Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration - A long running series by CJ Cherryh #amreading

Today's inspiration is a bit different. I don't have a quote from this author but I really like the books. I've just finished reading number 14 in the series and am really waiting for the next one but I know some time will pass. Actually, when I find a lull in my reading, I'll probably re-read all the stories. I first found these books in 1994, actually the first of the books.

So what fascinated me about the story. The first thing was the main character - Bren. The second was the totally different culture the writer envisioned. I was led into the culture and the story by the reading of the book, not by large bits of background.

Reading these books did a number of things for me as a writer. I tend to write trilogies and reading this allowed me to make one of my what started out to be one book into four rather than the three trilogy style.
Second, I learned that having a character who comes alive is a must if writing stories that continue past the first book. Another is that adding characters who become main ones also aids in writing a series. I'll never do anything this long but I appreciate the things I've learned by reading the 14 books in the series. The last thing was if you're writing a series, be sure to end the book so the reader wants the next one immediately.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters

I'm reading the 14th part of the Foreigner series by Cherryh and am amazed that the writer has been able to continue the series so long and with fresh new material. The story is science fiction and shows the politics of an alien culture and the impct and concerns of stranded humans. The characters have grown and developed. The action can be explosive at times. Each time I read a new book in the series, I am re-united with characters I have learned to enjoy and to care about. Is there a trace of envy in what I'm reading? Yes, but not the kind of envy that makes me want to put the person down.

Writers, and most other people, often find the negative kind of envy when reading stories other people have written. Envy can go from Wow, I wish I had written that to the kind that says If I had the chance I would have written a better kind of story.

It can be difficult to feel happy for another person's success when you have worked just as hard. But this kind of feeling doesn't help the person feeling this to do better. One of the groups I belong to posed a question about going back to change an event in one's life and what would it be. Several of the people had particular times they would change. Several says the choices they made have helped them become the person they are today. Interesting.

Now to my writing progress. Shattered Dreams is moving ahead. Shadowed Dreams will have another change. The first few chapters have bogged down now the middle of the book is approaching. I need to go back and re-focus on the first few chapters so I can continue through the middle to reach the end. Sometimes I groan at doing this, but it must be done. False starts can be corrected. Sticking to what's not working can't.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday's Excerpt Three's A Crowd by Melissa Keir


For Lissa, the second time at love was a charm but in marriage, three’s a crowd.

Single mother Lissa Vincent found her soul mate in her best friend’s ex-husband. Alex Hunter couldn’t believe his fortune when his ex-wife told him her best friend was available. After divorce, finding love again could be a challenge but it appeared Alex and Lissa had gotten lucky. Yet as they start their lives as newlyweds, Alex and Lissa don’t realize just how difficult it might be to blend a family.

When Alex’s ex new marriage begins to unravel, she sets her sights again on Alex. Does Alex still have feelings for the mother of his child? Will Lissa keep her best friend or lose her husband?

Fairytales promise a happily-ever-after. But what really happens after the after.


When my cell phone rings. I look down.

It’s Steve and I don’t want to answer. I’m on a date with my husband. The children are safe with Steve. I—we—deserve this time together. Pushing the off button, I ignore the call.

“Was that Steve?”

Alex understands my dilemma. Steve has anger issues and isn’t happy that I’ve remarried. The phone rings again.

“I’ll call him back later.”

I cut a small piece of beef burgundy from my plate and lift it gently to Alex’s lips. Feeding each other is a very sensual experience. My legs tingle watching his tongue dart out to catch a drop of sauce lingering on his mouth. I reach across the table to run my thumb over his lips then pull his face close to mine in search of a passionate kiss.

When my phone rings for the third time, I know it must be important.


“Scotty and Mac were playing around when Scotty tripped and fell, hitting his head on the corner of the door frame to his room. We’re on our way to the urgent care. He probably needs stitches.”

“Which urgent care are you going to? I can meet you there.” My stomach clenches in anxiety.

I obtained all the details while Alex paid the bill and had our food wrapped to go. We rushed out into the night, our romantic evening ruined, fright replacing passion.

Guilt began to eat at me. Why didn’t I answer the phone sooner? How was Scotty handling things? What kind of parent was I to put myself over my child? Alex seemed to understand what I was feeling and reached over to hold my hand. Without saying a word, his touch made me feel better.


As a writer, Melissa likes to keep current on topics of interest in the world of writing. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America and EPIC. Melissa is always interested in improving her writing through classes and seminars. She also believes in helping other authors and features authors and their books on her blog.

Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a book reviewer, an editor for a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice- a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature “happy endings” and is often found plotting her next story.

This is what readers are saying about Melissa’s books:

Amazon 5 star review for Second Time’s the Charm- “Such a sweet and heart warming story. As I read it, and the details unfolded, I was engrossed to see if that I thought was going to happen, would really happen.” – Lacey Wolfe, Romance Author.

Barnes and Nobel 5 star review for Protecting His Wolfe- “Great read. I couldn't put it down. I really liked the characters, especially Betsie and the Pigg brothers. A love story with suspense and surprise.” – Anonymous

Melissa loves hearing from readers!



http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelissaKeir (fan page)


Friday, April 26, 2013

Just a Few Lines - Sydell Voeller - The Fisherman's Daughter


By Sydell Voeller


"So you're a cop," she said, meeting his stunningly blue yes, noting the breeze ripple through his hair. He certainly fit the stereotype. Broad shouldered and strong. Opened black leather jacket with the collar turned up. An incredible heart-stopper with his sophisticated good looks. But copes were the worst choice for a husband, she reminded herselfâ€"even if she were looking for one, which she definitely was not. Cops lived in the fast track. With violence. And danger. Cops were gunned down every day.

Find out more about Sydell's books at: www.sydellvoeller.com

Make sure to visit again for a few lines from Ginger Simpson the week of May 3

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Friday's How She Does It featuring Melissa Keir

We all know there are six elements of fiction. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is plot. What's your take on this> Thank you for having me visit Janet. I think that the six elements of fiction are so closely intertwined. The first five lead to plot and a better story!


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

My characters are a mixture of people I know and people I've witnessed in life. To me, I love to people watch. There is nothing better than seeing people about at a mall or at a job and wondering about their stories. I feel that the characters are very important and usually have a picture of who they are in my head. For example, in my Wilder Sisters series, I have five girls who left their small town after graduation. I am the oldest of five girls in my family. So I have a lot of knowledge about the interactions between siblings and what it is to grow up in a small town. However, the five girls are not me or my sisters. I wanted these girls to be women I'd love to hang out with or be friends with. You know... the kind you can call up and go shopping with. They are all struggling with how to balance their wants with their needs in a complex world that we live in.

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?

Each story is different. Sometimes I have the plot first and other times, the characters lead the show. I love that each story can be different. In Beach Desires, I knew the main characters but I didn't know where the story was going to go. In fact, I rewrote the ending a few times. But for A Christmas Miracle, I had the whole plot planned out and then the story was fleshed out. I am by definition a plotter. I don't write out my plots or character descriptions but I do have a bunch of story ideas and interesting facts written down so that I can use them when they work into a story.

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

I mostly know how the story will end. I want my stories to end with a Happily Ever After, but sometimes the story surprises me. When I was writing Protecting His Wolfe, I knew who the bad guy was but I didn't see all the other twists and turns. It surprised me when someone else stepped up and did some bad things! Of course the reason made sense but it was a shock.

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

I love to choose setting of places that I know. One of my hopes is that readers will fall in love with these places as much as I do. The Wilder Sisters series takes place in my hometown. It's the place I grew up and my family still lives there. I moved a long time ago but still consider Amherst, the home of my heart. Small towns have such a unique feel to them. Everyone is aware of what everyone else is doing and there's a nice sense of community. I only hope that I do these places justice with my stories.

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

I do most of my research online but sometimes a book is certainly the best choice. I'm open to whatever I need or what works.

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

I always revise as I go along. Since I have a day job, I don't always get a chance to sit and write in long periods of time. So I have to go back and re-read what I've already written so that I can pick up where I've left off. This lends itself to editing as I go. I actually enjoy this process. I can always find something that I need to correct or make more clear. Since my muse loves to talk to me while I'm driving to and from work, coming home to my manuscript is a great time to revise!

Thursday's Opening Scene from Choices by Janet Lane Walters

Chapter 1

Johanna Gordon raked her fingers through her short curls and glanced at the clock centered on the wall between her diplomas. Seven-thirty. No wonder her shoulders ached. She’d been hunched over the desk since four.

With a sigh, she closed a folder and added it to the neat stack on a corner of the desk. She pursed her lips. For two weeks, the budget for the nursing department at the hospital had consumed her time. Unfortunately, money would remain her focus until she found areas to cut costs without compromising patient care or breaking the current contract with the nurses. Not that Hudson Community’s CEO cared about either option. She stretched to ease the tension between her shoulder blades.

“Why couldn’t I...” An idea occurred and she smiled.

Something to consider. Richard Jamison didn’t care which programs were dropped as long as his pet projects remained intact. Just this morning he’d reminded her she belonged to administration and to remember where her loyalties lay. Not with him. She’d risen through the ranks and saw more than the profits and losses he tossed around.

