Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday's Meanderings with Janet Lane Walters

The wind has begun with some gusts but no rain yet. Thought I would get some words here while there's time. We usually lose power when there's a storm so I doubt this time will be any different. But storms aside there are other things to talk about such as writing and promotion and time. There are so many things a writer should do to promote themself but who has the time and also write. Blogs to be interviewed for. Tweets to post. Facebook and other social media to attend to. How does one find the time? I'm probably not the best role model. Other than this blog that I do daily and most of the time feature the work of others I don't do what I should. I believe I could use a secretary. But enough of this.

I'm typing the changes to Lines of Fire and will do for a few more days and then it's off to the publisher. That means doing a special bunch of stuff and formatting. Must find my downloads on exactly how that should be done.

I am working on a 45 year old mss that I found the carbon copy of and see some things that may make this an exercise in futility. After the first few chapters with one twin I have switched for I'm not sure how many more to the other. Must decide how this can be handled so when re-working this I can see where to go. The story sort of reminds me of a Pilgrim's Progress. Wonder if I was reading that when I began this story.

Also some ideas are popping for the final Seduction story, A Sweet and Spicy Seduction. Do you like cupcakes? The heroine has a bakery and the hero is a sort of detective who does investigations for the Good Group of magazines.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - James Hitchings, The Case of the Syphilitic Sister

Today's chapter is from a new mystery by James Hitchings featuring a a Superheroic Detective Agency

The corridor's smell was not unpleasant, but hinted of unpleasant things; the cleaning-product smell of a hospital or a public bathroom. Lettering on the door read All-American Detectives Ltd. - and underneath, in smaller letters, America's Finest Superheroic Detective Agency - serving Burlington City and the entire United States. Catherine opened the door, half-expecting to find the office shrouded in thick clouds of cigarette smoke, occupied by a defeated-looking man with his feet on the desk and a bottle of whisky in his hand. But the office was bright and cheerful, and the blandly-smiling man at the reception desk did not look like a cynical, wise-cracking gumshoe. He nodded a greeting. Janus the Unknown, Man of a Thousand Faces, rarely spoke first. He gauged the client's age, class and ethnic origin and, in general, adopted a similar accent and vocabulary. He wore no mask. Or rather, he wore no obvious mask. He had subtly altered his facial features, by natural and artificial means, to appear more open and trustworthy. It was hard to tell what age or even what race he was. It was as if he had bleached himself away, creating a blank canvas on which, like a sidewalk artist, he could draw whoever was required.

"I'm Catherine Moore," she said, "I have an appointment for three thirty." The man made a mark in the ledger before him.

"Very good Miss Moore. If you'd care to wait, someone will see you in a few minutes." His tones were soothing and reassuring, like those of a doctor - or, perhaps more relevant to the agency's business, an undertaker. She sat down on the unoccupied leather couch. She sank into it, and she had a momentary vision of finding other clients hidden in the cushions. A glass coffee table was covered in current affairs magazines; Spicy Detective Stories, Weird Mysteries and the like. She read for a while about the Cult of Ra and the Jack of Spades murders, until another voice said,

"Miss Moore, we're ready to see you now." Like the unremarkable man at the desk, the new figure wore no brightly-coloured leotard. Indeed, apart from a domino mask which matched his suit, he could almost have been on his way to church, or a job on Madison Avenue. His voice was neither booming nor sinister.

The guiding principle of the agency was that there was no boss and no underlings. Everyone fought the villain's henchmen, everyone cleaned the desks. Yet not everyone could do the job of manning the office. It was no good expecting a grieving widow or the parents of a missing child to feel safe in the presence of Doctor Death or The Night-Witch.

"I'm the Green Dragon," he said, in the same professional tones with which Janus had greeted her. "I'll be your liaison with our agency." She realised his suit was very dark green rather than black.

"So...what, you breathe fire?"

"Metaphorically speaking," the man said smoothly, opening the door to a small interview room. "I use an adapted pair of pistols, which work in a similar fashion to a flame-thrower. They can also be used to project knockout gas, electricity, and a few other things. But please, sit down. Now, what can we help you with?"

"It's about my sister Penny." The Green Dragon gave a wordless, sympathetic murmur. She took a deep breath. "Well, she died a few months ago."

"I see." His tone betrayed no surprise. Perhaps, she thought, there was none to betray. Perhaps he would have been surprised to hear she was alive and well.

"She...she was shot by the police."

"Oh. I see. But if you feel there was an injustice, I have to warn you that a lawyer would be more likely-"

"No, that wasn't the injustice," she interrupted. "She got into an argument over change with a bus driver. She had a kitchen knife that she'd bought and she stabbed him to death. She was ranting, threatening the police. They told her to put the knife down but she wouldn't. I think they call it 'suicide by cop' don't they?"

"Did your sister have any conditions that might have-"

"It turned out she was in the terminal phase of a particularly virulent strain of syphilis. She would have been dead in a few months even if the police hadn't shot her. The rage was part of it too. I'm told that victims of most forms of syphilis just get forgetful, like old people."

"What would our agency be aiming to uncover?"

"I want you to find out how she got the disease."

"I take it she had no beau that you knew of?"

"That's not what I meant. Penny wasn't the kind to sleep around. If she had a disease like that, she was raped."

"Ma'am, there's no reason to think your sister was, uh, intimately involved with more than one person, or on short acquaintance,"

"You don't-" She seemed to be struggling to stop herself shouting. "With all due respect, you don't know my sister."

Then why does this all seem so damn familiar? Many of the Green Dragon's best cracks were delivered only in his own mind.

"Miss Moore, I must caution you that our agency cannot be party to any vigilante activity. Our legal position is already shaky. The police officially take the view that what we do is illegal under the Criminal Vigilantism Act, but don't prosecute. We can try and find this fellow, but the most we can do after that is present a case to the police, if he's guilty of a crime."

Catherine lit a cigarette. It forced her to speak from the side of her mouth, like a gangster in a film.

"I'm not going to stab him. She was the crazy one remember?"

"I don't think you're crazy Miss Moore. But I think you might be making a mistake. I also have to warn you that we charge on a per hour basis."

"What do you mean by that?"

"More plainly, if we can't find anything, or if we find something that isn't what you thought we'd find, you still have to pay us."

"Truth, justice and the American way," Catherine muttered.


A few days later Catherine found herself in another room in the agency. The Green Dragon was still there. She supposed that, in reality, he went home at night, but it was hard not to think of him as attached to the office, perhaps put away in a drawer at five o'clock, or perhaps simply standing in the darkness until needed. In a sense she was right. Only Chester Mason ever walked through the hidden, basement-level door to the agency, and while Chester ate dinner or listened to the radio the Green Dragon was stored in a locker. He found it easier not to speculate on which one was the invention. The room was almost identical save that it was larger, to accommodate herself, the Green Dragon, and a young woman who introduced herself to Catherine as Princess Iron Fan. Catherine noted that everyone she had met at the agency was around the same age, late twenties or early thirties. She wondered what happened to them when they got old.

"Miss Moore," said the Princess, "we have a few questions about what happened to your sister's body. Now, you've said that most of your family live in Nebraska. Was Penny buried there, or here?"


"Was an autopsy performed?"

"No. Mom and Dad were against it. The police could've got a court order to do it anyway, but it was obvious enough what was wrong with her."

"I see. I ask because it could tell us whether she was...forgive me, but if she was the victim of an assault. It might even give us an approximate time. How likely is it that your parents would consent to disinterment-"

"Not a chance."

"I see. And how do you feel about it?"

"I just want the truth," Catherine said flatly.

I wonder if you'll still want it when we show it to you the Green Dragon thought. A baby you fall in love with when you see it. The truth you fall in love with until you see it.

"All right. Well, that being so, we have a proposal to discuss with you."


The delivery van was mis-named, having come to the graveyard to take, not give. Inside, The Kabbalist wore his mask and costume. The others wore the identical masks and armour of the Kabbalist's sidekicks, the Golems. There was some legal protection in doing so. If it all went wrong, the agency might be fined rather than the individuals accused of a crime. It also helped them to deal with the often unpleasant nature of the job. At the end of a working day, did you want to tell yourself that you had fought evil as the Kabbalist, or helped steal a corpse as Eugene Nash? Of course everyone had a set of civilian clothes ready. They might have to disappear quickly, or be taken to jail.

In fact the Golems did not exist. That is, they did not exist even to the extent that the Kabbalist existed. None of the sidekicks did. It was rather like a small theatre company. Everyone had their main role, but everyone also played minor roles as required. Princess Iron Fan took the identity of the Green Dragon's sidekick, the Green Fairy, when required. The others, especially Janus, performed similar duties. It was a good way of appearing to have more manpower than they really did. There was no possibility of the child sidekick beloved of popular culture. The law largely took the view that if grown men and women wanted to run around in costumes fighting crooks, then it was their funeral. But child endangerment was another matter. The whole thing reminded Eugene of a circus: what the public saw and what was really going on were two different things.

They parked the van quietly, and took out their shovels. The cemetery's high wall and locked gates were designed to keep out kids, not determined adults with a near-professional knowledge of burglary. They crept along a path lined with trees, towering palms which, appropriately, were mostly dead.

