Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene - Britain from All Our Yesterdays by Janet Lane Walters


The sun had barely risen above the horizon when Starr slipped from the house. She slid along the hedge enclosing the compound. Her tunic caught on a branch. She pulled free and crept through the opening. With care, she ran to the meadow. From several nearby homesteads, smoke rose and she prayed none of the other villagers would see the thegn's daughter make her escape from the day's chores.

She mounted her pony. A packet of food for her morning meal and a sack for her gleanings were tied to her belt. As the pony trotted toward the forest, she bent low.
Starr laughed. Though a skillful weaver, she preferred to be outdoors, free to explore the forest. Especially when the cloth she'd been ordered to weave was for her marriage clothes. Though no man had been named, she feared her father would name Kendel as her spouse. She didn't like or trust the man who owed half his blood to the invaders from the sea, the dreaded men who sailed the dragon ships.

If she'd been a boy, she could have spent her days hunting or tending the sheep, the way her older brother had. She chewed a kernel of grief. Ralf had been killed during a hunt and only she believed his death had been planned. She clenched her fists. She had no proof of her suspicions and without this, she couldn't make an accusation.

When she reached the forest, she tied the pony in a small clearing. The brook would provide water and the grass was lush. She checked her traps and found she'd snared several hares to add to the family's food supplies. She cleaned and skinned them. Then she ate her food and left her kill in a tree while she explored.

As she reached the edge of the forest where the land dropped toward the sea, she moved with caution. Several years before her birth, a raid by the dragon ships had left the fishing village deserted. She'd heard tales of what had occurred. A number of the people had sought refuge with her people, one being Kendel's mother. Starr's father had given the boy a home after his mother had cast herself into the sea.

Starr dropped to her knees behind a screen of briars and crawled to where the stream plunged over rocks to form a river to the sea. She muffled a gasp with her hand. The dragon ships had come again. Should she hurry home with a warning or watch to see what these men planned?

She stared at the four houses on the far side of the river. The men were building a palisade and covering the roofs. What did it mean? She saw several women, horses, cattle and dogs. Did they plan to settle?

From the lone hut near the falls, a woman emerged. A sound startled Starr. She looked down and her eyes widened. A tall man strode from beneath the cascading water. His shoulders and back were broad and rippled with muscles. His buttocks were firm and his legs long.

He turned and stared at Starr's hiding place. When he squeezed water from his long hair, she saw his male organ and held in a startled cry. The woman ran to him. He pushed her away.

Starr began a slow retreat. To be captured by one of these strangers could endanger the homestead. But she felt a deep yearning to be with the stranger and touch his sun-bronzed skin.
* * * *

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Villains' Rewards

Still using Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain and this time I'm looking at rewarding the villain. Sounds easy to say they just up and die, go to jail, don't gain their goal. But when doing this their character must be taken into consideration. Just failing to reach their goal may not be enough. Seeing them punished by the law may not be enough. Having them go out in a way with the hero or heroine choosing the bad guy's reward may be enough especially if it comes as a surprise to the reader and give them that satisfying ending to the story.

Stories don't necessarily have to end with happily ever after but they should end with a way that satisfies the reader.

In the end, the bad guy must be shown to be unworthy of receiving the reward he desires. Readers like to see the guilty punished and the good rewarded. To give the bad guy the reward he seeks confuses the reader. Confusing the reader isn't a good thing. There is one place where it can seem like the bad guy seems to receive what he wants and that is when writing a series with the same character.

When I was writing the Affinities series, at the end of each of the stories, the villain remained to trouble the four children in the next book. Now here's the buy. In the first story, he appeared to be winning what he wanted. To know where the children were. What I did was let him know they were alive but were on the move and though it looks like he has a tie to one of the four. This is severed early in the second book but then his evilness finds another way but once again at the end of the second book, he knows they are alive and that he may reach his goal. This continues to the end of the fourth book when he receives his due and that is destruction.

So remember to give the bad guy what he's do but make it clear to your reader that receiving what he deserves is based on his character, not by the duex machine,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration ala On Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner

There are so many nuggets to find in this book of essays. Today's inspiration takes the writer beyond the desire for language. I thought about the days I spent reading the dictionary and the Thesarus flowing from word to word. But there are more things to being a writer than words. Words are the foundation. Without words one couldn't be a writer. There is more to writing than the words,

Are you fascinated by characters? The people in the story need to be seen and lived with. There are times when I immerse myself so much in the character, I almost become them. Being startled to find that Joe or Mary are mind children rather than the people I interact with.

Action is another part of becoming a writer. An event happens to a mind child and seeing how they will react and act can be fun. There are also actions outside the character. Floods, fire, other disasters will cause a character to some kind of action. One of the first stories I ever wrote was a short one and was triggered by an experience I had when training to be a nurse. The thought of facing sick people seemed to me to be a serious one. I was very new to the process. A patient asked me why I didn't smile. That moment became the seed for a story written years later, called A Small Smile.

Now we come to a third element. Setting. This was for me a problem. Perhaps because I'm not a visual person. When others see scenes I see words. An editor told me my characters existed in a vacuum. Took my years to learn how to feed the setting into a story to make this seem real. I still struggle with this element.

How about you, does one of the elements of story-telling come hard when the others come easy?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters

Meander 1 Saturday was a total bust. There was no water at the house because of a water main break. I had planned to go to a friend's book signing but I couldn't wash my face or brush my teeth. There'd been no warning so one could store water. Interesting since I'd also planned what I was going to feed the grandchildren when they arrived for the evening. Didn't happen. Ordered Chinese and they ate well. The water is not on but we have to boil it before we use it. There is a number I will call to see if this has changed. Was not a happy camper to have my plans changed.

Meander 2 Been reading the books I received at the conference last week. All but one were decent reads. The one was well-written but I had the plot figured out not far into the book and the repetition troubled. Me. I really must this week get to the scoring of some books I read. Interesting group of books and not ones I usually enjoy but I read them and my scoring is done.

