Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Making Your Story Alive #MFRWauthor #writing #actionwords

When I finish a rough draft of a story, the prose reads rather prosaic. The time has come to breathe some sugar and spice into the prose. Verbs and nouns become the seasoning to the story. Things like instead of tree, the pine, oak or other variety brings a picture to the reader's eyes. Everyone talks about "smart phones". In one story I had my heroine when speaking of her boys that she'd given them a "dumb" phone. Brings a different picture to the reader.

Verbs are wonderful ways to spice up a story. He walked can become he ambled, he sashayed, he clumped. All these bring some sense of character to the story. Verbs need to show something is happening. That's why was, is or other forms of to be are seen as weak. Not that they can't be used in a telling way depending on the rest of the sentence. Use your verbs to suggest immediacy rather than he has walked across the room. He walked or one of the other words to signify walking.

Brevity can work and sometimes can harm. What you want to do here is show the character in an action and if more words adds spice to the prose, go with it. Of course problems occur when all the sentences sound the same but that's another problem.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday's Inspiration - New Releases #MFRWauthor #Releases #aminspired

 I don't know about you but each new release inspires me to move forward and write something new. Sometimes the enw release spurs a sequel and sometimes something totally different. I;ve been re-releasing some old murder mysteries, books I've been very fond of and in going over and editing them again, I was inspired to begin a new one with the same characters as in the other stories.

What about you? Do new releases or revamped old ones being re-released inspire you?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #Poetry #shopping

Meander 1 _ Poem

I would like to like your friend
But I'm afraid we're not suited.
She's filled with anger and bitterness
And hasn't found the way of
Tolerance and that growing love
That embraces all the world/
She's still tuned to a difference
Without feeling similarity
I would like to help her find a path
To release her shrunken soul/
I am not sure I can. I can
Only hope and try and pray I will
After what's her name.

Meander 2 - Shopping - I must admit I don't like to shop. I go to the grocery store only because I must. When I look for clothes, I know what I want and if I don't see the item, I leave. Shopping with my granddaughter was an adventure. She looks at nearly every rack in the store. Then she returns to them and selects a few items. Does she buy? No. She must try them on and then perhaps find a different size.

Meander 3 - Writing. There are two more books to revise and edit but I'm putting the aside until I finish at least the rough draft of Murder and Sweet Tea.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday's Book - Search For The White Jewel #MFRWauthor #fantasy #young adult

.Search For The White Jewel (Jewels of Erda Book 1)

When the Holder of the Yellow Jewel dies, her ward Liara believes she will become the new Yellow Holder. The dying word of the elderly woman astonishes the young woman. She will hold the White Jewel. This fabled gem has been lost for years since her mother and her sister fought and her aunt took hold of the Black Jewel.

Liara, accompanied by her foster brother set forth to find the jewel, escaping the soldiers sent by the Queen and Black Jewel Holder. During their escape, Liara meets Valmir who saves her and her foster brother during a shipwreck. During their journey, they meet other holders of the Jewels, including Reena, daughter of the now dead Queen. Though she has the Black Jewel, Reena has no idea how to use the gem.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday's Blurbs feature Books by Heather Greenis #MFRWauthor #saga #mystery

Blurbs for my books

The Natasha Saga  
a four part continuing family saga
Empowerment shatters traditions and lives. Greed and pride have devastating consequences. Sacrifices must be made. Written on multiple levels, the saga deals with hope, relationships, and giving, set against a background of conflicting values.
Through a series of dreams, modern day couple Keeghan and William follow the triumphs and tragedies of multiple generations of the Donovan family. A chance encounter changes Natasha’s life, forever. In her diary, Natasha writes of her dream, and her hope to escape a horrid dictated future.
Will Natasha's legacy survive an uncertain future?
Natasha's Dream, Natasha's Diary, Natasha's Hope, and the conclusion, Natasha's Legacy


What can a prosecutor, arresting officer or judge do when constrained by the legal system? When the sentence is too lenient?  The animal abuser that Jenn Hastings prosecuted feels no remorse. He’s out of prison, able to do it again.  Will a desire for real justice create a vigilante?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday's Guest - Featuring Heather Greenis #MFRWauthor #fictional elements #characters

JW - 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?
HG - I normally begin with the plot. I work around it.
Most mysteries begin with murder scene and the author unravels the mystery behind the who.
My imagination took me in a different direction with my most recent novel, DONE. I didn't begin with gruesome scene. It doesn't begin with the discovery of a body.
The who, why, when and finally where fall into place.

 JW - How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
HG - My characters are developed through the 'what'  The villain has to suit the crime. I have to make him or her believable, but deplorable. Or at the very least disliked, depending on the plot. The level of education has to suit the character.

JW. - Do your characters come before the plot?
HG - That depends on my initial idea. My inspiration.
When I wrote The Natasha Saga - I began with the character Natasha. The plot for the entire saga evolved around her character.
While working on 'Done' I began with a specific scene, the end of the story, and wrote characters to suit the plot.