The loudspeaker on the wall crackled. “Dr. Red to the Emergency Room.” In staccato fashion, the operator repeated the message three times.

With a well-honed response, Johanna rose, grabbed her briefcase and, in three strides, reached the door. The call for any surgeon meant an emergency requiring immediate surgery. Her body quivered with excitement. She dashed through the empty outer office, crossed the hall and hit the call button for the elevator.

Just like an old fire horse, she thought. The alarm clangs and I’m off running. She stepped into the empty car. What was her hurry? How much help would she be? She’d been away from the bedside for ten years.

As she exited on the first floor, she nearly collided with Rachel Hill. Her friend’s dark hair had slipped from the neat bun at her nape. Like a sail, Rachel’s lab coat flew behind her. She carried two units of blood.

Johanna frowned. Rachel usually worked the day shift. “Bad accident?” Johanna asked.

“The worst. A six-year-old hit by a car. And to think I volunteered to switch.”

As Johanna matched strides with her friend’s half-running gait, the soft leather briefcase slapped against her thigh. “Need an extra pair of hands?”

“Hardly. If there was another body in the room, they’d be standing on the patient. Be glad you’re out of the zoo. Not that I blame people for caring about a child, but if the patient was old, indigent or dying... Don’t let me get started.”

“Want to talk?” Together they dashed up the five steps to the emergency room level.

Rachel straight-armed the door. “Maybe I do. Dinner on—” The door closed and cut off the rest of her words.

Johanna frowned. By the time they found an evening to fit Rachel’s schedule, she would have forgotten the incident that had triggered her anger. Instead of talking about the hospital, she would discuss her children. Despite their closeness, this topic always added to Johanna’s aching knowledge that she had no one.

She continued to the exit. For the past few months, she’d wondered if the climb up the administrative ladder had been the right choice. Ten years ago, she’d been an ER nurse, meeting challenges and solving a dozen crises every day. The decision to leave the ER had been made for financial reasons. The higher salary had paid for her sister’s and her parents’, home health aides. Six months ago, the family obligations had ended, leaving Johanna with an empty social life.

For a moment, she stared at the red brick building. The hospital’s center section was five stories, while the angled wings were four. The sight always made her think of a bird in flight. Lately, her office here had seemed more like home than the house eight blocks away.

A reluctance to move held her prisoner. Spray from the lawn sprinklers misted on her face and arms. She studied the bank of peonies along the walk leading to the hospital’s front entrance. Their sweet scent mingled with the aroma of wet earth. With a sigh, she overcame the inertia and crossed the street.

Brisk steps carried her down the hill. In the distance, the Hudson River reflected the colors of the setting sun. At the bottom of the hill, she turned the corner. She hurried past houses dating from colonial days to a turn-of-the-century Victorian that towered over two houses built in the last ten years. Each house had a unique charm.

She paused beside the yew hedge surrounding the yard of the house where she’d lived all her life. As she strode up the walk, her hand brushed the clipped edges. The scent of roses reached her. Red, pink and white blooms covered the trellises at either end of the porch.

She climbed the steps, turned and paused. With arms crossed on her chest, she stared at the street. As though trying to erase a chill, her hands moved along her arms. A soft sigh escaped. The ice of loneliness couldn’t be rubbed away like frost from windows on a winter morning.

Her hands dropped to her side, but she made no move to go inside where shadows of the past gathered. She had no desire to face memories of the years when she’d been a devoted sister and a dutiful daughter.

She looked at the darkening sky. Sometimes, she felt her entire life had been lived in the moments between day and night—with every instant tinged with gray, and every action controlled by duty and responsibility. Were they virtues or walls she’d erected to keep from reaching for life?

The sound of children’s laughter carried across the hedge from the house next-door. Like a gusting wind, envy rose. Her childhood memories held few laughing moments, just those of trying to teach games to a sister who lacked the ability to learn.

With a habitual gesture, she combed her fingers through her hair. Life should be more than ritual and routine.

As she moved from the edge of the porch, a pair of lovers, lost in each other’s eyes, strolled past. Johanna’s eyes burned with unshed tears. For her, only dreams of romance existed and, in her fantasies, she found adventure.

She unlocked the door and stepped into the hall. The screen door closed with a snap. She flipped the light switch and the ceiling fan stirred the stale air.

In the living room, she dropped her briefcase on the sofa and turned on the CD player. Strains of Tchaikovosky’s Sleeping Beauty followed her into the dining room.

Memories swamped her. The room became a miniature hospital ward where an elderly man and woman lay in twin electric beds. Matching walkers, wheelchairs and commodes stood against one wall.

Six months before, after the second death in three weeks, she’d scrubbed the walls and floor in an effort to ward off grief through frantic labor. After returning the hospital equipment, she’d hired a painter to re-do the room. The freshly painted walls and the refinished oak floor failed to blur the lingering memories.

Why did I allow my life to take this road?

Duty and responsibility. The voices were her parents’.

In the kitchen, she seasoned a chicken breast, put it under the broiler, made a salad and cleaned strawberries for dessert. As she ate, she searched for ways to fill the long hours until Monday, but ideas remained as illusive as the shadows in the house. Why did the weekend seem longer than the five-day work week?

After dinner, she opened the kitchen door and stepped onto the stoop. A crescent moon hung above the trees at the end of the yard. Wind rustled the leaves of the locust and oak trees and carried the scent of roses. She rested her hand on the wooden rail. Was there a different way to live?

She closed her eyes and entered the fantasy world she’d created as a child to escape what couldn’t be changed. A few minutes later, with a sigh, Johanna forced herself to resist the lure of escape into the world of her dreams. As a child, she’d needed these fantasies to escape reality. Was this a habit she couldn’t escape? How could she resist being in a world she could control?

She closed the kitchen door, slid the bolt into place and turned the security lock. Before going upstairs to the bedroom, she made rounds of the first floor to check the windows and front door.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday's Writing Tip - On emotions

Still gleaning tips from Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain and this time it's on emotions. Building emotions into the story is important. Emotions are what draws the reader to continue to read on. We all have emotional reactions to things that happen in everyday life. So do the characters in our stories. Someone says or does something to the focus character of the story or of a particular scene, The main character sees something that is our of place in his or her orderly world. They react with emotions. Maybe they don't react as you would or your neighbor or friend or even a stranger reacts. The character must react in a way that is true to his or her nature.

As the writer, you can't just say. He or she saw the body and felt sick. That's telling the reader and not showing the reader what happened. How does the character react to this event. Does he or she laugh, cry, scream. There are many ways but the reaction must be true to the character.

In real life these emotional responses happen in a clump but trying to do this in a story can confuse the reader so the reactions must be spaced in a sequential patters. The same goes for bit action scenes. Jumping from one character to another can bring confusion. So the big action is shown through just the focus character's eyes with him or her taking the feature role. Theirs are the emotions that should matter to the reader because the focus character is the one they want to care about and to see either win or lose in the story.

So when you're writing decising what emotions a main character will feel must remain true to the character you have chosen to portray. Sometimes their actions won't be what you would do. While writing this bit I thought of Katherine Miller in Murder and Mint Tea and her discovery of the body or her nasty tenant and how she reacts and then what action she takes. Not what I would do but because of her protective nature, it's exactly what she would do.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration - Frank G. Slaughter

Many years ago, I read just about everything Mr. Slaughter wrote, particularly his medical based stories. I believed because he was a doctor, he knew everything there was to know about medicine. When I began writing, my stories were of places and people I knew, nurses and hospitals. Then I came across this essay and realized from what I read I didn't have to know everything about a subject to write about it. Research was part of the clue, but the other was this quote. "Fortunately, if the novelist is a skilled story teller, creating the illusion ofexpertness is really not difficult; properly handled a little knowledge can be made to go a long way."

For me reading this was an eye-opener and I began to experiment in leaving the tried and true world I knew for other pastures and even genres. Another thing I discovered about this little bit of knowledge to sprinkle in my stories was not to throw it in a large lump with paragraph after paragraph to prove I was an expert in something I really didn't know. Often hours of research was compressed into one or two lines. Even the medical stories I wrote benefitted from this advice. I was able to enter other parts of the hospital. I found as long as I could read about or talk to someone who was a real expert, I could add that flavor to my work. So remember what was said about a little knowledge going a long way when used properly

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters #amwriting

What an interesting thing I discovered when I opened the dashboard this morning. I have 111 followers and have posted 1111 new blog entries. Guess the ones have it. The only thing that would have been more interesting would be for this to have happened on the 11th month and 11th day of the year. Guess one can't have everyhting fall into place. But that's the lot of a writer.

Second meander is about something that happens every time I start a new story. Of course it happened this time as well. In the rough draft, I begin writing down the words, or "making words" as my granddaughter used to say when she sent people away from my study door. Sometime during the writing of this first chapter, it comes to me that what I have written is "drek". Not only "drek" but boring sentences and paragraphs. Usually there is too much back story piled in paragraph after paragraph. How could I have written this? But I did and I suppose it will happen every time. Suddenly the light goes on, this time after only 2000 words written. Better than sometimes. Perhaps I am learning. I would hope so after all I've been writing for 45 years. Not always every day or even every week but that's since the first short story published. But I have a new beginning and I'm starting with a minor change in my heroine's life. The second scene in the story will be a change in the hero's life, one that's a bit more than her change.

