Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday's Chapter from Savage Possession by Margaret Tanner


Several weeks after Storm’s arrival on his doorstep, Martin awoke to sleeting rain lashing at the windows. Storm still slept, worn out from their torrid passion. So young and vulnerable. He eased himself out of bed and felt a sudden surge of compassion. What must it be like to have spent time with those brutal gypsies? To have no memory of your previous life? The fear – loss - absolute bewilderment.

After he washed and dressed he strode downstairs. “Sam!” His father’s cousin, Sam Bainbridge sat in the kitchen sipping a cup of tea. “How are you?” Martin clapped the wizened, gray haired man on the shoulder. “Profitable trip?”

“Yes, I sold all my sketches.”

“Good, I’m pleased for you. When did you arrive home?”

“Last night. I must say, you've done a fine job with the kitchen, or is Mrs. Irvine back?”

“No.” Martin grinned. “I had help.”

“One of your women friends from Melbourne?”

“I still can’t believe what happened myself, but I answered a bang on my door one stormy night and found a girl slumped on my doorstep.”

“You’ve been drinking again.”

“I swear I did find a fey young woman on my doorstep. Actually she’s upstairs.” He gave a low chuckle on seeing the shocked expression on Sam’s face. “You can meet her in a few minutes.”

“Where did she come from?”

“I had no idea when I first found her. Because of the stormy conditions I named her Storm. She’d suffered a blow to the head and had amnesia. The only words that made any sense were ‘Black Stallion, so I assumed she’d come from there.”


In reality she’d escaped from some gypsy encampment.”

“For heaven’s sake. You brought some gypsy’s whore in off the street. Martin, are you mad?”

“She wasn’t a whore when she came here, pure as the driven snow, in fact, but she’s a whore now, for my exclusive use. I’ve taught her everything I know. A man could travel the world and not find better.”

“Have you lost your mind?”

“No. Well, maybe I have. My little storm girl drives me to the point of insanity. I’m like a rutting stallion around her.”

“Don’t be crude,” Sam snapped. “Didn’t you make any effort to find out her identity?”

“Yes. I did. She can’t remember what happened to her prior to stumbling into the gypsy encampment. They abused her and she ran away. She’s good in bed.” He laughed at the old man’s grimace of distaste. “And an excellent cook and housekeeper, too.”

Martin glanced up. Storm hovered in the doorway. “I thought I heard voices.”

She wore one of the gowns he had bought her, a blue taffeta that complimented her blue eyes. Her silver hair, draped like a cloak across her shoulders, shimmered like moonbeams when she moved.

“Come here and meet Sam, my cousin about three times removed.”

As he stepped over to draw her into the room, the old man rose to his feet. Sam’s face turned red, then the color drained away, leaving him haggard and sick looking.

“Are you all right?” Martin dropped Storm's hand and strode over to the old man. “What’s wrong?”

Sam struggled to speak, but couldn't get any words out. Veins bulged in his neck. Martin feared he might have a seizure.

“Hurry, Storm. Get him some brandy.”

She dashed off, and on her return put the half full glass into Sam’s shaking hand.

“Drink this.” She patted his arm. “It will make you feel better.”

The old man’s hands trembled so much she guided the glass to his lips. He swallowed the contents in a couple of gulps and coughed and spluttered.

“This is the girl?” Sam’s mouth dropped open, a pulse convulsed in his jaw. “Oh my God, Martin. What have you done?”

“What the hell’s the matter with you?” Martin tried to hide his worry. Had the old man lost his mind?

“Would you like some more brandy?” Storm asked.

“No, no thank you. Drink has been the ruin of the Mulvaneys.”

“For God’s sake, Sam. What’s wrong?”

“Your, your, Storm is named Elizabeth,” Sam said in a harsh whisper. “Elizabeth Campbell, old Fergus’ granddaughter.”

“What!” The statement was like a mule kick to his stomach and Martin almost doubled over with shock.

“No! She can’t be,” he rasped.

“Didn’t you see the resemblance?”

“What’s the matter?” Storm asked in a panic stricken voice.

Martin ignored her distress. “You’re a Campbell,” he snarled, advancing towards her with deadly intent. “Get out of my sight.”

“But, Martin,” she pleaded, “what have I done?”

“Done?” He gritted his teeth to stop himself grabbing hold of her. “You’re the granddaughter of my mortal enemy.”

“Stop it,” Sam intervened. “Go to your room, girlie, until we sort this mess out.”

As she fled, Martin hurled a string of curses at her.

“I’ve made a whore out of Fergus Campbell’s granddaughter. Better than killing the old bastard.” He gave a harsh bark of laughter. “I heard somewhere he doted on those twins of his. I ought to grab her by the scruff of the neck, drag her to the Black Stallion and tell everyone in the public bar what a talented little harlot I turned her into.” He enjoyed the idea for a moment.

“Listen to me, son.”

“No. You listen to me. I’ve waited years for a chance to destroy old Fergus. He ruined my life. Oh, revenge will be sweet. Took a stock whip to me once, did you know that? I want that Scottish Highland pride ground into the dust. I want him to be so humiliated he’ll want to crawl off somewhere and die.”

“What about the girl? You said the gypsies abused her.”

“They did, but she’s a whore, a Campbell whore.”

“You can’t blame her for what happened years ago. Bury the past for the love of God,” Sam pleaded. “This thirst for revenge will destroy you.”

“Oh, I’ve waited, bided my time for an opportunity like this.” Martin’s heart filled up with such bitterness, he wondered why it didn’t burst wide open and spill on to the floor.

“You’ve ruined the poor girl’s life, isn’t that enough?”

“No,” he ground the word out. His hatred reverberated around the kitchen and chilled the air.

“How long has she been here?”

Martin shrugged. “Several weeks. Why?”

“And you were, er, um with her every night?”

“Yeah.” His lips twisted into a vicious smile. “Every single night, sometimes during the day, too.”

“No,um, er,” Sam spluttered, red faced with embarrassment, “monthly ailment?


“No monthly…”

“I heard you.” Martin’s gut clenched.



“You should do the honorable thing and offer marriage.”

“Marriage!” Martin rocked back on his heels. “I’ve no plans to marry. If I did it wouldn’t be to a Campbell.”

“You might have got her with child.”

“Hell.” The churning in his gut returned a hundred fold. He felt physically ill.

“You've ruined her chances of marriage to a decent man. If she’s with child, God alone knows what will happen to her.”

“Fergus Campbell’s precious granddaughter having a bastard.” Martin bared his teeth into a snarl. “Yes, I like it.”

“The child will have Mulvaney blood in its veins, have you forgotten?”


“Please, I’ve thought of you as the son I never had. How many times did I save you from those vicious beatings your father meted out?”

“Plenty of times.” Martin forked his fingers through his hair to get his anger under control. If it weren’t for Sam he would have been bashed to a pulp as a boy.

“Then listen to me, son, I’m older and a lot wiser than you. I’ve watched hatred of the Campbells devour you over the years. Don't let what happened in the past ruin the rest of your life. The past is dead and buried. Let it stay that way.”

“You think old Fergus would let a Mulvaney marry his precious granddaughter?” Martin’s mouth twisted. “A snowflake in hell would fare better.”

“Not if she carried your child. He’d have to agree or risk her being ostracized when everyone found out. She’s his sole granddaughter, the apple of his eye. He might hate the Mulvaneys, but worships her.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Martin,” Sam persisted.

“What?” He clasped his hands behind his back so Sam wouldn’t see them shaking. This would have to be one of the worst moments in his life. Why the hell hadn’t he seen the resemblance to old Fergus? The blonde hair. Those arresting pale blue eyes. Too inebriated and shocked when he first found her to notice the likeness, and later, too blinded by lust.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday's How She Does It with Margaret Tanner

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

They just come to me, but in a very basic form, so I then set about "flehsing them out,." so to speak.

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

My hero and heroine always come before the plot. Although when I think of my main characters, a few of their dilemas seem to pop up viertually at the same time. I am a pantser, so the majority of my story falls into place as I write. After I have finished the story, I then go back and tweak a few character traits to enhance the plot.

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

I always know how the story will end. In fact, I usually know the ending before the beginning, strange as that might seem.

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

I try to choose settings that I know. I write historicals so it makes things a little more difficult than if I were writing a modern day story. I usually try to set my stories in the same country area give or take a few miles, that way it does cut down on research. And lets face it, countryside, terrains trees, flowers etc. haven't changed much in a couple of hundred years.

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

I do a lot of research in libraries. I do some on line research, but am very selective as I don't put too much trust in some on-line sites. I have found quite a lot of historical errors on line, unfortunately.

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

I write an initial rough draft, and by write, I mean with pen on paper. After that I type it on to my computer and do most of my editing from there. I find ideas seem to flow much better when I use long hand. A computer screen doesn't do anything for my creative juices.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday's Opening - The Secret of the Jewels by Janet Lane Walters





Seven Jewels and seven threads. Find them, twine them, bind them into a braid to discover how to unlock the secret of the Jewels. What was pale becomes dark and dark changes to light. Sometimes destruction is the way to end a cycle of tyranny. Blazing sun and icy moons unite in the Yellow Jewel. You must go over land, across the sea and back again. Seek the thread and learn this lesson. What makes a home does not have to be a place. Fears may lurk and fears are faced when one learns to trust.


