Sunday, October 31, 2010
My guest today is Becca Dale. Becca, thanks for coming, and if you would tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a country girl born and raised. My quiet upbringing has a strong influence on my writing. Consequently, my heroes tend to be a little rough around the edges. I don’t think I could write a polished, cultured man if I tried. Not sure I could write a woman like that either for that matter. I am married with two grown children, and I find elements of the three of them appearing in my characters as well. If I had to describe myself beyond my family, I would say I am the woman next door. As a teacher, an editor, and a writer, I sometimes meet myself coming and going, but that is typical in today’s world.
How about that? I'm a teach myself. I know what you mean about meeting yourself coming and going. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Honestly, Elaine, I think I was born this way. I remember making up stories as my sister and I played dolls that were pretty elaborate for my age. I used to create romantic tales for my girlfriends in middle school. I even wrote ghost stories for my children and their friends. From childish fantasies to teenage angst, I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t writing.
I think you're right. Love of writing is in the blood. How long did you write before you got published?
I was in my thirties before I was brave enough to send anything to publishers. Then I found out I was doing everything wrong. There’s a big difference between creating stories to be told and ones to be read. It took me almost five years between the first time I wrote The End and the day my first contract arrived. Some of those years were wasted in feeling bad about myself. Most of them were used to find out what I was doing wrong and finding out how to fix it.
Smart girl. What is your favorite scene from you latest book?
I write fairly hot romance so one would think it would be an intimate scene, but that’s not it. I love moments that highlight a character’s vulnerable side or offer a peek at humor. In Kya’s King it would be when Kya is working on her wildcat without anesthesia. She is scared but can still laugh at herself. In Jingle All the Way it would be the moment that Burk finds what he didn’t know he needed at the core of a family hug. It is a very sweet scene.
Working on her wildcat? Sounds very intriguing. What advice would you give to new authors?
Find out what editors/publishers expect. Read your favorite authors and study the scenes that suck you in. What do they do that makes their work speak to you? I am not saying copy their style, just be aware. Are the five senses involved in the majority of the scenes? Is the point of view stable? Does every scene add to the overall story? Also, study your craft, join writers’ groups, find critique partners, and write, write, write.
That's very good advice. Would you share your links with us?
I would love to Elaine. I adore hearing from readers and fellow authors. I am easy to find.
Stop by my blog Becca’s Retreat http://beccadale.blogspot.com/?zx=5d3ba0ef7a2bdd5a
Like my fan page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Author-Becca-Dale/127093937346285
We’d love to read an excerpt. Be sure to give us a buy link.
This is the scene I mentioned above from Kya’s King. Thanks so much for having me here today, Elaine. It has been fun.
The voice from her dream floated from the cage. Malachi’s eyes held hers without wavering. Hannah looked around for someone playing tricks on her, but the night remained still, eerily quiet as it had been every night since the big cat arrived. “Who’s out there?” No one answered her call. She strained to see beyond the dim circle of the yard light. Nothing moved.
Help me, Hannah.
Fear edged its way into her thoughts. Unconsciously, she slid toward the big cat to protect him. Her hand brushed the back of his massive paw. Malachi did not move. She crawled a little closer. The putrid smell of infection drifted from his open sore. “Do you trust me, Malachi?”
He lay still as she reached carefully through the bars and patted his neck gently. With a shaky laugh, she pulled her hand back glad it remained on the end of her arm.
“Maybe we should try this alone, you and I, huh?” She considered the insanity of the idea only a moment before she ran to the medical lab and gathered the necessary equipment. She had never treated an animal by herself but had assisted Harry often enough to feel confident in what she was doing.
Within moments she stood outside Malachi’s cage once more. The cat lay as she had left him. On her knees so as not to frighten him, Hannah inched across the safety line and sat next to the animal’s outstretched paw. She readied the antiseptic on a clean cloth and laid out bandages and antimicrobial solution. “Are you ready for this?” With a shaky smile, she gently patted his leg. “I hope so because I’m not sure I am.” Her hand shook as she picked up the cloth. “Don’t eat me, okay?”
Buy Link for Kya’s King
Info Link for Jingle All the Way Available November 5
Nice excerpt, Becca. Come back and see us again.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
My family loves a good picnic. One of my earliest memories is picnicking by the lake with all the aunts and uncles and playing in the water with the cousins. Nothing changed after the cousins grew up. We all still love a good picnic.