Third meander is about critique groups. I've been a member of the same one for 20 plus years and have seen people come and go. When we started we had some rules to keep the group on task. What I need to do is sit down and try to remember them, write them out and pass them to the many new members of the group so we all get on the same page. The rules were rather simple. One I remember is "You don't defend" and can only respond if you are asked a question when it's your time. Another is that 5 to 10 pages double spaced are what can be read and if the group is large, you try for the lower level of pages. The third involved things to look for when you're critiquing and don't repeat what everyone else has said. The last one involved praise and not to go on and on. I'll be working on this before our next meeting, send it to a friend who has been part of the group, perhaps not as long as I have been but close.

As to writing. Am typing the changes into Shattered Dream. Finally found the time line for The Goddesses of Soluer. That was a real time since the original draft found was more than 150,000 words in length and rough so I've divided it into two. And I'm roughing in Shadowed Dreams, the second novella or short novel.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday's Excerpt from Trove by K. J. Montgomery

Excerpt - Trove

She walked across the lobby, her heels clicking on the tile floor as she headed to the door on the opposite side. Is it too early for vodka? She grabbed the handle, took a deep breath, pushed the door open, and stepped in. She squinted, expecting to be blinded by intense lights as was the décor in her previous work area, but the lighting here was subdued, pleasing actually. There was an open work area on the left with four plasma monitors, each glowing in standby-mode blue. Each, she estimated, was about fifty inches in size with new rectangular glass-topped conference tables placed beneath them. She looked closer. They weren’t conference tables. They were the equivalent of touch-screen tablets, only gargantuan. At the far end of the room were two open space work areas.

Along the right side were two rooms that appeared to be offices. As she walked along, she saw nameplates outside each door. The one on the left was labeled “Alec MacGowan, Ph.D.” and the one on the right “Katie Walsh, Ph.D.” Neither one held any more information


She dropped her laptop in her office, took a quick look around, and went in search of the coffee machine. Some days she wished there was a way she could hook up an IV filled with the liquid gold, ensuring her she’d have a steady supply all day. She walked past Alec’s office, then back-stepped and stuck her head in. His desk lamp was on, but the office was empty. She took a deep breath and stepped in. There was a high-backed black leather chair behind the cherry desk. Off to the right there was a small conference table surrounded by three upholstered armchairs. The desk and conference table area sat on a large oriental area rug in colors of grey, black, red, and white, with an exposed floor of some stone she couldn’t identify. On the opposite wall was a room-length, waist-high credenza that matched the desk. While the office seemed to be the same size as hers, and furnished the same, it was clearly personalized. Placed sporadically along the top of the credenza were a combination of framed pictures and what appeared to be archaeological artifacts or more likely replicas. She hoped he hadn’t smuggled them from one of his digs or worse, bought them off the black market in antiquities. So much potential to unlock the past was lost when stolen artifacts ended up in the hands of private collectors.

“Looks like he intends to stay for a while.” Katie was puzzled. Why would he want this job? Surely it lacked the excitement a digger would thrive on. Why was he here?

She walked over to the credenza and picked up one of the pictures. In the picture she saw much younger versions of Alec and Robert and a blond man standing between them clearly enjoying themselves aboard a fishing boat. The blond man was holding a striper. She estimated the fish to be a bit over two feet in length. Alec was signaling thumbs-up. She smiled as she noted a genuine camaraderie reflected in their expressions.

“That was Josh’s first ocean catch. He’d only fished fresh water before that day.”

She jumped at the sound and dropped the frame. She watched in horror as it teetered on the edge of the credenza before crashing to the stone floor, shattering the glass.

She was mortified. Not only had she been caught snooping in his office, she’d just trashed his personal property. “I’m so terribly sorry,” she said, as she felt the stains of scarlet spread on her cheeks. “Obviously I will replace it,” she said as she knelt down and picked up the larger pieces, avoiding his intense gaze.

“Leave it.”

She ignored him, concentrating on the mess in front of her. She just couldn’t leave the glass scattered all over the floor.

“I said ‘leave it.’”

She glanced up at him.

He winked when he caught her eye. “Last thing I need is for you to cut your hand. I can’t have an industrial accident on your first day at work with me. It wouldn’t look good.” He laughed softly as he approached her. “Besides, just think of the paperwork I’d have to deal with.” He reached down, grabbed her elbow and applied enough pressure to force her to stand up.

She pulled her elbow back to her body and slowly turned to face him. “I really am sorry. What size is the frame? Is it a four by six or five by seven? I have a hard time telling the difference. Just let me—”

He interrupted her. “Relax. The picture is fine, no harm done,” he said as he carefully took the glass pieces from her hand and tossed them into the trash receptacle.

She jerked her hand back and rubbed it down her thigh, wiping it clean of any glass shards and trying to ignore the tingling caused by his touch. “I was just checking out the new space and I saw your desk lamp on.” She looked around the office and continued, “So I stuck my head in and when I noticed you weren’t here I took a quick look around. I’m interested in other people’s photographs.” Particularly yours, she thought. “It gives me a sense of the ‘real’ person,” she said, casting her hazel green eyes over his face, trying to gauge his mood.

The teasing laughter she remembered from that night echoed back at her. “I get it, Katie. You’re curious about me, admit it.” When she didn’t answer, he added, “We actually have a lot to learn about each other.”

Damn, she could feel her face flame hotter. “Actually,” she said, refusing to look at him, “I was really looking for the coffee maker. I presume we have one here. I can’t function without it.”

“Around the corner, just past my office you’ll find a small kitchen. I was just brewing a pot when I heard you. It should be just about done. Join me?”

She followed him to the kitchen. There was a full-size refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven, and a coffee maker. Her mouth twitched with amusement. “Looks like I’ll never need to leave the office.”

“We don’t have a stove. Wouldn’t you miss a home-cooked meal every once in a while?” he asked, a gleam lighting his grey eyes.

“I’m a baker,” she said, shaking her head, not sure if he was mocking her, “not a cook.”

He crossed his arms and leaned back against the counter. His mouth curved into a smile. “Are you telling me that there is something that Dr. Katie Walsh doesn’t do well?”

She couldn’t help but notice how his grey slacks pulled taut across his thighs when he stood like that. “I never said that I could do everything,” she replied as her eyes lifted to meet his. “That comment was uncalled for.”

“Excuse me,” he said gently, dropping his arms to his side. “I didn’t mean to offend you. I was teasing you.”

She leaned her back against the opposite counter, her hands in her dress pockets. “Dr. MacGowan, I think I should be honest with you. I’m actively looking for another position within the Institute.” She pushed a wayward curl off her forehead. “As I said in London, I don’t think I can work for you under… under all the circumstances.”

He retrieved two coffee mugs from the cabinet next to the sink and set them on the counter next to the coffee pot. He turned and faced her, looking at her intently. “Why are you trying to run away from me, Katie?”

The words spilled out before she could stop them. “It’s what I do best.” She gasped when she heard them. Oh, just let me find a rock and crawl under it, she thought as the heat burned her cheeks.

“I know that, KitKat. But why? I don’t bite.” He chuckled. “At least not that hard.”

“Please. Just please stop. I need you to act like we’ve just met. Don’t bring any of our past into this…” she flipped her hand in front of her, waving it in the air, “this relationship.” Lord help her, but she wanted to run. But where, into his arms, or out of the building? She shook her head. How was she going to survive this until another position opened up?

“Relationship?” Laura Benson asked as she stepped into the kitchen. She glanced at Katie and then at Alec, waiting for an answer.

Katie offered a half shrug. “My ‘working for the man who stole my promotion’ relationship.”

“Oh,” Laura replied, her tone was of the “we’ll talk about this later” variety. She grabbed a mug, filled it with the coffee, and headed back to the larger work area.

Katie followed her out the door then headed for her office and powered up her laptop. She could do this, keep it all professional. Surely something would open up. There were always open positions. Or maybe, she thought as she tapped her upper lip with her forefinger, just maybe she’d be able to create a new position. Yes, that’s exactly what she’d do and then she’d be out of there in just a few days.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday's How She Does It featuring K. T. Montgomery

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

I think the story idea develops first for me and the characters seem to write themselves right into the story. I think they are probably a part of my subconscious and as the plot develops and fleshes out, they push into my consciousness and then flow down my arms virtually painting themselves on the computer screen. I do feel that they take over my writing once they appear…LOL!

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 think my characters develop as part of the plot. I have an overall sense of the story and the characters needed to drive the story forward come into being. When I begin to sketch out the scenes the right character seems to visualize at that point. I think I have a pretty good sense of the character traits when I plot the story. My challenge is in “packaging” them into rich, multi-layered, believable, not idealistic, characters.

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

I don’t have a specific ending when I start my stories, but I do have a general sense of where I want the tale to conclude and where I want the characters to be both emotionally and plot-wise. Since I am writing a series, “The Katie Walsh Mysteries,” where the same characters will factor into each novel, I have the luxury/challenge of not tying everything up with in a neat bow. I intend to have my characters grow and enrich as the series progresses. As I said previously, my characters are human, filled with human failings and hopes. They will face challenges which will force them to either change or regress.