JW - Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
HG - So far, in my writing, I know the ending. It gets modified but basically I write around the initial idea.
My original idea for The Natasha Saga ended with Book 1. Natasha's Dream. My husband read it and said, you can't end it there. So it grew…and grew… and grew and became a continuing saga.
Natasha's Dream, Natasha's Diary, Natasha's Hope, and Natasha's Legacy.
My latest project DONE did not end the way I initially intended. Another ending had more impact. The basic plot remained the same

JW - Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
HG - Homes are based on places I have visited.  In the saga, William and Keeghan's home is similar to our current home. Their property was inspired from a bed and breakfast we stayed in while visiting British Columbia. It was a beautiful ocean-front piece of property.
The main home in Done is a based on a friend's home with some changes of course. My grandparents' home inspired the villains house.
I think it's easier when an author can picture an actual setting in their mind.
The outdoor setting is based on a walking trail we use daily with our dog. It isn't quite as secluded, but we can truly see for kilometres.

JW -  Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
HG - The Saga had an historical element so I found myself looking up dates for inventions. Cars, gas lighting, wars, clothing, etc.
Done is not historical so I went on line for specific terms or information to keep it legit. I also speak with people who have knowledge in the field.

JW - 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?
HG - I try to draft my plot but then my imagination takes over with 'something shiny'. Wouldn't if be cool if… Or, oh, this would be better if…
My mind is rather active. Like most artists, I'm always thinking of ways to make it better. Or developing a new plot in my mind

JW - Where can we find you on the net?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday's First and Second Scene - Murder and Tainted Tea #MFRWauthor #Cozy mystery #Maine Coon Cat

Chapter 1

This year the Christmas season held little joy for me. There were a few brief moments of pleasure that vanished all too soon. Seeing a small child’s delight in the twinkling tree lights. Selecting gifts for my family, friends and neighbors. Watching my granddaughter perform the role of Clara in a local production of the Nutcracker. Those times did little to halt my feelings of regret and grief.

On Christmas Eve, I sat with my family in a pew in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and huddled in my coat. The chill I felt had nothing to do with the voices of the choir raised in joyful celebration, or in the message of hope and peace contained in the sermon and the liturgy. My feelings were caused by things I had and had not done.

Though we sat several rows in front of the place where death had stained the stones of the floor, my awareness of past events nearly drove me to leave. Remembering last month’s Evensong and the death of the choir master brought frost-filled memories and stirred my guilt. For my covetousness had brought him here, and I’d been the one to discover the body.

Your fault. Your fault. Those words had circled in my thoughts for weeks.

As the candles were lit at midnight, I prayed my role in Roger Brandon’s death would fade and I could forgive myself. I also knew my decision to welcome the New Year in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my dear friend, Lars Claybourne, was mete and right. Thoughts of the trip had become my golden dream.

* * *

The evening before my departure, I carried a half dozen tins of dried mint to the bedroom. These were the last items for the suitcase on the antique sleigh bed. As I paused in the doorway, the urge to laugh was almost impossible to contain, but a stern approach was needed.

“Robespierre, an open suitcase is not a bed.” I glared at the Maine Coon cat who had curled among my neatly folded clothes. “You aren’t being abandoned. Maria and the baby are excited about your visit.”

The look of disdain on his face brought my laughter bubbling forth. I dumped the tea on the bed, scratched his head, then lifted twenty-five pounds of cat from the case. “Be gone.” As he stalked from the room, his tail twitched to signal his displeasure at being banished.

After tucking my stash among my clothes, I closed the case. With a supply of teas for every occasion, I felt prepared to face my flight to an unfamiliar destination. I wheeled the suitcase and carried a hanging bag to the kitchen where they would be on hand for my early morning departure. My son had grumbled about the hour, but he’d promised to get me to the plane on time.
Robespierre now lay on the kitchen floor and stared at the case containing my belated Christmas present for Lars’ granddaughter. I plugged in the electric kettle, this year’s gift from one of my neighbors, selected an assortment of mints and stuffed a tea ball.

Once the tea had steeped, I poured a mug and headed to the living room where I settled on the window seat. The lights from the Tappan Zee Bridge vied with the moonlight dancing on the dark waters of the Hudson River. Stars formed patterns in the sky. I’m never tired of watching the river and my early morning walks often end at the river’s edge.

The shrill ring of the phone startled me. I grabbed the receiver. “Hello.”


“Lars, is something wrong?” Why was he calling when he’d see me tomorrow? Had something happened to make it necessary for me to postpone my visit?

“Jitters. Afraid you’ve changed your mind. You’ve never come before. And...there is something...” His voice drifted into silence.

Something was bothering him, but extracting a story long distance is hard. Face to face is better. “My bags are packed and the tickets are in my purse.”

“Good. I’m looking forward to having you here.” He paused. “What are you doing with the cat?”

