publications. In 2001, my first short book was published and later I switched to writing fiction. My first inspirational romance was published in 2006. I've also been published in Woman's World and have several articles on writing published at

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

That's a tough question to answer but Whitney Benson is probably one of my favorite characters. She is the youngest sister in my contemporary romance, Whitney in Charge. She's a former New York producer and moves back home to take care of her ill mother. I can relate to Whitney because she's the youngest sister and has two older sisters. I happen to have three older sisters so it was fun to write Whitney in Charge with older sisters playing matchmaker to their little sis.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
I have villains in my books. For example, my villain in A Fiery Secret is the murderer. I did a lot of brainstorming first about this villain so once I started writing my mystery; it was easy to nail this character. Sometimes an evil character in my books might become a different person by the end because of a faith-changing event.

8. What are you working on now?

I'm working on a story about a father and daughter, both teach at the same college in Virginia. The father is anxious for his daughter, Lexi, to get married and give him a grandchild. Lexi thinks her father needs to move on with his life. Her mother died three years ago on the way to the bridal shop to pick up Lexi's wedding dress. I also have started an inspirational romance series that I'm excited about.

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

My latest release is A Christmas Gift. It released this past November. I had thought of writing a story about my father for a long time. His life was hard with his mother's rejection at a young age so he was raised by various relatives. Some homes were better than others, because he stayed at times with an alcoholic uncle. Even though both parents deserted him, he had a deep faith and was able to be a good father to me and my siblings. I wanted the young daughter to be the one to help her dad with his disability. I thought it fitting that she could make him believe that his obstacle could still be overcome at his age. In turn, he gives her a beautiful gift that comes from his heart.

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

A Christmas Gift was published under the title of The Christmas of 1957 in 2001. With a new title and new material added, I submitted the new version to Whimsical Publications last spring and was happy to receive a contract for it. I love the new cover. If you look closely at it, you'll see a subtle angel at the top of the book cover. The prologue and epilogue are written in an adult POV by Debby Reeves while the rest of the story is told by seven-year-old Debby. Although some of it is based on my childhood experiences, the characters and story line are fictional.

Here's a short blurb for A Christmas Gift:

Justin Reeves is a man who has it all: a good job, a loving wife and children who are the center of his universe. Justin also has a secret he's hidden from everyone his entire life or so he thought. Quite innocently his small daughter, Debby, stumbles upon his secret and is shocked by what she finds. She confronts her father with the awful truth, and together they embark upon a journey which takes her father from the darkness of shame into the light of victory.

Here is the beginning of the prologue from A Christmas Gift. Happy Reading!

It was 1957 when I saw something that I wasn't meant to see. I have never forgotten this night because it had such an impact on me. I was only seven years old, and what I saw my father doing confused me. Finally, I had enough courage to ask my mother about it. After she explained everything to me, I was shocked and saddened.

What happened after I learned my father's greatest secret was extraordinary to our family. When my father, Justin L. Reeves, decided to conquer an overwhelming disability in life, he was fifty-four years old. He gave our family an incredible gift to last a lifetime because of what he accomplished at this age.

His triumph made me into the woman I am today. My three older siblings were able to make the best decisions of their adult lives because of our father's influence.

This is a story of determination and hope. My father's journey was not easy. But if it had been easy, I wouldn't be telling his story now. After you finish reading this book, I pray that the true meaning will linger in your heart and mind; just as the outcome of my long ago memory has remained in my soul for fifty-three years.

My name is Debra Reeves Cunningham, and I am sixty years old. It's not hard to take you back to the beginning in 1957 when I was seven. My life was good and simple. My memories of this wonderful year are crystal clear. We lived on a farm with eighty acres outside of Findlay, Ohio. My petite mother, Lucille, worked hard doing whatever needed to be done on the farm. She was a big help to my dad when it came to dairy chores. With no milking machines, they milked seven cows by hand in the morning and again in the evening.

My siblings didn't help with this time-consuming job. My oldest sister, Gail, was twenty-five and lived at home, but not by her choice. Whenever she mentioned moving to an apartment, our mother insisted that wouldn't be proper for a single woman. Gail worked as a secretary at the impressive Ohio Oil Company in Findlay. She always dressed in pretty clothes and went out on dates all the time.

My brother, Carl, at the age of twenty-one was in the Army, and he hated it. He wrote me the best letters. The past summer, we all traveled in our blue Mercury car to visit him in North Carolina.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Characters and Contrast

Sometimes writing becomes boring and if your writing bores the writer, just think of the yawns the readers will have. One way to avoid this is to use contrast when developing your story. I've used this in a number of ways.

You can have two main characters who contrast each other - Often this is the case with protagonist and antagonist. Doesn't always have to be that way. I once used a hero and heroine with contrasting natures. She wanted a home. He wanted to roam. Needless to say this made for some interesting scenes between the two. To this I added people who wanted him to stay and gave him a reason that conflicted with his desire to be a rolling stone.

Even a character can have contrasting goals. Contrast wanting to be rich with a not wanting to hurt or use other people.

Just what does contrast do. It intensifies the story, gives variety and interest, shows the dark and light. and breaks monotony.

Other ways of doing this are through the use of names, physical characteristics. I've alswys thought James Bond was a great name suggesting a bond with the good. How about Dr. No. Could anything be better for showing a character's nature.

You can use contrast by giving a character an environment that isn't one he's comfortable in. There is the contrast betwen the action and the motivation. Take someone who murders but not because of hatred or anger but to save someone's life. A murderer yes, but a bad person, no. A fellow writer used this premise in a book to show the effect this had on the character. Reconstructing Charlie is the title of the book.

So look at what you're working on and find ways to use contrast to up the ante and turn boring int intriguing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, Feb.15 -- Bird By Bird - Characters

In this essay, Anne Lamott writes about characters. One thing she said really struck me. I can't quote it exactly but it's sort of like this. Every story needs a character that resonates with the reader. I have favorite writers. I'm sure everyone does. Thses authors I read just about everything they write but sometimes I can't read one of their books. The above bit was the reason why for me. The character didn't draw me into the story.

