Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday's Blurbs feature Books by Ginger Simpson #MFRWauthor #Historical #suspense


1. First Degree Innocence:   (Prison Suspense inspired by my time as a Correctional Officer) 

 Carrie Lang’s sheltered life ends with a prison sentence for involvement in a bank robbery. Her arrest comes on the day she’s called in sick and stayed inside, so she can’t explain how an eye-witness describes her in great detail, down to the make and model of her car. 

A terrible mistake has been made, and her insistence of innocence falls on deaf ears. Even her fellow inmates don’t believe her as it’s a claim they all make. Alone in the world, she has no one to turn to for help, and not a single soul to campaign for her freedom…at least until she makes a valuable friend.

In the meantime, a plan for retribution is brewing, and naïve Carrie finds herself smack dab in the middle of an evil scheme concocted by the prison bully. A ten year sentence seems mild when she’s threatened with death for refusing to participate. Can Carrie find a way out of this horrible nightmare, or is she destined to spend her days locked in terror, isolation, and the cold gray interior of prison walls?

2:  Yellow Moon:  (Western Historical inspired by my love of the genre)

Yellow Moon, a Lakota maiden, accompanies her family to the Sun Dance and becomes promised to a Santee warrior who’ll soon be chief. While accompanying Thunder Eyes’ clan back to his tribe, she and the other women are stolen by the Crow, and while in Plenty Coup’s camp is told she’ll become his second wife rather than be a slave. She finds friendship and help at the hands of his first wife, a Cherokee captive called Pretty Shield.
When Thunder Eye’s comes to rescue his betrothed, she begs him to take her newfound friend along, and the two women eventually become sisters-in-law. When the Crow come to extract their revenge, fate changes their destiny in a big way. 

3:  Time Tantrums:  (A pioneer wife and a modern day attorney involved in a time-travel experience.)

Mariah Cassidy awakens in the twentieth century. Confined in a pristine environment, hooked to tubes and beeping machines, she’s scared, confused and wondering why everyone keeps calling her Mrs. Morgan. Who is the strange man who keeps massaging her forehead and telling her everything is going to be all right?

Taylor Morgan tries to focus on her surroundings through a blinding headache. The patchwork quilt, the water basin, and the archaic room don’t strike a familiar chord. Her mouth gapes when a handsome man waltzes into the room, calls her darling, and expresses his delight that she’s on the road to recovery.

Clearly something is amiss.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday's Guest - Ginger Simpson - Writing style #MFRWauthor #writing #research

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?
 My stories jump into my mind, inspired by a character already named and they share with me.  The majority have historical western ties.  I have zero control other than researching facts and lingo.
1.      How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?


They just appear with a story to tell.
2. Do your characters come before the plot?
 Yes....hand and hand.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?


No.  Writing is like telling myself a story.  I never know where I'm going till I get there.
   
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?


No.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
 Both.  I usually check my facts on the web several times because I've found conflicting info.  I have several research books on the Lakota Sioux.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end? 


I use my characters ideas and put the story into my words.  They lead the way and I follow.

 7. Where can we find you on the net?
Day?


  I am RVing a lot these days so I've let my own website and blogs go.  You can find me on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/author/ginger simpson.  I also have a featuring page on my
publisher's page at Books We Love (BWL).



Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday's Second Scene - The Temple of Fyre #MFRWauthor #fantasy #sensual

Ria stood at the window of her chamber and stared into the inner courtyard. She glanced at the sky. Before long, the sun would approach midday. That moment marked the time of her final challenge before becoming a priestess of the Temple of Fyre.

Though she’d bathed before going to bed, she smelled the scent of fear on her skin. She wet an herb-scented sponge and washed. As she donned the white caftan worn by all acolytes, her hands shook. Once she completed the test, she would be entitled to wear the scarlet robes of a high priestess. Only Malera, and the two priestesses too old to work in the circles, were so honored.

Her stomach clenched and she feared she would be ill. She rubbed her hands on a towel and sat on the edge of her bed to await the summons to join the circle. Once she reached the temple’s inner chamber, she would take her place on the topmost tier and direct the flame as Malera ordered. For a moment, the room wavered. She inhaled deeply and sought to calm her stuttering heart.

The whisper of sandals on the stones of the floor brought Ria to her feet. She stared at the doorway. Malera parted the beaded curtain. “Come. ‘Tis time.”

Ria’s hands tightened. She walked toward the older woman. “Are you sure I’m ready for the trial?”

Malera smiled. “I chose you from the slavers’ pens. For five years, I’ve nurtured and honed your abilities. You are the daughter I dared not birth.”

Ria took the chief priestess’ hand and brushed her lips across the back. She tasted anger roiling inside her mentor. A part of Ria recoiled from the strength of Malera’s emotions. Who had angered the chief priestess? Would the fermenting fury guide Malera’s choice for the test?

“When I call fire from the stones, how will I use it?”

Malera’s thin smile increased Ria’s inner quaking. A glint of smug satisfaction in the chief priestess’ dark eyes tinted Ria’s thoughts with uneasiness. What did Malera plan? Suddenly, Ria was afraid. She looked away to keep her mentor from reading these emotions.

“Do not fret. The task will be within your abilities.”

“When you joined the circle for the first time, what was your task?”

Malera pursed her lips. “A most enjoyable one. My mentor bade me cleanse the temple of the malcontents who tried to destroy the rights of the women who use the fyrestones. Though several of the women escaped, I succeeded in destroying most of the rebels, leaving only those who had fled years before for my mentor to purge.”

Ria frowned. “What did the malcontents do?”

“They gave fyrestones to men who were unfit to use the crystals, and to women who were untrained in the proper ways of this temple.”

“How could anyone not trained here use any crystal other than a white?”

“The rebel priestesses diluted their power. They joined with men. They permitted studs to use the stones. They were fools. A wise woman never cedes her power. She does not share control with anyone. As the only temple in the land, all must obey us.” She lifted Ria’s chin and gazed into her eyes.

Malera’s eyes narrowed. They compelled obedience. Something inside Ria made her resist the compulsion. Confusion filled her thoughts. Acid flowed in her gut. A need to rebel arose, but how could she act against the chief priestess’ guidance? The older woman rescued her from forced service in one of the pleasure houses. Malera had shown the kindness Ria’s mother had withheld. Ria’s hands clenched. Just because the old man chosen as her betrothed died under mysterious circumstances, she’d been declared cursed and sold to the slavers. No one had cared about her fate until Malera.

The chief priestess released Ria’s chin. “’Tis time for you to face the test, as all who are selected to serve the temple must.”

