Monday, April 30, 2012

30 Apri; Last Week and This


Hard to believe another month has ended. The winner of "Sweet Seductions has been sent an email. So far behind today. The phone is ringing off the wall.

Last week I finished the Setting Draft and am into the Character draft and the book is moving along very well. More than the halfway point ahs been reached and I hope to finish The Micro-manager Murder by June so I can get onto the next book that's outlined.

Was thinking about reviews and I kind of neglect sending requests for reviews to the various sites. Not sure why but that is part of promotion. Problem is I've never seen any increase in sales after a review whether it's a rave or a pan. Wonder if anyone knows how this sort of thing can be traced.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

3 Blog Visit Sunday


http://newbookblogger.blogspot.com/

http://speculativesalon.blogspot.com/2012/04/guest-post-lure-of-fantasy-by-jane.html

http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/ interesting articles, a bit about Twitter is one scrolls down

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Nexus - Jaleta Clegg


Ameli jabbed needles into my arm before hooking me to the hypnoteacher. The drugs worked their way through my system. I slid into sleep, the hypnoteacher whispering in my head like a chorus of ghosts.

Ameli woke me the next morning. She didn't give me any choice about that, either.

"Another glorious day," she said cheerfully. "The sun is about to rise."

"Go away," I said as forcefully as I could. My brain was like an overstuffed cushion pressing on my skull.

"Rise and shine." Ameli jerked the blanket off.

I shivered in the sudden chill.

"You've got five minutes to use the facilities." She nudged a pot on the floor with her foot. She left, taking the blanket with her.

I stared at the pot. The lump of knowledge in my head unfolded slightly. This was the epitome of bathroom facilities. It smelled like it had already been used.

I stood by the hard, narrow bed and shivered until Ameli returned. She dropped a pile of clothing on the bed. I shook it out to reveal an underdress of stained yellow with an overskirt in faded gray. Native dress for a servant, the lump of knowledge in my head informed me. It would unfold on its own, sooner or later, and I'd pay a price then, but for now I knew a little about Dadilan and could speak the language if I concentrated. I put the outfit on.

Ameli tapped her foot as she looked me over. She frowned at my hair. "It should be much longer."

I kept my hair shorn to less than an inch. It didn't stick up as noticeably and didn't remind of the orphanage on Tivor every time I looked in a mirror. Ameli solved the problem by tying a scarf over my head. It itched.

"My boots?" I asked. They were specially fitted and they were expensive.

She handed me a dainty pair of slippers.

I refused to take them. "I want my boots."

"And the lockpicks in them? So sorry, Dace. I think you just added another fifty years to your prison sentence."

"They aren't mine." I bit my lip when I realized how stupid that sounded.

"They're part of the evidence against you and your meddling. Leran has them." She smiled brightly. "Enjoy your life, Dace, what's left of it. Don't come back into mine." She swept out the door, hips swinging.

I jammed my feet into the slippers as I hurried after her.

"Ameli, wait, please." Maybe if I told a good lie, I could convince her to help. And maybe I'd be invited to tea with the Emperor's mother. I was a terrible liar.

I tripped over the slippers and fell down a short flight of stairs. I landed on my butt at the bottom. I winced as I hit bruises.

Leran, Ky, and several other men stood by the front door. They watched impassively as I collected what remained of my dignity and got to my feet.

"If you are quite finished?" Leran asked politely.

"Yes, quite."

Leran gave me a look I couldn't interpret.

Ky opened the front door. Sunlight poured into the room. The men walked outside. I followed.

At least a dozen horses dozed in the area right outside the door. I stopped in the doorway.

"Oh, no." I backed away. "I am not riding one of those things." I liked my animals in a zoo behind bars, not up close.

"Yes, you are," Ky said.

"No." I dug my fingers into the door frame.

He leaned over me, drowning me in his shadow. "I could give you to the Baron. He'd be more than happy to see you again."

I swallowed hard. Riding a horse or certain death involving hot iron. I unpried my fingers from the door frame. Ky nodded and stepped out of my way. I walked over to the tamest looking horse. It tried to bite me.

I retreated a step. "This isn't a good idea."

"Get on the horse," Ky said. "Show her how, Vin."

One of the men took a horse by its harness and swung onto its back. He made it look easy.

I glanced over my shoulder at Leran, weighing my chances of escape. The odds weren't high enough yet. I grabbed the hair growing on the horse's neck and pulled myself onto its back, lying on my belly. The animal promptly jogged away. I slid off, landing in the dirt. One of the other men caught the horse.

"You have to hang on," Ky said.

I stood, brushing dirt off my backside. "Hang on to what?"

"It also helps if you sit."

"We could always tie her on," the man holding the horse suggested.

"Not a bad idea." Ky flexed his fists.

"Move," Leran ordered.

Ky picked me up and dumped me on the horse. He shoved my foot into a loop of leather hanging to one side. My other knee went around a knob just behind the horse's neck. I grabbed big handfuls of neck hair as the animal started walking.

One of the men led the horse on a long lead rope. We rode away from the house to the wild hills beyond. I hung on, gritting my teeth against a growing ache in my backside.

We rode through widely spaced trees alternating with grassy meadows. Lacy leaves tossed in a light breeze. The land appeared wild, completely uninhabited. Leran called a halt in the shade of an extra big tree.

I slid off the horse. The sound of water running woke thirst. I hobbled to the stream, crouching to scoop up a handful of icy water, drinking despite the things floating in it.

The men watered the horses, then staked them out where the grass grew high. Ky walked over to me. He dropped a chunk of coarse bread and greasy cheese into my lap.

"Thank you," I said. If I could convince them I was harmless and friendly, maybe I could get more information out of them. Maybe they wouldn't mention the illegal lockpicks when they turned me over to the Patrol.

Ky glared before turning away.

And maybe not. I ate the bread and cheese. Shadows of fish darted past my rock. Once I got my bearings I would slip away. They couldn't watch me all the time. So far, they hadn't done more than threaten to turn me in on criminal charges. It was lightyears away from torture with hot iron. Maybe I should stay with Leran.

"What are you really doing here?"

I glanced over my shoulder at Leran's white robe. "It was an accident."

"No one lands here by accident." He stepped around me, pausing just at the edge of the water. Sunlight and shade dappled his robe.

"We had to make an emergency downshift. We were supposed to be at Thurwood."

"And what is an honest, law abiding captain doing with these?" He held out the lockpicks.

The truth sounded stupid even to me. Leran would never believe it.

"Ameli said you were going to press charges against me," I said instead.

"Me personally? No. I'll let the Patrol decide what to do with you." He tapped the lockpicks against his palm. "Unless you tell me who you really are and why you're here. I'm sure we can come to some sort of understanding."

I stared at him, confused. "My name is Dace. I'm captain of the Star's Grace."

"And owner? Your lies need work, Captain." He tucked the lockpicks into his robe. "Convince me, Dace, or I'll give you to the Patrol without a second thought."

He walked away, signaling the men to round up the horses. I sighed and got off my rock. My legs locked. I limped to my horse. It rolled its eyes, sidling away from me. I grabbed the leather straps buckled around its head.

"I don't like you, either." The horse bared its teeth. I yanked on the strap.

Ky slapped my hand away from the horse. "Get on."

I didn't want to, but it was Leran and the horse or the unknown. I scrambled onto the horse. It snorted and tried to walk out from under me. I found the loop for my foot, settling into the seat.

Leran watched, his face inscrutable. Once I was on, he wheeled his horse, kicking it into motion. The others followed. We left the stream, striking out across a series of hills. I bounced on my horse, trying to ease the cramps in both legs.

My head ached; whether from the crash, the subsequent beating, or the hypnoteacher, I couldn't tell. I poked at the knowledge in my head as a diversion. It didn't help.

Dadilan made Tivor, the planet I'd grown up on, look like a paradise. Women on Dadilan had no rights; they were the property of men. My escort made more sense after I digested that. As far as anyone was concerned, I belonged to Leran. I hated the thought.

I eyed the beefy men surrounding me. They were scarred and tough looking. My chances of a successful escape were slim to nonexistent. If I did leave Leran, I might land somewhere even worse.

Time crawled past in a sticky haze of sweat and aching muscles. We climbed steadily as the day wore on. Mountains rose above the hills, tall monoliths of gray stone dotted with dark green. The smell of growing things filled the air. Small birds flitted between the wide branches of scattered trees.

Leran finally called a halt late in the afternoon when we reached a wide flat bordered by thick trees and a high cliff of gray stone. Water dripped down the wall of stone, forming a pool at the base. A thin stream cut through the meadow.

I stayed on my horse. My legs tingled from lack of circulation. I wriggled my toes in an attempt to wake muscles. Leran spoke to Ky. They gathered two of the men and the horses carrying packs. The group rode away at an angle to the path we'd been following most of the day. The three men still in camp ignored me. One of them started a fire while the other two cared for the horses.

I pried my knee off the knob, losing my precarious balance to slide down the side of the horse. I grabbed for its neck hair. The horse shifted away, heading towards the pool of water. I fell onto my face.

I muttered swear words as I stood. I winced as I picked my way across rocks, cursing Ameli for taking my boots and leaving me with useless slippers. I found a spot to sit and watch the man cook.

He glanced across the dancing flames. "Who do you work for?" He stirred a handful of leaves into the pot.

"Myself." I sniffed appreciatively.

He grinned, showing a missing tooth. "Leran might deal, if you offered good enough. He's not bad to work for, not like the others."

"What are you talking about?"

He laughed. "Play innocent, Captain Dace, and you won't live three days here. They play for keeps."

I waited for him to explain. He didn't. He whistled while he stirred the soup.

