Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday - Plots - Transformation

Many stories deal with transformation. Meaning that the character isn't the same when the story ends as they were in the beginning. This is a character device rather than an action device where the character may or may not change. This is often seen in stories that are "coming of age" stories. This device focuses on one time in a character's life when they are faced with choices. This type of story deals with a character moving from one stage of life to another. The nature of the change and how it effects the character is important. The character must realize the impact of the change on his life. Growth is important to the story. The ending can cobtain an element of sadness. A child becomes a man and leaves the wonder behind and must face the reality. A person who has committed some kind of act realizes what they have done is wrong. In a Transformation story, the change in a character's nature is vital. And the change must be a real one and understood by the character.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Becoming an expert

Finding the old book of essays from writers from my past reading days has been a good and inspiring time. Today I'm reading what Frank Slaughter wrote about becoming an expert. It's really about research and ising what you have learned effectively. Research can be fun and exhausting. The problem, at least for me, is finding how one trail leads to another and not being able to stop searching for some new tidbit. Often getting off track can halt the writing. One of the tricks I've found is to research a specific area in depth and forcing myself to avoid the byways at the expense of writing.

Another problem with doing massive research is the desire to put everything learned into the story. Paragraphs and pages of facts are going to turn a reader off. What one has to do is choose from the pages they've read and taken notes on and selecting one or two facts needed to make the story seem real. When I was writing Obsessions, I drew a plan of the orthopedic storage room and listed every object in it. My initial draft read like a floor plan. Shaking my head, I cut this down to what I needed to bring the story to life. Doing this has taken time.

Writing other books has sent me to the experts in a field and boy do they like to talk. I've had doctors describe step by step a procedure and have had to pull out a fact or two that will make what I'm writing seem real.

What about you, do you tend to find research so interesting that you can't seem to stop and write what you learn? Has your critique partners called you a teacher rather than a writer? There may be no answer to the problem of over-researching, after all writers are curious people. When writing there is an answer, leave out the long passages and concentrate on those few facts that make your story seem real.

Monday, February 27, 2012

27 February - Week Behind and Week ahead

First the winner of an autographed copy of Obsessions if Sarah Mc Neal. Email has gone out.

Last week saw much work on A Surprising Seduction and the realization that I was rushing the end. I tried to jam too much in the last chapter and didn't allow my heroine time to have her change of heart. The hero had his fairly early on. What this means is that I need to slow down some of the action and add a final chapter. I didcovered there was plenty of room to do this. My heroine has fallen in love with the hero but she doesn't believe she has time to work on a relationship with the hectic pace of the rest of her life. Now I must have the hero show her the possibilities and for her to accept them

Looks like there'll be a lot of work this week on finding the right way to ean the story. I may also have time to do a little blocking on a new Kathering Miller mystery. All about the end of a controlling woman - the Micro-Manager Murder Love all the mmmm's Of course my youngest granddaughter calls m's e's sideways. Also hopefully will get all my cats herded and schedule an event for us. Will also be reading a book or two on my Kindle that are written by several chapter members.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

3 Blog Visit Sunday

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Collin Kelly - Prologue

Prologue: Time Ticks

Hands in motion. Fingers fly over letters and numbers, type out a
message, a brief history of self, of time, of need and directionless
desire. The screen bathes those hands in bruised light, flickers on a
face in the darkness. A face grown two years older, forehead scarred
by a bomb blast often hidden by blonde bangs and more tiny lines
around the eyes behind glasses. There is an unmistakable tattoo on the
left hand between the thumb and index finger: two interlocking
crosses, equal but opposite.

Here is how the monster is kept at bay: he surfs through pornography,
lurid images and chatrooms, searches for the lowest common
denominator. There’s a picture of a beautiful young boy, only
eighteen, on one side of the screen and an open dialogue box on the
other. 17 Rue Ferrandi, the boy types. I am Thierry. What is your

He types back: Martin.

He leaves the apartment on rue Rampon silently, makes sure not to wake
his roommate. But she is awake. She hears the almost imperceptible
click as the laptop switches off; his feet pad down the hardwood floor
of the hallway. Then there’s the other click, the one that makes her
mouth go dry with dread and disappointment. It’s the sound as the door
softly opens and closes, a maneuver only she hears. Even the cat at
the foot of her bed, with preternatural senses, sleeps through his
leaving. These late night disappearances happen at least twice a week,
and they’ve been going on for months. Every time he leaves, it’s still
a surprise, as if it’s happening for the first time. She gets out of
bed and opens the doors to the balcony.

It is late summer, the tourists have gone home, the city is quiet, but
there is expectancy in the air, something or someone she cannot name.
She feels it as intensely as when Martin Paige’s arrival was imminent
just two short years ago. It is early morning; Venus is visible
overhead. It rivals the moon for the sky. Irène Laureux leans on the
balcony, the tattoo on her pale left hand in sharp relief against the
metal railing even in the weak light. Equal but opposite – the same
ink she shares with Martin. Irène looks up, summons the inevitable
with words that have served her well in the past: Paris, Paris, Paris.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How He Does It - Collin Kelly

Collin Kelley is the author of the mystery/suspense novels Conquering Venus and the newly released Remain In Light, which is a finalist for the prestigious 2012 Townsend Prize for Fiction.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?
The characters in Conquering Venus and Remain In Light, the first two books in The Venus Trilogy, are either aspects of myself or amalgamations of people that I know or have met. Irène Laureaux, the Parisian widow searching for her husband’s killer, was created after watching all of the films starring Jeanne Moreau and Catherine Deneuve and creating a hybrid of the two women. Then I infused her with the sensibilities and tenacity of one of my best friends, Donna. I dedicated Remain In Light to her because I think Irène becomes a more fully rounded character by taking on some of Donna’s characteristics. Diane Jacobs, the pushy schoolteacher who sets a good majority of the action in motion, in both books was based on three of my best friends, including the schoolteacher who first took me to Paris in 1995. I’ve pretty much decided that Parker Posey is the only one who could play her if they ever make films from my books.

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 main characters and plot sort of arrive together for me. Supporting and minor characters might be created later to help advance the plot, but The Venus Trilogy has been nearly fully formed in my head for a decade now. I wrote Conquering Venus with no outline, thinking I didn’t really need one. I thought I’d give an outline a whirl with Remain In Light and found that it kept me on track and gave me forward momentum. It also allowed me to write parts of the novel out of sequence without fear of getting lost in the plot or losing story threads I’d started earlier and needed to pick up later. I’ve been living with Irène, Martin and Diane for so many years that they almost write themselves. I can hear them talking in my head as I write, so when I write something totally out of character they always pipe up to correct me. Especially Diane.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
I have a very strong general idea. I knew exactly how Conquering Venus and Remain In Light had to end, but I’m weighing a couple of ideas for the final book in the trilogy. I have an outline for the majority of the third book and two different scenarios for the ending. As the writing process continues, the appropriate ending will reveal itself.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
The majority of The Venus Trilogy is set in Paris. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to go there three times and I actually wrote a good portion of the finale of Remain In Light there during the summer of 2010. The other main locations are Memphis, Tennessee and London, England. I’ve been to Memphis numerous times to London more times than I can count, so they are ingrained in my head. Irène’s pursuit of the man who killed her husband takes her to the Rhône-Alpes, but I’ve never been there. I did a lot of research, looked at photos and utilized Google street view to help give those locales authentic and specific details. I also like to create fictional places within real ones. Rue Rampon, the street where Irène lives and so much of the action in The Venus Trilogy takes place, is a real street in Paris and I’ve tried to make it authentic, but have taken liberties with building design, the businesses and denizens to suit my dramatic purposes.