As to my writing. I'm typing the draft of Rekindled Dreams and will get it off to someone to read. Critique group has spooked me a bit and also I needed to change the ending a bit. Am now working on The Amber Cage and it is a strange story in some ways but I like it. Rough draft is coming close to the word length I want. That is a plus. No chapters here but scenes. There are five to block in and the ending is interesting. From there I must get the other stories into place and get it ready to send to BWL. Healwoman is free for the final day. The numbers have been good and that's a plus.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday's Chapter To Growl Or To Groan by Katya Armock


Her gift could save a missing girl…or destroy her relationship forever.


After receiving a troubling Tarot reading, Chloe just knows something big and bad is about to happen. Her ability to communicate with animals and shape-shifters is going awry, and her growing psychic abilities are beginning to scare her. Despite her unease, she won’t let anything interrupt her trip to Scotland to spend the holidays with her shape-shifter boyfriend’s family. Jorge is everything she’s always wanted, and the fire between Chloe and the passionate panther-shifter burns hot. But meeting his family has her nerves in knots.


When Jorge’s sister goes missing, Chloe’s psychic abilities might be the only thing that can help them find her. But things don’t go as planned, and with confusing psychic visions clouding her judgment, Chloe makes a mistake and an animal is injured. And Chloe fears she might hurt Jorge as well…



Chapter One


“Which deck are you drawn to, Chloe?” The tarot reader lays out three decks before me and waves her hands over the decks. “Feel free to pick them up, look at the artwork.”

Her booth is toward the back of a new-age shop called The Abacus, not far from where I used to work. She wears jeans and a T-shirt that reads, “Tarot isn’t a matter of life or death. It’s more important than that.” I’d place her at about forty, wisps of gray intermingling in her near-black hair.

I look over the decks of cards. The first has Renaissance-type drawings. Boring. The second is purple and features whimsical faery creatures. It’s pretty and ethereal. The third is dark. On the back of each card, two serpents eating their own tails are entwined on a black background. I flip the deck, thumb through the cards. The pictures are raw and vivid; they suck me in.

“This one.” I hand the third deck back to her.

She nods. “Very good. What is your question? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want.”

There is no reason for me not to tell her; she of all people should understand. “I want to know about my gift.”

There’s not an ounce of judgment or question in her eyes before she holds the cards to her chest for a moment and closes her eyes for a few deep breaths. I watch the rise and fall of her chest, trying to claim her calmness, but I remain fidgety and anxious.

She opens her eyes, looks at my hands tapping on the table. “It’s OK to be nervous, but there is nothing to fear. All is as it will be.”

Oh, platitudes. If I ever become a Zen master, hallelujah. In the meantime, I try to quell my inner cynic and smile at the card reader.

She laughs, as if she can read my mind. Perhaps she can. “I’m going to do a three-card reading for you. The first represents the past, the second the present, and the third the future.” She shuffles the deck, then lays it neatly on the table between us. “Cut the deck with your left hand.”

 I do, and she lays out the first card. It’s The Devil, which can’t possibly be good. At least it’s my past card.

Her face is unhelpfully blank. “Tell me your impressions of this card. It can be the name, the artwork, whatever.”

I pick it up for a closer look. The drawing is in shades of purple. At the top, a face, featuring lazy yellow eyes and downturned lips, sprouts four horns. A web of string seems to be wound among the horns and crisscrosses to form a pentagram on the devil’s forehead. From the neck down, he appears to be submerged in water and wearing some sort of vest with intricately interlocking clasps. “It is a dark picture, but it almost appears as if the figure has an angelic halo. As though all is not lost.”

She tilts her head to the side, revealing a small black goddess tattoo under her ear. “That is interesting. The Devil represents the shadow side of things. It can be lies and illusion, but it can also remind us to focus on using our power for good—to make our fate.”

Well that certainly fits and is a whole lot better than my first impression that my past must be filled with evil. Until recently, I had repressed the little I knew of why my mother left my father and me when I was ten. Now I know she left to go back to her mother to get help. I am certain it had something to do with her having a gift, just as I can telepathically communicate with animals and shape-shifters. And that means that my gift was inherited. What I don’t know is how far back in the family tree the genes go or where these gifts come from. I’m not sure I want to know.

 “Let’s move to the next card.” She flips Temperance.

It is a tiger coming right at me, bounding through turbulent water. The sky is cloudy, and birds fly in the distance. If it had been a black jaguar, I might have started laughing. Jorge, my jaguar shape-shifter boyfriend, is certainly a prominent part of my present.

 “The tiger is powerful. I don’t usually think of cats as being in the water, but tigers are one of the cats that swim, aren’t they?” Like jaguars.

I look at the card again. “Even though the tiger is menacing, I don’t feel afraid. It’s as though it wants to give strength.”

She nods. “Temperance is a card of coming together, of regeneration or renewal. It is often seen as fertility restored. As a present card, it tells me that your destiny is before you now.”

Thinking of Jorge as my destiny makes me smile. But there’s more in my present that tells me I’m on the right path. Like my work with Gracie’s ghost to catch animal abusers and how far I’ve come in using my gift. I tried to rescue Gracie and four other dogs from a dogfighting ring, in part using my ability to connect with animals psychically.

“Did you have any further thoughts about the card you want to share?” She stares at me passively, as if any show of emotion would somehow change the outcome of this reading.

I blink to bring me fully back to the room. “I can see that card making sense for my present...”

She nods, then flips the third card. The Ten of Wands.

It is an archer on a white horse. He is surrounded by fire. Yet the sky behind him is brilliant blue with puffy white clouds. “It’s a contradiction: this peaceful sky and a rider engulfed in flames. He means business.”

“Wands are generally our spiritual side, our life force energy. This rider is a hero. As a future card, it tells me that you will be tried and forged into a hero yourself. You must, through all trials, rise above and focus on the bigger picture to reach your potential. You have the capacity to be a great leader.”

I’m stupefied. My inquiry for this reading was about my gift, and it looks as though I’m in for a heap of trouble with it. And don’t even get me started on being a leader. I don’t want to lead anyone, thank you very much.