Another thing I found interesting and true is that every character has part of yourself. Has to be. How else can the emotions you want to express be shown to the reader. Characters are composite and they take in the good and the bad of nature. You can't learn and understand a character until you've spent time with them and also allowed them to surprise you.

It's the surprise moment that really zings. The character becomes a friend and develops all those rounded sides.

So how much of your character belongs to you and how much to observation, other people and even nebulous qualities. Taking a character through a story is one way to learn

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day, Last week and what's ahead, contest - MY writing Life

Today is Valentine's Day and I'm having a contest. The prize will be a print copy of Healwoman - Dark Moon due out on the 16th. There will also be four downloads of a gift from one of my publishers, a collection of short stories, poems and recipes featuring love and chocolate. They do go together.

There will be a drawing and what you need to do is post a comment on your favorite chocolate treat. Are you a sweet or savory person. I must admit I'm for the savory and I love a good mole rich with chocolate and spices. Also enjoy cinnamon flavored chocolate. So let me know your favorite chocolate and next Monday I'll announce the winners.

Last week was a busy one and I did spend time writing and finishing up three fifths of Confrontations. Am looking forward to writing The End. Also attended a RWA HVRWA meeting and listened to a brand new writer and another read for critique.

What's coming this week on the blog. Tomorrow I'll be looking at Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. Wednesday will be more on characterization, Thursday's interview is with Diane Craver a fellow Jewels of the Quill member, Friday still pulling tips from Becoming Your Own Critique Partner, Saturday will be a chapter from The Brotherhood of Mages and Sunday Three blog visits.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Three Blog visit Sunday

Today, I've been visiting blogs that several of my followers have visited. Here you will find reviews and interviews. Am thinking about asking for either an interview or a review. Here you will find posts from science fiction writers including books and excerpts, what they're blogging about and possible markets. A new blog and a new writer. Met her at HVRWA meeting

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Quest For The White Jewel -- First Chapter Saturday

The Quest For The White Jewel
Janet Lane Walters
DiskUs Publishing

The black-robed mage slipped through the doorway leading to the Queen's chamber. He paused and studied the wan woman propped against the black silk pillows. As he approached the bed, his robes rustled.
The Queen grasped the Black Jewel, symbol of her reign. "Begone, I say. I have no need of you."
"Your time has passed. 'Tis time to cede the Jewel to your successor."
"Not yet." She raised the Black Jewel. Dark rays pulsed in its heart. "Begone and let me be."
He evaded the dark beams. "What of the White?"
She laughed. "Do you think I fear that thing? My sister failed to find the gem. For generations, there has been no sign of its existence. There have been but myths and rumors."
He smiled. "The White stirs. I sought and I found."
"Where?" Her eyes narrowed.
"'Tis where it has always been, waiting for the one who can hold it. But fear not. 'Tis not your battle. Soon you will be gone, and I will have the training of the one who is to follow you. This time there will be no mistakes. As Holder and Chosen, she and I will rule."
"Begone, dark mage." The Queen raised the Black and poured her anger into the gem. Thunder roiled the silent night and a great display of colored lightning brightened the sky above the palace.

Chapter One.

From The Lore of the Jewels
In days long past, just after the world was formed and the people rose from the dust, Mother Sun and the Sister Moons beheld what had been wrought and were troubled by what they saw. For as people moved across the lands, chaos rather than harmony ruled.
"We must bring peace and order." Mother Sun spoke to the pale reflections of herself.
From her depths, she drew molten elements and fashioned them into Jewels. The icy breath of the Sister Moons cooled the gems. To Earda, they were sent and for each Jewel, there was a purpose.
And from the hearts of the six Jewels, light radiated and coalesced to become the White.