Disa turned and waved farewell to the Holders and their Chosen who remained at the mages’ stronghold. All but she and Brader stayed to tend to the living and the dead. Just days ago, the elderly healer had appeared and had given prophecies to all. The moment Disa had heard those words she knew she and Brader had to leave. Their role in the destruction of the mages lair had ended. The overland journey to Quato where they would board a ship to Thanis would take a seven day.

She prodded her horned horse and caught up with her companion. “Must we race like prisoners released from a dungeon?”

He slowed his steed. “Why not? I wish to reach my home as soon as I can.”

Home, she thought. Hers had been a peddler’s wagon and then the tavern in Pala. She didn’t understand his being drawn to a place. “Thy home won’t run.”

He laughed. “Thee are right, but some inner yearning pushes me to hurry to High Sanctuary. What if the mages have established a refuge there?”

She made a face. “Didn’t Andalor mention a ship filled with Queen’s Guards and mages that arrived in Quato around the time when thee did?”

“One or more might have remained. I need to find out.”

She supposed he was right but that wasn’t his real reason for the rush to return to his home. He wanted to visit his mother’s grave to bid her farewell. Did he really believe her spirit lingered on this plane waiting to hear of the success or failure of Liara’s quest?

At dusk they arrived in Desert’s Edge where they purchased enough supplies for the journey. She nearly suggested they stop at the Healers’ House for medicinals, but could think of none they would need before they reached the market in Quato.

Eight days of traveling from dawn to dusk brought them to the seaport town. On the outskirts they passed the villa where she had received her Jewel. “Remember our time here?” she asked.

“Clearly. What a pompous fool I was. Attacking Valmir when he wasn’t the enemy. Angering Liara and thee.”

She reached for his hand. “Thee feared someone would harm her and keep her from the quest.” She sighed. “I wonder how the others fare.”

“If there were problems couldn’t they reach us on the inner path?” Brader asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve listened every night and the voices have grown fainter. Should we stay here or go directly to the docks?”

He prodded his horse. “This is too far from town. We’ll find an inn. Word of ships leaving for Thanis will be heard at one, but we can’t leave for a day or two.”

She nodded. “We have to sell the horses.”

“And arrange for passage. We’re too late for today’s animal market.”

Once inside the town Disa led him to the inn where she and Andalor had stayed. They were in luck and one of the suites on the third story was available. After leaving their packs in the suite’s central room, they ordered a meal to be brought as soon as they finished in the baths.

A short time after returning to the suite, Disa opened the door for a serving woman bearing a large tray of food. Disa inhaled the aroma of brewed chokla and grinned. She slipped the woman a coin. Brader entered from his sleeping chamber. He fastened his amber colored hair at his nape with a thong.

“What of our plans for tomorrow?” Disa filled a mug with her chosen drink.

“Sell the horses. Find a ship. Purchase some extra food for the journey. Ship’s food is plain and sometimes not tasty.”

“Will we have to wait long?” Though they’d taken coins from the mages’ treasury, if they were forced to stay too long their coins would vanish.

He shrugged. “Who knows? I’ll slip down to the common room. Someone there will know about sailings.”

Disa lifted a banta leg. “No tragon.”

He laughed. “Guess Liara told thee how little tolerance I have for spirits. I’ll stick to ale.”

Though Disa had planned to stay awake until Brader returned, the soft mattress lulled her to sleep.

In the morning as soon as they broke their fast, they led their steeds to the animal market. After selling the horses and gear they had enough to buy passage on the ship Brader had heard about the evening before.

Disa walked to the dock with him. While he boarded to arrange for berths, she sat on a bench. She stared at the ship. Seemed sturdy but she had no knowledge about boats. As she watched, burly men carried crates and bales up a wooden ramp to be stowed in the holds.

Her thoughts drifted to the prophecy. Did it mean they would remain on the isle? Would they find more danger in Thanis? In two seasons she’d been part of two arcane battles. One to destroy the Black Jewel and the other to destroy the stronghold of the mages. Would the changes she, Liara and Stilenta had spoken about ever come to fruition?

For an instant, she pressed her hand against the Yellow Jewel she wore beneath her tunic. Did she control the gem or did it play subtle games with her thoughts? She rubbed her arms and felt as though the sun hid behind a cloud. Until she knew the answer she would be cautious about using the Jewel.

“Ho, Disa.”

Brader’s deep voice broke into her thoughts. He descended the long ramp from the ship. His broad grin spoke of success. She ran to him. “When do we leave?”

“The ship sails on the morning tide.” He made a face. “I don’t like the idea of sailing but there’s no other way to reach High Sanctuary.”

“Will there be storms like the one that stranded Stilenta on that isle? Or nearly drowned thee?”

“This isn’t the season. I’ve just no liking for the sea.”

“When thee came this way thee had wound fever. Liara feared for thy life. She said the sea water aided thy healing.”

He nodded. “All wasn’t ill. We found Valmir and Stilenta. Do thee think the Jewels played a role in the shipwreck?”

Disa looked away. If she admitted her concerns about the Jewels they might become true.

He grasped her arm. “Do they?”

She heard fear and curiosity in his voice. “I don’t know. Tell me what else troubles thee.”

He stared at the ground. “When the wind fills the sails and the waves roll, the motion of the ship is unsettling. My gut complains and my appetite flees.”

“There are herbs that can help. I’ll buy some.”

“And food, too. The trip can be as long as a lunar and a half or as short as two tendays. Ship food isn’t the best. Thee can shop and I’ll trade some of the gems from the stronghold for coins.”

Disa linked arms with him. They left the booming shouts and grunts of the stevedores and entered the noisy market square. The aroma of food and spices, the colors and varieties of the wares enchanted her. Brader headed to a shop with a wide selection of jewelry glittering behind the glass window. She strolled along the booths and made choices.

The last time she’d visited this market, mages had made dark blotches to gloom the atmosphere. Today there were none and only a few Queen’s Guards.

What would she and Brader find when they reached the isle where he and Liara had been raised? With a sigh, Disa thought of the friends they’d left at the mages’ stronghold. How did they fare? What secrets had they discovered?

She bought a mug of cider and sat on a bench beneath a canopy. As she sipped the cool liquid she sought her friends on the inner path. She heard faint buzzes but no words. Was the distance too great or was Brader’s help essential? She finished the drink and returned the mug. Had the choice to scatter been wrong?

Worrying about what couldn’t be changed wasted time. She stopped at a basket maker’s stall and purchased two lidded containers. At the herbalist’s she filled the compartments of one with a selection of herbs, spices and medicinals.

The aroma of chokla drew her across the square. She indulged in a powder for beverages, some candies for the voyage and two large pastries for the evening meal. After choosing other treats she carried the baskets to the inn.

When she reached the suite, she found Brader rolling their blankets. Their packs sat on the floor along with two sacks. “When are we off?” she asked.

Brader looked up. “After the evening meal we’ll board the ship.”

“But they don’t sail until morning.”

Brader chuckled. “The tide goes out at dawn. We need to be aboard before then.”

“Why? We’ve paid them. Wouldn’t they wait?”

“Not for a moment. Days from now we’d find another ship and have no coins to spare.”

Disa reached for her pack, blanket roll and the two baskets. “Then we’ll do what we must. I wish we didn’t have to go.”

He gathered his share of the baggage. “We must. I need to tell my mother what occurred so she can leave this plane for the next.”

Did he really believe his mother’s shade lingered? She reached for the door. “We’ll need a cart to carry these things to the ship.”

“Agreed.” Brader followed her into the hall. “Just pray the sea sickness doesn’t grab me.”

“I have medicines for that.” They walked downstairs and entered the common room. Brader laughed at the chokla pastry and gave her part of his. When they finished the meal they hired a barrow boy to cart their belongings to the ship.

As they boarded, Disa noticed the name painted on the ship’s side. The Amber Lady. She turned to Brader. “With that name and my Jewel we should have a pleasant journey.”

Her prediction proved true. With sunny days, clear nights, the brisk breezes filled the sails. The ship seemed to dance across the waves. Eighteen days after their departure from Quato the shores of the isle appeared in the distance.

Disa stood at the rail beside Brader. Large gray birds swooped through the air and dove toward the water. They emerged with fish dangling from their beaks and circled the small fishing skiffs. “What are they?”

“Lorns,” Brader said. “Fishermen train them to catch the fish.” He pointed to one of the boats as they glided past.

Disa watched as a bird dropped the fish and flew away. A man placed the fish in a tub. “Enterprising but what about the poor birds being robbed of their catch?”

“They’re given the heads and entrails.”

Disa shook her head. “Each to his own. When will we leave for thy home?”

He grinned. “First we have to dock. Won’t be today or even tomorrow. I’d like to see if any merchants are headed toward the mountains.”


“If there are we can travel part way with them.”

She met his gaze. “Do thee expect trouble?”

He shrugged. “I’ve a feeling. Can’t explain. On our way here, Liara and I ran afoul of some Queen’s Guards. They might still be around.”

Disa sucked in a breath. Could he be right? But Liara was the queen now and any of the Guards should be sworn to her. Disa shouldered her pack and blanket roll. She lifted the nearly empty baskets and followed him down the ramp. Uneasiness settled in her gut.

They walked away from the wharfs and paused outside a large inn. Brader pushed open the door. “Looks as good as any.”

“There’s one of the merchants from the ship.”

Brader dropped the things he carried. “See to the rooms. I’ll discover what he plans.”