I’ve had the growing suspicion that my mother was somehow losing control of her gift and that was what ultimately prompted her to leave and never come back. And I’m afraid I’m headed for the same fate. I remember seeing my mother’s distraught face while arguing with my father on the day she left. She was afraid even to touch my father to kiss him good-bye before she fled back to her family. I don’t know what I’d be walking into going to my mother’s family. She never spoke of them and told my father it was too dangerous for him to go back with her to see them. For all I know, they are all dead—my mother included.

The reader takes my hand, her voice soothing and calm. “Do not worry. Rest with the messages and take what you can from them. Let them bring you insight and add to your own wisdom. They are not meant to tell you exactly what will happen, and whatever you imagine now may not be what the cards wish for you to know.”

I stare at her delicate hand over mine and try to relax. I don’t know what to think about this reading. Panicking will do me no good, nor will griping.

I meet her steady gaze. “Thank you for the reading. I’ll think about it all.” I pull my hand away, rise to leave.

She nods at me in farewell. “Take care of yourself, Chloe.”

 Fuck. I walk to my car and pull my coat tighter around me to block the cold November wind. I have had a bad feeling that something was coming for the last few weeks, but I’d been studiously ignoring it. Why I had the brilliant idea to come get this reading right before Jorge and I fly to Scotland to meet his family, I have no idea. Obviously worry is somehow attractive to me.

The most pressing problem, though, is getting my poker face firmly in place before I get home. I don’t want to worry Jorge.

Buy links:

 Author Bio:

I like books that are funny and fun to read (and hot!) but also make me think or look at the world in a new way.

These days you’ll find me writing, pet sitting, juggling a number of freelance gigs, and reigning as my home’s domestic goddess. I live in the Midwestern U.S. with my husband, dog and cats. Alas, I have, as of yet, been unable to teach my husband how to purr.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday's How She Does It featuring Katya Armock

Free today on Amazon Kindle Healwoman       

1.      How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
 I don't have a specific method. Usually a character just starts talking in my head and everything grows from there. Sometimes I will have a dream about a character or the idea will develop as I'm drifting off to sleep or meditating.

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?
 Definitely the characters drive the plot. I am a dyed in the wool pantser, although the more books I write, the better I get at at least creating a bullet point outline. I also keep a list of questions that I want to answer at some point in the story.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
 It depends on the story. For my first novel, I thought I knew where it would end, and that scene ended up happening about 2/3rds through the final book. :) For my second novel I had no idea until I got there. For my current WIP I have a very specific ending in mind.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
 I do a mix of both. Although I'm more of an internet research kind of girl than a nonfiction book kind of girl. I love Google Earth where I can zoom in on a setting I have in mind. I also spend time at tourist and chamber of commerce websites to learn about settings I'm less familiar with.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
 Online. Although sometimes I use books, especially if I'm looking for more historical or academic research.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?
I tend to revise as I go along. I'll write maybe 30-60 pages, then go back to the beginning and revise and shape to better set up where I want to go next. I'll repeat this process over and over until I get to the end. Since I'm a pantser, I find this helps me keep the continuity of the narrative.

Katya Armock

To Hiss or to Kiss--steamy paranormal romance, Hidden Lines book 1
To Growl or to Groan--Hidden Lines book 2



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene - All Our Yesterdays - Pompeii By Janet Lane Walters

Before the opening scene, just to say Healwoman is free today at Amazon

Pompeii - from All Our Yesterdays by Janet Lane Walters

Estella watched the last of the funeral guests leave. Why did Caten have to die? Though much older than her, he'd been in good health until he'd collapsed while he'd toured the estates she'd inherited from her father. His body had been brought to his home in Rome for the burial. She was again alone, except for her distant cousin.

Blandon strode across the reception room and put his hands on her shoulders. She fought the urge to shudder. She had to hide her dislike of the man who now oversaw her estates.

"Dear cousin, take heart. I'll be your protector."

She drew away. "I wish to be alone to mourn my spouse."

He snorted. "Why mourn a man who surely bedded you but once? Or did he have vigor for more?"

She gulped a breath. Did he suspect? Her servant, Austina, was the only one who knew Estella had been a bride, but never a wife. "You speak of things you have no right to know."

He laughed. "Anger adds color to your face and makes your eyes sparkle. Daughter of an old man and wife of another. Let me show you passion."

"Leave it be. Be content to manage the estates and fill your coffers with coins. I doubt I will wed again."

He ran his hand along her arm. "A woman with your beauty and wealth won't be alone forever." Like a hound after a bone, he pulled her into an embrace and ground his mouth against hers. His tongue probed her lips. She jerked free.

"Estella, don't you see how passion overwhelms me?"

She retreated to the atrium and signaled one of the household guards. "Blandon, leave me. Send your reports and I will read them."

He smiled. "I'll leave, but I will return. Your lovely body will soon crave the attentions of a man."

She sank on a padded bench. His touch and his taste had made her ill. What would she do when he returned? Years ago, he had asked her father for her hand in marriage. Only her pleas had kept her father from agreeing to a betrothal. Her father had spoken to his good friend who had offered an alliance with his house. Caten had married her to protect her from Blandon's greed. Now his protection was gone.

* * * *

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - The Reward

The book has come to the end and the hero or and the heroine are ready for their reward. What they receive should be appropriate and a little bit of a surprise. All through the story you've kept that goal in mind. You keep asking yourself what the focus character wants. He or she has experienced that dreaded black moment when they are convinced the goal is gone forever. This usually follows the climax and should be played out for all that can be dragged out of this moment.

How do you as the writer reward the focus character for all the pain and agony he or she goes through. Well, you give him or her what they desire. But the goal may not always be what they really want. The hero or heroine might want revenge on the bad guy. He or she may want him dead and the chance comes to kill this person or to harm the villain in some way. But the realization comes that by doing so they are becoming the same as their opponent.