My eyes grew heavy. I wanted a hot bath and a pain patch. I slumped against my rock, shifting a bag to use as a pillow. The sky faded into deep blue. A handful of tiny moons glowed over the far horizon.

I fell asleep listening to the crackling fire and the whistling cook.

I woke to shouting and screaming and confusion. Men wrestled over the fire, stepping into it and scattering burning branches. I scrambled away from a shower of sparks.

A man swung a long knife at me, the edge glinting orange in the light of the fire now burning the surrounding grass. I blocked the blow, kneeing him in the belly. He dropped the knife.

I rolled under his feet as another man jumped to attack. The knife glinted. I dove for it, but another tangle of fighting men kicked it away. I scrambled on all fours, heading for the darkness under the trees. A large man loomed out of the shadows, swinging his fist. I grabbed a branch from the ground, wielding it like a club. I connected with his ribs. He lurched away.

The horses broke from their makeshift pen, crashing through the men to run down the hills. The men shouted louder. I paused near the trees, the branch clutched in my hands. At least a dozen men still wrestled near the fire, too many for me to fight. I ran downhill, after the horses.

I meant to circle around, to head back to camp and hide until the fight ended. I got lost instead.

The tiny moons overhead gave little light; the stars gave less. I stopped in a clear space to catch my breath. The hills looked the same in every direction, trees and grass and nothing to indicate where the camp lay. I picked a direction at random, hoping it was the right one.

I stumbled into a stream. The cold water soothed my bare feet.

Eyes glinted in the shadows. Something growled. I splashed out of the stream. The creature growled again, sounding big and hungry. I ran, my heart pounding in my throat. Animals belonged in zoos, not out in the open.

I heard it crash through bushes behind me. I ran faster, blindly, through the dark woods. I slammed into a tree and skidded to a stop. I hung on to the trunk, shaking hard. I looked behind me, searching for eyes in the dark. I saw hundreds of them. I panicked, running again.

I clawed my way through thickets and brambles. I dodged past barely seen trees. I splashed through streams and tore my feet on rocks. I was lost in the woods with animals that wanted to eat me. I ran until my side ached and I couldn't breathe.

I stumbled to a stop. Grasses waved in a light breeze. Mist rose from a stream, thin streamers of white that faded only a few feet above the ground. I dropped to my knees, trembling from fear. My stomach heaved. I retched up nothing.

The grass in front of me slowly parted. I stared into a wide face of evil green eyes and huge fangs. The animal snarled, showing more teeth. I didn't have the breath to run any longer. I scrabbled through the grass until I found a big rock. I staggered to my feet, hefting the rock in shaky arms.

"Go away," I said, my voice squeaking with fear. "You aren't going to eat me."

The creature licked its fangs and came closer, moving on stealthy paws.

"I mean it. Don't mess with me." I lifted the rock to my shoulder. My muscles protested.

The creature shot a look over its shoulder, then bounded away into the night.

I let out a slow breath. Something had just scared the creature. That something would be bigger and meaner. Fear shivered along my spine. I held the rock higher, ready to throw it at the new threat.

He came out of the mist like a primeval god in a really bad romance vid–dark hair, darker eyes, and a face stolen from my most secret fantasies. He wore a leather vest with no shirt, tight pants, and tall boots. He stopped on the other side of the stream, muscles flexing as he folded his bare arms across his chest.

I swallowed hard, wondering if he was just a dream. I shifted my feet on the stream bank. "What do you want?"

He looked me over, not answering.

I lifted the rock, trying to appear as threatening as possible. I lost my hold on it. It fell into the stream with a loud splash.

His lip twitched as he smothered a chuckle.

Having a complete stranger laugh at me was the final straw. I thumped down on the stream bank, dropping my head into my hands.

The man splashed across the stream, his touch gentle on my shoulder. "Are you hurt?"

I shook my head. I'd felt worse and lived.

He watched me a moment longer, then put his arm around my shoulders.

I stiffened at the unexpected touch. No one had ever tried to comfort me. I surprised myself by bursting into tears. I'd lost control. I hated the feeling. I struggled until I finally fought the tears back. Only the occasional hiccuping sniffle escaped.

"Feel better?" he asked, just a trace of sarcasm coloring his voice. He shifted away, leaving me cold.

I couldn't look at him, embarrassed by my outburst. I stared down at his vest, at his muscles, at his hands, anywhere but at his face.

"You want to explain why you're out here?" He waited, still as a statue.

I finally looked up, at his face. It was a mask, giving nothing away. "I got lost?"

He raised one eyebrow. "Lost from where?"

I dug through the information Ameli had dumped into my head. I found little of any help. "My father's house."

He shifted position slightly, enough to change from sympathy to threat. "You're no native of this planet. You want to try again?"

I edged away. "No. How do you know I'm not native?" My curiosity got the better of me.

"You're speaking Basic."

I hadn't realized it. I repeated one of the more colorful expressions I'd learned from Toiba.

The man raised his eyebrow higher.

"You aren't native, either." I sniffled, wiping my nose on the back of my hand.

He stood. I glimpsed a tattoo on the inside of his wrist, an intricate black diamond that only one group in the Empire had.

I froze, not knowing if it was good or bad. "You're a Patrol Enforcer."

"Give me one good reason I shouldn't shoot you."

"You aren't carrying a blaster."

He moved fast. He knotted his fist into the neck of my dress, his face barely an inch from mine. "I don't need one. Who are you and why are you here? Don't even try lying."

"Leran . . ."

He shoved me to the ground, on my stomach. His hand pinned me to the bank. I struggled to keep my face above the rippling surface of the stream. I planted my hands in the icy water and shoved. His hold didn't budge.

"You work for him?"

"Leran? No. He was taking me to the Patrol." I shut my eyes and waited for the man to drown me.

"Why would he do that?"

I was a lousy liar. This man would see through anything I tried. I gave him the truth. "Because I ruined his research. I crashed in Baron Molier's cow pasture. He said I was a demon. He was going to kill me. Leran decided to take me to the Patrol base and turn me in instead."

The man's hold relaxed. I shifted back an inch from the water.

"Keep talking," he said.

"We stopped somewhere in the hills. The camp was attacked."

"And?"

"There were too many to fight so I left. I got lost."

"You still haven't told me who you are."

"Dace. My name is Dace."

He rocked onto his heels, letting me go. I scrambled away from the water.

"I don't think you heard me." He flexed his hands. "What's your name, your full name?"

"Dace." I wasn't about to use a name I'd discarded six years previously.

"I'll let that pass for now. How did you come here?"

"My ship exploded. The core redlined. The escape pod landed me here."

"In Baron Molier's cow pasture, you already said that. What ship?"

"Star's Grace, Independent trader registered out of Eruus."

"What was your position, ship's idiot?"

I'd already embarrassed myself, I wasn't about to let him insult me. I sat, sticking out my chin. "I'm the pilot. And I'm telling you the truth."

He gave me a look that said he didn't believe it.

"I'm also the captain and owner."

He laughed, a short bark of sound.

"Believe it or not, it's the truth." The anger drained away, replaced by fatigue. I wrapped my arms around myself, wishing I was at the Academy where I could ignore the humiliation the other cadets dished out.

"You aren't going to cry again, are you?" He looked afraid of the possibility.

I shook my head and sniffled. I'd wait until later, when he wasn't looking. He watched me fight with myself. He finally sighed.

"My camp is just across the stream. You look like you could use something to drink." He stood and offered me his hand.

I stared stupidly at it. He confused me. He wasn't threatening me, not now. I took his hand. He lifted me without effort. I couldn't hide my wince when my feet hit the rocks.

"This way," he said, pulling me after him.

I limped across the stream, soaking the bottom of my skirt. He pushed me down onto a rock before stirring up a small fire. My stomach growled. I rubbed my arms, shivering in the night air.

I studied the man surreptitiously. His hair was longer than mine, very dark with reddish highlights. It curled just slightly where it brushed the back of his neck. He stirred the pot steaming on the fire. The tattoo on his wrist caught the light and my imagination. What was a Patrol Enforcer doing here? Why try to drown me when I mentioned Leran's name? Something was rotten on Dadilan.

Not my problem; I was leaving. I would face whatever criminal charges were levied against me. I would give them the truth. The Patrol would have to believe me. But this man was Patrol and he didn't believe me.

The man handed me a steaming cup dipped out of the pot. I wrapped my hands around it and sipped the hot drink. It wasn't enough to counterbalance the cold night air and my wet skirt. My teeth chattered. The man fetched a blanket out of a neat pack on the ground. He dropped it over my shoulders. I clutched it tight. He loomed over me. I felt even shorter than I usually did.

"Try again." He sat on a rock nearby. "Start at the beginning."

"I was born . . ."

"Not that far back." He shot me an impatient look.

"I told you. My ship was en route to Thurwood with a load of machine parts. Something went wrong. I had to do an emergency downshift out of hyperspace. The core redlined and the ship exploded."

"Not very professional of you." He poked at the fire with a stick. "You say your name is Dace and you own your own ship."

"It's the truth." My ship was a cloud of radioactive debris. I sighed again.

"No crying." He pointed the stick at me. "That isn't fair."

I wiped my nose on his blanket.

"What were you doing with Leran?" he asked casually, studying the end of his pointy stick. I sensed the answer I gave would determine how he used it.

"He pulled me out of Baron Molier's dungeon and offered to have me arrested. It was better than being skewered by hot iron pokers."

"Why are you speaking like a native now?" The man touched the pointy end of his stick.

"They used a hypnoteacher. It doesn't work right on me." I sipped at the drink, watching him carefully. The stick was still very evident. "It usually takes me a week or two to get all the information straight again. It's easier just to learn it the old way. What's your name and why are you out here?"