5. Where do you do your research? Online or from books?
Online and in the field. To be honest, I’d be lost without my MacBook and an Internet connection. Having the answer to just about any question at your fingertips is amazing. I did all of my research for the 1968 scenes of the Paris student/worker riots in Conquering Venus and Remain In Light online, and then visited some of the flashpoints while I was in the city to pick up nuances and sense memories. The vast archive of online photos and maps has helped me create more authentic locations. I’m always pleased when a reader tells me that I captured a place so beautifully in my writing – that’s a great compliment for any writer.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How The Story Emerged - Obsessions

Still striving to create a title for this story and this is the latest. There will be a giveaway here of an autographed copy of Obsessions to a US or Canada person who makes a comment and leaves me a way to reach them.

Today Heart Throb is available for free on Amazon Kindle.

Now for the story of Obsessions. Many years ago I read Michael Palmer's Sisterhood and really liked the book I thought perhaps I could write a medical suspense so I read many others in the subgenre and found that I couldn't write ones like those. Somehow I couldn't devise an evil mad scientist as the doctor of the piece so I put the idea aside. Then a series of events gave me the way to work this out, in my own way. I was still working as a nurse and trying to get in an hour or so a day writing. There was a Code and the patient didn't live. The family was hysterical. Then one of my colleagues who had a long standing relationship with one of the doctors found the affair had ended. A young nurse had just begun a flirtation with a doctor and during narcotics count one a pill seemed to be missing and we had a grand search to find where it had gone. Thus the seeds for Obsessions was found.

This is a story where the doctors and nurses are the ones who are being killed in what seem like accidents at first. Except, one of the nurses receives gifts after each death. Also those who die have obsessions with different things. The heroine is obsessed with not getting involved with a man who will want to control her life like her dead husband. Two of the victims are obsessed with a particular person. One is obsessed with drugs. The list of victims and the possible killers grow shorter. The heroine must face her own death on a winter night near Christmas and a chase through the streets of her tow,

The ending, and I won't tell you what it is freaked out many of my critique partners but I knew the heroine and stuck with the ending. So there you have the genesis of the story. The villain in the story remains as one of my favorites.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday - Plot - Metamorphosis

Perhaps a tricky plot or plot element since the main character is the victim of a curse. The prince who is turned into a frog is a classic of this kind of story. Here the main character falls under a curse. I've used this plot device once. In the Amber Dragon written as part of an anthology and part of "The Amber Chronicles." In this case, the vain princess has been spoiled by her father who wants her to marry but she hasn't chosen anyone. Into their lives comes an evil magician sho wants to marry the princess and rule the kingdom. The princess is cursed to become a small, fat amber dragon. She must receive the kiss of a prince to change her back. Unfortunately the princess has been nasty to every prince in the world. The problem is of course solved by a stray prince but not without the princess learning a bit about life and love. Hear there is a happy ending.

A happy ending isn't necessary and some of these stories end unhappily. This is a device often used in fairy tales which is where my idea arose.
What is needed here is a character perhaps with a lesson to be learned. A curse and not necessarily done by an evil person that changes the character into an animal. The character may or may not learn the lesson being taught.

This kind of story can be fun to write particularly as an experiment. For me the bits of humor were what kept me writing to the end. How does a dragon get a prince to kiss her after she's found the only prince available to her.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Phyllis A. Whitney - Endings

During my teens and into my adulthood I read many of Phyllis A. Whitney's novels. When I picked up a book of essays by many authors, I read one of hers that struck a real note with me. I remember reading this years ago and put the advice in a note I was compiling about writing. This was about endings to the story. Yje gist was to leave your readers satisfied. A happy ending isn't actually necessary but the reader should be left with a feeling that this was the right ending to the particular story.

Those of us who write in the many genres are used to producing happy endings. The hero and heroine are together. The villain is being punished. Sometimes this happy ending isn't the right ending to the story but the ending should satisfy the intent of the story. The long drawn out ending where the writer spends pages explaining the entire story as a recap may make the reader scratch his or her head. This kind of ending has been used in mysteries written in the past and doesn't work today.

What if the ending is unhappy and there are those that are. I once had a reviewer really like the book but the lack of a happy ending troubled her. But because of the hero and heroine's cultural background they couldn't be together happily every after. What I wrote was a satisfactory ending with the promise they would see the other again with the hope that there would be a future for them.

Another thing that will lead to an ending that isn't completely satisfactory is letting some of the strings od the story remain unresolved. Not this can happen when one is writing a trilogy or a series. A writer must write a satisfactory ending that shows the story isn't over and there's more to come. I call this the tease ending. This meand the current story has ended but the reader will look forward to the next one in the story.

There are also times when the happy ending of a story seems forced. To me this often happens when the writer adds a postlogue that takes place in the future that shows the characters in a scene saying, "See this is a happy ending." As a reader I am usually turned off by this kind of ending.

What's your take on this? Are happy endings necessary for a story to end or should the ending be satisfactory? To quote Phyllis A. Whitney "If you keep in mind where you are going from the beginning, you will be likely to leave a satisfied reader at the end."

Monday, February 20, 2012

20 February - Last week and this

For those who might be interested and who have a Kindle or Kindle app. The doctor's Dilemma is free today only at Feb 20 The Doctors Dilemma

The winner of a copy of Moon Pool is Rhonda D. Have sent an email to her.

Last week was a rather busy one and writing on A Surprising Seduction has sped along. For some reason this story has moved quickly and I'm under 10,000 words of nearing the end. Not bad for about two weeks plus of writing. The hero is busily digging himself into a hole based on faulty assumptions. He's going to have to dig himself out and this is often hard for those who are alpha heros. They don't like to apologize and begging is out. His attraction to the heroine is quite strong. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

This week I'll hopefully get all those wonderful words down on paper and then it will be into the revision part of the process. Taking all those writing missteps this writer often finds during the rough draft and even to two or three drafts beyond. The use of It, such a vague word when one could be specific. Or those things beginning She began to run. She ran is so much more active. Then there are the really passive sentences. In my case it's often having the people work in a vacuum with no thought of where the characters are really going. Now it's off to work and hopefully to another great week.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

3 Blog Visit Sunday

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday's Chapter = LE Harvey - Impeccable

Chapter 1
The vibration of her Blackberry woke Carol. She slowly opened her very heavy eyes.