A short time later he returned. “He journeys in our direction and would be pleased to have us join him. He leaves in three days. We’ll have time to purchase hill ponies and camping gear.”

Disa nodded. “Having our own supplies is a good idea.” She looked around to see if anyone was near. “We need to keep silent about the Jewel I wear.”

He looked away. “Thee are right.”

* * *

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Feelings #amlearning

I've always connected feelings to emotions. Is this true or false? Are there layers to Feelings I haven't explored. While re-reading Techniques of a Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, one of the best books on writing I've ever read, I came across this bit about Feelings. "Feeling is a thing you build through manipulation of motivation and reaction." Mr. Swain says there are a number of steps to building feelings in a story. I've found them of much interest.

The writer has to decide what is good and what is bad. This took me a lot of thinking and I thought about mysteries I've written where death plays a large role. Death can be good or bad. Death brings feelings among the created characters. An expected death when a person has been suffering could be a good death. In some stories I've read, a character has sacrificed theit life for another. This could be considered a good death. Murder on the other hand can be considered a bad death. Or is it?

How does one decide? What about the facts? Are they things we read in books? Yes. Are they things we have been taught that others around us believe? Generally. So what doe facts have to do with feelings? Much depends on the person viewing the facts and this is where character creating comes into play. Using a character's reaction to a fact can deepen his character. While the character might not react to the fact the same way as the writer has, the writer must stay true to what the created person would believe and act. This can be difficult since it means the writer must put themselves into the character's shoes. That becomes the second stage of showing Feelings or emotions.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration ala Helen Van Slyke

Looking over the book of old essays be writers and came across this. I'm not sure I ever read any of Helen Van Slyke's stories but what she said made sense to me. "My 'success' as a contemporary novelist lies in two overworked words : identity and empathy." This triggered off some thoughts about writing.

To me identity is knowing my characters and understand what makes them what they are and how they became. Doesn't matter if they're the good guys or the bad guys if I can't find some point to identify with them they'll remain as cardboard characters. Do you feel the same and come to identify with all your characters? I'm not really talking about all the characters in the stories I tell. Some are there just to make an appearance. The ones I must identify with are those who play a large role in the story even if they're minor characters.

Now for empathy. Empathy is deeper than sympathy. What it means is walking in a character's shoes and essentially becoming them for a time while they reveal themselves on paper. Identifying and feeling empathy for the heros and heroines is much easier than for the villains. This can be done and must be done. Sometimes this is easy and at other times empathizing with someone who is truly evil can be hard but it must be done. Part of this is giving them some trait that gives them a reason for their behavior that resonates with you. One of my villains has a great love for his mother. Now, this is a twisted love but this trait allowed me to empathize with him.

How about you? Do you identify with your characters and go beyond that to empathize with them? Sometimes easy, sometimes hard but reaching that point can bring the reader to the same feelings even for the bad guys.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters

Been thinking a lot about the way I write and how I do draft after draft. Sometimes I enby those people who can sit down and write their story from start to finish and do their revisions as they write. But I've discovered I can't write this way. I have to get to the end before I can see what needs to be changed in the beginning , what needs to be added and what needs to be taken away. For me in the writing each new thing I discover about the characters means there is something about their early development I missed when first writing. As the drafts continue, the characters evolve. This evolution interests me greatly. I often feel like a mother watching a child grow. The stories I've written and the characters I've developed are the children of my mind and being such, they have to grow.  I also look at the way I write as being like a painter though I use words. Start with the base coat the idea and then continue to add the layers until the picture is complete. How do you write? Are you one who must go back and revise each scene before you start another or are you like me who must apply layer after layed one coat at a time?

That's the meander today. About my current writing. I'm typing in the chapters for Moonchild 1, and blocking out Moonchild 2. Plus doing some work in removing words from the Goddesses of Er, a book I now believe must be turned from one to two simply because of the complexity of the plot and the diversity of the characters. I've also found letting time for the draft to sit gives me a fresh look when I begin another. Sometimes I think I get drunk on words and that's a good thing for a writer. Perhaps a little sign on the bulletin board above my desk would be a good idea. "Drunk On Words." What do you think? It's a better idea than being drunk on alcohol for a writer.

Books We Love Blurbathon - We Never Said I Love You by Margaret Tanner

We Never Said I Love You by Margaret Tanner

Wounded soldier, Adrian Bancroft, has a whirlwind romance with his nurse. A foolish misunderstanding leads to a heated argument and he and Julie part in bitterness.

With the black clouds of war hovering overhead, he returns to the hospital to sort things out with the woman he loves, but Julie has been banished because she is pregnant. Amidst the chaos of wartime London , he begins a desperate search for her.

Be sure to stop by on the 27th March to read Joan Hall Hovey's blurb.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Books We Love Blurbathon featuring the Affinities Series by J. L. Walters

In Affinities, Escape, a Books We Love Young Adult Fantasy, two sets of halfling twins, Ashlea, Brandien, Jaydren and Kylandra sent away from their home by their parents to protect them from trouble, search for mentors to teach them how to use their affinities. Each of these young teens has an affinity for one of the elements. Ash for Air, Bran for Water, Jay for Earth and Ky for Fire. During the escape, they face many problems forcing them to use their affinities by trial and error. They also meet Alizand, the son of the ruling prince of Wesren. Zand has an affinity for Fire and this will keep him from gaining the rule. Dom Senet, an advisor to his father, and once a friend of the quartet’s parents suspects Zand’s affinity. He wishes to corrupt the teen and use him to gain control of the four princedoms of the land and of the highlands. The evil dom has all four affinities. The four must reach a secret place and find teachers before the evil man discovers them

In Havens, the four teens, led by the mysterious birds they believe are their parents seek a place of safety where they can learn to control their affinities. They find a place of refuge with Doma Jandia, grandmother of their friend Zand. The doma plans to take them to the highlands but news of the capture of two of their friends by Dom Senet, sends them on a rescue mission. Their powers are not strong enough to defeat the evil dom. They must find a way to succeed or their friends will be corrupted forever.

In Searches, having found a safe place in a tower fortress, the four and their companions set out to find what they need to defeat Dom Senet and He Who Walks With Evil. They divide into three groups. The first group seeks the focus stones that enhance their affinities. The second group looks for the remaining artifacts, the swords, the staffs, the flutes and the scrying bowls. The third group sets out to find those with their affinities to round the groups to four of earth, four water, four air and four fire. Their strength will be needed in the final battle.

In Confrontations by J.L. Walters, a Books We Love Young Adult Fantasy, Ash, Bran, Ky and Jay along with their friends have now mastered their affinities. They now control their ability to use Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The time has come for them to face Dom Senet and He Who Walks with Evil. They have learned a disturbing fact. He Who Walks With Evil is able to exchange an old body for a new one. Dom Senet wishes to obtain the secret and he is willing to sacrifice even his own son to gain this power. The four sets of companions set off to rid the doms and domas of Dom Senet’s bonds and to defeat the two evil men. Can they or will they become pawns to evil?

Available from Books We Love

Saturday's Excerpt from Bolted by Meg Benjamin

From Bolted by Meg Benjamin

What he saw next almost convinced Hank he was hallucinating. The woman was dressed like something out of a movie: a huge bell-shaped skirt covered with ruffles, a wide sash at the waist, a low-cut neckline that stretched across her shoulders and revealed what looked to be more-than-respectable breasts. After a moment, she knelt at the edge, peering down at him, and he saw short brownish hair and dark eyes. “Hi,” she said.

“Hi.” He took a quick breath, hoping to god she was real and not a particularly bizarre dream. “Could you possibly come down here and give me a hand? I’m stuck.”

She frowned slightly, dark eyes narrowing. “Possibly. What do you need exactly?”

“My foot’s wedged in here.” He pointed to his foot, still jammed between the two large rocks. “Maybe you could help me pull the rocks apart so I could get loose.”

She frowned, considering. “How about just taking your shoe off?”

He shook his head. “I tried that. It’s too tight. I can’t get my foot out of the shoe.”

“Oh.” She was still frowning. “Okay, just a minute.” She disappeared from the edge, and for a moment he was unreasonably afraid she’d gone. Then he saw the bell-shaped skirt at the top of the ladder. “Hang on, this may take a while,” she said cheerfully. “This skirt isn’t exactly made for climbing up and down ladders.”

“That’s okay, take your time. Don’t hurt yourself.” He leaned back slightly against the side of the excavation. He still wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t hallucinating, but at least it was more entertaining than standing there wondering if he could amputate his own foot with his pocketknife.

He watched the huge green skirt floating slowly down the ladder. Given the half of the girl he could see from the waist up, he assumed there were legs and a rear end under there somewhere, but there was no telling from what he could see currently. She looked a little like one of those dolls that had only a cone underneath the costume.

The girl in the green dress reached the bottom of the ladder, lifting up her skirt to step free. She was wearing white running shoes, he noted. Good thing, too. She probably couldn’t have gotten down that ladder if she’d had to worry about her shoes along with her skirt.

She gave him a bright smile, pushing her bangs out of her eyes. “Now what?”

“My foot’s sort of wedged in here at the base of the wall. Maybe you could push the rocks on one side and I could push on the other. I don’t have enough leverage to do it all myself.”

The girl frowned again. “Let me give it a try.” She bent down at his feet, giving him a great view of her cleavage.

Jesus, Mitchell, she’s trying to help you. Do not ogle her.

