Monday, February 29, 2016

I is for Internal

Ana muses on describing internal reactions.

  Dr. Chen is young, an orthopedic geek who eagerly answers questions by calling up x-ray images. If the clinic computer moves too slowly, he reaches for his smartphone.
  When he first read the cat scan images and diagnosed that I had snapped off the head of my radius arm bone when I tripped in the barn, he said, "This is a break that a surgeon sees maybe thirty times in a career."
  Fearing my left arm would remain a useless, always-in-pain appendage, I asked if he knew how to fix it.
  "No sweat." His eyes shone with eagerness. "Watch this video on UTube. If I can't reattach the head, I'll have every possible artificial part ready when you come to surgery."
  I did, and he did.
  Turns out I tore a ligament, too. Recovery is longer and more complicated. He spoke to my son and husband when I was in the recovery room. "Don't let her move the arm. If she tries to straighten it, the ligament will tear again. It will be very bad."
  At the first follow-up appointment, he showed me x-ray images of my elbow with its new titanium part in various degrees of bending-ness. Even one of my good elbow, "to ensure a perfect match." The images looked exactly like the UTube videos. My elbow can bend. I just can't bend it yet.
  "You will," he said with supreme confidence. "That will come during physical therapy."
  I was in the care of a master craftsman, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I would have an arm again.
  As he left the cramped examining room, he put his hand on my shoulder, the injured arm. This brief touch filled me with a feeling I've been trying to describe ever since. Hope. Heal. It's all going to be okay. Yes, it hurts, but that will go away. Don't be afraid. I'm with you.
  Thinking back, I almost want to cry, but right then I felt relieved and grateful. Most of all I felt hope. If I do what he says, I will be okay.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A scene from Ana's WIP

 The heroine is kidnapped to be held for ransom.