Everything around her was blurry. She blinked several times and tried to focus her eyes on the
number displayed on her Blackberry screen. Squinting, she was able to make out the incoming
caller’s number. It was a client, a good client, calling with an emergency. It looked like they had
already called a few times, but she had somehow missed those previous calls.

Carol sighed, and stood up. Even though she was exhausted and had no interest in working
at all, she knew she couldn't ignore this emergency call. They called her directly, so she couldn’t
send Will out. This was her life, to be at her client’s beck and call. Once again she sighed,
knowing that she had to leave.

As she took a few steps, she noticed she was off-balance and stumbled. Carol assumed she
was more tired than she had initially realized. She paid no attention to the coffee table with the
pill vials and empty glass still sitting there, blatantly displaying their culpability. Unable to
remember what had transpired just a little while earlier, Carol concentrated on each step as she
walked towards the garage.

Slowly, she opened the door to the garage. She stared at the two cars. Her mind was far too
foggy to drive the GTO. She didn't have the coordination or wherewithal to handle the stick shift.
She hated the idea of using the Camry, but Carol knew it was her only option because of the rain
and her weariness.

As soon as she got into the car, Carol was fighting back a flood of memories she and Alex
had shared in this car. The Camry was old, but ever so precious to Carol. Carol was so tired and
emotional that she forgot to buckle her seatbelt. Hesitating, Carol started to slowly pull out of the
garage. She nearly crashed into the garage door when she realized she hadn’t hit the button for it
to open. Luckily, Carol was able to stop the car within inches of disaster. Carol tried to take a
few deep breaths when she hit the button, hoping to calm herself. While her heart raced from the
near accident, she waited for the garage door to open. Once the outside world was completely
visible, she drove cautiously towards her client’s office.

Even though she was tired, the drive seemed tolerable – at first. It didn’t take long, until
exhaustion overtook her. The longer she drove, the more unbearable the drive became. Mile after
mile, Carol was fighting her tiredness. Her eyelids were heavy and begging to close. She fought
to concentrate on the wet, slick road. Carol couldn’t keep focused. Her head slumped down and
she had to jerk herself awake only to repeat the pattern countless times. She knew she was tired
and depressed, but Carol couldn't understand why she was so exhausted.

She fought valiantly to keep her eyes open as she drove, but the weights on her eyelids
were far too heavy for Carol. Eventually, her eyes shut and did not open again. Blackness swept
over her.

Carol could vaguely hear all kinds of voices and noises. People were shouting all around
her, but she was unable to comprehend their words.

Waves of blue and white occasionally flashed in her eyes. Her surroundings were nothing
more than swirls of paint and colors. Her eyes were unable to fix themselves on anyone or

Her head felt heavy and flopping all around. Carol never felt so out of control of her own
movements. It was a strange feeling, yet she didn’t – she couldn’t care. Her thoughts were foggy.
Carol felt as though she was in a strange dream, and could not wake up.

She couldn't feel her body. She felt nothing, no pain, nothing, no heat, and no cold. She
couldn’t feel anything. Where was she that she lacked all sensation? Carol diligently tried to
focus on her surroundings and tried to make sense of all the activity going on around her, but she
was unable to sustain that for long. Once again her eyes rolled back and Carol was consumed by

“I have two megs per keg of morphine per hour, doctor.” It was a woman’s voice.

“Morphine? Doctor, she’s unconscious from a head injury. Shouldn’t she be given an
NSAID or any other form of pain management other than an opiate?”

“Okay, Ronnie. What did they teach you about morphine in school?”

“It raises intracranial pressure and there’s the risk of respiratory depression. That’s too
risky for a patient like this.”

“Very good, Ronnie. Normally that’s true. She’s stable for now though, so it should be
fine. If her resps decrease too much, we can always throw her on the ventilator. Now, you are
right about the intracranial pressure. So we have to watch for any signs of brain trauma. Now, we
need to get her moved into iso as quickly as possible.”

“ICU said that they are getting an isolation room ready for her right now. She should be
able to transport in about fifteen minutes,” the woman said.

Carol took in a deep breath. There was an odd sound to her breathing and she could feel
something covering her nose and mouth. She couldn’t open her eyes at all. Carol was lost. She
had no idea where she was or what was happening. This was the worst nightmare she had ever
experienced. Suddenly, she felt a cold shiver run through her body. She tried to curl up for
warmth, but she was unable to move. She heard strange noises coming from somewhere behind

“Hamm. It seems she has a slight arrhythmia,” the first male voice said.

“She’s also bradycardic, doctor.” Once again, the woman spoke.

“Okay. I want her on Epi, but watch for any PVC’s. I want her under constant surveillance,
and with her vitals checked q fifteen. You understand?” The first man who was referred to only
as “doctor,” said.

“Yes,” the woman answered.

Carol was confused by their words and her inability to see. She took another deep breath
in. Just as she did, her ability to think disappeared and she felt herself get swept away into
another deep sleep.

Friday, February 17, 2012

How She Does It -L. E. Harvey

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

Not really. Sometimes I'm inspired by a picture or a face. Othertimes a personality trait or life experience will come to me. Sometimes a character in their intirety comes to me. There's no real process for me. I just let them come to me.

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 stories are charcter-driven, so when a character comes, so does the plot. As a write, things will happen that surprise me. The basic plot, however, arrives with the character. They are intertwined for me.

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

Yes, I do have a general idea of how each of my stories will end. For me, you can't have a plot without an ending. I don't force it, I want the ending to flow and match the story. Just like the characters come with the plot, so does the ending. I'm very lucky in that my muse is rather thorough! :)

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

I typically choose the settings. The settings are chosen for one reason or another. For example, Imperfect and Impeccable are set in St. Louis because of a reference to the St. Louis Cardinals. Unbreakable Hostage is set in Los Angeles because of my time on the West coast. Loving Her is set in my home town of Philadelphia because I wanted Katie to be a vet student at the University of Penn., where I used to work. So, the locations aren't chosen by chance. It's important for me to have the location fit the characters and the story, so I'm cautious as I choose the locations as well.

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

Both. I typically start on-line, unless I happen to have a book that references the topic handy. Otherwise, I see what I can find on the internet, including book titles and I go from there. If nothing else, Imperfect and Impeccable taught me that you can never do enough research! :)

Stories of Love Without Boundaries
L. E. Harvey, Author
Author: Loving Her; Unbreakable Hostage; Imperfect; Impeccable

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The story behind Moon Pool

Before the story begins there will be one autographed copy of the Moon Pool given away to one person who comments on this post.

Once upon a time I was asked to write a novella for a publisher whose company has vanished into the atmosphere somewhere. The other members of the anthology were writers I admired so I wrote my story. This publisher was the same one who published Becoming Your Own Critique Partner initially. A second anthology was proposed and Jane was to be one of the authors. I wrote the second story for the anthology and Jane wrote her first. The original concept for this series has been developed years before but had never gone anywhere. Just ideas, never stories. When the first publisher vanished those of us in the first anthology attempted to find another publisher with little success so we put the stories aside.