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

My series takes place primarily in the British Isles, beginning with the enchanting and haunting Isle of Skye. The following stories will focus in this area and the western coast of England and Wales. Since my characters are searching for ancient sites, much of the stories will take place out of doors. I have never been to Europe, but I must confess that I have always been drawn to Skye as it is my ancestral home. I think that if I ever visit there I shall never want to return to the US as I will finally realize the Skye is my home.

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

I do immediate, quick research on-line, but I rely on books for more in-depth research. The internet is a great place for information, but it can quickly pull you down the “rabbit hole.”

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

I’m a revise as I go along type person. Sometimes I don’t write for days because something about what I’ve written isn’t sitting right with me. During this time, I am working on the story, running different scenarios through my mind. When I head back to the keyboard I generally discover that I revise/rewrite at least one chapter. Without doing this, I can’t move forward, regardless of the fact that I know the overall story.

Just a Few Words from Snatched by Vijaya Schartz

A few lines from SNATCHED

By Vijaya Schartz


There, in the bright light, walked a tall muscular man, young, his long

blond hair framing a tan face with icy gray eyes... The visage of Adonis on

Hercules' body.

Zania's gaze roamed over the regular lines of his jaw, the full, sensual

lips, dimpled chin, down the expanse of his hairless pectorals, and stopped

on the leather cod piece embossed with Tor's hammer. That's all he wore. So,

he was a Viking.

Find out more about Vijaya's books at:


Make sure to visit again for a few lines from Sydell Voeller, the week of

April 26.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene from Heart Throb By Janet Lane Walters

Chapter 1

Magda Malone jammed her hands in the pockets of her white lab coat and felt the fabric tear. Just what she needed to add a touch of anger to her friend’s sly request. Hadn’t he heard her resounding refusal?

Her jaw clenched and she felt her teeth grind. The temptation to commit an act of violence hovered like a massive thundercloud. She stared out the window of her fifth floor office at Riverview Memorial and shoved her anger into a corner of her mind. The hospital didn’t need the Cardiac Units supervisor to ignite, especially over a personal matter.

Sucking in a deep breath along with a quick count to ten she turned to her colleague and friend. At the moment she wasn’t sure friend was operative. “Repeat your question. I’m not sure I heard you?”

“Would you join us for dinner tonight?” the cardiologist asked.

“That’s not the part of the original question I want to hear. Wasn’t there more?”

“Like I said. Nothing formal. It’s not a party. Just a family sort of thing.”

Magda smiled. “Come on. Spit it out. I need to be sure I’m not going deaf.”

He leaned his hip against the corner of the desk. “Lin and I want you to meet my new partner. He’s her cousin and a really great guy.”

Magda glared. “Ben, let me repeat. What did you want me to do with this man?”

He studied his hands. “Was just a suggestion.”

“And that was?”

“To show him a really good time.” He joined her at the window.

She arched a brow. “A good time as in what?” She thought she knew the direction his thoughts traveled but she wanted to be sure she’d heard him correctly. Her hands fisted. “Does your wife know you’re soliciting?”

“What?” His round face reddened. “That’s not what I meant … well, maybe … just –” He groaned. “Couldn’t you just fine … make him happy to be in Rivertown? If the two of you don’t click you could show him around the … dating scene. You know what I meant.”

“Do I?”

He heaved a sigh. "Lin and I want him to settle here.”

Magda shook her head. “Spit it out, Doctor.” Anger oozed from the dark corner and colored her voice. “Just how do you expect me to accomplish your purpose?”

He stared at her. “Anything it takes.”

“No way.” She clipped the words with a razor edge. Would he understand why she was furious?

“Mag, come on. Wasn’t I there for you when you needed a shoulder?”

“I’ll give you that.”

“I need a partner who will settle here permanently, especially now.”

Magda sighed. Ben and Lin had been there when her life fell apart but he was asking too much. “Why me?”

“Men like you and you like them a lot.”

She held up a hand. “Not another word.” She walked to the desk and stared at the stack of folders needing her attention. “I don’t want to lose a good friend but one more word and you’re toast.”

“I didn’t mean you had to … you know.”

She rested her hands on the cool metal surface of the desk. “Let me set the record straight. I choose the men I want in my life. I don’t need anyone fixing me up with a man.”

“I hear you.” He sank on the chair across from the desk. “Lin said you’re bored with the local dating scene. Come to dinner. If you don’t like Eric, you can leave. If you do, who knows where it will lead. Give me a good reason why you’re being so stubborn.”

Was the invitation his idea or his wife? If it hadn’t been for the added incentive she would have believed Lin as the author or the idea. Happily married women always seemed to want their unmarried friends to be coupled. Magda had told her friend about the lack of eligible and interesting men in the area. Did it matter who had dreamed up the meeting? Magda slumped in the chair behind her desk. She wasn’t about to accept the offer today, next month or any year. Her views on the subject had been expressed time and again. “What are my rules of dating?”

“You don’t date where you work.”


“You don’t do doctors.”

“Sounds like you’ve heard me.”

“Loud and clear. This time is different.”

She shook her head. “Been there. Done that. Got burned.”

He rolled his eyes. “You received a nice divorce settlement. Give my new partner a chance. He could be the exception to your rule. What can you lose?”

“My independence. My head. I could face another fractured heard. “Goodbye, Ben.” She pointed to the door. “There’s a whole flock of available women out there who would delight in dating an available cardiologist. I can name a half dozen closer to his age.”

“What’s seven years?” He scrambled from the chair.

“More than half a decade. See you.”

He opened the door. “Eric likes older women.”

“Good for him. Ask Mabel Gray to dinner.”

Ben turned. “Older, not ancient.”

“Tell Lin I’ll call tomorrow. Let her know I feel an urge for shopping.”

He groaned. “Why?”

Magda’s smile widened. “My coming vacation. Your baby-to-be. I don’t need an excuse to shop.”

“Bye.” He closed the door.

Got him. Amusement bubbled to the surface washing away the ashes of anger. Spare me from match-making friends. She reached for the top folder. Her thoughts wandered from the department’s budget to the future.

Four weeks until vacation and she had plans. Sun, surf, moonlit nights at a single’s resort. Meeting men who had no desire for a commitment. She wanted a fling or three that allowed her to escape with an intact heart.

Her whirlwind marriage had ended in a divorce a month after he’d finished his surgical residency. She’d learned a painful lesson. Never date or become romantically involved with a doctor. Since the day the divorce had become final she had controlled her life and only she chose the men who shared her bed.

Her pen skidded across the paper leaving a red streak. Damn you, Ben. Why had he turned her thoughts to days best forgotten? She gripped the pen and returned to the budget proposal.

* * *

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Cause and Effect and Beyond

Wouldn't it be wonderful if each cause only had one effect. The problem is that often there are more than one cause that creates an effect. In real life, often there are many causes that produce an effect. When writing fiction, the writer must examine the cause and see what effect they are looking to show the reader. John kisses Mary and she slaps his face. The kiss is the cause and the effect is the slap. The author needs to explore further. In real life, everyone may know why Mary slapped John. They know the people involved in the incident, especially when Bob kisses Mary and she collapses in his ar,s. So while a cause has an effect, the writer needs to go further. But where?

What the writer needs to know and show the reader is Why. What reason did Mary have for slapping John or for passing out in Bob's arms. The writer also needs to know why John kisses Mary. Did he expect the slap? Did he expect her to be happy? Expectations are the reasons people act in certain ways. That his expectations weren't met, at least it seems that way. After the slap, both he and Mary will have follow up reactions. Thus stories are woven. By looking at the cause, seeing the effect and exploring the reasons for the effect and going on to explore the expectations and the reactions, the story is woven word by word action by reactions until the story reaches the end.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration - More on endings ala Phyllis A. Whitney

There is so much advice in this essay written years ago that I'm taking a bit more from this prolific writer. This bit is about wrapping things up without doing the after chapter where the characters sit down and explain everything that happened. Used to happen in mysteries but I've also seen it in romances. This is about wrapping up all the loose ends.

"The idea is to explain as much as possible well in advance, yet still hold something the reader is eager to know."

For me this is done in the final run through of the story. What little things haven't I explained or solved for the reader. Sometimes this is hard, especially when I'm writing a mystery since there are often those red herrings that haven't been solved before the big reveal.

Writers want the reader to read breathlessly to the end and what I call the "summming up" segment will often bore them. This isn't a good way to lead the reader to other stories that will follow or those that have been penned by a writer before this story.  So look at your story and see those problems and situations that no longer impact the "big reveal" and clear them up before that final scene where the hero and the heroine come together, or the murderer is revealed. That leaves time to make that final scene sing so the reader will want to read more stories. Save the big moment for the last paragraph.