“He’ll be staying with Maria and the baby.” I chuckled. “At this moment he’s peeved. He tried to use my suitcase as a bed and I chased him.”

Lars laughed. “Guess he wants to come along. You could bring him.”

“Are you out of your mind? You want me to bring the creature who hates cars and being confined? He’ll be fine at the Prescotts’ house. I’m looking forward to freedom from his tyranny.”

“He does tend to act like a dictator. Kate, we’ll have a grand time while you’re here. I’ve so many things planned for us to do.”

I set down the mug. “That’s not why you called. What is bothering you?”
His deep sigh rumbled in my ear. “The problem is...I’m not sure what’s going on.”

“So tell me what you can. Are Don and Megan all right?”

“They’re fine.”

“And...” I hesitated to ask if his daughter had staged a scene when she learned I’d accepted his invitation. “Is there a problem because I’m coming?”


“Something else?”

“I’m not sure there is a problem.” He paused. “It’s just...vague...and...You know I plan to retire. I’ve been avoiding all the paperwork necessary for months. Last week I looked at some of the companies I’ve seeded. Something odd is going on.”

For years Lars has looked for new and sometimes unique businesses and provided funds for expansion and promotion. Most of these ventures have been successful and repayment of the loans with interest has made him a wealthy man.

“Someone’s stealing.” The words just popped out.

“Maybe, but I hope not. Except just before Ramona’s accident, she hinted she’d discovered a number of discrepancies. We found nothing in her records or her computer. I figured whatever she’d learned had been destroyed when her car burned.”

Eight months ago, Lars’ daughter-in-law had died in a tragic accident. A chill crawled along my spine. “Do be careful.”

His laughter boomed. “You’re telling me to be careful. This warning comes from a woman who set herself up to be robbed, who had tea with a murderer, and who single-handedly trapped a killer.”

“I wasn’t in any danger.”

“If you say so...What time does your flight arrive? I’ll meet you at the airport.”

“No need. I’ve rented a car.”

“Why? I’ll be on hand to provide taxi service.”

The image of a glowering Lars stomping after me while I flitted from shop to shop made me chuckle. 
“How wonderful. Are you volunteering to go shopping with me? I plan to spend at least a day in the shops. Probably more.”

He groaned. “You win. See you tomorrow. You’ll need to announce yourself at the gate so I can buzz you in. Oh, bring an assortment of your mints.”

“Already packed.”

“And warm clothes.”

“Yes, Lars. Let me go so I can head to bed. My flight leaves at seven AM so we’ll be leaving here a little after four.”

“Do you remember the name of the estate?”

Why was he so reluctant to let me go? Tomorrow I planned to ask him a lot of questions and discover the answers. “How could I forget? Good night, Lars. See you tomorrow.”

After I hung up, I stared at the night sky. Something troubled him and I’d learned nothing from our conversation. Was I headed into another messy situation?

Stop it! Just because my nerves were frayed didn’t mean trouble lurked in Santa Fe.
Robespierre leaped to the window seat and rubbed his head against my hand. His rumbling purr soothed my nerves. An uneventful visit was my goal. There’d been enough mayhem in my life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday's Writer's Tip _Choosing Words #MFRWauthor #words #writing

Words are important you you as a writer. How do you choose the right ones? Let me count the ways. Actually I won't, just add a few things to be aware of.

Words are used in many ways by a writer and finding the ones that suit can be difficult. What the reader reads will be how he pictures your words, so you need to be selective. One thing you must consider is among your characters - Who is being viewed. You will need to know much about your character. What's his career? Choosing the right words to build a picture of a doctor, a lawyer or a car mechanic will be different.

Next you have to find the words to describe when he is. Different people react in many ways to the weather. Another is how old are they when your story takes place. A child reacts and needs different words from an adult.

Where do you find your characters. Are they at home, on the job or pursuing some other place. You need to find the right words to let the reacer know.

What are they doing? A sleeper is different from someone taking part in a sport. What are they feeling at this time? Emotions need the right words to make the reader believe.

What is the focus character noticing?  How is he or she reacting? This is important and the wrong words will either mislead the reader or turn the reader off.

Once you know these things you need to arrange them so they make sense. This may take time, particularly with your first story but should become easier with practice.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday's Inspiration - Words #MFRWauthor #aminspired #words

 In Techniques of the Selling Writer, Dwight Swain wrote "A story is words strung onto pages."

Absolutely true. To be a writer, you need to love words and to consume their origins and their meanings. The English language has words spelled the same but mean very different things. Would and wound. On meaning to harm and the other to wrap something tightly. The good thing is that if we're tuned into language we will pronounce those spelled the same words according to what the writer means.

Having a love of words means, not using unfamiliar words scattered through the mss. When a reader has to stop and find a dictionary to understand what the writer means, the reader will lose interest.

