Sunday, July 31, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday --a friend and I make comments - some bits on dialogue -- perhaps to amuse of learn

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday's chapter - The Warrior of Bast

This is the third chapter of the story and so up for grabs are 3 print books that I have with Vanilla Heart. The Warrior of Bast, Healwoman - Dark Moon and Mistress of the Moons.

Chapter Three
Tira opened her eyes and stifled a gasp. Where was she? The surface beneath her was softened by a thin pad. She turned her head and bumped her temple against a hard surface. Some kind of headrest prevented her from appraising her vicinity. The substitute for a pillow wasn‘t very comfortable. The cover felt like linen rather than the thin cotton sheet she used. She raised herself to a sitting position and the sheet slid to her waist. Light streamed through a series of openings set high on one of the white plastered walls.

Her heart fluttered in a series of rapid beats. Think. Had she been kidnapped and sold as some kind of sex slave? She drew a deep breath. Why did nothing smell familiar? She was Tira. Tears trickled down her cheeks. Someone had died. Why couldn‘t she remember who had betrayed her?

Tira wiped her face on a corner of the sheet. With that word memories prickled with the same sensation in her head as when an arm or leg woke after falling asleep.
If you could go to ancient Egypt tonight even if the Two Lands is not the one you’ve studied, would you go?

She had agreed. Had she somehow been transported to another Egypt? So far she‘d seen nothing to prove or disprove the theory. The bed and the headrest had been pictured in books she‘d read about the ancient land of the pharaohs.
Now what? She couldn‘t remain in bed and she definitely couldn‘t leave this room in the nude. Clothing was her first objective. She slid from the narrow cot and nearly fell. The bed stood on a wide platform. Tira visually explored the room and noticed a stack of near-white cloth on a backless bench. She wrapped the sheet around herself and crossed the room.

On a low table she found a pottery pitcher and a bowl. She dipped a cloth taken from the rim of the bowl into the water and washed. The heated air dried her skin.
As she studied the bench she noticed the legs were shaped like the feet of a feline. She drew a deep breath. She had arrived in ancient Egypt. One by one she lifted the pieces of cloth from the bench and studied them. Get dressed and learn where you are and why you‘re here.

After several attempts she managed to clothe herself. One strip formed a breast band. A second, she used as a loincloth. The third was a wraparound short skirt rather like a kilt. A leather belt held a knife and a pouch containing a black substance she decided was kohl. Since she had no idea how to apply the stuff she decided to pass.

She looked for shoes and found sandals. She sat on the bench and slipped a foot beneath the leather straps. She drew the shin guards up her leg and fastened the leather ties. Surprisingly they fit. The leather soles didn‘t slip on the stone floor when she performed a series of warm-up exercises.

The beaded curtains in the doorway rattled. Tira slid into an attack position. Two elderly women entered the room. Tira stared. Were they the ones who had sheltered her for a time? They looked similar.

One of the women wore the same clothes as Tira. Her graying hair was cropped short like Tira‘s but the woman‘s didn‘t curl.

The second woman‘s hair was dark and cut shoulder length. Was it a wig? The woman‘s ankle-length sheath bared her breasts. A collar necklace covered her upper chest.
When Tira tried to talk about the world she‘d left the words wouldn‘t form.

The only knowledge you can take with you is what will fit into the time you reach except for your fighting skills. You will be unable to speak of this world or of modern conveniences.

She glided toward the women. If they proved to be a threat she would attack.

―Welcome to the Two Lands,‖ the older of the two said. ―I am the chief priestess of this temple of the goddess Bast, protector of women and children.‖ A cat with a cream-colored coat wove a path around her legs.

Bast. She had read about the goddess, one of the minor ones in the ancient Egypt of her world. Was Bast a major player in this time and place? What other changes would she find? She swallowed a gasp. How odd that she understood the language. ―My name is Tira.‖ She could speak it as well. She crouched and allowed the feline to sniff her hand.

The priestess smiled. ―Come and join us for a meal. We will tell you why you are with us. You are one of the awaited ones. There is a task the goddess has set for you.‖ She turned to her companion. ―Do you have the amulet that marks her as a warrior of Bast?‖

―I do.‖ The other woman smiled. ―I am the head of the warriors of this temple. Do you willingly accept your task?‖

Even if you must remain for all your days.

Again she heard part of what the elderly women of the brownstone had asked. She was here and there was no possible return. ―I do.‖ She met the woman‘s gaze. ―What if I fail?‖

The priestess shuddered. ―There will be imprisonment or death.‖

Tira swallowed. But she would have found the same future in her own world. ―I won‘t fail.‖ She made the vow aloud and silently.

The warrior held a chain of silver links with a large silver medallion hanging from the center link. Tira studied the piece. A cat formed from smoky blue-gray gems formed the center of the circle. Above the image were lapis hieroglyphics. Tira read them. ―Chosen of Bast.‖ She bent her knees so the shorter woman could slip the chain over her head.

―Where in the Two Lands am I?‖

―In the nome of Mero.‖

Tira pictured a map of the Nile and didn‘t recognize the name. Was she in the north or the south? ―Where exactly is this nome?‖

―Near the first cataract,‖ the chief priestess said.

In the south, Tira thought.


Tira followed the women along a corridor. The wall on the left was higher than the one on the right. Did the left wall form the rear of the temple?

They entered a large room where ornate columns braced the roof and allowed a view of the garden. Backless stools were arranged in clusters. Women dressed like the chief priestess sat near small tables.

The priestess chose seats in a secluded niche. ―Sit. Food will be brought.‖

Before long, women carried plates and trays of food to the table. Tira selected from a variety of dishes, some she recognized and some she didn‘t. There were lentils and chickpeas, beef and some type of fowl, a variety of lettuces, onions both cooked and raw, and cheese. Wine and beer were offered. Tira accepted beer. She sipped the bitter brew and put the cup down. The alcohol content of the beverage was more than the kind she knew. She needed food to counter the effect of the alcohol. Once she finished the food on her plate honey-sweetened dates appeared.

She swallowed the last of the beer and looked from one woman to the other. ―What would you have me do?‖

―You are our hope,‖ the priestess said. ―With the help of the goddess you were brought from a far land to this troubled place. The invaders came with their horses and chariots. Like a plague of locusts they swept through the land leaving destruction behind. Three treasures, gifts from the major gods, were removed from the pharaoh‘s house. Before those who took the symbols of the role were able to report their location they were killed. Their deaths took place in the Valley of the Pharaohs. Thus the flail, the crook and the double crown were lost.‖

The warrior took up the tale. ―Twenty years ago the invaders were driven from the land. The pharaoh and his sons were killed. We have sought the symbols and have unearthed a clue as to where they were hidden. At present the land is divided and the nomarchs vie for the rule. Your quest will help us establish a new dynasty with ties to the beginning.‖

Tira looked up. ―How can this be done?‖

―Though the pharaoh and his sons reside in the afterworld one woman of his house remained alive. She fled the estate and vanished in the desert. Word came that she gave birth to a daughter. That child, now a young woman, can trace her lineage to the first dynasty. The man who weds her will sit on the pharaoh‘s chair.‖

―Where will I find her?‖ Tira asked. ―How will I know her?‖

―She is not your quest. When the time is right she will be revealed.‖ The priestess leaned forward. ―Your quest is to find the hidden symbols. When you leave the temple, seek the compound of the nomarch of Mero. Among his scrolls I believe you will find information to aid your search. During the rebellion against the invaders he carried many scrolls from the temple of Toth. When you reach the town near his estate you will meet a warrior of Horu, the god of the skies. He will join you in the search.‖

Tira frowned. ―How will I identify this companion?‖

―He will wear an amulet marking him as Horu‘s choice.‖

Tira closed her eyes. ―Can you tell me more about these symbols?‖

The priestess rose. She crossed the room and entered an alcove. A short time later she returned with a small scroll. After unrolling the papyrus she showed Tira the pictured objects. Tira studied them. Beneath each of the symbols she saw another picture. There was a cat, an ankh and a hawk.

The priestess rolled the scroll and tied it with a strip of linen. ―Take this with you to help in your quest. Other clues will be found.‖

Tira had seen pictures of the flail, the crook and the double crown in books. In the images on the small scroll she noticed small differences from the ones she remembered but she thought she would recognize the objects when she found them. She accepted the scroll. ―How do I find this nomarch and his compound?‖

―You will be shown a road.‖ The priestess leaned forward. ―Be wary. Ramis of Mero is no friend of the goddess. He is an ambitious man and wishes to see his eldest son named pharaoh. Though Mero sits at the gateway to trade with the dark lands, Ramis wants more wealth. With his son as pharaoh he will become the power behind the chair. As vizier he will gain power. To achieve his goals he has allied with the priests of Aken Re, the abomination.‖

―If he is the enemy why will he allow me into his house?‖ Was the quest for the symbols a true one? Did the priestess want her to spy on the nomarch and the priests?

The warrior smiled. ―When he sees your amulet he will offer his help. He will act like a friend. He plays a double game and wishes a sandal in each camp. He may try to learn what you know. He might decide to give you to the priests. Do not trust him. Learn what you need and depart as soon as you have the knowledge.‖

The chief priestess nodded. ―You are a woman who will remind him of a past he chooses to ignore. His ancestors were slaves from Nubia who won their freedom and through marriage rose to power. You are also unlike the women on his court for you will not bear to be confined and controlled.‖

Tira swallowed. She had known men with the same nature as the nomarch and she hadn‘t liked them. ―How far must I travel to find this compound?‖ Another thought arose. She had never ridden a horse. Driving a chariot was beyond her imagination.

―You will be guided to a path along the river. If you walk north you will reach the town where traders come and workers live. Anyone you meet can direct you to the nomarch‘s compound. You should be there by dark.‖

Tira rose. ―I‘ll leave now.‖

The priestess clasped Tira‘s hand. ―May the spirit of Bast guide and guard you.‖

Tira paused. ―When I have these objects should I return here?‖

―The goddess Bast and the god Horu will guide you. There are other temples to the goddess.‖

The warrior beckoned. Tira followed her down the hall. The older woman slipped into one of the rooms along the hall. She returned and handed Tira a heavy pouch and a bundle she could fasten on her back. ―A blanket and five changes of clothes. Coins for the journey.‖ She strode along the hall.

Tira pushed the small scroll into the bundle and fit her arms through the straps. The warrior opened a door into what Tira believed was the main temple. Drawing a deep breath she entered, halted and stared. A huge mural on the back wall showed the goddess surrounded by a variety of felines. One of the views showed Bast as a warrior, one within a circle of children and another of her offering the crook to a man and a necklace to a woman.

The beauty of the mural held her attention until the warrior touched her arm. ―Come.‖

They strode along a walk with plinths on either side leading to an open doorway. The highest pair flanked the mural. On each pillar an image of a cat stood. Some were created from preserved skins, some modeled from clay and others carved from wood, semi-precious stones and various rocks. Had there been any temple like this in the Egypt she had studied? She couldn‘t remember reading of one.

One of the statues appeared to be carved from a smoky gray stone. As Tira passed, the cat stretched, yawned and leaped to the ground. Tira knelt so the feline could smell her hand.

The cat nipped the skin between Tira‘s thumb and fingers. A shock of awareness swept through her body. Truly she had been chosen by this feline as a companion. As Tira rose the cat rubbed her legs. Tira lifted the feline into her arms.