Liara closed the Lore of the Jewels. Everyone knew the ruling Jewel was black. And the tale of how the gems were formed was naught but an interesting fable. Her foster mother had given her the book on her last name day. Tana's insistence that she learn the legends puzzled Liara. What use were these mystical tales to one who might never hold a Jewel?
She heard a disturbance in the courtyard and peered through the open window. Several men dismounted. Their steeds were magnificent beasts with burnished horns. Who were these visitors? They looked to be men of importance.
Tana's maid appeared in the doorway. "Milady Holder bids you remain in hiding until her guests leave."
Liara sighed. Twice this lunar, visitors had arrived to see the Yellow Holder. Both times, she had been bidden to keep her presence a secret. Not that she minded missing lessons, of course. The complicated exercises in visualizing had no practical purpose she could see. What bothered her was not being allowed to sit in company and hear about events beyond the keep and the village.
Curiosity gnawed at her thoughts. In hopes of learning more about these unexpected visitors to the High Sanctuary, she hurried down the back stairs and lingered in the shadows near the postern gate. But the men had gone inside before she could hear what they said.
Excitement fluttered like the jeweled wings of a flitter. She was free, at least for the afternoon. She slipped outside and climbed the path beyond the walls of the massive stone tower. Then she broke into a run, deftly avoiding the roots of the gnarled, wind-shaped balsa trees.
A branch caught her kerchief and her hair tumbled free. Inky black strands whipped around her face. Clutching the scarf in her hand, she reached the end of the path. Clusters of multi-hued silk-sheep browsed among the grass and wildflowers.
After breathing deeply of the scented air, she ran across the meadow to the tumble of rocks at the edge of the cliff. She stared at the distant gray tower and peered at the village where the houses resembled pieces from a child's toy. She turned and gazed at the sea and watched white froths of foam roll across the dark blue expanse to dash against the rocky slope.
Settling on the grass, she using a rock for a backrest. As she soaked in the sun, she braided a necklace of yellow fiolas, Tana's favorite. To the chain, she added blue hearts and red chyrsmas. For health, she thought.
Sadness rose. Her foster mother's health failed with each lunar. Though Tana denied what Liara saw, Liara knew the older woman was dying.
While Liara considered the future without Tana, a million questions arose. The sun moved toward afternoon. Liara sighed. There were no answers, only questions.
Her foster brother's shout set her heart pounding. She dropped the necklace in her skirt, quickly braided her hair and tied the kerchief over the crown of braids. Another puzzle to be solved, she thought. Her head had never been without a covering. Though she'd asked why, Tana had never answered.
"Liara, come!"
She lifted the necklace and hurried toward the path. "I'm on my way."
Brader emerged at the edge of the meadow. "Mother said you would be here. She wants you."
A lock of amber hair fell across his forehead and brushed his lighter eyebrows. Amber eyes studied her intently. She felt his leashed anger. With her or with his mother? These days, she barely knew him.
Since she'd begun her intensive studies with Tana, she and Brader had grown apart. Her lessons, his time with the armsmen, and his excursions to the village tavern left them with little in common.
"Have the visitors left?" she asked.
"Didn't stay for the evening meal. They're on their way to Pala. I begged leave to join them but Mother refused to release me." He shoved his hair from his forehead. "I'm tired of being caged here. There's much of Earda I want to see."
"Did Tana say why she wanted me?" She watched the setting sun stain the ocean whitecaps with streaks of orange. "Not for lessons, I hope."
He shrugged shoulders that had grown broader the past year. "You are to sup in her room. Don't stay long. The visitors tired her."
"When has she listened to me?" Liara held up the floral necklace. "Perhaps this will refresh her."
"Maybe. She's worried about something and she won't tell me what."
Liara clasped his arm. "All will be well."
He laughed. "Have you become a Healer making vague and pretty predictions?" His muscles tensed beneath her hand. "All will be well for you. You'll have her Jewel. Why else has she kept you by her side? I'm so tired of the High Sanctuary and of being the Holder's son."
Liara frowned. When had he grown so resentful? Did Tana know about his discontent?
When they reached the postern gate, the armsman stepped aside so they could enter. Never in all her years had there been armsmen at the gates.
Once inside the massive stone tower, she hurried to her foster mother's rooms. At the door, she paused and tucked stray strands of hair beneath the kerchief. Then she opened the carved wooden door and stepped inside.
Tana was abed. Liara crossed the room and kissed the older woman's flushed cheek, then slipped the floral chain over her foster mother's head.
Tana inhaled the blended fragrances. "Ah, Child, you remembered a bit of the Healer's teachings. Sit and eat. There's much I must tell you."
Liara studied her foster mother. Though flushed, there was a translucent quality to Tana's skin. Sunken cheeks, glazed amber eyes. Liara knew Brader thought his mother was tired, but there was more. The scent of death floated above the aroma of the flowers.
She sat at the table and picked at the slices of roast banta, shredding more than she ate. The open window brought a breeze laden with moisture. Liara cut an appa, ate several crisp slices, then pushed the tray away.
"Come closer. The time grows short." Tana's voice held a whispery quality. Liara sat on the chair beside the bed and took her foster mother's hand. "Perhaps you should rest."
"There will be time for rest later." Tana sucked in a breath. "Just listen. Your mother was twin to the one who holds the Black. Through trickery and deceit, the Jewel was usurped by your aunt. Your mother found the book of lore I gave you. For many years, she searched for the White."
Liara shook her head. "The White is but a tale told by old wives and written in that ancient book. Tell me about my mother."
Tana grasped Liara's hand. "Child, myths are ever based on some truth."
"My mother didn't find this Jewel, did she?"
"Alas, the Queen hounded her. She was chased from every refuge she found. She brought you here and left. Her Chosen was captured by the Guards. His house was destroyed by the mages. One by one, your mother's friends were killed."
Liara studied the bedcoverings. "Why tell me now?"
"The Queen is dying. While she is weak and before her daughter...your cousin masters the Black, you must find the White. When you do, the lessons I've taught you will help you harness the Jewel's energies. You must succeed. The people of Earda have suffered long enough."
Liara shook her head. She had no desire to leave the High Sanctuary. She had believed one day she would follow Tana and hold the Yellow. Now all had changed. "Do not force me to leave you," she pleaded.
Tana sank against the pillows. "I've been summoned to Pala. Even now, Guards are on the way to act as my escort."
"Will you go?"
"Nay, they will come too late. You must be gone before they arrive lest someone questions who you are. Child, your life is in danger should your aunt discover you still live."
Tears welled in Liara's eyes. "I cannot leave you."
"You have no choice. Brader will go with you."
Liara held back her tears. She'd known no mother other than Tana. "But who will...?" She couldn't force herself to finish.
"There will be others who will do what is needed." Tana pulled her Jewel from her neck and wrapped the gem and the chain in amber silk. "I have no daughter to follow me and the Yellow is not for you. I've sent a call to my successor." She will meet you on the way."
A million questions arose but they couldn't push past Liara's rising grief. "Does Brader know how ill you are?" She forced the question past a massive lump. "He'll want to stay. So do I." Her voice broke. She pressed her face against the blankets and let the tears flow.
Tana stroked Liara's arm. "You must go, for you are needed. Take the book and seek the answers. Maps your mother brought are on the table. Memorize them. Once Brader has seen them, they will be destroyed so all traces of your journey will be gone. You must follow your mother's path and succeed where she failed."
Liara wiped her eyes and reached for the maps. She studied them until the images were engraved in her mind. Then she walked to the window and stared at first moon. "I cannot leave you."
"Evil spreads through the land. The Black Jewel. The Queen. The Brotherhood of Mages. Soon Earda will be too polluted by evil to survive. Send Brader to me."
Liara hugged her foster mother and fought another storm of tears. "Farewell, Mother of my heart." She bit her lip and hurried from the room.
In the hall, she pressed her forehead against the rough stone wall. Soon Tana would leave this plane and journey to another. The High Sanctuary would never be home again. Liara gathered her tears inside and went to find Brader.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Writer's Tips - In the Beginning

How does one start their story. Often this criticism is received. "I think you've started in the wrong place." This has happened to me. Sometimes I start too soon and other times too late. So let's look at some problems.