"Gee, everybody's quiet here tonight," whispered one of the Golems. It was Chester.

"You spend the whole ride over thinking that up?" the Kabbalist replied.

"No, I spent the whole ride over hoping I don't have to pee."

"No, you spent the whole ride over hoping nobody noticed you putting your Green Dragon mask on under your Golem mask."

"Yeah, well...your Mom wears jocks," Chester whispered sulkily.

"Last time we were out you claimed to have had intercourse with my Mom, which by the way is no insult to me on account of I ain't gotta Oedipus Complex or a Madonna-Whore Complex, so really her choice of underwear reflects on you more than me doesn't it Chester?"

"Don't use his secret ID you idiot," hissed another Golem, who preferred to wear the flying helmet and jet-pack of the Rocket Ranger.

"Who's gonna hear?" it was the Kabbalist's turn to sound sulky. "Anyway it should be just about...shit." They stopped still. Three figures were digging up a grave.

"Jesus Christ. that the same one we came for?"

"Yeah, I think so. Shit, what do you wanna do?"

"OK. Put down the shovels first, and pretend we came to arrest them."

"Yeah, good idea." They followed the Rocket Ranger's instructions.

"All right - Kabbalist, you good to go?"

"Sure." The Kabbalist's voice changed. It became deeper, richer yet more menacing, like the paws of a panther. "Desecrators of graves. Robbers of the dead," he said, in the manner of one listing the names of diseases or poisonous snakes. His voice was soft, but clear, and the three figures looked around sharply. He strode towards them. His robe gave him the appearance of gliding over the ground. "You thought yourselves unseen and unheard, here in this place of rest. But justice never sleeps, and there is no wickedness which is hidden from...the Kabbalist!" The Golems stood behind him, as if the earth itself had risen up against its violators. One of the three criminals moaned, and the detectives smelled urine. The thug dropped to his knees, babbling a mixture of alibi and prayer.

"Stand up you dummy," said one of the crooks, a bald and leanly-muscled fellow. "They're just men in costumes."

"Just men in costumes," the Kabbalist laughed. He made it sound like the most idiotic thing ever uttered, the kind of thing the guy in horror comics who doesn't believe in ghosts would say before getting killed. "Indeed they are less than men, lacking wills and souls. Aleph! Gimel! Strike down this fool!" The criminal stood like a rabbit in headlights while the Golems approached. At last he made a decision. He punched Chester in the stomach - and howled like a cat as his fist struck armor. There was a sinister snick as the third man drew a flick-knife.

"Put that away you idiot." The bald criminal held his bloodied right hand with his left. He stepped away from the other two, and spoke in a lower voice. "Listen, you got us on vandalism at the most. You could try and beat the story outta me, but you know how it is - I got hired by a guy who got hired by a guy who got hired by a guy. I ain't even gonna give you the first guy's name, and I think you know that. Now you could take us down the station, but I'm lookin' at your shovels over there, and I don't think you want that. So how about this: we get outta here, I don't say nothin' about no shovels, you get whatever you came for, and we call it even?"

"Deal," the Kabbalist whispered, and then in a louder voice, "Begone evildoers!" He raised his hands, as if to call down lightning upon them.

"Oh God, run! He's gonna kill us all!" the bald grave-robber suited actions to words, and his two companions followed.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday, How He Does It - James Hutchings

> 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 usually think of plot first, and everything else comes from that.

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

> 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?

(my answer to these two questions is pretty much the same)

I know that starting with a character, then deriving the plot from what they'd

do, is often held up as the best way to write. However I usually start with an

idea for a plot, and work out my characters to fit the plot.

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

> a specific one?

It depends. In a short story or poem I'll usually think of the ending as part of

the initial idea. But for longer works I might not. For example I'm working on a

long poem set in the old West called 'Confession of a Bounty Hunter', and up

until recently I hadn't decided whether the main character would live or die.

> 4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and

> plans of houses sitting around?

I mostly write fantasy - and my fantasy worlds aren't baed on any particular

historical period - so I can make it up without having to look anything up.

Even when I write in a historical perod, I'm usually more interested in how the

characters interact than in the details of the setting, so I infrequently need

to find anything out (for example whether they had kerosene lanterns in the old

West, or what Smith & Wesson's first names were).

A few of my stories are set 'here and now'.

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

Most of my 'research' is writing down interesting things from history or fiction

that I find online, usually on wikipedia. For example, these are curses from the

front of two medieval books, that I intend to use one day:

If anyone take away this book, let them die the death; let them be fried in a

pan; let the falling sickness and fever seize them; let them be broken on the

wheel, and hanged.

Should anyone by craft of any device whatever abstract this book from its owner

may their soul suffer, in retribution for what they have done, and may their

name be erased from the book of the living and not recorded among the Blessed.

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

With poetry, at least traditional poetry, you have to revise as you go along to

make the rhymes and rhythm fit. With prose I also tend to revise as I go.

However I always show my work to my ex, who acts as my unofficial editor, before

sending it out. She usually has suggestions for changes, and this can go back

and forth for several drafts.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday's Who Janet Lane Walters Has Been Reading

 When one goes to a conference and returns with books to read it's a bonus. This time I caught up with two authors I've read in the past and have missed reading lately.

So I've been reading To Wed A Wild Lord by Sabrina Jeffries - Didn't think I knew the author or had read her books. I had when she wrote under a different name. If you like Regency romances try this one.

Drowning in guilt over his best friend's death seven years ago, Lord Gabriel Sharpe, the Angel of Death, knows his only hope at redemption is a race against a shocking opponent.

Shrouded in darkness for the past seven years, the infamous racer Lord Gabriel Sharpe is known to accept every challenge to race thrown at him. When his next challenge comes in the form of his late best friend's sister, Virginia Waverly, Gabe is shocked. Yet she presents just the opportunity Gabe needs--marriage to fulfill his grandmother's ultimatum and ensure his inheritance. What he didn't count on was needing her love.

This Sheila Claydon Special Edition published by Books We Love contains three novels. Lately, I've read all three but of them Double Fault with the twins is my favorite.

Cabin Fever

The Osprey cruise ship is in trouble. Can Ellie Masters and Andy Smith solve the problem? When they join the ship in New Zealand they soon discover that it’s going to be hard work all the way to Australia. Not that either of them intend to let long hours get in the way of their blossoming love affair...until Ellie develops feet of clay..or is it Andy who is the problem? Is he really who he says he is?

They joined the ship to help the crew, but now it’s Ellie and Andy who need help. Will they get it or is it already too late?

Reluctant Date

In a rut, and with her love life at an all time low, Claire Harris makes a New Year’s resolution to join an Internet dating agency. Her challenge is twelve dates or twelve months, whichever comes first, unless she is lucky enough to meet Mister Right along the way. On her final date, and convinced that only frogs are left in the dating pool, she is relieved that it’s nearly over…until she meets enigmatic American, Daniel Marchant. The only problem is, his brother has set him up, and Daniel makes it very clear that he’s not interested in dating anyone at all.

He is looking for someone to work in his developing conservation research company though, and when he discovers that Claire has the photographic and cataloguing skills he needs, he offers her a dream job in Florida.

But Dolphin Key is not as idyllic as it seems. There are too many secrets and too much heartache. And Claire has her own secrets as well. Not that she is going to share them with anyone, least of all with Daniel, because he must never know he has stolen her heart.

Double Fault

When Kerry Farrow falls for star tennis player Pierce Simon, she doesn’t hesitate when he asks her to join him on the international circuit. She doesn’t care if he isn’t ready to settle down. In her experience happy families are a myth anyway. Then she discovers she’s pregnant and her world falls apart. Unable to turn to Pierce for support, and disowned by her wealthy father, she is on her own.

Two years later she is a single mother of twins working hard to keep a roof over her head when Pierce comes back into her life. When he finds out he is a father he gives her an ultimatum: she can marry him or she can fight for her children through the courts.

What she can’t understand is why he wants to marry her. She’s lost her looks and her fortune so why is he so determined to keep her in his life? It can’t be for love because he already has a beautiful girlfriend, and if he thinks she’s going to become part of a ménage a trois then he’d better think again. She will marry him because she has no choice, but she won’t be sharing his bed…the only trouble is, sharing his bed is the one thing she wants to do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Still with Orson Scott Cart - Narration

Still gleaning things of interest from How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. This time it's on Narration. That means getting the facts across. The one interesting comment from him speaks about how much to tell the reader. You don't want to leave the reader in the dark hole of not enough knowledge to follow the story. He recommends telling the reader jjust what the main character knows and no more. This is good advice.

Where I disagree with him is that he says the narration of needed information is different in writing science fiction and fantasy is different from other genres. He speaks of information dumps done in the tell fashion. I've seen this in other genres. Maybe it's not so bad as in the older stories I read, the ones where I tend to skip long passages of explanations of some fact. Seen this done in mysteries and in romances I've read. Places where the writer suddenly puts in dry passages of facts they feel the reader has to know. There are ways to get this information across.

One is through dialogue but that can turn into an information dump, too. When there are pages of one person explaining to another some facts the reader should know to keep them reading on. Using inner dialogue as in memories is another way to show this information but this two can become an information dump. Showing the character interacting with the new information can also turn into an information dump. Sure no matter what you're writing the reader needs to know certain things about the world you've created no matter where and when in time you're writing about.