            Stormy was ready to scream.
            For six mornings in a row, she’d oohed dutifully at staircase wainscoting and endured debates between Candy and Blade’s mother over whether live-in servants should occupy attic or basement rooms. Emily Llewellyn tittered in every bedroom they toured and whispered in her ear, Imagine Blade naked in here.
            Candy had not uttered a word about her private investigator. She seemed hell bent on planning a wedding that no future Society bride could top. She’d already found fault with Olivia’s dressmakers and insisted Stormy needed a gown-maker.
            Madame Zarov had just personally measured every span and circumference of Stormy’s body, and overruled Stormy’s protests that she didn’t like billowy sleeves or bone-stiffened bodices. With great fanfare, Madame scheduled an entire day for fabric selection.
            Stormy longed to put on boots and denims. To do some productive, physical work. To have a conversation that was not laced with gossip or innuendo.
            Following a sales clerk who carried Olivia, Candy and Emily’s purchases, she trudged out of Madam Zarov’s shop. Blade’s mother settled into her carriage and arranged four large, round hat boxes on the seat beside her.
            Stormy set her foot on the carriage step only to have Candy and Emily pull her back as if they were doting parents saving their toddler from falling in front of a train. Before she could shake free, Candy waved on Olivia’s driver.
            “We’ll meet you at home, Olivia,” Candy called. “Emily and I want to make one more stop.”
            As soon as Olivia’s carriage turned the corner, Emily giggled. “Father would kill me if he knew where we were going.”
            Candy hailed a passing hansom, which drove them through a bewildering maze of uneven side streets and overgrown back alleys. Stormy lost sight of the sun and soon could not tell which way was east or west.
            When the hansom finally stopped and they got out, the air smelled like fish and riverboat smoke. They were in an old section of the city, close to the docks, in front of shop whose window displayed racy lingerie in come-hither hues, the kind Aimee and Marie wore at Purdy’s Place.
            Stormy looked questioningly at Candy.
            Candy smiled cryptically. “Something for your wedding night.”
            “But I don’t want—” Stormy said.
            The store’s door opened, merrily tinkling a bell. A well-dressed gentleman, carrying a small bag, stepped out and tipped his hat.
            “Blade doesn’t like—”
            “Oh, don’t be a spoilsport.” Emily pulled her into the store.
            A sales clerk waited on a woman who stood in front of a full-length mirror. She kicked up her leg and layers of petticoats flounced under a red dance hall dress. The clerk nodded at something the woman said and disappeared into a back room.
            On the opposite side of the shop, another woman parted the curtain of a dressing room and posed in a peek-a-boo for a scar-faced man holding a small, pug-nosed dog.
            Candy stepped into the middle of the shop and examined a high-collared, embroidered Oriental nightdress that appeared decent until she pointed out hidden slits in the skirt. She lifted the nightdress off its display. “Blade might like this, Stormy. Try it on.”
            “No.” Again wishing she were riding home with Blade’s mother, Stormy crossed her arms and sidled closer to the door.
            “Well, I will.” Emily found a larger sized nightdress and flittered toward the dressing booth, fingering full-figured camisoles and bustiers along the way.
            The store bell trilled.
            Stormy stepped aside for a newcomer dressed in dark trousers and a tan day coat. His sandy hair was parted down the middle, and he carried a walking stick with a large brass knob. He looked directly at her. The intensity of his gaze made her uneasy.
            “What about this?” Candy held out a sheer chiffon and bridal lace peignoir.
            Eager to put distance between herself and the man, Stormy seized the padded ivory hanger and carried the boudoir robe toward the dressing booth. “Emily, let me in.”
            “Wait your turn.” Emily’s voice was shrill with exasperation. “I’m not decent.”
            The bell over the door chimed again.
            Stormy whirled around in time to watch the man leave. When the door clicked shut, she heaved a sigh of relief.
            Candy walked around the shop, picking out a cincher, palm-sized panties and other items Stormy could not name. “For the honeymoon.”
            Stormy blushed. It might be fun to surprise Blade one night. Once they returned to the ranch, the only way to shop for unmentionables was by mail order, and one could never be sure about the fit.
            Emily stepped out of the dressing booth carrying several lacy garments. “I’m buying these. I’ll wear them in my room with the door locked.” She looked at the items Stormy held. “Ooh, those are nice.”
            Stormy entered the changing space and heard Emily talking to the sales clerk while she undressed. The cash register rang. She stepped into a peek-a-boo and tugged it up.
            “There’s a jewelry store across the street.” Candy spoke through the curtain. “We’ll be right back.”
            Stormy heard the bell. Footsteps. Emily was coming back! She slipped her arms into the peignoir, tied the sash and slid open the curtain.
            Her heart leapt into her throat.
            The man with the walking stick stood before her. He slapped the brass knob threateningly against his palm. “Come with me, Miss Hawkins. Quietly, or I’ll knock you out and carry you.”
            Shaking with fear, she stepped out of the changing booth. The shop was empty.
            He set his hand heavily on her shoulder and steered her behind the sales counter. Past the sales clerk, who sat stiffly and didn’t glance up from her ledger. Into the shop’s back storeroom and out a door that opened onto a dark, dirty alley that reeked like an outhouse in summer.
            Overhead, a man’s violent shout pierced the air, followed by a crash and a woman’s wail. Wings flapping, a bird bolted from a nest on a window ledge. Two red-eyed rats scurried into a hiding hole.
            She looked down at her stockinged feet. Broken bottles littered the dank walkway. She’d not be able to outrun him.
            Her panic snapped into anger. “Who are you?” she demanded.
            “Edward Peabody, Esq.”
            “The private investigator. What do you want with me?"
            She laughed brazenly. “You’re no good if you think I have money.”
            His grip on her shoulder tightened. “Don’t underestimate yourself, Miss Hawkins. You’re a valuable commodity.”
            Her heart thumped with alarm. She’d read stories about wayward girls being kidnapped and sold as concubines to Indian princes. She plucked at the peignoir. Thoughts tumbled out as words. “This robe. I’m not a whore. I’m getting married. Candy thought I needed—”
            A chill coursed through her body. Candy had sent Blade’s mother away and dragged her to the lingerie shop. Insisted she try something on, and then left the shop. “Candy hired you to do this.”
            Peabody stiffened. His arm jerked, rocking her like an angry wave. “The beggar who undressed in front of my office,” he muttered. “He saw—”
            “Don’t underestimate my fiancé,” she spat. “He’s smarter and stronger than you’ll ever be.”
            Peabody laughed coldly. “Not as long as I have you.”
            “You want money? He’ll pay what you ask. He has the money.” His father has the money.
            “Oh, he’ll pay. So will the others.”
            Others? Zed, Brownie and Running Bear couldn’t raise a ransom.
            “Like I said, Miss Hawkins. You’re a valuable commodity.” He put his arm around her waist like they’d agreed on a price for her services and were eager to consummate their deal. He aimed his walking stick down the alley. “Walk that way.”
            She bowed her head and took short, resisting steps. Any second now, someone would open a door or turn into the alley, and she’d ram her elbow into Peabody’s gut. Double him over so she could run to safety.
            Her ears strained to hear something other than his determined footfalls and her ragged gulps of air. She tried to slow their pace.
            He forced her forward.
            She glanced desperately over her shoulder.
            He rapped her shin with his cane.
            Tears flooded her eyes, blinding her vision. White hot pain exploded in her heel. Her breath erupted in a tortured cry as she hopped on one foot and lifted the other.
            A chunk of thick brown glass stuck through her tattered stocking. She reached down and yanked it out. Blood welled from the deep wound.
            “You bastard!” Gripping the jagged glass between her thumb and forefinger, she swung her hand at Peabody’s face. The sharp edge sliced a cut from his cheek to his chin.
            He yelped and released his hold on her.
            Ignoring the throbbing in her foot, she ran for her life.
            Peabody shouted a threat. His boots thundered behind her, drawing ever closer. Each heavy whoosh of his exhalations boxed her ears, distorting her hearing.
            She veered toward a narrow walkway between two tall brick buildings and risked a glance behind her.
            Peabody gripped the knob of his walking stick and swung it over his head.
            She ducked and kept running even though she couldn’t feel her feet anymore. A slit of daylight glowed ahead of her. A street. People. Rescue.
            Peabody bellowed again.