So, every year we take a picnic to Pisgah National Forest. We try to go in the fall when the leaves are pretty, but some years we miss the leaves. It doesn’t matter. We go to a picnic area called Sycamore Flats which has the prettiest little river you ever saw running through it. The river more than makes up for missing the leaves.
My grandsons love to play in the river. The water is crystal clear and flows over some smooth river rocks as it gurgles and bubbles on its way downstream. On the side of the river opposite the picnic tables, rhododendrons form a tangled web that almost totally obscures a little walking trail. Nice small stones, just the right size for my grandsons to throw are readily available along the river’s edge. In most places the water is knee to waist deep. If we ever get up there in the summer the kids can get wet and cool off, but in the fall the water is way too cold to go into.
We’ve perfected the art of a quick picnic. We stop at a grocery store near the entrance to the forest and buy ice, paper products, and whatever food we want to eat. No matter what else we buy, we always buy fried chicken. This year to go with my chicken I had apple pie, potato salad, deviled eggs, and pimento cheese sandwiches. If you aren’t a southerner you probably don’t know about pimento cheese, but trust me; it’s good.
We used to cook it all ourselves, but then we’d be worn out before we ever even left home, so now we just buy the food. Guess what? It tastes great; anything does when you eat it outdoors beside a river.
My son and his wife always bring their guitar and mandolin. They’re a part of a musical group called The Red Hill Rattlers, and after we eat they serenade us. What kind of music? Bluegrass.
Something interesting is always going on in the forest. One year we saw an albino squirrel. Last year we saw a man and woman being baptized as the people sang Down in the River. I do think they might have done it a little earlier in the year. It was cold that day. When we were a little younger, we’d get up a softball game, but we haven’t done that in awhile.
We always get there around noon and stay until the sun is almost gone. Each year I promise myself that we’ll leave earlier so I can browse in the little gift shops around the forest, but I never do. I’d rather sit beside the river listening to music and maybe go back for some more apple pie.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Today I'd like to share an excerpt from my new novel Return Engagement. My heroine Elizabeth is a famous movie star. My hero Richard is an FBI agent whose father is a wealthy, powerful senator. In this excerpt, Richard and his partner have gone to rescue Elizabeth who has been kidnapped.
Neither Scott nor Richard would ever forget the trip to 2341 East McJunkin Street. Both of them had worked under pressure before, but it hadn’t affected them the way this trip
did. Personal involvement made a huge difference.
Richard hadn’t said a word during the entire trip. He couldn’t. Once or twice before he had reached the point where his emotions just froze on him; that’s where he was
now. He felt strangely detached from Scott and even from Elizabeth. Some cold, chilling frost had fallen on him; he eagerly anticipated the opportunity to deal with the ones who
dared to hurt the woman he loved.
Scott had stared at him for the last block or so, and he finally snapped, “Why are you staring at me?”
Scott didn’t pull any punches. “I’m trying to figure out how stable you are. If you lose your head and do something stupid we’re in trouble. You’ll probably see some things you
won’t like, but if you want to save her, you’ve got to be cool and keep your head.”
Richard’s eyes, filled with blue fire, bored into Scott’s. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I know what I’m doing.”
They parked their car half a block from the motel and proceeded on foot, entering the property from the back side where they saw three cars parked in the lot. Richard gestured
toward a gold Lexus. “That’s her car parked beside the Jaguar.” He read the license plate on the black Jaguar and his knees sagged. “That’s Dad’s car,” he choked.
Scott voiced a horrible thought. “You said he wanted to pick out your wife. Do you think he’s trying to scare Elizabeth off?”
Richard shot him a look that would’ve melted stone. “You’ve been around Dad long enough to know better than that. Dad’s not some kind of thug.”
“I hope you’re right, but you love your father. You might not see him clearly. I think he’d do almost anything to advance your career. Scaring a woman probably wouldn’t seem too bad to him.”
Richard barely heard this last slight to his father. With drawn guns the two men cautiously made their way toward the door nearest the parked cars. It was locked. Damn!
They’d lose precious time looking for the right place.
They tried two more doors before they came to room 205. The door moved easily when Richard tried to open it. He nodded to Scott. Soundlessly, the two agents entered the
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Readers, please help me welcome guest blogger AJ Nuest. AJ is talking today about her three rules for becoming a successful author. Since she has a book coming from The Wild Rose Press in the spring, she knows what she's talking about. Before we get to the guest post I asked AJ to post a blurb about her book, Jezebel's Wish.