Sometimes beneath the stated goal there is some deeper thing the focus character wants. Right now I'm working on a story where the hero believes he wants a family and that appears to be his goal. What he really wants is the love of a particular woman. So what I'm struggling with is how when things look like this is a shoe-in, how to make him realize that and he might have the family he wants but will he have her love or is what's happening two lonely people forming a family without love.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration triggered by On Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner

When I read the sentences I came upon last night, I had one of those aha moments. "Shakespeare fits language to the speaker and the occasion as the best writers always do." Just think what every writer could do if they had this ability. I know I try and do not always succeed. Each character created is different from the other characters. I know I've read stories, especially when I'm looking at those from new writers and I think all the characters regardless of sex, age, and other factors sound the same as every other character in the scene. I've even written passages where the speakers could be interchanged.

A lesson well learned is to look at where the characters are coming from, their background, education and all those other bits that make them unique and different from the other people in your story. I've learned over the years to try to pull the skin of the characters I'm creating over my body, figuratively, but I then try to speak and act as they would in various situations. This may make the people around you, family and friends, think you have really gone off your rocker. This happens when you have this great insight into a character in the middle of dinner or somewhere public and what your imagination is showing you that you will need when you revise that last scene.

It's all right and hopefully they won't be embarrassed or tell others that she just hears voices. That part is true. So try to emulate Shakespeare and remember, "However splendid it may be, Shakespeare's language is finally subservient to character and plot."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters

Meander 1 - I have a website finally. Done by a friend's daughter it's really a great looking site and I'm so proud of her. If you want to take a look, remember, this is a work in progress and there will be changes coming along. As she was working on this, one of her comments was "I didn't know Janet had so many books." I didn't give her all the ones that were in the past, past and no longer available unless you want to buy a book from the seventies, So if you'd like to take a look, you'll find it here.

Meander 2 - NJRW conference was fun and interesting. The speakers were great and inspiring. Some of my friends were feeling sad that the conference was ending. This wasn't my feeling. I sort of thought, Vacation is over. I need to get home and put what I've learned into practice. Of course when I got home, I did nothing yet. Today I will. I came home exhausted. Always do and this year I came home with laryingitis. I guess I talked too much to too many people. So what else is new. Writers live a live with the creatures of their imagination. The really good thing was seeing old friends and being able to spent time with good friends, not to mention the vanilla vodka. Shocked and surprised some of the new old friends because I used some words they don't expect to hear from an old lady's mouth. The old, old friends didn't blink an eyelash since they have known me for years. I may be old enough to be their grandmother, almost but life hasn't been sweet and smiles. But I'd like to thank Diana Cosby who has visited this blog, Connie Brockway, Eloisa James and Margaret Mallory for their interesting and inspiring information about writing and being a writer. May you ladies reign long in the genre.

Now the writing. One more chapter to write on the current draft of Rekindled Dreams. This is the pivotal one and five drafts from the beginning and I've finally figured how the ending has to be. This is the hero's story. He has the most to win and the most to lose if he doesn't play the ending right. So I'll be off to get him into action. May he not blow his chance for a happy ending.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene - All Our Yesterdays, China by Janet Lane Walters

All Our Yesterdays - China

Xing-Xing could hardly contain her excitement. Today her silk merchant father, Huang Yu, returned from his travels. Two days ago, his messenger had arrived. Since then, the women and servants of the household had prepared for his home-coming. The house had been cleaned and her father's favorite dishes prepared.

She hurried to the garden to gather flowers. What gift would he bring his lowly daughter? He always found something special for her.

She had another reason for eager anticipation. Her oldest brother had taken Chu Hua, the youngest daughter of a city merchant, as his wife. The bride was Xing-Xing's age and she hoped they could be friends. For all her life, her days had been bound by noisy brothers who had no interest in the things she liked. Of the household women, only Ah Lam, youngest of the concubines, matched Xing-Xing's age. Between them lay an animosity with no reason to exist.

Xing-Xing straightened. Her second brother, Huang Hsia, slipped through the garden. His furtive glances caught her attention. He ran into the mulberry grove. Where once he'd been a happy and fun companion, since the departure of their father and elder brother, he had turned secretive and surly.
Before she had a chance to follow, Ah Lam crept from the house and hurried toward the trees.

As silently as possible, Xing-Xing followed. She moved from tree to tree until she heard their voices. Then, she edged closer and peered around a trunk. With a hand, she muffled a gasp.

Ah Lam grasped Huang Hsia's arms. "You must come to me as you have every night this lunar. My lotus craves your jade stem. How can you desert me? I need your vigor."

Huang Hsia jerked away. "Ah Lam, I love you. I want to be with you, but I can't. Father returns today. I must regain my honor."

"He is old. He is fat. His stem is a withered reed. Give me a child and he will leave me alone."
Huang Hsia evaded her grasping hands. "I will ask him to give you to me."

She scratched his face. "He won't. If he was dead--"

"Then my elder brother would rule the house. I cannot do what you ask. All I can do is ask my father for you."

"He will punish me. Would you see me beaten and cast out? Don't you desire me? What happened to your eagerness for my lotus? Even now your jade stem strains to pleasure me." She turned away. "I will find another man, one who is young and handsome, to pleasure me."

Xing-Xing heard the gate gong. She turned to run. Her brother grabbed her arm. "What are you doing here?"

His voice menaced. His gaze threatened. "Walking."

"If you say a word to anyone, I'll make you sorry."

She looked at him. "Why Ah Lam? There are women in the village."

"None so eager and as skilled."

"She belongs to father."

He nodded. "He gave her to me for one night so I could learn the ways of love. That wasn't enough. My heart yearns for her and hers for me."

Xing-Xing shook her head. "You may love Ah Lam, but she seeks to make mischief."

"You don't understand. You're only a girl."

She shook her head. "I'm a woman. Father seeks a husband for me." She broke free, ran to the garden for the basket of flowers she had picked. She reached the gate in time to see the procession. First came the palanquin bearing her elder brother and his bride. Her father rode in the second with a stranger. Xing-Xing sucked in a breath. Was the young and handsome man to be her husband?