Is there a solution? Maybe. I try to do this gradually and through the character's eyes. Does it always work? Probably not, but that's the fun of writing. Trying to make the stories and the information clear to the reader and to make it fun to read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - John Jakes - The Three Ps

Leafing through short essays on writing by many authors I came upon this article by John Jake Three Essentials For A Successful Writing Career, When I read it while it didn't exactly inspire me, it said what I've shouted out to others.  What are the 3 Ps he mentioned? They should inspire anyone attempting to establish themselves as an author.

Practice. This means writing. To develop a skill one has to practice. I've some friends who have written one book and that's where they stop. It's been rejected and they cover their computer and never write another word. The only way to gain skill is to write and write. I've been doing this for many years and yes , I did sell the first book I ever wrote but I re-wrote that book many times before it was saleable. I also did what I should and as soon as I sent it out began on something new. I practiced for several years before my first sale.

Persistence is the second P. This means keep going. Rejections hurt. I'll agree to that and there were times when the publishing world imploded and rejections came fast and furious, at least for me. One has to keep trying, keep writing and keep submitting. Now these days there are many different ways to go. There are the large NY publishers, the small print houses, the electronic publishers, and self publishing. There's also vanity publishing but that's not for someone who is a persistent writer.

The Last P is professionalism. This means among other things not thinking the words you've written are carved in stone. Listen to critics and learn from them without becoming defensive. I began in the good days when editors responded with suggestions. This is how I learned and in five years from the first time I submitted the book it sold. There are few overnight successes. Professionalism is also the moment when you know there's something wrong with the story you're writing and then again when you know how to fix the problem. This comes through Practice and Persistence.

So, how about you? Do you use the 3 Ps mentioned by John Jakes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday's Meanderings with Janet Lane Walters

When the body fails what does a writer do. Sunday I should have taken part in a local book signing but when I got out of bed I could barely stand or walk. This meant I had to cancel out and of course the fantasies began. How many books would I have sold? I was only taking 20 and I have so many. Last week, I took 15 to a signing and sold 9. Figuring the number I might have sold boggled my mind but then I had to put the fantasies away. I would have been happy to sell 1 book. A former critique partner and a brilliant writer, Eileen Charbonneau, once told me if one sells a book at a signing, the signing is a success. She's absolutely right. That's what I always aim for when I do a signing.  What I really would like is a younger back on this aging body. Which brings me to another thing that hit me this week.

I am 76 and there are so many books I still want to write. Will I write them all? Who knows since I write one book at a time. I was working on 2 for a short period and then stopped myself. This was only holding me back. I have now five books that are planned and those I will finish but I've had to change the order around a bit. Why? Some publishers move faster than others. Some publishers don't follow the contracts. I'm usually cool with waiting for the money to come but that's when the publisher at least sends me a quarterly or semi-annual report within the time they are supposed to. I'll never name specific publishers who have fallen down on their contracts but I won't go there again. Makes it hard when one has part of a series at one publisher. Eventually I'll finish the series but there are other series I'll finish first.

Now as far as writing last week, I'm on the cleanup drafts of Lines of Fire and I'm pleased with how it's going. I'll be close to the target 60,000 words when I get into the last round of edits which is making sure all the words are there and all the question marks are in place. That seems to be my problem. Sometimes periods come when there should be question marks. Lately, / has taken the place of ?. Probably because I haven't held an essential button down. Once this story is ready to go to the publisher, I'll work on The World Has Come of Age. Not sure I like the title but I'll think about that when I'm ready to work. Now it's back to what I do write and write.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Perpetual Light by Jordan K. Rose

Perpetual Light by Jordan K. Rose


“L’amore e dolcissima corrispondenza degli spiriti, che di due anime ne compone una sola.”


Love is the sweetest joining of spirits, when two souls become as one.

April 11, 1667

The Abyss hovered, waiting to take me.

More time, I need more time. He’s coming.

The raspy sounds of my own breathing filled my ears. With each jagged gasp, pain shot through my body straight to my core.

Pressure, cold and heavy, weighed on me. The Abyss called.

Not yet.

The next breath held the scent of sun-kissed grapevines, and I knew he was near.

“No. God, no.” He sobbed as he lifted me into his arms. “Lucia.”

My eyes opened.


He was changed. His skin, tanned from years in the vineyard, was now gray, and deep, dark grooves circled his eyes. Gone were the beautiful green and gold flecks of his hazel irises, replaced with the crimson glow of one who walked in shadows.

He needed me.

The Abyss stretched forward, reaching for me, its frigid tendrils swirling as souls trapped within its depths screamed for salvation. Cold burns whipped across my aura as the angry void attempted to claim me.

No. Not yet. I concentrated on Vittorio, steeling myself against my bitter destiny. Another moment with him was all I needed.

Gazing into his eyes, I found his trembling soul, hidden within him. Without hesitating my power wrapped around him, hiding his presence from The Abyss.

Tortured and terrified, he stared back at me, unmoving, his heart hammering in his chest.

Calm, my love.

A scream pierced the air. The Abyss grew impatient.

My very essence quaked as the angry void surrounded me. But I called on my powers and captured his soul, holding it in the warmth of eternity, caressing it, loving him.

Drink from me. Drink and take my gift. Keep me with you forever. It was all I could offer, the only way I knew to keep him safe, to keep us together.

He shook his head. “I don’t want to hurt you, cuore mio.” A single red-tinged tear rolled down his cheek.

No, you cannot hurt me. I will give you strength. I will give you the light you need. Drink.

I lifted my chin and pulled him to my neck, muffling his sobs against my skin.

His fangs penetrated my flesh, and he drank.

And The Abyss howled at my return.


“Amor di nostra vita ultimo inganno.”


Love is the ultimate deception of our life.

Present Day

Providence, RI

La Moda Boutique

A familiar ache throbbed deep in my chest. The quiet, steady rhythm worked itself into a cadence that my heart tried to match. But it was too fast, too loud, too deep. My heart couldn’t compete.

Stay calm, Lu. You can do it.

I swayed against a mannequin, and she teetered on her pedestal. With trembling hands, I gripped the window frame, holding on hard to reality.

Darkness loomed around me, stalking closer with every breath like an animal coming to devour me. Shivers ran along my skin as I swallowed back a scream.

In a sudden flash, brilliant sunlight reflected off the fresh fallen snow, creating a golden splendor. Its warmth bathed me, calming my racing heart and banishing the ache from my body.

The darkness receded.

“I’ll be Home for Christmas” played in the background, its soft melody soothing me. Fully stocked clothing racks waited for the day’s first customer. The scents of freshly baked gingerbread and coffee wafted in the air.

I took a deep breath.

Dad stopped shoveling and waved. “You okay?” he yelled through the window.

“What?” Mom yelled back.

“Not you! Lucia. Is she okay?” he hollered, pointing at me.

“What is it, honey?” Mom dropped a wrapped package beneath the Christmas tree and hurried toward me. She pushed my hair back from my face, gently twirling the long brown spirals in her hands.

“Nothing,” I whispered, briefly glancing in her direction. Breathe, Lu. A deep breath in. Hold. Exhale. After repeating the words a couple times, I had coaxed myself through the process.

The bells on the door jingled as Dad entered the shop. “Aren’t your eyes bothering you?” He kicked slush from his boots then stepped inside.

My heart raced. “What?”

“Direct sunlight. It must hurt your eyes. The way they shimmer is something else, Lu. I’d swear they were glowing.” He quickly stripped off his hat, gloves, and scarf.

Glancing down, I found my sunglasses in my hands. Unsure of when I’d taken them off, I shoved them onto my face with a vague sense of unease.

“Are your eyes bothering you, honey?” Mom’s gaze darted from me to Dad and back to me.

“No. I’m fine,” I lied. In the last two weeks, my eyes had gone from hazel-green to an almost iridescent emerald shade. I couldn’t explain it and had spent most of my time trying to hide them, wearing sunglasses everywhere.

I ducked around a display table and straightened the handbags piled on top. Mom followed me, hovering.

I moved on to a rack of blouses, pretending to adjust the holiday bows she’d attached to the hangers. “The shop looks great. I like the ornaments and the train.” Every year she decorated La Moda for the holiday, creating window displays to rival 5th Avenue. “The tree smells good, too.” I smiled. “Christmas-y.”

She watched me wearing that look, the one she always wore when she thought I was hiding something. The one that meant she was deciding the wording of her next question, the question that would get her the most information. Whenever she worried about me, she strategized like a commander preparing for battle.

I hunkered down and waited for the assault, hoping to evade the inevitable offensive.

Ours was the least complex game of espionage ever to be played. Nothing covert about it. She chased and I ran, dodging questions like a sparrow dodges a hawk.

“How’ve you been sleeping?” she asked, plugging in the tree lights. “Art, fix these. I don’t want them flashing.” She handed Dad the last string of lights.

“I’ve been sleeping fine.” I marched to the desk to get to work on the inventory.

“Any dreams?” She straightened some jackets on a rack while Dad fiddled with the bulbs.

“No.” I opened the file on the desk marked ‘Inventory’, pushed the power button on the computer, and organized the highlighters.