The warrior laughed. ―Bast Ka has chosen to become your spirit guardian. She will go with you.‖

A rumbling purr vibrated against her chest. Bast Ka leaped to the ground and padded to the temple entrance where pillars carved into likenesses of cats flanked the rectangular doorway.

Tira followed. Though she would have loved to remain and explore the temple an urgency to be on the way filled her. She would return another time. This was her world until death claimed her.

That thought remained as she trailed Bast Ka from the temple. Occasionally the cat turned and stared at Tira. Beyond the entrance they passed walled enclosures where lions, leopards, cheetahs and a tri-colored breed she had never seen roamed. The huge cats moved toward the low wall. Bast Ka halted and yowled. The large felines retreated.

The warrior waited at the end of the walk. ―This is your road.‖ She pointed to a path of packed earth. ―Good fortune to you. May we meet again in this time and place. If not, surely in the afterworld. Remember all we have told you. I leave you now. Good hunting.‖

―I‘ll do my best.‖ Tira set off along the path. How much knowledge did she have of this new world? The spoken language was hers. She recognized and seemed to understand the things the priestess and warrior had told her. She knew what most of the foods had been and she had easily figured how to dress.

Wish I had a car. She could think the words but when she tried to utter them she couldn‘t. She had been warned that would happen. She could bring nothing from the future of the other world into this one.

The sun moved toward mid-afternoon. To the right she saw the rushing water of the river. The sound of the cataracts seemed distant. On the other bank she saw granite cliffs. Along the edge of the path reeds grew.

Would she encounter crocodiles or other unfriendly creatures? She edged closer to the cliffs. She was alone but this wasn‘t unusual. She seldom allowed others to cross the barriers she had erected. Her sister had been close but Luci had cared only about drugs and escape. In this time and place Tira regretted her sister‘s death and the loss of a life poorly spent. Bast Ka purred. The sound brought comfort.

As she continued to walk, the sun sunk lower in the west. She wondered how far she had walked since leaving the temple. One thing she discovered was how much easier walking on dirt was than the concrete sidewalks she had known.

As the sunset flared in brilliant colors the river turned red and orange. When the light faded the water darkened. Tira smiled. She was almost where she had dreamed of being. Here was a different Egypt and a different time but she felt as if she belonged.

A crescent moon edged above the horizon. Stars appeared, more than she‘d ever seen. There were no city lights to dull the night sky.

The cliffs on her left were further from the river. Ahead she saw the outline of buildings. Her stomach rumbled. Perhaps there would be a place where she could buy a meal and find somewhere to sleep. Were there restaurants and hotels in this land? She hoped to find someone to ask. Though she was wary of speaking to strangers perhaps the amulet would protect her.

Bast Ka jumped from her arms. The cat yowled and took the lead. Tira trotted after the feline. Where were they going and what would they find?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday's Writer's Tip - More on Revision - characters

For draft writers, you don't have to do these revisions in order but here's a start. That's looking at your characters to make sure they're fully developed. Characters are what makes a reader want to continue writing. Part of a writer's job is to mane the characters appealing whether they be heros, heroines or villains. Even those characters who have a small role unless they're walk-ons need to have something to draw the reader to them.

For me developing a character means becoming the character. This can sometimes cause people to look at you strangely, especially when you're walking not in your own shoes but those of the character. What are some of the points to consider. This will be an overview today and in weeks to come will look at specifics.

Completeness - this doesn't mean putting in every event in the character's life but in giving the reader enough information to make the character come to life.

Believability -- this means that the character acts in ways that go along with their personalities and not doing things that seem to be out of character.

Consistency - there's nothing more disturbing that a character who constantly shifts from acting one way in a situation and a totally different way in a similar same situation.

Distinctiveness -- this looks at individuality and at what makes your character different from the hundred other characters who may be facing a similar story.

Function in the story -- what is the character's role and does he fulfill it or skirt around the edges. This is particularly important for secondary characters.

Stereotype -- unless you really need a cardboard character in the book making a character look like a cookie-cut one will make the reader yawn.

So during the rewriting phase making characters vivid and real is important.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday's Interview - Janice Seagraves

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

I write in various romance genres. My first published book, Windswept Shores is a contemporary erotic romance.

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

LOL. Good question. Most of my stories are dreams or what my muse sends me in one form or another, so no I don’t really chose my genre.

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

My daughter keeps asking me to write a vampire romance with big puppy dog eyes, but since the market is flooded with vampire romance, I’m a little hesitant to write one.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Paranormal romance, it’s my guilty pleasure.

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

I’ve been writing since I was twenty, but only for about twelve year toward publication.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Seth in my book, Windswept Shores. Once I had his Aussie accent down, he took over. My heroine didn’t know what he’d say next, and to tell you the truth neither did I.

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

The villain in Windswept is a one eyed boar named El Diablo. I don’t have nice little piggies in my book, oh no, what I have is wild meat eating boars. Scary ones too. El Diablo became one eyed after having a go at Megan, the heroine in Windswept; she put one of his eyes out, trying to defend herself.

8. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a Sci-Fi rom series, with aliens from outer space coming to Earth. Their females have all died in their hibernation chamber from radiation poisoning, so they need human females for mates to keep their race from dying out.

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

Windswept Shores. I’ve always been interesting in people stranded on a deserted island, using only their wits to survive. I even worked out what they’d need to survive and how they’d do it. I also realized it would make an excellent idea for a romance. In my mind I kept thinking: could two strangers washed up on the same windswept shores survive and could they can they fall in love?

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

LOL. I think I just did, so I’ll just post my excerpt.

Excerpt: Breathing hard, she flicked a glance at the teal-colored sea. She'd thought a vacation to the Bahamas would be the perfect getaway, would be a solution to the problems she and Jonathan had faced. She'd been wrong—dead wrong. Tears of grief filled her eyes. The never-ending crash of the waves on the beach and the cries of the seagulls seemed to mock her with the reminder she was utterly alone.

She'd felt like a tiny speck of sand last night when a violent storm had swept across the island. It had made a mess of her meager campsite, which had taken all morning to fix, and had demolished her seaweed SOS sign. She'll have to recreate her SOS. Sighing, Megan trudged toward a pile of kelp. As she got closer, she saw a figure wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. Her stomach lurched.
Oh, God, it’s another body washed up from the plane wreck. That would be number twelve. As always, she couldn't help but wonder if the next one would be Jonathan. He hadn’t been wearing jeans on the plane, so she knew she’d been spared seeing his corpse this time. Thank God. She approached the body with dread. Tightening her resolve, she knelt. Suddenly the "dead body" coughed and rolled over. With a scream, Megan jumped back. She clutched her chest and pressed a shaking hand to her mouth.

He’s alive!
Biting her lip, she stared down at the still-breathing man. His drenched t-shirt molded against his broad shoulders and well developed upper body. Short, golden brown hair stuck out in all directions.

Megan, get control of yourself. Don’t wet your pants the first time you finally see a living person. She got on her knees, plucked the seaweed from him and wiped the sand from his face. His day-old whiskers scratched her palm. Reddened skin stretched across both cheekbones and over the bridge of his nose. Her thumb caressed his parched full bottom lip.

She patted the side of his face. “Hey, are you okay?” That’s a dumb question. He isn’t okay.

“Hmm?” Gray eyes fluttered open. He stared at her a long moment, frowning slightly. “G’day.”

“Hello there.” She hated the sound of her voice. It sounded rusty, unused.

Abruptly he rolled away from her to heave onto the sand, making a loud, ugly retching noise.

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then looked at her. “Sorry, mate, I swallowed too much sea.” His gaze went over her shoulder in the direction of the bonfire which crackled and popped not far from them. “Mite big for a barbie.”

Sitting back on her heels with her hands folded in her lap, Megan followed his gaze, then back to him. “My signal fire.”

“Signal for what?”


His accent intrigued her. Was he English or Australian?

“G’darn,” he looked around, “where the bloody hell am I?”


You can find Windswept Shores at Pink petal books:

Janice’s website:

Janice’s main blog:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday - On Plotting - Transitions

Pacing is a good part of moving the plot forward. Just stringing scenes together doesn't make a story. There needs to be a way to get from one place or one time to another. Transitions are a way to do this, but how to do this without bogging the story down. The rhythm of a story is important and rhythm is the pacing. Knowing when to slow down or when to speed up is an art learned and mastered with practice.

Running one scene into another with nothing to connect them makes for a jerky ride when a smooth one will keep the reader going. Transitions are a way to help this process. A transition can be a single sentence that leads the reader to the next scene or it can be a lengthy passage that summarizes time to move the reader and the characters on to the next scene.

So how do you choose what to use as the thread to pull the reader from one scene to the next. You could choose to stay with the same character. This can work but what if you need the next scene through another character's eyes. You need to find perhaps a word, a phrase that can be repeated to start the scene. You could use the same setting. No matter what you choose, finding that thread and using it will pull the reader forward.

Another thing about transitions is often they're telling and we all know the rule, show and don't tell. Sometimes telling is the only way to more the story forward and sometimes it isn't. Finding a balance is important. And knowing if what the reader needs to know deserves a scene or just a bit of summary.

Transitions are important to the pacing of a story. Learning how to use them can help build a better reason for the reader to continue reading.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday;s inspiration -- Creativity and courage

Still looking at The Courage To Create by Rollo May.

Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being. This statement started me thinking. As writers we hear there are only so many plots. So is what we do being creative. Yes. Though there are only so many situations or plots if one looks at matters in this light, each of us brings a unique vision into the story. The words we choose, the actions and reactions of the characters are usually different. There are some writers who may not be creative. Each story they tells follows a pattern and one can tell when the story begins what will happen on page after page. They have found a formula and stick to it. What happens if they step out of the formula and try something new. Readers often turn their backs on them

But back to creativity and what the process involves. One thing is involvement. When writing slipping into the skin of the character, bringing bits of yourself into the story, sometimes when you don't even realize this has happened. Another factor is talent. Putting the words on paper can be taught and the stories that result can be interesting and good but there's always that spark that's missing. Think of the books on your shelf that you read and re-read. The spark between talent and involvement is what makes them special.

So when writing, one has to encounter their demons and their passions and allow parts of this to flavor the characters and spice the words.

Monday, July 25, 2011

25 July - Week behind and week ahead

Last week found me promoting The Henge Betrayed -- Quests. Finally a new release. I also checked the galleys of Moon Pool an group of four novellas, two mine and two Jane's. What I saw looked great and read well. So soon there will be another book for my shelves. Am waiting to hear about two submissions and will check on them soon. I began on The Pharaoh of Horu and have blocked in seven chapters. That's a good start. Looks like the book will end with somewhere between 24 and 30 chapters. Goal is from 72,000 to 80,000 words. I'll be busy for months with this one.

During the coming week I'll be continuing to block out the rest of The Pharaoh of Horu. This is sort of the fun part since it's mainly plot and often I come across changes that will occur as I do the drafts. For me there are usually 4 after the book is roughed out. Plot, Character, Setting and Language.

One is always excited when starting a new work and often wish it could be done yesterday. This is not the lot of the writer. Long books take weeks and months but living with new people and learning how they act and react is a great time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

3 Blog visit Sunday

've been interviewed here.

