Thursday, May 31, 2012

Books I've Been Reading -- Jude Pittman's mysteries

Jude Pittman is an online friend, partner in one of my publishers but I really discovered her through a group that was a promo group that has evolved into a publisher. I have also read three of her books, all mysteries.

I'll have to admit that I'm a re-reader and I've read her books at least three times. But you know the ending people often tell me. Granted I do. I have a memory that often clings to stories. While I may know the ending, the nuances are what fascinated me. I love mysteries and trying to find the hidden hints to the revelation at the end. Perhaps my love of reading stories again and again is because I do learn how to hone my craft and I'm also a re-writer doing drafts and drafts of a story.

Now back to Jude's stories. Deadly Secrets and Deadly Betrayal take place in Texas. I happen to have two Texas born childr so one of the pleasures in reading Jude's books take me back to my days of living near "the Hospital on the hill" near Ft. Worth. Now the hill was hard to find but that's another story. I have both books on my Kindle and also on two other electronic readers from my past that are now defunct. Kelly the hero is tough and coruageou and the atmosphere of the bar with its characters provides laughter and a few hints to what is going on. I'm really a cat lover but I found Jake, the dog, to be a fascinating creature. The mysteries are well crafted and I do wish there were more of these stories. Sometimes a reader finds a character they don't want to let go and Kelley is one.

I've also read Jude's other mystery Bad Medicine and enjoyed meeting her characters in this story. This is another area to explore and learning about other cultures is a great thing.

So hats off the Jude. Hopefully there will be more books coming.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - A visit with Eileen Charbonneau - Elements of The Novel

Today and for the next 12 weeks, the tips will be provided by Eileen Charbonneau, a classy writer and former critique partner. The Elements of the Novel is written in a form easy to read and one that gives tips to aid the beginning writer help and also to help the experienced writer remember things perhaps forgotten. Eileen has written a number of award winning stories that are both evoctive and poetic. I have a number of her books on my shelves and will place this one there with honor. Now to the tips.

The first chapter speaks of Process. Just what is this? The Process is the way a writer approaches their craft. The first element is finding time. Most writers don't have the luxury of beginning to write with all the time in the world. They have jobs and families and other responsibilities. For one to be a writer, they have to find the time and a regular routine. Just like fitting exercise into a person's life an aspiring writer must find a time and a routine. Do you have an hour, a weekend, the ability to write for an entire day? Making the time is important and making it a regular part of your day is vital.

The second element is Product. Without putting the words on paper there would be no product. Eileen has an interesting look at plotter vs panster. I happen to agree with her. As a writer I am a bit of both and that's mainly because plot is an important part of my way of creating books. So do you do volumes of planning before your begin or do you gather your characters and set out to write their story? Perhaps you do a bit of both. Putting the words on paper is the Process.

Eileen, Thanks for sharing your expertise with us and I'm looking forward to many more weeks with The Elements Of The Novel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Story Telling - Jane Yolen

While looking through The Writr's Handbook I came across an article by Jane Yolen that talks about story telling. that made me think. Stories have beginnings, middles and ends. Though I don't start my stories with some variation of "Once Upon A Time," these words are always in the back of my mind while I write. Those words evoke childhood and let the reader know there is a story coming. One thing Jane Yolen mentioned was that stories don't preach. Just what does this mean? Does this mean that there is no lesson in the stories we tell? For myself I generally write stories that are facing good vs evil. These are done in a number of genres. Another sort of story I write is in finding love. Sometime there are perhaps not evil people but there can be someone who opposes the finding of love for reasons that are not good.

Stories have beginnings middles and ends. The beginning sets up the characters and the problem they face. In the middle there is a question that drives the character toward the ending. Endings can be hard to write. Often we read a book that draws un in and pulls us through the middle but the ending is disappointed. Don't let your reader after finishing the story wondering if that is all. The ending should make them feel they understand the choices made during the story come to a satisfactory ending. For those who write series each book should end this way but the character should be so interesting the reader wants to hear more of their life and adventures.

Jane Yolen quotes Isaac Bashevis Singer who said "In art, truth that is boring is not true." This is a quote to remember and to try to make our stories vivid and alive rather than boring and moralistic.

Monday, May 28, 2012

28 May - Week Behind and Week Ahead

Hard to believe another month is nearing the end. Last week was a trunicated one since 2 days were spent in Florida with grandchildren and in returning home. The blog schedule was behind and that meant it was sort out of sync. On the writing schedule, I managed to re-write two chapters of The Micro-manager Murder and though I would have written more, at least I'm still headed for the target date.

Coming this week will be the completion of the sixth draft of the book and the start of the final one. So sometime in June I will be done and ready to send the story off into the ether. On Tuesday I'll find some words of inspiration for myself and others. Wednesday will see the start of Wednesdy's with Eileen Charbonneau, a talented writer who has written a book on writing called Elements of the Novel. Not sure how many Wednesdays I'll be doing this. Eileen is a former critique partner whose insights into my stories I sadly miss. Thursday I'll be featuring the stories of Jude Pittman, publisher and whose books I have on my Kindle and have read more than once. I'll also have a post up on obscurekitlit blog. Friday and Saturday will be spent with Karenna Colcroft with How Sje Does It and an excerpt from one of her released. On Sunday I'll visit three blogs. Already have two with interesting tidbits up. Looks like the week will be busy.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chapter - Margay Roberge

One - Beginnings

When fate arrived in Destiny Falls, Micah Sloane was elbow-deep in his brother’s Ford Tempo, trying to coax the geriatric engine back to life – with little luck. But still he tried, determined not to be brought low by four cylinders of sheer stubbornness. Intent on his task, he would have missed the arrival of fate if not for the low whistle of his brother.

“Would you look at that?”

Must be one hell of a car, Micah thought, if he were to judge by the reverent tone of his brother’s voice. Cam didn’t go all soft over just any car like some of their friends; it had to be special. Definitely not a Ford, although he liked the classic Mustangs. A Firebird was a possibility; Cam did get all sweet on them in the past. But - would that elicit such a whistle from his brother? No, that was a different kind of whistle, an I-never-saw-that-here-before kind of whistle. Whatever the case, it was a newcomer to Destiny Falls.

When he didn’t react quick enough, his brother backhanded him on the shoulder. Hard. “Hey!” Micah yelled, returning the favor without looking up. “What’s with you?”

“Look at that.”

Before Micah could, his senses pricked up – and not by the urgent undertone in his brother’s voice. No, it was something else entirely, something that tickled his nose with awareness before it flared in the back of his throat and shot through his body like a skyrocket. He gripped the frame of the car to steady himself under the onslaught of foreign sensations that wracked his body. His nose twitched as he sniffed the air, testing the truth of his other sense, his special sense. Yes, it was there, in the air that gently wafted over him. He tilted his head, enough to catch a glimpse of –

A vision in blue jeans and a pink-and-white polo shirt, exiting Cam‘s new dream machine in front of the family‘s general store. Tall, the way he liked them, with a form filled out in all the right places. Also the way he liked them. And long hair, pulled back in a thick braid the color of caramel – a fact that made his mouth water in anticipation.

Oh, yes. Fate had arrived in Destiny Falls.
In a black Hummer.

“Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?” Cam asked.

Micah glanced Cam’s way to gauge the direction of his gaze as he withdrew from beneath the car hood. He was relieved – though he didn’t know why – to discover his brother still ogling the Hummer. Not exactly his kind of car, but it must be nice if it overruled the sight of a beautiful woman for someone as girl-crazy as Cam. No competition there. Good. But then he shook his head at his own foolishness. Seriously, Micah, you don’t even know her name yet and you’re already getting territorial? Much too early in the game for staking out your territory.

Folding his arms across his abs in a self-protective gesture, he sifted through the fog in his brain for a way to divert his attention from his disturbing thoughts. A wicked smile toyed with the corners of his lips when it came to him.

“Close your mouth, Cam,” he said. “You’re embarrassing yourself. I think you‘re starting to drool a little, man.”

Cam’s mouth snapped shut as he looked away from the Hummer. He even wiped at the corner of his mouth to check the validity of his brother’s claim.

Micah couldn’t contain his mirth.

“You think it‘s funny?” Cam backhanded Micah’s shoulder. “Do you?”

“Hilarious. The way you wiped your mouth – classic. Ow! It was all in good fun.”

“If we’re gonna talk about drool, maybe we should talk about what came out of your mouth when you first saw her.”

Cam nodded in the direction of the vision still standing beside the Hummer, her pose indicative of conversation with the driver. Once again, Micah’s gaze was drawn to her, to the perfection of the body showcased in form fitting…He shook his head to clear it of lascivious thoughts.
“Nice to know you noticed a woman there, Cam,” he said. “I was beginning to worry about you.”

Cam didn’t respond to the jibe, much to Micah’s disappointment. His attention was focused on the new arrivals now, rather than their mode of transportation. “I wonder who they are,” he mused. He shot a glance over his shoulder at Micah and took a step forward with a nod in the direction of the Hummer. “Maybe we should go find out? They could be lost. I mean, who comes to Destiny Falls on purpose? In a Hummer?”

With a shake of his head, Micah grabbed Cam by the arm to stop him. “Not that way.” he said, pulling him toward the back of the sprawling old farmhouse that comprised the family store. A difficult task considering Cam’s obvious reluctance to leave their spot in the side yard, which offered a good vantage point to watch the comings and goings of the customers in the parking lot in front of the store. “You know we’ll find out more through Raven.”