“No dreams? That’s interesting.” She folded a couple sweaters. “Not even about Vittorio?”

The Christmas tree lights stopped alternating and a steady glow illuminated the shop.

All my life I’d had vivid dreams, most of them sweet and pleasant, involving a vineyard in Italy and one man, Vittorio, my dream-husband. He was tall with dark, wavy hair and eyes that sparkled with flecks of gold and green. And his smile always melted my heart. ‘Cuore mio’, he called me, and loved me in a way I’d never experienced in my own life.

Until recently, I always looked forward to going to sleep, knowing I’d see him. But, lately, Vittorio hadn’t appeared in any of my dreams.

“Nope.” I shuffled the papers in the file.

Dad sipped his coffee, quietly waiting for his moment. Like any good husband and father, he always knew to keep out of it, even if he was equally as worried as she. Lingering in the background, he listened to the battle, waiting for the opportunity to swoop in and call a truce. A true diplomat, he never chose sides.

“Is this the complete order for Gemma?” I asked as the computer came to life.

“Mm-hmm. Any nightmares?”

The numbers on the page swam before me as I bit my tongue to keep from blurting out an answer that would have given her more information than she needed. Deep breath in. Hold. Exhale.

In the past two weeks everything had changed: my eyes, my dreams, even the way I felt in my own skin. Every morning I woke in a state of grief so overwhelming all I could do was sob. No explanation for the grief existed. Nothing sad was happening in my life, no losses, no disappointments, nothing. Just the dreams. The inability to explain my grief consumed most of my mornings, if not my days.

“Has the blond man made any more appearances?” She clicked the switch, and the desk lamp shined above me.

I shook my head and thumbed through the pages in the file.

The blond man, wicked as Satan, prowled my nightmares, stalking me the way a wolf hunts a lamb, hiding in the edges of my mind, creeping into my world one slow step at a time. I’d always been able to keep ahead of him, to escape to safety, enveloped in a void that echoed with his enraged screams. As though watching him from a safe room, I’d been forced to witness him act out his anger, leaping from the recesses of my thoughts to brutally attack and murder so many innocent lives.

To call the dreams “nightmares” didn’t even begin to describe their intensity.

He hadn’t haunted my dreams for several nights. But he hadn’t disappeared either. Everywhere I went I’d taken to looking over my shoulder, my intuition piquéd by an unspoken omen. A foreboding. Someone or something hunted me. A darkness—no, an evil like nothing I’d ever known hovered just beyond my vision. Its presence loomed. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there.

Forcing myself to concentrate on the work at hand, I entered the numbers from the page into a spreadsheet then blinked in surprise. “This is a small jewelry order, a third of the size of the usual one.”

“It will do for now,” she answered. “I’m glad to hear the nightmares have stopped.”

Without looking, I felt her probing gaze, the way it wandered over me, studying every fidgety muscle, gauging the depth of each breath, and anticipating every thought that moved through my mind.

I didn’t react, just sat there, pretending to study the paperwork. She hadn’t asked a question. No need to respond.

The nightmares were worse than usual, more frequent, more vivid, more violent. And, although I recognized the people in my dreams, I didn’t know them—or maybe I knew them, but didn’t recognize them. Whichever it was, I desperately wished never to dream of them again.

Mom moved on to the camisole display, arranging them by color and size. “So, you’re sleeping well?”

“Fine.” I tapped the keyboard, entering numbers as fast as I could.

Multiple theories on what was happening had occurred to me. Maybe I was possessed. This was my number one theory, considering the dreams and my recent paranoia. Two: maybe my eyes weren’t changing at all, and I was imagining it. I kept telling myself that, but every time I checked, they still glowed.

My last theory was that I suffered from multiple personalities, and when I inhabited my ‘other self’ I was putting in funky contacts and living some weird life. But no matter how many times I jabbed a finger into my eye to draw out the contact lens, there was never one to remove.

So, theory number one seemed the only logical answer. Of course, when demon possession seems a logical explanation for your life, you know you’ve hit new a low.

“Are you staying for lunch?” Dad asked. “I’m starving.”

Mom scowled at him. “It’s not lunchtime.”

He grinned and smoothed his hands over his sweater. “Lu should stay for lunch.” Almost twenty years ago Dad retired from teaching and came to work in the shop with Mom, which left my overprotective dad free to tag along with me on a number of business trips.

Somehow, no matter how hard I tried to improve his fashion sense, he never lost the math teacher vibe. The button-up sweater over an oxford with casual pants was his uniform. He’d worn it for nearly forty years. I half expected him to grab a piece of chalk and begin writing equations on the wall.

“I’ll get sandwiches at The Corner Bistro,” he said, grinning.

I was fairly certain I was the only kid in history whose dad transferred to every school she ever attended, and taught for each grade level as she passed through them. He had only been my teacher five of the thirteen years—second and seventh grades and the last three years of high school.

It goes without saying, my homework was always in on time.

“Can’t stay for lunch. I need to get to Gemma by two o’clock. Tempo’s Christmas party is tonight, and the boss wants us all there by six.” I printed the Gemma document and stuffed it into my bag.

“Ah, Tempo’s big shindig.” Dad grabbed a handful of gingerbread cookies off the tray mom had left for the customers. “That paying employer of yours throws a good party.” He sat on the settee by the window. “You know, they should let you bring your parents.”

“Arturo, shush.” Mom removed three cookies from his hands, put them back on the tray, and moved it across the room. “Lucia doesn’t want to bring her parents. Is Michael going to the party with you?” She ran her fingers through her dark hair, letting the big curls roll around them, then wiggled them loose.

“No. He has some business meeting he can’t miss. What about the other orders? You said there were some inventory issues.” I closed one manila folder and opened another, trying very hard to keep her occupied with work so she’d quit interrogating me.

Michael and I had dated for a few years. Sometimes we were more serious than others. Sometimes we were just friends, which was our current state. I hadn’t been able to “pull the trigger,” as Dad liked to call it. I loved Michael, but I wasn’t ready for marriage.

“It’s all there.” Her fingers worked her hair again. Then she reached for mine, gently fluffing the long tresses. Her touch, so tender, reminded me of my childhood and the many nights when she brushed my hair. I closed my eyes for a moment, relaxing.

“What are you wearing tonight?” she asked.

“A burgundy velvet gown.”

With a quick hug, she said, “Get pictures. You know I’ve always loved to see my little girl dressed up.”

I squeezed my eyes shut, fighting back sudden tears. I’d have loved to have a family, a little girl of my own. But with all the traveling I did for Tempo, my lifestyle wasn’t conducive to one. Worse than that, lately the nightmares had become so horrible I’d begun wondering if I was sane enough to be near adults, never mind children.

An hour later we’d finished the inventory, and I had just packed my bag, slipped into my coat, and kissed my parents good-bye when the door to the shop opened. A gust of wind whooshed in, carrying with it the scent of a freshly mown lawn.

With my back to the door, I knew exactly who had entered. He was the only man I’d ever met with that cologne. And, although I liked his cologne, I didn’t like him. Maybe it was that annoying confidence, or his irritating ability to observe everything, or the inexplicable magnetism he had with customers. Whatever it was, he irked me to no end. I gritted my teeth and exhaled loudly, trying to clear my lungs.

“What’s wrong, honey?” Mom asked.

“Nothing,” I growled before wheeling on the new arrival. “What are you doing here?”

Peter glided into the shop, that annoying, cocky smile threatening at the corners of his mouth. “Jack sent me. I’m supposed to learn everything you know. I believe we have an appointment at Gemma.”

Jack sent him. Stupid Jack. I’ll…

Two weeks ago our boss Jack promoted me, out of the blue, to Senior Buyer. The company had decided to make an abrupt change in structure, adding a junior level. My lines, women’s accessories, moved the fastest, selling at nearly double the rate of any others, so I was given the punishment of training the junior. Peter was my junior.

“Mr. and Mrs. DiComano, it’s a pleasure to see you,” Peter said. The lilt of an English accent seemed to color his voice, but the slight inflection faded as quickly as it came.

He stood directly in front of me. A light blue ring surrounded his midnight blue irises, giving the illusion of depth. He exuded a tranquil, welcoming charm. When he faced my parents, his smile broadened.

“Oh, the pleasure is ours.” Mom walked toward Peter, her eyes fixed on his.

“Yes. Thanks for coming by.” Dad extended his hand.

As they both reached for him, Peter’s jaw clenched, freezing that dumb expression on his face.

“It’s good of you to come,” Dad said, his voice deepening.

I looked at Dad. The only other time I’d heard his voice drop like that was when he caught Billy Taylor kissing me in the stairwell at school. Needless to say, Billy did not take me to the prom.

My parents regarded Peter like warriors sizing up an enemy. I wasn’t sure if they were sympathetic to my dislike or if they’d developed their own in the thirty seconds Peter was in the shop, but either way, I liked it.

I fixed my hair under my hat and didn’t bother to hide my pleasure as I watched the faceoff. Thank God for parents.

My smugness vanished and shock took over when they suddenly began acting as though he was a rock star, their eyes wide, giant grins, heads nodding as if they were all telepathically communicating. No one should be this happy to see Peter. They weren’t this happy when I arrived.