Her father's wives and concubines gathered around him. Xing-Xing glanced at the women. Ah Lam stared at the stranger. A cat's smile bowed her lips. Xing-Xing wanted to slap the concubine.

After her father greeted the women, he called Xing-Xing to his side. "Star of my future happiness, I have a gift for you."

Her heart thudded. She kept her head bowed. Instead of presenting his companion, he drew a carved jade pendant from its silk wrappings. The chain was ivory, each link intertwined with the next. She couldn't see how they'd been joined.

"This unworthy girl thanks you. Such beauty brightens the day made radiant by your return."

She looked up. Her gaze locked with the stranger's. His heated stare stole her breath, her thoughts, her heart. He was no older than her eldest brother. Surely, he would be hers.

Her father grasped her arm. "Come and bid your Chu Hua welcome. Take her to the rooms prepared for them so she can see to her belongings."

Xing-Xing bowed. "I will gladly do this."

As they walked away, she felt the stranger's heated gaze on her back. She hugged the knowledge inside. He desired her, not Ah Lam. Why hadn't her father named him? Was the man observing her before he asked for her as his bride?

She took Chu Hua to the rooms on the other side of the sprawling compound. The other woman had a merry smile. When she entered the room, her eyes sparkled with delight. "How fortunate you are not to live in the city. My honored father's house there is crowded and our garden small."

Xing-Xing smiled. "The house and land came to my father when he married my mother. She was the only child of her house. The mulberry groves and silk worms were part of her dowry."

"Have you sisters?"

"Seven brothers. Fortunate is my father for he has many sons to care for his bones and venerate him when he dies."

"How fortunate you are. I have two brothers and four sisters. I'm but the second daughter to find a husband." Chu Hua pulled up her sleeve to reveal a line of scratches. "One of my sisters did this when she learned the honorable Huang Yu chose me for his son. What are the household's women like?"

"My mother is strict, but kind. All of the women except Ah Lam, my father's youngest concubine, are nice. She's greedy. Steals the presents my honorable father brings me and says I gave them to her. Stares at all the men like a cat sizing a mouse."

"I will watch for her."

"She hasn't given my father a son. The herb woman says Ah Lam knows ways to rid herself of an unwanted child."

Chu Hua nodded. "I have heard there are ways. How can she deny your father a son?" She smiled. "I think I'm with child. Your brother is a lusty lover. He comes to me every night, sometimes twice."

"Does it hurt?"

"One time. Then it's all pleasure."

Servants carried boxes into the room. Xing-Xing's oldest brother followed. He embraced Chu Hua and caressed her back. Xing-Xing hurried away. Would a man ever touch her with fire and tenderness? An odd feeling throbbed in her lotus. She closed her eyes and imagined the stranger's hands moving on her body.

"Xing-Xing, come. Time to serve the meal," her mother said. "There is no time for dreaming."

"Yes, Mother." Xing-Xing followed the maid who carried the soup tureen into the room where the men and boys had gathered at the large table. She ladled soup into the bowls. Other women brought the many dishes of food and heaping bowls of rice. Her brother and Chu Hua arrived. Her flushed cheeks brought teasing remarks from the women.

Xing-Xing barely ate. The stranger held her attention. How wonderful his scent. How melodious his voice.

"Wu Ping, do you think you can make scholars of these rowdy boys?" Huang Yu asked.

"I can but try. Not all boys have the knack of learning, but they can master enough skills to make them assets for the house of Huang."

Xing-Xing hid her disappointment. Not her husband-to-be. Only a tutor. Yet his clothes were fine and he looked more like a soldier than a scholar.

"Xing-Xing, would you show the teacher to his rooms," Huang Yu said. "See that he has all he needs."

* * * *

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Resolution

Now comes the fun. The crisis point has been reached and the focus character has made a decision. The story needs to be resolved in a way that makes sense. With resolution comes reward for the focus character. Does he or she obtain what they have been seeking during their quest? If they don't the question is Why? The reader needs to feel that sense of release and to think, "this is the way it should end." Hopefully every reader will think the end of the story is the only one that could be.

In the resolution of the story the writer needs to mold this is a way showing the reward given or not is appropriate. Loose ends should be tied up. This can be difficult and something is left dangling. A good friend of mine once wrote a very good story but there was something mentioned and I really wanted to know the answer to what might have been a toss away line. The resolution happened but that little statement bugged me. So I told her and when the book was reissued, she went back and gave me the answer I craved.

Most stories end with a single line that sums up the reward. This is sort of the same as that first line that starts the action. For me, this is always a struggle to make the line fit. Sure in a romance you could end on I love you. Or a mystery could end. The police took the criminal off to jail. This little tidbit should show the focus character is rewarded and realizes where he or she went wrong during the entire story.

There will be more exploration of the resolution next week.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration inspired by John Gardner

While reading On Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner, I came across this short passage. "Two things can keep the common reader going, argument or story." Had to think for a bit about what this meant. Engaging a reader is a must if the reader is going to continue writing and being read.

Recently I was reading a story that was well-written. Nothing wrong with the way the sentences were going and the story was a good one. But much of the story bored me and that was because of the repetitive nature of the internal dialogue. The characters thought the same things about each other through about two thirds or three quarters of the book and I found myself skipping those parts. Not a good way to keep the reader interested.

I've also read stories where there's been a lot of plot and good plot but the story has been too light to keep me reading. What do I mean by too light? There are only so many plots and it's what the writer makes of the story, the twists and turns that are unexpected that make at least me want to read on. Sometimes the story is so contrived a reader will shake their head.

So the moral of this to me was that the story must keep moving forward and if there is conflict between the characters there must be solutions to each argument or the story keeps rolling on the treadmill. So if your characters have the same argument or conflict and this doesn't change look for ways to change something, Or if the story lacks a forward movement toward the climax find ways to change an element.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters

Meander 1. Healwoman has been released by Books We Love. The cover is lovely and I hope this book does better there than it has in the past since this is a re-release. Code Blue is up for free today again and the last time I looked was sitting at 40 in suspense and at about 1200 in the free best seller list. May it continue to perk along. This has my favorite villain of all times.