I really enjoy words and I know many I wouldn't use in my fiction since I would have to find a way to show the meaning so the reader would continue reading. Another thing I love about words is looking them up in an Entomology book I have and use very often. Another way of finding words is to find a dictionary that tells you when the word was first used and also what a word meant and changed its meaning over the years.

So study words. Have a love affair with them. You will find writing becomes easier. After all a story consists of words that paint a picture of the world you've created.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #Poetry #Punctuation

Meander 1 - Poem - Conflicts

I feel I am torn
Between the land and the sun
And don't know where to turn.
The son is bright
And fills me full of grace
And peace and gleaming dreams.
The land is rich and growing full
With security and safety.
Which way do I turn?
Where do I go?
The son calls me to the way
but the land has it's way, too.
Can they be reconciled?
I don't know.

Meander 2 - ? Marks - I've been getting edits back in rapid succession. I've found I don't use question marks when they should end a sentence. Is this carelessness? I'm not sure. I wonder if there are other authors who have the same failing. If I could put the question marks where they belong, the edits would be few and I would hardly ever have to face those lines on one side and comments on the other. Sometimes getting the things to erase is nearly impossible.

Meander 3 - Writing. I have begun the sixth Katherine Miller mystery, Murder and Sweet Tea. So far it's moving along. Of course this is the rough draft where sometimes what's written doesn't make sense. Being back to writing new material is wonderful. Of course there are still three mss to correct before sending them to the editor and four to edit when they each come back.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday's Book - Murder and Tainted Tea #MFRWauthor #mystery #cozy

Murder and Tainted Tea (Mrs. Miller Mysteries Book 3)

Katherine heads to Santa Fe, New Mexico along with a Maine Coon Cat kitten to spend New Year’s Eve with Lars. Her guilty feelings over the organist’s death has her needing an escape. When she reaches Santa Fe, she discovers Lars is missing. She seeks and finds him and steps into another mystery. 

Lars’ daughter dislikes Katherine but when the young woman is kidnapped, they are puzzled. The murder of Lars’ daughter and one of his employees makes solving the mysteries necessary. Can she learn before Lars becomes a victim.

Editorial Review
With every book, I think the Katherine Miller Mysteries can't get any better. I'm always wrong, because they always do. ~ Writer Gail Roughton

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday's Blurbs featuring Books by Renee Duke #MFRWauthor #YA #fantasy


Earth-born adolescents Meda Brent and Kirsty MacGregor are eager to explore the Zaidus system. They just don’t want to explore it as members of an organized tour group. The chaperone’s a harridan, and most of the places they’re forced to visit are really, really boring. Striking out on their own holds far more appeal, and despite limited funds and unexpected mishaps, they manage quite well – at first. But thanks to a bratty little brother, a dimension-travelling alien girl, a handsome alien prince, and assorted people who, for some unknown reason, seem to be following them, an independent tour of the Zaidus planets is not without its complications.


No one knows what happened to the two little princes who vanished from the Tower of London in 1483. Leastways, that’s what Dane, Paige, and Jack are told when they start working on a medieval documentary for Dane and Paige’s filmmaker father. But then an ancient medallion transports them back to the 15th century and gives them a chance to discover the truth about the mysterious disappearance of young King Edward the Fifth and his brother Richard, Duke of York. But they’d better be careful. The princes are definitely in danger, and the person responsible for their disappearance just might decide that their new friends should disappear as well.


Another journey into the past takes Paige, Dane, and Jack to Victorian London, where they meet two young mudlarks named Hetty and Pip. Even though life is very hard for them, Hetty doesn’t want to seek help from Dr. Barnardo or other social reformers who might separate her from her little brother. The Time Rose Travellers have an idea for getting around that problem, but they’re about to have another. Jack the Ripper’s grisly attacks on women in the East End have the whole city on edge, and the blood- splattered man Hetty and Pip happened across late one night isn’t about to leave witnesses on the loose.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday's Guest - featuring Renee Duke Who She Was Before #MFRWauthor

1. What were you in your life before you became a writer? Did this influence your writing?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I first became capable of doing so (round about age seven) and ‘self-published’ several tales. (Translation: hand wrote them, drew pictures for them, and had my mother sew them into little ‘books’, which, regrettably, I no longer have, as I binned them during a fit of adolescent ‘What silly, baby stuff’’ pique.) I started part-time professional writing in the late1970s, early 80s, working as a stringer for a local newspaper and penning articles and short stories for magazines in the UK, Canada, and the U.S.A. I didn’t really start in on books until I retired from teaching. I was a preschool teacher for forty years, and also worked with older children in Out-Of-School Care programmes and on World Peace & Development projects. Having worked so long with children, it seemed only sensible to write for and about children, whose ideas and opinions I still seek out and use.

2 Are you genre specific or general? Why? I don't mean genres like romance, mystery, fantasy etc. There are many subgenres of the above.

Most of my short stories had contemporary settings and subjects, but my books are mostly set in the past or future, or in current times but with a fantasy aspect.