Ria nodded. “I am ready.” As the knowledge of how she wanted to use the crystal solidified, her stomach fluttered. Even if she must defy her mentor, she would use the stone to help, not harm.

Malera led Ria into the large rotunda where those who came to petition the priestesses waited for a summons. Tiles reflecting the colors of the fyrestones covered the floor. Benches lined the side walls. Tables where the petitioners placed gifts of food, cloth, spices, and gems, flanked the doorway to the inner chamber. Here also, the tithes from each hamlet were collected.

When Malera parted the curtain made from strings of white crystals like the one Ria had used to light the candles, her stomach clenched. She stepped inside and faced the circle. Three priestesses stood on the first tier and Ria studied the fyrestones in the depressions carved in the limestone of the circle. They glowed with power.

The chief priestess led Ria to the topmost tier where a single scarlet crystal glittered in the cup. With a flourish, the chief priestess handed Ria the scarlet stone. “This is the one you used in practice and have imprinted with your spirit. Use the crystal well.” She retreated to the base of the tiered circle. “Prepare for the testing.”

Ria drew a deep breath. She noticed a glint of scarlet in Malera’s hand and wondered why. Ria raised her crystal. The sun edged over the opening in the roof above the circle. “Let us begin.”

The three women holding yellow fyrestones called fire. Then two spires of orange appeared. Ria stared at the stone balanced on her palm. The sun centered in the opening. She basked in the warmth. Her crystal glowed and a flame rose. With care, she blended the yellow and orange tongues of flame with those from the scarlet.

“Seek the hamlet of Gydon,” Malera said.

Ria molded the fire into a sheet. A map of the land from the ocean shore in the south to the northern mountains appeared. Using a finger of fire, she sought the farming hamlet near the hills beyond both wastes and the grove. Houses appeared, then people, mostly women and children. Three elderly men and several youths led scraggly beasts to a pasture beyond the walls. Some of the buildings looked as though they’d been scorched by fire in the past. The gardens were ill tended. The people looked beaten. Ria smiled. She could help them.

“This is your task,” Malera said. “For years, the hamlet of Gydon has failed to send the tithe to the temple. You will destroy the fields, the flocks, the herds, and the orchards, to force the people to leave.”

“Where are the men?” Ria asked.

“Sold into slavery to pay the tithe. Twenty years ago, there were those living near Gydon who attempted to use the fyrestones in ways opposed to the chief priestess’ dictates. I cleansed the temple of their ilk, but three remained until my predecessor challenged them and won. Gydon must become a lesson for all the people of Fyre. They must see what happens to those who defy me.”

Ria held the flames steady. “How can those who remain pay the tithe? Don’t you see how poor the people are?”

“They have children to sell. Young girls for the temple. Older girls, women, and boys, to serve in the pleasure houses. Destroy the flocks, fields, herds, and orchards. Lay waste to all. Show the hamlets of Fyre what happens to those who refuse to pay the tithe.”

Defiance built within Ria. How could she use the flames to punish the innocent? “Do any of the rebel priestesses still live?”

Malera smiled. “They are dead and their studs with them. Do as I command.”

“Priestesses should use fire to help. I’ve visited the scriptorium and have read many scrolls. What you tell me to do is wrong.” Ria saw the thin line of scarlet flame flow from Malera’s hand. Ria felt the chief priestess’s attempt to use the fyrestone she’d been given. “No.” Ria braced and fought her mentor.

The gathered flames coalesced. The pictures faded. Spires of yellow, orange, and scarlet, shot higher and higher until they filled the opening in the roof. For an instant, Ria faltered. A blazing arrow of scarlet shot toward her. She felt a burn along her skin. With determination, she gathered her waning strength and held against the battering of Malera’s mental thrusts.

Ria staggered. Screams echoed in her head, as one by one, the priestesses fell from the link. When the flames died, she saw the fallen women. Were they alive, or had her defiance killed them? She held her breath until they stirred. She looked down. The crystals in the cups of the circle were blackened cinders.

Malera moved toward the circle. “Traitor. Even before the slavers brought you to Rosti, I chose you as my successor. When you were a child, I watched you in the flames. I saw you grow. I sent fire to kill the old man they wanted you to marry. And so, you came to me. I have nurtured and cherished you, and betrayal is how you repay my care.”

Ria left the top tier and made her way down the levels. “I cannot harm the innocent for any reason. You are evil.”

Malera fisted her hands on her hips. “You have betrayed not only me, but the temple. There are no stones to replace the ones you turned into cinders.”

Ria met the glare from the chief priestess’ dark eyes. “I did what I was meant to do.” She stepped through the beaded curtain and strode across the rotunda. The slap of sandals on the tiles came from behind her. Gooseflesh rose on her skin.

“We have been betrayed,” Malera cried. “Acolytes and priestesses, join me. Drive her from the temple. Stone her. As was done in the past, the temple must be cleansed of those who deny the proper ways.”

Terror gripped Ria’s shoulders in a vise. She heard the footsteps of those who followed. Though cries for flight beat steadily in her thoughts, she refused to show her fear. Ria reached the outer door and stepped into the lane. The first rock thudded against her back and drove the breath from her lungs. She staggered, but managed to stay on her feet.

As though the flames she’d sent skyward had triggered a solar flare, the sun brightened. Ahead of her, the wide lane leading to the temple was deserted. She glanced over her shoulder and knew she would never reach the market square before the women were upon her. Panic engulfed her. She ran. Rocks slammed into her body. One smacked her legs. She fell. The caftan tore. On hands and knees, she slid across the rough cobbles of the path.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday's Writer's Tip.- The People #MFRWauthor #amwriting #characters


You've started the incident that can be good or bad. Remember what is bad for one character can be good for another.

How the character responds to the incident makes you look to see if he's receiving or sending. Each will make him react in a different way. These are value judgments and the character must make a choice. If one character has a distaste for being hugged, think of how he would react to one. If he welcomes the human touch, he will react in a different way. Depending on which kind of reaction you choose, you must show the character functioning so the reader can understand.

How does the character m ake his judgment call? There are things you need to know about your character. You need to know the why. You need to discover the reasons behind this reaction. So you have to deal with the facts and that comes next.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday - Looking at Heroes - Beta Man #MFRWauthor #Heroes #Beta man


Now we've dismissed the Alpha man as a hero since he has some unheroic traits, let's look at the Beta man. He will be sympathetic and not try to take over. He makes a great friend and someone who will keep the heroine's secrets. Sounds nice but as a hero, he can be weak and lacking.  So what can we do? Not Alpha or Beta as heroes.