A bit of this and that

different concept

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday's Chapter - The Warrior of Bast - Chapter 2

Here's the second chapter of The Warrior of Bast - Romantic Times gave this book a 4

Chapter Two
Kashe of Mero sat on his bed in his chamber of the family compound. His head pounded. When he opened his eyes he saw the day had progressed into late afternoon. The bright light made him wince. He recalled the past night‘s celebration for the retirement of the family‘s arms master. Tuten had been Kashe‘s mentor and friend. From the older man he had learned the skills of a warrior. Last night Kashe had finally defeated his mentor with weapons and a capacity for beer.

―Kashe.‖ His father‘s voice stabbed like a dagger.

He groaned and sat up. The drum in his head banged. Leave me alone, he wanted to shout. The nomarch of Mero‘s anger toward his middle son was nothing new. What did he want now?

As second son Kashe had been marked for the priesthood. He had no desire to become a priest. He found satisfaction in his role as a warrior. Yet, duty called for obedience.

If any other temple had been chosen he might have agreed. He had no taste for this newly risen cadre of men seeking to force their god into the circle of goddesses and gods of the Two Lands. Aken Re had been unknown until the invaders had arrived. The army of those men had been defeated so why did their priests linger?

The beaded curtain jangled adding cacophonic notes to the beating in his head.

―Answer me.‖ The nomarch entered and halted at the foot of Kashe‘s bed. ―Rise and present yourself in the central hall. We have guests. Your older brother has news of importance.‖

Kashe groaned. He and Pian were a year apart in age and generations in philosophy. In embracing the new religion Pian had seen an advantage for bringing his ambitions to fruition. He believed the priests would smooth his path to the pharaoh‘s chair.
Kashe sat on the edge of the bed and considered his brother and his plans. Pian was slender and shorter than Kashe. Pian fit the picture of an ideal pharaoh in appearance but not in character. He was cruel and selfish. His sense of justice and honor were lacking. He had no love for Kashe. ―Throwback‖ was the mildest of the names Pian used as needles to jab his younger brother. Kashe had strengths Pian lacked. Every match on the training field had ended with Kashe as the victor.

He rose. He couldn‘t help that in stature and build he resembled the Nubian ancestors his father and older brother chose to forget in their desire for power. If Pian became pharaoh the nomarch of Mero would become his son‘s chief advisor.

―Are you coming?‖ his father asked.

If he said no who knew what would happen. Kashe stretched. ―As soon as I wash and dress.‖ Though he would rather have bathed he would make do here. He glanced in the polished metal mirror. His warrior‘s braid was neat enough. He poured water from a pitcher into a basin and washed. After donning a fresh kilt he fitted wrist and arm bands and selected a collar necklace.

As Kashe left the family sleeping quarters, he braced for the evening meal, the main one of the day. He entered the central hall and hid a desire to duck behind one of the pillars. On the dais his parents sat with a pair of priests. Their gold medallions glittered in the torch light. Pian stood before the men.

As Kashe neared the platform he noticed the robes were embroidered with gold-rayed discs representing their god. The pair were opposites. One was rotund, smiling and fluttering his hands while speaking. The other was lean with a hawk-like nose and a somber expression. Kashe noticed his younger brother lingered in the shadows near the dais. If anything was to be learned Namose would know.

The nomarch gestured. Kashe strode past his sisters who were engaged in a board game and gossip. When Pian‘s voice took on a tone both servile and arrogant Kashe grimaced.

―My lords, Oris Aken Re and Hebu Aken Re, has the daughter been found? I so desire to look in her face and claim her as my chief wife. The honor you offer humbles me.‖

The rotund priest‘s smile broadened. ―As yet we have not found her but the signs point to where she is hidden. When the auspicious hour arrives we will claim her.‖ He turned from Pian to the nomarch. ―You know the price.‖

The nomarch pointed to Kashe. ―My lords of Aken Re, this is Kashe, my middle son. He is skilled with weapons and has a vast knowledge of strategy. He will enter your temple as a priest.‖

Both men studied Kashe. Their gazes moved from his head to his feet. Embarrassment and shame over the avidity of their appraisal made him flush. He was not some piece of livestock or a slave to be purchased. A cauldron of anger bubbled.

Oris Aken Re rubbed his fleshy hands. ―Indeed, he is magnificent.‖

The thin priest‘s eyes narrowed. He addressed his companion in an unfamiliar language. ―Nomarch, he will do nicely,‖ he added.

Kashe wanted to rub his arms to ward off a sudden chill but he wouldn‘t allow the pair to see his distaste and fear. He kept his gaze steady and examined the thin priest. Hebu‘s eyes were serpent-like, dull and flat. Kashe‘s hands formed fists. Though Oris had been named as the chief priest, his companion was the more dangerous of the pair. Another thing became clear. Hebu belonged to the defeated enemy. Kashe had heard that language from a prisoner his father had brought to the compound as a slave.

Oris nodded. ―He will be the perfect battle leader for our men.‖

Pian made a face. ―He will be yours when I become pharaoh.‖

The nomarch shook his head. ―He will be theirs when I decree.‖

Kashe drew a deep breath. ―Father, I beg you to change your mind. I have no desire to serve in any temple. I‘m no scholar and have no knowledge of portents and omens. I‘ve no wish for easy living or in having my days ordered by rituals that allow no freedom.‖ He turned to leave.

His father grasped his arm. ―You will obey. Your sacrifice will undo all your willfulness and the shame your tainted heritage has brought to me. When this new moon completes the cycle you will enter the temple of Aken Re.‖

Though Kashe remained until the evening meal ended, his thoughts centered on finding a way to escape his father‘s command. He had to leave home but where would he go? He listened to his father, older brother and the priests as they made plans. Finding the missing daughter of the last pharaoh was their goal. The priests sought her. So did his father. The one who found her first would control the future of the Two Lands.

As soon as the meal ended Kashe retreated to his sleeping chamber. He had no desire to listen as more schemes were hatched and scenarios developed. He thought of escaping to his favorite beer house but not tonight. The entourage accompanying the priests was quartered on the roof of the house and in the garden. He had no desire to have his departure noted.

Kashe parted the beaded curtain and strode into his chamber. A pile of scrolls stood on the low table. He opened one and crushed the thin papyrus sheet. ―The Ways of Aken Re, the True and Only God.‖

Distaste curved his mouth into a scowl. He wanted to burn the scrolls or slash them to shreds. Not a good idea, he decided. Know your enemy. His mentor had repeated those words until they were engraved in Kashe‘s mind. Though Tuten had meant this advice for contests of arms Kashe believed they applied to his current situation. He would read the scrolls but not tonight. The crescent moon didn‘t provide enough light. Neither would the saucer lamp. He retired to bed for a night‘s sleep filled with dreams he wanted to forget.

For two days Kashe read. The contents of the scrolls disgusted him. The priests of Aken Re had diluted and twisted the teachings of the temples of the Two Lands and skewed them to fit their version of the world. They intended to make their god supreme. There were tales in the scrolls telling how Aken Re had defeated the ancient goddesses and gods of the Two Lands, major and minor and eaten their essences.

He finished the last scroll. What now? Did the rotund priest intend to remain here until the moon ended? The serpent-eyed one had vanished. Most of the entourage was now housed near the river. The departure of the strangers had relieved some of Kashe‘s fears. Not all, for he had no plan to escape the fate his father had decreed.

With a scowl he scooped the scrolls and carried them to the west loggia. There, he dumped them in a heap on one of the low tables. As he neared his chamber he heard two of the slaves speaking. Their gossip made him smile. The remaining priest planned to leave in two or three days.

Kashe returned to his chamber and went to the window. When a large hawk landed on the sill he stepped back. He stared at the avian. The bird made no attempt to attack. Kashe held out his arm. The hawk dropped a scroll and an amulet that landed on the floor with a click. The avian settled on Kashe‘s wrist cuff. He stared into its eyes.

―Horu,‖ Kashe said.

The hawk‘s head bobbed as though in answer. ―Horru.‖

Did hawks have names? ―I‘ll call you Horu Ba, soul of the god of the skies.‖ The bird returned to the window. Kashe picked up the gold amulet. A grin crossed his face as he read the hieroglyphics. ―Chosen of Horu.‖ Here was the perfect reason to refuse his father‘s plans for him. Would the nomarch and Pian accept the calling? Kashe was sure he would learn.

He lifted the scroll and read the words.

Three will come from afar, warrior, ruler and advisor will be joined by three from the Two Lands. United they will drive away those who seek to destroy the land and the people. Success brings prosperity. Failure means death. During the time when each pair works to complete their task they may not join flesh to flesh. Celibate they must remain until their quest ends lest disaster strikes the Two Lands.

He walked from his chamber into the central hall where the family and the priest had gathered for the evening meal. His father gestured. ―You‘ve been hiding in your chamber for days. Have you decided to obey?‖

Kashe shrugged. ―I‘ve been reading the scrolls. They‘re in the loggia. The words left me with no desire to become a priest of Aken Re. What I read sounded like lies.‖

Pian jumped to his feet. ―You will not usurp my place. I will be pharaoh. All the power and wealth of the double crown will be mine.‖

―I have no wish to rule or serve the priests.‖

The nomarch glared. ―You have been promised to them. Your battle skills will be needed to bring the stubborn people of this land to worship the one and only god.‖

Oris Aken Re smiled. ―You cannot resist. You are ours.‖

Kashe sucked in a breath. We‘ll see, he thought. The amulet burned against his chest. He leaned forward and wondered why they didn‘t see the medallion. Was it invisible for a reason? He ate and fled to his room. As he walked down the hall he heard the slap of sandals on the stone and braced for an attack.

―Kashe, you must listen to them,‖ his younger brother said. ―If you disobey Father, the priest will send serpents after you.‖

―Don‘t fret, little brother. Come to my chamber. I‘ve something to show you.‖ Kashe parted the curtains so Namose could enter first. ―This is why I can‘t go.‖ He held out the amulet. ―A hawk brought this to me.‖

Namose studied the gold circle. ―Chosen of Horu.‖ He looked up and gasped. ―At the window.‖

Kashe grinned and extended his arm for the bird. ―Horu Ba, this is Namose, my younger brother.‖ The hawk tilted his head. ―As you see I‘ve been selected by the god of the skies.‖

Namose nodded. ―And you will leave home.‖

―I believe I must.‖

―I want to go with you.‖ The youth‘s dark eyes held a plea. ―If you can‘t serve them I fear Father will send me or one of our sisters to their temple. The priests have a son or daughter from every nome except Mero in their service. They want Father and Pian to follow their orders. Our nome is the largest and richest of all. I don‘t trust the priests. If I must serve a god I would choose Toth, the god of wisdom.‖

Kashe looked away. Since he had no idea where to go, how he could take a boy who had just reached his fifteenth year? ―You must remain here until I can find a safe place. Then I will send for you.‖

―Do you mean that?‖

―Yes.‖ Kashe studied his younger brother. Here was the male member of the family with a strong knowledge of the land. If only their father didn‘t favor Pian. The oldest son was their father‘s favorite. Namose, the youngest, was ignored by the nomarch and favored by their mother.

―When are you going?‖

―Not tonight. I‘m going to a beer house to think.‖ He pushed Namose to the door.

―Better if you don‘t see me leave. If they discover I‘m out you can truthfully say you left me in my chamber.‖

Namose paused outside the curtain. ―Good thinking.‖

Kashe waited until his brother vanished before crossing to the window. He slipped out and crept across the garden to the rear gate. Once beyond the wall, the hawk landed on his wrist guard. Kashe strode to the riverside village. A few mugs of beer and a good fight might be an outlet for the energy coursing through his body.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday's Writer's Tip - Revision - 5 areas to be explored

Revision for a draft writer is a matter of layering. So once you have the rough draft down, what areas are needed for revision.