“What the hell? What’s going on here?” I asked.

“Lucia, behave.” Mom frowned.

Ignoring me, the three of them began chatting about the job with all its travel requirements.

“Peter, we know you’ll keep her safe, won’t you?” Mom asked, her tone more commanding than inquisitive.

Dad rested his hand on Peter’s shoulder, keeping a firm grip.

“Yes, Mrs. DiComano, until my last breath.”

“Are you kidding?” I asked. “I’ve been traveling since I was born. You brought me to the US from Italy when I was three days old. I haven’t stopped since. I’ve traveled to third world countries alone and been perfectly fine. Now, you’re asking him, my junior, to keep me safe? Have you lost it?” Peter shuffled to the left as I barreled between him and Dad. “Until your last breath? Give me a break.”

“Lucia, you know I’ve never liked you traveling alone. Now that you have someone to look out for you, I feel better.” Mom patted Peter’s arm. “He’s strong and smart. He’ll keep you safe. And, I think he has friends that…well, they’ll help.” She plucked a piece of lint from his jacket, then squeezed his arm.

I grabbed her hand and pulled her away from him. She always liked people, but she didn’t fawn over anyone but me, and she’d never responded this way to a stranger. “He’s all of twenty-two years old. He’s never been anywhere or done anything. I’m babysitting him, and he’s not exactly a superhero who would scare off attackers.” I motioned at Peter.

Taller than my five-feet-four-inches, though only by six inches or so, Peter was muscular, but trim. Certainly handsome, with fantastic blue eyes and blond hair, but he was still a baby, one I had been forced into grooming.

More unsettling, his skin often seemed odd, changing throughout the day. Usually, he started the day looking like he had the flu, but by the end he appeared to have recovered; the dark circles under his eyes faded, and his skin went from gray to almost luminescent.

Either he was weird or I was seeing things, which made me hate him even more. Mom should not like him.

His eyes twinkled, and the corner of his mouth ticked upward as he watched me guiding Mom away from him. I snickered, and that stupid, full-on cocky grin returned.

“We should get going if we’re going to reach Boston in time to meet Elizabeth and Alexander before the party,” he said. “Mr. and Mrs. DiComano, you have nothing to fear. Lucia is safe with me and my friends.”

“I hope so.” Dad’s brows lowered.

“Yes, sir.” Peter fidgeted with his gloves.

Mom wriggled her hand from mine and leaned toward Peter. “Thank you.” She kissed his cheek.

She could have knocked me over with a feather at that point.

“Be careful, Lucia. Remember, you are the light of our lives, always the light,” Dad said, kissing my cheek.

“I know, Dad.” If I hadn’t heard him say that a million times, I hadn’t heard it once.

Mom hugged me. “In your travels keep your eyes open, my girl. Pay attention to what’s around you.” She squeezed me tighter than usual. “Ti amo, piccola mia.”

“Ti amo, Mom. Are you feeling okay?”

“Yes, honey.” She stepped into Dad’s embrace.

“Are you sure?” I asked, studying the two of them. Their eyes held something different. Relief? Their faces relaxed, tender smiles curving their lips.

“We’re fine. We’ll see you soon, honey,” Dad said.

“Let’s go, Lu. We don’t want to hit any traffic,” Peter said.

I spun to tell him to shut up and had to turn completely around. He was across the room, holding the door open.

“How did you do that?”

“Do what?” he asked.

“Get across the room that fast.” I snatched my laptop bag and the Gemma file, heading toward the door.

“I don’t know what you mean. I just walked the few steps.”

“It’s more than twenty feet,” I countered.

He shrugged.

“Bye, honey,” Mom said. “Take good care, Peter.”

“La tenero al sicuro,” Peter said as he opened the door.

I waved to my parents and closed the door, then reeled back to scowl at him. “You’re going to keep me safe? I’m going to shove you in front of a bus.” I stomped past him.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's How She Does It -- Jordan K. Rose

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

I absolutely agree with you. My writing is always character driven which completely impacts the how. It also impacts all the other elements. Certain characters would just never be in certain situation or places or time. It's interesting to think about mixing different heroines into stories. In Perpetual Light, Lucia is a reincarnated vampire slayer with divine powers. Eva Prim, my current work is a vampire and she's very self-centered. If I tried to swap heroines, Perpetual Light would be ruined. Both these ladies have very different perspectives on the world. Their "hows" would never be interchangeable.

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

I don't have a specific process. Usually what comes to me is the character's main objective. From there I learn about who each character is and what they like/dislike/need/want/where they're from. I learn a lot about each character and think I know most all there is to know but of course, when I write they tell me more about themselves and edits happen and story lines change. Lucia's main objective was to find the husband who'd been stolen from her and made vampire four hundred years ago. When I originally wrote Perpetual Light I thought that was the main story. It wasn't until I'd completed the first draft that I realized she was a vampire slayer destined to kill him.

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 characters always come before the plot. I never have an idea for what could happen without a character in mind. It's almost as though this person pops up with a problem or idea and sort of whispers in my ear until I pay attention. I don't plot. I let the characters determine the route of the story. I typically have an idea of where the story is going to land, but no real knowledge of how we'll get there or what might happen on the way. I love to be surprised by where the story goes.

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

Sort of. For example, I knew Lucia's story would end with a happy for now ending because it's the first in a series, but I didn't know how we'd get to that end. I only recently figured out how the series might end, but again, I have no idea how we'll get to that ending. (Though I'll admit I'm feeling happy about finally knowing the potential series end.)

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

I usually choose settings familiar to me. However, in my current work my story is unfolding on Mt. Katahdin in Maine. I've never been there and don't really enjoy cold weather or snow so this is a situation where I'm doing quite a bit of research to understand the location. In terms of buildings and layout I use the internet and search for pictures that seem to fit the story.

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

On line mostly, but I do use books, too. I have a great library of vampire books.

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

I do a little bit of both. I have multiple drafts that have been revised and revised as I go. I like to read the previous day's work before starting on new work which leads me to edit, edit, edit.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday's Who I've Been Reading by Janet Lane Walters

Before I get to the reading, I have a blog up here.

The Unholy by Heather Graham Intriguing story where I learned a log about creating props and illusions as well as an enjoyable story, including the ghost of Bogart.

The 1940s: Hard-boiled detectives and femmes fatale are box-office gold. In one iconic scene, set in a deserted museum, the private eye arrives too late, and the buxom beauty is throttled by an ominous Egyptian priest.

Now: The Black Box Cinema immortalizes Hollywood's Golden Age in its gallery of film noir tributes. But the mannequin of that Egyptian priest is hardly lifeless.

He walks—and a young starlet dies a terrifying death.

Movie mogul Eddie Archer's son is charged with the grisly murder. Eddie calls agent Sean Cameron, who specializes in irregular investigations. As part of an FBI paranormal forensics team, Cameron knows that nightmares aren't limited to the silver screen.

No Ordinary Killer by Rita Karnopp A mystery from a fellow author at BWL. Exciting suspense with a good romance.

Enter the conflicting mind of a serial killer on a clever path to bring about the destruction of Cooper Reynolds. The brother, in the killer’s mind, whose life is everything he wants to be his own. Manipulating Cooper’s ex-wife, Megan Reynolds, into writing Malicious Intent, the book explodes on the market. When the murders described in her book begin happening again, Great Falls, Montana, is in a panic. A serial killer is among them and evidence is pointing directly at Detective Cooper Reynolds.
Revenge for her ex-husband’s rejection, writing the first book sounded like a good idea, but now Megan ibeing forced into writing yet another book of three murders in Physical Evidence. The killer is watching her every move and going to the police will only get her mother and children killed. She is caught in a violent world she created on paper . . . and it's now coming to life.

IA agent, Dallas Fortune, is investigating Cooper Reynolds. Although there is more incriminating evidence proving his guilt than innocence, she instinctively believes he is being framed. Together they fight to stay alive while unraveling the clues the killer leaves behind . . . with the hope they’ll discover his identity before Cooper is sent to prison for six murders.

The Navy Seal's Promise by Soraya Lane - Bought on a whim since she shares part of my name. Nice romance.

With only 48 hours back on home soil for Christmas, United States Army Corporal Saskia Cullen is desperate to spend every minute with her young son. So when heavy snowfall closes JFK airport and she misses her connecting flight, she’s devastated. Until Navy SEAL Luke Gray offers to keep her company… and then does everything within his power to get her home.

Luke is back in the US on leave, waiting to hear the details of his next mission, and Saskia proves to be a pleasant distraction. And when he hears that she needs to get home to see her son, he’s prepared to do anything to help the sexy single mom. Trouble is, he hadn’t planned on falling for anyone, let alone a beautiful soldier about to return overseas.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip ala Orson Scott Card

Once again I'm digging through Orson Scott Card's How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy for my hint of today. How does one know which of the patterns of construction spoken about in this book? "You must end the story the way you begin." is one word of advice that's helpful. Starting out with a Mileau story and ending in a Character story will confuse the reader. Reader confusion is to be avoided. But the development of the story type follows throughout the writing of the story.

Have you ever begun a story and partway through have found you can go no further? You may have chosen the wrong pattern. You need to sit back and look at how you've decided to tell the story and perhaps make a change. All stories could emerge using one of the four types Orson Scott Card mentions but one is right for the story, or perhaps right for the author.