3. Did your reading choices have anything to do with your choice of a genre or genres?

My own reading choices also tend to mostly be set in the past, future, or current times with a fantasy aspect.

4. What's your latest release?

Time Rose Book 4: The Tangled Rose, which came out in October, 2016. It’s set in Pre-WW II / WW II Germany, and deals with Gypsies, mentally and physically challenged people, and other lesser known victims of the Holocaust.

5. What are you working on now?

Time Rose Book 5, tentatively entitled The Volcanic Rose. It’s set in Herculaneum in 79 AD, but the eruption of Vesuvius is secondary to my characters’ set-to with their sorcerer nemesis as this is the final book in the Time Rose series. I’m about halfway through the first draft, and once it’s finished and gone to press, I plan to write a sequel to my YA Sci-Fi book.

6. Where can we find you?

In addition to being on Facebook, I have a website, and a blog Time Travelling With Kids:, which suggests way to get young people turned on to history.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday's First and Second Scenes - Murder and Poisoned Tea #MFRWauthor #cozy mystery #music

Chapter 1

On Groundhog Day when Robespierre, my Maine Coon cat, jumped from his place on the window seat, one thought popped into my head. Company. Who? After following him to the kitchen, I watched him push his bulky, brown and black body through the hinged opening at the bottom of the door. Moments later I peered down the dimly lit stairwell. Robespierre had sprawled in the center of the third step and blocked my visitor’s progress.
“Good grief, Katherine, I hope he’s not planning to bite me again.” Edward Potter, pastor of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, glared at the cat. His voice had risen from tenor to soprano. “Whatever do you feed him? He’s ever so much bigger than Bitsy.”
The temptation to say my pet fed on pastors was strong. I refrained and fought to control a grin that threatened to blossom. Teasing Edward usually results in a lecture delivered in an indignant voice.
With an air of disdain, Robiesperre stretched. His back rippled in a way I envy. Then he slithered around my guest.
When Edward reached the top of the steps, he turned and peered at the cat. “He’s becoming more brazen.”
“Only toward selected guests. He ignores most people.” I turned my head and Edward brushed my cheek with his lips.
My pastor is a dapper little man with an ear for gossip and a penchant for turning even the slightest event into a fiesta or a disaster. He’s astute about church politics. The coffers at St. Stephen’s are filled through his ability to cosset and cajole the elderly population of the church, mainly wealthy women. I partially fit the category, being sixty-five, and while not rich, I’m at least comfortable.
When he entered the sunlit kitchen, the expression on his face announced a problem. He walked into the living room. Unlike most of my guests, he considered chats at the kitchen table for commoners. In the living room, he perched on the edge of a Queen Anne chair, purchased years ago before antiques became the rage. In the past twenty years, stores selling every manner of old things have spread plague-like in the business district of the Hudson River village where I live.
“You’re tense. How about a cup of mint tea?”
“Not all the tranquilizers in the world will calm me. It’s a disaster, a complete and utter tragedy.” His hands fluttered. The words rolled out like a sermon promising hell and damnation. “How will we maintain the quality of the services? Easter will be a disaster.”
My forehead wrinkled. What in the world had stirred him into this state? The last time had been when one of the altar boys had spilled the communion wine. Had there been a fire at the church? A flood? A plague? The strident fire whistles of town had been silent for days. What had occurred? Knowing a full and dramatic scene would develop, I wanted mint tea.
“I’ll heat the water. Then you can tell me about this tragedy.” The blend I chose is my all-purpose remedy, calming nerves and stimulating the mind, bringing alertness or sleep.
After a retreat to the kitchen, I filled the kettle and stuffed a silver ball with an assortment of dried mint leaves. While the water boiled, I assembled the pottery mugs, sugar and spoons on a wooden tray.
“Why will Easter be a problem?” I set the tray on a Duncan Phyfe table.
“We may have to cancel the season.” He patted his thinning light brown hair.
I swallowed a laugh. “How can we cancel one of the main reasons for St. Stephen’s existence?”
“Are you making fun of me?” His voice rose in pitch. “I’m absolutely serious.” He accepted a mug. “Mary’s husband has been transferred. It’s a disaster.”
I mentally sorted through all the Marys in the congregation and tried to decide which one’s leaving would cause Edward to fall apart. Who had triggered the word of the day? On another level, the need to giggle soared. Perched on the edge of the chair and holding a tea cup with both hands, Edward looked like a child.
“There are about twenty Marys at St. Stephen’s. Which one do you mean?”
“Mary Hobbs, our organist. What will our services be like without the organ and the choir? Katherine, you have to help us until we find a replacement.”
Twenty years ago I resigned my position as organist at St. Stephen’s. My husband’s sudden death had left me with a son to raise and enough money to cover three years of expenses. Once I finished my nursing course, my Sunday schedule had passed out of my control.
“Don’t you think I’m a bit old for the job?”
Edward sighed. “I knew you would say that. I have a list of people who are willing to play, but none of them want to direct the choir. Could you at least try?”
“What have you done about finding Mary’s replacement?”
“I’ve called the Organists’ Guild. They’ll list us in their newsletter. I’ve sent notices to several colleges within commuting distance, but I really don’t want a student. Our music program is something to be proud of and I dread losing our reputation.”
Pride, I thought. “Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned from this.”
“Perhaps, perhaps, but we must have music.” He put the mug on the tray. “I’d like you to head the search committee. People respect your musical judgment.”
“And the other members?” I’ve reached an age where I don’t have to like everyone and avoiding those who annoy me has become a game. “A search committee is like a family. I won’t spend time with people I dislike.”
“Beth Logan. Judith and Martin Hanson. Ralph Greene. I believe that’s a good balance.”
Beth is a neighbor who is becoming a friend. For several years, we had worked together at the hospital. Last winter when I broke my leg, we had renewed our acquaintance. She volunteered to be my chauffeur on Sundays for church. I liked the young widow and found her six-year-old son charming.
The Hansons are also neighbors. There’s something strange about their relationship but their fifteen-year-old daughter, Marcie, had been my piano student until she’d grown beyond my ability to teach. With a sigh, I thought of Judith’s frenetic energy and wondered how much I could tolerate.
The fourth member, Ralph Greene, was a man with a superb baritone voice. Though he took music seriously, he wouldn’t cause any problems unless the committee decided on someone musically incompetent.
“Well?” Edward asked.
“You have a committee head.”
“Splendid. We shall rise from the ashes.”