I'm working on a story now that much is explained in the next to last chapter and the bad guy is revealed but that's not what the story is about. It's about 2 people who loved years ago and how they realize that each other is what they need in their lives forever. Their changes must be shown and the reader must believe this will be a "happily ever after" story. Working on that now.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters #amwriting #amreading

Last week I learned something that I hope I won't repeat. Do not do two shopping trips in a single day. This I did on Friday and found I was titally brain-fried when I returned home and did little more than post my blogs and stare at the plank pages. This was compounded by a Saturday spent at a meeting plus dinner out. Saturday was a writing bust. Scheduling one's days should be simple especially when one is a writer. So from now on, I'll try to manage my time better. Will it work? Hopefully but there are no guarantees.

I've been doing a lot of reading and sometimes the books drive me crazy. I'm of the school that if you've started it you should finish the book. Problem is with the ereader there is a problem for me. When I find a print book I'm struggling to avoid, I can go and read the last few chapters and then put the book aside. Though I could do this with an ereader, if I find the end makes the book interesting or if I'm trying to figure how the writer reached the end when the story seems to have taken a right degree angle, finding where I left off is hard and nearly impossible. Not sure there's a way to do this but perhaps I will work on it.

As to writing. I'm working on a draft of what is now Shattered Dreams. I'll come to the end of it soon and will put it aside for a time before I start doing the last two drafts. This is the time for deciding what I've left out or skimmed over. Each scene must be developed to the fullest. Then I will try to make sense of the timeline of what is now Goddesses of Er. and start the rough draft of the second Moonchild story. Probably not this week but soon.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday's Chapter - A Rogue in Sheep's Clothing by Elf Ahearn

Chapter One

With a bang, Ellie Albright burst into the hall and slammed shut the oak door to the

study. The windowpanes of the massive Tudor mansion rattled from the blow. Her three

sisters poked their noses around the parlor entrance, then, at the sight of her, quickly

retreated. Even the dogs scattered in alarm. Ellie turned to the empty hallway and

shouted, “He simply won’t listen to reason!”

Her mother, Lady Albright, hastened down the corridor, shutting doors as she

approached. “Hush, the servants will hear.”

“He could sell anything, anything but my horse, but that fool Lank told him to do it,

so he won’t listen to me.” Ellie seethed at the thought of the estate steward filling her

father’s gullible mind with false information. “Why does Papa believe that scoundrel?”

Her mother patted her arm as if stroking a pinecone. “Oh dear, we mustn’t upset

Papa. He’s a brilliant man who’s trying to do his best.”

“Do his best!” Ellie jammed her fist against her mouth until the stricken look in her

mother’s eyes registered. It was too unbearable to witness; the girl turned away and

fought to douse the fire of emotion burning through her self-control. But her frustration

could not be tamed. “Rahhhh,” she growled, hands shaking at her sides. “Rahhhh.” Her

mother reached to touch her again, but Ellie bolted out of the house and into a pelting


The black bellies of clouds sagged against the treetops on a distant hill, splitting the

sun into anemic rays. Taking great gulps of raw air into her lungs, Ellie slapped away a

trickle of water that dared blur her vision. She’d hoped the cold would numb her mind,

but over and over again she saw her father’s index finger pointing at the numbers on a

ledger sheet. “Mr. Lank,” her father said, giving the estate manager’s name the same

reverence due a scholar, “Mr. Lank says selling Manifesto is the only way to pay our


Ellie ran further into the rain. The wind tore spring leaves off the trees. It freed her

soaking hair from the last of its pins and whipped tendrils across her eyes. The

downpour coursed over her cheeks cooling her tears before she felt their heat, and

because her body was no match for nature, she lost herself in its fury. Then her mother’s

voice pierced the storm’s comforting blanket. “Come back in, Ellie!”

But Ellie couldn’t. Instead, she ran against the gale, out toward the moors where the

storm promised solace.


It seemed hours later, though Ellie had no idea how much time had passed, she

drifted back toward home. The rain had ceased and the clouds had gone white. Her sister

Claire met her as she stumbled through a water-soaked field of barley.

“Poor thing,” Claire said, wrapping a cloak around Ellie’s shoulders. “You’re wet as

a fish. I’ll be dosing you with Sydney peppermint and mustard plasters if we don’t get

you warmed soon.”

“I won’t get sick,” said Ellie, not bothering to hold her skirts above the wet grass.

“I’d welcome a fever to let me forget.”

Claire patted her shoulder. “Poor Papa. He’d do anything to be left alone with his

copy of the Rosetta Stone, a Greek dictionary, and a set of hieroglyphs. Perhaps if you

speak to him tomorrow…”

From the set of her father’s jaw, Ellie doubted it. He was a kind, absent-minded man,

a man who usually gave in to the entreaties of his wife and daughters, but this time…

This time something was different.

She and Claire entered the house and Ellie plodded up the stairs toward her bedroom.

Her mother watched as she went by, but said nothing, eyes deep with sorrow. Sisters

Snap and Peggity stood at a respectful distance and were quiet as well.

In Ellie’s room, Claire silently stripped her sister of her drenched clothing.

“Manifesto is the greatest horse bred by centuries of Albrights,” Ellie said, her voice

hollow. “What financial difficulty could be so bad we’d sell our most valuable asset?”

Though she’d thought she’d shed the last of them, tears pricked her lids. “I was there the

day Manifesto was born. I’ve raised him, trained him, cared for him. He trusts only me.”

Suddenly furious, she brushed the tears from her cheeks. “This is Lank’s decision. He’s

reduced the mares to bone and hair. He’s stealing the money for grain…”

Taking the hem of Ellie’s wet chemise, Claire pulled the soaked garment over her

sister’s head. “But can you prove it?”

Ellie shook her head. “No. No, I can’t.”

“Mrs. Lank isn’t buying goods from Finchy’s anymore,” Snap, Ellie’s six-year-old

sister, announced, racing into the room and hurling herself on the bed, the pack of

hounds trailing. “Mr. Finchy’s boy told me no one likes her because she’s wearing air.”

“You mean she’s putting on airs,” Peggity, the eldest of the four Albright sisters,

corrected, coming in behind Snap. She joined her little sister on the bed and watched

Claire towel Ellie dry. “If only Papa would let you run the estate,” Peggity said,

plumping a pillow behind her. “You’re so wonderful with horses.”

Ellie took the towel and scrubbed her wet hair. “I’ll tell you the first thing I’d do—I’d

fire that Lank and kick his fat wife back into Finchy’s.”

Claire winced. “A civil tongue…”

Lady Albright swept into the room, a hot water bottle tucked under her arm. “Oh

dear, dear me, come sweet darling.” She pushed the bottle under the bed linens and

wrapped a blanket around Ellie’s shivering shoulders, then tucked her under the covers.

“I wish your father told you the truth up front. It does no good to leave loved ones in the

dark.” She sighed, lifted Snap off the bed, then put the child on her lap. “This is very

serious, my darlings. We have true cause for alarm. Your papa says Uncle Sebastian,

God rest his soul, gambled with Baron Wadsworth and left a debt of three thousand

pounds. The baron…” Lady Albright’s voice went faint with emotion and she bit her lip,

“He’s a very dangerous man. Your Papa said the baron slashed a young woman’s face

on High Street in the middle of Exeter. Cut her with his sword, and not a man went to

her assistance. Everyone was too afraid. The baron said he’d do the same to Papa and

then to us if the money wasn’t delivered.”

Never in her life had Ellie seen a tear leak from her mother’s eye. The sight

frightened her more than Baron Wadsworth’s threat. She and her sisters went still, the

dogs stopped fidgeting, and a pall weighed the air.

Pressing a corner of Snap’s pinafore to her eyes, Lady Albright continued, “I would

rather sell the Fitzcarry pearls than tear your heart this way, my darling Ellie, but your

papa absolutely forbids it.”

Ellie swallowed hard, a lump growing in her chest. “I don’t mean to be selfish,

Mama, but without Manifesto we will go bankrupt. That horse is our future.”

Her mother plunked Snap back on the bed and took Ellie’s hands in her trembling

fingers. “Oh sweeting, I wish you could understand. It’s terrible news, we’ll all miss

Manifesto, but he isn’t your future.” She turned to address all of her daughters. “My

darlings, you’re no longer the offspring of a respected scientist—you’re the daughters of

an earl. The best way to avoid bankruptcy is to marry well, and that means pretty dresses

and Almack’s in London.”

“What!” Ellie exploded, pulling away from her mother. “The Albrights can’t give up

breeding horses!”

Lady Albright’s hand caught Ellie’s arm and gripped it tight. “Nineteen-year-old

daughters of earls do not gallop astride on stallions. That must end, Ellie, and perhaps

selling Manifesto is the best way to make that change. Your sisters wish to marry, and

for that to happen we must maintain our reputation.”

Ellie’s mouth dropped open. “But Mama!”

Her mother abruptly stood and interrupted before Ellie could say more. “Tonight let’s

forget our troubles and get ready for the Mortimers’ assembly. Wash your faces and put

cucumbers on your eyes. My girls must eat asparagus to eliminate puffiness, so the

bachelors find them attractive.”

Ellie jumped to her feet, but her mother held up a hand to hush her. “Snap, would you

ask Cook for cucumbers? And Claire, add some of your special herbs. Peggity, could

you help? I’d like a word with Ellie, alone.”