To keep the reader reading there has to be suspense. Is suspense created by withholding information? Sort of but it doesn't mean hiding every scrap of information but in keeping a small secret and letting the reader know most of the facts. "There is no tension without information." This struck home, especially when I'm writing. What happens next? How is the character reaching the end? Knowing how the story will end keeps the writer moving forward. Step by step the reader should follow the characters and learn what they have discovered making them wonder what will happen next as the story builds to the climax.

So when you're deciding how to tell your story decide if it's a Mileau, an Idea, a Character or an Idea story structure you're telling. If you're wrong, don't toss the story aside, look at it again and change the focus or pattern and try again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration ala Paul Gallico

I've been reading for more years than I care to admit. Many years ago, I discovered Paul Gallico and enjoyed his stories on a number of magazines and also when they were compiled into books. He has influenced my writing in some ways but when I was searching for something to use as an inspiration, I came across a quote that made me think.

"Tell a good story. Tell it in a fresh, novel and interesting manner, or if your story is sufficiently strong and enthralling submerge yourself. (there is more but he ends with something that hit me) In other words, let your story tell itself." Paul Gallico.

Submerge yourself in the story. I know when I write, after the awkward first draft that only the writer can love, suddenly the story becomes my world. Sure I have an outside world with family and all those things that draw me from the world, but when I'm with a story, the world I've created stays inside me. I have managed to submerge myself in a new and sometimes different world.

How about you? Do the characters, the action, the plot, the setting and all that goes into the story world you're creating simmer beneath the surface? Sometimes this can make your family think you've gone crazy especially when you answer a question they haven't asked. Or when you're at the dinner table and people are talking to you but you're sitting at a different table in another world. So, organize your story and submerge yourself in letting the story tell itself.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters

Last week was a good one. On Thursday was off to the New Jersey Romance Writer's Conference. Best thing was finishing a draft of current WIP before I left so I headed to the conference with nothing wanting to drag me back. For me a conference is about the people I meet and the good information I receive. I'll talk about some of the people.

Heather Graham a great writer, but more than that a great person. She's warm, funny and belives in hekping people. Her husband was a quiet, thoughtful man. Had dinner with them along with chapter members and the lovely Jade. Though I met other writers of quality I had less interaction with them. Talked to Mary Jo Putney a bit and forgot to tell her that I loved her paranormal romances and wished there had been more. Of course recommended her Rake to everyone. When a saw Sabrina Jeffries was to be a speaker, I told a friend I'd never read any of her books. Learned that was a lie since I'd read and loved her books written under another name. Didn't have a chance to talk to Susan Wiggs until the conference ended. She's a quiet lovely person and a good writer whose works I've enjoyed for years. As a writer, I'm also a reader and I brought home a few books to read.

Working the arrivals desk was fun. I met several beginning writers and tried to encourage them with the "Finish the book" words I always say. Met Alice Orr, once my agent but that didn't work out since we were two alpha females. Not a good mix for a business relationship but I did enjoy seeing her again and will let Jane know. The PAN retreat was fun and a good way to learn from others. Bob Mayer (probably mispelled his name and can't check since my program for the conference is still somewhere in the hotel.

Last news is that I sold 9 books at the signing and this was a real thrill. What I learned about these signings is that one must interact with the people passing by and it's really surprising when one of them buy your books.

Meandered enough. There are more things I could talk about but fun time is over and it's back to work on Lines of Fire and The World Has Come Of Age and maybe come up with a new title for that.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday Who I've been Reading by Janet Lane Walters

First to let everyone know I'm off to a conference and won't be doing the regular Friday and Saturday blogs. Will return sometime on Sunday.
Once again I've been reading an assortment of books

Lauren's Dilemma by Margaret Tanner Not only am I learning about the first World War, but I'm also learning a bit about Australia.
Captain Blair Sinclair returns from the trenches of World War 1 suffering amnesia, and mistakes Lauren (Laurie) Cunningham for his fiancée.

When his real fiancée turns up his memory returns, and Laurie is banished for being an imposter.

Pregnant and desperate to hide the shame of having Blair’s baby out of wedlock, she marries Dick McKinlay. He needs a wife to hide his own dreadful secret.

Dick is tried for a murder he did not commit. Will Laurie reveal both their secrets to save him from the hangman?

The Millionaire's Redemption A modern view of Australia and a heart-warming story.
Fleeing from her ruthless English in-laws who are intent on stealing her child, Holly Kirwan boards a flight home to Australia and meets Justin Devereux. They are instantly attracted to each other. Justin doesn't want a permanent woman in his life, particularly one with a baby in tow. Holly, still grieving for her soldier husband who was killed in Iraq, doesn't want to be disloyal to his memory. Can the young widow and the commitment shy tycoon ever find happiness together.

Now to a different kind of story Death Runs in The Family by Heather Haven - lots of excitement and danger here but a mystery enjoyable.
Book Three in The Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series

Lee Alvarez’ ex-husband, Nick—a man she divorced with joy in her heart and a gun in her hand—sprints back in her life only to disappear again. She’d love to leave it at that, but could he be responsible for the recent death of her cousin, who keeled over at the finish line of a half-marathon in front of hundreds of spectators? As PI for the family-run business, Discretionary Inquiries, Lee follows the clues to Vegas, where she joins forces with Shoshone PI, Flint Tall Trees. Together they uncover a multi-million dollar betting syndicate, a tacky lounge lizard act, and a list of past but very dead runners, plus future ones to be offed. At the top of the ‘future’ list is the love of her life, Gurn Hanson. Hoping to force the culprits out in the open, Gurn and Lee’s brother, Richard, plan to run San Francisco’s famous Palace to Palace 12K in only a few days. Lee aims to keep the two men she loves from hitting the finish line the way her cousin did—not in a dead heat, but just plain dead! With more at stake than she ever dreamed possible, Lee is in a battle against time to stop the Alvarez Family’s race with death.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - More From Orson Scott Card

The fourth type of structure for a novel is the Event Story. These thoughts are spurred by How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. Just what is an event story. This is an epic story,

Something has gone wrong in the world, a dire event. The king is dead. The war has begun. An oath has been broken. A monster arises. Though there are events in many of my stories they are not the total life changing happenings like those in an event story. I have written one and the opening line of this story portends what will happen. "We have been betrayed." These words send four young teens into the world fleeing disaster and evil. This story is a fantasy but there are other tales in literature that are event stories. The event has occurred and the world of the characters is in chaos.

An event story ends when a new order has been established. Occasionally the old order is re-established or in rare instances chaos rules. In these stories often the triggering event isn't even mentioned. In my story the triggering event for the change is the birth of the two sets of twins, each with an affinity to one of the elements rather than they having affinities to all four like those before them.

Many times these stories start with prologues with lengthy explanations of the past events. These aren't usually necessary and often skipped by readers. The action should begin with the focus character or character, plunging them into the story and showing the results of the triggering event rather than going inch by inch through that event.

As Orson Scott Card says when you write an Event story, begin small and gradually introduce the larger picture of the particular world. Let the reader know and empathize with the hero, heroine or the focus characters.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Arthur Koestler - On Conflict

"Conflict always reveals a paradox in the human condition." These words by Arthur Koestler written years ago struck me on many levels. Conflict of some kind is the driving force in every fiction story. And even some that are non-fiction. Deciding which conflicts to use brings us to choices of which kind of conflicts to use to drive the story.

There are characters in conflict with society, with another character and with themself. To me finding which conflicts to use for my characters can be difficult. In my current WIP the hero has conflicts on several levels. He stands in opposition to the bad guys but there is also the conflict set up in the beginning of the story which sends him into conflict with his society.  This brings him to an inner conflict that rises from within. The odd thing is that I never looked at what the conflicts were in the story until I read the article where I found the quote by Arthur Koestler.

The other main characters in the story have their own conflicts and these conflicts impinge on the hero's conflicts though they aren't necessarily the same. But without conflicts from within and without the story would remain a series of incidents with little meaning.

What about you? Do you consciously decide on what conflict your characters will have before you begin or do some of them arise during the writing when you aren't aware there is a conflict? Just remember without conflict whether it is within the character, between two characters or from society without conflict the story goes nowhere. So think, On one hand but on the other hand and you have a recipe for conflict.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday's Meandering with Janet Lane Walters

Another Monday and today the weather has decided to put a chill in the air. But it's conference time. Been two years since I've been to a conference with other authors and I'm looking forward to meeting people I know and people I don't know. I won't be pushing a new mss or looking for an agent but I'll be looking forward to hearing what others are doing. Publishing is in flux this year with traditional publishers, s publishers and independend publishers all vieing for a bit of the money spent on books. Will enjoy hearing about the new and the fun.

I've been working hard on my current WIP Lines of Fire, the first of a trilogy and am coming near to the end. Probably have the final 5000 words to fit in which means for me filling in all the spaces and also pointing to the next two books without being blatant. Will I succeed? Hope so.

Am also putting the finishing touches on something I promised a friend. She likes the How She/He does it segment of my blog so I promised her I'd give her something to allow her to do a post on her blog without having to do the writing. All I have to do now is mail her the questions, but before I do it I must do a mock up of the interview that she can either use or forget.