Then Jane and I sold Becoming Your Own Critique Partner to Zumaya. I'm not sure how out venture came to be but either Liz approached us or we approached her about the three completed stories and the one Jane had planned. Jane and I began the exchange of stories with places to improve or places where things could be added. We sent the four stories to Liz and she accepted them.

The editing process at Zumaya is very different from that at most places. The main problem I had with it was the length of time I needed to sit at the computer and the times when the connection vanished for some arcane reason. I usually sit for no more than a half hour at a time in the computer because sitting for too long stiffens the knees I had replaced.

Moon Pool contains four novellas, two written by Jane and two by myself. They take place either in the past or the present in a resort in the Adirondack mountains of New York and are based on a supposed Indian legend we invented. The story says that on the night of a full moon if one looks in the Moon Pool they will see the person destines to be their mate. Four women who have little room for magic in their lives discover the magic of the Moon Pool.

Writing this was different from doing Becoming since only the editing of the stories was an exchange. Jane and I write in two very different ways. I do drafts and she revises as she goes along. The interesting thing we discovered is that it takes about the same time to complete a story no matter which way is used.

So hopefully you'll enjoy learning how this collection came be be and will enjoy the stories in the Moon Pool.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday - On Plot - Temptation

Today Temptation is the plot or plot device to be looked at. Will the main character bite or not? That is the basis of temptation. The direction can either be showing someone constantly rejecting what ever tempts them or accepting the temptation. While resisting can be interesting the character who takes the temptation then must face the consequences of his or her action. This can make for a great story.

Using this device is shown through character development rather than action. Motives and needs are the important directions. This device demands the character change and the change is a great one. Most of the conflict when using temptation as a device is interior. Frequently this is the character against himself rather than vieing with another person, social group or natural disaster.

The hero or heroine's nature needs to be shown as well as the temptation they face. Once they give in and sieze the temptation there should be some gratification. The hero or heroine should revel in the choice they made and think they have won. Then slam them with the consequences. Their attempts to avoid paying for what they have done should show their slide to the bottom and then the decision to change.

These kind of plots or plot devices usually end with the character seeking redemption and atonement for their actions. There may or may not be a happy ending. The moment of redemption can come as the character is facing death.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration

Back to reading small essays by writers either famous now or in the past and finding little gems that inspire me. Morris L. West was a writer I remember reading. One thing from his essay that struck me spoke of "the writer's selective process." How right he was with this one. I know that sometimes when rough drafting a story I start writing every event of a character's day. When I go back to look at this scene I often laugh. Why? Because I'm rather bored. Then I stare at what I see and suddenly one of the incidents I've noted is the one that causes a change in the story. Often this is something that gives me a Why or a How. Those pages are torn up and only the moment of a change remains

This moment of change is the one for me because often there are other moments that would produce a change in a different direction. What I've learned from this is one must look at their characters' lives and decide where they are going. Keeping the goal in mind allows you to move the story along. Side trips can be fun but they can also muddy the fictional story a bit.

How do you choose your selective moments? Is there a process you use or do you wait until an incident jumps out and hits you in the eye? Many writers do this by instinct others have to search.

Monday, February 13, 2012

13 February Week Behind and Week Ahead

Winner of Becoming Your Own Critique Partner is R. Ann Siracusa

Last week was a busy one and one with a unique event. Out chapter HVRWA took part in the first Nook Book signing at the Barnes and Noble store in the Pallisades Mall. There were no physical books being sold only downloads. I believe I sold some books. I don't know for sure abd won't for a long time. I believe the signing was a success since they asked us back for around Mother's Day. Actually I think for the store this was successful for it brought the Nook a lot of attention. Perhaps this will take in other places. I signed a half dozen postcards I printed for the people who circled the title or titles of some of my books on the list they took to the cashier to be given a code for the download. They could take the code home or they could download it right in the store.

As to writing, I'm about a third of the way done with A Surprising Seduction. This isn't bad, especially when I'be been working on it for a little over two weeks. When a book practically writes itself one feels good but also a bit wary. Hopefully this one will please my editor.

This week I'll be plunging ahead and hope to finish what I call the Where draft. Often I forget about placing my characters in anything but a vacuum. I always must go back and add the little touches. Sometimes I go overboard but that's why i have a critique group. They tell me when I've written. Once this book is done I'll be working on a new Mrs. Miller story but that's for a time ahead.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

3 blog visit Sunday


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Smoky Zeidel - On the Choptank Shores

Chapter 1

June, 1928

At one time, he had loved them.

During the Pennsylvania years his love had been steady as the beacon from the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, on the Delaware shore where he’d taken them on vacation when she was seven. He’d bought them salt water taffy, and she’d eaten too much and gotten sick. He held her head while she vomited, speaking soothing words and wiping her mouth and forehead with his handkerchief when she was finished.

Their house had echoed with the chattering laughter of little girls playing Annie Oakley, shooting make-believe pistols in the air while riding on his back as he pranced around on all fours, snorting and pawing the floor in so poor an imitation of a real live horse that she had tumbled to the floor in fits of hysterical laughter, nearly getting trampled in the process. He’d feigned wild fury, rearing up, pawing madly at the air, pretend hooves thrashing. Emily had saved her, roping the marauder with a yellow satin sash lasso.

Then Emily died, and Papa didn’t want to play anymore. He’d packed up the family and moved them away from the only home she’d ever known to Maryland and the sandy shores of the Choptank River. Some memories were too painful to live with.

Emily’s memory refused to stay put in its Pennsylvania grave, following them to the ramshackle farm he bought on credit, drifting in and out of their collective unconsciousness like the shifting sands of the Choptank itself, insinuating itself into every corner of their house and their minds. Grace found comfort in her sister’s memory. Mama cried. Papa alternated between cursing God for taking his child from him and burying his nose in his Bible, searching for a divine reason for the tragedy.

God’s answer—Matthew, a golden-haired son; and Miriam, raven-haired and solemn—arrived, red and screaming, at a time when most women Mama’s age were welcoming grandchildren, not babies of their own. Papa celebrated the miracle of their birth with zealous participation in a month-long revival meeting, where he accepted ordination into the ministry with a single dunking in the river. He left the revival the newly appointed pastor of their tiny rural church. Hope springs eternal, Grace once read. Although his religious epiphany turned the playful father into a serious and strict man, at least Papa’s grief had been replaced with hope.

Then came the sickness, riding in on a heat wave, swallowing up young and old alike with the greed of a stray cur. For three days Matthew lay writhing on his cot, dehydrated and delirious, tangling his sturdy legs in the sweat-soaked sheets until, at last, he writhed no more. He died on his fifth birthday. Grace fancied she saw his small spirit dance out the window, hand in hand with Emily. She never felt her sister’s presence in the house again.

Grief is a poison that works its devilry in insidious ways. For Mama, grief meant taking to her bed the day after Matthew’s death, and not leaving it again until, a year later, she was carried out in a pine box. Heart attack, her death certificate read. A broken heart, Grace thought more likely.