* * *

On Thursday evening Beth arrived to drive me to choir practice. Though I drive during the day, at night the lights of the oncoming cars blur and moth-like, I head toward them.
“Ready?” Beth asked. “You’ve got guts.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Taking on the committee and the choir. Last Thursday, when Mary made her announcement, seven people expressed seven ideas of what the next Minister of Music should do.”
“Good thing I’m temporary.” I closed the door and followed her to a small green car.
Tonight a pair of cloisonné combs held her blonde hair from her face. Her jeans fit perfectly. Women in jeans that reveal more than they hide remind me of the past summer and my tenant’s murder. Rachel had nearly destroyed my friends and my family. My discovery of her body in the garden had triggered my protective instincts and had forced me to find the killer.
Beth’s blue ski jacket made her pastel coloring glow. I seldom wear blue. Earth tones compliment the autumn shades the beautician adds to my hair.
When we reached the church, Beth held the door for me. Judith Hanson popped out of the reception room. “Tell her about the meeting, Beth. I’ll head upstairs and catch a deep breath.”
In the choir room, I ran my fingers over the keys of the Steinway and listened to mellow tones as perfect as the day I donated the piano to the church. A music folder lay on the bench with my name pasted on the cover. None of the pieces seemed particularly complex. Mary had also listed the hymns for the rest of the year.
At eight the choir members drifted to seats set in a semi-circle in front of the piano. By eight fifteen they were ready to begin. We ran through Sunday’s offerings and several of the anthems for the weeks to follow.
Mary had chosen a group of Bach motets for the Passion Sunday Evensong, but since I’d no knowledge of the substitute organist’s ability, the music remained on the table at the back of the choir room. There was no reason to push a person beyond their ability.
When we left to go to the church, Ralph Greene pulled me aside. He scowled. “You didn’t start the Bach. We’ll never be ready if we don’t start the pieces soon.” His deep voice filled the stairwell and the sound bounced off the stone walls of the hall between the church and the addition that had been added long after the church had been built.
“I’m not prepared to attempt the Bach unless the organist is competent. In the morning, I’ll speak to Edward about hiring a group for Evensong.”
“That won’t do. The choir always does Passion Sunday. Our honor depends on keeping traditions.”
The demand in his voice amazed me. “There have been exceptions in the past.”
“It’s not right.”
“Then the committee has to act posthaste. Do you really think we can find a new organist in less than two months? Did Beth tell you about the meeting?”
“What’s the sense of meeting when there’s no one to discuss. Who needs to make a list of qualifications? We need an organist who can maintain the high standards of St. Stephen’s program. I can’t attend the meeting. It’s tax time and I don’t have room in my schedule.” He opened the door into the sanctuary.
“Then you’ll accept what we decide?” I ducked past him and slid into one of the pews while he headed down the side aisle to the choir loft.
The rest of the choir moved into place and the organist turned to wait for my signal. She played the opening notes for each part and the group hummed on cue. The blended voices filled the sanctuary and reverberated from the stone walls. The choir sounded strong; the organist tentative. She had no trouble with the hymns but fumbled through the anthems. Each wrong note she played caused me to grip the back of the pew. Could Edward be persuaded to hire another temporary accompanist?
After rehearsal we adjourned to the reception room for coffee and heart-shaped cookies in honor of St. Valentine, my temporary position, and the choir’s monthly refreshment night.
I moved from group to group to chat with old friends and new acquaintances. The choir had divided into several cliques who acted like rivals for my attention. The new choir director would need better than average skills in meshing the dissenting factions.
The largest and loudest of the groups clustered around Judith Hanson. She sat on one of the brocade-covered chairs near the front windows and looked like a queen on her throne. The majority of the group was male. No real surprise. At one time or another, every male in the congregation, married or not, had flirted with Judith. Each had held her attention until she decided to blow them off with cruel remarks.