He studied me, the stick waving in the air between us. After a moment, it went into the fire, pointy end first.

"Malcolm Tayvis," he said. "I'm looking for my partner. He was supposed to meet me here two days ago. I don't think he's going to make it. So tell me what to do with you."

"Leran was going to let the Patrol at the base deal with me. His assistant explained at length about Dadilan's protected status."

"And you were dumb enough to believe them?" He scraped a section of dirt flat, then stabbed his finger into it. "That's Baron Molier's keep. That's Leran's mansion." He stabbed the dirt again right next to the first stab, then drew a curved line. "These are the mountains. We are somewhere about here." Another stab to the left of the first two. He moved to the right of the first marks, away from the end of the curved line, and made another mark. "That's the Patrol base. Leran was taking you in the opposite direction."

I was lousy at maps, but even I could tell Leran had lied to me about our destination.

"Gragensberg is here." Malcolm Tayvis made another mark above the others. "Big city and home to a second group of researchers led by Shomies Pardui. I doubt he was headed there. They hate each other. I would guess Leran was taking you here." Another mark, far to the left. "To the slave market."

He couldn't possibly have said slave market. Slavery was illegal. "But Leran said the Patrol tracked us in. Is that why you're here, to investigate the pods?"

"Pods?" Tayvis brushed past my question. "How many of you are there?"

"I had two on my crew. I don't know where they ended up. They jumped ship as soon as they could." I frowned at his map. Why had Flago abandoned ship as soon as we were through the jump point? Before the core redlined, before we knew our position. Jerith showed no surprise over the engine problems, but he had been surprised the core wouldn't eject.

"What?"

I shook my head. I didn't have more than a tickle of suspicion.

Tayvis backtracked to my previous question. "If that fireball two nights ago was your pod, then the answer is no, the Patrol wouldn't send someone out looking for you. I'm surprised you survived the crash."

"The radar system died. I had to guess."

"You're in remarkably good shape." Tayvis didn't need a pointy stick to look dangerous. I swallowed a new knot in my throat. "Who are you really working for? Who's paying you to smuggle shara?"

"What?" Fear lost out to confusion.

He stirred the fire with another stick. "You are where you don't belong. Which means you're up to something illegal."

"Flying my ship from Beccurot to Thurwood is perfectly legal."

"How old are you?"

"None of your business."

He grinned. He looked younger and a lot less dangerous. I reminded myself he was a Patrol Enforcer, undercover on this planet for a reason. He could kill me and no one would question him.

"Did you run away from the Academy on Eruus or did they kick you out?"

"I graduated two months ago."

"Ah."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

His grin faded. He dug through his pack, pulling a length of rope free. "You don't give me a lot of options. I'll sleep better if I know you're not going to try to kill me."

"You're going to tie me."

"You have a better suggestion?"

"What if I promise?"

"I don't know if I can trust you."

I gave in, too tired to fight. I held out my wrists. He tied them together, then fastened them to my ankles. I didn't tell him I could have untied myself in less than two minutes. I rolled into his blanket.

He leaned over me, a shadow in the fading firelight. "If you aren't here in the morning, you'd better run as far as you can. Because if you've lied to me, no one is going to ever find you." He moved away, across the dying fire.

Sleep was a long time coming.

Friday, April 27, 2012

How She Does It - Jaleta Clegg


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

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


They usually just jump into my head as needed. Sometimes the character changes to fit the plot, but most of the time, they stay as they were when they bloomed into existence. Like Athena, they arise fully formed from my head. I'm a people watcher, though. I love seeing how different people react, watching how they move and talk. All of that is fodder for my fictional characters. If you point to any one of them and ask me who they are based on, I can't tell you. They're a conglomeration of lots of different people.

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?


They both happen about the same time. I start with an idea, a place, an event, a what if, whatever the trigger is. The characters and plot emerge from that. Part of the plot is driven by asking, what would character A do in this situation? Then letting the situation play out. It's very organic and messy, but it works for me. It's also very amusing to take a character, say someone very fussy about their appearance and cleanliness, and sticking them in a situation where they have to be the opposite, a very primitive dirty place with no hygiene facilities. People do strange things when under duress.

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


I usually have a good idea of where I'm going to end up, but it isn't always what I thought it would be when I get there. My characters aren't the same people they were at the beginning so my concept of the ending can't be the same when I get there. I know people who write books out of order, jotting down whatever scene is hot for them at the time. I can't do that. I have to write linearly because my characters and plot always surprise me, taking twists I didn't expect.

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


I write science fiction. I spend my books living in space and on other planets or alien cities. I've got files of space photos, links to space articles about new planets, lists of great nature shows, pictures of cool architecture, and engineering diagrams on my computer. I draw out the pieces I want to highlight. If I want it to seem familiar, I use familiar places and terms. If I want it alien, I highlight the strange and bizarre aspects of it. So in some ways, yes, my settings are based on real places and buildings. In other ways, no, I made it all up.

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


Everywhere. I get a lot online because it's fast and easy, but it isn't as in depth. I have lots of books, both fiction and non. I love poring over the full color glossy photos in my astronomy books and nature books. I love magazines, too. It's a way to travel to exotic places. I spend a lot of time watching tv, too. Nature documentaries and science shows are great fodder for science fiction and fantasy stories. The dramas and comedies are good for learning pacing, dialogue, setting, etc. I pick them apart, both the good and the bad, as a way of learning how to make my stories better. But mostly, I pull on my store of years of devouring stories and science as the basis for my story. I only research what I absolutely need to.




Thursday, April 26, 2012

How the Stories Began - Sweet Seductions


Sweet Seductions in the print version contains three stories of the Seduction Series. A Savory Seduction, A Second Seduction and A silken Seduction. An autographed copy will be given away to a commentor on the blog who gives me a way to reach her or him.

This series began with cookbooks. To be specific a series I purchased once a month, years ago from Time/Life. They have been used as research before since the text and the pictures inside are wonderful, as are the recipes. I'm not sure if it was the publishers call for some spicy novellas or that I had an idea for the series. What happened was I began the first story as a single to celebrate my enjoyment of good food. While writing A Savory Seduction, the magazine group was born and so were the four siblings each one running a different magazine of the Good Group. I was also challenging myself to write spicy when I began this series.

Good Eatin' was the first involving Greg who has a restaurant called Five Cuisines. Allie runs the magazine and decides to feature the restaurant. Of course her first sight of Greg brings lust on demand and they connect. Complicating their lives is the Blakefield curse. When a Blakefield meets the man or woman of their dreams no other will do. Added to the curse is the connection between Greg's mother and Allie's father in the past.

While writing this series, though second in the print version, A Second Seduction was the third book. Years ago, Mark fell in love and now he plays the field. He is unsaatisfied with his relationships. A victim of the Blakefield. Pictures taken by a magazine photograper for Good Travelin' sends Mark on a quest to find Christa, his college lover. The picture shows a boy who looks like his younger self and he sets off to seduce her for a secons and hopefully last time and to claim his son, A complication here is her greedy step-sisters.

A Silken Seduction brings Megan to find her live in the magazine world. Steve is a photographer and she has had a crush on him. She doesn't realize he lusts for her but Megan has rules for her life. Megan wants forever but Steve seems to have a short attention span. They have had words in the past. Megan thinks he betrayed a huge spread she had planned for Good Lookin' to a rival editor he was dating. Steve's accident on location brings they together. Seems she's the only one available to bring him to his apartment. Sparks fly between them.

There are three more stories in this series. One about the fourth brother. One about a friend and one involving the magazine's investigator. One is published electronically, A Sudden Seduction, one is under contract and the other is forming in my imagination.

I am not a good cook but I can follow recipes so thanks to the series of cookbooks I have these stories and bits and pieces in other stories using food and scenery from these books. One never knows where inspiration for a story can be found unti it jumps out and grabs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Characters and Strategy


Writing a novel seems to be circular. Characters drive the plot but the plot drives the characters. Sound confusing. Not really. The plot is the underpinning of the story and the characters are the exposed parts. Choosing the right characters to move the story forward takes strategy. Putting the wrong character in the lead can make a story fall flat. Usually in a story there are 3 characters who form a traingle. For the purpose of this we'll call them the hero, the heroine and the villain. These characters have relationships with each other and their actions and reactions are what drives the story from beginning until the end.. There are other characters in stories who relate to the three main ones and these form their own triangles or their own patterns of interaction.

Action bridges character and plot. How many times have you heard? He's acting out of character? If there's no good reason for this action the story will fall flat and flat stories aren't what writers strive for. How does one make the pieces fit together?

Consistency is one way. Check your characters to make sure their emotions flow in a consistent pattern through out your story. Don't have them loving an object, idea, or person one minute and hating it the next. Unless inconsistency is their nature. Even here you are being true to the character. A character like this would be one who responds to the person they are with. An interesting thought. Sort of like the Janus god that looks at the world through two faces.

Make sure the characters who are the focus of the story are strong enough to sustain the action. Whether you're writing a dramatic or a comedic story a weak character will make the action fall flat. Give your characters a backbone and make them want what they want with an internal passion.

Take your cahracters and raise them above the mundane or stock characters. Give them some complexity to make them larger than life rather than some ordinary person a reader doesn't want to know.

Believe in the characters you write. If you're developing a really evil billain, make sure you believe in this character. One of my favorite bad guys is found in Obsessions. Yes, he is evil but he's also human and I tried to show the human parts of his character as well as the inhuman parts.

Write about human emotions in your stories and don't throw in a character who seems to be driven by the plot. The plot is a road map of a journey taken by characters and the things that happen in the story are the results of the characters' actions. not the reverse.