With her sisters gone, the room seemed dark and cold. Ellie climbed back into bed

and moved her toes under the hot water bottle, but felt no warmth from it. Lady Albright

smoothed her skirts, and took Ellie’s hand. Against her palm, she felt her mother

shaking. “I’m sorry you and your father fought today. You’re a passionate girl, my

darling, but when your father asks you to do something, you must obey.”

“I’ll apologize to Papa,” Ellie said, pressing her fingers to her brow, trying to tamp

down the pain in her heart.

“This has been such an awful day,” her mother continued. “Why don’t you wear the

Fitzcarry pearls tonight? You’ll look beautiful in them.”

Stunned, Ellie lowered her hands. No one but her mother ever wore the pearl

necklace. A series of white beads, each the size of a fingernail, the strand could wrap

three times about the throat. It fastened with a black pearl surrounded by diamonds. Her

mother’s great, great grandfather, Walter Fitzcarry, had bought, gambled, and killed for

each pearl during years of adventure in the Orient. Queen Elizabeth had so admired the

necklace, she’d offered thirty-five thousand acres of Scottish soil for them. Walter

Fitzcarry refused. Each bead, he’d said, represented his great love for his wife.

“I don’t much feel like going to the ball tonight,” Ellie choked. “Claire and Peggity

can find rich husbands. I don’t know how to give up horses, and no man would marry a

hoyden who rides astride.”

As if she weren’t listening, her mother pulled the covers over Ellie’s bare shoulder.

“All the same, wear the pearls tonight and help your family. It’s every young lady’s


Her mother was right, of course, and Ellie knew it. Brokenhearted or not, she must do

what she could for the sake of her sisters. And she had to admit, wearing the pearls

would be exciting. She threw her arms around her mother’s neck. “Thank you for giving

me something to look forward to, Mama. You’re the nicest person in the world.”

“Your Papa is pretty nice too, sweet darling. He would never sell Manifesto unless he

absolutely had to.”

“I understand … I just … don’t know who I am without my horse.”

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday's How She Does it with Elf Ahearn

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

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

So far all of my major characters have been based on family members, but I was one of four daughters, so I struggle with my heroes’ personalities. For A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, I based Hugh Davenport on Gerard Butler. Frankly, I had never heard of Gerard Butler until this woman I used to work with turned me on to him. He has a very interactive fan Web site, and she won a poster contest on it for a flick that came out after 300. Dark, sexy, and with an explosive energy that’s, shall we say, eye catching, he made the perfect model for Hugh.

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?

With Rogue I created an outline and then I never looked at it. Portions of the plot were in my mind, a fire, a horserace, but where those devices would end up in the book was left to chance. Same deal with the characters. We all sloshed around in the plot – sometimes with me leading the way and sometimes with the characters pointing out the direction.

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

Endings are usually all I know when I start a book, and that was definitely the case with Rogue. A horserace was what I wanted. As a kid, I was obsessed with the Walter Farley series about the Black Stallion. Those books were littered with horse races and I loved every one of them. When I was in fourth grade, my girlfriend Dorrie Fuchs and I memorized the names of every Kentucky Derby winner – Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Man ‘o War – they were my heroes. Little wonder I struggled writing Hugh – the man has no hooves!

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

Of all the people in the world, Janet, you should know the answer to that question.

All you readers out there who maybe don’t know Janet Lane Waters personally, I can tell you she is an exceptionally generous and wonderful mentor. She gave me piles of reference books on the Regency era, and the only reason my 1817 characters aren’t stepping onto trains or lighting the gas lamps is because of her.

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

As I stated above, because of Janet I have a pretty extensive library of Regency reference books, but I also find stuff online and, as a member of The Beau Monde, a chapter of Romance Writers of America that’s dedicated to the Regency, when I’m really stumped, I just ask. Within 24 hours, I’ll have dozens of scholars weighing in with invaluable information.

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

I draft, I rewrite, then I edit, then I rewrite again. One thing I can guarantee – I never get it right the first time. This is another area where Janet has been invaluable as a mentor. Bless her heart, she invited me to join her critique group. I showed up with my stubborn ideas of how to write my book, and she gently tried to steer me in the proper direction. Often, I resisted. Then, I invariably ended up doing exactly what she suggested. Now, four years later, when Janet speaks, I try to chase the mule from my mind and take her word for it. A woman with more than 30 books under her belt knows a thing or two.

Just a few sentences from Books We Love Roseanne Dowell's Deadbeat Dads

Here's a few lines from Roseanne Dowell's Deadbeat Dads


everyone start married life with rose colored glasses? I'm sure no one

thinks their marriage will end in divorce. I certainly didn't. Mine was the

perfect love, the perfect marriage. I was going to have the perfect life, and

it was an absolutely perfect day for a wedding. The sun streamed through the

window as I walked down the aisle on my father’s arm. Johnny looked so handsome

standing at the altar waiting for me.

Deadbeat Dads by Roseanne Dowell

Available from:


Find Roseanne's other titles at:


Check out her website: www.roseannedowell.com or her blog http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com/



>> Book releases from http://bookswelove.net/ http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php

> amazon.com/author/roseannedowell

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene from A Double Opposition by Janet Lane Walters

Chapter 1

"Mom, how much longer?"

"Hours. It's been hours."

As the twin whines rasped her eardrums, Liz Jordan's hands tightened on the steering wheel. "Forty-five minutes isn't hours. We'll be there soon."

"Don't know why we have to move to some hick town."

"Yeah, we'll be bored."

Their voices inched toward supersonic wails. She glanced in the rearview mirror and saw twin scowls. Justin and Brandon had inherited their father's handsome features and his hazel eyes, but their hair was dark brown like hers. "Guys, why not give Eastlake a chance? You lived here for two years."

"We were babies," Brandon said. "How we gonna remember anything?"

"Yeah, babies know nothing," Justin added his comment.

They had celebrated their fifth birthdays in Eastlake. Now they were nine going on two or forty-two depending on their mood. Maybe they didn't understand why she'd made the decision to return to here, but her reasons were valid. In the city, they'd been prey to pressure from a gang of boys headed for juvenile hall. This move was right for them. And her?

As the car rounded a bend, she saw a shopping mall that hadn't been here four years ago. What other changes would she find? She knew the hospital had expanded. The unit where she'd be in charge had been opened just three years ago.

When this fact popped into her thoughts, once more she wondered if making a lateral move had been the right choice. Being nurse manager of the ortho/neuro unit at Eastlake Community Hospital had to be less stressful than the same position at a city hospital. Here she wouldn't have to cope with nursing students from three different programs or with interns and residents. What about prima dona surgeons? She chuckled. That breed came with the territory.

At Eastlake, she'd be with the friends she'd made during the two years at Grantley College. She'd been the oldest of their clinical group and the one they'd come to for advice. Three of them lived and worked here. How great it would be to be with Jenessa, Laurel, and Megan again.

What about the unit's neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeff Carter? She remembered golden hair and summer blue eyes, broad shoulders and a lean body. She recalled memories of a dark night and the scent of wild roses. Don't go there. As the memories surged, her cheeks heated. That evening she'd made a foolish mistake, one she'd never make again.

"Mom, why do we have to live here?" Justin asked.

"Because I have a new job, and it's here."

"If it ain't that far from our home, why can't you drive every day?" Brandon asked.

"Yeah. Then we coulda stayed with our friends." Resentment filled Justin's voice.

And I would have gone gray from worry. "Enough. You'll live in Eastlake and like it."

"Or lump it," the boys said in unison.

"Is Pop still behind us?" Justin asked.

"If he gets lost, we'll lose all our stuff 'cept our collection." Brandon thumbed the box on the seat between Justin and him.

"Your grandfather's there," Liz said. "Justin, sit down and fasten your seatbelt." Would he ever learn to think before jumping into action?

"Just had to check."

"He's always doing dumb things."

"Am not."

She heard a grunt. "Guys, enough. Do I have to pull over?" She had to stop them before they came to real blows, something that had never happened. Though they were identical in looks, their personalities were opposite. Like his dead father, Justin plunged into action without thinking, while Brandon plodded and planned.

The noise from the back seat ceased. Liz spotted the sign announcing their arrival in Eastlake and released a sigh of relief. "We're almost there."

She saw her sons turn in their seats to look out the windows. The sight of houses with lawns instead of blocks of tall apartment buildings made her smile.

"Is our house like them?" Brandon asked.

"Maybe a little bigger." She turned the car into Main Street. Many of the shops she remembered were still there. "There's the Hot Doggery. We'll go there for dinner some evening. Best chili dogs I've ever had."

"Tonight?" the boys asked.

"No. Some of my friends are coming by after work to help us get settled."

"That's not fair," Justin said. "We had to leave our friends."

"Do they have kids?" Brandon asked.

"Laurel and Alex have a son. I think he's six."

"A baby," Justin said. "Who wants to play with a baby? Now me."

"Your choice," Liz said. "You don't have to play, but you will be nice to him."

"All right."

"Where's the hospital?" Brandon asked.

"When we come to the next corner, look up the hill. The brick building at the top is the hospital."

"Wow," Justin said. "Think of coming down that hill on a bike."

"Think, but don't do," Liz said.

"You're no fun."

"Not supposed to be. I'm your mother."