Buy it at Samhain

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday's How She Does It with Meg Benjamin

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

My normal process for creating characters is just to let them develop as

I work out the plot, although I’ve got some really useful spreadsheets I

picked up a few years ago from Delilah Devlin that help in sketching out

the general details. With Bolted, though, I was in a new situation since

it’s part of the four-book Promise Harbor Wedding series with three other

writers (Kelly Jamieson, Sydney Somers, and Erin Nicholas). The books

aren’t really sequential—they all begin with the same, disastrous wedding

ceremony and then take off from there. And some of the same characters

show up in all four books. So although I could let my hero and heroine

develop over the course of the story, I also had to keep my fellow

writers up to date with how they were developing so that they’d seem the

same in the other books. And some of my secondary characters,

particularly the heroine’s mom, had to be changed slightly so that they’d

fit everybody’s concept of what they were like. It was a different way of

working and sort of fun.

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’re sort of developed simultaneously. I think character grows out of

plot, but I also think the characters I’ve come up with affect the story I

tell. Most of my books are semi-comic, so my characters aren’t heavily

into angst. Again, this was interesting in the Promise Harbor series. We

all brainstormed the general plot, but then our characters took off from

there. As I say, everybody started with the same situation, seen through

different characters’ points of view. In Kelly Jamieson’s Jilted, her POV

characters were the groom who’s deserted at the altar and his former

girlfriend. Both of them have reason to be heartbroken over what happens,

and Kelly’s versions are very emotional. My POV character is the matron of

honor. She’s less involved in the situation and a little more cynical

herself. So my version tends to be more snarky than angsty. The same

things happen in all the versions of the wedding that show up in the four

books (in fact, we all had to work together to make sure the incidents in

our scenes were the same), but the characters involved make all the


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

or a specific one?

I couldn’t really work with a story that was open-ended—I’d be afraid of

getting blocked midway through. So yes, I know how the story ends. The way

the characters get there may change as I work through the story, though.

My heroine’s ex-husband pops up in Bolted, for example, but the idea of

him I had before I started writing changed slightly as I began working

with him. He developed into a much more interesting character as I wrote

him into the story.

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

plans of houses sitting around?

I’m more comfortable with settings I know. My Texas books (the Konigsburg

series for Samhain and the Medium trilogy for Berkley InterMix) all take

place in settings I’m very familiar with so that I can describe them

without too much strain—I lived in San Antonio (where the Medium trilogy

takes place) for over twenty years and I spent a lot of time in the Hill

Country, the location for Konigsburg. Bolted was different, though, again

because we all decided on the setting together. Promise Harbor is in

Massachusetts, somewhere vaguely close to Martha’s Vineyard. I did, in

fact, live in Massachusetts for a short time many, many years ago, but

it’s been a while since I’ve been back. In this case, I had to refresh my

memory about how things looked via Flickr and movies like Jumping the

Broom that actually take place in the right area. The four of us decided

on some common settings, like Barney’s Clam Shack in Promise Harbor. But

we also introduced some places that were purely our own. In my case, it

was a dilapidated hotel in a little town a few miles up the road that my

hero calls Casa Dubrovnik (the owners are Alice and Nadia Dubrovnik).

It’s sort of based on places I’ve stayed, but also some half-remembered


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

These days on line, almost exclusively. It’s so much easier to find what

you’re looking for immediately. Of course, you have to be judicious about

what you use since there’s a lot of nonsense posted there and about how

you search. But overall, I’m a real Internet fan. I’m working on another

Konigsburg book that has a barbecue theme, though, and I admit I’m using

some Texas cookbooks as my sources.

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

I’m definitely a draft writer. I think that stems from having been a

writing teacher many, many years ago. Most of the research I’ve seen on

writers’ block says that it stems from trying to make something perfect

the first time around. The mantra we were always taught was, “Just keep

going.” You have to have something written before you can revise it. I do

review what I wrote the day before when I start writing, just to make sure

I’m still going in the same direction, and I may change a word or two. But

I don’t do any drastic revisions until I have a finished draft. I’ve even

been known to make major changes in a character halfway through a draft,

knowing I can go back later and set the character up in the first part of

the draft when I do my revisions. With the Promise Harbor series, we also

had the advantage of having three other authors to go over the book and
give us reactions. That definitely helped with revisions.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene from The Brotherhood of Mages by Janet Lane Walters

The Brotherhood of Mages

(Book 2 of the Jewels of Earda)

© 2005 By

Janet Lane Walters


The Way of the Healers

Much is demanded of a Healer and inner peace is her only reward. She must seek neither power nor wealth. To walk in the Way is difficult and not all succeed.

When a Healer names a man as Chosen, she must leave the House for she must think only of her craft and those who need her care. If she elects to depart, her knowledge of the healing arts will be stripped from her mind. She will be left with only those skills known to commoners who do not follow the Way.

Jindera left the herb storage hut and strode toward the cottage. Clouds dimmed the morning sun, then slid away. The leaves of the oka trees rustled in the summer breeze and the mingled scents of herbals and seasonings swirled around her. The coming of clouds meant a storm approached, but she felt certain no rain would fall this day.

Would the medicinals she would brew from the herbals she'd selected be of any help? She could only hope. All night, she'd fought the fever raging through her mother's body and had seen no change.

Mama, why did you leave the Healers' House? Her mother could have remained and raised her children with the sons and daughters of the other Healers. On his tenth birthday, Jindera's twin would have been sent to his father. But Jindera's mother had chosen to leave. Love for a man had been her reason.

Tears blurred Jindera's sight. She had loved her father dearly. His death seven lunars before had brought sadness to a home where love had ruled.

Rays of sunlight glinted on the golden stones of the cottage and brightened the dull yellow of the thatch. Jindera hurried along the garden paths that meandered among the beds of herbals and seasonings.

The plants flourished. Lajin's touch, she thought. Her brother had only to tend any ailing plant and it thrived. She paused at the cottage door and peered along the road from the village. Her twin should return soon with the staples he'd gone to fetch.

The stench of illness pervaded the room where her mother lay on a narrow cot. Jindera's breath caught. For a moment, she thought her mother had left this plane without the blessing to release her.

Holding back a sob, Jindera fled to the kitchen to blend a fever potion. She carried the mug of steaming liquid to the sick room and spooned the medicinal into her mother's mouth. A drop or two fell on the linen sheet and spread like the tears Jindera held inside. She inhaled deeply. She had to hold grief and fear at bay. When the mug was empty, she rested her head on the edge of the mattress and prayed the remedy would work.

She jerked awake. How long had she slept? The light in the room told her 'twas near midday.

The rasp of labored breathing filled her ears. She felt her own breaths fall into the same pattern. She raised her head and turned toward the door. Where was Lajin? She tried to reach him on the inner path where they could speak in secret. Flight. Fear. What had happened to him? Her hands and body shook. His fear or hers?

Jindera rose and looked outside. The fragrant scents of the garden brought a welcome calmness to her troubled spirit. 'Twas a false hope. If Mama dies, what will Lajin and I do? Having but sixteen years, they weren't old enough to hold the land.

She heard a rasping cough and turned back to the cot. Her mother's eyes were open. A wave of hope spread through Jindera. "Mama."

"Leave. You. Lajin. Soon. Danger comes."

"We can't leave you without saying the blessing."

"Must." Racking spasms shook her mother's body.

"Mama, don't talk."

"Must. Once. Three sisters."

Jindera listened to her mother's halting words. A grandsire who was a Master Mage. Mama born on the desert and leaving with her older sister for a Healers' House. How her two sisters wanted power and schemed to obtain control of others. One who had talent. One who had none. Mama who had talent and wanted love.

"Ralor. Comes. Hurt. You. Lajin. No Healers' House. Not good."

"Mama, be still." Jindera pressed her hands against her mother's shoulders.

"Starflowers. For Ralor. Make tea. He sleep. Then flee. Remember, danger from Healers."

Jindera chewed on her lower lip to keep from crying. The door opened and for an instant, she feared her father's brother had arrived. The garden, the guardianship, the cottage would pass to him and to the one the Healers sent to tend the garden. The door opened. She turned.

Lajin stood in the doorway. His flushed face and panting breaths told her he'd been running. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Black robes in the village. Taking boys. What will I do if they come here?"

Jindera shivered. The mages would learn about Lajin's talent for nurturing plants. They would take him. "You must flee to the forest and hide. Go now."

He knelt on the other side of the cot. "Not until we say the blessing."

"Son. Daughter. Go."

Jindera grasped her mother's hand. Lajin took the other. "Mama."

The heavy breathing slowed, then stopped. Had she willed her death?

Jindera's voice joined Lajin's. "Fare well, Mother. May the sun shine on your days and the moons light your nights. Let your shade depart and do not hover between this plane and the next."

Jindera met her brother's gaze. "You must go. I'll follow."

"The grave must be dug."

Lajin, why must you linger? You heard Mama. You must go."

Books We Love Blurbathon - Driven To Love by Pat Dale

Driven to Loveby Pat Dale

Previously published as Goldie’s Bear

Night after night, Lucy yearns for her fabled fairy prince

to rescue her. Thom Hill arrives, acting more like an ugly frog than

the princely character in Lucy’s dreams. But who knows the magic in a

simple kiss? If you knew a handsome hunk of a man was only a kiss away,

would you do it? Would you kiss a frog?