Characters are chosen because of the plot you've designed but once on stage let the characters tell the story and move the plot forward. not the reverse.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Mysteries and plot.


Am I inspired, yes. I've been randomly reading essays by writers and this one by Stanley Ellin really hit home. The opening line "To the author, the plot is the most important element of the mystery novel. Th the reader, it is one of the least important." This made me stop and think since my current project is a "cozy" mystery. I devote an entire draft to plot and I continue to tinker with it throughout the writing process. The plot has to make sense to me but sometimes it doesn't. I also need to have a good plot for my other forms of writing but does the reader need to love the plot. Sometimes events occur in the writing of a story, mystery or not that later bring the writer to an aha moment. This may not be the same moment to the reader. I've had this happen in stories in genres other than mysteries. What these moments do is clarify some plot point for myself.

What really happens is that the characters discover something. What a reader focuses on is the characters in the story and the setting. The plot is the understructurs of a story. For me it becomes the canvas on which I paint words. The characters interact with the plot and bring the story to life. But without a solid underground the characters won't take life. Since the mystery I'm writing is part of the series, my character has grown and changed but not her basic nature. In critique I'm reading to a mixed group. Some have followed the series and know the character almost as well as I do. Others have never read any of the books and this brings a mixed critique. Katherine is a rather no-nonsense person. She's also very in to her friends and family but she has little romance in her nature. This always boggles new readers if they haven't followed the series. Will she turn mushy. Never. Yes, she's getting married but she looks on this as another step in life. After all she and Lars have been friends for more than thirty years. They have been sort of romantically involved for the past fifteen years and are getting married. This is a union of good friends, not a romance.

Back to what inspired me. The characters and the settings are what brings the plot to life. Playing fair with the reader is another thing I need to be aware of. In the current book there is a small scene that wrote itself and in it there is a clue I didn't realize would be important as the book neared the end.

Also this essay talked about which person. For this series I chose for the first book first person. I always wondered why since only what the viewpoint character learns is what the reader learns. For these stories I've finally realized this is the right thing for the reader explores the murder in the same way as the heroine. Had I chosen multiple viewpoints for the story, they would be different and probably never would have been completed.

This essay inspired me and gave me a few clues as to what I need to explore in writing this story and also the next one which has little to do with mystery. It's a fantasy romance.

Monday, April 23, 2012

23 April - Week Behind and Week Ahead


Winner of the autographed copy of Quests has been emailed.

Last week found me finishing the setting draft of The Micro-Manager Murder and still finding little glitches in the plot line. Discovered or always knew one doesn't only do one thing when doing a draft for a particular part of the story. The good thing is that I'm close to the 60% goal I set for the length of the book. I also began and tore up the first chapter of a new romance series called The Guild House, This story is called Lines of Fire. Tearing up the first chapter and prologue was the best thing I ever did. I had made one of the beginning writer mistakes I often see when I'm judging contests. I'll address that later.

During the coming week, I'll finish the first chapter. I need that so when I'm able to work on this story again during breaks from the book I intend to finish by June or July, I will have a foundation to continue and finish this story. One might say I'm working on two stories at a time and I suppose I can. Fortunately they're so totally different there will be no carry over from one story to the other. Once this first chapter is done I'll move into the Character draft of the partly finished murder story. Why doing the character draft after the plot and setting one. Plot, especially in a murder mystery is very important but for me it's what drives the characters to act and react. Setting is my weakest part of writing and thus it comes second. I remember earlier comments from editors in the days when they wrote lengthy rejections. My characters existed in a vacuum. At the time I was writing 'nurse' romances and the settings were totally familiar to me that I forgot they wouldn't be to the reader.

Now a bit about my beginner's mistake. I the writing of the prologue, I had written BACK STORY. Pages of it in the prologue and the first chapter. Now this was information as the writer I needed, but the reader didn't need huge blocks of this shoved in their faces. I've written a new prologue and am writing a new chapter that has hints about the backstory but now concentrates on the main character. Sometimes I make other beginner mistakes and I'll write about them when I find myself doing them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

3 Blog Visit Sunday


http://collinkelley.blogspot.com/2012/04/three-questions-for-janet-lane-walters.html

http://adamfirestoneconsultant.blogspot.com/

http://blog.infinitypublishing.com/bloginfinitypublishingcom/bid/63448/Fifty-Things-Under-50-Bucks-To-Promote-Your-Book?goback=.gde_69017_member_109097604

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday's Chapter = Blonde' Demolition - Chris Redding

Mallory bit down and then yanked at the arm. Her meager strength came from another rush of adrenaline.

"Whoa, Mallory. It's just me."

The familiar voice froze her before she could do any damage. Oh crap. As if her day hadn't tanked already.

One by one she uncurled her fingers from around his wrist. Her shaking hands grasped the steering wheel, knuckles white.

Her eyes fell closed. If she had a list of people she never wanted to see again, his name would be at the top. Why here? Why now? This was the last thing she needed.

She steadied her breath and her gaze scanned the parking lot. No one stirred or walked to their car. She couldn't be seen with him.

"Don't turn around. Just drive. I'll be hunkered down in the back."

She started the car and drove home. Her knuckles remained white. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I think you know."

Of course. "The bomb in our trailer?"

Emotions roiled her stomach. She'd have to stock up on antacids if Trey was back in her life. And she had just been thinking how nutty this week of fair preparations had been. Now it all looked so easy.

Her thoughts shifted to the events of the evening. Who had put the bomb there? It wasn't a prank if this guy was here. This was bigger than all of Coleville, Centre County.

She pulled in front of her house, a two-story Cape Cod set down a long driveway.

"We're here and no one can see you from the road," she said.

She got out of the car, leaving her guest to follow.

Friday, April 20, 2012

How She Does It - Chris Redding


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?

Since my background is in journalism I have to agree. The Who is the character which is most important in any story. If you can't identify with the character you are not going to care about their what, when, where and how. Also, it is the character's answers to those questions that are the plot.

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

I wish I could tell you I did story boards or character interviews, but none of those things are true. I need to know each character's goal, motivation and conflict before I begin a story. That's pretty much it. I find th rest fills itself in during the second draft.

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 am truly a plot-driven writer, so for me the plot comes first. What if? What if a woman has murder victims speak to her and then she is catapulted back in time to prevent the murder? That's Corpse Whisperer. Then I think about characters. I'm also a pantser. I rarely know where I am heading when I begin a story. I have a vague idea, like know I'm going to Utah, but not what specific part.

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

In a general way I know where the story will end. There is always a happily every after, it is a matter of how they get there.

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

Mostly I set stories in New Jersey. I live here. It's easier. Especially because I like to concentrate on the setting last and it's easier if it's one that is out my front door.

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

Depends on what you mean by online? I actually know many police officers and former police officers so I can always e-mail them if I have a question. In that sense the answer to your question would be neither. I talk to those in the know personally.






Thursday, April 19, 2012

How the story progressed - Quests


An autographed copy of Quests will be given to one person who lets me know how to reach them.

Quests is the third book in a series. The quests in the story are three. The now nine young teens now must find more of the gems that enhance their affinities, the remaining young people iwth affinities to round out their group of sixteen, four in each affinity and the remaining talismans they use with their affinities, fire sword, flute, scrying cup and staff of living wood. I happen to like casts of thousands. Somehow at least for this story I needed all these characters, though the four plus one are featured in the story. Multiple viewpoints in the book allow me to show what's happening and to move from one event to the other. Makes writing a bit complicated since one is switching characters.

During each of the quests the characters face different problems and find their solutions using their affinities for the elements. One group must face rain and more rain bringing dangers of damaged bridges and sink holes. Another group faces the desert and an underground area with rasis and scorpons. Not very nice creatures. The third group must find a new viewpoint character and her sister who are being pursued by two groups of bad guys. This story has action in plenty.

Part of the interesting thing to me was in having the characters mature. They are facing danger and there is the evil Dom Senet and his minions to avoid. A group of these are four boys with affinities subverted by Dom Senet. One is his son. This fact leaped out at me and pointed me to the ending in the fourth book. Still waiting to hear if it's going to be published by the one who has the other three.

Quests was a fun part of the series to write and devising dangers without repeating myself was a challenge.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Patterns in Action


Action doesn't mean just fights and car chases and other scenes with physical action being the focus. Action is what moves the story forward. Action isn't just a series of scenes that are connected. When I first began writing I thought I knew what I was doing. After many wonderful rejections where the editors kindly wrote about one thing I was doing wrong. I remember one that I read. "If you start with a bomb or a riot where the hero and heroine are threatened with death, what are you going to write next that pulls the reader along." This hit me that action is a progression. No matter what kind of story you're writing each action in the story must lead to the next one and must increase the stakes for the characters.

Action builds tension and gains momentum in a story. This requires pacing. A fellow writer once read my sort of 'Medical suspense" Obsessions and remarked on a look we both belonged to. "Janet is a master at pacing." This totally surprised me because I wasn't sure what he meant. I did a whole lot of study about what pacing meant. This story starts with the unnamed villain watching the hospital parking lot and failing to achieve his goal. Not much later, the heroine discovers the body of a nat so nice fellow worker in the "orthopedic" storage room. This is the triggering situation and the deaths begin. Each one comes closer to the heroine and so the tension builds. Especially when the heroine receives gifts left my an unnamed admirer. These gifts are the typical ones one mught see in a courtship. This added another layer of tension, yet these scenes weren't physically active.