A Beta hero can be pushed around. He can be too sympathetic.  As a friend he will be wonderful,

Monday, June 19, 2017

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #Poem #writing

Meander 1 - Poem

You called today
And filled a need
I know I'm not forgotten
With friends going
In rapid haste
From where I am.
I was blue.
Thanks for hearing
My silent call.
I feel better now.

Meander 3 - Reading - I'm re-reading a collection of books by a single author. Bujold creates a wonderful world with characters who are interesting and a world that though foreign draws me in. Atevi and their world and I feel as if I'm learning so much.

Meander 3 - Writing - I have really slowed down but the rough draft is finished and if I could get rid of this neck pain I could move forward rapidly. There are six more of those chapters to type in but typing makes the neck ache. This too will pass.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday's Book - Temple of Fyre #MFRWauthor #fantasy

Temple of Fyre (Island of Fyre Book 1)




Sold by her family to the priestesses of the Temple of Fyre, Ria soon masters using each of the four fyrestones, white, yellow, orange and scarlet. Her curiosity leads her to the archives and there, she learns things that disturb her. There are no men serving as priests but in the past there were. Men are kept in the harras where the priestesses visit. On the day of her testing she is ordered to perform a task she dislikes and refuses to destroy a town. Many of the priestesses fall into unconsciousness. Melera, the chief priestess, beats and banishes Ria for the carrion crows to consume.

Ari was abandoned as a child and found by two elderly firestone miners. He has pursued this and is the best of the finders. He goes to the temple to sell the stones he has gleaned. On leaving, Ria attempts to steal the fyrestone he has worn since the day he was found. He thinks she is a boy and a thief and he takes her to his room at the inn. On discovering her identity, he refuses to turn her over to the priestesses and they leave town. They are searching for the fabled blue fyrestones. They also learn to use them they must be bonded physically, emotionally and spiritually. Can they learn to master the blue stones and defeat Malera so they can rule the temple with love and understanding?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday's Blurbs feature Books by Karla Stover #mfrwauthor #mystery #history

From Tacoma Curiosities: Geoduck Derbies, The Whistling Well of the North End, Alligators in Snake Lake and More: When the Northern Pacific Railroad laid its final tracks within the fledgling hamlet of Tacoma, it brought opportunity and wild characters by the car full. Seemingly overnight, the Puget sound village transformed into a booming metropolis and eccentric playground with its fair share of growing pains. On one unlucky evening, residents awoke to the cries of a man who fell into the sewers after a road collapsed. Tacoma’s first school avoided demolition for a time thanks to a band of enterprising tramps who converted the place of learning into the Hotel de Gink, complete with unique minstrel shows. . . . these and many more stories [are part] of the quixotic and curious history of the City of Destiny.

From: Murder: When One Isn’t Enough: When Mercedes Mackaill has a month off work in which to house and dog sit at a waterfront home, she soon finds that too much of her own company palls. Then the body of an old woman is pulled from the water in front of where she is staying and Mercedes discovers she’d talked to the woman just days before the drowning. An unexpected meeting with Dorsey Finch, the victim’s tenant, leads to [their investigating] the woman’s strange past—a story reaching back to 1940-s Hollywood and a well-known house on Nob Hill in San Francisco.

From A Feather for a Fan: In the late 1870s, twelve-year old Hildy Bacom and her family leave Pennsylvania and head west to New Tacoma in Washington Territory, a community that is barely four years old [and] with a population of approximately one hundred and fifty. New Tacoma is very different from Pennsylvania, but gradually Hildy adjusts to her new life and makes friends with some unusual people: Mrs. Money, who runs her store with a parrot on her head; Miss Rose, a lady of questionable reputation; and especially Nell Tanquist. With Nell or alone, Hildy has adventures—with a bear, a skunk, and a lost Chinese baby, among others. Then Hildy’s life is complicated by two unexpected events: her growing feelings for the French-Indian boy Samuel, and her cousin, Elsie, who arrives unexpectedly with a problem no one will talk about. The challenges of hew new life force Hildy to draw upon inner resources she didn’t know she had.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday's Guest - featuring Karla Stover - Heroes, Heroines and Villains #MFRWauthor #Villains #Heroes

  To kill a conversation, tell people you’re a history nut. Generally, their eyes glaze over. I don’t know why I am so attracted to ye olde days. I certainly wouldn’t want to live without modern medicines and conveniences, but history it is in my writing—both fiction and non-fiction.
     When I wrote my two murder mysteries, I set them back a mere twenty-five years to avoid what I call “the cop-out” of using computers and cell phones to ferret out clues. I’ve noticed a lot of writers are doing that now. My first historical fiction book, A Feather for a Fan, took me to Tacoma in the 1870s, and I had the fun of reading local newspapers from the period, striving for accuracy. I’ve read so many old newspapers, magazines, and memoirs, I’m really critical when reading today’s historical fiction. That being said, if it is well-written, I will read anything and try to pick up helpful tidbits. The one exception is Sci-fi. I don’t like it and have never seen Star Wars. How’s that for being a total Luddite? The closest I come to the genre is a good ghost story, and even they “harken back” to another time. Sadly, that genre seems to be out of favor.

     I’ve been asked if I’m a fount of ideas, do my fingers flow over the keys ( I wish ), and which characters I prefer to write? Heroes are the hardest for me; I find it difficult to create a sensitive but manly man. To do so, I try and give him as little dialogue as possible because I can’t think like a man in order to come up with realistic dialogue. I have been known to eavesdrop on men talking at coffee shops, but mostly for my heroes, actions speak louder than words. For descriptions, I think of my favorite actors. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Take Brad Pitt’s features, one by one: eyebrows and narrow eyes that slant down at the corners, a nose that flares out at the nostrils, and a thin upper lip and full lower lip. The description doesn’t sound that great, but, oh, the package

     Villains are fun but it is important to give them some good traits; even serial killer Ted Bundy worked on a suicide hotline. Mrs. Danvers in the book and movie, Rebecca was wonderful. I love, when she’s talking to the second wife: “You're overwrought, madam. I've opened a window for you. A little air will do you good.” Yikes! It’s a second story window.


     My heroines are mostly me, which doesn’t always work out well.  Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes was one of my heroes because he was plain talking. Unfortunately, I’ve been known to make my women sound like him—a bit cynical. Like author Gil McNeil, I put most of my sarcasm in inner dialogue, but it’s something of which I’m always aware.