Lucy did and Driven to Love tells you what she got for her

effort. In a classic case of the irresistible force meeting an

immovable object, Lucy Fox zeroes in on her hero and lets nothing deter

her. Thom Hill is drawn into a sizzling romantic battle with the

blonde dynamo, resulting in an affair that’s not too hot and not too

cool, but just right.

Find this title here:

Find more of Pat's work here:

Please stop back March 23 for a blurb from Janet Lane Walters.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Words become Sentences #amwriting

Last week words in all their glory was discussed. This week we're turning words into sentences. Using Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of A Selling Writer I'll take a look at sentence faults.

Writing sentences is the next step after choosing words toward making a story and the characters come alive and read by others. I read a lot and judge a number of contests. There are a number of ways a writer can make sentences go wrong. The first also deals with pacing in a way. Sentences that form a pattern of sameness. Sometimes when getting a rough draft down the writer will cast every sentence in the same manner but if these aren't revised to change the tempo of the sentences, the reader comes to a nodding head and a boredom with the work. These sentences all of the same structure lull the reader and may lose the sense of what is going on. Starting every sentence with the same word can be boring. I once read an entry where many of the sentences began with an ing word. These sentences were gramatically correct, but I found myself trying to find what new ing word the writer would choose and totally forgot what the story was about. This also goes for starting sentences with He or She too many times in a row. Patterns may be good when designing fabric but when one falls into this pattern, the reader becomes bored. Variety is good.

A second sentence structure is what I call the "run away sentence." There is nothing gramatically incorrect with the sentence but the sentence is filled with pharase and clauses that continue to run away from what the writer is trying to convey. By the time the sentence reaches the end the reader has forgotten what the writer wanted to get across. Usually changing to more than one sentence clears the matter.

A third is using adverbs everywhere and sprinkling them through the sentences like a mad chef trying to bring flavor to a dish. Used with descretion adverbs can add a punch to the prose but too heavy a hand makes one think of those Tom Swifties one used to see in works of fiction

So when writing construct sentences with care, clarity and variety and the reader will leap at them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday's Writer's Tip - Selective Process

Once again I'm looking at an essay by Morris L. West. He has this to say about the selective process. "If you try to show and tell everything, your reader will die of boredom before the end of the first page."

How very true this is. I'm revising a story written 40 plus years ago. What surprises me is that it was almost published. I'm sure the editing would have been extensive. It is today. More than 125,000 words will probably end up as no more than 80,000 words. The real problem was in the they did this and they did that without taking any breaks to show the later moments. A lot of the words are cut because once on a roll, I wanted to tell everything the characters did, said, felt and that drill. Very few moments were left unsaid. Important happenings were buried in a storm of words.

How can this be changed? Picking out what's important and focusing on this. The reader doesn't need to know about every meal, every going to bed, every awakening. Is this a beginner's mistake? Partially but it can happen to old hands, especially when they're trying to find what they want to say and show about each character. It's a matter of importance and the writer must decide this. Making time breaks is one way to get out of the problem of being unselective. Rather than take a minute to minute look at the character cut out all those details that add nothing to the story.  Try, he yawned. then a *** space break. Then try. The office or wherever the character goes next. 

Be selective and the reader will read on. Throw in every action, thought and deed and the reader will yawn.

Books We Love Blurbathon - Family Secrets by Jamie Hill

Family Secrets

A Cop in the Family, Book 1

by Jamie Hill

As if stumbling over a dead body isn't enough, Crystal Cartwright finds

herself playing surrogate mother to two small boys when their

father--her neighbor--doesn't come home. The kids aren't much trouble,

but the thieves, drug dealers and kidnappers they're about to encounter


Detective Jack Dunlevy, a cop down on his luck, draws the

cases no one else wants. A simple investigation involving a dead

homeless man quickly changes as Crystal enlists Jack's help with the

children. Drawn into a mystery that none of them could have anticipated,

they're faced with a situation that will change their lives forever.

"Ms. Hill is a genius! The plot line was AMAZING. It was action packed and

kept me on the edge of my seat almost the entire time. Ms. Hill has

become a favorite author of mine and I consider her to be an automatic

add to my "to be read list". If you are a serious suspense loving reader who loves to form bonds with the characters, this is definitely the

book for you! I loved it and can't wait to read more of Ms. Hill's

books, she has the gift of knowing what the reader wants and then

hitting you with an ending you certainly don't expect. Two thumbs up!" ~ Val, You Gotta Read Reviews, 5 Stars

Find this title here:

Find all of Jamie's titles here:

Please come back March 21 for a blurb from author Pat Dale!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters #amwriting

Saturday I gave a program presentation for NJRW and hopefully it went well. I managed to get some audience participation and that was good. The other thing two people brought the first page of their manuscript to see if they had brought the right tone to their story. Did my It Was lecture and also talked about cliches to both of them. The thing that interested me most was the age of one of the writers. She is 19 and writes very well. I do believe I see a great future for her.

Spent the whole week doing little writing but was dealing with Create Space and finally nailed down all the books. Now I wait for the proof copies so they can list the books for sale. There are only three more from Books We Love to get up. Then I will work on another publisher to see if she will retain the ebooks and allow me to put the books up for sale. I think they'll get more possibilities for sale there than they did elsewhere.

Am now working on finishing a draft of To Heal Shattered Dreams and on the Goddesses of Er. Then it will be time to block the second Moonchild book but i have no idea what the title will be. One will arrive. I'd like to keep the To Heal and see what happens there. Or maybe have part of them To Mend and other To something. Will see what will happen when I get that far,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Books We Love Blurbathon - Joan Hovey - The Abduction of Mary Rose

The Abduction of Mary Rose

A suspense novel interwoven with threads of romance and paranormal.

Imagine discovering everything you believe about yourself to be a lie. And that the truth could stir a killer from his lair.

Following the death of the woman she believed to be her mother, 28-year-old Naomi Waters learns from a malicious aunt that she is not only adopted, but the product of a brutal rape that left her birth mother, Mary Rose Francis, a teenager of Micmac ancestry, in a coma for 8 months.

Dealing with a sense of betrayal and loss, but with new purpose in her life, Naomi vows to track down Mary Rose's attackers and bring them to justice. She places her story in the local paper, asking for information from residents who might remember something of the case that has been cold for nearly three decades.

She is about to lose hope that her efforts will bear fruit, when she gets an anonymous phone call. Naomi has attracted the attention of one who remembers the case well.

But someone else has also read the article in the paper. The man whose DNA she carries.

And he has Naomi in his sights.

"Hovey’s The Abduction of Mary Rose was disturbingly satisfying. Naomi’s resilience and the strength which she managed to acquire were inspirational. Also, the author allowing readers to peek inside the mind of a sociopath was riveting. The cold madness which he displayed was masterfully crafted. Even though his character was well tailored, the relevance of the other characters cannot be annoyed, the way in which the other characters were incorporated, allowed the story to flow well. They added the components which led to Naomi achieving justice. The Abduction of Mary Rose was well worth the read and I hope that Hovey once more invites readers into Naomi’s world." ~ Kellie, You Need to Read, You Gotta Read Reviews

Available here:

Find Joan's other books here:

Please stop back on March 19 for a blurb by Jamie Hill.

3 Blog Visit Sunday discovered by Janet Lane Walters

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday's Chapter from Groomed For Murder by Zoe Dawson

Excerpt from Groomed for Murder

Book #2

Going to the Dogs

By Zoe Dawson

All rights reserved

“You stupid cow!”

Brooke yanked her gaze away from the computer screen, her heart plummeting to her toes like a stone. Kristen Wright-Davis. Not again. With a surge of adrenaline, she raced out of the office toward the grooming room, where her nemesis shrieked in short, staccato blasts, punctuated by the yapping of her hyper toy poodle, Mimi.

“I have asked you repeatedly to sedate Mimi, Mrs. Wright-Davis.” Her groomer’s voice wobbled and Brooke moved faster to stave off disaster.

Pushing the door open, Brooke wasn’t surprised to find that Kristen—a life-sized, hard-gloss, Barbie-zilla—had backed poor, disheveled, worn out Rachel into a corner physically as well as verbally. Her groomer was buckling under the pressure and looked like she was about to burst into tears. Kristen loomed over Rachel, her tanned, pampered skin in stark contrast to the groomer’s pale face.

The hair on the back of Brooke’s neck popped up like porcupine quills. How dare that self-absorbed witch attack poor Rachel!


"Don't talk back to me, dog groomer girl. You are nothing but a service provider, and you aren’t entitled to an opinion!" Kristen snapped, wagging her head like Mick Jagger on steroids. “Look what you have done to my Mimi!” She pointed a trembling finger at her noisy dog for emphasis. “This is outrageous! She has a show this weekend! You have ruined any chance she had to win. You stupid, stupid cow.”

Brooke stepped forward, summoning her most soothing manner. “Kristen, why don’t you and I discuss how we might solve this problem to your satisfaction?”

The woman’s head snapped around and homed in on the new target, just as Brooke hoped she would. As smooth as silk, Brooke maneuvered herself between Kristen and a cowed Rachel, squeezing her groomer’s shoulder reassuringly as she ushered her out of the room with a quick whisper. “Go hide in my office.”

“Look at what she’s done to my baby. It-it-it’s intolerable,” Kristen screeched, pointing again with a blood red-tipped finger, then settling her fists at the waist of her tight leather pants with a huff. Her collagen-puffed lips evolved from a pout to a nasty snarl.