So as you write each scene think about what the scene contributes to the building finale of the story. If a scene doesn't really add to the tension, take it out or change it until you can feel the tentsion rising. Sort of like Slowly he walked and so forth. Build a pattern and make sure each scene advances not only the story but also the tension. Don't give away too much too soon and don't delay too long. Actions show the pattern of cause and effect.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Mary Higgins Clark - Ideas and Revision


While looking over the book of essays I found one from Mary Higgins Clark that sent my thoughts in two directions. The first was a question so foten asked. "Where do you get your ideas?" I took part on a book signing at the Rockland County, NY Historical Center, one of a number of writers. Now I have a lot of books because I've been writing a long time. Several of the visitors asked me that very question. So hard and so easy to answer. For me the ideas seem to arrive in the air. I'm currently working on the Micro-Manager Murder and that was initially triggered by a friend who had a business partner who did micro-managed her life. Details were this woman's very reason for living. The little things I heard were tucked away in my head. Then another thing I read about drug smuggling popped into my mind. I also had a well established heroine who was getting married. I wanted her to bail out of the reception but I had to find a way. All of a sudden things began to line up and I was able to put them all together. There is a murder, of course. So ideas are all around every writer and it's the use they make of them that sets up the story. An article read in the paper, a news tidbit on TV, an overheard conversation. Finding ideas isn't hard.

The second thing that set me off was the re-writing or revision sentence in the article. I'm a re-writer and a reviser. Many drafts are done but how does one know when enough is enough. For me it's when I start changing one verb for another and then put it back. It's also this feeling that if I look at this story one more minute I'm going to be sick. Then I know I'd better send it off to someone.

Back to Mary Higgins Clark. I seldom write suspense but there is suspense in my stories. I think I've read all of her books and I've learned a lot about writing from reading many of her stories. So I'd just like to give her a thanks for many days of good reading and of the times I've re-read her stories to discover how she did one little thing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

16 April - Week Behind - Week Ahead


The winner of a copy of Refuge is Jayne. An email has been sent to her.

Yesterday I was part of a multi-author booksigning. Wasn't bad and wasn't great but I did sell 4 books and talked to people who read both on their readers and books. In fact, someone bought the first of a series and said she would download the others. Interesting idea. The downside to the signing was with the number of children's book authors there. Would have bought a dozen books since I have grandchildren of the ages they were writing for. Managed to restrain myself and just bought three books. Also saw the sort of divide in readers. All the small children who came were drawn to the books. As the ages progressed I saw less interest in paper books and more in electronic readers. Not sure why, but I think it's because younger children like the feel of holding things in their hands.

Now to the writing part of last week, Managed to work hard on the Setting draft and making a few changes in the plot. This will continue until I have all the pieces in line. Will probably ne nearly two thirds of the words down by the time this draft is finished. For Katherine, marriage after 30 years of being a widow is proving interesting. She's always walked to her own drummer and now there are two drums beating.

This week I intend to finish the setting draft and allow the book to simmer for a few days while I begin the rough draft of The Guild House. Fantasy romance and I'll see where it goes. Must begin with a prologue that will set up the world. The words for that have begun streaming through my thoughts. So now it's off to work.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

3 blog visit Sunday

I've an interview up here. http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com/

I also have an interview up here. http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com/2012/04/welcome-janet-lane-walters.html

http://obscurekidlitauthors.blogspot.com/ Found some interesting articles here and something I may never attenpt to learn.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Moving On - Annette Bower


Moving On A Prairie Romance
By
Annette Bower

Chapter 1

Anna Jenkins pushed her foot on the brake as her hatchback picked up speed on the hill. The posted speed limit for the Town of Regina Beach was forty km/hr. She passed old cottages with verandas and gravel driveways surrounded by blossoming lilac bushes. These were tucked in among new homes with steel doors and trees with spring green leaves shading designer interlocking block paths. Her doubts about moving to a small town washed in her fatigued mind like the waves pushing and pulling along the shore of Last Mountain Lake, that expanse of blue where the road she was on ended. Just past noon and no one was on the street.

After scanning street signs she turned west on Green Avenue and crept along until she found the address that was etched in her memory. She drove into the driveway of the place she rushed to after yet another encounter of “How are you doing? What a tragedy.” Yes, it was a tragedy that her fiancĂ© died a week before their wedding but it was her tragedy and she was tired of sharing it with others. They seemed to want to keep it alive like some macabre game where they could report to their friends and family, I saw her today and she looks awful. I just didn’t know what to say but if you ask me if Murray saw her now, he wouldn’t look twice, never mind proposing. She hadn’t overheard anyone say these words but she had her suspicions otherwise why wouldn’t they just accept their wedding gifts back instead of allowing her to keep them piled in a rented storage space before she left Toronto?

Sure, this chance at another beginning was because someone else had died. People dropped like flies in her life. Murray’s uncle bequeathed his house to Murray and because Murray was dead, she was the beneficiary. A shudder of grief ambushed her. She leaned her head on the steering wheel.
Her mother had suggested a plane ticket from Toronto and rental car, a long weekend vacation, check things out instead of rushing headlong into the unknown. But Anna couldn’t. She drove for four days. It was now or never. She turned off the engine, opened the door and pushed one sensibly soled foot over the edge and onto the stone path that led to the house.

The windows were dirty and the exterior paint cracked and flaked. This was just the place she needed if as they say, your environment reflects your state of mind. Maybe in this place they would get off her back. She locked the doors to ward off thieves from her black suitcases piled in the car. What was she thinking? The street was empty. Besides, a battered guitar case shared the passenger seat with empty water bottles and take-away food wrappers, so it looked as if someone had already rummaged through her belongings.

Anna plowed through fallen leaves and broken twigs that were spread over the stone pathway leading to the stairs. The screened summer door sprung open but the solid weather door refused to budge. She twisted the key, jiggled the door knob and finally she turned sideways and bumped her hip against the stubborn paint- encrusted door. Banging against something and having it move felt wonderful. The momentary hip sting was an annoyance compared to the pain that she’d endured over the last year. Taking a deep breath she pushed the door open, inhaled stale air and watched dust motes floating on current of outside air.
The lawyer hadn’t known if Murray had spent any time here. Part of her wanted to look around and think of him as a carefree child, then a young man whole and alive, while the other part of her wanted a clean slate.

Anna ran her hand over the white refrigerator and matching stove and trailed a finger in the dust on the country kitchen table and solid chairs. Through a large window was an expansive view of blue water. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth reminding her that she was thirsty. Anna turned the taps at the kitchen sink. They squeaked, but nothing came. All that water out there but none where she was going to live. She walked down a hallway and peered into rooms until she found the bathroom. The taps in the sink and tub repeated the noise and the toilet had green liquid in the bottom. She stomped her feet against the tiled floor. Damn. There were a few bottles of water in the car, but how would she use the other facilities? She didn’t know how to rough it; Murray was supposed to teach her how to camp in the wilds.

Anna turned back toward a knock at the door. A woman shading her eyes looked through the summer mesh door.

“Can I help you?” Anna called.

Fingers capped with red painted nails clung to the door the stranger pulled open. “Perhaps I can help you. I’m Margaret Lamb from next door. What right do you have to be here? I’ll bet that you’re one of those agents come to sell the place since John passed on. He’s finally at peace. With the cottage boom, someone’s going to get a fair chunk of money for this property. John had this place a long time. I sure hope you do a good job of selling this cottage--and not to a bunch of party animals. I’ve been here since the eighties, so there’s not much I don’t know or things I can’t tell you.”

When the woman stopped to inhale Anna held up her hand. Mrs. Lamb understood the universal signal to stop. Words ready to tumble remained captured behind her ruby lips. Mrs. Lamb’s fingers fell from their flight in mid-air landing on each opposite forearm. She had her own body language stating closed to strangers.

“Mrs. Lamb.”

The head with red-tinged curls nodded.

“Please come in.”

The short, stout, elderly woman, dressed in a flowered over-blouse and pink slacks, stepped onto the kitchen tile. The screen door slammed. One white oxford disturbed the dust on the white tile, while the other looked like a beacon in the night against the black tile. Anna leaned on a chair.
Mrs. Lamb’s mouth moved, but Anna continued.

“I’m not a real estate agent. I don’t intend to sell. I’m here to live. I’m thirsty. I don’t have any water.”

“Miss?” the unspoken question hung as her voice, eyebrows, and head rose.

“Anna Jenkins.” She held her breath. She hoped that the months since the accident were enough time for sympathy not to cross her new neighbor’s face. She’d had enough of that. This pity party was over.

Mrs. Lamb didn’t recognize her name. Anna smiled. Mrs. Lamb might know everything in her town, but her knowledge had limits.

“Miss Jenkins, I can’t be too careful these days. And it seems to me,” Mrs. Lamb said as her eyes darted around, “that most young professionals would prefer something a little more modern without as much work as this old place needs.”

“Although I appreciate your watchful concern, it’s been a long day. I just want a drink of water and a comfortable chair.” Anna paused. The whine in her voice reverberated in her ears. She consciously felt the spring of her chemically curled hair, the collar of her once crisp cotton blouse, the lapel of her buttoned grey blazer and the creased press of the black pants. “Perhaps this house is just what I need,” she said.

“Don’t look so worried, dearie. Beach living relaxes most city folk eventually. Now come on over to our house. I’ll put on a pot of tea and Herman can answer your questions about the water.”

Anna followed Margaret’s splashes of color through a gate in the hedge to a white house with green trim and flower boxes with spring tulips nodding in the breeze. Mrs. Lamb opened the door to her home and stepped aside allowing Anna to enter.

Anna’s mind circled back to her Grandma and memories of an aroma of baking bread and simmering stew intermingled with floor wax. The afternoon sunbeams bounced from the bric-a-brac to the crocheted doilies on the stuffed backs and arms of couches and chairs. From the corner came the rhythmic sound of a rocking chair.