Haunted by nightmares, tormented by guilt, Jezebel came to Redemption Ranch to escape the past—except now she's stuck in the middle of nowhere with no redemption in sight. When her mother pushes her into riding lessons with local veterinarian Matthias Saunders, Jezebel balks. Sure, the doctor is gorgeous, but he’s completely obnoxious and knows how to push every one of her buttons.
Only her deep connection with The Reverend, a gentle stallion who guards her darkest secrets, has her agreeing to spend any more time with Dr. Saunders. Caring for the stallion is the first bright spot in her life in months, and if being around the horse means she has to deal with Matthias Saunders, then so be it. Surely a city girl like her can handle one country vet—even one with disturbing blue eyes. Can't she?
Forgetful Hearts, May 2008
Jezebel's Wish, Available April 15, 2011 from The Wild Rose Press
And now for AJ's guest blog. AJ, thanks for coming.
AJ Nuest's Three Rules For Becoming a Successful Author
I’m handling these in reverse order (because that’s how they do it on the Miss America Pageant).
Rule #3: Read
If you want to be a successful author, first and foremost, you must read. And I’m not talking about the latest How-To article on drafting the perfect query letter (yes, that’s important, and certainly something you should peruse before submitting). I’m talking about reading for enjoyment, to remember your love of words. Especially for all those workaholic writers out there, like me. You know who you are. Up to the wee hours of the night, editing that latest WIP. When you find yourself looking up the word “took” in the thesaurus, ‘tis time to unplug. Prime example:
Recently, my family decided on a spur-of-the-moment vacation. Emphasis on the word vacation, because this means Mom doesn’t work. Before our departure, I stopped at my local library and grabbed a book from the shelf. I didn’t know the author, hadn’t read any reviews, and could have cared less if it made the NYTimes Best Seller List. I’m a fantasy reader by nature, and this book happened to be within arm’s reach. It had an interesting cover–dark hero shrouded in a cape, sword in hand–and an eye-catching title. I thought “Eh? What the heck.” I put it on the counter and checked it out along with several of my daughter’s selections.
The point to all this? It had been so long since I read for pure enjoyment that I got completely lost in the story. Afterwards, I had an epiphany. Why did I EVER stop reading? Before becoming a writer, I used to read all the time and I loved it…I missed it. But even better than that, now that I was a writer, I learned something by reading that book. This particular author had a very unusual way of handling perspective. Before writing myself, I probably would have never picked up on his technique, so smooth were his transitions between the characters’ internal dialogues. This author broke one of the major writing rules our editors are always telling us to avoid. He changed perspective mid-paragraph–sometimes even mid-sentence. But the way he did it was astounding, and I took away something very valuable by reading that story.
Remember to read, people. Pick up any book that floats your boat and crack the binding. Each time you do, I can guarantee, you will discover a new way to hone your craft.
Rule #2: Pay Attention
Or transitionally: You must be present in life if you want to write about it.
If given the choice, my perfect day is one when I don’t have to leave the house. I can sit inside with my laptop and a cup of Joe, happily clicking away until someone walks in the door and asks, “What’s for dinner?” At this point I spring up from the chair and remember I’m responsible for the care and feeding of my family.
Most of the writers I know are introverts. We have so many different characters inside our heads we don’t need to attend a party in order to meet someone new. However, social obligations notwithstanding, we all need to leave the house at some point. So when you do, PAY ATTENTION.
How many of us have heard this comment before? “You need to show more.” Showing can be one of the biggest problem areas for authors. Paying attention to your surroundings will help address this issue. Look at the sky. No, I mean really LOOK at it. And when you do describe what you see (and do yourself a favor, avoid words like “blue”, “partly cloudy” and “overcast”. Let’s leave meteorology to the professionals.) Listen to the way people talk, watch their facial expressions and body language during a conversation and take note of them. Smell the aroma when you walk into a restaurant. No, really SMELL it! Notice the people at the other tables, the waitress’s hairstyle and the necklace she’s wearing. Feel the texture of the ground beneath your feet. Experience the warmth of your daughter’s palm when she holds your hand. Recognize and name the emotions in your heart when your significant other says, “I love you.”