The no action start. Perhaps long passages of description of a place or a person with nothing really happening. A conversation between two people who already know the information being given.

The back story start. There's a great sentence or paragraph that should hook the reader and does until the back story complete with everything that happened to the hero or heroine to make them the kind of character they are.

The early start - Beginning the story with the character's birth, though if there's a conflict regarding this birth this could be a good place to begin, maybe. But taking a character through years when nothing happens could bore the reader.

The limbo start - beginning the story but never giving the reader a look as to when or where the story is taking place. This was one of the things I had to learn. An editor told me my characters existed in a vacuum. Over the years I have learned, mostly.

The big bang opening - Here we go there's a marvelous chase of a dramatic war scene that goes on for pages and leaves the reader breathless and wondering what's going on other than chaos.

The mob scene opening - Here the story begins with a dozen or more characters interacting and totally confusing the reader. Who is the main character? Is there a score sheet to help the reader understand who all these people are. Another place where I sometimes err, especially since I often write stories with multiple viewpoint characters.

Things to remember when going for that great opening to your story.

A hook that resonates through the first chapter. A single sentence or paragraph won't do that.

A clue or two about the main character's conflict and goals. This should be used lightly like a dash of salt. There's time to develop the problem as the story moves forward.

Orienting the character in time and space. Using the language appropriate to the time. Showing a bit of the setting.

Leave the flashbacks or back story to be woven in later in the story.

Using either long action or casts of character scenes with no clues to what's going on or long descriptive passages that go no where.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday's Interview

Today I'm featuring Elaine Cantrell, a fellow EPIC author. Hope you enjoy.

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

That’s an interesting question, isn’t it? The more I read and write the more I think that genres tend to bleed together most of the time. I always thought I wrote straight contemporary romance, but I realized one day that a lot of my work has elements of suspense in it. The Welcome Inn is a good example. In that book, my heroine is being pursued by persons unknown, and she has no idea why. These people break into her home to search for … something, try to abduct her when she and my hero are taking a moonlight swim, try to kidnap her in the grocery store parking lot, break into her apartment to capture her, and finally track her down to a presumably safe hiding place. Of course my hero rescues her each and every time, but just when you think the danger is over, the bad guys pop up again and bring the story to a rousing conclusion. So, the short version is yes, I write in several romantic genres.

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

I guess I probably chose it. I’ve always spun little fantasies in my head, and since most of them revolved around a romantic theme, it seemed like the best place to start.

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

I’ve branched off into sci/fi romance and have one book completed and another one in the works. I also have an inspirational novel written, but they are all in the romance genre. I wouldn’t write erotica. I’m not exactly sure how to explain why either. If it’s well done it can be remarkably er…interesting, but if it isn’t it’s just boring. I like to immerse myself in the plot of a novel, and to be honest some erotica doesn’t have much of a plot. Just one over the top sex scene after the other. Okay, now that I’ve offended all of the erotic authors and readers let me say that if I wrote erotica it would read more like a manual. Insert part A into part B. You get the picture. Nobody would want to read it. That being said, one reviewer said that the swim scene from The Welcome Inn was “near steamy” so …

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I like cozy mysteries, thrillers, ghost stories, books set in the South (I’m from South Carolina.), and time travel novels. Right now I’m reading A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters, and I just finished Juliet by Anne Fortier. Now that’s a good book! I reviewed it on my blog if you’d like to check it out.

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

I’d be delighted to! I’m a Southern girl, born and raised in upstate South Carolina. I say ya’ll, which is always plural, and I like grits. I graduated from Clemson University with a BA in secondary education and went back for a Master’s degree in personnel services. I’m a member of Alpha Delta, Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educator’s, Romance Writer’s of America, and EPIC Authors. My first novel was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published by Oak Tree Books in 2004. I’m still teaching social studies at our local high school, and in my spare time, if there is any, I like to read, play with my grandchildren, and collect vintage Christmas ornaments. You can see my vintage collection in my Facebook photos at!/profile.php?id=10000015304148

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

The character I’m writing about is usually my favorite. I get so involved with them that I almost live as much in their world as I do my own. When I was Writing Return Engagement, I accidentally called my husband Richard. Richard is the hero of Return Engagement. I guess if I had to pick just one I’d take Richard Lovinggood. I liked him and his family so much I just couldn’t give them up. I have a sequel written and a third book planned.

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

LOL. What’s a story without a good villain? Yes, I do have them. When I create a villain, I try not to make a stereotypical, flat character. I want him to have some redeeming qualities or he won’t seem real. Take Travis Abercrombie of The Welcome Inn for example. Travis blackmailed the mayor because he needed the mayor’s support for a pet project. When the mayor refused to cooperate, Travis send a hooker and a photographer to the mayor’s office, and they shot some pictures that made it look as if the mayor, a married man, was having an affair. Travis released the pictures to the press when the mayor still refused to play ball with him. That’s nasty, isn’t it, but as we get to know Travis we find out why he did such an awful thing, and by the end of the book he’s totally redeemed himself.

8. What are you working on now?

At the moment I’m working on a sci/fi romance, and I’ll shortly be doing edits for a book coming out in June. The title isn’t firm yet, but tentatively it will be called Jilted! But maybe not. For various reasons the publisher me to change the original title, and Jilted! Is the one I like best.

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

My latest release is Return Engagement, and the book was written to showcase my ideal hero. I noticed that most of my heroes had certain traits in common, so I compiled all of them and came up with Richard Lovinggood.