“Herman,” Mrs. Lamb sang out.

The newspaper lowered to reveal blue eyes behind round, wire spectacles and a toothless grin on his weathered face.

“Herman, put your teeth in! We have company.”

The newspaper rose. A slight hand reached for a glass on the side table. When it lowered again, a gleaming white smile flashed. “And who is this pretty girl?”

Anna hadn’t been called a girl in a very long time. She supposed that twenty-eight was a girl to someone who was probably on the other side of seventy.

Mrs. Lamb shook her head and rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. “Anna’s going to live in John’s place.”

He leaned forward in the chair. “Pleased to meet you, Anna! We’ve been watching over the place. Now I’ll have a better reason to keep an eye on it.”

“Herman. I’m checking with the doctor. Ever since you’ve been on that heart medication, your mouth says everything before your brain censors it.” Margaret walked behind his chair and rested her hands on his shoulders, skimming her lips across his thin hair. “The water needs to be turned on in John’s house.”

Anna concentrated on searching out stray pieces of fluff on her jacket. A trick she had learned at grief counseling when moments of tenderness shared between a couple triggered memories that were best held until she was alone.

When she dared to look up he patted his wife’s hand on his shoulder, and with his other hand Herman glanced at his pocket watch. “Too late today. You’ll have to go to the town office at nine tomorrow. Janice will have you organized in no time.”

“I’ll go and put on the kettle.” Mrs. Lamb gave Herman another little tap.

“Sit down and relax until tea’s ready. She makes a good cup of tea even if I still prefer coffee.”

The sound of cups rattling on saucers seemed to resound in the brief silence as Anna and Herman both gazed out of the window at the rolling water.
“You look puzzled, Anna.”

Was it her imagination or did Herman’s teeth click with each syllable?

“I could buy some water and stay there tonight, I suppose.”

“Not that easy, girlie! There’s the bathroom to consider--no water, no flush.”

“There must be a hotel in a resort town?” She didn’t want to leave. She’d finally catapulted herself into her future.

Margaret placed a tray with teapot, china cups and saucers and a plate of cookies on the low sofa table and her red nails took flight again. “Yes, but it’s closed right now, getting all cleaned up for the summer visitors.”

“What about the Donnelly B&B?” Herman mumbled between bites of cookie.

“You’re a genius. I’ll call right now.” Margaret jumped from the chair on which she’d perched like a bird on a wire.

After Margaret left the room, Herman leaned toward her. “I hope we get to be friends real soon so I can take these teeth out.” He tapped his upper plate with his finger.

“Herman! I can’t leave you for a minute on your own.” Margaret came back into the living room flapping a piece of paper. “They have one room that’s ready and if you’re not looking for bacon and eggs for breakfast, they’ll put you up. You could always come here for bacon and eggs.”

“More tea, Annie?” Herman clicked.

“Herman, her name is Anna.”

“But she looks like an Annie. You know I call them as I see them, Margaret dear.”

“At least have the courtesy to ask the woman.” Margaret and Herman both turned toward her.

Anna drained her cup. “I’ll be floating down that lake if I drink anymore. Thanks for the offer of breakfast, but I’ll be fine with whatever they serve.” Anna stood.

There was of course Little Orphan Annie, Annie Oakley, or even Annie Hall. She should nip this in the bud but her new neighbors looked hopeful. “Can I think about being Annie?” She opened her purse and brought out her notepad and pen.

“Don’t take too long. If he gets it in his head, that’s who you’ll be.”

“I promise. I’ll give it consideration. Could I have directions to the B&B please?”

“The best way for you to get there is to go back to your place turn south on Fourth Street until you get to the Kinookimaw Road then turn east and then at the intersection, turn south again and drive until you see the sign.” Margaret turned and pointed with each new direction.

Anna wrote down directions. How hard could it be?

“Don’t listen to her. Just back out of the driveway and return the way you came into town. This time you’ll go up the hill and at the three-way stop continue on straight ahead until you see a nice white fence on your left and then the sign.”

“Yes, you can go that way, too.”

“Got it.” She waved her note pad. “Thank you. I’ll lock up and drive there now. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Margaret followed her to the opening in the hedge. “It’ll be nice having a woman next door. Herman and John always seemed to have a lot to talk about. My Herman misses him especially now that he has to stay put after his heart surgery.”

“Is he going to be all right?” Anna’s heart changed tempo.

“Doctor says as good as always once he heals. He just has to let things mend.”

“I’m glad. Thanks for popping over.” Anna turned toward her door. She took long breaths. He’s going to be fine. He is going to be fine. Anna knew about the critical time between a heart failure and being alive from her career as a trauma nurse. She pulled the door closed and walked back down the stone stairs, unlocked her car and settled into the seat. I don’t even want to reverse for one small moment but even Annie Hall didn’t get her new life without a few steps backwards.

The cottage would be there tomorrow as it had been for half a century. It required hard physical labor to bring back some of the luster and that is probably what she needed, but not today. Right now she didn’t have the strength to unload her boxes and cases from the trunk and back seat. She pressed down the gas pedal and drove out of the valley. With a golf course on her right and a white, log fence on her left, the railing stopped like a gapped tooth and a sign announced the Donnelly Bed and Breakfast.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How She Does It - Annette Bower


Thank you Janet for having me as a guest on your blog today talking about the
sixth aspect of a story plot.


1. How do you create your characters?
A theme for my story will find me through the news or through an interview with
someone. I slowly consider the strengths and weaknesses characters need to be in
a similar situation. And then I consider the journey the characters have taken
in their lives to be where they are today. Finally, I consider the events which
will happen for them to grow into the next phase of their lives. All of these
events may include a happy ever after or it may be a happy for now ending.

2. Do you have a specific process?
After I have an idea for my theme and characters, I begin saving images from
magazines, newspaper and online articles for the external appearance. I will
refresh my memory about faces and what the shape of a mouth might suggest, the
lines around eyes, even a nose and eyebrows can suggest a person’s past. Then I
step back and look at their body shape. Then I name my character. I will
research with a book similar to The Hidden Truth of Your Name and chose a name
that will help define my character. Many years ago an English professor gave
specific examples of how characters became their names. Then I build a past,
(who named the character) and present (how they are growing into their name) and
then the hopes for the future (are they their name or do they change it?). I use
books similar to Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress to remind myself about the
different levels necessary to build a character.

3. Do characters come before the plot?
I develop character and plot at the same time. I’m a pantser writer rather than
a plotter. I know there must be certain points in the story where crisis happens
and then resolution and growth, just as in real life. I’ve read and heard at
workshops that if I plot I could write faster and perhaps as I mature as a
writer I will be able to detect ways of plotting the ups and downs rather than
having the characters interaction determine the turning points.

4. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a
specific one?
Because I write romance I know that love is the very important aspect of the
story. I also like love to be important and therefore I like to write toward a
happy ever after or a happy for now ending. Even though some people may view
falling in love as a fairytale, I believe that love is more than just a
fairytale but it also is a reality most people strive for.

5. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans
of houses sitting around?
In my short stories and in this novel, Moving On A Prairie Romance I have
chosen settings which are familiar to me. I have, of course, used a compilation
of houses and furnishings. I do cut out photographs of rooms from magazines that
I think would suite my characters and I use the color ideas. My settings are
simple with minimal description and hopefully with just enough information that
readers can easily access setting.

6. Where do you do your research?I have a number of books that I have acquired
over my years.

I like my book on Body Language, I like my books that describe family dynamics
and social structures. I have to conclude that for the general research I use
books, magazines and newspapers but if there are specifics, for example a
description of specific style and textures of clothing or upholstery, or type of
food, or car then I use the internet. For example, just today will searching for
a blog page name I came across a study which states that a woman walks can
indicate how she is in the bedroom. This type of information is invaluable even
if I never mention it to the reader but I know it and can use it.

Please contact me if you require any further information.
My web page is below, www.annettebower.com
As well as two places to purchase the book.




Annette Bower
Author of Moving On A Prairie Romance
www.annettebower.com
http://www.amazon.com/Moving-Prairie-Romance-ebook
www.xoxopublishing.com
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Annette-Bower-XOXO-Publishing-Author/378438088839629


Thursday, April 12, 2012

How the book Progressed -- Refuge - 2nd of The Henge Betrayed Series


One copy of Refuge will be given away to the person who gives me a way to reach them.

Weeks ago I began talking about how the series The Henge Betrayed began and got sidetracked. Happens sometimes these days but I'll get back to that now. Refuge is the second book in the fantasy series suitable for children and adults. One reviewer said this was perfect for the ten year old to read. Another thought adults would enjoy the series.

When I began the second story in the series, some things had changed in the long outline, which actually could be called a novella. I had to think about what those changes meant to the characters. There were alos new characters to introduce, one of them being a mentor. The first book has a scene near the ending when the young heir to Wesren learns he must die. Having written this and knowing he was one of the recurring characters, I had to figure what I meant. Each of these young people has a gem to enhance their affinity for one of the elements. He also had one. Aha, I thought. If the gem is destroyed he could die or be thought dead by Dom Senet the villain. How to accomplish this. In the mean time the four siblings are running away and have no clear destination. During this time Ash attempts to reach their friends and Dom Senet hears her on the winds. This evil man has all four affinities. She panics and her siblings unite to bring her out of this. Their flight continues and they still seek a mentor. During their flight Ash falls into an icy pond and becomes ill. The siblings watch her draw close to death. They then decide to seek an elderly Doma named Jandia.

This woman becomes their mentor and frankly could have taken over the story but I managed to keep the four siblings and their other friends in charge of the story and the action by not giving this woman or any of the other adults a viewpoint in the story. They are also concerned with two friends they left in Cedris and want these friends to join them. Once they rescue their prince friend who has appeared to die, they now must go to Cedris to rescue their two new friends who have affinities.