Papa’s heart bled with each blow of the hammer as it sealed Mama’s coffin shut; bled as she was lowered into the ground in the cemetery next to Matthew; it bled as he turned to face his two surviving daughters, his face twisted with a bitter confusion of emotions Grace could not read. Grief tore at him like a riptide, drowning the last vestiges of the kind and loving father, leaving in his stead a stranger, cold as the ice floes of winter.

Grace thought of these things as she knelt on the floor, trying to turn up a hem on the dress she was making for her younger sister, taking care to avoid bumping the red welts across the back of Miriam’s knees and calves. She may as well have been fitting the dress on a newborn puppy, Miriam squirmed and wriggled so.

“Hold still, Miriam! I don’t want to stick you with a pin!” Miriam stopped squirming.

Grace pulled out the last two pins, lowered the hem a fraction of an inch, then put the pins back in place. “Honey, why didn’t you tell me last night that Papa hit you? I could have put a poultice on your legs so they wouldn’t bruise so badly.”

Miriam pinked, her eyes pooling. “I was a bad girl. I know I’m not allowed to climb the apple tree but I didn’t think Papa seed me. Papa said God gets angry when I’m a bad girl and that he had to hit me to drive the devil out.” A tear made its escape from the corner of her eye, coursing its way down her cheeks before dropping to the floor.

Grace pulled a handkerchief from her pocket. “You are most definitely not a bad girl, Miriam,” she said as she gently dabbed the little girl’s tear-stained face. “Papa was wrong to hit you, do you hear me? Just plain wrong.” She gathered up her pins and tape measure and placed them back in her sewing basket. “Do me a favor though honey, okay? Stay out of the tree unless you ask me first. Just to be sure Papa isn’t around to catch you.”

“Okay. Can I see how my dress looks now?” Miriam hopped down off the stool.

“Sure can. Go look in the mirror.”

Miriam ran over to the large full-length mirror that stood in the corner of the room. “It’s so pretty, Grace!” Miriam jumped up and down, her dark curls bouncing like springs.

“It is, isn’t it?” Grace gave Miriam’s dress a critical look. The dress was the same drab brown worsted fabric as the one Grace was wearing. It had the same high neckline, long sleeves, and formless shape their father demanded they wear to hide their female form. But Miriam’s dress had tiny white and yellow daisies expertly embroidered around the cuffs and neckline.

“It’s the work of the devil.” Luther Harmon’s hulking frame filled the doorway, casting a shadow over his daughters. “No good comes to a woman who dresses as a harlot.”

“For pity’s sake, Papa, I’m not the devil, and she’s not a woman, she’s seven years old, and she’s hardly dressed as a harlot.”

Miriam turned to face her father, beaming. “Papa, I promise I am not a harlot.” Miriam’s smile could melt ice, but it seldom had the same effect on her father. “Grace, what’s a harlot?”

“A wicked woman. I think we’re finished with this hem.” Grace turned Miriam around one last time, giving the hem a final inspection. “Go change your dress now, Miriam. And be careful not to stick yourself on the pins!”

But Miriam had already skipped off down the hall, singing merrily to herself.

“She will not wear that dress, Grace, until those immodest flowers are removed.” Luther towered over his daughter, the disapproval in his eyes magnified by thick spectacles precariously balanced on his bulbous nose. “It is forbidden by our Lord. Women must ‘adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.’ It is so written in Paul’s first letter to Timothy. Look for yourself if you have forgotten your scripture lessons.”

“Sounds to me like it is Paul that forbids it, not our Lord.” Grace picked up a stray pin from the floor. It took every ounce of strength to remain calm when he shouted scripture at her. “It’s only a few flowers. The dress is plain enough.”

Luther shook his fist with rage. “Do not mock the words of the sainted apostles in my presence, young lady!”

Grace eyed him coolly. “ ‘Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.’ Perhaps while you are quoting scripture, you should keep that one in mind. It is so written in the book of Ecclesiastes, if you have forgotten your scripture lessons.”

Luther raised his hand as if to strike his daughter, but Grace held her ground, unafraid. “What are you going to do, hit me, Papa? The way you hit Miriam?” She dodged to the left, avoiding the hand that cut through the air toward her face. “Did you think I wouldn’t notice the bruising on her arms and legs? Did you think she wouldn’t tell me you’d beaten her again?”

“It’s of little consequence to me if she told you or not. She disobeyed me, and had to be punished. ‘He that spareth his rod hateth his—’”

“Stop it, Papa. You will not convince me that God sanctions you beating a little girl just because she was sitting in an apple tree.”

Luther lowered his fist. “I hardly think you are in a position to act the authority on the word of God. You are, my dear, nothing but a woman, and as such have no right to any opinion whatsoever.”

Grace was in no mood to get into a theological debate with her father. She changed the subject. “Don’t deny Miriam flowers on her dress, Papa.” She reached out and gently squeezed Luther’s arm. “She’s a little girl. She needs some beauty in her life.”

Luther opened his mouth as if to reply; then, changing his mind, turned abruptly and headed for the door. “I’m going to milk the cows, then pay a visit over to Bessie and Ernie Simms’ place. Their boy Todd’s taken sick with the scarlet fever.” Luther put on his hat. “I’ll be home in two hours. Have my supper ready.” He opened the door, then paused a moment before turning back to face his daughter. “Miriam may wear the dress for play, but not for church.”
He was gone before Grace could respond.

“What was Papa yelling about, Grace?” Miriam crept fearfully back into the living room, clutching her new dress.

“Come here and sit with me, sweet pea.” Grace put down the book she was attempting to read and patted the tatter-worn sofa. Miriam ran over and snuggled close to her sister.

“Was Papa angry?” Miriam persisted.

“Papa was angry, but not at you, sweetheart.” Grace stroked the little girl’s curls. “Papa misses Mama, and sometimes that makes him confused. He yells at me when what he really is upset about is Mama going away.”

“She didn’t go away on purpose. She died.” Miriam’s lip quivered as her brown eyes flooded with tears.

Grace held Miriam close, her own tears a reflection of her sister’s. The bruises on Miriam’s arms were in the perfect shape of a hand, where Luther had squeezed her roughly while yanking her from the apple tree. The welts on her legs looked like stripes on a candy cane, an ugly reminder that Luther favored a riding crop to mete out his interpretation of Divine justice.

Miriam’s sobs faded into soft hiccups, but Grace continued to hold her, humming a quiet tune as the little girl nodded off.

She wished she could find a way to protect Miriam from their father’s verbal and physical assaults. Luther was becoming more unpredictable by the day. Yesterday it was the apple tree. The week before, he’d slapped Miriam across the face when she accidentally knocked over a glass of milk at the breakfast table. Grace had not lied to Miriam when she said Papa’s temper was misdirected anger over Mama’s death. But she suspected more was bothering him, something more insidious. She’d tried to talk to him about it during one of his cheerier moments, but he’d turned on her like a rabid fox. She had not broached the subject again.