     In one of the Anne of Green Gables book, Anne is writing a story to enter in a competition. She tells her neighbor, Mr. Harrison, about the story, saying her heroine isn’t very unmanageable. The Mr. Harrison doesn’t understand and probably most non-writers don’t know that our characters quickly take on their own personalities, and manipulating them isn’t always easy. A friend of mine who is a Tarot card reader read the cards for the protagonist, Mercedes, in my first murder mystery, Murder on the Line, and nailed the way Mercedes was emerging, but the description wasn’t how I had envisioned her.

     A Feather for a Fan came out just before Christmas. The heroine is a young girl, the hero is a teenage boy who is part French and part Native American, and the villains are distances and time. I’m working on the sequel and the villain is a smuggler—much more traditional.

     I have a blog on Blogspot, a website on weebly, and a Twitter account but no time to keep them up. I’m always available on Facebook under my name, Karla Stover (that’s pretty easy). The disadvantage to writing is that it is a lonely occupation, so I’m always glad to hear from someone.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday's First and Second Scenes - Murder and Herbal Tea #MFRWauthor #cozy mystery #herbal tea

A Bridal Bouquet Planned

During the second week of June, Lars arrived in the Hudson River village where I live and where he had a home. The houses in Santa Fe had sold quicker than he expected but he’d kept the ski lodge for his family and mine to use.
The time had come for our plans to marry to reach fruition. Though I suggested we elope, Lars wanted a wedding. I gave in to his desire. We set the date for a Wednesday in mid-August. While discussing where to live, a house I’d admired located just two blocks from my “Painted Lady” came on the market. Lars and I purchased the house jointly using my attorney for the deal. That’s when the problems began.
Lars called me on a warm June morning. “Katherine, are you free tomorrow?”
“I’ve nothing planned.”
He released a long breath. “Call Richard and have him meet us at Barnes and Jones.
“Why?”
“George is upset. He thinks we need some kind of prenuptial agreement.”
I sighed. While I’m no romantic, the thoughts of legal squabbling made me uneasy. “Must we?”
Lars laughed. “Wouldn’t want George to appear in the middle of the ceremony and protest.”
“I’ll call Richard. What time?”
“One o’clock.”

* * * * *
By two thirty on Wednesday, a scream rumbled through me, one I couldn’t let loose. Lars’ attorney droned on in a voice void of expression. Why had I agreed to this meeting? I looked across the wide, highly polished table at the man who would be my husband six weeks from today. Tall, tanned with a craggy face and hair now more gray than blond. His blue eyes twinkled and he pressed his lips together to hide a smile.
I clenched my teeth. I wouldn’t scream. This meeting was my punishment for marrying a man of wealth. Oh, I’m comfortable enough but my fortune runs to hundreds of thousands, not millions.
Just give me the papers and I’ll sign. Those words hovered close to my lips. My foot tapped against the thick carpet in an impatient rhythm.
Then the attorney mentioned the house. A sprawling ranch with a magnificent view of the Hudson River Lars and I had jointly purchased. I’d admired this house for years but never thought to own the place where I could sit in the living room, dining room or master bedroom and watch the river’s changing moods.
“Why wasn’t I informed about this purchase,” George Jones asked. “Lars, you must protect your assets.”
My patience evaporated like dew beneath the summer sun. “Excuse me. Lars and I are adults and able to make decisions. I don’t see why our joint ownership is a bad idea. We contributed equal amounts for the purchase.”
The pompous man huffed. “You must think of your heirs.”
“Why?” The question erupted like a shot from a gun. “Neither Lars or I will be around to worry about them when that time comes. Let them fight over the dregs.”
Lars burst into the laughter he’d contained earlier. “She’s right. Just split the house down the middle. Half to her heirs and half to mine.”
For a moment George sputtered. He ran his hand over his balding head. “But what if one of you outlives the other?”
“The same rule will apply.” I leaned across the table and snagged the large pile of papers.
Beside me Richard Broadhurst, attorney and fiancé of my first floor tenant, nodded. “Mrs. Miller is right. Let them sign and we’ll be done.”
The next half-hour was filled with signatures, witnesses and the thud of the notary seal. I signed the last paper and turned to Lars. “Next time I’ll marry a pauper.”
He walked around the table and kissed my cheek. “We should have eloped.”
“I wanted to years ago but we didn’t. We still could. Blame our families for the delay.” I smiled.
He shook his head. “We’ve waited too long for this.” A moment of sadness slid through his blue eyes. I clasped his hand to show I understood. He’d thought about his only daughter’s betrayal and death. Though Bonnie’s tantrums had prevented our marriage fifteen years ago, he had loved her. “Let’s go.”
Lars nodded to George. “Golf next week.”
“What about Saturday?”
“Have a date.” Lars clasped my hand.
Richard gathered his papers and followed us outside. “Call you later.”
A warm breeze carried the scent of roses and raised my spirits. I walked with Lars to the parking lot where our cars were parked.
“That’s done.” He chuckled. “Never realized how boring George was. You’re the first person to force him into agreeing to stop pushing. I’m sure he had more points to negotiate. Where are you going?”
“Home to cook. Drink a gallon of iced mint tea.”
“I thought we could go for coffee. We have other decisions to make like where to honeymoon.”
My stomach churned. “Not today. I’m going home. Come to dinner. We’ll talk then.”
He shook his head. “Can’t. My oldest boys and their wives are joining Don and me to choose which pieces of furniture and knickknacks they want from the house. Come and select any of the furnishings you want.”
Though I knew he wanted my company, his house held his memories, not mine. I clasped his hands. “No need. We made a list, remember? I chose the things from my apartment and you choose from yours.”
“What if I select something you hate?”
“Why would I? This is a partnership.” I opened the car door. “Spend time with your family tonight.” I kissed his lightly. “Come tomorrow. I’ll make beef Wellington and there’s part of a chocolate cake in the freezer.”
“Could you make one for the groom’s cake?”
“I can do that. Until tomorrow.”
“I’ll be there.” He pulled me close for a warm kiss. “Until tomorrow. I’ll come around five.”
“I’ll have drinks waiting.”
By the time I reached the house, the desire for a mug of mint tea possessed me. I parked in the driveway and strode up the steps to the porch.
My tenant, Jenna, curled on the white wicker swing with a book. She waved. “Afternoon.”
I continued past. “Talk to you later. I need a drink.”
“Mint tea, of course.” She waved a cell phone. “Richard called. Said the session dragged on forever.”
"How right he is.” I fished my mail from the box and headed upstairs.
The moment I entered the apartment, Robespierre, my Maine Coon cat, butted my ankle. “Hello to you.” I bent and rubbed his head before opening the refrigerator. The level of tea in the glass container showed enough for a quick fix.
After draining the glass and pouring the remainder over the ice, I spilled some dried food in the cat’s dish. Moments later, a kettle sat on the fire and I filled a ball with one of my favorite blends taken from a jar on the pantry shelf. I blend my own teas and grow my own mints. I’d already planted several varieties in the garden at the new house.
By the time a fresh container sat in the fridge, the phone had rung twice. My daughter-in-law wanted to schedule a shopping day for wedding clothes. Ruth laughed. “Andrea wants you to wear a white gown.”
“No way.” Andrea is my granddaughter. She’s into ballet and thinks of every event as a show.
Next, Sarah called to set a date for the shower I didn’t want or need. She rattled on until I stopped her. “I’ll agree if we make the gifts items for the local food pantry.”
“Great.”
“I knew you would approve.” Sarah has a large social conscience and is mother to three and foster mother to two children.
I filled a tall mug with more ice and poured in the fresh brew. The ice crackled. The phone rang for a third time.
Maria, my next-door-neighbor, spoke. “Mrs. Katherine, I would show you the rings I have make for you and Mr. Lars.”
“I’ll come tomorrow. I’m bushed.”
She laughed. “What kind are you?”
Maria’s from Spain and often has confusion with idioms. “No bush, I’m tired.”
“Come for tea in the morning. I will ask Mrs. Sarah.”
I pressed the cool glass to my forehead. Too many cooks wanting to stir the broth of my life. What I needed was an escape, just for a day or two. An idea tickled my thoughts but the fourth call in twenty minutes firmed my resolve. Escape was on the menu. Edward, pastor of St. Stephens; called to finalize the ceremony and the use of Fellowship Hall for the reception, the first of two.
“Katherine, you know how delighted I am to perform this ceremony. Simply delighted. So delighted I have an idea.”
A smile teased. Delighted must be his word of the day. “And that is?”
“St. Stephens’ needs another Elder. I would be delighted to name Lars to help guard our affairs.”
“You’ll have to ask him.”
“I will. We’d be delighted to have the two of you for bridge Friday evening.”
“I’m not sure what we have planned.” Jolted by the desperate need to run away from these many managers of my time I sighed. “I’ll let you know.”
“Delighted. We can discuss the wedding arrangements while we play.”
The dial tone sounded before I reminded him I hadn’t accepted. I called Lars to warn him. This done I continued. “I’m leaving on Friday to visit Joyce.”
“Wish I could join you.”
“Why not?”
“Golf weekend with the boys.”
“Enjoy. Edward will call you.”
“I’ll make our excuses. See you tomorrow evening.”