            Everything went black.

Friday, February 26, 2016

H is for Heroes and Heroines

Margaret talks about Hero and Heroine character studies

For each book and for each of my main protagonists I do a character study before I start writing. I find this invaluable and below are some of the questions I ask myself:
What does he or she look like?  (hair colour and style, eye colour, height, build, etc.)
Star signs? - which can show useful traits.

Where do they live? Town or country?

Do they live in a house or an apartment?

Do they live on their own? If not who with?
Do they have a pet?

What sort of education have they had? Did they go to university?

What do they do for a living?

Do they enjoy their work?

How do they feel about the opposite sex and why?

Have they had former lovers?

Are they single, married, divorced?

Are there children?

Do they have brothers or sisters?

How do they feel about true love? Have they experienced it?






Thursday, February 25, 2016

H is for Hanna Martine

Debra misses hearing those unpublished first chapters.

I don't attend my local RWA chapter meetings anymore. It's not that I don't like the people in my group. It's not that I don't think belonging to a local chapter is worthwhile. (Now, belonging to National RWA is another story...) It's all a matter of time. As in there just isn't enough. Sometimes you just have to forgo certain things.

I miss seeing fellow authors at meetings, though. And I miss hearing first chapters during our critique sessions. Many a published book on my shelf or in my Kindle was first heard in its early stages at a meeting.

One such reading was the first chapter of Liquid Lies by Hanna Martine. I vividly remember her strong voice, vibrant description, and bold characters. I thought to myself at the time, "This book will sell." And it did. Since then she's written several other titles in The Elementals series and quite a few other books as well. It's always nice to see someone get the success they so richly deserve.

With her ability to pick up any language in an instant, Gwen Carroway is taking her family business global. As dutiful future leader of water elementals, she'll do anything to protect her people's secrets and bloodlines--including enter an arranged marriage. Inside, however, she yearns for the forbidden.