Cam nodded in acquiescence. If you wanted to know anything about anything, Raven Sloane was the girl for the job.
* * * *

A slight shift in the wind was her only indication of something out of the ordinary. So slight, in fact, it was near indiscernible. A whisper of air across her cheek, fanning over the skin in a manner that scarce ruffled the loose tendril resting there. Nor did it elicit a reaction from the people who milled about in front of the country store, she noticed upon casting a surreptitious glance their way. Oh, no, only she would notice something monumental had happened. Shiloh Beck. The sensitive.

Lifting a hand to her right cheek under the guise of brushing the hair from her face, Shiloh scanned the surrounding area with a critical eye. The place had its charm with the abundant woodlands as far as the eye could see in either direction, the “highway” cutting a swathe through it and running parallel to a river that snaked behind the house – er, store. Quaint. A welcoming sight with the porch wrapped around it like a warm embrace, dotted with strategically placed loveseats and rockers. Intentional? It worked.

But that wasn’t the origin of the shift. No. Neither were any of the people who lingered on the porch with tall glasses of some iced beverage, chatting. Had the shift occurred there, they wouldn’t be so casual about it. No, it was coming from somewhere else. Away from the house – store.

Her gaze zeroed in on an impressive shade tree in the right side yard as two figures disappeared around the corner of the building. She had a brief vision of two tall men in ripped jeans and tee shirts – ebony hair streaming out behind them – before they were gone completely. One of them, perhaps? Or both?

The wind settled into the packed dirt of the parking lot with the strangers’ retreat. As if in confirmation of her unspoken question. Curious. She had no further chance for contemplation as her attention was drawn back to the Hummer – ostentatious car – by the rude question from her companion, “You gonna stand there all day or what? We don’t have a lot of time before dark.”

With a roll of her eyes, Shiloh moved away from the Hummer, mumbling, “I’m going.” She shut the door on any possible reply and ambled toward the store entrance. Along the way, she looked about for the mystery men on the off chance they might make a reappearance. Who were they? she wondered as she pushed open the door which gave off a little tinkling sound from the bell attached to its top. Nice touch.

All thoughts of the mystery men flew out of her head as she paused on the threshold of the store and tried to take in the magnitude of the sight laid out before her. Nothing she’d ever seen before compared to the chaos and grandeur of the artfully displayed wares, the rainbow of colors – and the smell!

If she didn’t know better, she’d swear she’d stepped into a bakery rather than a store as the aroma of baking bread, apple pies and pumpkin muffins tickled her nose in greeting. And something else, scents she couldn’t recognize but were exotic-smelling, and flowers – roses. Oh, how she loved roses, but – where were they? She didn’t see any bouquets about. Perhaps they were deeper in the store, she decided as she took a tentative step into the wonderful room. Maybe next to that exotic smell. What was it? Some sort of incense?

She jumped as the door closed behind her with a slap and another tinkling of the bell. Her cheeks heated with embarrassment. Damn it, did she always have to act so gauche? Like she’d never been anywhere. Well, she hadn’t, but still.

Flattening a hand over her racing heart, Shiloh cast a quick look about to see if anyone had noticed her folly. Her gaze came to a rest upon the face of the most beautiful woman Shiloh had ever seen before. And yes, she was smiling. A gentle smile, almost – knowing. Not a hint of condescension anywhere on the rose-hued lips or the almost russet skin. Native American? In this part of the state? She’d always thought they were only on the coast, down on the Cape and islands. Curious.

Before she could marvel for long, the woman spoke, her voice like music on a soft breeze. “Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone has that reaction.” She held out a hand with long, delicate fingers. An artist’s hand or a pianist’s. “I’m Raven. Welcome to the Sloane Country Store.”

Making a detour around an aisle of penny candy to her right, her every movement tentative, Shiloh reached across the counter to shake the offered hand. Not a blemish marred the skin over the high cheekbones, straight nose, and gently sloping forehead. Her eyes were a brown so deep they bordered on black. And her hair! Not a kink or a curl in sight, Shiloh noted, unlike her own unruly mess – which she had to keep back in a tight braid or suffer the consequences. Unlike Miss Perfect who probably braided hers by choice to showcase its ebony sheen. She gave herself a mental kick as she released the woman’s hand. After all, it wasn’t Raven’s fault she was born beautiful, unlike others.

“And you are?” Raven prompted, disrupting the awkward silence with her musical voice.

“Oh! Shiloh, Shiloh Beck.” She paused to inhale a shaky breath – and try to bring order to her disjointed mind. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. So rude. I bet you get it all the time, huh?”

Raven flicked away the question with a wave of her hand and a puffed-out breath. “I don’t pay a lot of attention,” she said. “Besides, it’s mostly locals who come in here. Not a lot of tourists – especially ones who drive something like that.” She nodded her head toward the Hummer parked out front.

Shiloh grimaced as she followed her gaze. “Yeah, pretty out there, huh?” She turned away from it in time to catch a glimmer of something familiar in an adjoining room to her left. Familiar? How could that be? She’d never been to this place before.

“Not your style?”

“Not my choice.”

“Oh,” Raven said in a knowing manner. “Boyfriend likes the showy cars?”

“Not a boyfriend. A…friend.” Shiloh could’ve kicked herself when she noticed the flicker of interest in Raven’s eyes. Too much information. Not supposed to get too personal. Do what you came in here for and leave. But how?

“Is there something I can help you with?” Raven asked peered closer at Shiloh. “You look a little lost.”

“Um, yeah, I don‘t get out much so I don‘t do a lot of this.” She waved a hand about her in indication of shopping, which caused the woman – Raven – to raise a brow in wonder. Not good. Need to distract her away from personal information. “I have a list.” Shiloh reached into the front right pocket of her jeans and pulled out a folded square of paper. “But I’m not sure where to start looking.”

“No problem.” Raven flashed a smile before she turned her head toward the adjoining room, the same one in which Shiloh had caught sight of something oddly familiar to her, and called, “Ava! Come out here for a sec, will you?” When five feet of sheer energy and long pigtails came to a halt at the end of the counter, Raven cast Ava a tolerant look as she emitted a long-suffering sigh. “I need you to help our new friend here find some stuff in the store,” she said, her voice mirroring her expression. “Can you do it without causing too much trouble?”

The girl frowned, her irritation obvious in the way her brows met over her nose. “I don’t cause trouble.”

“Tell it to the display of kachinas I had to rescue this morning. One more encounter with you and they will be rag dolls.” Raven waved the girl forward, frowning as she swept too close to a rack of bandanas. “She has a list,” Raven said when the girl stood in front of her, separated by the counter. “Take your time and show her where things are, okay?”

Rolling her eyes, Ava announced, “I stopped being a baby when I turned twelve last month, so you can stop talking to me like one.”

“I’m not talking to you like a baby,” Raven argued. “I’m talking to you like the force of nature that wants to cut loose in my store.”

“Our store. We all own it, Mom said so.”

“Well, there won’t be much to own if you don’t tread carefully inside it. Understand?”

Ava released a sigh to go along with the roll of her eyes. Taking Shiloh by the hand, she started to lead her down a random aisle, saying, “I’m Ava, by the way. If someone wasn’t so rude” – she directed the last two words over a shoulder at her sister although she didn’t look at her – “she would’ve told you.”

Shiloh split a glance between the sisters. Were they always like this? She bit down on her lower lip to hold back her uncertainty. Bickering like enemies in front of customers! How could Ava stand it? To live in such conflict with a blood relative – unthinkable. And yet, the girl didn’t seem bothered by it. In fact, she smiled as she led Shiloh away from the counter, toward the other side of the store. Amazing.

Unable to contain her curiosity for long, Shiloh waited until they were a safe distance away from the counter before asking, “Do you always talk to each other like that?” She half-turned at the end of the aisle to cast a skittish glance back to Raven, who was, as she feared and suspected, watching them.

Ava snickered and swished the air with a hand in a dismissive gesture beyond her years, somehow. “Oh, that’s nothing. The wolf’s bark is sharper than it’s bite,” she said, her attention already focused on the list Shiloh still held.

A strange breeze fluttered by Shiloh’s cheek at the word. Wolf. The same type of breeze that had greeted her when she first stepped out of the Hummer. But her reaction to it differed; rather than a vague curiosity about its cause, this time she stood taller, alert, as it chased a chill down her spine. She cast a furtive glance about her. The chill increased; a shiver rippled down her spine despite her attempt at holding it back. And yet, the atmosphere about her was electric, charged with ions not unlike those following a lightning strike.

In a desperate attempt to control her emotions, Shiloh folded her arms over her midriff, her fists knotting up in the cottony fabric of her shirt. She scarce registered the sound of paper crinkling in her hand with the gesture as she focused her attention on the girl standing before her with an expectant, somewhat unsure, look upon her cherubic face. “D-don’t you mean dog?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

Ava favored her with an odd little smile, as if she were privy to some inside joke. “Oh, yeah. Dog.” She chuckled and once again reached for the list. “Can I see what you’ve got there?” she asked, almost as an after-thought. She pulled the list from Shiloh’s unresisting hand without waiting for a response and set about finding everything it contained.

All Shiloh could do was follow Ava about the store like a faithful puppy on an invisible leash, her mind still lost in the sensation she was being watched – and not by the beautiful woman behind the counter.
* * * *

“Don’t be so obvious. What’s wrong with you?” Micah demanded in a low voice, backhanding Cam when he leaned around the edge of the archway into the main room of the store. Again. His swat did little to curb his brother’s attempt to get a better look at the woman as she moved out of sight, so he grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and yanked him back. Hard.

“Hey! Easy on the neck, man.”