Meander 2. Been thinking lately about all those members who once belonged to HVRWA and who have left the group. Some of them were brilliant writers and some good writers who could have made it. As I think of the names, I wonder if they gave up their dreams when they didn't find publication. Did they go on to write. I know a few of them continued to write and have continued to be published.  They left the group for many reasons. But the ones who gave up on their dreams often trouble me. Will they return to writing. Maybe and maybe not. I may never know, but wherever they are I hope they find a way to rekindle those dreams.

Meander 3. All about me, sort of. Actually about my writing. Am moving forward with Rekindled Dreams and am looking forward to finishing this book so I can finish the Amber Chronicles. Have a few bits to fit into the first three stories and the fourth one to write. Then I can finish the third of the alternate Egypt stories. Toth's Priest and the third of the Moonchild stories. Taurus this time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday's Excerpt from Loving Sarah by Julie Shelton

Owning Sarah will be available from beginning September 25.  It is the sequel to Loving Sarah, which was published in November of 2012.  It is available to Amazon,B & N, Kobobooks, Sony, Googleplay and others.  I am also enclosing the back cover  blurb for Loving Sarah, which you can use or not, as you desire.

 Back Cover Blurb for LOVING SARAH

Eight years ago Jesse Colter fled his small town, leaving behind eighteen-year-old Sarah Marshall, broken-hearted and devastated.  Now a retired Navy SEAL, he’s back and he wants only one thing—Sarah Marshall—preferably bound, naked, and on her knees before him.
She has never forgotten Jesse.  He’s been the object of all her sexual fantasies since she was fifteen, as well as the star of nightly dreams that have become increasingly erotic over the years.  So when he suddenly reappears in her life, she is torn.  Can she trust him not to hurt her, or will he once again break her heart?  Warily, she agrees to let him introduce her to his world—the world of bondage, Domination, and erotic slavery.  When he also introduces her to his best friend, Adam Sinclair, Sarah faces a daunting future of sexual submission to two powerful alpha males.
But Sarah faces an even bigger challenge.  Someone is stalking her.  Is it the old enemy who’s just been released from prison?  Or is it someone else from her past who is determined to destroy any chance she has at happiness?  Can Adam’s and Jesse’s love protect her?  Or will her world explode in a cataclysm of betrayal and violence that will destroy them all?

It’s been a month since Sarah Marshall was kidnapped and held at knife-point by her ex-fiance.  But Jesse Colter and Adam Sinclair, her two loving Doms, know that there is an even deadlier threat still out there—Ryder Malone.
He blames both Sarah and Jesse for sending him to prison eight years ago for attempted rape, and he’s determined to make them pay.  So, he begins a systematic campaign of terror and intimidation against them.  But the danger he poses doesn’t end there.
Set against the deepening love and commitment between Sarah, Jesse, and Adam, Owning Sarah is more than just a sexy, sensual, BDSM love story.  It is a harrowing race against time for Jesse, Adam, and a team of former SEALs to stop one of the biggest arms-for-drugs deals in U.S. history.  And to rescue Sarah before Malone sells her to a human trafficker and she’s lost to her men forever.

As soon as Sarah finished greeting the last man, Jesse moved in behind her, pulling her against his body, her back to his front. He ran his hands up her arms before settling them on her shoulders. At that blatant gesture of possession, all conversation died and six pairs of eyes bored into her. Wow. She was surrounded by eight strong, powerful, confident men. Men who had survived harsh, primitive conditions. Men who had experienced the brutality of combat and undertaken untold numbers of dangerous missions, all to keep America free. Men whose exploits would never be recognized or acknowledged, who were heroes in the truest sense of the word.
Men who gave new meaning to the term sexy, even if they weren’t particularly handsome. There was nothing handsome about Bulldog, for instance. Yet….wow. The sinuous, animalistic grace of his movements, the air of command he exuded were both undeniably sexy. To a man, these Spec Ops soldiers were tanned, fit, confident, powerful…masculine. These men were potent. The testosterone they exuded was so strong it was almost palpable, a living, breathing thing.
Nearly overcome by a sudden bout of near-crippling shyness, Sarah stiffened her spine and gave them what she hoped was a confident smile. “It’s lovely to meet you, and I hope you all can stay for dinner, although I’m not sure what we’ll have. We’ve been eating so much take-out lately, there’s nothing in the refrigerator but a bunch of science experiments on the properties of mold.”
“And beer,” Adam piped up. “There’s always plenty of that.”
“Right,” Sarah agreed tongue-in-cheek. “Science experiments on the properties of yeast.” Her smile faded. “Like I said, you’re all invited to stay for dinner. But why do I get the feeling that this is not a social call? You’re not here for dinner, are you? You’re here because of Ryder Malone.”
“I see we’ve come to the question and answer portion of the evening,” Jesse murmured, squeezing her shoulders gently before dropping a kiss on the top of her head.
“Speaking of beer,” Adam interjected brightly, turning on his heel and moving toward the kitchen, “who wants one?” Everyone except Sarah and Jesse followed him out there. Turning her to face him, he let go of her arms and lifted his right hand to tuck an errant, mink-brown curl behind her ear.
She tilted her chin to look up at him. “This is about a hell of a lot more than just vandalizing my bedroom, isn’t it? What’s going on, Jesse?”
His fingers stilled, warm against her skin, sending a shiver through her. Aware of the undisguised interest on the parts of the men filtering back into the room, beer bottles in hand, they struggled to fight the sudden heat blazing between them. “Don’t worry about dinner, baby,” Jesse said in an effort to divert her attention, “It’s all taken care of. I’ve ordered a Pig-Out Feast for Twelve from Porky’s Bar-B-Q.”
“But,” she spread her hand in confusion, “there’s only nine of us.”
He just chuckled. “Obviously you haven’t seen these guys eat. Anyway, they’ll be deliverin’ it in around”—he glanced at his watch—“half an hour or so, so be on the look-out while we finish up—”
“Finish up what?” she interrupted quietly, refusing to be diverted. “Answer my questions, Jesse, and stop trying to protect me from the big, bad world out there. I know what’s out there, remember? I see it every day in court. So, why are they here? What could Ryder Malone possibly have done to merit a response like this? An entire SEAL team? Really? Don’t you think that’s just a little bit over the top? Like sending a Cruise missile to take down a gnat?”
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, they’re no longer SEALs,” he offered lamely, lifting one shoulder in a slight shrug.
“Oh, well, that’s certainly a relief.”
“Who are they, Jesse? Aside from the biggest, scariest, meanest-looking, bad-ass, uber-macho bunch of guys I’ve ever laid eyes on? Some sort of clandestine, super-covert, black-ops commando group that’s so Top-Secret not even the President knows about them?”
Everyone froze. Seven pairs of eyes were suddenly riveted on her. Her mouth dropped open as realization sank in.
“Oh. My. God!”
Her entire body solidified.
“Holy shit,” Bill Payton muttered, his beer bottle halted in mid-air, halfway to his mouth.
“Told you she was smart,” Jesse muttered back.
Sarah just stared up at him, dumbfounded.
“It’s okay, baby.”
“It’s okay? It’s okay?” Seized with a sudden need to shiver, she crossed her arms over her breasts. “How can this possibly be okay? What, exactly, makes this okay?”
“Well, for one thing, I’m pretty sure the President knows about us,” Jay offered helpfully, patting her shoulder as he passed her on his way to the couch.
“Looks like she’ll be coming to the meeting.” Adam joined them, grinning, holding out a frosty bottle of beer. She just stared at it pointedly until, shrugging, he withdrew it.
“What meeting?” she wanted to know.
“The meetin’ that’s startin’ right now,” Jesse said grimly, grabbing her by the elbow and steering her unresistingly toward the sofas and chairs gathered around the stone fireplace.
“C’mon, sweet pea.” Adam latched onto her other elbow and they led her to one end of a brown leather sofa where they sat with her tucked snugly between them. The other six men spread out on the other sofa across from them, the oversized ottoman, and in the two club chairs.
Jesse turned his attention to Bill Payton. “Okay, Wildfire, it’s your show,” Jesse said before relaxing back against the cushions himself. Conversation died as they all turned their attention to Bill “Wildfire” Payton, who cleared his throat, and looked directly at Sarah. “Sorry to bring this to your doorstep, Sarah. But it appears that your boy Malone is one seriously bad dude.”