She had to get Miriam out of the house.

Once Miriam had cried herself to sleep Grace gently tucked a blanket around her and tiptoed into the kitchen to prepare dinner. Goldie, the family’s ancient German shepherd, thumped her tail in greeting without bothering to get up from where she rested.
Grace patted the dog on the head before turning her attention to preparing dinner.

She flipped on the radio. President Coolidge had declined re-nomination by the Republican Party, the radio announcer droned. Famine was rampant in the Soviet Union.

Opening the icebox, she took out a quart of milk, eggs, and a crock of butter, making a mental note to tell Luther to pick up a fresh ice block in town the next morning. “Chicken and dumplings tonight, Goldie girl,” she said, measuring flour into a large earthenware bowl. “You be good and I’ll see to it you get some.”

Chicken was a rare treat. They could ill afford to slaughter one of the birds from their small flock of laying hens, because selling their eggs and the milk produced by their three Jersey cows provided the family’s only reliable if paltry income. Luther had been the pastor of the Sandy Ridge Brothers of the Holy Word Church for nearly seven years, but the church had been unable to pay his meager salary for the past four of those years. Churches were only as wealthy as their congregants, and like most small churches on Maryland’s eastern shore, Luther’s congregation was made up of poor farmers and day laborers. But Luther had married a young couple from Ridgely on Saturday, and the bridegroom paid him with a fine roasting hen. They had feasted on the bird at Sunday dinner and still had enough left over for Grace to make dinner tonight.

Grace stepped out the back door to see what offerings the kitchen garden might contribute to the evening meal. The sun was making its daily departure in the west, casting a soft peach glow over the land. A soft breeze drifted over the sandy fields, blowing a wisp of her fine blonde hair into her eyes. She brushed it aside as her senses were bombarded with the sweet scent of the mint, rosemary and chives in her garden, mingled with the strong but not unpleasant smell of cow manure from the pasture. A red-winged blackbird perched on the pasture fence, serenading her with an elaborate aria while gulls fussed in the distance.

Grace gathered rosemary and thyme to season the dumplings. Vines snaking around the fence posts resisted only slightly as she pulled a quart of plump green beans from their hiding places beneath the leaves. The yellow pear tomatoes Miriam loved were just beginning to ripen, and Grace added a handful of the tiny treats to her basket. A firm, emerald green cucumber and a sweet pepper completed her selections.

Luther returned home just as Grace finished the dinner preparations. He was whistling as he entered the kitchen, his eyes considerably brighter than when he had left the house a few hours earlier.

“You’re in a fine mood, Papa.” She scooped the steaming chicken and dumplings into a serving bowl. “How are the Simms?”

“Better, much better.” Luther surprised his daughter by taking the heavy bowl from her hands and carrying it to the table for her. “Todd’s fever broke last evening.”

“I’m glad.”

Luther nodded, whistling under his breath once again. “Bessie’s brother Otto was visiting.”

Grace felt the color rise in her face. She grabbed a rag and turned back to the stove, rubbing hard at some imaginary spill and hoping her father had not seen her blush.

“He asked permission to call on you. I have my reservations, Grace. He’s nearly twenty years your senior.”

Grace froze, then slowly turned to face her father. “I’m a woman now, Papa. I’m nineteen years old.”

“Nineteen, yes, not much more than a child yourself.” Luther lowered himself heavily into his chair, and drummed his fingers absent-mindedly on the table.

“How can you think that? When Mama was sick, I’m the one who nursed her, and I managed quite well at taking care of you and Miriam at the same time. I still take care of you and Miriam. I’m more like a mother than a sister to her anymore.”

Luther showed no signs of hearing her. Grace busied herself with arranging and rearranging tomatoes in the salad bowl, her heart thumping so wildly she was certain Luther would hear it.

Moments past before Luther spoke again. To Grace, it seemed like hours. “What is your opinion of Otto Singer, Grace?” he asked. “Do you hold him in high regard?”

“Mister Singer is a fine man,” she said, choosing her words carefully. “If he wished to call on me, I would not tell him no.”

Luther stroked his long beard, then let out a sigh. “I have invited him to dine with us tomorrow evening. He may escort you to choir practice after dinner, if that is your wish.”

“Thank you, Papa. I should like that.” Grace wanted to shout out loud for joy, but quickly regained her composure. She didn’t want to behave in an uncomely and childish fashion in front of her father, given his propensity to change his mind at the slightest provocation.

It wasn’t until later that evening, lying alone in her bed, that Grace allowed herself to wonder why Luther was going to allow Otto Singer to call on her. The Papa of old would have embraced the idea of a man like Otto courting his daughter. But the Papa sleeping down the hall, the Papa who beat his youngest daughter in the name of God, never did anything without first calculating the risks and benefits to himself.

The thought filled her with dread.

Friday, February 10, 2012

How She Does It - Smoky Zeidel

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 worked as a freelance journalist for years before making the leap to fiction, so I'm well-aware of the Five Ws. "Colonel Mustard murdered Miss Scarlett last Saturday evening in the library with a candlestick after he caught her kissing Professor Plum," tells the who, what, when where, how, and why, and is how a journalist would start off a story about this. Journalism gives the facts, and "how" is a fact--in this case, with the candlestick.

Plot, on the other hand, is what happens in a story. It goes beyond the journalistic approach of "Just the facts, ma'am." Plot embellishes on all five of the Ws and the how as well. Plot would tell about the deep love Colonel Mustard had for Miss Scarlett, how they fell in love, how and why they quarreled, why she cheated on him. It would tell what sent Colonel Mustard over the edge and made him murder the love of his life. If plot didn't embellish like this, you wouldn't have much of a short story or novel. You would have a news story.

I don't take this journalistic approach to writing. I prefer thinking the elements of great fiction are creating a great beginning that grabs the reader in the first few sentences, character development, setting, creating compelling dialogue, mastering point of view, and, yes, creating an interesting and intricate plot. You don't have to be a great journalist to write a novel. You have to be a great fiction writer, have a great imagination, and master these elements I've mentioned--and that just skims the surface. This is one of the reason so many bad books are out there. People think that just because they can create a sentence, they can write a book, and it just isn't so. Writers need to study their craft, just like a great musician has to study his or her craft to create a great piece of music.

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

I pretty much let my characters develop themselves. I create characterization charts with the basic information about them before I start, with things like their hair and eye color, pets, kind of car, etc. Details you can easily forget, and authors do forget. I get really annoyed when I'm reading a book and someone's Honda suddenly turns into a Toyota because the author has forgotten what kind of car their character drives.

But beyond those basic, external traits, I let my story dictate what kind of person the character is. Characters need to grow during a book. They need to learn things about themselves and the characters with whom they interact, and for me, this can only happen if I let them take the lead.

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

I normally have a rough idea of what the plot will be to a story, but I like to let the characters take the lead. On the Choptank Shores began as a much different book than the one I ended up with, for example, because I let the characters tell me what their story was. I didn't force them into the wrong story. It's a better book because I listened to what they had to tell me.