“Serves you right for acting like a virgin,” Micah said, unsympathetically. Still, he eased the pressure on Cam’s shirt, but didn’t release it. “It’s worse than when you first saw the Hummer.”

“Yeah, ’cause I can’t do it in the open ’cause you’re all hot for her.”

“I’m not hot for her.”

“Oh, no?”

“Who’s hot for who?”

At the question, spoken a little too loud for their liking under the circumstances, Micah and Cam turned to confront the intruder, their brother Grayson, the youngest of the boys at twenty-four. Although he sometimes acted older than Micah and Cam combined, which would put him at fifty-three. As Grayson started to walk into the main room, oblivious to the drama playing out there, they grabbed him and pulled him to the side of the archway where they hovered.

“Will you be quiet?” Cam ordered. “You’re gonna blow everything.”

“No one’s hot for anyone,” Micah said at the same time.

“Blow what? What’re you guys up to?” Grayson asked, glancing from one to the other in confusion.

“Nothing,” Micah insisted. “Just checking out the tourist.”

“Nothing, my butt,” Cam argued. “You should’ve seen him ogling her in the parking lot. Like mating time at the zoo.”

“Better than mating time at the car lot.”

“Hey!” Cam punched Micah in the shoulder with a little too much force to be playful.

“Can you two stop?” Grayson asked with a shake of his head. “Honestly, I wonder sometimes how you guys can be the oldest when you act like little kids.”

Their argument was cut short by a hurling bottle of whiteout, from the vicinity of the store counter. As it glanced off his shoulder and landed on the floor at his feet, Micah shot an accusing look at the pitcher, who gave him a menacing one. The urge to fight dissipated instantly, replaced by chagrin.

Damn, Raven was getting more like their mother every day, able to quell any argument with those killer glances. He’d have to work harder to circumvent them in the future. Bad enough his mother and their live-in aunt had the power to move him with a look. He’d be damned if his sister could, too.

Micah returned his attention to the stranger as she and his other sister Ava approached the counter, arms laden with a variety of goods suitable for a hiking trip. She didn’t look like a hiker, he observed, although she was wearing the proper boots for it. Boots that looked like they just came out of the box. She was a puzzle, this mystery woman. Time to get a closer look. Too bad his progress was impeded when Cam grabbed hi by the arm, pulling him back.

“Where are you going?” Cam asked. “I thought you just wanted to look at her.”

“I did. Now I want to look at her closer.”

Micah slipped into the main room and hid behind a high shelf to watch her. His brothers followed suit, but he didn’t acknowledge them. His attention was locked on the woman.

* * * *

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Shiloh fidgeted with a miniature dream catcher on a rack beside the register. Here it was; the reason for her coming in here – the real reason. She had to find the right words; she couldn’t screw this up. Jon would be so mad if she messed this up. What did he tell her? What was she supposed to say?

“Uh, yeah,” she hedged as her mind went blank. Time to improvise. “My friend and I – we were interested in hiking out here, but we, uh…”

“Need a guide” Raven provided.

“Yeah.” Shiloh smiled in relief when Raven found the words she couldn’t. What was wrong with her? It was hiking – he’d promised. So why did it feel like she was doing something wrong? Shut it off, Shiloh, she cautioned herself as her special senses kicked in. Just shut it down now. “Do you have any? Guides, I mean.”

“Can I take her?” Ava asked, bouncing in place at the prospect.

“No!” four voices answered at once as three men emerged from an aisle to Shiloh’s left, their voices blending in protest with Raven‘s.

All coherent thoughts fled Shiloh’s mind when she glanced in the direction of the other voices – and her gaze collided with that of a man who was the perfect male counterpart to Raven. The main difference between them was his extra height – he had at least a foot on her – and the raw masculinity that rippled off him like a heat wave.

Did any man have the right to be so attractive? And why did he look at her like she was the main course at a gourmet restaurant – and he hadn’t eaten in days? The thought set her back a pace, literally. She bumped into a wooden barrel filled with super balls. As she reached out to grasp it, whether to balance it or herself she wasn’t certain, her gaze followed her action, snapping the strange link between them. Well, maybe not snapping, she mentally rectified. She continued to feel his magnetic pull, this time through her heart. So more like an interruption. Who was he? And why did he have this effect on her?

Was it exclusive to her or did he have this effect on the others? A glance at their faces provided the answer. They were all staring at her. All of them. Each with varying degrees of expectancy on their faces. But of what?

Good lord, what had she walked into?

She returned her gaze to him, even as she tried to mentally shake away her awareness of him. And failed. It was a living thing, writhing in an exotic dance between them, twisting about their bodies to link them with an invisible cord. It even had a heartbeat – or was it hers, its rhythm heightened by her elevated awareness?

Oh, lord, she felt sick. She clutched her stomach as if to press the sensation back into the deepest pits of her stomach. Not now, she thought, this can’t happen now. This is the worst time ever for those senses to kick in. The absolute worst time. She didn’t want to feel – his awareness. No. She wouldn’t. Period. Oh, no…

“Well, speak of the devil!” Raven said. A little too brightly, Shiloh thought, as if attempting to ease some tension. “These are my brothers. Micah in front, Cam to the right, and Grayson on the left, but everyone calls him Gray. Nobody knows the terrain around here like they do. You couldn’t ask for a better set of guides.”

Focusing her gaze on Raven – get it together, Shy, she cautioned herself – Shiloh asked, “Will I need all three?” Damn, was that wispy voice hers? Might as well shout to the world, I’m in lust with you!

She flinched, startled, when he answered the question before his sister could. “We travel in packs here,” he said in a voice as musical as his sister’s. But where hers was akin to a low soprano, his was more like a baritone. Deep, but not overly so – enough to beat an answering rhythm in her soul like a drum. “It’s always better to travel in numbers out there. If anything happens, there’s more of us to help.”

“Oh.” She nodded her acquiescence. How could she argue, after all? She’d never gone hiking, so she didn’t know the rules. In fact, she still didn’t know what she was doing out here. She came because Jon insisted. He had yet to tell her why. She pushed away the sour sensation the thought boiled in her stomach. Jon had been acting real strange for the past four months. This was one more example of his erratic behavior. Leaving in the middle of the night, not telling anyone where they were going, not allowing her to call anyone once they were out on the road. Yeah, real strange.

“Okay with you?” he – Micah – asked, piercing her with a look that reached too deep into her soul.

No, not again. I won’t allow you to invade my senses that way. Shiloh let her eyes flutter shut for a moment. Just take a deep breath and relax. There, that’s it. Composed, she opened her eyes and forced a smile onto uncooperative lips. “Ah, yeah. Sure. That makes sense.”

“Not much of a hiker, are you?” Raven asked in a sympathetic tone, drawing Shiloh’s attention away from her brother.

“First time, actually.”

Reaching across the counter to give Shiloh’s hand a pat, Raven said, “Well, don’t you worry. My brothers’ll take good care of you. If they don’t, they’ll have to deal with me, and nobody wants that.”

With her first genuine smile since he entered the room, Shiloh murmured, “Thank you, for everything.”

“Not a problem. I packed everything for you in the backpack as I rang it up, so you don’t have to worry about it.” Even as she spoke, Raven lifted the camping backpack over the counter, surprise flickering over her face when Micah took it from her before Shiloh could. She recovered quickly, saying, “Okay, have fun. And if you don’t, you come back and tell me and I’ll take care of these bozos for you.”

Before Shiloh could do much more than smile, Micah held his hand out to her. To shake. Good Lord, did she have to touch him? You can do this, Shiloh. She surreptitiously wiped her hand on her shirt before offering it to him. She had to rethink that assertion when the touch of his palm against hers near brought her to her knees. And although she recovered quickly, her folly didn’t escape his notice; it was there, in the flicker of something in his eyes and in the extra pressure he applied to her hand despite the little blue spark that flared between them when their skin first touched. He knows.

“My sister didn’t finish the introductions,” Micah said, still clasping her hand. “You are?”

“Shiloh. Beck.”

With an odd half-smile – what was he thinking, she wondered – he released her hand after giving it a quick squeeze. “Well, then, Shiloh Beck. Shall we go?” Gesturing toward the parking lot, he said, “Your friend looks a little anxious.”

Following his gaze, Shiloh cringed before she could contain her response. “Yeah, he really wants to get going,” she muttered. “Before dark, you know?’

“Of course.”

Eager to set off herself, Shiloh whirled about and dashed out of the store, not hesitating to ascertain that the Sloane brothers followed. She didn’t care if they did or didn’t. She needed to get out of that oppressive atmosphere before it brought her to her knees.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday change - How She Does it with Margay Roberge

Being away for five days has made the schedule rather skewed. Next week I'll be back to the regular posts. Today Margay Roberge is on with How She Does It. Her chapter will be on tomorrow so there will be no blog visits on Sunday.

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

I believe you are right about that. But also that you can't have one without the other - that would lead to plot holes.

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

No, they just seem to come to me fully loaded, most times. Almost like real people - except they live in my head! Until I put them on paper, that is.

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

A lot of times, they come together - the characters bring the plot with them. I do some sketching of the plot, but the characters do dictate a lot in respect to where it goes.

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

Not always! Sometimes, I'm just as surprised as the reader as to how it will end. Other times, I have an idea of how it will end, and on some occasions, I totally rewrite the end.

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

A combination of the two, although I do use my home state as setting in most books.

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

These days, a lot of it is done online, but I do still hit up the library on occasion.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

Sometimes I do some revisions along the way if I backtrack to go over the previous day's writing to get back in the flow. Usually, though, I try to keep the main revisions for the second draft because I'd never get off the first page if I didn't.