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday's How She Does it featuring Julie Shelton

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

I created the hero of my first book, Loving Sarah, and its upcoming sequel, Owning Sarah, when I thought of the name Jesse Colter.  I spent months just thinking about what someone named Jesse Colter would look like, sound like, BE like.  I knew he would be part Native American.  I knew he would be a capable, confident, sexy, alpha male, overcoming a brutal childhood to become a man of loyalty, honor deeply in love with the heroine.  What I didn’t know until I was actually halfway through the first draft of the book, was that he was also a Dominant.  Sometime during the four years it took me to write Loving Sarah, I discovered BDSM, and that just answered a whole bunch of questions I hadn’t been able to answer about Jesse’s personality and his interactions with the heroine.  Once I went back and introduced that element into the story, I knew I had solved the mystery.  But then I had another dilemma.  What to do with Adam Sinclair, Jesse’s best friend and former SEAL teammate.   He was just as good a hero as Jesse.  And he proved it by not staying in the secondary role I had assigned him to, but by taking over and exerting equal claim over the heroine, having fallen in love with her himself just by hearing Jesse talk about her over the years.


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?

In the case of both books, the characters came first.  I had a general idea of where I wanted the first book to go.  But if I hadn’t pared it down and deleted a lot of scenes, the finished book would have weighed eighty pounds.  Fortunately, all of those deleted scenes ended up in the sequel and made for a much better story over the two-book arc than if I’d tried to address all the elements in one book.  So, if you’re reading this, save EVERYTHING!  You’ll find a place for it eventually.



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

 I vaguely know how the story will end.  That being said, there were still a lot of surprises in store for me as I wrote, not the least of which was the replacement of the original villain in Loving Sarah with an equally plausible secondary villain, thus making a sequel necessary.


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

I definitely have books of house plans sitting around, as well as decorative arts magazines.  And the small town setting was an amalgam of all the small southern towns I’ve either lived in or visited over the years.


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

If it’s a fairly quick question, I now use the internet.  Before that there were libraries and books, both of which are on the wane.  The novel I am currently working on is a Medieval erotic romance, which I actually wrote twenty years ago—before the internet, so all the research for that was done with books.  Copious amounts of research, using many, many books over many, many years.  Thanks to the deep research these books afforded me, I know much more about the middle ages than the internet could possibly tell me.



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

I revise as I go along.  Sometimes I re-write a sentence or paragraph a dozen or more times, looking for the best way to phrase what I want to say.  After I have completed the book, I read it from the beginning, making further changes as I go.  Then I repeat that process, this time looking for errors.  Then I do it one last time, reading it out loud to check the flow, changing what’s awkward.  Then I cross my fingers, shut my eyes, and press SEND.






Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene from Babylon by Janet Lane Walters

This is the second of the worlds from All Our Yesterdays

Istari smoothed the clay on the tablet and once again, checked her observations of the stars. The army had camped outside the city for nearly a week. Soon, they would storm the gates. With a sigh, she shut out the cries of the hungry and frightened people. She could do nothing to soothe their fears and she'd given all the food the temple could spare.

She choked back a cry of despair and raised the stylus to mark her findings. She checked her observations against those provided by the astrologers.

"Alas, poor Babylon. Your night has come. War is a part of life. Countries wax and wane like Sin, the moon. Sleep well, my beloved land until the dawning of your new day."

Though she felt tempted to scrape the tablet, she knew nothing could change the approaching time. During her learning days in the temple of Marduke, she had become a reader of the future and a student of the past. Her own chart showed she would leave the city of her birth as a prisoner. She carried the tablet to the main room of the temple and placed it on the altar before the statue of the god.