Just realized most people plan their blog posts and take days doing them rather than follow my way which is to just sit down and write. Sure there's an idea for each day but that's a just write. Now I must go and see how much I can get done before the invasion. Three grandchildren due, ages 4, 5 and 8. Always an interesting event and they will exhaust me but it's fun.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Saturday's Chapter featuring Chapter One from the Unexplored Heart by Marilyn Morris

Chapter One

London, 1866


Vanessa paced the floor, her long skirts sweeping in tune with her staccato breathing. She wished Aimsley Fischer would hurry up and get here. It must have something to do with her stepfather’s will, she thought in agitation. He had been dead some weeks now, the mourning period well under way, although Vanessa could scarcely muster the strength to mourn this man who had married her mother eight years ago, when Vanessa had been ten. He had been all right, she supposed, and her mother had seemed content enough, but then her mother had suddenly died, leaving Vanessa alone in the large house with this man who seemed a stranger, who professed to have her best interests at heart, but who scarcely spoke a half dozen words to her each day, until the day he, too, had died. Yes, Hamilton Firestone had been a father to her, at least on paper, and it was now that his will would be read.

She settled in a dark leather wingback chair that was much too large for her small frame. Her feet hung helplessly in mid-air while she tried to appear nonchalant should anybody happen to come across her in this dimly lighted room. Noticing a magazine on the table between two massive chairs, she picked it up and flipped through it idly. Clarice would scold me, she grinned. A young woman shouldn’t be spending her time gaping at a travel magazine when there were more serious things to be attended to, such as conferring with the solicitor about her stepfather’s estate. Her attention, however, was riveted by an article about exploring the vast land of Tibet and the photograph accompanying the article was superb. As she gazed at the image of a tiny village snuggled against high, snow-topped mountains, her heart leaped with desire to be there, to breathe the rarified air, to hear the exotic sounds of the people’s language…..

She was just about ready to settle into reading the main text when Clarice bustled into the room.

“So would you look at you, now? Reading a rag like that, when ye should be intent on findin’out about yer stepfather’s will,” she began.

Vanessa laughed aloud at the sound of her maid’s voice repeating the very words she had just imagined. Clarice ignored her laugh, hands on hips, shaking her capped head. “And what’s so funny, Miss Vanni?” She used her old nickname, which made Vanessa instantly nostalgic for the days when she would sit on her mother’s lap, listening to her musical voice calling her “Vanni.” Her heart wrenched at the old name. Nonetheless, she answered, “Oh, Clarice, you’re such a fussy-budget. I just this minute seated myself, as old Mr. Fisher is late and a girl has to have something to do whilst she’s waiting, now, doesn’t she?” She pursed her lips, making a small frown on her brow, but her blue eyes danced with merriment.

“Enough with yer nonsense, child,” Clarice continued. “Adventures? For a slight girl like ye? And a well-brought up young lady, too. Unseemly nonsense. Now get along with ye; I came to fetch you into the study. Mr. Fisher himself is here, now; that’s what I meant to tell you. Go along with you, now.” She made shooing motions with her large, rough hands.

Vanni rose from her chair, smoothed imaginary wrinkles from her dress and then her hands fiddled with her curls. “Thank you, Clarice,” she said in mock solemnity. Then she strode with all the dignity and courage she could muster out of the room and down the hall to the study.

Pausing before she opened the door, she once more smoothed her skirt and touched her long brown hair carefully arranged in ringlets around her small, pale face. Taking a deep breath, she slid open the massive door and entered the gloomy study.

She had always hated this room, now more than ever, since it was dimly lit. She hated it especially since Mr. Firestone had come to live in her mother’s house. Rooms that had been light and airy and cheerful, like her mother’s disposition, had then taken on somber tones, like Mr. Firestone himself. Vanni had always been reluctant to enter this room when her stepfather was alive, and now that the man was dead, it took on an even more forbidding tone.

Her eyes adjusted slowly to the interior and she perceived the shadowy form of her solicitor, Aimsley Fisher, who now rose from his chair behind the rosewood desk.

“Miss Vanessa,” he intoned solemnly. Aimsley Fisher stood and waved his thin, elegant hand at the wingback chair across from the desk. His mustache twitched slightly, whether from a nervous habit or an attempt to subdue a small smile, Vanni couldn’t imagine which.

“Mr. Fisher,” she replied, attempting to be just as solemn. “How good of you to come.”

“I will try to make this as brief as possible.” He indicated that she should be seated, and she chose a tapestry-covered armchair opposite the massive desk.

“I assume you know the reason I’m here.”

She nodded. “It’s about Mr. Firestone’s will, I should imagine.”

“Miss Vanessa, in all those years he was your father, you never called your stepfather anything but Mr. Firestone.”

“He hardly was anything more than that to me, Mr. Fisher. I could scarcely bear to think of him even as my mother’s husband. I thought he treated her badly,” she added.

“Uhhhhm, how unfortunate,” Mr. Fisher said absently.

“I’m sure you didn’t come here to discuss my late step-father’s shortcomings,” Vanni prodded. “And I’m just as certain you have no time to spare with your busy practice of the law.”

“Quite so, Miss Danforth.” He cleared his throat and shuffled a few papers on the desk, finally setting on one that he now held in his hand.

“I am informing you of the provisions contained in the late Mr. Firestone’s will, rather than conducting a full reading that would not pertain to you, if you find that agreeable.”

“Agreed, Mr. Fisher.”

“I’m afraid what he has said pertaining to your lot of his estate will not be to your liking.” His eyes peered at her over his spectacles.

Vanni noticed the dancing fire reflecting in the spectacles. Something evil is coming out of this. Her breathing came in pants as her heart rate accelerated.

“Go on,” she said almost in a whisper.

“Mr. Firestone has a child from his previous marriage, whose mother had died. I’m sure you knew that when your mother married him, is that not so?”

Vanni nodded, her mouth too dry to speak.

“The daughter, Katherine, is now 22 years of age. Accordingly, she inherits her father’s estate.”

He paused at hearing Vanni’s gasp. “I regret having to tell you this, but Miss Katherine Firestone is to move into this house within six months of her father’s death. This should give you ample time, Miss Vanni, to find a way to support yourself and secure other lodgings.”

Move from this house? My mother’s house? And I have no income? She twisted the handkerchief she pulled from her sleeve, while wishing her hands to remain still and calm, as she had been taught.

“There’s nothing, then?” Vanni’s voice quavered.

“Oh, not entirely nothing,” the solicitor continued. “He has provided funds for you to obtain a trade, at a school, before you must leave this house. What would you like to do?”

“Do? What would I like to do?” She rose from her chair, holding her head high, and began pacing the room. “I should like to become a fairy princess, or the bride of an Indian potentate. Or barring that, I should like to be a duchess and travel the world. I should like to be Empress of all the Russias. Are there schools for that? What an utterly dreadful thing that man has done. It’s as if I never existed.”

Mr. Fisher met her halfway across the room, steering her gently back to her chair. “Now, now, Miss Vanessa. I have a proposal you might like. You know about the new secretarial schools, where young gentlewomen can learn to take dictation and supervise accounting ledgers for businessmen. Mr. Firestone was gracious enough to deposit funds into your account to accomplish that, and you have enough time – six months -- for you to learn this trade.”

“I don’t have a choice, do I?” She replaced twisting the handkerchief by twisting the opal ring on her little finger.

“I’m sorry, but you are correct. I shall leave the name of the school with your servant and although I will contact them shortly, it will be your responsibility to approach the faculty and register for the classes.”

He rose, indicating his task had been accomplished. “Don’t bother showing me out, Miss Danforth. I’m certain your servant Clarice will show me the way, as I suspect she has had her ear glued to the door all along.”

As he opened the door, Clarice sprang from her crouching position at the keyhole, looking flustered. “And so what if I was eavesdropping?” she bristled. “Anything that concerns my Miss Vanni concerns me.”

As she handed Mr. Fisher his hat, he pressed a card containing the name and address of the business school into her hand. He said in low tones, “If you love your mistress the way you say you do, you will encourage her to attend this school. It will bring her some income once she leaves this house.”

Shaking her head, Clarice opened the front door for the solicitor. “It’s an evil thing that man has done, Mr. Fisher. Leaving my missy adrift in a big world.” With that said, she shut the door firmly behind him.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How She Does It - Marilyn Morris

Marilyn and I share a publisher - Vanilla Heart

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?

Oh,I agree. The word “how” logically precedes the plot. How do these people solve the problem, or get off the desert isle, etc.

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

In my historical novel, set in the WWII and post war eras, The Women of Camp Sobingo, all the women are composites of women I have known, or even wish I had known. The character of Nell is largely how I saw my mother in that military compound so far away from home. Except, of course, as my mother sniffed, “Of course, I did NOT have an affair with a priest!”

For my other novels, some seem to come from “out in left field.” An example: I had been working on my Forces of Nature “disaster”novel and had been thinking of naming the pilot of the C135 tanker. A female pilot would be a good element to my plot. So I was brushing my teeth one morning, and the name Rory Calhoun.popped into my mind, Why was this 1950s movie hero, mostly westerns, surfacing from nowhere. And then, of course! My pilot would have a masculine name but she’s petite when measured against her male counterparts. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer! One thing all my female characters have in common: They are all strong women; survivors.