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

I believe you are right about that. But also that you can't have one without the other - that would lead to plot holes.

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

No, they just seem to come to me fully loaded, most times. Almost like real people - except they live in my head! Until I put them on paper, that is.

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

A lot of times, they come together - the characters bring the plot with them. I do some sketching of the plot, but the characters do dictate a lot in respect to where it goes.

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

Not always! Sometimes, I'm just as surprised as the reader as to how it will end. Other times, I have an idea of how it will end, and on some occasions, I totally rewrite the end.

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

A combination of the two, although I do use my home state as setting in most books.

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

These days, a lot of it is done online, but I do still hit up the library on occasion.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

Sometimes I do some revisions along the way if I backtrack to go over the previous day's writing to get back in the flow. Usually, though, I try to keep the main revisions for the second draft because I'd never get off the first page if I didn't.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Weekend blog guest hasn't arrived - So it's my take today

A guest doesn't show up. This happens and there's not much one can do athe event or in this case the non-event. What I must remember is to remind these people a week or more ahead. I;m not sure where I found this guest. When I'm looking for Friday and Daturday guests, I mention this on different lists. I've forgotten interviews so from now on, as soon as i receive the invitation, I'll do the questions and send them right away. Of course this would be better if I could find where these things are stored in the computer. That would be a plus. Sometimes I feel completely inept especially since this is a relatively new computer and it has secrets.

Do your computers have secrets and hide things where you can't find them? Mine does.

My latest release is Code Blue and is a medical suspense. I love the villain in this story. Sometimes he seems normal, sometimes crazy but he has motives and goals, not really the ones we would think of as proper but he nearly achieves all of them. I like the heroine. She wants to be independent, in fact, she's obsessed with the need to maintain her independence. Her dead husband was a controller and she doesn't want that to happen again. The hero worries about hr but he finally learns she will be independent.

The story I'm currently crafting has a heroine who has been on her own for thirty years, raised a son, had two careers and is marrying a man who has been her friend through her life's journey. She also is independent and she certainly controls her own life, sometimes making my critique partners crazy. She isn't a romantic. Fifteen years ago, the man she has now married didn't fight for their love but allowed his teenage daughter to prevent a marriage then. Though friends, Kate will maintain her independence. She also isn't one for sappy romantic things. She loves Lars and tells him but she will go her own way. He understands and accepts.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Books and thoughts -- Lee Killough and Vampires

Decided to take a break from giving away my books and to talk about the books of others. I don't do reviews but I can talk about books I have enjoyed recently since loading them into my Kindle. This time it's about Lee Killough and Vampires. Though I have all of her other books available for the Kindle on mine I've decided to talk about these today. Years ago, I read The Monitor, The Miners and The Shree. A detective story that after all these years I still remember the title and the story.

First, you must be aware of this face. I do not like Vampires. I once did a blog on this. Vampires are cold and clammy creatures. I'll admit to a few who have captured my attention. Some of them are villains but a few are heroes. It's more to their inner nature that I find some of these heroes and villans to be of interest. I am a re-reader and will be re-reading these books again. That's how much I like them.

Blood Games and Blood Hunt are the titles of the books. Just two and I found myself wishing there were more. I like mysteries and I like paranormal. Lee Kellough has managed to combine the two in the stories of Garreth Mikaelian. He is a police detective who is turned into a vampire. What I really liked was that his nature didn't change. He is into catching the bad guys and punishing them. Sometimes according to the law and sometimes because the bad guy or gal is a vampire. I found the world created for the hero to live in fascinating and logical for who and what he was. He has ties to his family that he maintains. I found that a plus. I'm not reviewing the books. That's not what I do but if I was rating these two stories I'd give them 5 out of five. The writing is crisp and everything flowed together and I was pulled from page to page. So whether you like vampires or not, try these books and you'll find a hero to admire and to sympathize with as he struggles to merge his old and his new lives. Sure wish there were more. I hated to reach those words. The End.

Good job, Lee. Enjoyed your other books as well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday - Catching up

The winner of an autographed copy of All Our Yesterdays is Teri Brice. An email has been sent to her.

Been away but the posts I put up were posted and that's a plus. Doing both Monday's and Tuesday's posts today. The Micro-manager's Murder is going well and I'm almost sure it will be done sometime in June. That's a great feeling since I really want to start the new series. The Guild House is the title for the series and hopefully I'll have 12 stories to follow the first one. That may be ambitious with all the other things I have planned to write but shoot for the stars and if you land on the fence post you'll at least have tried. Used my promotional pens twice to hopefully sell books to two receptive women that I met. One while having granddaughter's first communion gift engraved and the other while waiting at the Hertz counter for my car so I could attend grandson's high school graduation. Carry the pens everywhere I go.

This week I'll be plunging forward with the M-m M. Having fun with the book since Katherine has just been married and is trying to compromise her independence with her new husband. Their long friendship will help since they both know each other so well.

Tuesday is alwasy inspiration. This inspiration goes to second grandson who is nagging me as to when the last book of my YA series will be published. He loaned the others to his history teacher and she is waiting for the final book. Sure wish I could get a speaking engagement out of that in West Palm Beach since that would allow me to see the children. The feeling one gets when someone loves their book enough to nag about the final in a series is wonderful. Also was inspired by a review on Amazon about Code Blue that really soared.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

3 Blog Visit Sunday

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prologue to Code Blue

Chapter 1
He crouched in the cemetery that embraced three sides of the hillside parking lot across from Bradley Memorial Hospital. A massive family marker shielded him from view, yet allowed him a clear view of the steps, the street and the door of the Emergency Room. Dark clouds slid across the surface of the moon. Lights, set high on poles around the perimeter of the lot sent finger shadows groping among the cars.
The watcher straightened and edged from behind the granite marker. White puffs of vapor from the shallow, rapid breaths he took coalesced around his face. He held his body as rigid as a tombstone. As he waited for the evening nurses to end their tour of duty and hurry across the street to their cars, his narrowed eyes focused on the brightly-lit hospital entrance. Every night for a week, he had watched while excitement and anticipation had circled like a swarm of hornets. Would she come tonight?
"I'll never leave you." When he was eight, Mommy had said the words that had become his litany. That broken promise had brought him here.
He stared at the steps. When would Susan come?
When Mommy was a patient, Susan had been her favorite nurse. He had liked Susan, too, but she hadn't stopped those other people from hurting Mommy. His shoulders tensed.
"I'll never leave you. They'll have to kill me first."
The night Mommy had died was etched into his memories. On that dreadful night, he had begun his plan to make them pay.
Mommy would be unhappy about what he meant to do. To her, nurses were special and Susan more wonderful than the rest.
He rocked from his heels to his toes. The last time he had disobeyed, Mommy had threatened to tell everyone how bad he was. He had promised her he would be good. His hands curled into fists. Sometimes he wanted to feel the heat of accomplishment so much he felt sick.
He gulped a breath. Tonight the heat would blossom and he would feel powerful again.
Susan was like Mommy. She would tell. He chewed on his lower lip. Her death would free him to still the people who had hurt Mommy on that dreadful night.
His smile became a grimace.
He had trusted Susan but she had failed to keep Mommy safe. Though he wished to see the others dead, Susan had to be first. He had laid his plans carefully, and while he had considered all the things that could go wrong, days had become weeks and then months.
The bright lights across the street caught his attention and stirred his hopes. She had to come tonight. He wanted to be free.
His hand brushed Mommy's tombstone. He pressed his fingers against the engraved letters of her name. He cocked his head and listened to the whisper of the wind.
"Nurses give so much to others. Someone should take care of them."
Mommy's husky voice thrummed in a corner of his mind. Her face appeared. Tears spilled from her eyes. He shook his head. Why should he listen to her when she had left him?
Sometimes at night when he slept in her bed, he caught a glimmer of her presence. For fleeting moments, the scent of her perfume brought her to him.
He squared his shoulders. Since he was eight and Daddy died, Mommy had watched him carefully. One day, her vigilance had wavered. The neighborhood bully had fallen from a tree and broken his neck. That awful boy shouldn't have torn up Mommy's flower garden.
Mommy had liked the candy and the other presents he had given her every time he disobeyed. He groaned. Who would like his presents now?
Where was Susan? Waiting made him anxious. She had to come so she would be just like Mommy.
He saw her. Hazel eyes, sad eyes, Susan's eyes, Mommy's eyes. Brown hair swirled to hide her siren smile. He reached for her, but she vanished into the darkness of the night.
The chill November wind flowed across his nape. He jammed his hands into the pockets of his black leather jacket and touched the weapon he had brought.
The sound of leather scuffling against asphalt caused him to turn and scan the parking lot. When he saw no one, his gaze returned to the hospital entrance.
Someone dashed across the street. A flash of white showed beneath the woman's dark coat. He held his breath. Susan had come. It had to be her. A rush of anticipation built to a peak. She was here. The nurse ran up the steps beside the cemetery.
A darting shadow startled him. With stealthy movements, a dark-clad figure edged between the cars. The nurse paused beside a battered tan sedan. A hand stretched to grasp the purse that dangled from her shoulder.
"Susan, watch out." A bellow proclaimed his rage. If she was attacked, he should be the attacker.
Mommy wouldn't like that. "A good boy never hurts a woman." She had never guessed what he had done, not even when he had given her the tri-colored bracelet she had always worn.
"No," he shouted.
The dark figure fled and nearly tripped over the single strand of chain that separated the parking lot from the cemetery.
The watcher smiled. Mommy would be proud of him. He couldn't wait to go home and tell her what he had done tonight.
A shrill scream rose. From her? From him? He bit his lower lip and clenched his hands. He stared at the woman he had thought was Susan. She wasn't, but she had been in Mommy's room the night she died. Intent on completing what the mugger had begun, he stepped toward the chain. What was he thinking about? He couldn't, not tonight. Susan had to be the first. He returned to Mommy's grave. Her voice rode on the wind.
"What will become of you when I'm not here to look after you? I'll never leave you. They'll have to kill me first."
But she was dead and they had killed her.
"Mommy, don't leave me. You promised you would never go."
The nurse ran to the steps. She shouted and waved to the group of women who hurried across the street. He slid deeper into the shadows. Car doors slammed. Engines roared. He waited until most of the cars had left the parking lot before he went to his own. As he drove home, he wondered why Susan hadn't come.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How She Does It - Self