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

Besides showcasing my ideal hero, Return Engagement explores the topic of ‘what if’. I bet there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t wondered how their life would be different if they had made different choices. In Return Engagement my characters fall in love when they’re both pretty young, but his father is a powerful senator who doesn’t think Elizabeth is good enough for his son. He breaks them up. Ten years later they meet by accident on a California beach, and the fireworks begin! Richard and Elizabeth won’t waste a second chance to find happiness. Here’s the beginning of Return Engagement which is available at


“Stop it!” Elizabeth cried. She scrambled off the bed and
put as much distance as possible between them. “It’s over,
Richard! No, don’t shake your head at me. I mean it.” Her
face blazed with color. “We have to end this, or I’ll be exactly
what the tabloids called me. I can’t, I won’t, live with that.”

Chest heaving, Richard struggled for self-control as he
faced Elizabeth across the bed, distracted by her beautiful
blue eyes and disheveled dark hair. What did the sleazy, tabloid
press matter? They loved each other; why did she panic
over a few nasty stories?

“Honey, you’re an actress,” he soothed, his voice velvety
soft and persuasive. “The tabloids won’t leave you alone no
matter what you do. Half the stuff they print is lies anyway.
Why are you letting them scare you?”

She stared at him with eyes stretched wide. “You’re seventeen
years old! In California you’re still a minor, and I’m
an adult. They have a right to accuse me of cradle robbing!
Don’t you know how many people agree with them?” Her voice dropped. “And that includes my mother and your parents. They’re so mad at us it scares me.”

Richard ignored the fact that his father’s reaction had
scared him too. “You talk like you’re fifty,” he scoffed, “but
you’re only five years older than me. You know it doesn’t
matter.” He lunged for her hand, but Elizabeth danced away
from him.

“It may matter to your career. Have you forgotten Senator
Lovinggood’s plans for you? Your dad wants you to be the
president one day, but a scandal like this could ruin your
chances before you even get started.”

Richard impatiently shook his head. “Don’t you get it?
You’re more important to me than any career in the world!
Without you I don’t care what happens to me.” His eyes softened.
“We fell in love with each other the first time we met
in the studio. Why would you even consider letting five lousy
years ruin things for us?”

Elizabeth dropped her head and bit her lip to hold back
her tears. “I know what I have to do, but why does it have
to hurt so much?” she whispered so low that Richard barely
heard her. She raised her eyes to his. “I love you, Richard,
but we can’t keep our hands off each other. It’s only a matter
of time until we do sleep together.” She made a sound
somewhere between a laugh and a sob. “If we do sleep together
I’ll deserve everything they’ve said about me.
Please, please go.”

For a moment the issue hung in the balance. The air in
the room which already shimmered with emotion now started
to sizzle, but with an exclamation of surrender Richard bent
and scooped his shirt from the floor. “I’ll call you.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears. “No, please don’t. It’s
over; don’t you see?”

Thanks so much for having me today. It’s been fun.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On Characterization -- the kinds of characters

What kind of people do you have in your stories. There are a variety of developments for story characters. Let's look at some of them.

Simple character - This character has one distinguishing trait. This doesn't mean he's just a walk on or a minor character. This is a character who has one passion, one goal and one way of obtaining this. When I was writing Obsessions such a character came into the story and became the villain. One trait an obsession with his mother leading to a desire for what he considered revenge. Every act of his in the book was aimed to that end.

Complex character has several characteristics and these can often be in opposition. This is a man or woman who is always at the center of the action.

The flat character has no distinguishing traits. While this is true he must be individualized in some way. Often this character plays a vital minor roll in a story.

The round character may be simple of complex. This is a character who is individual and has distinguishing characteristics. He or she will play a major role in the story.

The Background character is one who has a particular role to play. This character usually has no real traits and may not even have a name. The taxi driver who may or may not speak to another character. The messenger who brings a vital piece of paper.

For all characters except the background one not only must the author decide on their distinguishing trait but this trait must be used to individualize them so the reader will believe they know the story person.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thoughts triggered by Bird by Bird

Today, I read the bit from Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott about school lunches. Made me think. not about school lunches and the was those lunches were judged and also who made them. What my twisted mind went on was remembering of things from the past. When you're writing do you ever take time away from the story to explore what you remember from days ago. I do.

What sort of things figure highly in those memorie?. One thing is people's reactions, mine and theirs. I remember the panicked look on my mother's face when she found me at four years old holding my two month old sister against the screen door and refusing to move. That look of panic has been featured in some of my stories.

Another memory is of scents. Fresh baked cookies is one of my favorites. There are some not so pleasant aromas in my past since years ago I was a nurse. These are memories that help when one is writing a delicious or an unpleasant scene.

Colors are another triggering idea that brings back memories that can help a writer bring their craft to a new level. Along with taste. It's not only your feelings that are evoked but also what you see on the faces or the actions and reactions of other people.

Set yourself a task when you're writing and step back and use the memories of some incident or something like school lunches or maybe even the day you sent a parent into a panic.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Feb. 7 - My writing week past

Last week's writing stints went well and progress continues to be made on my current project - Confrontations. Actually I figure another month or so of work and I'll have completed the time.

Work is going forward on the free Valentine's Day offering from Vanilla Heart Press -- about love and chocolate. I'll have three poems and several friends will aslo have stories or something in them.

I'll be blogging on YA authors You've never heard of on Thursday and hopefully will come up with something to say.

I am very tired of snow and ice and rain. Seems like spring is in the far future. But the time has come to get back to writing.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Three Blog Visit Sunday

Visited these blogs today. HereAnne K. Albert talks about her mysteries. She also speaks of a seven sentence mystery and suspense site. There is also a nice bit about cozy mysteries and what they are. Interesting reading. Here is a site that lists contests and other promo opportunities Some pieces about life, interviews about her writing and writing in general.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Second Seduction - First Chapter Saturday

A Second Seduction
Janet Lane Walters
New Concepts Publishing
Chapter 1

Christa Sommers counted the receipts for the restaurant and the bar of Green Mountain Inn. She rubbed her forehead and stared at the totals. As she matched the bills to the cash and credit card slips she clenched her teeth. Someone had dipped into the cash and she knew the identity of the culprits. One hundred dollars short. Last week the shortage had been three hundred.