Brooke looked down at the spoiled furball that still yapped and growled and snapped the air, straining to reach Brooke and sink in her needle teeth. The tension inside the small room scraped against Brooke’s skin. Obviously Mimi was simply reacting to the tension and to her owner’s state of mind.

And then Brooke finally took a close look at the poodle’s cut. What a disaster. Fur was missing in clumps scattered throughout her otherwise precise and professional show cut.

Brooke mentally threw up her hands. Half of this animal’s problem was that she had such an indulgent, spoiled, pretentious woman for an owner. The other half was she had an indulgent, spoiled, pretentious woman for an owner. Maybe Kristen should be the one to take a sedative before coming into Pawlish.

“I’m so sorry this happened just before a show.” Brooke cleared her throat, reaching for a more mollifying tone. “I sympathize with your disappointment. I would be happy to offer you six months of grooming for free, and I’ll refund the full amount of the entrance fee as compensation.”

Kristen’s eyes narrowed and her face darkened. “Six months free? Entrance fee? My baby looks like this, and…and you insult me with six months of grooming free and money? That’s a slap in the face. I will never use your cut-rate joint again.”

She grabbed Mimi and stuffed the yapping, snarling bundle into her Louis Vuitton dog carrier. Mimi shoved her head up over the zipped closure and snapped at Brooke again as Kristen swept past her toward the door.

Brooke’s first line of defense and strongest skill was her ability to defuse tense situations, to turn snarling lions into pussycats. It was definitely time to put her lifetime of practice to work as skillfully as she could. Fast.

As the young wife of an older, wealthy, and prominent lawyer, Kristen had a great deal of influence in New York City, especially in the social circles where Brooke found most of her clientele. It would be all too easy for this woman to bad-mouth Pawlish to all her friends and sabotage the business Brooke had made successful by providing unparalleled and skillful service.

Staying calm and thinking creatively should do the trick. “Kristen, my policy is that no client leaves Pawlish unhappy. Let’s work together to make that happen.”

Kristen turned around and stared over Brooke’s shoulder. Brooke looked behind her, frowning. What was she looking at? Rachel stood at the office door, tear tracks marking her face. She was the sweetest, most helpful girl, and was the only one at Pawlish who would work with Kristen’s unruly poodle. Brooke’s heart turned over, and she wanted to go comfort her, but she had to deal with Kristen first.

With a hard-edged, steady gaze at Rachel, Kristen snarled, “Fire that stupid cow.”

Brooke’s head whipped around, her face stiff with shock, her jaw slack. Rachel’s sobbing and the slam of the office door struck her heart with a hard, painful thump. Was this woman serious? Fire Rachel, an employee who had been with her since she’d started her business, who took on any task that was asked of her, who worked so hard that Brooke had to shoo her home to her kids? Brooke had no words—well, she did, but those words weren’t professional. Kristen’s callousness was simply mind-boggling.

Fire exploded in the pit of her stomach and flashed up her torso, heating her face. It wasn’t enough that Kristen insisted on bringing her nasty, fidgety, contrary little dog for grooming without sedating her first. Noooo, this woman—who had more money than she could spend—wanted Brooke to fire a hard-working, very competent employee just to satisfy her spiteful whim. Kristen’s smug look only fanned the flames of Brooke’s determination. Rachel wasn’t going anywhere.

For the first time since she’d opened her doors, Brooke decided this particular customer was not right.

“Oh, Kristen, there’s no need for such drastic action.” Brooke waved her hand in dismissal. “We can come up with something much more palatable. Like a yummy basket of homemade, totally organic doggie treats for sweet Mimi? How does that sound?” She needed to unclench her jaw so the next words she spoke sounded more calm and self-assured.

Kristen tilted her head. “Ahhhh…you’re placating me, and usually I’m all for that. A little groveling always makes my day. But in this case, no. I insist you give me what I want. And I always get what I want.” Her smile was full of sunny, self-satisfied condemnation.

“I’m trying to make amends. Please, let’s put this behind us.” Brooke smiled, too, trying to extend an olive branch without wishing at the same time that Kristen would choke on it.

Kristen wrinkled her nose in mock cheer, but her eyes projected just plain mean girl. “Ooooh, you’re so cute when you’re insolent.” Kristen took a step closer, getting right into Brooke’s face. Her eyes narrowed, her voice low with a steely calm. “You’ve made a big mistake, Brooke. I’ll ruin you any way I can. Just wait and see if I won’t.” With that, she flipped her unnatural blonde hair and flounced out.

Oh, shit, that chick was scary.

Brooke took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart. Surely she could find a way to win Kristen over. She’d been able to convert cranky old Mr. Witherspoon into a fan when she was a kid. If she could do that, Kristen should be easy. It was just a matter of time.

Brooke dragged her hands through her hair, rolling her eyes. Turning to her receptionist, she said, "Really, can a dog have a bad hair day?"

"Maybe," her receptionist laughed softly, “but I'd wager that poor Mr. Wright-Davis didn't get the first place trophy with that wife."


Two days later Brooke carefully backed herself and her armload of goodies in through the front door of Stunning, a West Village boutique that featured indie wedding dress designers. A burst of chill October wind followed her into the shop, reminding her that Thanksgiving and Christmas were mere weeks away.

She somehow managed not to drop the container of mini bacon and mushroom quiches she’d baked that morning, or the bottle of champagne and container of orange juice for the mimosas. Thank goodness she’d stashed the white-with-silver-wedding-bells-wrapped box in one of her canvas totes to protect the cheery homemade bow, and the champagne flutes and small plates in the other.

An attendant greeted her with a cheery smile and offered to carry something. Brooke flashed her a grateful grin, handed over the box of quiches and one tote, and followed the woman into a fitting room salon where one of her best friends, Callie Lassiter, would spend the next hour searching for the perfect wedding gown.

Callie was part of Brooke’s circle of dog park friends. Callie had finally met her next door neighbor, popular nightclub owner and sex god Owen McKay, when her Great Dane Jack had gotten Owen’s Great Dane Jill pregnant last year. After an eight-month engagement, Callie and Owen had set the date for the beginning of August, eleven months away, and the whirlwind of planning and preparation for The Event was just beginning.

Setting down her array of mouth-watering breakfast goodies, Brooke shifted out of her warm wool coat and set it on the hook near the door. Then she carefully created an elegant display on the sideboard with the morning hors d’oeuvres, bubbly, and juice.

As she worked, excitement built until the happiness she felt for her friend was spilling over the top. She relished again the hours she’d spent putting Callie’s gift together. She’d stayed up late last night to finish it and had fallen into bed exhausted at about 2 am. But it had been worth it. It was for her best friend, after all.

But this morning she couldn’t quite understand why she had this…unsettled feeling. She knew that, in spite of their wildly differing tastes, she and her circle of friends would unite in their love for Callie to help find the perfect wedding gown.

But still, in spite of these inner reassurances, her heart tightened, her chest ached, and her eyes watered as a lump formed in her throat. She brushed it all away like cobwebs in the rafters. She was just being emotional, that was all.

She rubbed the back of her neck and sighed. She could attribute the unwelcome emotions to the hellish week at Pawlish and the hullabaloo over Kristen Wright-Davis and her yappy, cantankerous, high-strung toy poodle.

Thankfully, the incident with Wright-Davis appeared to have blown over. At least she hadn’t heard from her, and everything at Pawlish had gone back to normal. She'd sent Kristen a very expensive dog basket with her favorite designer goodies, with an extra helping of her famous homemade dog biscuits and a note of apology. She resented having to placate the woman, but with the expansion of her doggie spa and the extra financial burden it had generated, Brooke couldn’t afford to have Kristen denigrating Pawlish to her rich friends. Word of mouth was a powerful force.

Brooke sighed and revisited a favorite fantasy, of a world where everyone got along with everyone else, and there was no need for stress and discord.

Kristen had asked too much. Brooke would easily sacrifice her very soul to mend the situation, but she wasn’t going to throw Rachel to the wolves for that harpy.

She made herself a mimosa and sipped the fruity drink, enjoying how the bubbles fizzed under her nose. She was determined to enjoy every minute of this day, and quit thinking about problems that had solved themselves.

As she folded down wearily onto one of the comfortable benches that lined the room she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her dark hair had lost some of its shine, there were dark circles under her eyes, and her mouth looked a bit pinched. Suddenly the exhaustion surged over her, leaving her a bit dizzy as the lack of sleep abruptly caught up with her.

“Oh, Brooke,” Callie said as she slipped off her coat and took in the elegant display of treats. “It looks delicious! But…you’re so busy. You shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble.”

“It was no trouble at all.”

“I’ll have one of those, too,” Callie’s mother, Kate said as Brooke rose, gave Callie a quick hug, and began to make the mimosas. Kate’s eyes twinkled at Brooke while she took Callie’s coat, hanging them both on a hook by the door.

“You ready to try on wedding gowns?” Brooke asked as she handed mimosas to both her fresh-faced friend and her lovely mother.

“As ready as I’ll ever be. You know I don’t usually get dolled up. I just hope I don’t let Owen down.”

Brooke laughed. “Oh, men don’t care about weddings. They just want it over with.”

Callie looked nonplussed for a moment.

“Oh, not in a bad way,” Brooke bit her lip, feeling like an idiot. She waved her hand to erase the comment.