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

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process? Creating characters for me is fun. I usually have an idea of the story and what kind of character I need. This means for the hero and heroine ones with specific Sim Signs, Moon and Rising Sign. Once i have their characteristics I look for a name. Finding the right name can take hours. Then using a general idea of where the story is heading, I put the characters into action.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end? The idea and the general plot come first. I usually have a general roadmap of the story before the characters are drawn. This doesn't mean the genral plot line doesn't change as I move the characters along the road to their goals.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one? The ending I find is more of a genral one with perhaps a touch of the specific. Often this is the place where it will end. When writing a story with three heroes, three heroes and three villains, the plain where the final confrontation took place was known when I began the book. I could see the chain of mountains behind the plateau.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around? Many of my settings are totally made up but I do have books that show and tell me about forests, deserts, oceans so I can find specifics. I also go searching on the internet for specifics.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books? Research can be from books or on line. Depends on what I'm looking for since I have a lot of books gathered over the years, some general and some specific.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? I'm essentially a draft writer. As I move my characters through their journey there are changes but I don't know if the changes are vital until I reach the end. I also use drafts to flesh out things like setting and to define character and to locate the holes in the plot.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How The Story Began - All Our Yesterdays

An autographed copy of All Our Yesterdays will be given to one person giving me a way to reach them. The drawing won't be until Tuesday since I will be away from the computer for the next few days.

Contrary to what people believe, All Our Yesterdays is a reincarnation novel, not a time travel. THis story actually began as a serial. But before that I had this fascination with Egypt and I began to read books about the ancient culture. I have a lot of books about ancient Egypt on my shelves. I came across a time during the invasion of the Hyksos when the land was in termoil and hit upon a name that fastinated me. Not sure why. The man was a commander of the army with ambitions. Not sure what happened to him but his character started to form. Another thing I read was that the daughter of the Pharaoh and marriage to her was required for the next one in line to become the ruler. The what if went off in my head and the heroine was born, Since I wanted to write a spicy serial, there had to be a contemporary part and some way for the heroine ot remember the past life. Thinking about this took time until I decided an antique store would be a good place.

This decision brought me to what happened next. In a reincarnation story, I believe the main characters must be there, perhaps in different persons, so I had to decide which characters should be present. Thus the hero and heroine must be there. Then I gave the heroine a father figure who loved her, a best friend. Now the time to cast the villain. What evolved were two, a woman and a man, each with a different way to challenge the hero and the heroine. The villainess was always opposed to the heroine but the villain often posed as the hero's friend. Stitting this all together gave me the basic plot for the story. Then I had to decide what time periods to choose.

Egypt was easy. For Babylon, I chose a time of chaos and followed this through with each of the other lands chosen to explore. The journey was long before I reached the end. In fact, I had written a version with the modern era different from what it ended up that went nowhere. This I discovered hand-written in a note book and realized the historical areas were great but the modern story lacked fire. Thus the change.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's TIP - A look at Style

Just exactly what is style. In part it's the writer's voice and the writer's voice can vary. There are certain writers who can be recognized immediately even if one picked up a copy of their book without the author's name on the cover page. What exactly do we see when we look at this to discern the particular writer's style. One thing I see is the subject they choose to form part of their story. But there is much more to the matter of style.

Some writers choose long and flowing sentences filled with adjectives and clauses and phrases. Sometimes these are clear but at other times the length of the sentence brings a problem to the reader. The sentence flows so well thet the reader forgets what the sentence is supposed to mean in the body of the work. Another writer cau choose short clipped sentences. This can also cause a problem for the reader. The pacing is so fast the reader is pulled forward so quickly they lose the sense of the story. Varying the length of the sentences is a good way to engage the reader.

Word choice is another part of a writer's style. A writer could set out to impress the reader with the use of obscure words that cause the reader to stop reading and pick up a dictionary to see the meaning of the words. Other writers can choose to use common words and never stray into the venue of ubknown words. And of course with English as the chosen language some words have multiple meanings. I've just finished a sentence using wound which could be an injury or could be gathering something into a ball. The meaning is a matter of the pronounciation and if the pronounciation isn't made clear in the words surrounding the word the reader will be puzzled. There's nothing wrong with using an unfamiliar word if the words around it give a picture of what the word means. In fact, I think readers like using and learning new words. My granddaughter loves finding new words that mean the same as other words. She's now nine and words have a fascination for her. But if she discovered a new word and there was no explanation of the word she would skip it and really not care.

Common words can be used in unfamiliar and unique words. I once wrote a sentence using swallowed in a way one of my criique partners objected to. I can't really remember exactly what I wrot but it was about swallowing an inde so it would digest.

So style is individual and also unique. Sentence length, choice of subject and the use of words. What you want to do is write the best sentences you can evolve and pray the reader understands and isn't lost in the flow of what you've written.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - What inspired you

Many years ago, I plunged into the writing game. Short stories and poetry were my intentions and I had some thoughts about writing a novel but I wasn't sure I could write long enough and so these thoughts were pushed aside. I'd like to say I was inspired to write novels because my short stories won awards or my poems were sought by publishers. Actually I managed to sell a few poems and all the short stories I had written. The problem was two fold. The market for short stories dried up. I sold two short stories and received nice money for two of the stories but in that case, two magazines shut shop before the stories were published. And sending poems out wasn't cost effective. Usually cost more to mail them out that I ever received in monetray gain. So what inspired me to write novels.

I wrote a short story that I really liked, one with a quirky heroine who had been a nurse and a church organist. I sent it off to an editor who had published a number of my stories. The response was this was a great story but seemed like the synopsis for a novel. I wasn't sure what she meant so I set out to discover. I took that story and put it aside. I began looking to see what kind of novels were selling and I had a sister-in-law who read what was popular at the time "sweet" nurse romance stories. She gave me a bag of them and I began to read. I don't remember any of the suthors' names or the titles of the stories but I readan entire shopping bag of them. Most of them had me wanting to toss the books against the wall. Wasn't worried about the happily ever after ending but I was about the little knowledge of nursing the writers had. That's when a novel writer was born. I decided I could write one that would have the medical facts correct and what nurses were able to do and not do. That's when that part of my career began and writing "sweet" nurse doctor romances was the beginning.

What about the short story. I was moving and during the packing found the manuscript and the letter from the editor. So I began to discover how to write mysteries. Again, I read volumes of mystery stories before I began to write the mystery series. Then because I love fantasies I began to read volumes there.

So what really inspired me to write. A letter of rejection, novels by people who had no idea what a nurse was and my love of mysteries and fantasy. It all comes back to a love of reading. Most writers are readers, too. What about you? What inspired you to write? Let me know, I would like to know.

Monday, May 14, 2012

14 May - Week Behind and week ahead

First Caroline is the winner of the authgraphed copy of The Dragons of Fyre. An email has been sent to her.

Last week saw a number of things. Code Blue was released. Formerly known as Obsessions. The new cover is dramatic. I saw the new cover fro Choices, once called Come Into The Light. Finished formatting Flight, now known as Escape and talked about covers for the story. I think we have a cover idea now. Busy working on The Micro-manager murder and am now nearly 5/7th of the way through. Also proposed a potential book signing to our local chapter. Will see what responses I receive. I know I will go even if alone.

This week must finish configuring Confrontations for BWL. Need to have that done before I leave for grandson's high school graduation on Friday. The blog will probably suffer during that time since I have never figured how to get things to post which means Friday through Tuesday will be blank though I will be able to put up something on Tuesday. Hate to be so computer challenged.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

3 Blog visit Sunday

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday's chapter - Dream Weaver Shirley Martin

Southwestern Pennsylvania

Gwen Emrys maneuvered her turquoise Saturn through the heavy early morning traffic, headed for her teaching job at a local high school. She drove with her window down, grateful for the light spring breeze that bathed her face and kept her alert. Groggy after another night of troubling dreams, she pressed her hand to her aching head, trying to concentrate on her driving. She wondered why these senseless dreams plagued her sleep, night after night.
A sudden wave of dizziness rattled her. Goose bumps raced along her arms and legs. Without warning, the asphalt road disappeared, and a narrow dirt path through a dense forest replaced it.. Hemmed in on both sides by thick clusters of maples and oaks, the car hugged the road. Fighting for breath, Gwen clenched her hands on the steering wheel. Ahead of her, at the end of the path, loomed a desolate cabin.

From nowhere, fiery arrows rained down on the cabin. Flames leaped from the outside walls, soon engulfing the log house.

Gwen slammed her foot on the brake.

On the edge of her consciousness, she heard a honk, honk, honk, like a loud blaring of horns. Or geese?

She gasped.

Frantic honking jerked her back to reality.

"Hey, lady, where'd you get your license--Walmart's?" His window down, the driver shook his fist at her. "You trying to have an accident?"