Her brown eyes slant, giving her an almost Oriental look. Straight dark hair cut to shoulder length added to the image. As she spoke, her hands moved in exaggerated gestures. A constant flow of kinetic energy crackled as she stroked the new tenor’s arm. He smiled.
Martin ended the moment of seduction by handing her a cup of coffee. Bearded, balding and overweight, he appeared to be a weak man, but beneath the surface lay a nurturing kind of strength. Did he mother his daughter as well as he did his wife?
Judith looked up at him. From across the room, I saw resentment on her face and in her body language. Her shoulders stiffened. Her mouth pulled into a tight line. Martin whispered in her ear. She nodded.
“Beth, Beth, darling,” Judith called. “Are you coming to the Pub with us?” Her shouted invitation rose over the hum of conversation.
“I’m taking Mrs. Miller home,” Beth said.
Judith waved at me. “Come with us and get away from this stuffy crowd. I need a drink before I perish. The well’s been dry too long.” Brittle laughter followed her words.
“Another time.”
“Beth?” Judith asked.
“It’s late. Marcie has school tomorrow. Your daughter’s so conscientious she won’t nap while she’s watching Robby. I’ll send her home.”
Judith rose. “Spoilsport. Don’t worry about Marcie. She’d welcome an excuse to cut school. No music classes on Friday. If it weren’t for them, she’d be a drop-out.” She put a hand on Beth’s shoulders. “Take Mrs. Miller home and join us.”
Beth stiffened. “Maybe.”
“I’ll have a drink waiting for you. Maybe you’ll find a man.” She rubbed against Martin. “Three years since your husband’s death. I don’t know how you’ve survived. Men are”
Beth’s face flamed. She reached for her jacket. I put on my coat. Judith, Martin and several other people strolled from the room.
Beth shook her head. “I don’t know why I let her get to me.”
“She likes to watch people squirm. Don’t let her hurt you.”
“It’s not fair.” Beth grabbed her music folder. “She has a string of men. Maybe I hope some of her allure will rub off.”
“Have you ever watched a cat play with a mouse? That’s what she does. You don’t need her friendship.”
Beth sighed. “I’ve watched her drive people out of the choir with sneers and gossip. I couldn’t handle that.”
“You’re stronger than you think.”
“Not if I lose my sitter by making her angry. Marcie’s at my house as much as she’s at home. Judith’s wrong. Marcie’s making A’s and B’s in all her classes.”
Does even her own daughter bear the brunt of her vicious tongue? I pushed open the heavy oak door. I began to regret my decision to head the search committee. Who would be Judith’s next victim?
“Judith, are you coming?” Martin’s shout startled me.
“I’m feeding the cat. I want to catch him and bring him home.”
Beth and I paused at the head of the walk. Judith had crouched beside the privet hedge that surrounded the garden between the church and the parish house that once served as the manse. A gray cat hid in the bushes.
“You’re allergic,” Martin said. “Come on. Everyone’s waiting.”
Judith dangled something above the cat’s head. As he stretched, she raised her hand. “The party won’t start until I arrive.” The cat snatched the food and vanished. Judith rose.
“Your good deed.” Sarcasm tinged my voice.
“I’ve named him Shadow and I’m determined to catch him. Maybe a bit of catnip will do the trick.” She smiled. “Beth, I will see you at the Pub.” A note of command filled her voice.
During the ride home, I thought about Judith and the cat. If Beth and I hadn’t appeared, would she have teased the animal into a frenzy? Beth, Marcie, Martin, the cat. Who next? How was Marcie handling her mother’s behavior?
“Do me a favor.”
“Sure,” Beth said.
“Tell Marcie to stop by. I haven’t heard her play since Christmas.”
“I’ll tell her when I get home.”
“Thanks.” If Judith’s attitude had tainted her daughter, Martin should be told

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday's Writing Tips -- Other things that can go wrong. #MFRWauthor #Monotony #meaning #repetition

Now that you've discovered other ways to enhance your writing, you may believe you're set. Wrong! other things can go wrong.

Think about those Dick and Jane books. They were great for learning how to read but frankly if you were to read them today, you would be bored. Why? All of the sentences fall into a pattern. This can happen when you're writing and some how all your sentences are the same. There's a need to vary the length. Mix simple with complex. Throw in a phrase of a clause. Add some description. Make sure the sentences don't fall into a pattern that brings yawns.