Characters - this means taking each character and studying if they have been developed to the fullest.

Dialogue - Do they characters all sound like the same person? Does what they say make sense? There are a number of ways to make what the characters say become meaningful.

Point of view - There are several schools on this. Some readers like the purist approach while others go from character to character. Sometimes this can cause a reader feel like they're watching a tennis match.

Showing versus telling - This is a big issue. Telling takes fewer words than showing but showing increases interest in the story.

Story and structure - This involves plot and also the way the story is told.

In the coming weeks each of these areas is address and questions and points to remember will be shown so each story will reach its potential.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday;'s Interview

Today's interview is with M. S. Spencer who writes romantic suspense.

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

My published books are both contemporary (M/F) romantic suspense. The first, Lost in His Arms, was set in 1991, when international events were very much in upheaval. It includes spies and a taste of the world of Washington politics:
Chloe Gray meets Michael Keller, CIA troubleshooter, in a world in chaos. Michael appears unpredictably, leaving Chloe limp and lovelorn. Looking for safe harbor, she yields to a dashing Frenchman. Will she embrace the luxury and comfort of Emile and his chateau or the romance of international intrigue with Michael?

The second, Lost & Found examines the tension between loyalty to a marriage and true love. When Rose Culloden’s husband disappears, her search takes her to Maine. Loyal to her marriage despite her powerful attraction to her guide James Stewart, it takes the dramatic discovery that David is not just vicious and venal, but insane, to free her heart for true love.

My latest (due out July 27 and discussed below), as well as the next two (Triptych, due out in November and The Torpedo Factory Murders) include increasing elements of mystery.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
After a typical youthful infatuation with vicarious angst and tragedy (think Wuthering Heights) I have come to relish, want, and consume only books or movies where I could be assured of a happy ending. Is this age? Or experience? At any rate, I actually thought I’d write mysteries, but it takes a more logical mind than mine to write a good stumper. Then one day, about the time chances for romance in my own life had dissipated into the ether, I thought, Hell, why not write my own? Then I’ll be in charge of the story. My hero will be as I picture him; my heroine will be younger than me; the sex will be fantastic. And there will be a happy ending. As you authors out there know only too well, I learned quickly that after the first chapter you are no longer in charge. But at least I could insist upon a happy ending (and sex). So here I am, a confirmed romance writer (with dashes of mystery thrown in to satisfy the beast).

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

I have written several children’s stories, as yet unpublished. The adventures of Edward the Fly are Disney-like stories pitched to a late elementary/early middle school reader. Edward travels to places like the Wild West, Antarctica and Atlantis, where he uses his fly powers to rescue humans from peril. Other stories resemble parables or Aesop’s Fables—fantasies with a lesson that are wonderful for reading aloud. My favorite is called Lila’s Island, which relates the story of the dove who Noah sent to seek dry land. I would like to see them published and write more of both.
There are so many romantic stories still to be written in my genre, I see no need to try something I’m not comfortable with or wouldn’t be able to write in an authentic voice.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

When I’m not writing I like mysteries (especially English cozies), humor (such as Christopher Buckley’s novels) and classics (that way I know I’m not wasting my time). When I’m writing I must stick to nonfiction—politics, history and biography. Otherwise I get the plots confused!

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
Although I have lived or traveled to countries on five continents, the last 30 years have been spent mostly in northern Virginia as a parent, a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, policy wonk, non-profit director and (worth repeating) a parent. I worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and for the last few years at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a former munitions factory, now a warren of artists’ studios on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. I hold an embarrassing number of academic degrees. Nowadays I divide my time among Virginia, Maine and Florida. All of this tends to insinuate itself into my books.

Most writers will tell you that they have been writing all their lives and I am no exception—poetry in the adolescent years of course, then children’s stories when my kids were young. I started writing full-length novels only a few years ago. My first attempt was a murder mystery, which sat in a drawer for years until my husband threw it out (by mistake? You be the judge). My first book, Lost in His Arms, was published in 2009 and I’ve been scribbling madly ever since.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That’s a toughie. In another interview I was asked about my least favorite character and found that pretty easy. I guess I have to like most of my main characters (except the villains) or I couldn’t let them have a happy ending, no? However, my favorite characters tend to be the minor players—Chloe’s best friend Amanda in Lost in His Arms, who has a, shall we say, mature outlook on life (i.e., cynical). Or Bill Nettleton in Losers Keepers, an ancient Chincoteague native who pops up just when the heroine needs him most and sometimes when it’s really embarrassing. Or the ornithologist in Lost and Found—a perfect caricature of avid birdwatcher (speaking as one who knows).

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

Oh, yes. Wonderful question. The villains take many and varied forms in the books—from evil spies (Lost in His Arms), to a venal and deadly husband (Lost and Found), to a sex-crazed greenpeace/luddite/fruitcake. In fact, in my latest, Losers Keepers, the hero starts out as the villain (hey, a guy can evolve, can’t he?). The villains often develop later than the hero and heroine. He (yes, it’s almost always a he) keeps pestering the story until he gets a bigger part. Expect really smashing denouements full of thrills and chills from my finales.

8. What are you working on now?

I am about to embark on the editing process for Triptych, which will come out in November from Secret Cravings. As I wait for an editor I am heading into the third draft of the Torpedo Factory Murders, a novel set in Old Town Alexandria at the famous Torpedo Factory Art Center. It takes advantage of my alter ego as executive director of the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

Here’s the draft blurb:

Waiting out the rain, Georgia Delaney takes stock of her widowhood and the handsome man standing in the door to the bar. Little does she know she will meet that man again and again under both passionate and terrifying circumstances.
Hugh Brody waits for his date, too conscious of the beautiful woman sitting by the door. Little does he know that she will hate him for trying to destroy her beloved art center, and even suspect him of murder. Nor that she will be drawn inevitably into his arms.

Little do either of them suspect they will be embroiled in not one, but two murders, in which the fate of the Torpedo Factory, an art center housed in an old munitions factory on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, will be decided.

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

Losers Keepers will be released July 27 from Secret Cravings Publishing. Set on the island of Chincoteague on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, it runs 72,000 words and is rated 3 flames. In it we meet Dagne Lonegan, aka Dear Philomena, advice dispenser extraordinaire, who hoped that spending a year on Chincoteague to write her novel would clear her sinuses, if not her heart, of any feelings for Jack Andrews, erstwhile lover and long-time jerk. It’s just her luck that her first week on the island she’s in the right place at the right time to be involved with a murder. Only she doesn’t know it. Unfortunately, the murderer doesn’t know she doesn’t know. Strange and dangerous things begin happening to her, interfering with her new romance with Tom Ellis, the handsome manager of the National Wildlife Refuge. Complications ensue when her Jack arrives to take charge of the murder investigation.

My family & I have been visiting Chincoteague for many years and love it—for both the wildlife refuge and the beach. It’s a wonderful, quiet place—rich in dramatic weather, history, and flora and fauna (including the people). I still look for any excuse to go back and hike and kayak and ogle birds and ponies. I wanted to set a story there that would bring its pleasures alive for my readers.

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

My latest, which will be released in November from Secret Cravings, is entitled Triptych. It’s a tale of three sisters and their lovers, of the famed Three Sisters Rocks in the Potomac River (the stuff of legend), and lost masterworks of art (the stuff of intrigue). Since it’s not yet edited I can’t provide an excerpt, but to give you a taste, here is the blurb:

Miranda Cabot lost all interest in love after her husband Edward crashed into the rocky islets called the Three Sisters in the Potomac River. Her sister Honor likewise prefers her tower and her writing to romance. Not so their sister Sybil, who longs for a dashing Frenchman to sweep her off her feet. Being a modern woman, she advertises for him on Craig’s List and is rewarded with the Chevalier du Bon Arnaque, who comes to Washington from Alsace on mysterious business.

Believing the Chevalier is a crook, Miranda and Honor ask their neighbors Dieter Heiliger and his grandson Corey to act as chaperones. Three beautiful, strong-willed women living in a house with three handsome, virile men results inevitably in an intricate web of jealousy, sex, and intrigue. Add to that long-lost master artworks and stolen prototypes. Who will end up with whom, and will the Three Sisters take another life as the legend calls for?


Facebook Author Page:!/pages/M-S-Spencer/132571588515?ref=ts

Amazon Author Page:

All Romance E Books Author Page:

Book Information and Purchase Links:

Lost in His Arms, by M. S. Spencer
Published 2009 by Red Rose Publishing
eBook, 61,000 words, ISBN 978-1-60435-375-0
Contemporary Romance, Action/Adventure; M/F; 3 flames
Buy link:

Losers Keepers, by M. S. Spencer
eBook, 72,000 words, M/F (3 flames), contemporary romantic suspense
ISBN 978-1-936653-95-9
Buy from:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday - On Plotting -- Mirrors

Another way to make the plot sing is by mirroring. Characters can be mirrored, so can sub-plots, scenes and places. I've always thought of the god Janus--the one who looks both ways. Using this device has worked for a number of writers and you might consider doing this to add some spice to your life.

Take two characters, make one good and the other bad but give them the same motivations and goals. They will be very similar but so very different. These characters can also be from opposite backgrounds--rich/poor. city/country, sophisticates/naive. There are hundreds of variations that can be developed. Using two mirroring characters that show different ends to their lives or stories can bring home points the writer wants to make.

What about mirror sub-plots? This makes for a long book and can't be done in a short space. Having two stories in one takes words and development. This also can fall apart when one of the stories interest the writer more than the other. I've done this perhaps once and making the story turn out was very hard and came up to about 100,000 words. There must be a balance between the two stories and if you have more than two mirrored stories each segment must be written and woven into the other.

So mirroring is a way to add depth to your characters and add spice to the story. Just remember balance is what is needed and the moment one of the mirrors dominates the story becomes fractured.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday's Inspiration -- Courage and Creativity

Is the writer a rebel. This doesn't mean going out and trying to take over a country or even a small place. What it means is that the artist seeks to explore chaos and make order of what they find. It also means passion creeps into a story. Sometimes the writer doesn't even realize they have written in this fashion, they are just exploring. Take a mystery writer. They may not realize how deep their passion is for justice. Or the romance writer for happy endings. But before they write the story, they must enter chaos and pull what truths they can discover there. Relationships between people always have a bit of chaos at the bottom.

Understanding or the desire to understand is what propels the writer as a rebel. In this understanding there is joy. Writing brings the joy of creating and the joy of finding a piece drawn from chaos.

This bit is short probably because I'm still digging into a bit of chaos called life.

Monday, July 18, 2011

18th July - Week ahead and week behind

A look at the past week saw me sending a Sudden Seduction off to the publisher and hope to hear from them soon. Now I have two stories, one a novella and one a book waiting to hear from editors. Have started and will restart The Pharaoh of Horu since my first start at a rough draft was falling short and want to have the hero and heroine together by chapter 3 so the book flows like the first of the trilogy. Always have false starts when I begin a book but I know where this is going. Do like quest books where people have to find things. Received the cover for The Henge Betrayed -- Quests. It's an interesting cover but I have no visual sense. I'm so glad I'm not an artist since I have no idea how things should look. Hope the artist isn't too upset with me but I'll live with the cover and so will the readers. Still don't have a release date but should be soon.