She reached for the stack of just paid vendor bills. For the fourth month she had to use money from the room rentals to cover the bar and restaurant expenses. Her stomach roiled. The time had come to confront the thieves and face the guilt trip they would attempt to use again. This time she wouldn’t cave. She might even call the police, but they were family.

“Mom, when are we leaving?”

Christa smiled at her son. “Give me ten minutes.” She tousled Davy’s blond hair and felt a pang of regret. He looked so much like the father he didn’t know.
Do not walk that road, she warned herself. She had no time for regrets. She wrote the last check and sealed the envelope. After putting the money and credit card slip in a deposit bag she reached for her jacket.

Before she and Davy reached the office door her half sisters barged into the room. She looked at her son. He didn’t need to hear another quarrel with the pair. “Wait for me outside.”

He glared at the two young women. “Okay.”

Christa cleared her throat. “What now?” She waited for one of them to speak.

“Look at this brochure.” Peggy waved a paper. “Just what Stel and I need to survive boredom. The guests here are so old.”

“We need some fun,” Stella added.

“No cruise.” Christa looked at the price. “This is out of the question.” Though the guests who came to view the fall foliage were older they were little problem. “I’m not paying for your fun and games any longer.”

“Why not?” Stella asked. “You owe us. Remember where you were when Mom and Dad died. We were left alone and ended up in that place for six weeks.”
Christa swallowed. She wouldn’t bite this time. “I said no. You need to find jobs.”

“We have them here,” Peggy said.

Stella sneered. “Right. Showing old people to tables and running the cash register. Getting paid pennies. All we need is a few thou.”

Christa shook her head. “Not possible. We need to discuss the money that’s missing from the restaurant and bar registers.”

Peggy rested a hand on one hip. “If people didn’t use credit cards we could have everything we need.”

Stella nodded. “She’s right. We just need to get away. A singles’ cruise is the perfect escape.”

Christa remembered the bills from the vacation the pair had taken in June to celebrate Peggy’s college graduation. And the problem presented by the two men who had followed them to the inn in hopes of sharing the bounty. At twenty-one and twenty-three, her half sisters were selfish and self-centered. When would they stop blaming her for the accident that hadn’t been her fault, and that she’d been out of touch when they’d needed her? That time was ten years in the past and the time had come for them to take some responsibility for their own lives.

Peggy planted her hands on the desk. “Why do we always have to fight for our share of the inn’s profits?”

Christa drew a deep breath. “You have no share.”

“So you say.” Stella glared. “On Monday we’ll call a lawyer.”

“Go ahead. Instead of taking that course you need to find jobs.” There, she’d said what she’d avoided saying since Peggy graduated in June.

“What are you talking about?” Stella’s voice rose to a strident pitch. “We own more of this dump than you do. Mom said no matter what happened we were set for life.”

“She lied.” Christa knew the tale her father had told about the inn. Until his death, he’d been her guardian with no more than life tenancy. After his death she’d learned her mother had left the inn to her. “You also need to know the inn is for sale.”

“You can’t do that,” Peggy said.

“We won’t sign,” Stella added.

“You don’t need to.” Before Christa could tell them about the inn’s ownership the pair stormed from the room.

Christa slumped on a chair. Their anger and their thefts weren’t her fault, except she had allowed them to continue all summer. She had intended to tell them once Peggy had graduated from college. As usual she had put off the confrontation. No longer.

“Mom, when are we going?”

“Now.” She picked up the stack of envelopes and the deposit bag. She followed her son to the Jeep. She had finally grown a spine. The trick was finding a way to keep it stiff.
* * * *
Mark Blakefield sat behind the desk in his office. He listened to the head writer’s description of his New England trip. “Found the Green Mountain Inn on our last day. Place is perfect for a feature in Good Travelin’. Owned by a single mom with one child. Inn’s been in her family for generations. An inn for all seasons. Fabulous food. Scenic vistas. Skiing, leaf peeping, lake with boats, fishing, walking and riding trails. Look at the photos and let me know. Be glad to return.” He grinned. “Owner’s easy on the eyes.”

Mark accepted the stack of photos. Why Jonas insisted on using a camera when digital ones were so available Mark would never know. “What did your wife say?”
The older man winked. “She laughed and liked the idea.”

Mark rolled his eyes. “The pair of you matchmaking again?”

Jonas shrugged. “She thought you’d like the lady.”

“I’ll let you know if the inn will work.”

“See you.” Jonas turned and strode away.

Mark looked at each snapshot. The leaves on a hillside had just begun to change color. Another showed a lake shimmering in the sunlight. He put down several of the large inn. Others showed a garden near a two-story house and several cottages. A boy about nine or ten mugged for the camera. He stared at the next one where a woman stood with the blond boy. His jaw clenched.

“Damn her.” What was Christa Parsons doing at this inn? Mark opened his laptop and started a search for directions to this inn. Was the woman Christa? Could he be mistaken? Had he forgotten what she looked like? Not possible. He printed the directions. With the photo of the boy and the printout in one hand and his laptop in the other he strode to the door. He stopped at his secretary’s desk. “I’ll be out of town for several days, maybe a week.”

“Where should I say you are?”

“Just a phone or an email away.”

He didn’t wait for the elevator but took the stairs to the basement parking garage. Traffic was a nightmare with honking horns, squealing brakes and raised fists. When he reached his condo he felt as though he’d won a war. He dashed inside and packed. He zapped a frozen burger and stopped in the living room to remove a picture from the photo album on the coffee table.

He stared at the two pictures. Had to be. Why hadn’t she told him? He intended
to learn the answer to that and a dozen other questions. He tucked the picture in his shirt pocket, grabbed his jacket, a six pack and a tin of cookies. Outside he loaded everything in the trunk of his silver sports car. He slid behind the wheel. Christa Parsons had some explaining to do.