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

The first scene in On the Choptank Shores is actually the very last scene I wrote. I had to know how the story ended before I could know how it began. So I guess I would rephrase your question and ask, do you know where your story will begin before it ends? I don't know other authors who write this way, but it's what works best for me.

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

In both On the Choptank Shores and The Cabin, the settings were dictated by the stories. The former book would not have worked had I placed the characters in aManhattan condo, for example. The peach orchard on the Choptank River in Maryland is the only place this story could have taken place, because the setting was integral to the story. It was like a character in the story. In The Cabin, the story could not have been set any other place than where it is set, on a route for the Underground Railroad. It couldn't have been in Colorado, or Canada, or Great Britain.

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

Both. Most of my research, though, has come from my experiences. I spent every summer during my childhood at my aunt and uncle's peach orchard that was the setting for On the Choptank Shores. I could use it because I had experienced it. But I had to go to the library to research what sort of undergarments women wore in the 1920s. No bras back then, for example. Women wore bust confiners.

I'm working on two more novels currently, and both evolved from my own experiences one way or another. I find living a full and active life is the best research an author can do.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How It Began - Becoming Your Own Critique Partner

The first thing to mention here is for those making a comment and leaving a way for me to reach them, an autographed copy of Becoming Your Critique Partner will be given away.

Becoming Your Own Critique Partner is a book about writing mainly geared toward genre fiction. Years ago, Jane Toombs and I attended the first EPICON in Omaha. There we met with other authors who had chosen the electronic way to publishing. The motel was wonderful and cozy for there weren't too many people. One nice thing was the rec room offered complimentary beverages every evening. So Jane and I went from our room to the small bar. We spent time talking to other authors who had chosen to publish electronically. This was the days of books on floppy discs to be read on the computer. When we returned to our room, we sat around talking about what to do next. Jane or I, I'm not sure who mentioned writing a book about writing. Then we began to jot down titles. Some of them were definitely influenced by the liquid libations.

Here are some of the chapter headings. Your Tell Needs Showing about showing not telling.
Listen To The Mocking Bird is about dialogue.
Is Your Black Moment Really Gray -
Can This Plot Be Saved.

This is just a sampling. We divided the 20 chapters between us and decided we would write and exchange the chapters and re-write each other's. I'm not sure now which chapters I started and which Jane did. We started out in a rush but then slowed down. Writing nonfiction is quite different from writing fiction. I had done some ghostwriting and thought this would be a breeze. Not really. Finally we had a finished project and we set out to find a publisher. If I remember the sequence, the first publisher died without putting the book out. The second publisher did produce the book but for some reason though the book sold we never received a cent from that publisher and they vanished into the ether. Though we were without a publisher we did enter the book in the 2003 EPIC award contest and had no thought of winning. We did not prepare a speech and actually managed to say something. Only one of the trophies arrived and Jane and I decided to share it. We did not have to since EPIC had a second trophy made and it sits on my shelf. Then we set out to find another publisher and Liz at Zumaya had loved and admired the book. She took it on and Jane and I added a final chapter.

So this is the story of Becoming Your Own Critique Partner. Will I ever write another nonfiction book. Doubtful. My brain doesn't seem to be wired that way these days.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday - On Plot - Looking at the Underdog

Nearly everyone roots for an underdog, While this devise has some similarities to the rivalry kind of element in a plot. There is one major difference. The hero or heroine isn't equal to the villain of the piece. They are for some reason with little power. But we do root for them to win.

When attempting this think of your reader. Play to their emotions. They want the underdog to win and they have little or no love for the villain. Show this character in ways that make your reader angry but not angry enough for them to toss the book aside. Let little grains of hope creep into the underdog's character. This is the good guy and he will win but not before suffering defeat at the hands of the bad guy. Here the rule of three often comes into play. We all know about three strikes and you're out. But using this devise means two strikes and the underdog hits a home run.

When the hero or heroine wins the battle, let the reader feel the triumph and show the underdog triumphant and the villain receiving his due justice.

This kind of devise can be used in other ways as in the man versus nature or man versus society. Just remember the underdog needs to triumph.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Imagination

Today's Inspiration is about Imagination. While reading an short article by B. J. Chute, this author was discussing things that make an author. One of these was imagination. "Imagination is as necessary to a writer of fiction as web-spinning is to a spider." Not the exact quote but close. This triggered me th think about how often readers have mentionedmy imagination. Where did it come from? I think perhaps the first place where my imagination was honed was during my childhood after I learned to read and discovered words other authors had put on papers. Another was growing up in the days without television. One listened to stories on the radio and had to use their imagination to turn these words into pictures. Today writers use television and the movies to send their imagination on various tracks.

While imagination can't be created it certainly can be developed/ Imagination must be used. Playing the game of "what if" or "what might happen next" is a good way to hone the imagination. Being unafraid to spin stories and situations can help the imagination grow. When writing with imagination, anything is possible.

What about you? Do you send your imagination on strange journeys without worrying where they may go. One of the ways I've found for leting my imagination run wild is when I'm settling down to sleep thinking about the story I'm writing for the one I'd like to tell. Often I fall asleep while in the middle of an adventure. Sometimes, what I've been imagining is so vivid I must get up and jot some notes. Other times I find I've chosen a new direction for the piece of fiction I've been working on. Whatever you do, remember imagination is one of the basic building blocks in making a writer.

Monday, February 6, 2012

6 February - Week Behind and Week Ahead

Sometimes a story almost tells itself. I've finished the rough draft of A Surprising Sedcution in probably 10 days or so and this after I tore up nearly two chapters because I hit a dead end. The trick was finding the character to begin the story. Of course there's a lot of the story to continue since by the time I finished the last chapter there were changes to be made in the first few chapters. Some of the scenes surprised me. The hero and the heroine of this sexy novella do not trust each other and especially the hero has made assumptions. You know what that makes him. In the end, he'll come around because how else can you have a romance.

This week I'm into the second draft and that's putting the where and when into the story. After the first draft I often have people operating in a vacuum and need to put touches of their setting and time of year into the story. I am usually so involved with actions and interactions during the rough draft that time and place are ignored. While this time I'm using settings I'm familiar with filling them in will be a bit easier.

This week, on Saturday I'll be participating in a Nook Book signing at the local Barnes and Noble. Hopefully the event will be a success and sales will happen. Besides pens I'm trying to decide what else to take as promotional things. Will see what ideas I evolve as the time comes closer.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

3 Blog Visit Sunday

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday's Chapter = Windswept Shores - Janice Seagraves

Windswept Shores by Janice Seagraves

The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas until she finds a nearly-drowned man washed up on shore. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck. With only meager survival skills between them, will they survive and can they find love?

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

She’d felt like a tiny speck of sand last night when a violent storm had swept across the island. It had made a mess of her meager campsite, which had taken all morning to fix, and had demolished her seaweed SOS sign. She’ll have to recreate her SOS. Sighing, Megan trudged toward a pile of kelp. As she got closer, she saw a figure wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. Her stomach lurched.