During this time their affinities are sharpened. They search for a place where they can be free to learn how to use their affinities for Earth, Water, Fire and Air.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday - Patterns in Plot construction


When I think of plot I alwasy see the masks one showing Comedy and the other Tragedy. To me there are two basic ways for a plot to emerge. Perhaps this may seem simplistic and maybe it is. Stories either end happily or they end tragically. I kind of prefer the happy ending though Anna Karenina was one of my early models for writing fiction. Just looking at the two, there are many variations on these themse.

In real life coincidences abound. In fiction, they don't. The writer has to plan for every incident that could be considered a coincidence. For a character to overhear an important bit of information, the writer has to find a way to make this seem to be a natural event. Putting the character in the right or wrong place to overhear or witness an action needs the reader to believe this is a natural happening. This must be part of the character's nature.

For either type of story, those with a happy ending or those with a tragic ending there are roads one must take. Every character cones into a story wanting something. This is the what of a story. They must have a reason for wanting this object, event that makes sense. This must be part of the nature the writer has given them. Just wanting the object and the reason can't be enough to make a story. What the story needs are 3 or four segments.

There is the why they can't have this object. This can be presented by other people, by nature or by the social area where they exist. This is the threat segment of the story.

Another segment is the trial period where the character either goes toward or away from the object. Sort of like trying to find a way around the sibject to reach the goal. The character can either succeed or fail or a combination of the two types of action.

The last two segments can be either separate or together and they are success and resolution. The character will either win or lose the object or what they desired in the opening of the story.

So remember when you plan a story which type you are striving to achieve. Will the main character win or lose what they seek. Putting together the segments to reach the end takes planning.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Settings


In the wonderful book of essay in the Writer's Handbook, I came across one by Norah Lofts talking about setting. There have been timew when I've been reading a story and I wonder when the author visited the place. The details seem so right. Questions often arise. Do they live there. How long was their visit? Then I go on to see that they've never been to the place thay have made me believe I've visited with them. Writing about a place familiar to you is easy. Well, no kind of writing is that easy. Placing characters in a setting and making the reader believe they are there.

Now if the writer isn't writing of a place they've been, research is the answer. But how much is enough and how much is too much. I have lots of books on my shelves collected over the years that are travel books and show a land. I also have friends who travel more than I do. How does the writer know if they've created a place the reader may recognize. One way is to invent a setting and to put elements of a place you know or a place you've visited or read about. Feeding in the details can be easy or hard.

I have a village invented for a mystery series that's based on the village where I live. I've combined three villages and just picked out the parts I want to show. I've sued this place as a setting in a number of books by changing details and throwing in imaginary elements, I've also written fantasies where the world is invented and bears some resemblance to places I've read about in some of the travel books. I often use recreations of ruins of houses, temples, castles to make these seem real. Most of the time I succeed. A friend saved me from making an escape and forgetting or not realizing that evening comes differently when one is nearer the equator than where I currently reside. She also reminded me that it's hot about eight months of the year so the seasons are different from the ones where I reside.

So when working to create a setting, walk the town if you're using a familiar one, visit the house you've chosen to add to the story. I have books of house and apartment plans on my shelf and there are the ones I've visited or lived in. I also have the internet and friends who have traveled. Visit the places in reality or from plicture and once you've selected the few details you need, use your imagination and place your characters there.

Monday, April 9, 2012

9 April - Week Behind and Week Ahead -


The winner of a copy of The Hudson House Murders is Lynn. An email will be sent to her soon and the book sometime this week.

Last week found me sending off a contract for A Surprising Seduction and working on The Micro-manger Murder. I managed to get about halfway through the story and completed the plot draft. There are not so many holes. Now they're about motorcycle size for driving through. One of the things I discovered is when one is working on a series and begins a new one, there are things from the past books that need to be located. Names. Since Katherine is getting married there are people from the past who need to make an appearance. Would have been nice to keep a list of who the characters are in each book and their names. Spent time looking over the books to find everyone. Another thing hit me. Read the first chapter to my critique group. Some of the comments made me take another look at the books and I discovered two things. The writer's voice shone clear but I'd forgotten the voice of the character and the voice of the story. Fortunately I'd read an article there and managed to start a new first chapter. Katherine always manages to ease into her story so the action needs to be woven in. Managed this and then found a new note I had to address. In The Hudson House Murders Lars intended to arrive in August but this was the date set for the wedding. I needed to add a bit to the first chapter.

Now for the coming week. I'm working on the Setting draft to make sure the reader will see where the character is. Am up to Chapter 3 and will continue to do as much as I can. I will be signing books on Sunday at the Rockland County Historical Center and this should be fun since there will be other local authors there. The usual features will be on the blog this week. I was interviewed at Jaleta Clegg's blog.

I've an interview up here. http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com/

I also have an interview up here. http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com/2012/04/welcome-janet-lane-walters.html


Sunday, April 8, 2012

3 Blog Visit Sunday


http://www.theromanceman.net/

http://skytalewriter.blogspot.com/2012/04/writing-first-pages-dont-matter-or-do.html

http://medievalnovels.blogspot.com/

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Time To Love Again - Roseanne Dowell

Chapter 1

Doesn’t that man ever stay in the house? Rose slammed her car door and tried to ignore the man next door. Just once, she wished he’d let her get away without trying to talk to her. But why should this time be any different? Lowering, her head, she hurried toward her house. Right now she wasn’t in the mood for conversation. At least not with him.

“Hello, Rose, uh... Mrs. Asbury.” He dropped his snow shovel, grabbed something from the garage, and hurried toward her.

His relaxed, tall, lean body in a denim jacket and jeans caused a stir of excitement in her. Even his graying temples aroused something in her that she found way too familiar. Stirred up feelings she didn’t want stirred up. She barely glanced at him, yet felt a tug on her heart.

Darn! Rose threw the scarf around her neck and pulled her coat close against the cold wind. Why didn’t he just leave her alone? You’d think by now he’d realize she didn’t care to talk to him. Her stomach fluttered, a feeling she hadn’t experienced in a long time. Hunger pangs, she dismissed it. Nerves, that’s all. She nodded a hello, like always, and hurried to her house. What was it with him? Why did he keep bothering her? Couldn’t he see she wasn’t the least bit interested?

Suddenly, her feet slid out from under her. Splat! She landed on her butt, fell back, and hit her head. Groceries flew everywhere. Oh crap, just what she needed. She looked up to see the man leaning over her.

“Are you all right?”

Heat rushed to her face. Other than humiliated, she was fine. A bit sore, but she didn’t think she had any broken bones. She tried to sit up.

“Wait!” He pushed her back down. “You may have broken something.” He ran his hands gently across her ankles and legs and up toward her thigh.

A smoldering heat started deep in her stomach. She held her breath, let it out slowly. Even through her slacks, the heat from his hand sent tingly sensations down to her toes.

That’s it, enough. She pushed his hands away, sat up and managed to get to her knees. The man tried to help her. Ignoring him, she got to her feet and brushed herself off. Heat radiated from her face. Darn, it probably turned as red as her coat.

She bent down and picked up her groceries. She still hadn’t spoken to him. Why didn’t he leave? She could manage just fine without his help. He picked up some of her canned goods and put them in the bag. She reached for it.

“Here, this is for you.”

“For what?” She looked at the flower in his hand.

“It’s a yellow rose. It means friendship.”

She could see it was a yellow rose, she wasn’t a nitwit. And she knew what it meant. Frank used to bring her roses every week. She took it from him. “I...uh...” Heck, she didn’t know what to say. Why would he give her a flower?

“I saw it and thought of you.” Stephen ran his fingers around his shirt collar.

“Here, let me help.” He took the bag of groceries and started walking toward her door.

She grabbed the bag from him and ran into her house, too humiliated to speak and leaving him to stare after her.


***



Stephen stared after Rose. Darn woman made him feel like he did something wrong. Worse than a kid getting scolded by the principal. Why he bought that darn rose was beyond him. It seemed like a good idea when he saw them in the grocery store. Especially when he saw their meanings. Now he wished he hadn’t.
Crabby, old woman, she could have at least said thank you. Okay, so it’s cold and she fell, but she did the same thing in the summer. How many times had he seen her working in her yard? Yet when he came out, she jumped up and hurried into the house. You’d think he tried to attack her or had some horrible disease.

All he wanted was some friendly conversation. He shook his head. Don’t know about her. Obviously she didn’t want anything to do with him. Too bad, she’s an attractive woman. Not that he was looking for anything more than friendship. Heck, he lived here over a year and she never did more than nod at him. Bet she didn’t even know his name.

Crotchety, old biddy.

So why did he bother with her? He really didn’t need more friends. He had the Senior Center and the neighbors a couple doors down, Len and Millie Fisher. Why he insisted on talking to Rose Asbury he’d never know.

Still, he hoped she wasn’t hurt. She had taken a nasty fall. Bet she’d feel it in the morning. Bet she’d have a good black and blue mark too. He chuckled. Served her right, rude old coot.

Something about her, though. Not sure why, but he wanted to break through that tough reserve. He shrugged and walked back to the garage, put the shovel away and went into the house.

Oh well, can’t say he didn’t try.



****

Rose set her groceries on the counter and rubbed her hip. Gonna be sore as heck tomorrow. Bet it turned black and blue already. Stupid klutz! Talk about the epitome of embarrassment. Bad enough she fell, but why did he have to see her. She made a fresh pot of coffee, picked up the rose and smelled it. Something about the fragrance of the flower made her think of Frank.