This week coming I'll be immersing myself in Egypt again and in the alternate world there. The hero is Seth, a name that could make trouble for him in his new world. The heroine is Merin who appeared in the first book. This should be fun once I get all the seedlings planted and sprouting.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Birthday winners

Though it's my day, some of the followers of the blog are in for a treat. 17 will be winners of a book. I'll be notifying the lucky people throughout the day. Here's the list.

Claire -- The Midas Murders

Elf - Becoming Your Own Critique Partner

Jeannie - The Henge Betrayed Flight

Tara - Becoming Your Own Critique Partner

The Henge Betrayed - Refuge - Cher Green

The Henge Betrayed -- Flight - Kay Springstein

Come Into The Light - Lucky Lady 42

Come Into the Light Pat Rasey

Obsessions Jennefer Labelle

Obsessions - Rebecca

Requiem Murder - Carol

Murder and Mint Yea Last nerve

The Brotherhood of Mages - Shelby Morgan

Healwoman Drak Moon - LB Canton

The Warrior of Bast Sultry Summers

The Mistress of the Moons - Desitheblonde

The Henge Betrayed - Flight - Renee Rearden.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday's New Direction. First of three Chapters

At present I've published all the first chapters of the books I now have available. What I will start to do now is to put the first three chapters of many of them on the site doing three chapters on three Saturdays. I would rather not post anything that isn't out yet since this can cause problems with those who think it's fair to take other people's writings and turn them into their own. I do have two books coming soon but I'll wait until they're officially printed to post chapters, so now this will be the featured book of the next three weeks. The Warrior of Bast published by Vanilla Heart and available in both electronic format and print.

Chapter One
Tira wanted three things in life and she had little chance of gaining any of them. She wanted to be financially independent. She wanted to go to Egypt and study the ancient ruins. And she wanted her sister to stop using drugs.

The last desire brought memories of this morning‘s quarrel. Luci had taken the money Tira had squirreled away to see them through the rest of the month. ―Luci, why?‖

―You don‘t understand,‖ Luci screamed.

True. Tira didn‘t understand why her sister needed to escape into a drugged stupor instead of studying and working to step onto the road leading from the slums.

Tira‘s hands stung with the memory of slapping her sister. And the words she‘d shouted as she slammed out of the apartment echoed in her thoughts. ―I hate you. I wish you were dead.‖ Tira shuddered. She hadn‘t meant those words. As soon as she reached the apartment she would tell Luci.

With a sigh she turned back to the museum display. The Egyptian artifacts awed her. For a short time she allowed the beauty of the objects to carry her into dreams of pyramids and temples, of gods and pharaohs and of digging in the earth to uncover treasures of the past.

The dream hovered beyond her grasp. Her chances of gaining a position on a dig in Egypt were slim. Positions were avidly sought by students who had chosen the right colleges and the right professors. Those choices had been beyond her financially. She sucked in a breath. Instead of adventure, when the summer ended, she would take her place in front of a classroom teaching history at an inner city high school.
A glance at her watch said dreamtime was over. She had to reach the apartment in time to change for her evening shift at a restaurant several blocks from the cramped fifth floor efficiency she shared with her older sister. Once again flashes from the morning‘s quarrel exploded in Tira‘s thoughts. She‘d been so upset she‘d missed her martial arts session at the local center.

Tira cast her dream self aside and donned the role of practical sister. She hurried to the exit and stepped from the past into a steamy August day. Heat shimmered from the sidewalk. The air hung heavy and carried the odors of the city and the noises of traffic. She strode along the crowded area taking advantage of every opening.
Ten days to dream. Ten days to walk the halls of the museum. Ten days to study the artifacts that had become her lodestones. She breathed the aromas of real time, spices of cooking foods, metallic scents of passing traffic and the odors of people, some pleasant and some not.

Several blocks from the apartment building the crowds thinned. In an alley she glimpsed furtive movements in the dark shadows. She hurried past. On the corner across the street a group of gang members gathered. She sucked in a breath and held her head high. For all her twenty three years she‘d avoided the gangs. As she strode past she heard the usual crude remarks about her body and her attitude.
Get a life, she wanted to scream.

When she saw the ambulance and two cop cars in front of the building where she lived she halted so abruptly she stumbled. A hand caught her arm. Tira saw the gray-streaked beard of one of the winos who slept in the doorways or the alley. ―Get your hands off me.‖

―Don‘t go home,‖ he whispered. ―Lose yourself in the crowd and keep your head down.‖

Tira saw a keen intelligence in the man‘s dark eyes. Who was he? He wasn‘t as old as she had imagined either. ―Why?‖

―Your sister‘s dead. Cops‘ll be looking for you. They heard about the fight.‖

Tira‘s stomach clenched. She blinked away a rush of tears. Though hearing about her sister‘s death wasn‘t unexpected another dream shattered. There would be no rehab for Luci. ―Junkies O.D. every day,‖ she said.

―She was murdered.‖

A chill slithered down Tira‘s spine. A rush of acid burned her throat. What? Why? Who? Keeping her eyes on the ground she inched away from him.

―Murder. Murder.‖ The murmured word spread through the crowd gathered on the sidewalk and stung like attacking wasps.

The EMTs wheeled a gurney from the building. When Tira saw the body bag strapped to the frame her nails bit into her palms. Despite the heat of the day she felt chilled. A wave of guilt made her knees buckle. She stuffed her fist against her mouth to keep from crying aloud.

What now, she wondered. The apartment was a crime scene. Until the cops finished their investigation she wouldn‘t be allowed inside. An officer stepped from the building. ―Move along, folks. There‘s nothing to see here.‖ He stepped from the stoop. ―Anyone seen her sister? We have some questions for her.‖

―Most evenings you‘ll find her waiting tables at Louie‘s,‖ someone said.

Tira hunched her shoulders. As people dispersed she slunk away. All her life she‘d avoided trouble. Even if she wasn‘t a suspect she knew too much about Luci‘s friends and suppliers to be safe. She needed to hide and think. Where could she go?
As she retraced her steps she noticed the home boys had vanished from the corner. Show‘s over or just about to begin, she thought. She feared she was destined to become the star in a life or death drama. She continued the slow amble away from the apartment building.

Every instinct urged her to run but that would attract the attention she didn‘t want. As she passed the alley someone grabbed her arm and dragged her into the shadows. The man who held her arm and the other at his side were large and scary but not as menacing as the slender man who joined them.

Tira fought to control rising panic. She felt as though she would faint. Center. She had to escape. All she needed was an opening. Her muscles tensed in preparation. ―What do you want?‖ Had her voice remained calm or had fear coated the edges?

―My drugs. My money.‖

―I know nothing about either.‖

The slender man laughed and the sound chilled her. ―She was your sister. She told you everything.‖ His smile turned feral. ―Her last words were, ‗Tira knows.‘‖
Anger flared and slashed the fear and grief holding her immobile. ―And you believed her?‖

―Why not?‖

His silent companions edged closer. One held a knife. The other reached for her. Tira sucked in a breath. She whirled and kicked. The toe of her sneaker caught the knife holder‘s arm. Her sudden movement pulled the second man off balance. She grabbed his arm and knocked him into the knife man. They landed in a tangle.
Tira ran. As she darted around the corner something whizzed past her. She didn‘t stop to learn what. Where to go? Just ahead she saw the steps leading to the subway. She pulled her Metro card from her pocket and bounded down the steps. A shout sounded. She kept running. At the gate she swiped the card, ran onto the platform and into a waiting car. A bell dinged. The doors closed.

As she peered through the smudged glass she saw one of the thugs reach the platform. She breathed a sigh of relief. For the moment she had escaped. Where did the rattling car take her?

Was there a way to get the things she needed from the apartment? The drug dealer‘s men would keep watch. Who could she ask? Not the cops who either believed she had killed Luci or wanted information she didn‘t have. She barely knew the neighbors. She and Luci had moved into the building in June. Could she sneak into the building after the cops left? Doubtful. Her few friends from college wouldn‘t be willing to enter the scene of a murder.

Tira sank on a seat. Once again tears threatened. Why had Luci lied? Tira swallowed convulsively. When she understood the reasons for the betrayal she could grieve. Now wasn‘t the time.

For seconds or minutes Tira blocked the groping fingers of fear. At the moment she was safe but she couldn‘t ride the subway forever. She considered her options. She had some change, her Metro card and the twenty she always kept for emergencies. Not enough to rent a room. Going to work at Louie‘s was out. Until her first pay check from the teaching job arrived she was broke.

Think. Plan. Where was the nearest homeless shelter? Sure they could be dangerous but she could protect herself. Tira wiped her hands on her jeans. Even if she could hang out for ten days she couldn‘t begin her first day as a teacher wearing dirty jeans and a sweat-stained tee shirt.

On the seat beside her she noticed a crumpled piece of paper. Curiosity stabbed. She smoothed the wrinkles and read the words twice.

Life got you down? Have you unsolved problems?
Looking for escape? The answer is in your stars.
A counselor is available night and day.
Dial 1- 800 – 555 – ASTR

Tira frowned. She could answer yes to all the questions. Had the paper been left for her to find? She smiled at her magical thinking.

When the car stopped at the next station she grasped the paper and rose. She followed people to the street. Should she take a chance? Did she have a choice? Across the street she saw a coffee shop. She had to consider her options.

She jogged to the small restaurant and entered the dingy place with the paper clutched in her hand. A flutter of nervousness settled in her chest. What to do? Call or not call? Go to the cops?

Find a shelter? She sat at the counter and ordered coffee. As she sipped the bitter brew her thoughts raced. The answer to the last two options was a definite no. She frowned. If the answer was in her stars they certainly hadn‘t brought her a sliver of luck. Would making the call produce a change?

Tira swallowed the last of the coffee. She would make the call. If the paper was a hoax she would devise another plan. She stepped outside and opened her cell phone. In the fading light she read the number and dialed.

―Can I help you?‖ a woman asked.

―I can answer yes to all your questions.‖

―Do you need help?‖

―Yes.‖ She wasn‘t sure what this woman could do. By accepting the offer she would be off the street and buy time to plan.

The woman gave an address. Tira repeated the street and house number.

―We‘ll be waiting for you. Ring the bell. Remember, the answers are in your stars.‖

At the corner Tira looked at the street sign. Fourteen blocks. Not that far. Unless a bus came along she would walk. Though the neighborhood wasn‘t the greatest, hers was worse.

She walked briskly and directed her attention to the surroundings. Occasionally she glanced over her shoulder to check for followers. Once she glimpsed a large man and nearly froze. Her heart skittered but the next time she looked he had vanished.
Her imagination took fire. The drug dealer might not know where she had left the subway but the route was known. He could have snitches everywhere. He believed she knew where his drugs and money were hidden. Luci, what did you do?

She glanced at the numbers on the buildings she passed. Would the drug dealer‘s men try to discover where she went? Probably a given. By the time she neared her destination her heart pounded. She saw three men behind her and knew she‘d been made.

A rush of heavy footsteps sounded. She dashed up the steps of the brownstone. With a staccato rhythm she pressed the bell. Hurry, she thought. She glanced over her shoulder. One of the men was the knife wielder from the alley.

―Tira,‖ he called.