These little details are what each author must translate into their work if they want their stories to be captivating and create an audience base. Pay attention, people. If you’re writing about life, you have to be present while it’s happening.
And the #1 Rule for being a Successful Writer (Can I get a drum roll please?): PRAY!
Holy cow, did she just say the “P” word? Has the woman gone completely mad?
Evidently, prayer is a hot button these days, or should I say the usage of prayer is a hot button. I open this can of worms and I’ve automatically offended someone–which irritates the crap out of me, but I’ll save that gripe for another blog. I am not attempting to force my beliefs on anyone. What I AM saying is if you want to be a successful writer, for that matter if you want to be successful at anything, you must believe in the power of prayer.
For those of you who already know this rule, I’ve just won myself into your good graces. For those of you who don’t, let’s take a moment and look at this from a scientific standpoint, shall we?
Several years ago a group of Quantum Physicists got together and asked themselves a question. “Is there a God particle?” (These are the guys that smash atoms together and break them into billions of sub-atomic particles, so they can study matter and find out if there is an all-encompassing force that connects all things.)
Here’s what they’ve discovered so far. Matter is not solid. Everything you see, breathe, taste, touch, and smell, is made up of tiny particles of light (photons), functioning at different vibrational frequencies so that human beings can perceive them. Light is energy. Energy is magnetic. And in case you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, magnetic forces attract each other. Some say this Law of Attraction is the divining force which binds all things together. Throughout history many prominent thinkers have believed that human beings, through the force of our electromagnetic brain activity, are able to tap into this Law of Attraction, and through it, draw to ourselves the very things we desire. So, in other words, what Quantum Physics has proven is that each of us, within ourselves, contains a divine power to create the very world that surrounds us.
Hmmm…that sounds vaguely familiar to me. Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.
I find a certain kind of poetic justice in how science is just now proving what the Bible has been telling us for centuries. Prayer works, people. Whether you want to view it as The Law of Attraction or speaking personally with God, bottom line, it works. It is the number one most important thing in determining success in any area of life.
Take a moment to say a prayer each day. I cannot stress this enough. Send that positive thought out into the universe and see what happens. You may be surprised at the results.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Welcome to Sandra Sookoo! Sandra, thanks so much for coming. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you so much, Elaine, for having me on your blog!
Fall is my favorite of the year. Cool breezes blow in smelling of far off snow and wood burning stove fires. Colorful leaves abandon their summer homes and come tumbling to the ground, a crunchy carpet beneath our feet. And the candy! Oh sweet Lord the candy! But I digress.
The other part about the fall I really like is hearing the ghost stories. Something about ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night brings chills to the skin and tingles to the scalp. During these times I wonder if there really are other-worldly beings that walk among us and how many of them pass through the veil between our worlds on Halloween.
It’s interesting to think about. I know a couple of times I’ve been convinced there were ghosts in my house at one time or another, but who knows. Maybe one of these visitors will actually talk to me about why they’re there.
Also for your enjoyment I’ve brought along a blurb and excerpt from my latest historical release, complete with ghosts and Halloween entertainment. It’s a love story that spans generations. I hope you enjoy. To find out more about all my books, drop in on my website: http://www.sandrasookoo.com
Blurb: Judith Goode, wrongly accused of witchcraft during the trials in 1600 Massachusetts, casts a spell on the black velvet dress she intended to wear for her lover’s return. If she can’t realize true love then she wants to ensure that any woman who wears the dress will but fate has other plans.
Even though Judith is now in ghost form, her quest to unite her soul with her lover’s burns strong. The enchanted dress has survived for two hundred years and is now in the hands of Carolina Cox who wears it to a masquerade where she meets Paul Brown. Love blooms and is realized yet life’s problems prevent a perfect match.
Disheartened through the years, Judith gives the attempt one last time in modern day Indianapolis by putting the dress in the hands of Jacob Howson, one of her last living ancestors. He’s a computer programmer looking for love and finds it by literally running into Lexy Brown at a dry cleaner.
Sometimes the love worth waiting for can be found under the light of a Hunter’s Moon.
Publisher’s website: http://www.king-cart.com/cgi-bin/cart.cgi?store=linda018&product_name=Hunter%27s+Moon+Magic&return_page=&user-id=&password=&exchange=&exact_match=exact
Excerpt from Chapter One
October 29, 1692 Ipswich, Massachusetts
Brilliant moonlight streamed through the window, competing with the weak glow from the candle on the worktable. Judith Goode snipped off the last thread and placed the scissors into a basket near her elbow.