Reed is a mercenary addicted to the money and adrenaline rush of his work. After he inadvertently saves Gwen's life, he ignites her taboo desire for men without magic--and with bodies of gods. Just as things heat up, Reed discovers that Gwen is exactly who he's been hired to kidnap. He resolves to put work before lust, yet her luscious beauty and fiery spirit unravel him...

But there is a terrible truth behind Gwen's family business--and now, caught between the kinsmen she no longer trusts and an enemy bent on vengeance, the only ally she has is her abductor...

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

H is for Heroines

Paula likes independent and intelligent heroines.

Gone are the days (I hope!) when heroines in romance novels were wimps or naïve virgins, waiting for the alpha heroes to seduce and dominate them. Not my scene at all. I want my heroines to be independent and intelligent women. They don’t:

(a) think they’re ‘incomplete’ without a man, but they do find joy in loving and being loved.

(b) want to dominate or be dominated, but consider themselves equal.

(c) seek to ‘tame’or change a man, but accept him as he is.

(d) think of themselves as someone’s ‘other half’, but want to bring to the relationship their whole self, and they want their man to do the same.

They want a relationship with mutual respect, caring, understanding and, of course, love. Of course, they’re not perfect – they may have their inner insecurities and/or they make mistakes, but they’re prepared to admit to these and do whatever they can to put things right.

All my heroines commit themselves, heart and soul, to the men they love – and at the same time, they learn more about themselves as they struggle to overcome the problems which threaten to keep them apart.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

H Is For Hoyt

Jennifer reviews Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt…

Elizabeth Hoyt is one of my favorite historical authors of all time. Aside from the fact that she’s a really nice person (having met her at conferences and spoken to her via Facebook and Twitter), her characters are memorable and her stories are delightful. I’m a sucker for dark and twisty and her heroes and heroines usually have something they’re hiding, whether it’s physical, mental or psychological. However, she has a wonderful way of making them completely likeable and relatable—too often, heroes, and to some extent, heroines, who have some issue send warning flares to the reader and we leave the book saying, “Okay, that was a good story, but no normal person in their right mind would EVER fall for someone like that!” In Hoyt’s case, this is not true. Her characters always have a human side that shows through and they are always redeemable, without turning their love into a raving lunatic.

I was first introduced to her writing through her Four Horsemen series. Her current series, Maiden Lane, is phenomenal. The latest book I read is Dearest Rogue (I’m way behind in my reading). Here’s the blurb:


Lady Phoebe Batten is pretty, vivacious, and yearning for a social life befitting the sister of a powerful duke. But because she is almost completely blind, her overprotective brother insists that she have an armed bodyguard by her side at all times-the very irritating Captain Trevillion.


Captain James Trevillion is proud, brooding, and cursed with a leg injury from his service in the King's dragoons. Yet he can still shoot and ride like the devil, so watching over the distracting Lady Phoebe should be no problem at all-until she's targeted by kidnappers.


Caught in a deadly web of deceit, James must risk life and limb to save his charge from the lowest of cads-one who would force Lady Phoebe into a loveless marriage. But while they're confined to close quarters for her safekeeping, Phoebe begins to see the tender man beneath the soldier's hard exterior . . . and the possibility of a life-and love-she never imagined possible.

As an aside, she has a great author page on Facebook, where she runs contests, etc., and she posts photos from the cover shoots, has her editors answer reader questions and really gives you insight into the author process. I highly recommend following her!

5 Hearts

Monday, February 22, 2016

Helpful Tip

Ana shares a helpful tip for writing vivid scenes. 

Raisley's POV Scene Grounding Exercise:
Where are you?
What do you see?
What is the time?
What is the light like?
What is your body doing?
What can you hear?
What does that sound mean?
What do you feel under your feet?
What do you feel in your hands?
What do you feel on your face?
What do you feel in your heart?
What can you smell?
What can you taste?
Who is with you?
What do you hope will happen?

What do you fear will happen?