Three blocks beyond the street to the hospital, Liz made a left turn and pulled into the driveway of the house her friend had bought just weeks before her wedding. Lucky for me, Liz thought. Laurel had agreed to rent with the option to buy.

Since her husband's death, Liz and her boys had been apartment dwellers. Sometimes, she resented the loss of the house she and Derek had bought, but the sale had allowed her to attend Grantley for a BS in Nursing. Once again her old resentment flared. Volunteer firemen who were determined to be heroes seldom left their families large legacies.

As soon as the car stopped, the boys jumped out. When the rental truck pulled behind her car, Justin nearly plowed into the fender. She stifled a scream. He turned and grinned. She closed her eyes. He was all right. Thank heavens they weren't marking their arrival with a trip to the Emergency Room. She left the car and grabbed him.

"Slow down."

Her father-in-law leaned against the side of the truck. He wiped his ruddy face with a bandanna. "I thought . . . . Don't ever scare me like that again."

Justin toed the grass. "Sorry, Pop."

The elderly man ruffled the boy's dark hair. "So like your father."

"What about me?" Brandon asked.

"You, too."

The hot humid air made Liz feel sticky. She wiped her hands on her navy shorts, then walked toward the house. The red bricks had faded to a rose color. She climbed the steps to the wide front porch. Bamboo shades on the side openings shielded the white wicker furniture from the afternoon sun. She unlocked the door and stepped inside. The highly polished oak of the foyer floor gleamed. Cool air kissed her skin.

Justin pushed past her. "Where's my room?"

"Look at the big TV," Brandon cried. "Is it ours?"

Liz nodded. "If I decide to buy the furniture from Laurel."

"Let's keep the TV." Brandon put the box he'd lugged from the car on the stairs to the second floor. "Where does this go?"

Liz laughed. "As if you didn't know." The box contained the boys' baseball card collection and other treasures. "Come with me, and I'll show you the room you and Justin will share."

"Do we have to?"

"There are three bedrooms, mine, your grandfather's, and yours, plural. Be thankful. I have my own bathroom. No more make-up and sissy smelly stuff."

"Great news."

When they reached the second floor, she opened the door of the room where the twins would sleep. Brandon dropped the box on the lower bunk. He ran his hand over the smooth wood of one of the two chests of drawers. "Neat. This why we didn't bring our old stuff?"

She nodded. Their beds had been the ones they'd slept in since they'd outgrown their cribs, and they'd shared a second-hand dresser she'd refinished. "Thought you might like these."

He looked up. "They gonna cost a lot?"

She hugged him. "Don't worry about the money. You know I sold most of our old furniture."

Justin charged into the room. "I get the top."

"Just don't wet the bed again," Brandon said.

Justin scowled. "Didn't."

Liz put a hand on his shoulder. "He had an accident months ago. Stop picking on each other."

"Okay," Brandon said.

Justin grabbed his brother's hand. "Come outside and meet our neighbor. He's cool. Doesn't believe I have a twin."

"Can we go?" Brandon asked.

Liz nodded. "You're free until my friends arrive. Then it's to work."

"You can come and meet his mom," Justin said. "She's a nurse, too."

As Liz followed the boys downstairs, she wondered if the woman worked at the hospital or in one of the local doctors' offices. If the neighbor worked at Eastlake, she might know things Liz's friends would neglect to tell her, especially about hospital politics. Liz glanced into the living room. Pop had stretched out in the charcoal gray recliner. "You okay?" she asked.

"Just tired. Heat's a bit much, but here with the air conditioning it's fine. Need me to do anything?"

"Later. The boys are taking me to meet a neighbor.

Then I'll bring in the groceries and the suitcases."

"I can do that."

"I know, but take it easy. The work crew should be here by four thirty. Your job will be to direct traffic." She walked to the door. Was her father-in-law ill? These days, he seemed to tire easily. As she stepped onto the porch, the twins waved. They were across the street where a blonde woman and a boy stood beside a sporty sedan.

"Mom, hurry up," Justin yelled. "They're going away."

Liz crossed the street. "This is our mom," Brandon said.

The woman smiled. "I understand you're a nurse."

Liz nodded. "Liz Jordan. Pleased to meet you." She saw something she couldn't define in the blonde's light brown eyes.

"I'm Delores. I heard Mrs. Carter rented the house. You know, she bought it just a couple of weeks ago. Why she wanted a house and even moved in when she was shacked up in Alex Carter's house doesn't compute." She laughed. "Guess she knew what she was doing since she snagged him."

Liz drew in a deep breath. Sour grapes flavored her neighbor's voice. "I'm glad she decided to rent. Saved me from a frantic search for a house and a commute from the city until I found one."

"There is that." Delores bent to pick up a small suitcase. Her tight red shorts slid up to reveal a bit of her buttocks.

Liz looked away. "Especially since I needed three bedrooms."

"Guess your boys have their own rooms."

"They have to share. "My father-in-law lives with us."

"Thought he was your husband." The eyes that had been friendly hardened. "Guess your husband works in the city and decided to commute."

"No husband. He's . . . ."

"Another deadbeat like my ex. Guess we'll have a heart to heart one of these days and discuss straying men." She opened the car door. "Chet, let's go. Was nice meeting you."

Liz returned to the house. Her neighbor's assumptions bothered her. She wasn't sure she liked Delores, and she hadn't learned if the other woman worked at the hospital. Too late now.

"Hey, Mom," Brandon called. "Chet says he'll show us around town."

"He knows all the neat places." Justin raced up the steps.

"His friends are wheels." Brandon tugged on Liz's hand.

She frowned. The boy seemed older than the twins.

"How old is he?"

"Twelve. He's gonna be thirteen in November."

Liz wasn't sure she wanted the boys to hang around with someone three and a half years older. Their ideas of neat and cool differed from hers. There'd been enough problems in the city with their choice of friends. Would this be another mistake? "I plan to sign you up for some programs at the Y where you can meet boys your own age."

Justin jumped down the steps from the porch. "Dorks."

"Don't make judgments before you meet them."

"But Chet said . . . ."

She sucked in a breath. If she forbade this friendship without a good reason, Justin would rebel and Brandon would argue. "I'll give you a week or two to settle. As long as you don't give Pop a hard time, I'll let you hang out here."

"We won't," they said.

"Let's unload the trunk. I want to make lemonade and iced tea for this evening."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Conflict and Change #MFRWriter

Interesting how sometimes what you're reading fits together. Yesterday I wrote about how your characters have to be changed by the end of the story. Then reading more of Techniques Of The Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, the segment was on conflict and how that led to change.

Every character should face two kinds of conflict. Inner conflict belongs to his nature and his emotions. Outer conflict comes from the world around him or her and also involves emotion. If a character can't feel anything there is no reason for them to be part of a story.

All stories focus on some kind of change. But change isn't enough to make a story come alive. The focus character and other characters as well need to come to a different place in their lives. Without conflict in his or her life, there can be no change. A character being pulled in more than one direction be an internal struggle or being battered by events outside himself is more interesting that a character whose life goes smoothly.

External events have meaning and touch on a character's emotions. No matter what he or she sees in the external world can show a side of the character you want to reveal. A rainstorm, seeing an elderly couple holding hands, a magnificent castle. Any of these can show and reveal a character's emotions and nature.

Relating what each moment of a story reflects on a character makes the story stronger. So delve into the conflicts and use both inner and outer events to show your character.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration ala Maxwell Anderson

 Interesting quote that talks about Maxwell Anderson when asked for advice to new playwrights. This also applies to writers of fiction and the quote is something to remember when writing.  "The main character must learn something new about himself before the end of the play, and this must be something that would change his life forever."

What a great idea. Sometimes when I'm writing I find the main character in a story hasn't done this and the story falls flat. That's when I must go back to look at what the character has learned. This doesn't have to be an earth-shattering lesson. Could be just a small thing that has changed the character's life, for better or worse. Since I often write romances, the main character usually learns a bit about trusting other people, or he or she can learn the change has shown them where their life has gone off track.

So not only look at the changes in your characters' lives, but in what the change has taught them. May not take more than a line. I've found this a good lesson when writing a series character, one who is slowly evolving while murderers enter her life and bring small changes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters - What Bugs Me, Progress #MFRAuthor, #amwriting #amreading

Two meanders today and they're things that bother me when I'm reading what others have written. I don't write reviews of books though I might mention a book I really like. I don't mention titles of books I don't like at all. But there are things that in books when I'm reading that scrape along my nerves like chalk on a blackboard or the squeal of a door needing oiled.

It was. I've been asked to write a piece, tongue in cheek, but my sarcastic nature won't ever pull this off. I recently read a book that could have been a good read but I was so turned off by the first few pages that I couldn't continue. It was had become a great drop in page. Gee, the writer used this twice in one sentence. I had to stop and re-write those sentences. Using it was to me is what a lazy writer does. When I'm doing a rough draft, I'm lazy and It was creeps into my writing. But the thing I'm doing is getting the story down. When I go back for re-writes I look for those sentences. The interesting thing is that most of them can be re-written and I do this. Not all but one can go from 30 in three pages to perhaps one or two.  By the time I moved past the It was filled pages, I was so annoyed with the book I almost returned it for money back. I didn't. Just removed it from my Kindle.