Though eight PM was a bit late to start the trip, a touch of anger and impatience to know why spurred him on. The need for action was too strong to allow him to sit and brood.

Why hadn’t she called him? Why had she vanished without a word? For ten years her disappearance had puzzled him. Had the fault been his?
His thoughts turned to those days of falling in love. Hadn’t taken long and that was a Blakefield tradition. Love came fast and hard. The long weekend of mind-blowing sex remained vivid. There had been more than the physical attraction. They had so many likes and dislikes in common. The ending had been done with a clever, abrupt and brutal.

She’d run to her dorm for an hour. As he was leaving to pick her up for dinner, Tony had returned from the beach and Matt had called with news. Mark had shouted he was in love. He’d handed Tony the phone and dashed to her almost-deserted dorm. She hadn’t been there and the two people he’d encountered had never heard of Christa Parsons.

He revved the engine and backed into the street. Jonas had discovered the where but the why remained unexplained. He frowned. When had Christa Parsons become Christa Sommers? Had she married? Jonas had called her a single mother. Was there an ex lingering about? Mark couldn’t imagine any man letting Christa go.
At midnight he found a motel, slept until six, ate breakfast and was on the road by eight. After grabbing a burger and fries at a fast food place, he pulled into the parking lot of the rustic Green Mountain Inn. The two-story building had a large screened porch. Two wings spread from the central portion. The number of cars in the parking lot brought a moment of concern. Were there any rooms available?

He shrugged. Didn’t matter. If not here, he would find somewhere and haunt the inn until he knew all. As he left the car he paused and surveyed the scene. The hills blazed with colors. Scarlet, orange and yellow were framed against a background of dark green.

Though he wasn’t amused Mark grinned. Christa Parsons, here I come with questions. I hope you have good reasons for your actions.

Along with his anger he felt a pulsing need. Those four days had been filled with fabulous sex, laughter and a sharing of dreams. Before he left the inn he would know what went wrong and why she had hidden his son from him.

He dropped the keys in the pocket of his black leather jacket and strode toward the entrance. A door opened. Two young women stepped onto the porch. Tight jeans and skinny tops and boots. Both carried jackets. As they approached he noticed a resemblance to Christa. Their hair was a darker brown and lacked the strands of gold he remembered. Their features weren’t as refined. Sisters or cousins? He paused at the foot of the steps and waited for them to pass. Their voices reached him.

“I don’t understand why Christa said no.”

“If we keep on her she’ll change her mind.” The taller of the two halted. “Always works.”

“It has to. I’ll go buggy if I have to hang here much longer.” The second young woman’s shrill voice made Mark wince. “How can she say we have no share in the inn? Daddy was the owner. Mom said so. That makes us owners as much as she is.”

“She has to give us the money. I’m tired of being an underpaid servant.”

Mark stepped aside to let them past. So, all wasn’t well in Christa’s world.

The taller young woman nodded. “I’m not waiting ‘til ski season for some action.”

The second groaned. “At least the place jumps then.”

“Not if she sells.”

“We won’t let her.” She reached the bottom step, saw Mark and smiled. “Well, hello.”

“Do we know you?” the taller one asked. “You look sort of familiar. Are you staying?”

“Depends.” He brushed past them. He knew the type and he didn’t want what they offered.

Just inside the door he stopped short. Though her back was to him he had found Christa. A battle raged in his thoughts between anger and desire. His heart raced. His hands clenched. Memories of love-making arose and were countered by his knowledge of the sun she’d hidden from him. His gaze roamed from her neck down her back.

She turned. Her breasts seemed fuller than he remembered. He recalled how they’d responded to his touch. He fought an urge to lunge across the counter and kiss her until she cried for him to come in her.

Mark stepped to the counter. “Hello Christa Parsons.”

“It’s Sommers.” She grasped the edge. “What do you want?” Her voice trembled.

He caught a hint of fear in her blue eyes. “You have something of mine.”

“What are you talking about?”

He smiled. She knows. The tension in her voice and the whiteness of her knuckles showed her awareness of his reason for his presence. “A boy. A bit older than nine. Blond hair, green eyes.” He pulled the photos from his pocket and slapped them on the counter. “Our son. Yours truly at that age. They could be twins.”

“Mark, go away.”

He shook his head. “I can’t.”

“How did you learn?”

Though her face had blanched she didn’t back away. “A colleague and his wife stayed here. He liked the inn, the food and the view. He took pictures. One happened to be of you and the other of my son.”

“What do you plan?”

The tears forming in her eyes almost made him walk away. He couldn’t. He had a son. “For starters, get acquainted. I’m not sure what else.” He opened his wallet and slid a credit card from a slot. “I want a room. Not sure how long I’ll stay. Start with a week. I’ll get my bags.” He turned to leave and nearly collided with the young women he’d seen outside. He arched a brow. “Ladies, curiosity could get you in trouble.”
* * * *
Christa slumped against the counter. What she needed was a pair of iron rods to act as a spinal brace. She had wanted thestrength to deal with her half sisters. Now Mark Blakefield’s arrival had added to the problems she faced. She wanted to collapse or hide until all the irritants vanished. That wasn’t going to happen.
Her decision to tell Peggy and Stella their free-loading days were over had promised a storm. Mark’s presence meant a hurricane. She willed her knees to stiffen. Fainting was not the answer. Mark was here and he knew about Davy. Thank heavens her son was in school. She had to find a way to send Mark away before the school bus arrived at three.

She gulped a deep breath. She should have told Mark about the pregnancy. Ten years ago her life had been chaotic and loaded with guilty feelings. The deaths of her father and step-mother had catapulted her into a life she hadn’t wanted. The inn was hers. There were many debts. Her half sisters were angry, frightened and spoiled. Three months had passed before she’d had time to think of her own needs.
The day she’d realized she was pregnant she had tried to let Mark know. He had graduated and gone to work for one of the magazines his family owned. A secretary reported he was in Europe and they weren’t sure when he would return. She hadn’t left a message. Several more times she had called only to learn he was unavailable.
There had been nothing for her to do but make order out of her hectic life.