Heart pounding, Gwen gazed around her.

She eased into the outside lane, then parked her car near a gas station, waiting for her frantic heartbeat to subside. Her head throbbed, one of her headaches coming on.

Every detail of her dreams returned to haunt her--a lone cabin in the woods and a young man dressed like a colonist.
Other images disturbed her sleep every night, visions of a vast fort and wounded soldiers lying across a battlefield.
She saw destruction...and death.

Chapter One

"What's the matter, Gwen? A headache?"

Gwen dropped her hand from her forehead, aware she needed to perk up before classes began. "I keep thinking about these crazy dreams I have night after night." In the teachers' lounge of the local high school, she tried to relax with a colleague, making the most of the few spare minutes before she headed for her classroom. "Do you ever have recurring dreams?"

"Sure, don't we all. So what are yours?"

Gwen shifted in her chair. "Promise you won't laugh. But I often dream about a lonely cabin in the woods. There's a man--"

"The man of your dreams!"

"Well, he's certainly in just about every one," Gwen said, smiling. "But wait 'til you hear this," she said, reaching for her purse on a nearby table. Digging through her cellphone, compact, lipstick, keys, and all her other paraphernalia, she found what she was looking for. "You know how I enjoy history--well, I teach it--so I sent away for this pamphlet of a restored village several miles east of here. The pamphlet was advertised in a magazine." She handed her the booklet across the table. "Sarah, look at the house on page two. It looks just like the one in my dreams, as crazy as that sounds. I'll tell you something--nothing's going to stop me from visiting the village this Saturday. It's all I've been able to think about. Who knows? Maybe it is the same house."

"You really think so? Well, stranger things have happened."

After Sarah glanced at the pamphlet and handed it back, Gwen returned it to her purse. "So if you don't see me next Monday," she said, "you'll know the man of my dreams swept me off my feet."

* * *

This is it. Recently arrived at the restored village, Gwen drew a deep breath, her befuddled brain confusing dreams and reality. She stared at a log cabin, one of many quaint buildings in this tourist attraction near her hometown. Was this the same cabin that had haunted her for months? Every beat of her heart, every breath, every instinct, told her so.

Gwen carried a page from another pamphlet in her pocket, one that showed a diagram of Fort Pitt. Aware now that her visions lent an urgency to glean as much historical information as possible about this area, she intended to drive to the Fort Pitt Museum, a few miles to the west, after she finished here.
She saw a spreading oak tree a few yards away, and an eerie feeling overtook her. Curious despite her foreboding, she headed in that direction across the dry grass, her steps hesitant. Reaching the tree, she saw the initials CN carved into the bark. She traced the initials with her finger, and visions flooded her mind.

Her face turned hot, then cold. Tremors shook her body. She ran sweaty palms down her long rayon skirt, wondering if her mind was playing tricks.
Chills raced across her arms and legs. Wave after wave of dizziness washed over her. She slipped her bag from her shoulder and dropped it on the ground, happy to be relieved of that encumbrance.

Tingling erupted over every part of her body. Her dizziness swept over her in gigantic waves. A buzzing sounded in her ears. The ground tilted crazily. An uncontrollable force was dragging her down, down, down, and she couldn't fight it.

She sank into total darkness.

* * *

Gradually returned to consciousness, Gwen considered her dilemma...and gasped. A glance around revealed nothing but wilderness and the cabin in a clearing. Where was the village? What about her purse, with her car keys and wallet?

She gazed around, unsure what to do, where to go for help. Struggling to her feet, she brushed off her skirt, then cautiously approached the house. She peered through the open window, standing to the side so no one would see her while she visually cased the place. A girl couldn't be too careful these days.
A man sitting at a long wooden table read a book, his brow creased in concentration as he turned the pages. The very same man, only this time he was real! What was happening to her? Was she losing her mind?

She guessed he was in his late twenties but couldn't imagine where he'd come from. And why was he dressed in such an old style, with his long white shirt and dark tan pants? Like in her dreams.

By the bright sunlight through the open window, she studied the man's features. The light glinted on his dark, wavy hair, making it appear deep brown one moment, and the next, jet black. He wore his hair long, tied in back. A straight nose, high cheekbones, and a square jaw with a cleft in his chin reminded her of Sir Lawrence Olivier, an English actor she'd seen in a late-night movie on TV.

The man scraped his chair back and stood, heading for a bookcase to return the book, slipping it between several other volumes. At least six feet tall, he was well-built, his muscular thighs encased by leggings that disappeared inside calf-high leather boots. Exuding strength and energy, he reminded Gwen of a tiger. Sleek. Powerful. Sinewy. She wondered how a man who appeared so strong and well-muscled could move with such easy masculine grace.

Gathering her courage, she walked to the open front door, her sandaled feet padding along the rough wooden planks. She needed help. After knocking on the door frame, she waited.

* * *

His medical rounds completed, his fields neglected this one day, Christian sat at his table to study the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, reading an account of smallpox inoculation. He tapped his fingers on the table, his mind on his dream of inoculating the settlers against this dread disease. Just think of his own family...

He gazed off into space, his thoughts going beyond smallpox prevention. If he could be the best doctor in western Pennsylvania, if he could minister to all those who needed medical help, then he could put the past behind him and know he was accomplishing something worthwhile in life.

Suppressing painful memories of his family's deaths, he returned to his reading. After underlining several sentences, he closed the pamphlet and scraped his chair back to return it to his bookcase, tucking it between other medical publications.

"May I come in?"

Christian spun around. What in God's name? Who was this woman who stood at his doorstep, shifting from one foot to the other? Speechless, he stared at her. Why, just look at her gown--surely the most shocking attire he'd ever seen. Long and silky, it skimmed her ankles and clung to every curve of her body, making it obvious she wore no petticoat beneath. And her hair! Flowing, tawny tresses hung wantonly down her back, with not even a cap on her head.

What ailed the lady?

"Sir?" she murmured.

He found his voice, uttering the only question that came to mind. "Madam, are you in need of assistance?"

The young lady stepped across the threshold, hugging her arms. "I...uh, looks like I'm lost."

"Where did you come from?"

"May I come in?" she repeated. At his answering nod, she slowly approached him, a look of bewilderment on her face. “I...uh, I’ll tell you about it in a few minutes, as soon as I get my bearings." She clenched her hands at her sides, her gaze covering the common room.

Who in the world was she? A hundred questions collided in his head while he studied this extraordinary woman making her hesitant way across the floor.
He stared at her long brown hair, tresses that glowed golden by the firelight. She was pretty, aye, but where had she found such odd apparel?
He tried to act nonchalant, as if there was nothing unusual about her visit. Why, yes, strange ladies like this one appeared at his doorstep every day.
"Won't you sit down, madam," he said, holding a chair for her. Her scent, sweet as the forest flowers with a hint of spice, drifted his way and aroused his senses, emotions he'd stifled far too long.

"Now, pray explain how you came to be lost." He folded his arms across his chest. "And I don't believe you spoke your name."

She cleared her throat, an uneasy look in her eyes. "Gwendolyn Emrys," she said in a voice slightly above a whisper. "My friends call me Gwen."

He made a slight bow. "Christian Norgard, at your service."

Though she spoke with an unusual accent, he found her voice pleasing, low and soft with a trace of huskiness. His glance ran over her, from the crown of her lustrous hair, to a well-rounded bosom that thrust against her silky bodice.

Her gaze covered the room. "I've never seen a house like this least, not while I was awake," she said under her breath.

What? Christian drew up a chair across from her and sat down, leaning forward on the table. "Are you from Philadelphia, madam? Frankly, I don't understand how you came to be lost. You're not from around these parts, that much I know."

"Not from Philadelphia...but I..." She opened her mouth, then shut it again, giving another perplexed glance around the cabin. "Your wife--"

"No wife. I live alone." Nor was he ready to marry. His profession gave him but little time for courting the ladies. Despite his shock, he remembered his manners. "May I offer you tea, Miss Emrys?" Where was this lady's family or husband? And when would she explain how she had gone astray? In his medical practice, Christian had learned patience long ago. He knew better than to rush her, assuming she'd explain her dilemma betimes.
She threw him a hopeful look. "How about a Coke?"

Christian blinked his eyes. "I beg your pardon?"

"Never mind, tea sounds good." She fidgeted in her chair, speaking in a strained voice. "Looks as if I've interrupted your meal."

He made a negligent gesture and rose to take two earthenware mugs from the mantel, then set them on the table. "I'm happy to share with you." He lifted an iron kettle from the fireplace and poured the steaming brew.

"Bohea tea." He eased the mug toward her. "'Twill help you feel better, I doubt not." He reclaimed his chair and gave her a thoughtful look, still wondering where she hailed from. After slicing the loaf of bread with his barlow knife, he placed a piece on the pewter plate.

"Injun bread, madam? 'Tis very good, made from rye and corn meal."

She reached for the tea. "No thanks, I'm not hungry." Her hand shook, the tea spilling down the side. She set the mug on the table with a soft thud. "You want to know where I'm from."

"An understatement, Miss Emrys." Aware of his tense muscles, he stretched his legs out under the table. He raised the mug to his mouth and took a cautious sip of the piping hot brew.

"I--I don't know how to explain. I don't even understand how I came to be here." She pressed her hand to her head, her face pinched with anguish. "I honestly don't know!"

Christian raised his eyebrows and sipped his tea, more confused than before. Memory loss. In the early days of his practice, he'd known a woman with this very problem. Might this young lady be suffering from such an affliction? Poor lady! If only he could help her.

"Madam, have you had a bad fall recently?"