Second thing. When there are just two people in a scene, there is no need to have the characters address each other by name. If needed this can be done in the tag lines. Doing it twice can be annoyong. Here's what I mean.

Marie looked at her friend. "Barbara, are we going to lunch?"
Barbara turned. "Marie, I don't know."
"I really wish you would make up your mind, Barbara."
"Why should I, Marie? You are beginning to annoy me." Barbara walked away.

Now this is a bit extreme but  this can ruin an otherwise great book for me.

For myself progress continues on Moonchild 1 and I've come to the conclusion The Goddesses has to be split in two and I need to figure the time line for each part of the book since it takes place over a year. That will happen once I've finished the current draft.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Saturday's Excerpt - Hold My Hand by Paloma Beck

Title: Hold My Hand

Author: Paloma Beck

Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance

Elements: BDSM-lite, Consensual Adult Spanking

Release Date: April 1, 2013

Website: http://palomabeck.weebly.com/hold-my-hand.html

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/palomabeck/hold-my-hand/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HoldMyHandBook

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17408218-hold-my-hand


Aubrey has been hurt in the past, discouraged and degraded by a heartless father. Still, William sees something in her that won't allow him to walk away. Instantly drawn to her but intuitive enough to take it slowly, he courts her. Then he bargains, persuades and seduces until he ensnares Aubrey with his commanding nature. He’s everything she ever needed but never had the courage to want for. Despite the fight she puts up in accepting William's lifestyle, the bonds he places on Aubrey give her a freedom she desperately needs. Together, they heal old wounds and find their perfect love.


Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/298418

Amazon: http://is.gd/AoHfwb


© Hold My Hand, Paloma Beck, 2013

It was Baylor, his driver, who walked into the shop that night. “Ma’am,” he nodded at me and handed me the cell phone he held.

“Aubrey.” William’s voice wafted through the line, the warm sound sliding down my tummy. “I’m held up in a meeting. Baylor will deliver you to my home and I’ll be there shortly.” I could hear voices in the background, hushed but present. I made a note to ask William soon what type of business he was in.

“Ok. That’s fine.” I’m not sure about being delivered; the term made me feel like a package. Perhaps I’ll try to think of myself as a special delivery. I shook my head at the absurdity of the thought. When had I ever been something special? Sometimes you’re just a waste of space, Aubrey.

“Good. I’ll see you soon. Baylor will attend to you, whatever you need.”

“Thank you.”

I thought he’d simply click the phone off then but he cleared his throat, “And Aubrey,” he paused, “I-I am sorry. I didn’t want us to begin this way.” I was still processing his apology when the call ended. I returned the phone to Baylor, grabbed up my coat and purse and followed him to the car waiting outside the door.

William’s voice – his apology had been so sincere. I couldn’t imagine it mattering that much to him. I wasn’t important enough for someone to worry over. You are nothing, Aubrey, nothing of value. No one had ever been concerned for me like that before. It unnerved me to consider William might actually like me enough to worry. Would he care for me eventually? I couldn’t dare believe it.


How might Aubrey overcome her feelings of inadequacy?

About Paloma

Paloma Beck is a Romance Author living a life of contradiction... she's a happily married carpooling mom writing erotic romance. It's almost naughty! Paloma writes in both the Contemporary and Paranormal realms, journaling the stories her characters tell her, and they are anything but PG. She dabbles in vampires, witches, ménage, spanking and bdsm - all in her books, of course.

Paloma believes a daily dose of espresso and a good book make any day better.

Connect with Paloma

WEBSITE http://palomabeck.weebly.com

TUMBLR http://palomabeck.tumblr.com/

BLOG http://RomanceBeckons.blogspot.com

TWITTER https://twitter.com/PalomaBeck

FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/PalomaBeckAuthor

PINTEREST http://www.pinterest.com/PalomaBeck

GOODREADS http://www.goodreads.com/PalomaBeck


Paloma is offering a DAILY CONTEST during her release tour to WIN a Hold My Hand ebook. Enter to win each day by answering the QUESTION in the COMMENTS section of that day’s post. The question must be answered to be eligible. The commenter needs to provide their email address and preferred ebook format.


April 2, Celeste Jones
April 3, Natasha Knight
April 4, Renee Rose Romance
April 5, Eclectic Writer
April 6, Guilty Indulgence
April 7, Happily Ever After
April 8, Wicked Romance
April 9, Patricia Green
April 10, Excerpts with Emilia
April 11, Cassandra Dayne
April 12, Cara Bristol
April 13, Governing Ana
April 14, Keta's Keep
April 15, Brewing Passion

Find a listing of all stops at Romance Beckons. http://romancebeckons.blogspot.com/p/blog-hops.html#.UVXrnByG2So

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday's How She Does It with Paloma Beck

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

Interesting. The first four elements "Who, What, When, Where" weave together to answer "Why". Your motivation comes from you characters and everything that shapes them. The "How" most definitely points to the plot, or that journey you take your characters through, which ultimately relies on the "Why".


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

My writing is character-driven. More often than not, my characters come to me with their stories. Sometimes I tinker with details to help them compliment their mate/ partner because I think a love story is more about how the two fit than their separate personalities. As a reader, I have to love the couple so as a writer, I strive for a lovable couple.

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?

Characters always come first. Once I have their basic story down, I lay out a skeletal plot. Ultimately though, I let the character lead me to the conclusion.

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

I have a general idea how the story will end but sometimes I'm even surprised by the road my characters take. When we are in disagreement, I find the easiest choice is to keep writing what they want.

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

I often use settings I'm familiar with. I take detailed notes when I describe a location, particularly a character's home. Often though, the settings are like pictures in my mind. If I close my eyes, I can see the scene in front of me.

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

Most of my research is done on-line though I've read plenty that has padded my basic understanding of much of the topics I write on. For example, I studied European history in college so incorporating the Italian War into one of my series took just a quick search on details. In Hold My Hand, it made sense for my heroine to work in a coffee bar because I am a caffeine-addict and can tell you the ingredients of any drink Starbucks makes.

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

I revise as I go along. My first draft takes me longer but the edits are not so overwhelming because I've done so much clean up along the way. I've heard other authors preach to new authors not to do it this way but it works for me. If it works for you, I say do it. Heck, pretty much the motto of my life!

A Few Lines - Fiery Possession - Margaret Tanner

Fiery Possession:

Jo Saunders did to him what no other woman had done in years. Set his pulses racing, exciting him to

the point where he nearly lost control.

Damn Jo Saunders. Damn her to hell.


Please come back on April 12 to read Roseanne Dowell's exciting snippet.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday;s Opening Scene from The Doctor's Dilemma by Janet Lane Walters

The Doctor’s Dilemma


Janet Lane Walters

Published by Books We Love

Chapter 1

Streams of people eddied around Nora Harte, the pile of luggage and the double stroller. She scanned the faces of the crowd. A babble of voices filled the air.

Where was he?

He knew the flight number and the time of arrival. The plane had landed on time. Since Thursdays were almost a universal doctor's day off, the trip had been scheduled for today.

She groaned. This simple baby run had become anything but easy.

The loudspeaker crackled. "Would passenger Nora Harte pick up one of the courtesy phones?" She looked around.

The second time the words blared, with a start, Nora realized the message was for her. "Yeah, right." She stared at the four suitcases, two diaper bags, and the pair of car seats. She'd need a multitude of New York minutes and the arms of an octopus to fulfill the request. What had kept Dr. McKay from the meet?

One of the twins puckered his mouth and added his screams to the cacophony in the baggage claim area of the Dallas airport. Nora crouched and stroked the baby's cheek. "We'll be out of here soon, honey." At least, she thought they would. "It's just a short delay."

The strident voice issued the command again. "How?" she asked. The logistics of the move defeated her. She couldn't abandon the twins and the luggage to search for a phone. She'd been deputized to deliver Molly and Tod Jamison to their guardian and she took this duty seriously.

The sight of a man in a gray uniform pushing an empty baggage cart solved the problem. "Sky cap, over here." She used the voice that had parted crowds on busy New York sidewalks. The one she hadn't used since she had moved upstate. "Take these bags and the infants."

"Don't load babies on the cart, ma'am."

"I know that. I meant the infant seats. I have to answer the phone."

"Excuse me." He stared and his expression projected the idea he thought she'd flipped.

Maybe she had. "The page. Nora Harte. That's me."

He nodded and pointed to the far wall. "It's over there. The blue phone."

"Thanks." Nora gripped the stroller handle. She pushed through the crowd like a subway rider aiming for the last seat. The noise level made her wonder if she'd be able to hear the message.

An easy trip, she thought. A way to add to her dream house account. Just fly to Dallas and deliver the babies to their guardian.

So far nothing about the trip had been a snap. Why had she thought her experience as a nurse would make the mission a breeze? A three month tour of duty in a busy city hospital nursery hadn't prepared her for the reality of caring for twins.

She hadn't counted on the surround-sound screams the twins had raised in protest of being airborne. Or of juggling two infants in the compact airplane bathroom. Not finding their guardian at the airport had been the final episode in her nightmare of the week.