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Feelings #MFRWauthor #writing #feelings

Another quote from Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of the Selling Author. "A story is a succession of motivations and reactions."

Emotions or feelings are what you need in your stories to pull the reader from page one to the end. There is a need to build this from the first word you write. What you need to know is how to build these feelings to make a story. Some writers have this ability as a natural thing but others have to learn the steps.

The first step is about events that happen in the story and how to see if they are good or bad. Take a car accident. Generally thought of as bad but if this brings people together this can be considered good.

You need to look at all aspects of this event and tailor it to the story you are taking. This must be done in a specific way, not in a general way. This must mean something to the characters in your story. How they react is valuable.

The decision is yours so carefully examine every facet of the event.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday - Looking at Heroes - The Alpha Male #MFRWauthor #Heroes #Am writing

 Some people may completely disagree with me but I don't find thoughts of an alpha male as the hero to be wonderful. Looking at the animal kingdom where alpha males abound makes me wonder how heroic they are.

In the wild, the alpha male takes what he wants when he wants it. He has no weaknesses for if he does another male will take over quickly. The alpha male is spoiled, has no flaws, rules with a heavy hand - teeth and claws preferred. He totally dominates the female and often she is the one doing the kills and providing this male with food. He might decide to help here but he makes sure he receives the best parts of the kill and the others aren't invited to eat until he's done.

While a strong male makes a good heroes but he really needs some faults and some weaknesses. He's sort of alpha but not completely. He will allow the female to have views of her own and he wants to be the provider rather than the man who sits back and allows the female to cater to his every wish.

So how about you? Do you think the total alpha male is a great hero or can he lose some of that alphaness?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #poetry #writing


Meander 1 Poem

Munchkins
Little people
Tiny tots. Munch kin
And they do
Munch and Munch
The whole day through


Meander 2 - A Pain In The Neck - Literally, I have a pain in my neck. Turning my head from right to left or left to right hurts. So does looking up or down. Hopefully this will go away soon. Taking muscle relaxants helps a bit but blurs the mind. Writing is very, very slow.

Meander 3 - Writing _ I'm nearly finished with the rough draft of Sweet Tea and there's a lot more to be done. I will persevere. There are also three books to make corrections so they will be ready for July when I can send them to my editor. This will happen even though I'm moving slowly.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday's Book - Murder and Herbal Tea #MFRWauthor #cozymystery, #herbal tea

Murder and Herbal Tea (Mrs. Miller Mysteries Book 5)



Katherine’s wedding day has arrived and she and Lars make their vows. When she notices one of her best friends hasn’t arrived, she begins to worry. Her friend owns a shop where tea and accompaniments are sold. Her friend’s partner is a micromanager. Katherine’s friend has wanted to dissolve the partnership. A call to the New England town brings the dreadful news of a murder. Kate’s protectiveness factor takes hold and she leaves a note for Lars and heads to rescue her friend. Though she has promised to leave murders alone, she feels she has no choice. Lars follows to help her solve another murder.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday's Blurbs - Books by Mikki Sadil #MFRWauthor #YA #historical

Blurb for THE FREEDOM THIEF

The year is 1859. The place: a hemp plantation in Kentucky. The era: pre-Civil War. Thirteen year old Ben McKenna is fighting a war of his own, with his parents and brothers. He hates slavery. His family own slaves, one of which is a young crippled boy, Josiah, Ben’s best friend. Ben’s father is going to sell Josiah, and the only way to stop this is for the boy and his slave parents to escape. Ben arranges that escape, and leads the four of them into a world of danger, deceit, and desperation. Slave hunters are on their trail, spurred to travel faster and faster because of the huge reward Ben’s father has put up for their return. A dangerous swamp almost kills Josiah; an Abolitionist family pretends to hide them, but in reality, are only waiting for the right moment to sell them back to slave hunters. For months, they are on the run, fighting treacherous virgin forests who have never had a human try to get through; hiding from the hunters and their dogs; fearing for their lives but having to put their trust into people they do not know. Freedom lies on the other side of the Ohio River, but will they live to get there?