Standing, she shook out the length of black velvet pleased with how the dress had turned out. A round full skirt fell to the floor in elegant waves with faint glimmers of silver thread gleamed in the folds. The bodice was a masterpiece of scooped neck trimmed with runic symbols in the same silver thread, designed to catch an admiring gaze.
Black satin ribbons crisscrossing under the neckline would lend the dress structure and matched the tiny stain bows on the tops of the fluttered, capped sleeves.
The ideal gown to wear for a romantic tryst, especially since the fabric had been given to her from her lover when he had returned to port from his last trip.
Unfortunately, she would never be allowed to wear the dress--unless they hanged her in it.
Hearing an angry assortment of voices just outside her modest cottage, Judith folded the gown and placed it into a reed basket. The tinkle of breaking glass sounded, followed by a scuffle and several loud shouts for the ‘Devil’s Follower'. They’d branded her a witch, and she didn’t correct them.
It wouldn’t have mattered.
She was different from the others in the village. A healer, and not disposed to spending hours on her knees in the church, Judith was automatically dubbed a follower of the occult.
The gray streak down the middle of her black hair didn’t help matters. Nor did her affinity for bathing naked at the shore on the nights of the full moon for no other reason than she admired the silvery light.
To these people, if you looked and talked differently from them, you must be evil--bad--not worthy of redemption and no amount of explanation would change their narrow minds. She’d tried twice before to plead her case. Now luck had abandoned her.
Judith wanted no part of the religious bigotry, their interpretation of salvation for the sake of public cleansing and a way to gain land and property.
Their way was not the only way to live a life.
Outside, shouts from men and women alike drew closer. Her breath quickening, Judith opened a carved trinket box on her worktable and withdrew a small sachet of cloth. A secret smile curved her lips. If she couldn’t wear the gown, at least she could ensure the women who did would have a happy life. Tucking the sachet between the folds of the dress, Judith nodded in satisfaction. The herbs were good and would not fail.
A few sprigs of basil for love, a couple dried fruits of the cayenne pepper plant for the fire of the spirit, chamomile flower heads for relaxation and protection, and cinnamon sticks to lure a male; Judith knew the basic ingredients for a love spell would have far reaching implications as much as the words she muttered over the fabric.
“May the women who wear this dress find their true love. May desire overcome them in such a way they cannot deny its call. May the women whose lives touch this dress be happy throughout all eternity with the men of their dreams, the mates of their hearts, and the keeper of their souls.”
After she recited her spell, Judith’s attention wandered to her absent lover. He’d been away, along with her brother, on a fishing ship for months and this time when he returned, she and Percy planned to be married. After three years of courtship and clandestine meetings, he’d offhandedly asked for her hand one evening over dinner. Judith agreed and the small, private ceremony was planned. Now, a few days shy of their reunion, the elders of the village were hell bent on ferreting out witches.
Not that they would even know a real witch if they bumped into one at the market. Hysteria reined in the small towns and anyone they couldn’t understand was immediately suspect.
Above everything else, Judith vowed never to reveal Percy’s name to the elders for fear an appointment with the gallows would await him, too. The only reason she embraced her destiny with calm was she knew Percy would live to tell her tale. A twinge of regret tickled her stomach. They’d talked at length of this very occurrence. It was always a risk, but she wished she could see him one last time.
With a sigh, she gave the plush velvet one last loving stroke then scattered a few red clover flowers for good luck and two dried hibiscus flowers for attracting love on the top. A folded quilt completed the contents of the basket and hid the gown from view.
It was all she could do.
A prayer that the frock would find its way into good hands escaped her lips shortly before an insistent pounding rained on her front door. With a gasp, Judith scooped up the basket and padded across the simple wooden planks of the floor to her kitchen window. Releasing the catch, she swung the casement out. “Hide it well, Jenny. Make certain my brother receives it and cares for it. Someday, somehow, Percy and I will be reunited, even if it takes two lifetimes to accomplish.”
“Yes, ma’am.” The melodious whisper of her apprentice seeped in from the darkness beyond. “You needn’t worry. I will take care of it. Godspeed.”
Another round of hammering on the door brought Judith’s attention to matters at hand. She wiped her sweaty palms on her humble white apron.