"As a matter of fact, no." The lady twisted her fingers together. "You'll never believe me, but I want to tell you...” She paused, her glance shifting to the stone fireplace, then back to him. "I want to tell you..."

"And I'm eager to hear. Enlighten me, pray." He drummed his fingers on the table a few times, then stopped, reminding himself he must project a calm demeanor for the woman's sake, if not for his own. A dying ember in the fireplace hissed and sparked, sounding like thunder in the quiet of the room. He toyed with his pewter mug and gave her a long, level look, determined not to let her seductive charms distract him. "You were saying, madam?"

"Well, I..." She ran a hand through her thick mass of hair. "It's no use. You'll never believe me."

"You already said that, Miss Emrys."

"Yes, well..." The young lady looked down at her hands, then raised troubled eyes to his. "I...I was visiting a restored village and--"

"Pardon me, madam, the nearest village is Fort Pitt, miles to the west."

"Well, I was at a restored village, and somehow," she said in a shaky voice, "somehow I ended up here, in the middle of a forest." She leaned forward, her hands resting on the table. Such pretty, well-groomed hands she had, the fingers slender, her skin smooth. This lady was definitely not a servant.

"Just tell me one thing," she said. "What's today's date?"

"The date is the third of May, Miss Emrys."

"And the year?" she asked with a wary look.

"The year? Madam, this is 1762." Why didn't she know that?

"Seventeen sixty-two?" She jerked in her chair, a fearful look on her face. "Oh, no, it can't be," she whispered.

Christian strove for patience, increasingly convinced the lady had maggots in her head. "Nor am I jesting. I assure you it is 1762."

"Uh, uh. Don't expect me to believe that." She spoke with bravado, but her face held a look of doubt.

"'Tis true, madam." He looked into her eyes, unable to discern if they were blue or green in the shifting light, but clearly the prettiest he'd ever seen. Disregarding her charms, he persisted. "Pray tell me your purpose for being in these parts, since it's obvious you don't belong here." She must be a lunatic, Christian thought as he wondered how she'd escaped her keepers. More than anything, he wanted to help her, but oftimes this malady defied a cure.

"You've got that right! I don't belong here!" She took a deep breath. "And I don't know why I'm here, Mr. Norgard. Like I said, I was with a group of tourists, visiting a restored village, and--"

"Miss Emrys, you are speaking nonsense."

"I'm speaking the truth, damn it!"

"Madam, please!" Despite her unladylike language, Christian struggled against an attraction for this strange woman who'd appeared out of nowhere. 'Struth, she was lovely, but he needed all his faculties to deal with her. What an odd manner of speech she employed, like nothing he'd ever heard. No matter, he liked the fresh, clean look of her pretty face, with its dusting of freckles on her nose and cheeks, her flashing her eyes, as if he should dare question her.

"Tell me something," he said. "How did you arrive at my doorstep?"

"I told you, I was at a restored village in the year two-thousand and three--"

"Two-thousand and three!"

"Right! The twenty-first century."

His eyes raked her with cool appraisal. "Don't play me for a fool. You appear at my house in strange circumstances, certainly. You give me some outlandish story about a restored village--whatever that means--in 2003. And you expect me to believe your tale?"

"I don't care what you believe. I'm telling the truth!" She reached into her pocket and drew out a handkerchief. A paper fell to the floor.

Christian bent to retrieve the paper, stunned to see it revealed a diagram of Fort Pitt, every angle, every bastion of the six-sided fort. My God, now it all made sense! On his most recent trip to the fort, he'd heard talk of a spy, someone passing information to the French. Several important papers were missing from the commandant's desk.

He slapped the paper on the table. "How did you come by this diagram of Fort Pitt?"

She fluttered her fingers. "Oh, that! I was reading about the fort, and I intended to visit the place, if I can ever find my way out of this forest."

"Madam, you are either a skilled liar or--"

"I'm not lying!"

"--or you have a fanciful imagination."

"Wrong on both counts." She blew out a long breath. "Listen--I was visiting a restored village, and since I had an interest in the fort, also, I wanted to go there and study it, too." She reached for the diagram and returned it to her pocket. "So you see--a perfectly innocent explanation. I don't know why you don't believe me."

"Because what you say defies logic." He sighed. "We shall dismiss the question for now."

"Good idea."

"For now," he repeated. "Those are the operative words." She must be the spy, he fretted, wanting to deny the truth that stared him in the face. Could a lovely lady such as she betray her country? he wondered, willing to give her the benefit of the doubt but finding scant reason to believe her. If found guilty of treason, she would suffer a horrible fate. A vision of her writhing at the stake sent chills over his body, and he shook inwardly, as if he could feel the flames.

The lady rose from her chair to pace the floor, arms folded across her chest as she threw puzzled looks about the room. With her gaze on him, she tapped her fingers on her arms, then stared at the fireplace, her eyes drifting upward to study the dried vegetables that hung from the ceiling. She glanced his way again, looking more bewildered than ever.

Christian observed her shapely figure, too well aware there were limits to how much self-imposed loneliness a man could bear.

Several silent moments passed, then she smiled, a slow, satisfied smile, like a fox who's just discovered the hen house. "Would you mind if I stay here?"


"Just for tonight?" she asked, her gaze straying to the stairs that led to the loft.

"You can't be serious, madam. I am a bachelor. Surely you can see such an arrangement would be unacceptable." His mind raced; he must end this stalemate. He came to a decision, one he hoped would prove satisfactory for everyone. "I know a family you can stay with--the Chamberlains, a few miles from here."

She ran her hands down her hips, apprehension seeping into her voice. "No, I can't risk leaving this area. I need to stay here, Mr. Norgard," she said, rapping her knuckles on the table, "even if I sleep on the floor."

"Although the notion is not without its appeal, I cannot allow it." A lady wouldn't dream of such a thing. "Far better for you to stay with my friends. Best we start soon. 'Twill take a while to reach their house. And we can discuss your, uh, disorientation along the way. I'll do whatever I can to help you. As a doctor--"
Her jaw dropped. "You're a doctor?"
"Aye, and--"
"Look, Mr., uh, Dr. Norgard, I have to stay right here. Don't you see? That way, I'll be in the exact place I was before I...uh, ended up in your cabin."
"Your suggestion is scandalous, Miss Emrys. Only think of your reputation." Could she be one of the many doxies who plied their wares at Fort Pitt? Might she, indeed, be the traitor? His stomach roiled with anxiety as he sought to deny his suspicions.
She placed her hands on her hips, a look of challenge in her eyes. "Like I said, just for this one night."
"Miss Emrys, no properly reared young lady would even suggest such a thing. Besides, people oftimes visit me unexpectedly. You must stay elsewhere."
"Uh, uh. I'm not moving from this area, I'll tell you that right now. If you want me out of your house, I'll stay outside."
Christian spoke with patience, more convinced with each minute that this lady was the world's most imaginative liar. Logic ruled his mind, always had. And now, she insisted she came from the future. Had her wits gone wanting? More likely, she had devised this weird tale to mask her real reason for her presence in this area--espionage.
"Miss Emrys, I do see you need assistance, and I want to help you. 'Tis why I suggested you stay with my friends, at least for this night. Certainly, 'twould be better than sleeping outside, which I wouldn't permit. You'd surely catch a chill." Besides, if anyone could handle this lady, it was Daniel Chamberlain, a most capable fellow. "The best answer, I believe, is for you to lodge with another family."
"You don't understand! I have to get back home. And I don't need your permission to sleep outside," she cried, turning and rushing for the door.
"Just you wait!" With quick strides, Christian blocked the doorway, speaking slowly and distinctly. "Miss Emrys, I already said I want to help you. Now, pray permit me to take you to my friends. I assure you, I won't be far away."
She glared at him. What was going through her mind? Mayhap devising some scheme to obstruct him? Madam, don't even try it. God, he prayed, please don't let this woman be a traitor to her country.
Excitement warred with Christian's sense of reason as he looked into her eyes, such vibrant eyes that now appeared blue by the light streaming through the open door. Up close, her scent tantalized him, and he had to control himself not to draw her even closer. How easy it would be to lose himself in those expressive eyes, to forget his responsibility in the alluring curves of her body, to let her soft voice and provocative smile sway him from his course. What kind of a doctor would he be, if he could not even remember his professional duty when confronted with the tempting charms of this lovely woman?
He must think clearly. "Can I trust you to wait here whilst I fetch my horse and--"
"No! If you'd rather, just give me a blanket, and I can sleep on the floor." She nodded toward the open door. "Or I can go outside, as long as I'm next to your cabin. But please, don't make me leave your place."
"But you can't--"
Aware she was fast losing control, he fought for composure. "Very well, I don't want to argue anymore. You may use my bed, and I'll sleep on the floor." He pointed his finger at her. "But tomorrow, we leave for the Chamberlains."
A slow smile spread across her face. "Thanks a lot, Dr. Norgard, but I can sleep on the floor. You don't have to--"
"Miss Emrys, pray don't try my patience."