Blurb for CHEERS, CHOCOLATE, AND OTHER DISASTERS

Thirteen year old Alyson Joanne Devlin ( better known as AJ ) is quite content with the life she has. After all, she has two BFFs, Jamie and Julie, a Champion Quarter Horse mare, and a pretty neat family, all living in a small, horsey western town in Colorado. What could be better? Then the new girl comes to town, seemingly with nothing more on her mind than to ruin AJ’s life. She intrudes into the close friendship between AJ, Jamie, and Julie, and suddenly, has the J’s, as AJ refers to them, completely on her side, and AJ is shut out. This new girl, Celine Carroll, manages to wrangle the partnership with Julie and Jamie in cheerleading, leaving AJ to partner with the two most unliked girls in school, Lisa and Amberley. The disasters just seem to keep coming: the very unexpected divorce plans of her parents; a near disastrous fall in cheerleading, orchestrated by Celine; her mare come down with colic, the number one horse killer; and finally, Amberley’s death, after she and AJ have become best friends. And all the while, Celine stands by with the same sneer on her face she had when she and AJ first met. Will AJ be able to deal with the psychological bullying by Celine, and the destruction of so many deeply important relationships?


Blurb for LILY LETICIA LANGFORD AND THE BOOK OF PRACTICAL MAGIC

An eleven year old girl in high school. An IQ of 160. An ancient book of practical magic. What could possibly go wrong?
Lily Leticia Langford is eleven years old, has an IQ of 160, and is a freshman in high school. Lily Leticia has long believed that because she is so much smarter than most people…including adults, of course…she can solve most everyone’s problems. IF they would just listen to her. She is an outcast in school, because of her IQ and her age. She is an outcast with kids of her own age, because of her IQ. Lily Leticia’s three best friends in school are also outcasts: Joseph Spotted Elk, because he is an Indian; Kyle, because he is Jewish in an all Christian high school; and Heather, because…well, just because. When Lily Leticia finds an ancient book in the attic of the old Victorian house her family is renting, her friend Joseph warns her not to take it out of the box it is in. He believes the book was written by Indian witches, and is all about “practical magic,” which meant for the Indians, where to find buffalo for food and hides, how to divert winds that would damage their teepees, and so on. Telling Lily Leticia not to do something is pretty much a waste of time. Besides, with her IQ and a book of Practical Magic, just think of all the problems she can solve! Trouble seems to follow Lily Leticia like a puppy dog, but if you think the past was troublesome, just wait for the future!


Blurb for NIGHT CRIES, BENEATH the POSSUM BELLY: Book One

Cries in the night. Whispers against her cheek. Sixteen year old psychic, Gabriela Gaudet, is awakened night after night by these sounds. The traveling carnival/circus that Gabriela’s French-Creole parents own has come to the small town of Dead Man’s Crossing, Iowa, and the cries and whispers have become loud and pleading .Three small girls. A brutal murder. An entire town that has closed ranks and glossed over this terrible crime as though it never happened. Now it’s up to Gabriela to find the killer, and put the souls of these children to rest. A handsome young man, Remi Duvernay, who seems to come out of thin air, and disappears just as fast, wants to help Gabriela in her search for justice. But there are strange forces in this town that work against Gabriela…to say nothing of six gargoyles who apparently come to life at dark, and, while not wanting to hurt the humans, don’t want Gabriela interfering where she doesn’t belong. And then there are the six women in the high school attendance office, who look perfectly normal…except for the tall, cone-shaped hats that each one wears. Accidents begin to happen at the carnival, and suddenly, the trucks and train cars that bring the carnival trappings are disabled, and nothing can be found in the town to fix them. Danger stalks Gabriela in the high school, in the town café, and on the carnival’s carousel. A web of evil surrounds this town, and threatens to envelop her in its sticky strands. Are her psychic powers and her magic great enough to withstand all that work against her? The Possum Belly waits.






Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday's Guest - Mikki Sadil - Heroes, Heroines and Villains #MFRWauthor #heroes #villains


1. Do you write a single genre or do your fingers flow over the keys creating tales in many forms?
I have surprised myself in the stories I write. My first book, The Freedom Thief, is an historical adventure taking place in pre-Civil War Kentucky. My second, Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters is a contemporary story about psychological bullying. The third, Lily Leticia Langford and the Book of Practical Magic, is also contemporary in time, but is a fantasy dealing with magic. And my last book, Night Cries: Beneath the Possum Belly: Book One, is a paranormal/historical mystery. These are all teen and young adult books.
Does your reading choices reflect your writing choices?
Not really. I love mysteries, and my book shelves are full of books by James Petterson, Jonathan Kellerman, Tami Hoag, and Sandra Brown. I also have books by YA authors like Laurie Halse Anderson and Markus Zusak, and a couple of others.
Are there genres you wouldn’t attempt?
Absolutely! Science Fiction is way beyond me, as is true Fantasy where you are building a whole new world. And even though I like historical novels I probably wouldn't ever attempt an historical romance,
2. Heroes, Heroines, Villains. Which are your favorite to write?
Since I write for teens/young adults, I don't have many "real" heros or heroines or villians. In my first book, the hero was a 13 year old boy, and I loved him! In the second, truthfully, my favorite was the "villianess" who seemed to be trying to ruin the 13 year old "heroine"'s life for no good reason. The third book was about an 11 year old girl with an IQ of 160, and she was fun! My last book was the hardest, as the heroine is a 16 year old psychic...but the "bad" guys are not human, and they were also fun to write.
3. Heroes. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or plain imagination create the man you want every reader to love? Do they come before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?
So far, I've only had one hero, and he is 13! He was "born" after I started creating the plot, because it made more sense for the story to have a hero rather than a heroine. Ben was created only a little bit from imagination, and mostly from the real life stories I had read in my research about the everyday people who took part in helping slaves escape from slavery before and during the Civil War. Those were the real heros.
4. Heroines. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or imagination create the woman you want the reader to root for? Do they appear before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?
All of my other books have heroines, and all of them have come to me and demanded to have their stories told. My husband is not a writer, and he thinks there are times when I have seriously lost my mind...like at 3 am, when I jump out of bed and go searching for pen and paper because a character has awaken me, demanding I write about her. So...do they come from my imagination? Well, I guess so...unless you believe that charactes speak to you BEFORE you've even thought about their story!
5. Villains or villainesses or an antagonist, since they don’t always have to be the bad guy or girl. They can be a person opposed to the hero’s or heroine’s obtaining their goal. How do you choose one? How do you make them human?
I believe a villian, or antagonis, can be just about anyone or anything, and sometimes they are so subtle you don't realize for a while that the person, or "thing', is really the bad guy. My historical novel had several antagonists: Ben's father; the slave hunters; the "Abolitionists" who only wanted to turn Ben and the slaves in for the reward money; and in this story, weather and locations were also the "antagonists," in terms of trying to keep Ben from his goal. In the second book, the "new girl in town" was the bad girl, but no one ever knew exactly why she went to such lengths to hurt the heroine. It wasn't until the end of the book that things happened to draw sympathy to her. The third book...hmm, not sure just who the villian was there, but the Book of Magic sure didn't help the 11 year old heroine! And in the last book, my villian was disguised as a tall, handsome teacher...who was pure evil. There was NO way to make him human!
6. What is your latest release? Who is the hero, heroine and or the villain?
My last book was released on the 6th of August this year. My heroine is a 16 year old psychic, daughter of French-Creole parents who own a traveling carnival/circus in 1935. Gabriela has been hearing the voices of 3 little girls, crying out to her to find their murderer, so they can go to heaven. This is the first of 3 books, and there are many villians in different "disguises" throughout this book, and the series. One in particular who lasts through the 2nd, and possibly the 3rd of the trilogy. On one hand, he is a valued member of the carnival crew. But is he, really? Throughout the series, there are gargoyles and witches who could be working closely with the heroine...or...they could be desperately trying to keep her from finding out the secrets of this small town. Who knows what lies Beneath the Possum Belly?
7. What are you working on now?
I am working on the second of the paranormal trilogy, Night Wings. 
 What are you working on now:

I had started the second of the Possum Belly trilogy, but due to some new factors concerning The Freedom Thief, I have begun serious work on the sequel to this story. Everyone wants to know what happens to Ben when he returns home, so this is what my next book will be.

Where can people find you:

My blog is: http://www.mikki-wordpainter.blogspot.com

http://www.bookswelove.com/authors/sadil-mikki

I'm also on Facebook and Twitter, but rarely, as I don't like social media.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday's First and Second Scene Murder and Bitter Tea #MFRWauthor #Cozymystery #nursing home

Chapter 1



The sun of the early April day shone in a cloudless sky. Yesterday’s rain had left the ground moist and easy for digging. Daffodils and tulips added color to the scene and delight to my spirits. I knelt beside one of the mint patches and loosened the soil around the emerging shoots. Soon the numerous varieties would be high and provide leaves for drying and blending into teas. This year, I planned to use green tea as a base in some of the blends. 

I pulled weeds, then sank back to admire my work. My Maine Coon cat lay beside the gardening mat. With a boneless movement, Robespierre stretched. I sighed with envy and wished I had his supple spine. He ambled toward the car pulling into the driveway.

Jenna Taylor, one of my first floor tenants, slid from the red hatchback and waved. “Hi, Mrs. Miller.”

I rose and gathered my tools. “How was class?”

She grinned. “Thanks for your help on the Psych paper. Got an A.”

“I’m proud of you.”

Her hazel eyes filled with sadness. “You’re the only one.” She took the basket and carried it to the porch of my “Painted Lady.”

The Victorian house I’d lived in since my dead husband and I had settled in this Hudson Valley village had been converted into two apartments. I chose the second floor with its view of the river and rented the first. A week after my return from Santa Fe, I’d acquired Jenna and her friend as tenants. The young women were students at the local college, Jenna in Nursing and Louise in Business.

I paused at the foot of the steps. “Why don’t you call your grandmother? I’m sure she’d be glad to see you and as proud of your accomplishments as I am.”

She shook her head. “And bring my problems with my uncle on her head? He hated my mother. After my dad died, Mom asked him for help and he refused.” Tears glittered in her eyes. “You should have heard the things he accused me of after my cousin’s death. I’m better off staying away from family.”
I touched her hand. “The accident was five years ago. Surely he’s over the loss by now.”

She combed her fingers through her short honey blonde hair. “He never forgives or forgets.” She handed me the basket. “Have to change for work. See you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” I echoed and followed her inside. Robespierre trailed me upstairs. There, I spilled a little food in his dish. He thinks he should be fed every time he returns from outside. I always indulge him by adding a few dry tidbits.

I put the kettle on. I hurt for Jenna. She’d seen more tragedy in twenty-three years than anyone should bear. Her father’s death, her mother’s alcoholism and series of abusive relationships. Orphaned at fourteen, she’d gone to live with her grandmother. Three years later, there’d been the accident and her cousin had died. For some reason I hadn’t learned until recently, Jenna had become a runaway.

In January, I learned from an acquaintance who taught at the college that Jenna had enrolled as a student and was looking for an apartment. When she was a child, I’d felt sorry for her and angry about the way her uncle had treated her. I offered her the first floor apartment at a reduced rate and had signed a lease with the girls. Over the past few months, Jenna and I had become friends.

After a quick wash-up, I brewed a pot of mint tea.  Robespierre began his greeting dance. Before I had a chance to see who had arrived, the cat slipped through his door. When I saw him on the landing with my young friend Robby, I called a greeting.

“Mrs. Miller, can I visit?” Robby asked. “I need to ask you something really important.”

“Over milk and cookies?”

He nodded. “Mom said I can have three.”

“How does peanut butter with chocolate chips sound?” His grin provided my answer.

“Oh, yes.” He bent and scratched Robespierre’s head. The large cat rumbled like the sound of distant thunder.

Once the ritual greeting ended, three cookies and a glass of milk waited on the table. Robby pulled a stool to the sink and washed his hands. “See. I ‘membered.”

“So you did.” While he ate the first cookie, I filled a mug and sat across the table from him. “Do you want to tell me what’s bothering you?”

He propped his elbows on the table. “How can a boy be happy his grandma died? If I had one, I would be sad.”

I sipped the tea. “That’s a hard question. Want to tell me how you learned the boy was happy about her death?”

He leaned forward. “He’s in my class. Always saying bad things ‘bout her. Said she was rich and mean ‘cause she wouldn’t buy him all the toys he wanted.”

“Sounds like he’s greedy.”

Robby’s head bobbed. “He sure is. Always saying how his things are better than mine ‘cause they cost more.”

“So why was he happy she died?”

“’Cause his mom and dad don’t fight with his grandma ‘bout her money. They got it all.”

I cradled the mug. “Is he happy now?”

“Guess so. He says so but he’s still mean.” Robby reached for a second cookie. “He got a new bike and lots of video games. He’s gonna live in a big new house. They can ‘ford a new one ‘cause no more money goes to that place.”

“What place?”

“You know, the one on the river where old people go. Our class went there once to sing. They liked us.”

Hudson House?”

“Yep.”