Lamaru, the youngest of the priestesses, ran from the entrance to the living quarters. "Istari, Ishtar-ishtaru sent me to find you."

Mardu, priestess and kin to the rulers of Babylon, stormed toward them. "Why does she want to see this one? Does she think she can name one who has no family as her successor?" Her fleshy fingers extended into claws. "Istari, you are not fit to serve Marduke. Who knows what your parents were? You were a foundling."

Istari eyed the other woman. Why hadn't she lost weight the way the other priestesses, priests and servants of Marduke had in the days since the siege began? Mardu's lush curves were a mockery.
"Ishtar-ishtaru is my foster mother. Why wouldn't she want her child's presence at her death?"

"She must choose her successor, yet she remains silent."

"As is her choice."

Mardu glared. "We will see who is named Ishtaru. Before another day passes, I will rule the temple and you will be driven into the streets where you belong." She marched away.

Istari released a sigh. At least Mardu would be gone for hours while she searched for kinsmen to gain their support in her quest for power. Those relatives may have fled the city. Even if they pressured Ishtar-ishtaru to name Mardu as high priestess, the city's fate was written in the stars. The king and his advisors were responsible for the trouble. For months, the astrologers and diviners had given warnings the rulers had ignored.

"Don't listen to her," Lamaru said. "She envies your knowledge and your beauty. She wants to be high priestess so she can command reluctant men to her bed. She's always bringing some new slave to her sleeping chambers, but she really wants those of noble blood as her lovers."

Istari frowned. "If she's not a virgin, how will she perform the Tammuz rite?"

"She whispered to one of the others of the ways to appear untouched."

Istari shook her head. Through Mardu, the corruption of the rulers had tainted the temple. But it mattered not. The day of the city and the temple drew to an end.

She scurried down the hall leading to the sleeping chambers where her foster mother awaited death. She paused in the doorway and struggled to remain calm. Ishtar-ishtaru lay on a low bed. Her skin was ashen. Except for an abdomen swollen in imitation of pregnancy, she appeared skeletal.

Bel-mar-tammuz, her foster father and consort of the high priestess, knelt beside the bed. The illness of his beloved had aged him. His noble face was scored by lines and his dark eyes, heavy with grief.
Istari knelt beside him. "Foster mother, I am here."

"And the stars," Ishtar-ishtaru asked. "What say they of the future?"

"Alas, the dark night comes for Babylon."

"And for you?"

Istari sighed. "My fate is to be a captive and to serve Marduke no more."

"Nay, you will honor him in your heart." The dying woman smiled. "Never have I doubted you or your love. Ah, Bel-mar, remember the small girl you found in the market and brought here to ease my sorrow over my barren state?"

Bel-mar touched her arm. "She became the child of our heart and the joy of our life."

Ishtar-ishtaru sighed. "Remember how her big eyes peered into every corner of the temple. Question after question. Always seeking to know what and why."

"We taught her," Bel-mar said. "She learned to read and write before most boys begin their schooling."

"My child, you have given us laughter and fulfillment," Ishtar-ishtaru said. "Would that we could give you the same, but these days aren't for pleasure. Bel-mar, the necklace."

Istari's eyes widened. For the first time in the years since she'd come to the temple, her foster mother's neck was bare. The symbol of her office was in Bel-mar's hand. The temple seal dangled from the single row of beads strung on a metal wire. "I'm not worthy. No one knows my origins."

"Who better than one of the people to serve Marduke in his final hours in Babylon," Ishtar-ishtaru said. "Bel-mar, fasten the seal for my fingers have no strength."

Istari blinked tears from her eyes. "I will treasure your gift and serve the god with joy. Go soon, mother of my heart. Do not linger to witness the end." She kissed the older woman's cheek and fled the room. In the hall, she leaned against the wall and waited for her tears to stop.

When she reached the main room of the temple, Lamaru saw the necklace. "She chose you."

A group of priests and priestesses gathered around Istari. "Is she gone?" one asked.

"She lives but barely."

"What would you have us do?" one of the priests asked. "This is no time for a gathering of the nobles for the Tammuz ceremony."

Istari nodded. "There will be no rite of passage for me. You've seen the chart and heard the prophecies. I would see everyone depart the temple. Hide in the city. The gates will fall by morning and by evening the invaders will hold the temple. I will face them alone for 'tis written in my stars that I will go into captivity."

Though many protested, Istari exhorted them to leave. As she watched the departures, she wondered if she would see any of her companions again. She knelt before Marduke and sent wishes for their safety on the winds.

"Istari, let me stay." Lamaru knelt at the altar. "I have no one and nowhere to go."

Istari nodded. The young priestess was another foundling. A bond of friendship had grown between them. "If I can, I'll protect you. Come, let us take bread, cheese and beer to Bel-mar and sit with Ishtar-ishtaru."

Throughout the night, they kept a vigil over the dying priestess. Of Mardu, there was no sign. Istari prayed her enemy had found refuge with her kin.

As the first rays of the sun brightened the sky, her foster mother breathed her last. Bel-mar rent his clothes and streaked his face with ashes from the fire.

As the day moved forward, the sounds of fighting drew near. Screams and the clash of metal on metal roused Istari from her silent grief. She rose and walked to the door.

"Where are you going?" Lamaru asked.

Istari turned. "Even on a day as evil as this, duty must be done. I have neglected the god and he must be served." She hurried to the main room of the temple to perform the neglected duties. With care, she drew the curtains around the painted statue of Marduke and knelt at his feet to beg forgiveness.
The shouts grew louder. Screams pierced the air. When she peered around the curtain, her hand flew to her mouth. The Assyrian soldiers were expected, but Mardu's presence in their midst was not. The plump priestess stood between two men in the fore of the invaders. Istari stepped into view.

"That's her," Mardu shouted. "Istari, the false priestess."

One of the men strode toward Istari. The other held Mardu against his side. Istari's breath caught in her throat. The warrior was handsome with well-developed muscles. When he seized her arm, she felt as though lightning pierced her core.