“You could have been nicer to him,” a voice whispered.

Rose jumped back. What the heck? “Who’s there?” She spun around the small kitchen. Shivers ran up her spine. She didn’t see anyone, yet sensed a presence. Cold air brushed past her and settled over the room. She gripped the counter. What the heck’s going on here? “Who’s there?” she yelled again.

“It’s only me.” A shadowy figure appeared in front of her.

Rose backed up and bumped the refrigerator. “Ouch, Darn it.” She hurt bad enough without making it worse. “Who the heck are you?” Darn, it sounded like ....

“It’s me. Don’t you recognize me?”

Rose peered at the shadow. “Recognize you, I can hardly see you.” She rubbed her eyes. This was ridiculous.

“He did help you, Rose. You could have invited him in,” the voice went on.

“I didn’t ask for any help. I could have managed on my own. Besides, I don’t like the feelings he arouses in me.” Somehow she couldn’t help answering aloud. Good grief now she was talking to herself.

“Why not? Frank used to stir those same feelings. Quit acting like you’re dead. Wake up, live. You’ve become a recluse. There’s a big world out there that you used to love. You enjoyed people. The man was only trying to be friendly.” The voice didn’t let up.

Something about the voice sounded like her sister, Emma. But Emma had been dead for several years. She wished it would leave her alone. She poured a cup of coffee and pulled her sweater tight, trying to block the cold rushing through her.

Rose hurried into the living room, set her coffee on the table, and turned on the television. Winter weather advisories crawled across the screen. She glanced out the window. Already a thick blanket of white covered the trees and bushes. She used to love snowstorms, but it seemed like ages ago.

Memory of when her kids were little and she went outside and helped build snowmen or had snowball fights made her smile. Those were the days. They had loved the first big snowfall. But time passed and kids grew up. She sighed. Grew up and moved away. Now snow was nothing more than a nuisance. She hated driving in it, but at least the road crews kept the main roads pretty clear. They even salted and plowed her street more frequently than normal.

A thumping noise against the house interrupted Rose’s thoughts. “What in the world?” She got up and limped to the door, rubbing her hip. Darn, already it hurt.

Just as she pulled it open, four little pairs of legs raced around the bushes into the next yard.

“Little monsters,” she mumbled. “Go throw snowballs at your own house.” Shaking her head, she slammed the door. What’s wrong with kids now days? Her kids had been taught to respect people’s property. Not that they were saints by any means, but they showed adults proper respect, or she’d know the reason why.
If any neighbor had corrected her kids, they darn well better have listened. Today, kids acted like they owned the world. Don’t give a darn about people’s privacy. And for God’s sakes don’t tell their parents. “My little Johnny would never do that,” they said. Yeah right, their little Johnny was usually the ring leader.

“Oh for heavens, sakes, Rose,” Emma’s voice returned. “What’s the matter with you? People have been like that for ages. Even back in your day there were a handful of people that believed their kids could do no wrong. You were a teacher, you ran across that all the time. That’s not the norm, and you know it. You’re not that old. Can’t you remember what it was like to be a kid, you certainly were no angel.”

Rose jumped at the sound. Where was it coming from? Suddenly a shadowy figure appeared on the chair opposite her.

“Emma?”

The shadowy form didn’t move. Rose put on her glasses and looked closer. Nothing. Darn, now she was imagining things. No angel, “harrumph”.

No she guessed she wasn’t. She chuckled at the memory of childhood days. Oh how she, her sister and brother had prayed for snow so they could earn money to buy Christmas gifts for their parents. They shoveled snow, but they fooled around a lot too.

“And threw snowball at the neighborhood grouch’s house,” the voice said.

Rose looked at the chair. Again the shadowy form presented itself. It looked sort of like Emma. Rose peered closer, and it disappeared.

“Okay, we did, so what? And if you’re going to talk to me, at least have the decency to show yourself.”

Dear God is that what she’d become, the neighborhood grouch? Rose stood up and went to refill her coffee cup.

“Well so what if I am a grouch? I’m not hurting anyone. Why can’t everyone just leave me alone? I’d have nothing to bitch about.” Rose wanted to get rid of the voice, even if it was Emma. Besides, she didn’t believe in ghosts. Her imagination that’s all it was.



****


Sarah peeked around the corner of the garage. Her friends hid behind her. “I think she saw us.” She made another snowball and raised her arm to throw it.
“Stop!” Jenny pulled Sarah’s arm. “You’re going to get us into big trouble. She’s going to tell.”
“Oh quit being a scaredy-cat.” Sarah tossed the snowball at her friend. “She doesn’t even know where you live. She never pays attention to us.”
“Yeah, we’ll get into trouble.” Jason and Billy agreed with Jenny.
“Come on let’s find something else to do, leave the old lady alone.” Billy turned and ran toward Sarah’s house, the others followed close behind.
“Party poopers,” Sarah grumbled as she gave in and followed her friends. She kicked the snow with her boots as she followed slowly behind. Big old scaredy-cats, that’s all they are. Don’t want to have no fun. She picked up a handful of snow, looked back at Mrs. Asbury’s house and threw it. Darn it, she was too far away. Oh well, she’d find something else to do.
She hated that the old lady was rude to her grandpa. All he wanted to do was talk to her but no, she couldn’t be bothered. Served her right that she fell. Poor Grandpa just stood in the drive and watched her go into her house. Didn’t even thank him for helping her. Old Meany. Sarah raced after her friends.

Friday, April 6, 2012

How She Does It - Roseanne Dowell

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

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

The characters basically create themselves. Sometimes they come from a picture in a magazine, but usually I have a story idea first and they present themselves.

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?

Guess I just answered that above. I never plot out my story. Did that once and was blocked for two years. I'll never do it again. I know the beginning of the story and the end, what happens in the middle is as much a surprise to me as it is to my readers. I do however have character work sheets. Besides, the obvious description, I want to know all about them. Their favorite color, do they like animals, kids, hobbies, what the do for a living. A whole list of things.


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

Guess I just answered that above also. It's usually a pretty specific ending. Of course, I write romance, so the ending is HEA

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

I usually choose settings I know. It's easier for me. I often use fake towns and they're usually a combination of places I know. As far as houses, I just usually use my imagination.

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

Actually, I do both. I have a lot of books about murder - kind of scared hubby with a few of them - and I also do online research.





Thursday, April 5, 2012

How The Story Began - The Hudson House Murders


An autographed copy of The Hudson House Murders will be given away to one person who leaves me a way to reach them.

Having fans of Katherine ask for another story about her, I began to wonder what would come next. Some news paper articles, some television programs all focused on medical personnel doing things to make them look like heroes or heroines. Not what I wanted for Katherine. Suddenly I discovered there could be an exclusive nursing home for people with money, almost a hotel. Then I remembered the wonderful house that had been converted to another use but was right on the Hudson River and had once had spectacular grounds. Still did. I had used this setting for a bit part in another story. So I went to look at the house behind the wall and with some expansion of the building I could use this wonderful setting. How to get Katherine there. Well Katherine has friends with money and these friends have family. I began to weave the tale.

Katherine has a new tenant, one she rented to herself. No more allowing her son to choose a tenant. This tenant is the estranged granddaughter of an old rich friend. The girl is estranged because she is blamed for the accident that killed her cousin, a bright, or not so bright, young man, There are other complications. But Katherine's friend breaks her hip and goes for her rehab to this exclusive nursing home not far from Katherine's house. During visits to her friend, Katherine hears interesting and strange things about recent deaths at the nursing home. She hears some chance remarks from a young friend. Then Katherine's friend dies. This doesn't seen natural.

The story is now on and Katherine decides to go undercover as a nurse. That's as far as I'll speak about the development of the story since from there the story moved along rapidly.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday's Tip - More on Patterns


First a bit on Originality. Are there new stories? Probably not. What there are are writer's takes on stories that go back to the days when men gathered around a fire in a cave and someone told stories. What a writer needs to do is find their own unique way of telling the story. Learning about Patterns is one way of doing this. We were read to as children and heard all those wonderful fairy tales, some of them changed from their original pattern and sometimes not. We've seen adaptations of these classical themes in a variety of ways. Some author tales a story and adds a twist. One has to do this with care. Taking what someone has written and just changing the names and location is plagerism, but taking the basic pattern and using it in isn't. Perhaps a hard line not to cross. There's a lot of "fan fiction" out there that takes a writer's world and uses the characters to create stories. The problem here is when the writer of the "fan fiction" goes overboard and changes very little. I've never done this kind of writing but there are authors I have studied their works to look at the basic patterns and used these patterns to create my own world.

Basic patterns look at archtypes. There are characters who turn up in many stories and these are found in patterns from the beginning. Look at the use writers have has of taking the story of lovers torn apart by a family feud. This is a recognazible pattern but it's what the writer does with this. To copy long passages isn't where it's at. To follow the pattern blindly isn't where it's at. Taking a pattern and adapting it to your own work. We've been listening to stories since we were small. Finding the patterns beneath the story is where a writer should shine. Taking another writer's characters and changing little about their personalities is bordering on plagerism.

Now I've had my small rant let's look at the basic pattern of a story. Every story has a Beginning, a Middle and an End. Leave one of these out and you don't have a story. The Beginning is where the characters are introduced, setting is shown and the problem begun. The Middle is where the story has twists and turns with the hero or heroine sometimes succeeding and sometimes not. All this leads to the End where the problems are solved and a resolution is formed. A story with a beginning and an end is found odd by the reader. So would a story with a middle and an end or one that has just one of the three pieces of the pattern. As a writer I've probably done all of the above but then I've had to look at the story and decide what's wrong and then go back and make the changes so the story has all it's parts and has a pattern that flows.