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 can do both. It depends on the fragment of an idea I want to explore. Dangerous situations require a strong woman. In The Women of Camp Sobingo, toward the end of the story, Trudy Cavanaugh is appointed by her father-in-law as Chairman of the Board of his vast publishing empire instead of his son, who has descended into substance abuse.

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

I use a kind of road map. I’m going to a specific place in a specific timeline. For instance,in my historical novel, The Unexplored Heart, I know the characters find something astonishing on their property, as well as finding their own hearts in the process. Then I kind of work in the details. Like Indiana Jones, I make it up as I go along. Sometimes my “minor” character begins to take on a life of her own. This was the case of Esther Wooster, the wife and researcher for the archaelogist, Charles Wooster. The moment I typed “The End,” Esther Wooster marched into my office and settled her corpulent body in my guest chair. “I must have a book of my own,” she began, fiddling with her portfolio full of research papers. And I was hooked into a sequel where she takes center stage. She pops in now and then, to see how I’m progressing with After Camelot: Esther’s Quest.

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

Great question. It depends on which novel I’m writing. For The Women of Camp Sobingo, I relied heavily on old photographs of the military compound, with added comments by my mother and my own memories of that time and that place.

When I wrote Forces of Nature, I drew upon a short-lived temporary job as an Admin. Assistant to a mall Manager. For The Unexplored Heart, I hunted in my own library and found a coffee table book, Great Houses of Britain, where I could see color photographs and detailed descriptions of the interior and its history.

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

Again, I found old photographs for a couple of novels to capture the styles women wore in my era. For my Victorian historical romance, I went to the Internet to learn what a well-dressed Victorian woman would wear. And, I learned an important lesson: Don’t let your love of the research process dominate your novel. I was crushed when I saw the edited manuscript. But then I realized it slowed the action. But, simply retaining much of the research kind of “bled through” into the story.

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

Defiinitely a draft writer. I work on many drafts before I decide it’s okay. I take each chapter and add/subtract events. I don’t even number the chapters in my first draft, or the second or third. But I use a plot theme for each chapter, like, Bombay and Noah’s Ark; The First Ascent; and Rimar At Last. I try not to do more than three drafts, the final one being where I put all the chapter headings in place.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday - Who I've Been Reading - an Eclectic Mix

This past week, I've been catching up with books written by my friends and colleagues. I do have a thing for trilogies and always have to read all the books in the set but this week I just concentrated on catching up.  The first one was:

Deadly Consequences by Jude Pittman. Love this detective.

Jude Pittman's third Kelly McWinter PI mystery has Kelly McWinter and Gillian Tanner keeping a promise, taking their first vacation as a couple at Bubba’s Paradise Lodge. Of course, the fact that Cam Belscher, the owner of the Hideaway and feisty redhead Stella Davis have picked this particular paradise to tie the knot is the icing on the wedding cake.
Flash forward to the middle of the night. The sound of Bubba Tate banging the hell out of the cabin door is enough to put a damper on any vacation, and when the reason for Bubba's late night intrusion turns out to be the murder of one of Gillian’s stableboys back at her riding stable in Fort Worth, the wedding trip is over. Paradise is in the rear view mirror of the 747 taking Kelly and Gillian back home to Texas.

The small community of Indian Creek is rocked by nasty doings at Eagle Mountain Lake: a dirty rotten snake peddling child porn, a psychopath killer and a monster who beat a pretty teenage girl over the head and left her for dead.

Kelly and his old partner Augustus Graham are hard pressed to discover the truth disguised by the lies and mis-directions hidden in this intricate whodunit. Kelly is desperate to solve these crimes before Gillian sinks in the muck that someone is dumping on her riding stable.

The second book was:  Hawk's Haven by Kat Attalla  A great romance that will warm your heart. One of my favorite heroes.

In Kat Attalla's Hawk's Haven, published by Books We Love, everyone in town knows wealthy Gillian Hughes is a spoiled daddy's girl. When she's arrested after staging a public protest to a social injustice, no one is more surprised than Hawk Carter. Is there more to the society princess than meets the eye? The young lawyer would just as soon not find out. But Gillian's been sentenced to community service on the local Indian reservation and her doting dad has elected Hawk to keep an eye on the errant heiress.
Gillian vows that no one will ever control her again. Not her father, not the judge, and certainly not a hunky Native American attorney whose Harvard education and imported suits surely mean he's turned his back on his proud heritage. But Gillian soon suspects that Hawk might not be a shallow social climber after all. Unless she's mistaken, he really does care deeply about his people, his career -- maybe even about Gillian herself.

Third was No Bells by F.M. Meredith a delightful mystery set in a small California town.

Rocky Bluff reels with the news a woman’s body was found buried in a shallow grave, and the culprit of a series of home break ins leaves a peculiar and disgusting calling card. Detective Milligan develops some concern that his partner has rushed to judgment on the case they are working, and the wrong person is accused of the crime. Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem -- she’s the major suspect in the murder case.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Character Stories - Orson Scott Card

Once again looking at something learned from How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. This is about stories that focus on Characters. All stories have characters but not all stories are character stories. What makes the difference?

A Character story is about change or transformation. There are many stories where the main character remains essentially the same at the end as he or she was in the beginning. I've had critique partners tell me in some of my stories that the character hasn't changed. This is especially true when I'm writing a series with the same character. The traits of the character are established in the first book and remain the same in the last book in the series. This can often drive people who don't know the series in entirety but come in during the third or fourth story. But that's something the writer knows. These are not character stories.

A Character story begins when the main character realizes he or she must change. In some matter they have reached bottom and must change. Not always an interior change in their nature but this can also be a change in how they relate to their environment. Character stories look at the hero or heroine in depth. This doesn't mean other stories don't have characters that change but other elements of the story are more important. In a Character story, the character's change or development is the story.

The Character story begins the moment the main character realizes there is a need for change. The reader needs to be shown what or why the character has come to this conclusion but not for pages and chapters of the character's life leading up to the moment. Begin at the beginning or the triggering moment. The story ends when the character has made the change or when they sink back to their old ways and refuse to make the change.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - A Quote from Pearl S. Buck

Many years ago when I moved from short stories to novels, I began by reading all kind of novels. Pearl S. Buck's were some of the ones I read. I also picked up a book of essays by authors I'd heard of and many I hadn't. In this book of essays I found this quote by Pearl S. Buck.

"Communication important--no, more important than self-expression."

I pondered this for a long time and decided what this meant to me was that when I entered a story I put myself aside. Not that little bits of me didn't end up in the characters I was developing. Many of the major emotions my characters were experiencing belonged to me but they had to be threaded through the character's experiences, not mine. I needed to communicatese to whoever would read the story as intregal parts of the characters' natures.

Easiest done for the hero and heroine but for the villain. This meant having the reader believe the bad guy or gal were people with the same traits as the hero and the heroine. Do I always succeed. Maybe and maybe not. I can only hope to communicate with those reading my stories that the people in my stories have come to live no matter what part they play. That is communicating.

How about you? Are you so hung up on showing you've mastered and excell in all the tricks of the trade that you forget about the real essence of telling a story? Letting the reader into the characters' lives by communicating who and what they are. Using those bits of yourself create ideas that the reader understands without the "It's so because I am the writer and I said so."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday's Meandering With Janet Lane Walters

This meandering is about a series of novellas - The Seduction series that has now grown to five with the release on Friday of A Surprising Seduction. How id this series begin? I'm not really sure what sparked the decision to invent the Good Group of Magazines but from some spark a few years ago the stories began with A Savory Seduction, then came a Silken Seduction, A Second Seduction and a Sudden Seduction. Just as I finished that one and sent it off to my publisher, along came a collection of the first three stories cammed Sweet Seductions. Not wanting the fourth brother to stand alone in the cold, I looked through the books and found two more characters in the other stories to give them a story. Thus was born A Surprising Seduction. There's a final one to be written, probably will be called a Spicy Seduction and it will have a bakery involved. Now sure what more. These are short, spicy stories that were fun to write.

A bit of a meander here. I find writing fun and when it stops being ful, maybe I'll quit. I sort of look at writing a story as pitting myself against the characters and their world. Writing means adventure and at my age adventures on paper are where it's at. Last week, I realized I was within 10,000 words of finishing The Lines of Fire and that makes me happy. Finding the characters reaching their goals and the changed goals is always fun. I also went through 5 chapters of The World Has Come of Age, a title I'm not sure I like but I'll worry about that when I come to the end of the story.

Enough meandering. But have fun reading about what happens in the fifth Seduction story and maybe look at the others. They're all available in a number of formats. The horn has been tooted.

A Surprising Seduction Erotic Contemporary Romance Novella
The deaths of Tony Carlin’s brother and Lauren Grant’s sister bring them together to become guardians to 10-month-old Jamie. The attraction between Tony and Lauren ignored in the past flares to life in the present and causes their worlds to spin out of control. Lauren plans to finish her degree and find a job. Until then she has no time for a man in her life. Tony likes women and multiple is his choice. Tony realizes he has fallen in love and needs a way to show her he won't derail her plans for her future.