“They just want to get to the good stuff,” Harper added as she playfully shouldered Brooke aside and made herself a mimosa. She hugged Kate and Callie and lifted her glass in a salute to Brooke.

Harper Sinclair was the dog park group’s socialite. She enjoyed doing charity work, judging dog shows, and showing her gorgeous standard poodle, Blue.

“Speaking of the good stuff…” Poe spoke from the doorway as she whipped out a bottle of champagne, and Brooke laughed and gestured to the one she’d brought, saying “Great minds, Poe!”

“Awww, Brooke, you’re always prepared. Oh, well, now we have double the champagne for double the fun.” She gave Callie a hug and traded the bottle for a sunny orange mimosa.

Poe Madigan rounded out their group of dog park friends. She and her precocious Jack Russell terriers, Edgar and Allan, always made for a rocking time at the park. Poe was a first-year veterinary resident after graduating from Cornell with her DVM.

“I still can’t believe you’re getting married,” Poe grinned and raised her glass to Callie.

Brooke again felt that strange pang in her heart, but continued to staunchly ignore her silly emotions.

“It’s surreal, but I love Owen so much, so it feels supremely right.”

“Yes, Mr. Wrong-for-All-The-Right Reasons turned out to be Mr. Right. Go figure.” Harper chuckled.

“We all want you to be blissfully happy, right, ladies?” Brooke said.

They all nodded.

“So it’s all about Callie for the duration.”

“Exactly,” Poe said. “There’s no excuse for tears, bloodshed or giving the silent treatment to your maid of honor, until after your honeymoon. And today is all about the dress of your dreams, no matter how opinionated some of us can be. And I’m looking right at you, Harper.”

Harper gave her a wide-eyed, innocent look. “Who, exactly, is going to be your maid of honor? I don’t believe you’ve said, Callie. I know the rest of us will be bridesmaids.”

“Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I so don’t want you all to think I’m playing favorites.” Callie’s hands twisted nervously in her lap.

“We won’t think that,” Brooke soothed.

“Harper’s a great friend and the life of any get-together, and Poe is wonderfully loyal and giving, but…”

When Callie turned to Brooke, she felt tears prick her eyes. They came perilously close to spilling over when Callie took her hands. The connection between them was so strong.

“It was Brooke I first met at the dog park, Brooke who’s always been there to help and give me advice—even when I didn’t want it.” She turned to Brooke with a radiant smile. “Will you be my maid of honor?”

“I would be honored.” Brooke sniffled and hugged Callie hard. She was silly to think she was losing a friend. Instead she was gaining one in Owen. She resolutely pushed away the wistful feeling. Even though dating was less than spectacular now, she knew she would someday have her own wedding and husband. And, for now, she was accustomed to going it alone. Well, no, she wasn’t alone, she reminded herself firmly. She had her ancient, beloved bulldog, Roscoe, her loving, uncritical, steadfast companion since childhood.

The attendant entered the room beaming, followed by another woman pushing a rack of frothy white lace, buttons, and bows. “Let’s get started, shall we?”

Everyone settled themselves for the fashion show, and, in the silence, the loud pop as Poe uncorked the second champagne bottle made Brooke jump nervously. She shook her head and firmed her lips. The edginess she was feeling would pass. All she had to do was get out of her head and stop worrying about Pawlish. Everyone chuckled at Poe’s noisy reminder that it was time for fun, and Brooke laughed along with them. “Yes, let’s get this party started,” she said.

“Oh. My. God. Brooke! These bacon and mushroom mini-quiches are rockin’. I think bacon should be in the periodic table. It’s so good.” Poe said with a smirk.

“Like an element?” Brooke asked.

“Yes!” Poe nodded vigorously. “I can see the description now. Bacon with the symbol Bn is a meat product derived from the back of the pig where the leaner meat is found, which gives you a slice that is 85% meat and 15% fat. Due to popular demand, it has replaced hydrogen in the number one slot on the Periodic Table. When it is cooked, it gives off a sweet, tasty aroma. The reaction to bacon is pronounced. Saliva forms and causes homo sapiens to engage in ‘grabbing-the-last-piece’ syndrome.”

Mirth bubbled up from her diaphragm as all her friends, Callie’s mother, and even the attendants burst into laughter.

Poe giggled. “But instead of atomic power it would have to be pig power.”

“To what degree?” Callie asked between giggles.

“The tenth!”

“I have to agree with Poe,” Callie said, holding her sides and laughing through her tears. “Bacon is so good it should have been a subject in school.”

Poe nodded, unable to contain her enthusiasm. “I’d definitely teach that class. Bacon 101 or Baconology.”

“Well, if you’re going to those lengths, I want an honorary degree in bacon.” Harper chimed in.

“Nice, a doctorate in bacon! And all I have is this darn DVM degree!”

“You are crazy, Poe. Are you sure you should be doing surgery on animals?” Harper said, her words rippling with laughter.

“I’m very vet-like at St. Mark’s,” she replied, struggling to keep a straight face.

“You have to be. The dogs can’t talk back,” Brooke said.

“No, but I’m sure they’re laughing inside.”

The room erupted again in peals of laughter.

“Bacon is no joke. In fact, I’m sure if a zombie was chasing you, and you had bacon on you, you could throw it like a stick and they’d chase the bacon instead of you.” Poe took another bite of the mini-quiche.

Harper raised a brow. “Poe, if a zombie was chasing me, I’d just trip you.”

“Oh, that would be okay! I would have bacon.”

Harper grabbed Poe around the neck and said, “You are such a nerd.”

Poe wrinkled up her nose, and said, “Come over to the dork side. We have Pi.”

By then Brooke was holding her sides and could barely catch her breath. Suddenly everything was all right again.

Thirty minutes into the fitting Callie had rejected every single one of the gowns the attendant had selected. Brooke hadn’t noticed that Harper had disappeared until she returned with a dress in her arms.

“Callie,” she said softly, “try this one on.”

Callie turned toward Harper, and her audible gasp as she saw the gown made everyone sit up with interest.

As the lace-covered satin slipped over her daughter’s head and flowed down her body, Kate covered her mouth, and Brooke’s heart lurched. What she wouldn’t give to have her own mother look at her like Kate was looking at Callie now. Love shone out of her eyes, glassy with tears. Brooke just knew that Callie’s mother was thinking about Callie as a little girl, her memories reflected in her eyes, Callie growing from a skinned-kneed tomboy into a beautiful woman with a spitfire edge.

And then her throat tightened and that same embarrassing well of emotion hit her so hard she had to blink rapidly to hold off the tears. Callie took her breath away. Oh, God, she wanted to get married someday and look as stunning as Callie did right this minute.

Harper just smiled and nodded.

The mermaid dress fit her to a T. An understated satin ribbon cinched the waist and ended in a simple bow that rode atop a series of buttons ending right at the flair of a short, sassy train. The square, modest neckline accentuated the off-the-shoulder chain of lace straps which added just the right touch of romance.

Brooke rose abruptly, blinking away tears as she excused herself and left the room. In the bathroom, she closed herself in the stall and leaned back against the door. Her fists clenched, her stomach in turmoil, she fought the feelings she couldn’t name. Change was good, and Owen was good for Callie. Their love shone like a beacon. It was wonderful to watch and hope that love like that would find her. It took her only a few moments to get herself under control, since she was eager to get back. This day was about Callie, not about her.

When she came out of the stall, Harper was leaning against the sink, her arms folded across her chest.

Brooke stopped and her face flamed.

“What gives?”

“What do you mean?” Brooke walked nonchalantly towards the sink and washed her hands as Harper’s eyes bored a hole in her back.

“You look exhausted and in unguarded moments…worried. You’re always the one to nurture us and be the top cheerleader.”

“I’ve had a rough week.”

“Are you sure that’s all it is? Sweetie, we want to know when something is bothering you.”

Brooke had no intention of burdening Harper with her business problems. She’d handled Kristen Wright-Davis and her spoiled dog. It was done. Resolved. “I’ll be fine after some sleep and a little TLC.”

Harper snorted. “When have you ever taken time for yourself? I swear, Brooke. You do too much for too many people.”

“Look who’s talking. You do plenty for others.”

“Yes, but I don’t own a business. I just sponge off my family’s wealth.”

Brooke laughed, warmth settling in the pit of her stomach. Thank God for Harper’s bluntness. “It’s my thing, and it makes me happy.”

“I would just like to see you taking care of yourself. Be a little selfish. It won’t be the end of the world.”

“You mean the zombie apocalypse?”

Harper laughed. Then sobered. “No joke. I mean it.”

“I’ll think about it. Enough about me. Now let’s get back to Callie. And that dress is sensational. You just know what works best, don’t you?”

“It’s a gift,” came the smug—and oh, so correct!—reply.

Back in the salon with her emotions firmly in check, Brooke ooohed and aaahhhhed over Callie’s dress. It was simply gorgeous. She also participated in chatter about what would fit best for a headdress. They left Stunning to continue the conversation over lunch at one of their favorite places, a quaint bistro named Habit, which happened to be directly across the street. After they pulled two tables together, the women settled down on the wooden chairs.

Judging it the perfect moment, Brooke produced Callie’s gift and, with a flourish, presented it to her.

“Prezzies! After all you’ve done today, I don’t need gifts, but it’s much appreciated. Thank you, Brooke.”

“Open it. The suspense is killing me,” Brooke said.