Oh, God, it’s another body washed up from the plane wreck. That would be number twelve. As always, she couldn’t help but wonder if the next one would be Jonathan. He hadn’t been wearing jeans on the plane, so she knew she’d been spared seeing his corpse this time. Thank God. She approached the body with dread. Tightening her resolve, she knelt. Suddenly the “dead body” coughed and rolled over. With a scream, Megan jumped back. She clutched her chest and pressed a shaking hand to her mouth.

He’s alive!

Biting her lip, she stared down at the still-breathing man. His drenched t-shirt molded against his broad shoulders and well developed upper body. Short, golden brown hair stuck out in all directions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Signal for what?”


His accent intrigued her. Was he English or Australian?

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

“Don’t know. There’s no one here to ask.” Megan shrugged helplessly, but couldn’t contain her curiosity. “Are you from England?”

“Naw,” he rubbed his eyes, “I hail from Sydney, but my port of call these days is Fort Lauderdale.” He blinked up at her. “You?”

Ah, he’s an Aussie. “I’m Megan Lorry, from Anaheim, California,” she said, barely loud enough to be heard above the sounds of the surf and the roar from the fire. “Are you a survivor of Air Bahamas flight 227, too?”


Now also available at Smashwords, Diesel, All Romance and for the kindle at Amazon.

Janice Seagraves website:

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Friday, February 3, 2012

How She Does It - Janice Seagraves

Hi everyone, my name is Janice Seagraves. I’m a romance writer.

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’m a panster. My stories are character driven rather than plot driven. I go where my characters lead with slight nudges from me.

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

I write rather organically. My characters come to me in dreams or flashes and then I start writing. Sometimes my muse sends me just a short scene or sometimes an entire chapter. Then as I write my characters tell me who they are.

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?

It depends on the story. In Windswept Shores I had this idea for quite a while about a couple who find themselves on a deserted island and struggling to survive. I did a lot of research to find where my island should be located. Then I realized the Bahamas would be the perfect place and started writing.

I did a very scientific way of finding the names for my characters—I asked my then teenage daughter who told me Megan and Seth. Teens know all the best names. *grin*

As I wrote my story I learned who my characters were. Megan was easy; she’s from California like me. Seth on the other hand is from Australia and I had to learn how to write his accent which took time, but once I had it down his personality—popped—into existence.

Then Megan didn’t know what he’d say next, and to tell you the truth neither did I.

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

Each story is different. Sometimes I do have a vague idea how the story will go and sometimes I don’t, not until I reach the end.

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

Windswept Shores is set in the Bahamas. I’ve never been to the Bahamas in my life so I had a whole lot of research to do, but I like research so that wasn’t a problem.

My couple is on a deserted island and they’re basically camping. I’ve been to the beach and I’ve been camping since I was a baby, so I’m well suited to writing that part, no problem.

My editor has been to the Bahamas and said she felt like she was there when she read my book, so I guess I did alright.

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

Both actually. You can’t always trust what you find online so I also use books to cross reference what I look up.


Windswept Shores, now available from Pink petal books.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday's Interview - Renee Simons

Today;s interview is with a long time critique partner. We won't say how long, but Renee writes some very tense suspense and some really great romances.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
I write Romances, but always with an undertone of mystery or intrigue. No matter how hard I try, the dark side creeps in. Must be acharacter flaw.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
I think it chose me (see above). I seem to beentranced by the battles between guilt and innocence and the need for my characters to gain justice ina sometimes unjust world.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
I wouldn't like to try paranormal,vampires, fantasy or futuristic. My brain just doesn't work along those lines, unlike some of my friends,
like you, who write them so well.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
Mysteries, some spy stuff and factual books, especially about Native American history and lore.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
I started writing when I was in high school, mostly essays and short stories. By college-age, I'd been reading popular historical fiction
by Yerby, Slaughter, et al and tried to write one of my own -- a Bronx, New York kid's version of GWTW. Did loads of research and wrote an outline on index cards. It's at the bottom of a cartonsomewhere. Eventually, I read Rosemary Rogers and wrote a sexy love scene a la her and that
started me on my present road.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That's hard. They're all my babies, my fantasies and myalter egos. I'd say Jordan VanDien from Safe Haven, a woman who battles to overcome a dark past tomake room for love:

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
Every book contains a villain, created to further the plot, create or increase the shared danger and/or conflict for hero and heroine, bringing
them together for the romantic spark to ignite. Besides, villains are fun.

8. What are you working on now?
A cross-cultural love story that takes place in a New Mexico ghost
town and after that, the story of a writer who finds the man of her dreams in a locket which hashung from a chain around her neck since her sixteenth birthday. And I'm happy to say the Books WeLove, Ltd. is about to publish Eye of the Storm, wherein Michael Stormwalker must prove his innocence as a traitor, despite the desire of Alexandra Mclaren to send him to prison for her fiance's death.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
Safe Haven grew from a news story about a construction collapse at a hotel in the Midwest where a walkway failed, injuring and killing many. I changed the locale to Boston, told the story through the eyes of the architect and the womanhired to prove the fault lay with dishonest businessmen.

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

"A voice behind Jordan VanDien spoke softly; but with some urgency. At the waming that seemed more like a gentle caress, she turned and watched a tall man with sandy hair approach.

He prodded the soggy ground between them with a long metal rod. 'I told you to move away from the edge.'

'I heard you' she said. 'Mind telling me why?'

'We have a problem with erosion after heavy rain.'

On the beach below, a turbulent surf pounded the shore, legacy of the storm that had swept across Cape Cod Bay during the night.

'Looks solid to me.'

He reached out and stabbed at the ground behind and a little to her left. The pole sank into the earth, breaking off a piece and tumbling it over the edge of the bluff. His brilliant blue eyes turned frosty. 'Satisfied?'

'Yes.' She stepped back. 'Now.'

'Blood galah,' he muttered, and continued to test the ground, though with less disastrous results.

'Just what is a...what did you call it...?'

He turned to her. 'Back home in Australia, we have a bird called a gah-Iah, g-a-I-a-h. It's got pretty feathers and very little common sense.'

'Rudeness is inexcusable.'

'So is stupidity.'

Dolt, she thought."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday - On Plot - Rivalry

Rivalry as a plot or an element in the plot of a story can add a layer of tension. Two people vie for the same goal, And they must be two people of equal strength. For one to be weaker would lose the potential tension. Here you have the protagonist and the antagonist battling for a reward only one of them can win. This is a struggle for power. While they both have strengths they do not have to be the same strengths. These strengths can be in opposition and need to be compensating and matching.

Think of a battle of wills and start the story showing the pair in competition where one of them appears to win. Al least for the moment. As one seems to rise, the other will appear to fall. There are moral issues involved such as greed versus generosity.

Next work in a reversal where the man or woman on the bottom rises to the top and the other remains where they were at the end of the first confrontation. Once this is established the time has come for the final confrontation and the protagonist emerges with victory. Then he or she can restore order to their world.