Her heart raced in time to the blows.
She swung the window closed and pulled the curtains.
Then, with a deep breath, she tied the strings of her bonnet beneath her chin, crossed to the door, and unlatched the locks.
Time to usher in her fate. Judith straightened her spine. She would not meet death with tears.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Welcome to Liz Flaherty day. Liz, thanks for coming. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you for having me here, Elaine. I’m not really on a blog tour, but I do seem to be turning up here and there these days. It’s kind of fun! I’m a country girl, married nearly 40 years to my true-life hero, mother to three and grandmother to seven. I sew—not well, by any means, but a lot! I write a newspaper column called “Window Over the Sink” for our local paper. Oh, and books. I write books, too.
Wow, you are one busy lady! Where do you go when you write?
Everywhere! Laptop computers have absolutely set writers free. That being said, I still write more at the dining room table than anywhere else. My favorite place to write is the breakfast rooms in motels. I can’t explain that, but I so enjoy it. I’ve become unblocked more than once drinking coffee and grinning at little kids making their own waffles while their parents sit exhausted and staring vaguely into space.
LOL. I've been one of those exhausted parents myself. What is your favorite genre? Have you tried to write in others?
My favorite now is women’s fiction with romantic elements firmly in place. My newest release, HOME TO SINGING TREES, is also my first historical, but hopefully not my last. It was so much fun to write. I’ve read (and I imagine it’s true) that it’s better for a writing career to choose a genre path and stay on it, but I’m not that focused. Or something. Whatever it is, I have a lot of fun jumping around.
Describe your hero and heroine in your latest release.
Sarah and Liam are both widowed parents who have loved before and don’t believe they’re meant to love again. She’s the housekeeper: sturdy, hard-working, and pragmatic. He’s the doctor, her employer, handsome and funny and compassionate. They love each other’s children. But each other? Oh, no.
Famous last words, right? What are you reading right now?
I just finished Jenny Crusie’s MAYBE THIS TIME. Every time I read Crusie, I feel like banging my head against the wall. What on earth makes me think I can write when there are people like her around? But, oh, the pleasure of the reading. And the laughing. I have to give myself a little time after I read a book by her or Kristan Higgins or Robyn Carr, though, or I think I try, however subconsciously, to sound like them.
Would you share your links with us?
My website’s at www.lizflaherty.com My email—and I’d love to hear from you—is firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d love to read an excerpt. Don’t forget a buy link.
Oh, great. I hope you enjoy the excerpt. Here are the links for you.
She was in the tree.
“Sarah!” Liam bellowed, taking the three steps off the porch in one and striding toward the tree. “Good morning, Jess. Good morning, Emily. Mrs. Williamson, come down here right now!”
“I can’t do that, sir. I have another swing to hang after this one. I got the nicest boards at the sawmill yesterday, and the sawyer didn’t even charge for them, and I begged the rope from Davis.” She peered down at him from what seemed a very long way up, and the skin around her green eyes looked bruised, as though last night’s conversation had disturbed her as much as it had him. “I think children need swings to play on, don’t you?”
“Bribed Davis is what she did,” Gavin mumbled from his stance on the porch. “We’re having chicken and dumplings and chocolate cake for supper. Personally, I don’t see a daggone thing wrong with a little bribery here and there. Keeps a man” –he stopped and chuckled— “well-fed.”
“Swings are all well and good, Sarah, but you don’t need to hang them. Davis or I will be glad to. Now, come down from there.” Ignoring Gavin’s glee, Liam hitched his coat back out of his way and placed impatient hands on the hips of his trousers.
“I will in a minute.” She shinnied further out the branch, looked down at her legs hanging down on either side of it, and turned fiery red. “Would you turn your back, please, Liam?”
He could see the stockings that covered those splendid legs were darned and shabby, her shoes had holes in their soles, and the petticoats that swung below her hideous brown skirt had been sewn from flour sacks. The thick bun of copper-tinted brown hair, pulled tight when he’d left this morning, had loosened considerably, and soft tendrils blew about her face.
She looked magnificent.
He turned his back.
But he didn’t want to.
He waited five minutes, while Gavin yelled instructions and Sarah called back rejoinders that didn’t sound in the least servile, while the girls played Ring-Around-the-Rosy around his legs until they fell into a tangle at his feet.