* * *

Unable to see a thing in the black loft, Gwen shivered from the frosty night air, trying to convince herself she'd be back in her own neighborhood tomorrow. Night sounds reverberated through the forest. Crickets chirped and frogs croaked. A wolf howled in the distance, sending a chill along her spine.
No way would she put her fate in Christian Norgard's hands, even if he was a doctor. She'd relied on herself long enough, and she could do it now, too.
After all that had happened within the last few years, this was too much. She still hadn't recovered from her parents' murder a couple of years before. Then her sister Melissa's husband had died of cancer. Only a few months ago, her boyfriend, Matt, had ditched her for another woman. Now this!
A little serenity in her life--was that asking too much? For someone who'd always enjoyed excitement and a good time, now she wanted nothing but peace and quiet, no complications. But she was afraid she wouldn't get her wish.
Besides, other people depended on her. She'd always considered herself a responsible person, able to handle her own problems and willing to help others.
Take her teaching job, for instance. Although those kids could be hellraisers at times, she enjoyed her position at the local high school, teaching American history. She had to get back to those kids, back to her job!
As sponsor for the History Club, she got a big kick out of mingling with young people, and she liked to think those students needed her. Gwen thought of Elaine, a shy, friendless girl whose mother was an alcoholic. Poor kid, who always took her troubles to her--Gwen--because no one else cared. And what about Joey, whose two older brothers were honor roll students? That was a tough act for Joey to follow, this teenager who barely made passing grades.
Most important, she had to return to her widowed younger sister, Melissa, and Melissa's three-year old, Zachary. Her closest relatives, she missed them already. She missed holding Zachary on her lap, reading him stories. She remembered his sweet smile and quick laugh, his talkativeness when he got excited. How could she bear being away from him?
This is all some crazy quirk in time, she fretted as she pulled the woolen blanket up to her chin. She turned onto her side and closed her eyes, willing sleep to come, although one question after another kept her awake.
Could this really be 1762? she wondered, desperate to deny the fix she was in. The whole idea was too weird to even think about, and this trip just one more thing to prevent her from getting her life back on an even keel.
But if it was 1762, what then?

Friday, May 11, 2012

How She Does It - Shirley Martin

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

Janet, this may sound odd, but I just plot the story, and I think everything else falls into place.

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

In my historical romances, I created my characters from a certain time in American history. The emphasis is definitely on the characters, but it's always centered with around a specific happening or subject. For example, in my historical romance, "Destined to Love" in my reading of Pennsylvania history, I came across so many instances of white people being captured by the Indians. That led me to the question, What must it have been like to be a white person raised among the Indians. And another question, What would it be like to return to the white man's world.

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

I use Debra Dixon's tried and true method. I center my characters around Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, external and internal. If your characters don't have all of those elements, you don't have a story.

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

When I start my story, I have a general idea of how it will end. But as you may know, the characters have a mind of their own. When I wrote my time travel romance, "Dream Weaver" I changed the ending from what I had originally planned. (Dream Weaver will be free at on May 13.)

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

I had a lot of reference material that shows the settings. For example, both "Destined to Love" and "Dream Weaver" take place in colonial Pennsylvania. I have a book of Pennsylvania throughout the seasons. I have books on costumes of different time periods. Much of "Dream Weaver" takes place at Fort Pitt (present day Pittsburgh.) I have a diagram of the fort and I went by that.

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

At the time I wrote my books, there was no online to study from. I bought many of the books I used for research and also frequented the library. I visited western Pennsylvania, including Bushy Run (a battle fought in "Dream Weaver) and the area.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I revise as I go along. When the manuscript is completed, I read it, again and again, checking for discrepancies and mistakes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How the story began - The Dragons of Fyre

An autographed copy of The Dragons of Fyre will be given to the person who leaves me a way to reach them. Unfortunately last week's winner didn't leave an addy.

I have loved dragons for ages. Above my computer on a shelf sit many dragons. Every year at Christmas I receive a new one. They come in many forms and many styles from Chinese dragons to fanciful ones made from cloth. Why dragons, perhaps the mythology. Maybe stories I have read about dragons. The Pern stories of McCaffrey are among my favorites. In all the years and all stories I've written there have never been dragons. Not sure why except that my first and many stories were nurse/doctor romances and contemporary. Not the place for dragons unless they are collected by a hero or heroine. Now that's a different idea for me and someday may become a story.

When I wrote the Temple of Fyre, there were these bushes poison to people but an idea occurred. What if some part of these bushes could and must be consummed by dragons. While writing Temple, a palace stud taken by the evil priestess on her trip to find the fabled blue fyrestone suddenly became of more interest. I put the idea aside and finsihed that book. Probably went on to another and then suddenly this character wouldn't leave me rest until his story was told. But what could be the problem.

What if the dragons of Fyre were dying out or deliberately being taken into the hands of a power hungry man. I sat at my desk and looked at a piece of art my four year old grandson had made using one of those paint spinners. When he brought it home, he told me it was a dragon and the picture looked like a dragon, a yellow one. The wise dragon was born. A dragon who could talk to all dragons and who wanted to return the dragons to the mountain keep where he was born. Then what came next. The hero escaped and returned to his home. Then the adventure returned. The heroine took a bit longer to develop. At first she was going to be the evil lord's daughter but that didn't fit. One morning I realized she was a slave, one who was able to communicate with the dragons. She allows an egg to hatch. This produces another yellow dragon and the story begins as they help a female dragon bearing two eggs, a red and a blue to escape. The pieces were all in place and the story began.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Setting and Strategy

One has to put their characters in a setting. This setting can become as important as the plot and characters in a story. Think of the authors who have used a particular setting again and again in their books. Also think of how many authors have used the same setting with different results. A setting that one is familiar with can make the writing easier on one level, but taking this setting and making it part of the characters' natures can add another element to the story. I've found the Hudson River village where I've lived for many years is featured in many of my stories, particularly in the cozy mystery series. My character resonates with the river and she also has changeable moods just like the river that changes with the weather and the season. Even when she leaves her village for adventures elsewhere there is the contrast with her home and the new place.

What about those writers of fantasy or science fiction? One of my favorite series by Cherryh takes place on an alien world and yes, the characters do leave this world for others but they carry elements of the setting with them as they travel and explore.

Using a setting that is familiar can cause problems since as the writer, if you've lived in a place for most of your life or for a lengthy time, the familiarity can cause you to think other people know the place as well as you do. But you will also be familiar with the scents, the sounds, the touch and the tastes of the place you chose. I've been a nurse and I can create hospitals based on the ones where I worked because I can remember particular things about these hospitals.

So when you're planning your story, choose a setting that's more than incidental to the characters and the plot. Use your setting to develop the characters and to advance the plot. Nothing more frightening than a spooky house or the wind open plains to add depth to the story. Use the setting to integrate elements of your story. And remember that each character will react differently to the same setting, just as ten writers using the same setting will have a different story at the end.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Reviews good and bad

There's been a lot said on other sites about reviews and raving over good reviews and crying over bad reviews. I've received both good and bad reviews on the same books. What does this mean. Perhaps that sending books out for review is fraught with danger. My own opinion about reviews is that I read them and shrug. I have never bought a book because a review raved about how wonderful the book was. I may have even turned away from the book because I wondered what the review received for the glowing review. Call me cynical and I am when it comes to reviews. A review is one person's opinion of a book, A review can be influenced by a number of things in a reviewer's life. Face it, people have individual likes and dislikes. These will color their reviews. My feeling about reviews is to read them and forget them.

Like writers, there are many kinds of reviewers. When reading the reviews your book garners remember there are some reviewers who don't like any books. They might give one good review for an obscure author and pan those who are popular. A reviewer could be a frustrated writer and their reviews could show their anger about not being chosen when someone they think of lesser talent has grabbed the prize - publication. There are the reviewers who only like best sellers and those are the ones whose books they praise.

So how can the writer overcome their reaction to a bad review of their book. The first thing is don't attack the reviewer. You can have these private thoughts. Do not make them public. Remember the reviewer is only one person and if there are glaring errors in the review they may not have read more than the blurb. Pretty much ignore the reviews. And if the reviews for your books are all raves feel good for a moment and put those feelings aside. What a writer wants to do is write books they believe others will enjoy and that they themselves enjoy writing. Do bad reviews hurt, of course they do but learn to have an oily skin so these bad reviews roll right off. Only remember this I've heard that a bad review can also generate sales. People are curious. Another point to remember is that reviews are written after the book is finished and ready to be published. By then it's too late to change things. If there are things in that review that trouble you, think about the next book and make the changes there.

Monday, May 7, 2012

7 May - Week ahead and week behind

The winner of an autographed copy of The Temple of Fyre is Sharon Baker who gave me no way to get in touch with her. I'll need an email address so I can send the copy to her.

Did a Nook Book signing at the Palisades Mall on Saturday and made an interesting contact what I'll tell the chapter about on Saturday. Also talked to the person arranging the signing about having us on a regular basis and bringing in some copies of our print books that could be kept aside for when we had a signing. Will see what happens here.

Last week I took a step I've been avoiding for a long time. Having a series with one publisher was something I thought was the right thing to do, but after a year of not hearing anything about the submission of the last book in a series, I decided to seek another publisher for it. I also asked for the rights back to other books that were out of contract. I really liked being with this publisher but I was tired of hearing promises and never receiving answers. Perhaps I should have done this before but I didn't. So now I'm in the process of preparing four books for re-release at a new publishers. Finished one last week and will do the others this week.

The Micro-manager Murder is coming along very well but will be the shortest of the mysteries in the series. But as usual there are some interesting twists and turns occurring. Some of my critique partners are worried about Katherine's actions but to me they are perfectly natural. After all she's been a widow for 30 years and has gone her own way for that long. Marriage isn't going ot change her nature.

Hope to finish another draft this week and then there will be just 2 to go and I can write the end. Love writing the end since I have another story waiting in the wings. Lines of Fire is a fantasy and perhaps the start of a series. Then there's the final of the alternate Egypt stories to write, the final in the Seduction series and a final Katherine story, plus a number of other stories rolling in my head. Getting ideas has never been my problem, it's the writing of them that takes the time.