The door opened. An elderly woman pulled her inside. ―Welcome.‖ She closed the door. ―Why have you come?‖

―The answer is in my stars.‖

The woman‘s eyes held kindness. ―What is your name?‖

―Tira.‖ The woman‘s eyes, her voice and smile eased some of Tira‘s fears. No matter what happened here she would rather face this woman than the men outside.

―Follow me. We have time to find your proper place.‖

As Tira walked down the hall she noticed a series of photographs on the wall. One caught her attention. A temple with statues of cats perched on plinths and a crook behind them. Hieroglyphics were carved above the feline. She traced the figure.

The woman turned back. ―So that‘s the world to hold your interest.‖

Tira smiled. ―Reminds me of ancient Egypt, a place that‘s always fascinated me.‖

―Perhaps your stars will show you the way there.‖ The woman beckoned. ―Come along. We must be ready when the planets align.‖

Tira inhaled the aromas of cooking food. Had she interrupted the woman‘s dinner? Tira‘s stomach rumbled. She‘d had nothing besides the coffee since noon when she‘d bought a hot dog from a street vendor. They entered a large room. The woman indicated a table. ―Sit. Food is on the way.‖

Tira stared at the wall across from the table. A large circle divided into twelve segments covered most of the wall. She moved closer and saw this was a horoscope wheel. She had no idea what the wheel could be used for.

―Sit, child.‖ The woman tapped a bell.

A second woman arrived with a tray of food. Plates and glasses were taken from a buffet. ―Help yourself.‖

Tira studied the tray. Rice, meat and vegetables. Once she filled her plate the second woman poured a fragrant beverage into three glasses. The women joined her at the table. Little was said until the meal was finished.

The oldest of the women smiled. ―When were you born? We need the day, the month, the year and the time as accurately as you know.‖

―May tenth, twenty three years ago. My mother said my cries greeted the dawn.‖

―Aries.‖ Both women went to the wheel. They turned an inner segment and placed colored balls in segments of the circle. ―A warrior born. Quick to anger. Speedy in action. Sometimes given to rash decisions. A seeker of justice. A lover of adventure. Now tell us about yourself and why you called for help.‖

Some quality in the woman‘s voice eased the tension and fear riding Tira‘s spirit since she had arrived outside the apartment building and learned of her sister‘s murder. Between sips of the fragrant tea she spoke. The reality of her sister‘s betrayal slammed into her awareness. Her voice broke. ―Luci, why?‖

The second woman touched Tira‘s hand. ―She did not mean for you to be hurt. She was afraid and reached for your strength.‖

―How do you know?‖

―The seeds of the betrayal were written on your chart. This aspect has passed but you must release your pain.‖

Tira drew a deep breath. Without warning the tears she had held inside gushed forth. Sobs racked her body. She cried until no more tears came. A cloth was thrust into her hands and she wiped her eyes. Another glass of a different beverage appeared.

The older of the two women clasped Tira‘s hand. ―If you could go to ancient Egypt tonight, even if the Two Lands was not the one you studied, would you go?‖
If, Tira thought. A dream she had desired but impossible. ―Maybe.‖

―Even if you had to remain there for all your days?‖

This had to be a joke. Tira could think of nowhere she would rather be. There was nothing left for her here. ―I guess.‖

The second woman stood behind her. ―Drink.‖ She touched Tira‘s shoulder. ―The price of the journey is a quest you must undertake. The only knowledge you take with you is what will fit in the time period you reach except for your fighting skills. You will be unable to speak of this world or of modern conveniences.‖

―Tell me more.‖

―Many years ago invaders swept through the Two Lands usurping the rule and spreading unrest and chaos. The army lay defeated. The pharaoh became a prisoner. The priests of the invaders brought their god, Aken Re, and sought to make him supreme. The people rejected the new god. For years the land and the people were crushed beneath the sandals of the foreigners. Twenty years ago the men of the Two Lands rose and drive the aliens away.‖

The older of the two women nodded. ―The sacred symbols of the rule were hidden and the location lost. Though the invaders were driven away some of their priests remained. They scheme to place a pharaoh of their choosing on the chair. Should this come to pass the Two Lands will be destroyed.‖

Tira felt confused. Their stories deviated from anything she had read about Egypt. Remnants of her flight, her fear and her grief coalesced. ―And if I don‘t go?‖

―You will leave this house and face whatever waits. Will you go?

Tira thought about the men who waited outside. If she left the house she would die.

―Will you go?‖ The women spoke as one. ―If so, drink.‖

Tira lifted the glass and swallowed the beverage. What choice did she have? As she drifted into a fog she saw the giant wheel on the wall spin.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday's Writer's Tip - More on Revision

Begin at the beginning. Since I'm a draft writer revision seems a little easy to me since I always begin at the beginning but knowing what happens in between and at the end helps make the beginning better. Though I will admit I do struggle over the first few paragraphs. Part of this is because I want to set the tone of the story and part is that unless I have a good start, I can't get to the end.

When looking at the first few pages of the story there are questions to ask yourself. As a judge for many contests for unpublished writers and sometimes published ones I often find that the first paragraph is wonderful and there is a hook that draws me to wanting to like the story then several things happen and those are the questions you need to ask yourself about the first three pages of your story.

Is the opening bogged down with lyrical descriptions of people and places, or are the characters talking but nothing's happening or are they bogged down in everyday matters that lead no where?

Does the story begin here or do you have to go back and spend pages setting up what went before because you can't be sure where you want to start?

Have you devised an elaborate set-up that takes a lot of words but the rest of the story doesn't fit the wordage in the beginning?

Is the opening interesting and is the purpose clear?

Is there meaningful action rather than a tempest in a teapot?

Do you need a prologue? Now prologues must have a direct effect on the story. Some prologues work and some don't Readers remember the first thing they read and if there's no connection to what happens in the story, you've wasted words.

If you have planted some object in the first few pages has it been used. Say you describe the grandfather's clock in long detail. Does this clock have something to do during the story or if it no more than a prob that could be described in a word or two. If you talk about a gun, someone should use it.

Does your beginning have anything to do with the end? This may be the most important thing. Suppose your beginning is full of action but this action ends by chapter three and the story now turns to introspection. Then the end becomes slow and dragged out.

So my advice is to finish the book and then you can go back and work out the kinks beginning with the beginning.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday's Interview T.D. Jones

Today's interview is with TD Jones who writes humor. I've done one light romance in the humor vein and know how hard the tone is to maintain.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one? I love to write humor which always involves romance and family drama. I don’t really try to put myself in a genre, due to I love writing and want to try it all.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you? It seems the character decides it. Every character comes to me first and I just follow their lead.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't? I would love to write a science fiction one but not sure that will ever happen since I don’t like science. I would love to have a character that is so smart she has no common sense about her and gets into all kinds of trouble.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure? I’m so into the Stephanie Plum series due to I can relate to Janet Evanovich’s humor in the books.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing, I’ve been writing all my life but just as a hobby. I’ve always had a dream of becoming a published author and finally about two years ago I had a long talk with myself and decided to either let that dream die and move on or really take it serious and work hard at getting something published. I received four contracts for my books within the last year so I’m glad to say my dream is not dead.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite? Will Tanner from Cockeyed Cowboy. I loved writing from his point of view due to it was fun thinking like a man and using man words. I like him so much he is going to be a series.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created? I don’t really have villains in my book. My books are pretty light and fun with some kind of drama but nothing so serious that you don’t end up going away with a good feeling about the world.

8. What are you working on now? I’m working on edits for my Salem’s World and Wrangled Hearts which will both come out early next year. I’m also working on the Cockeyed Cowboy Series

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive? My last release was Hot Days and it has two stories in it. Who Put Grandpa In The Garden! and Cockeyed Cowboy From Crockett County.

I will tell you how I came up with the Grandpa idea. A friend was telling me about how his family had a family member’s ashes still at the house after many years of his death. No one could decide what to do with him so he was still in the house. It got to me to thinking what if someone cleaned out the house and found that box and decided to put the contents in the garden not knowing it was a dead relative.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words. My latest book will be release on July 23rd by Melange-books and is an anthology with several great authors. It is called Curious Hearts and my story is called “Just A Little Too Late.”

All the stories in the book our about first loves and if we got a chance to go back would we do anything different to hold on to that love.


Sujo Crane glanced at the white dress strategically placed in the corner of her bedroom. In another month she would be Mrs. Sujo Monroe. She wiped a tear from her cheek.
“Sujo, are you there?”
“Yes, I’m here,” Sujo said. She had been on the phone with him for over an hour. He had been explaining the accident and the details of the funeral. She felt she was still in shock over the news.

“Please, say you’ll come,” Jason Beckman said, “For Gerard.”

Sujo let out a loud sigh. “I’m really busy with the wedding and all. I just don’t know if I can make it.” She knew she wasn’t being all that truthful; there was really nothing else to do for the wedding. It was going to be a simple affair with family and friends. Neither she nor Mark was into big weddings with all the crazy details that went along with them. So there was really no details left, she knew in her heart the real reason was she wasn’t sure if she could handle facing Jason again after all these years. She thought she had closed that door to her heart but when she picked up the phone and heard his voice, emotions of the past came to the surface.

“Too busy to come to an old friend’s funeral. That doesn’t sound like you…the old Sujo I knew would drop everything for a friend.” Jason paused and then said, “Hell, bring what’s his name too…just come.”

“His name’s Mark Monroe.” Sujo glanced over at the wedding dress again. She remembered the day she tried it on. It fit perfect, no alternations needed at all. It was as if it was made for her. Not a thing was wrong with it…just like Mark. She wasn’t the type of girl to like perfect. She was the girl who liked the quirky side of life. She was the girl who did the opposite of her friends, never fitting into that perfect mold. So it was surprising to her and everyone else that she went for the perfect guy who always did everything right and had his…their life planned out perfect for them down to the day they would start trying to have kids.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday - Plotting - The Rule of 3

The rule of three is one of the most interesting things found in fiction. Think of all the stories you read as a children. The hero or heroine being granted three wishes. The Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks all follow this pattern in their stories. Using the rule of three can beef up a story and make the reader anticipate.

Think of how bland these stories would be without the rule of three. Would the wolf win if he encountered the smartest pig early in the story. And what about Goldilocks. Three dishes of porridge, the first two not right but the third just right. So what does this mean?

One is only an incident. Two forms a pattern. Three breaks it. I've often used this in stories having the hero, heroine or villain attempt something three times. The third will bring defeat or winning depending on what I'm trying to achieve.

This is using the echo factor and expanding it to show the pattern broken. The first time a disaster or a success occurs, the reader will note this and perhaps not pay attention. The second time will make them sit up and take notice. The poor hero or heroine may seem destined to fail and the villain to succeed, Then comes the third with a reverse and all falls into a pattern we've recognized since childhood.

So think about using this technique in a story and see what happens.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday's Inspiration -- Courage and Creativity

When one thinks of creativity the mad genius comes to mind. Is creativity akin to madness. One reads about the number of artists who commit suicide or end up drug or alcohol ridden, but there are also many writers who live for long years and continue to produce works. Could the difference be that those who write for many years have somehow discovered the symbols that are meaningful to them and ignore the ones that aren't?

When writing I often don't think about those things that are my symbols, a dark cave, bright jewels? What about you, what symbols do you find creeping into your writing?