Another thing is the repetition ow words and phrases. This is all right in a rough draft but as you continue to push your story forward make sure the same word doesn't occur with a pattern. This is something I must be on the look out for. I'm writing a story that has a church for the focus. The minister called for a hymn. The congregation rose. Their voices blended in singing the hymn. You can get the picture.

Make sure your words convey the meaning you meant the words to show. Don't muddy the prose unless it's done with a purpose. Perhaps a character's trait is never making themselves understood. Then this can work in small pieces. But you want the reader to grasp what you intend to say, not what they think you mean.

So know your words and use them with expertise.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday's Inspiration - Paint Bright Pictures #MFRWauthor #Aminspired

John D. MacDonald made this statement in an essay. "The writer must provide the materials with which the reader will construct bright pictures in his head."

When I thought about what this meant I realized those words meant the sights, sounds, taste, smell and touch of things. Describing those give the reader a way to associate with the story and build a picture of what the world you've created is all about. Think of writing about a house. Sure you can describe it as a rectangular box but then add the little details and you can make the house any house you wish. Let's give it a try.

The house next door is a Victorian. This does bring a hazy picture to the reader. But add something like this. The "Painted Lady" next door wore her coat of pale lavender with purple touches. Brings the house in clearer. Perhaps this house is different. The purple shutters on the Victorian house next door hung like limp fingers. Gives a different picture.

In other inspirations we'll look at the other senses. Sight is one used often by writers but the use is more like "She saw a tall man. Or she saw three children. Or he saw a car." I could go on forever but you get the picture. Without the little picture the reader will glaze over what the characters see and forget. He saw a sleek red convertible and envy filled his heart. She saw broad shoulders and wondered how his shirt remained intact. Of the three children, one caught her eye. The little girl's yellow curls resembled a dandelion making her wish to run her hand across the child's head.

Try sound for a change. The wind blew. The wind rustled the trees and moaned like someone in pain.

Play with the other senses and see how you can change your story and paint those bright pictures for the reader. Words are all a writer has.

Hopefully you get the picture. But using sight beyond the mundane helps the reader form a bright picture in his head.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #amwriting #time #Poem

 Meander 1 - Poem

What will I do when you're gone?
Who will I call to share my soul?
Like a cactus on the desert
I'll be surrounded by space.
Emptiness and papered lines
It's all I'll have left.

Meander 2 - Time.-- I've been wondering where all the time has gone and how to fit all the things i need to do into the time I have each day. Time to finish getting two mss ready to go to the publisher and one to head to an editor. Sometimes I feel as though i'm over-achieving and sometimes I'm a sluggard. I'll continue to plod along one thing at a time.

Meander 3 - Writing still on the editing, typing and formatting mss. Three of the 10 are done and out. Two are ready for me to proof the edits. That means there are five still to go. Then I can write again. Can't wait.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday's Book - Murder and Poisoned Tea #MFRWauthor #Mystery #Katherine Miller mystery #churdh organist

Murder and Poisoned Tea (Mrs. Miller Mysteries Book 2)

The moment she hears his mastery of the organ, Katherine covets him as St. Stephen’s new Minister of Music. Handsome, charming and vastly talented, the women of the congregation adore him. Even Katherine is swayed by his manners and ability, But Roger not only brought beautiful music, he brings poisoned notes to the choir. Katherine seeks to find the secret of why he has changed churches yearly. She prays the discovery will be in time to prevent a tragedy.

The Mrs. Miller Mysteries series is a sheer delight. Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher would love Katherine Miller. I know I do. ~~ Writer Gail Roughton

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday's Blurbs - features Books by Diane Parkinson #MFRWauthor #Historical #French Revolution

Rose’s Precarious Quest

Rose Gwynn is determined to study as a physician in 1796 in England, a time when women were barred from medical school. When she prevails in assisting the local doctor, Rose uncovers a shocking secret that will threaten Dr. Nelson’s livelihood. Servant Catern Tresidder returns to the Cornish village to confront the man who raped her and committed murder—who is now engaged to Rose’s sister. Three people who grapple for survival in the shocking ending.

The Apothecary’s Widow

Who murdered Lady Pentreath? In 1781, the war with the American colonies rages across the sea. In Truro, England squire Branek Pentreath has suffered for years in a miserable marriage. Now his wife has been poisoned with arsenic. Is this unhappy husband responsible? Or was it out of revenge? Branek owns the apothecary shop where widow Jenna Rosedew struggles to subsist. Jenna prepared the lady’s tinctures. Branek has threatened to sell her building and put her out on the street.

Escape the Revolution

Forced from France by her devious guardian during the French Revolution, Countess Bettina Jonquiere must deliver a package to further the royalist cause. In England, she discovers the package is full of blank papers, the address false and she’s penniless. Stranded in a Cornish village, Bettina toils in a tavern and falls in love with a man who may have murdered his wife. Tracked by ruthless revolutionaries, she must uncover the truth about her father’s murder—and her lover’s guilt—though it may cost Bettina her life.

Sequel, Hostage to the Revolution, coming soon!