Callie carefully removed the ribbon, placed it aside, and tore into the paper. She gasped when she pulled out the book. “Oh, my God. This is just what I needed! I’m so lost when it comes to wedding planning. Look at all the great stuff in here. This must have taken you forever. No wonder you look so tired. Oh, shoot, I mean, you look great as always, so pulled together…but…you know, you do look a bit tired, and frayed around the edges.”

“All I need is a good night’s sleep,” Brooke dismissed Callie’s worry with a shrug. “And I was having so much fun putting this together last night I almost forgot to sleep. I pulled pictures from bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design, and food magazines and also found a great app we can all use to link up our ideas. All the information I gathered is in the app, too, so you can make a decision on the spot. Just let me know if you like it. I even found a great travel agent on Times Square that we can visit for honeymoon ideas. I made an appointment for two o’clock in case you like the idea.”

“That’s a good place to start. I can get some brochures. Although I think Owen wants to surprise me.”

“Now, about the headpiece,” Harper said. “I think a veil would detract from the simple, clean style of the gown.”

Callie’s mother nodded. “I totally agree.”

“I have a hairdresser who is phenomenal and can weave real flowers into your hair. You can pick what you personally like along with either lace or ribbon for a stunning look. What do you think?”

Callie sighed with relief. “That’s perfect, Harper. I can’t see myself in a veil or tiara. It’s just not me, but flowers would fit perfectly.”

“Good. Let’s eat.”

Food was ordered and passed around, although once it arrived, Brooke discovered that she lacked an appetite. After paying the bill, Callie touched Brooke’s shoulder while the party started to break up. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Brooke flashed a smile to hide her sudden sense of disconnection from her best friends. “Of course I’m fine. One of my best friends is getting married to the man of her dreams. My business is evolving into a one-stop spa for pets and their owners to make my clients feel even more pampered.”

“I’m more interested in how you feel, Brooke. You do too much for people, and I can see it’s taking its toll. I think you need to change some things in your life so you can have more time for yourself. Have the courage to change.”

“She doesn’t want to change,” Poe said, “or she’s too afraid to.”

Dismissing Poe’s very astute observation, Brooke insisted, “I told you. I’m just fine.”

Harper, Poe, and Callie’s mother had to run, so Brooke and Callie hailed a cab to Times Square.

“Thank you for the wedding planning ideas. You did that for my mom, right?” Callie said.

“Yes, actually. I knew you would love the app, but your mom is more old-fashioned.”

“You’re so thoughtful.”

At Times Square Brooke paid the fare, but when she stepped out of the cab, she collided with Callie. “Callie, what…” Callie was looking up and Brooke followed the direction of her gaze. Suddenly dizzy, she stared in shock at one of the huge Times Square digital screens. It was broadcasting a local pet psychic show featuring none other than her nemesis.

Kristen Wright-Davis sat next to Trudy Sommers, and her teary voice wobbled out of the loudspeakers. Mimi reclined in her lap, all the worst parts of the poodle’s cut emphasized on a grand scale. “I’m so distraught for my baby,” Kristen sniffled theatrically.

Brooke’s stomach twisted into hard knots. This kind of publicity could ruin her.

“Hello, everyone. I’m Trudy Sommers. Please welcome Kristin Wright-Davis and her toy poodle Mimi. They’re joining us today on Pet Speak because Mimi seems to be out of sorts. I sense she’s upset over a recent trip to the groomer.”

“Yes, she was just at Pawlish two days ago, that cut-rate place. They were callous and unkind to my darling sweetheart.” Kristen’s baby talk to Mimi grated on Brooke’s nerves like the shriek of a siren. The dog licked Kristen’s face.

“Cut rate?” Callie exploded. “I’ll shave that damn dog bald. How dare she go on TV and defame your business! I think you should sue that witch for slander!”

Instead of anger at Kristen’s malicious behavior, a confident calm settle over her. She could smooth this over. It would just be a matter of talking to Kristen to encourage her to see reason. This was grim, and certainly not good for her business, but it could be fixed. The longer the woman blubbered, the more Brooke was sure she could be convinced to see it Brooke’s way. She just needed to know she mattered.

“Mimi’s telling me she is mortified by the terrible cut she got there, and I’d say it would be best if she got some therapy.”

“Kristen Wright-Davis,” Callie snarled it like a four-letter word. “She’s consulting a pet psychic? I don’t need a psychic to tell me the woman is nothing but a con. But, of course that pretentious, narcissistic bitch would choose to go on TV to defame your business.”

“I’m getting something else,” the pet psychic said as she gazed at the dog. “She thinks the owner of the place where she got her bad trim should be punished.”

“She does?” Kristen cooed. “What a clever girl. What does she think is a good punishment?”

Punishment? As if she’d done one thing wrong! Kristen would never accept the blame, and now something dreadful was about to happen. It was coming, bearing down on her like a speeding train. She clutched her stomach, the terrible feeling there spreading like a disease. In another second or two everything was going to change, and nothing in her world would ever be the same again.

“A lawsuit.”

“Yes,” Kristen said, snuggling the dog up to her face. “I am going to sue Brooke Palmer for everything she’s got.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Books We Love Blurbathon - Deadbeat Dads by Roseanne Dowell

Friday, March 15, 2013BWL Blurbathon Presents Roseanne Dowell's Deadbeat Dads

How many men leave their wives and families and ignore them? After her husband leaves her for a younger woman, Erica Morris starts a group for ex wives of deadbeat dads and was surprised at how many there were. In the process of rebuilding her life, someone tries to blackmail her. Can she put the past behind her or will it catch up to her?

Available from Amazon at

Check back March 17th for Joan Hall Hovey's post.

How She Does It With Zoe Dawson

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

I have two different processes for developing books.

1. Story germ. I start with a bare bones idea. For example: I want to blend Sex and the City with pets. That led me to the concept of Sex and the City meets the Dog Whisperer, which then led me to my characters. Something like four women meet in a dog park and become fast friends. Each of them will live in New York City. Each of them will in some way be connected to the dog business. And, of course, each of them has a furry friend. I also needed to decide the genre. For these books I decided to try something new—comedy. I wanted to stretch myself as a writer, but to give myself a genre that is familiar to me as well, I decided to add in light mystery. That led me to create a dog-centric mystery for each book and worked well with the comedy aspect. From that set up, I decide on each plot for the books. I already have a jumping off point because each heroine is involved in the dog business. I wanted to highlight that for each plot, so they revolve around that concept. That’s how Going to the Dogs was born, my current in progress series. Leashed, Book #1 and Groomed for Murder, Book #2 (both are already written and for sale), Hounded, Book #3, and Collared, Book #4 (out in Summer and Fall 2013).

2. Character germ. For this concept I usually have a specific character in mind. For example: I start with a witch who wakes up one day after a cataclysmic change in the world and doesn’t know who she is. At this point, I don’t know how she lost her memory, or what cataclysmic event caused the shift in the world. All that world building stuff still needs to be done. So the plot and the story are built around the character. I also have to decide on the genre. I knew I wanted to write an Urban Fantasy, so with the genre locked down, I’m set to work out the details of the book. This is exactly how my series The Starbuck Chronicles was born. My main character Lily Starbuck woke up to a world where reality has been broken and supernatural creatures now inhabit it. I knew I wanted this character to be a really good cook and to be a witch, so I made her a caterer and the signature food is a to-die-for cream puff with an ingredient in it that Lily might have to die for. The Starbuck Chronicles will be a fourteen book series with the first book Afterlife tentatively releasing in Spring 2014 and the second book, Aftermath tentatively releasing in Fall 2014 (titles and dates subject to change.)

3. 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?

As you can see from the above explanation of how I construct my story ideas, characters can come before plot or after the plot. I write a very detailed synopsis and follow it as a guide pretty closely as I write. Just recently, I outlined each chapter of a police procedural that I was struggling with. Each scene had a character goal and a disaster. I discovered I loved the process. It made the writing go so fast and I wrote 30,000 words in five days. I was amazed at how productive I was with that detailed chapter outline. I plan on doing that in the future for all my complex plot ideas. Working out all the details of the murder and the romance made for a more cohesive book overall. Now that I’m in the revision stage, I think they will also go really fast because all the bones are there and just need to be fleshed out.

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

Yes, I usually know how the story will end very specifically, but it’s still organic, in that, if I decide I don’t like it or something else works better, I’ll change it. For endings, I love to have the characters come full circle and I often refer back to what happens during the story, especially when a character grows and changes. This ties everything up for the reader. I think it makes for a very satisfying and happily ever after.

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

I adore research, so I like setting my books in places I’ve never been and give my characters jobs, skills and abilities that I may not either understand or know about. In one of my upcoming To Protect and Serve series books writing as Karen Anders, I have a scientist who is a genius and working on a top secret project for the Navy that involves data fusion. When I conceived the story, I knew nothing about data fusion, but after doing the research, it has been interesting exploring that area of expertise.

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

Both. I find that the internet is a wealth of information. I’ve had great success in contacting experts in fields I’m researching and writing about who are more than willing to help me. I’ve gotten consultation from a forensic expert, military lawyer, and just recently, a retired LAPD homicide detective. I also use books and will get them from the library or buy them on line for the information.

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

I would say that I’m primarily a reviser. Most of the time I write intuitively and I usually have a pretty strong chapter once I’m finished writing it. I will confess that I have turned in books that I’ve written in two weeks and had no time to revise and have had very few revisions.