Does wanting a happy ending make a creative project less than one that's steeped in tragedy? Seeing justice done whether it's in the hero and heroine finding love or the criminal being brought to justice, or the evil villain defested. These are the focus of what I create.

Creativity comes of struggle. I've read books that are well written but the characters have little struggle and I'm disappointed when I reach the end because I'm searching for some struggle and find none. So think about your characters when you write. Is there a chance they could lose all they strive for? If not what is the purpose of writing their story? The struggle is important and what the characters learn about life and about themselves means the writer has either learned or is learning these things. So look at your stories and see if there is a way to increase the characters' struggles before they find the happy or satisfactory ending. All endings don't have to be happy but they must leave the reader saying, "yes."

Monday, July 11, 2011

11 July - Week Behind and week ahead

Last week was fairly busy. I send out a call for people to be interviewed on the blog and got a phenomenal response and have been able to finish JUly. This week TD Jones will be up. Also I was interviewed here Kind of neat to see what gives. Have done the final writing of the last chapter of A Sudden Seduction. Learned the first three of the Seduction Series went into paper and called Sweet Seductions. Kine of interesting though what I really like is the electronic versions. Guess I'm liking the electronic world of writing. Been spending a lot of time checking out the China journey f my son and daughter-in-law as they learn about their two children.

During the coming week the blog posts will be as usual except on Sunday there will be no blog visits but I'll be announcing the books that will be given away to honor my birthday. In writing, I'll be doing the nit-picks on A Sudden Seduction and that will finish the story. So glad to see it done and the next one is now pounding on the door. The Pharaoh of Horu and now have the hero's name and the name of the heroine for the third book of the trilogy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

3 Blog Visit Sunday

ttp:// Vampires and paranormal reviews and etc YA author a lot of tips and c chance for a critique of a short piece Paranormal with reviews and other things

Saturday, July 9, 2011

1st Chapter Saturday -- Heart Throb

Heart throb is the steamiest book I've written. Magda Malone has been there, done that and got hurt. She vows never to become involved with a doctor again. Her new neighbor Damon and she hit it off very well--until she learns he's a doctor. Damon doesn't believe in marriage. He'd lost count of his step-fathers and mothes, but Magda gets to him. Can he convince her this hot love will never end?

Chapter 1

Magda Malone jammed her hands in the pockets of her white lab coat and felt the fabric tear. Just what she needed to add a touch of anger to her friend’s sly request. Hadn’t he heard her resounding refusal?

Her jaw clenched and she felt her teeth grind. The temptation to commit an act of violence hovered like a massive thundercloud. She stared out the window of her fifth floor office at Riverview Memorial and shoved her anger into a corner of her mind. The hospital didn’t need the Cardiac Units supervisor to ignite, especially over a personal matter.

Sucking in a deep breath along with a quick count to ten she turned to her colleague and friend. At the moment she wasn’t sure friend was operative. “Repeat your question. I’m not sure I heard you?”

“Would you join us for dinner tonight?” the cardiologist asked.

“That’s not the part of the original question I want to hear. Wasn’t there more?”

“Like I said. Nothing formal. It’s not a party. Just a family sort of thing.”

Magda smiled. “Come on. Spit it out. I need to be sure I’m not going deaf.”

He leaned his hip against the corner of the desk. “Lin and I want you to meet my new partner. He’s her cousin and a really great guy.”

Magda glared. “Ben, let me repeat. What did you want me to do with this man?”

He studied his hands. “Was just a suggestion.”

“And that was?”

“To show him a really good time.” He joined her at the window.

She arched a brow. “A good time as in what?” She thought she knew the direction his thoughts traveled but she wanted to be sure she’d heard him correctly. Her hands fisted. “Does your wife know you’re soliciting?”

“What?” His round face reddened. “That’s not what I meant … well, maybe … just –” He groaned. “Couldn’t you just fine … make him happy to be in Rivertown? If the two of you don’t click you could show him around the … dating scene. You know what I meant.”

“Do I?”

He heaved a sigh. "Lin and I want him to settle here.”

Magda shook her head. “Spit it out, Doctor.” Anger oozed from the dark corner and colored her voice. “Just how do you expect me to accomplish your purpose?”

He stared at her. “Anything it takes.”

“No way.” She clipped the words with a razor edge. Would he understand why she was furious?

“Mag, come on. Wasn’t I there for you when you needed a shoulder?”

“I’ll give you that.”

“I need a partner who will settle here permanently, especially now.”

Magda sighed. Ben and Lin had been there when her life fell apart but he was asking too much. “Why me?”

“Men like you and you like them a lot.”

She held up a hand. “Not another word.” She walked to the desk and stared at the stack of folders needing her attention. “I don’t want to lose a good friend but one more word and you’re toast.”

“I didn’t mean you had to … you know.”

She rested her hands on the cool metal surface of the desk. “Let me set the record straight. I choose the men I want in my life. I don’t need anyone fixing me up with a man.”

“I hear you.” He sank on the chair across from the desk. “Lin said you’re bored with the local dating scene. Come to dinner. If you don’t like Eric, you can leave. If you do, who knows where it will lead. Give me a good reason why you’re being so stubborn.”

Was the invitation his idea or his wife? If it hadn’t been for the added incentive she would have believed Lin as the author or the idea. Happily married women always seemed to want their unmarried friends to be coupled. Magda had told her friend about the lack of eligible and interesting men in the area. Did it matter who had dreamed up the meeting? Magda slumped in the chair behind her desk. She wasn’t about to accept the offer today, next month or any year. Her views on the subject had been expressed time and again. “What are my rules of dating?”

“You don’t date where you work.”


“You don’t do doctors.”

“Sounds like you’ve heard me.”

“Loud and clear. This time is different.”

She shook her head. “Been there. Done that. Got burned.”

He rolled his eyes. “You received a nice divorce settlement. Give my new partner a chance. He could be the exception to your rule. What can you lose?”

“My independence. My head. I could face another fractured heard. “Goodbye, Ben.” She pointed to the door. “There’s a whole flock of available women out there who would delight in dating an available cardiologist. I can name a half dozen closer to his age.”

“What’s seven years?” He scrambled from the chair.

“More than half a decade. See you.”

He opened the door. “Eric likes older women.”

“Good for him. Ask Mabel Gray to dinner.”

Ben turned. “Older, not ancient.”

“Tell Lin I’ll call tomorrow. Let her know I feel an urge for shopping.”

He groaned. “Why?”

Magda’s smile widened. “My coming vacation. Your baby-to-be. I don’t need an excuse to shop.”

“Bye.” He closed the door.

Got him. Amusement bubbled to the surface washing away the ashes of anger. Spare me from match-making friends. She reached for the top folder. Her thoughts wandered from the department’s budget to the future.

Four weeks until vacation and she had plans. Sun, surf, moonlit nights at a single’s resort. Meeting men who had no desire for a commitment. She wanted a fling or three that allowed her to escape with an intact heart.

Her whirlwind marriage had ended in a divorce a month after he’d finished his surgical residency. She’d learned a painful lesson. Never date or become romantically involved with a doctor. Since the day the divorce had become final she had controlled her life and only she chose the men who shared her bed.

Her pen skidded across the paper leaving a red streak. Damn you, Ben. Why had he turned her thoughts to days best forgotten? She gripped the pen and returned to the budget proposal.

* * *
Eric Damon Blair III surveyed his new living space and grinned. Though the condo was mostly unfurnished he was pleased with the place he’d bought last week. In the living room he’d created a nest of pillows on the dark blue carpet. Perfect for viewing the huge flat screen TV and for making love.

He strode into the bedroom where the most important item of furniture had been delivered. The king-size bed was ready for the kind of action he preferred. Soft sheets, plump pillows on a firm mattress. Just thinking about using this spot set his heard speeding to send extra blood to his groin. Not yet, he warned. Soon.
He turned and scanned the living area. One of his favorite features was the bar between the kitchen and dining areas. With a couple of bar stools he could eat there until he purchased a table and chairs.

Once he knew his way around town and found some willing helpers he would buy furniture. He closed his eyes and visualized his aides. A sleek blonde. A ravishing redhead. A cuddly woman with brown hair. A sultry ebony-haired siren. All he had to do was meet them and lure them to his nest. That had never been a problem.
No strings. No commitments. He had no intention of traveling the road his parents had worn to ruts. Serial monogamy. He’d lost count of the numbers of step-mamas and step-papas that flowed through his life like a fleet of paper boats launched on a pond. No marriage meant no divorce, the end of every road his parents had traveled.

He flipped the cover of his cell phone and tapped his cousin’s number. Better inform her of his new residence before she phoned the police to report him missing or every hospital between the city and here searching for his body. She answered on the second ring.

“Hi, Lin. I’m in town.”

“Eric, where are you?”

“It’s Damon. Eric is my father and our grandfather.”

She laughed. “Forgot the name change. You’re late. What happened? Traffic? An accident? Were you hurt?”

“None of the above.”

“Then where are you. I’ve been pacing for two hours.”

“In town. Had a bit of luck.” He settled against the headboard of the bed. “Found a place.”

“Aren’t you staying with us? I have plans.”

“I bet you do.” He swallowed a growl. He imagined she had a dozen schemes to match him with a matrimonial-seeking friend or three. He had no intention of camping in his cousin’s guest room. Watching a nesting set of parents wasn’t a scene he wanted to endure.

She laughed. “Caught me. So where is this place and how did you find it?”

“Ran into the brother of a patient. He wanted to sell his condo. Had the money from the trust so I bought. Place is great. Once I’m settled I’ll throw a party.”

“You are coming to dinner tonight, aren’t you?”


“Eric, Damon, whoever you are. There’s a friend I want you to meet. Ben and I invited her over. You’ll like her. She’s great.”

Score one for men’s intuition. “Forget your schemes.” Damon groaned. “What is it with you happily-marrieds? Can’t stand to see someone unattached? I need no help finding women. That’s plural. Don’t want or need permanent.”

She laughed. “Neither does my friend. I thought you two would be a perfect match.”

“Thanks for thinking of me. I’ll find my own women. Talk to you later. I’m off to unpack the car.”

“When will we see you?”

“If something doesn’t come up I’ll swing by tomorrow or Sunday. Unless I’m diverted. Imagine you get the picture.”

She laughed. “Sure of yourself, aren’t you? Good luck in the hunt. Don’t expect to succeed. You’re new in town.”

He chuckled. “You’d be surprised. Sometimes being the new face has amazing results. Gives the ladies a new body to explore.”

“You’re impossible.”

“But loveable. Ciao.”

Damon rose from the bed and headed to the door. Time to unpack the stereo system. Then shower, shave, change and hit the local watering spots. Fridays were always social nights at the bars. Surely he’d find more interesting company that an unattached female who needed friends to find her a date. Even if she didn’t admit to being a player in the husband hunt he rarely met a woman who didn’t turn huntress the moment she learned he was a doctor.

* * *

Magda shoved the last folder in the drawer and made a series of phone calls to check for pending problems on the units she supervised. All was calm. She flipped the calendar to Monday, slung her bag over her shoulder and left the hospital. As she strode to her convertible she uncoiled the chignon at her nape and combed her fingers through the strands. Freedom.

On the way home she stopped at the supermarket, picked up her birth control packet, bought strawberries, raw sugar and sour cream and rented a movie. She planned to spend the evening with a kick action flick and dreams of the coming vacation.