The private nursing home is where the rich of the area go to recover from surgery or to spend their final years. The boy’s grandmother must have had the means to pay for the luxurious service. I patted Robby’s hand. “I’m not sure I have answers for your questions. I’m not sure there are any.”

He looked up. “If I had a grandma, she would be just like you.”

“Thank you.” I patted his hand. “Tell you what. Why don’t I become your adopted grandma?”

His eyes widened. “You really could be mine? Like the puppy Pete said we’ll ‘dopt from the shelter?”

Being compared to a puppy tickled my thoughts. Laughter brought tears to my eyes. “Since I’m an experienced grandmother, I won’t need training in how to behave. The puppy will.”

He jumped up and hugged me. A frown wrinkled his forehead. “Mom says I have to call you Mrs. Miller. A grandma should be called Grandma.” He bit the third cookie and swallowed. “I know. You can be Grandma Mrs. Miller. Wait ‘til I tell Mom and Pete.”

Before he left, I gave him a tin of cookies. “Make sure you share.”

“Have to.” He giggled. “Pete would chase me around the table making pig sounds. I’m glad Mom married him.” He tucked the tin under his arm and opened the door. Robespierre dashed ahead of him. “Bye, Grandma Mrs. Miller.”

Just then, Jenna stepped from the downstairs apartment. “What was that about?”

“He wanted a grandmother so I adopted him.”

“That’s so nice.” Her voice broke.

“Come to church with me on Sunday.” Her grandmother was a member of St. Stephen’s. So was I. Martha Garner and I had become friends when we worked on several Women’s Guild projects. I know she often wondered what had happened to Jenna. Though I’d wanted to tell Martha about her granddaughter, I hadn’t broken my tenant’s confidence. Maybe the rift could be breached there.

“Not a good idea. Can’t you picture Uncle Marcus standing on the church steps with pointed finger and yelling, ‘Sinner, be gone. Your kind isn’t welcome here.’ I wouldn’t want to tempt him to appear as less than a good Christian.”

The note of bitterness in her voice saddened me. She’d been alienated from her family for too long. Surely, there was a way to bring about reconciliation, at least with her grandmother. An idea occurred. When I returned to my apartment, I made two phone calls.

* * *

Two days later, Martha and I entered Le Lune, a local restaurant where Jenna worked as a hostess/waitress. The small room holds a dozen tables in a cozy atmosphere offering exquisite food. Silver moons decorated the pale blue walls. On the tables, metal lanterns with moon cutouts held flickering candles.

As we waited to be escorted to our table, Jenna looked up. “Mrs. Miller. Gran!” She dropped the menus and hugged Martha.

“Child, you look wonderful. Why haven’t you called the house? It’s been five years since I’ve seen you. I’ve missed you.” Tears trickled down Martha’s cheeks.

“You know why.” Jenna looked away but not before I saw tears glistening in her hazel eyes.

Martha nodded. “You could have let me know you were all right.”

Jenna made a face. “I couldn’t. Uncle Marcus warned me to stay away.”

Martha tisked. “I don’t understand him. Where were you all this time?”

“With Dad’s cousin. She died this fall so I decided to go to school.”

“But she lived so close.” Martha grasped Jenna’s hand. “Don’t think we didn’t try to find you. Your uncle hired a detective. How long have you been in town?”

“Since January, right before classes began at the college.” Jenna retrieved the menus. “Let me show you to a table.”

“I just don’t understand why you didn’t let me know,” Martha said.

“Uncle Marcus knew I was here. He told me not to call or visit. He was afraid you would be upset and have a heart attack. He said you’re not well.”

Martha shook her head. “My heart is sound. I don’t understand why he’s still grieving over what happened so long ago. Child, what did happen that day? He won’t tell me.”

Jenna led us to a table and held the chair for her grandmother. “I won’t either.” She handed us menus. “The veal dishes are great and I recommend the house dressing.”

We decided on veal piccata. After Jenna took our orders, she headed to the kitchen.

Martha’s gaze followed the young woman. “She looks wonderful. Thank you for arranging this meeting. I’ve always refused to believe the stories I was told.”

“And what were they?”

“That she was abusing alcohol and using drugs. I never saw any evidence when she lived with me.”

“Who told you that?”

She frowned. “Maybe...I’m not sure but Sophie might have been the one.”

“How much did Marcus say about the accident?”

Martha took a deep breath. “That Jenna was high on something. I didn’t notice that when she left the house.”

“Why would he say that? Her tests were negative.”

“He said she and Mark quarreled and Jenna grabbed the keys. Mark tried to stop her, but she sped off and crashed into the tree.”

“But Marcus wasn’t there.” I stared at the candle. Why had her son lied? Mark had been the driver and his blood alcohol had been well over the legal limit.

A few hours after the accident, the first he’d seen since he’d joined the police force, Pete had come to the house. He’d known Mark. Pete had been upset for another reason. As owner and editor-in-chief of the local newspaper, Marcus had kept the details out of print. How could I tell Martha, her son was a liar?

“Are you sure you heard everything he said?” I asked. “After all, you both were in shock.”

Martha frowned. “I’m sure he said Jenna was driving. You know, she walked out of the hospital and ran away. Why didn’t she come home?”

“You’ll have to ask her.”

Our salads arrived. Jenna had been right about the dressing, a raspberry vinaigrette. When the entree arrived, the veal could be cut with a fork and the sauce had a bold lemon flavor.

Jenna returned to refill our cups and to deliver crème brulee. “You’ll enjoy this. My treat.”

Martha caught her hand. “Why are you working here?”

“The usual reasons.”

“I...” Martha shook her head.

“Gran, I’m doing fine.”

When Jenna left to deliver another customer’s meal, Martha leaned forward. “I just don’t know why the detective Marcus hired couldn’t find her. She was living an hour from here.”

Had he really hired a detective? My few encounters with her son regarding church matters made me doubt he had. Marcus Garner believed his way was the right and only way. Over the years, I’ve watched him manipulate others, including his mother. I believed he had no intention of sharing his mother’s wealth with a soul, especially not his niece. His young daughters were spoiled. His second wife was years younger and she thought money could purchase anything or anyone.

“Why didn’t Jenna come to me for help?”

“Maybe she doesn’t want money.”

“But that’s why she quarreled with Mark. She believed he was my sole heir and that wasn’t true.”

The last spoon of dessert slid down my throat. “Let me handle the check and take you home.” I couldn’t answer her question. Would she ask her son? The one person who could?

She touched my hand. “You don’t want to be involved and I don’t blame you. Family problems shouldn’t spill onto friends.”

I was already involved. Jenna was my tenant and Martha, my friend. I would find a way to mend the shattered pieces. How, I didn’t know.