Keeping her half sisters out of trouble had been a full-time job. So had been restoring the inn and caring for Davy. Telling Mark had been pushed aside, and
while not forgotten hadn’t been a priority. Now he was here and he was angry.

“Interesting situation,” Peggy drawled. “The man seems determined. You need to think about what he can do for you and Davy. The car he drives screams money. Not to mention, he’s hot.”

Stella laughed. “He’s beyond hot. Incandescent. Shoulders like a football hero. Dynamite smile. Killer green eyes. If you don’t want him I’d like a taste.”

“Stand in line.” Peggy grinned. “How about a double or triple?” She winked. “If I were you I’d hit him for child support. With a wad of cash you could give Stel and me the money for a cruise.” She sighed. “We’re ready for balmy nights and single men.”

Christa pressed her hands against the counter. The desire to slap them grew stronger. “Listen to me. I am selling the inn. You need to find jobs. I’ll give you enough to rent an apartment and to live on for three months while you find work and put your college educations to use.”

Stella shook her head. “No deal. You’ll have to buy us out. We’ll take our share in cash. Dad had three kids so we’re entitled to a third each.”

“You’re entitled to nothing.” Christa stared at the door. Though he presented a different problem, what was taking Mark so long?

“We’ll take you to court,” Peggy said.

“You don’t get the picture. The inn was left to me by my mother. When she died, Dad was my guardian and had life tenancy. I was twenty-one when he died and the inn became mine.”

“I don’t believe you,” Peggy said. “I know what Mom said.”

Christa drew a deep breath. No matter what their mother had said, Stella and Peggy had no share of the inn. Christa had paid for their college education, fed and clothed them. Over the years she had given in to their demands to avoid their tantrums and her guilt over the days following the accident when no one had known where she could be found.

She wanted to scream. She had avoided this confrontation. No longer. The pair had pushed her beyond her tolerance level.

The door opened. Mark wheeled stacked suitcases to the desk. Christa groaned. He had come to stay. He placed a laptop on the counter. Her heart raced. Anticipation pulsed through her. Why did he affect her this way? Her thoughts flooded with memories of his kisses and his touches.

“Room key,” he said.

She smiled. “I’m afraid the inn is booked solid through next weekend. I can give you a list of other places that might have vacancies.” She had to explain the past but not yet. “You could leave and return.”

“Not a chance. We need to talk and I’m not leaving until we do.”

Christa stared at the counter. Why had he come? Was he here to take Davy away?

“He could rent one of the cottages,” Stella said.

Christa glared at her half sister. “They’re closed until ski season.”

“Do they have water, electricity and heat?” Mark rested his elbows on the counter.

The look of determination in his eyes reminded her of their first encounter and the way he had pursued her until she had agreed to a date. Three weeks later she’d been in love and had spent a long weekend with him. Those four days had been a whirlwind fantasy of love and laughter. When the web of tragedy had brought a shroud of responsibility, those days had ended. She stared at her hands. To meet his gaze meant revealing how little her feelings had changed.

“Christa, the cottage?”

“They’re meant for groups.”

“I’ll take one.” He slid his credit card closer.

He would persist until she agreed. “Do you really want to pay for a place that accommodates eight to ten just for yourself?" His shrug told her he hadn’t changed. He would pursue what he wanted ruthlessly.

“Why not? I can afford it. There’s never been anyone to help me spend my money.” He brushed a finger over the back of her hand.

Christa felt tendrils of heat spiral along her arms and take root low in her belly. She held her breath but the scent of him seeped through her pores. Would he change his mind when he saw the weekly rate? She ran the card and filled in the amount. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Can’t think of anything I’d rather do.” His grin was feral. “Haven’t those words been said before? Didn’t you say that to me the day I asked you to spend a weekend with me.” He signed the slip.

She felt like a mouse being toyed with by a cat. Or a woman pursued by a man whose desire for conquest rode his scent and colored his voice.

He put the pen down. “Send the audience away. Time for our chat.”

Every word jabbed like a needle. How could she fight a man who signed for a thousand dollars without checking the amount? “I can tear this slip up and you can go home. There’s nothing to discuss. I chose my life.”

“But you also chose mine. Just because you didn’t intend to marry me doesn’t mean I would cede all rights to my son.”

She looked away. What did he mean? Years ago she would gladly have married him. “I see.” She spoke with more calmness that she felt.

“Do you?” He reached for her hand. “There’s a second reason for this visit.”

“And that is?”

“A feature spread in Good Travelin’. Would be good for business. My head writer suggested, ‘An Inn For All Seasons.’”

The carrot he dangled tempted her. A feature might bring interest from potential buyers. If the inn sold she and Davy could vanish. Or could they? Mark knew he had a son. Would he fight for custody?

Christa drew a deep breath and donned her innkeeper persona. “Welcome to Green Mountain Inn. The restaurant opens at six for breakfast. Dinner service starts at five. The dining room closes at ten but the bar remains open and has a limited menu. There is a gift shop that carries some snacks and local crafts.” She handed him a key. “Stella and Peggy will take you to the cottage.”

“Why don’t you do the honors?” His deep voice caressed the words.

“I have work to do.” She waved to her sisters. “Show Mr. Blakefield to number five.” The cottage was as far from the house she shared with her family as she could manage.

He pocketed the key and gathered his luggage. “Lead on, ladies. Christa, I’m looking forward to our talk.”

As the door closed behind them Christa sagged. What was she going to do? He was angry and he had a right to be furious. Why hadn’t she found a time during the past ten years to tell Mark about Davy? That was a question she’d never been able to answer. She leaned against the counter. His being here raised another question. How could she resist the temptation to fall in love again?