The warm breeze carried a hint of rising humidity. As she sped toward the condo the wind whipped her hair. Her laughter rose above the classic rock throbbing from the speaker.

Years ago she’d been dumb but her divorce attorney had been shrewd. The car and the luxury condo were courtesy of her ex. Still the settlement she’d received hadn’t made her believe she was a woman for the long haul. Did it matter? Short term presented many challenging adventures.

As she drove into the complex the guard leaned from the booth. “Ms. Malone, new tenant alert.”


“The other unit in your building.”

“Thanks.” Magda waved. He’d said tenant. Did that mean single? Male or female? Dare she hope for a male, attractive, interesting and available?

She pulled into the garage beneath her unit and noted the empty boxes at the curb. After grabbing her packages she headed to the foyer. Maybe she would drop by to welcome the newcomer.

When she saw the man on the stairs leading from the apartment level she sucked in a breath. Neighbor or mover? Single or married? Excitement rushed in with hurricane force. Wouldn’t take much to learn his status.

Denim cutoffs provided a view of tanned muscular legs. Her gaze traveled to appraise flat abs, a muscular chest and broad shoulders. A slow smile changed his features from merely handsome to rugged and fascinating. The streak of white in his jet hair looked as if a lighting bolt had seared a path.

Brilliant blue eyes captured her gaze. Steam flowed through her veins. No attached man sent out those signals unless he was primed for a fling. In that case she would pass. Only the unattached male need apply for her attention. She didn’t do married or engaged. His hand bore no wedding band but these days the absence meant zilch. Her plans for the evening began to morph. She started up the stairs. He backed up several steps.

“Hello, neighbor.”

His deep voice zapped like a jolt from cardiac conversion paddles. Her imagination soared like a geyser. How would his sensuous mouth taste? She imagined those strong hands and fingers stroking her breasts. “Welcome to Rivertown.” She reached the landing and paused at her door.

He reached for her free hand. “Damon.”

“Magda.” She liked the laugh lines around his eyes. Must be about my age. Perfect.
His thumb rubbed circles on the back of her hand. More than perfect. Life had taken a turn in the right direction. Her nipples contracted. She glanced down. The bulge beneath his fly seemed to swell. Attraction – mutual – instant. She felt an itch she wanted to scratch. “So nice to meet a new neighbor. Is your wife inside?”

He grinned and inched closer. “No wife. No recent women in my life.”

“I see.” Her tongue played along her lower lip. Interest darkened his eyes. This man was as hot as molten lava and she wanted to burn. “Have you met any of the other neighbors?”

“Just arrived this afternoon. You’re the first.”

“Do you have plans for this evening?”

He stepped closer. She held her ground. “If I did they’re forgotten. Any suggestions?”

She met his gaze. “How about dinner. My place at seven. After wards … we’ll see what develops.” She inhaled the scent of the man. Masculine. A hint of spice. A touch of desire. A potent drug laced with aromas that teased her hormones.

“I’d like that. I’ll bring the wine. Do you like champagne?”

“What’s not to like?” She smiled. “Hope you have a healthy appetite.”

He touched her lips with a finger. “That’s one thing I have in good supply.”

She flicked her tongue along his skin. He tasted like a sin she planned to commit. “See you at seven.” She opened the door of her unit, stepped inside and bled a kiss. “Until later.”

“Oh yeah.”

He growled the words. She nearly asked him for a taste of instant gratification. Except, anticipation made the juices flow and brought the appetite to a peak.
She leaned against the cool metal surface of the door. Her thoughts raced. She could make more than a meal of this man. Could she parlay dinner to extend for the entire weekend?

* * *

Damon fisted his hands and stared at Magda’s door. He took a step, then a second and raised a hand to knock. Drawing a deep breath he moved back. He wanted her now. If she hadn’t slipped away he would have taken her against the wall. His cock throbbed and was primed for action. He liked the way she moved. He liked the way she smelled. Her response to him had danced along his nerves like an electric current.

He growled. Her subtle scent lingered, teased and pushed his need to taste her skin. During their brief encounter he’d waged a battle to keep from grabbing and ravishing. He wanted to capture her taut nipple in his mouth and lick salt from her skin. He’d wanted women before but his lust had never come close to slipping from his control.

When her tongue had slid along his finger he’d nearly lost his mind. Not a good sign. He’d always set the boundaries of each affair. He couldn’t let lust become an obsession. Never happened before. Couldn’t now.

Good thing he’d begged off dinner with Lin, Ben and the woman they’d wanted him to meet. He’d escaped a boring evening and a trap with jagged teeth to snare him. He dashed to his apartment before he made a fool of himself. He strode through the living room. How could he find a way to extend the dinner and what followed into a weekend spent in the bed of his sexy neighbor?

A quick check of the medicine cabinet and his dresser drawers showed he needed some essential supplies. Call him cautious but he always wore condoms. He’d seen the results of carelessness. Not for him. He hoped Magda felt the same. He grabbed the car keys from the dresser.

The cell phone chimed with the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth. “Yeah,” he said.

“Ben here. There’ll only be three of us at dinner. Do you mind?”

Guess he hadn’t talked to Lin. “So what happened to the woman you think is perfect for me. The one so eager to meet me?”

“She said no.”

“Really.” Any other time that would have bothered him. Not tonight. “Did you forget to mention I am a doctor?”

Ben laughed. “She knows. That was her main reason for saying no. She doesn’t do doctors. Not to mention you’re too young and she doesn’t play where she worked.”

Damon chuckled. “Her loss. Doesn’t matter. I can’t come. Something interesting came up.”

“As in female?”

“What else?”

Ben groaned. “How long have you been in town?”

“Five, maybe six hours.”


Damon strode toward the door. “Just lucky.”

“Are you at the house?”

“Found my own place complete with a hot woman.”

“Is it wise to move in with someone you don’t know?”

Damon closed the door and juggled the phone to lock up. “I’m not. Bought a condo unit. Met the woman maybe fifteen minutes ago.”

“What’s she like?”

Damon heard the interest in Ben’s voice. “Tall, long legs, great body.”


Damon laughed. “No way, buddy. I won’t give you a chance to warn her about your cousin-in-law’s rule of life.”

“Imagine she’s beautiful.”

Damon frowned. Was she? He pulled her image into his thoughts. Her features weren’t classic. Pouty lips that cried for kisses. Brown hair and brown bedroom eyes. Beautiful, no. Still, something about her hand hit him with hurricane force.

“Is she?” Ben repeated.

“Let’s just say she’s intriguing.”

“Where’s the condo? I can stop by and we can discuss the practice.”

Damon laughed. “No way. What could have changed since the last time we talked?” He started downstairs. “You know what they say about curiosity.”

“Caught me. Give me a buzz tomorrow. Want to go over the on-call schedule.”

“If I surface.”

Ben chuckled. “You’re incorrigible. Come for brunch on Sunday and bring this hot woman.”

“Don’t count on it.”

“Is now a better time?”

Damon clattered down the stairs. “No time. Need to run to the store. In case we don’t talk before I’ll see you Monday morning at the hospital.”

“Be there by eight. I’ll introduce you and we’ll make rounds.”

“Will do.” Damon disconnected and slid into his car. He glanced at Magda’s windows. One hour and counting.

* * *

His mouth covered hers. He cupped her breasts. His thumbs caressed her nipples. She slid her hands beneath his shirt. “Come to me.”

The clock chimed six times. Magda gasped. How long had she been lost in an erotic fantasy with her new neighbor in the lead role?

She pushed away from the door and gathered her packages from the floor. In an hour he would arrive. Dinner at seven followed by an evening of getting to know each other on as many levels as possible, preferably on their backs. How could she have lost herself in a dream world created by a steamy imagination when there was so much to do?

She dashed to the kitchen. Not enough time to prepare a real gourmet feast complete with suggestive dishes. The last time she’d found a man intriguing enough to invite for a meal had been six months ago. The meal had ended that affair.

She defrosted two steaks, made her special marinade, and zapped several potatoes to partially cook. After cutting them in wedges she seasoned the pieces. Thank heavens for packaged salads and bottled dressing with a few added herbs.

She hurried to the bedroom, stripped and changed the linens. She spread a thick feather bed over the sheets. Like making love on a cloud. Her body tingled with anticipation and a new fantasy crept into her thoughts.

Cool it, Magda.

Before entering another sex-laden dream she gathered the clothes she’d dropped on the floor that morning and added them to the hamper. In the bathroom she shoved the birth control container in the medicine cabinet. Why was the old one still out? Had she taken her daily dose? One of these days she had to investigate the long term ones.

A frown wrinkled her forehead. Taking the pill was part of her morning routine but so was storing the box. Her thoughts flowed back. Open cabinet. Remove box. Take pill. A call from the hospital had interrupted her routine. Tension ebbed. Back to preparations.

After hanging new towels on the racks she took a deep breath. Calm down. There’s time. The man had churned more emotions that she cared to admit. Memories of his hot body and his come-hither eyes exploded in her thoughts. Her body responded. She shook her head. Could she curb her eagerness to feel his naked flesh body dancing with her?

She scurried into the living room for a quick straightening. Images of his muscular body flashed in her thoughts. She felt a major attraction to Damon. Damon who?

Neither of them had offered a last name. Oh well, she would learn in time.

She sucked in a breath. Had been a long time since she’d been so eager for a particular man. Try nine years and her ex. What a mistake that had been. She’d allowed him to set the pace. She’d fallen for his line. Med student needs a helpmate. More like a Sugar Mama. She’d paid the rent, bought the food and handled all the bills. Ten days after his residency ended she had been dumped like clothing gone out of fashion.

Not this time. She knew all the traps. How would Damon react when she controlled the evening? His reaction would be a major factor in her decision to reach for more than tonight.

* * *

Damon stood at the counter in the package store and paid for the champagne. He tucked a box of his favorite condoms in the bag the clerk handed him.

The muscle-bound guy grinned. “Looks like you’re planning a big evening.”

“Oh yeah.” Damon strode to the door. Just thinking about Magda had his cock throbbing. Been months since he’d found a woman who made him sizzle.

When he stepped outside the warm humid air flowed over his skin. The sultry day headed for a steamy evening with one sexy woman. Just the right ingredients for a stellar night. He savored a memory of the invitation he’d seen in her dark eyes.
A vase of red roses in the window of a florist’s shop caught his attention. The flowers cried passion. He nodded. Not a dozen, only one. A subtle touch to signal desire not love.

As he drove to the condo classic rock blared from the car speakers. He parked in the garage and took the stairs two at a time. Shower, shave and dress. He put the champagne in the freezer to chill and headed to the bathroom for a cold shower to cool his appetite for the lady next door.

The evening promised to be a sizzler, not just the weather. Just what did Magda have in mind as dessert after dinner? Should he follow her agenda or institute his own plans? Images of what he wanted to do with her lush body stirred his cock with a fierce urge to delve her depths. He flipped the shower to frigid and let the ice water slake his rising ardor.

At five to seven he tucked a supply of condoms in his trouser pocket. If the evening extended through the weekend he could always slip over for more supplies. He took the champagne from the freezer and lifted the rose from the counter. He was armed and he hoped as dangerous as his neighbor desired.

As he strode to the door Beethoven’s Fifth sounded. He ignored the persistent ring. The only people he knew in town were his cousin, his partner and the woman next door. She had his number but not for his phone. Anyone else could leave a voice mail. He would call later. Much later, he hoped.