“Are you ready to come down now?” he asked after the five minutes were up.
“Well, I would be, except—” She stopped.
“Except I seem to be stuck to something, and I can’t figure out where I’m stuck or what I’m stuck to.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” Impatient now, wanting her safely on the ground, Liam pulled off his coat and handed it to Jessie. “Hold this while I rescue Mrs. Sarah.”
“Mrs. Mama,” Jessie corrected him over her shoulder as she carried the coat to lay it neatly over the porch rail.
Liam looked from his daughter to the woman in the tree. “Mrs. Mama?” he said mildly.
“I’m sorry. They came up with it this morning, and I didn’t know how to dissuade them.” Sarah looked slightly sheepish, and Liam had a feeling she didn’t really mind the new title.
“And I should warn you,” she went on, “they’ve decided that from now on, Emily is to call you Dr. Papa. I couldn’t talk them out of that, either.”
“Actually—” Liam swung himself into the tree with a grunt of effort “—I prefer it to Dr. Kamissick.”
He moved onto the branch on which Sarah was sitting. “I guess we’re going to check the strength of this limb before the girls swing from it, right Mrs. Mama?”
“Looks that way,” she mumbled, blushing again, and he stopped moving for a moment, totally captivated.
Sue Anne Klein didn’t blush, he remembered suddenly. She simpered. If Emily’s conception and birth were the result of something sordid, something less than honorable, would her mother still blush at every whipstitch?
“Your skirt’s hooked,” he said, his voice remarkably like that of a boy still waiting for his first shave; he was surprised it didn’t crack halfway through the sentence. He was pretty sure he was blushing, too. Oh, Lord.
He sat so close to her he felt the heat from her skin and smelled the faint scent of roses that always seemed to surround her. Her head was bowed as she tried to see where her skirt was caught, exposing the pale skin of the back of her neck to his interested perusal.
He could almost feel that sensitive skin against his lips, the warmth of her body beneath his hands. He had a natural physical reaction to those thoughts and was hard put not to groan aloud.
“I’ll try not to rip your skirt.” He leaned sideways to reach where the skirt was caught and could see the way her full breasts pushed against the material of her waist and whatever she wore under it.
Oh, dear, sweet Lord.
Liam tugged at the thin fabric of her skirt, frowning when it tore and exposed Sarah’s petticoat.
Good God, the woman embroidered flour sacks before she made them into underwear.
“Sorry,” he said. For what? Ripping her skirt or ogling her underwear? “I think you’re loose now. I’m going to back up and go down first, all right?”
She nodded without turning her head, and he could see the telltale red creeping around her neck. “You’re entirely decent,” he whispered, “although I wouldn’t mind a bit seeing the rest of that petticoat.
“Dr. McKissick!” she hissed, her voice a fine cross of indignation and embarrassment. “In case you forgot, there are children waiting right at the bottom of this tree.”
He grinned. “I think they’ve probably seen your petticoats. They aren’t nearly as interested as I am.”
She turned her head, and even though her cheeks still bloomed pink and she tried her best to frown, laughter brimmed in the mossy eyes.
If he stayed up this tree, Liam knew he would kiss his housekeeper, regardless of who waited below. Reluctantly, he climbed down.
Certain she’d set a record for how many times a person could blush in one day, Sarah inched backward to the fork in the tree, swung one leg over as modestly as possible, and stepped to the lower branch.
Liam looked up at her.
“Please turn around,” she begged. “You, too, Judge,” she called to the man on the porch. “I don’t descend all that elegantly.”
“Oh, no, Liam. I’m too big. I’ll knock the wind right out of you.”
He frowned the scowl that had intimidated her that first couple of days, before the night they’d worked together to bring a new baby into the world. “I’ll take that chance,” he said, a glint of determination in his eyes.
Sarah sighed. “All right, but I warned you.”
He caught her against what was surely the hardest chest in the state of Indiana, held firmly by what were definitely the strongest arms, and allowed to slide slowly to the ground against what was without doubt the most arousing body.
Arousing? What am I doing even thinking a word like arousing? Dr. Papa or no, he’s your employer, Sarah Mary, and don’t you be forgetting it.
When Liam didn’t release her immediately, she raised her hands to his shoulders to push him gently away and caught sight of her work-roughened fingers against his immaculate shirt—a cruel, but effective comparison. Liam McKissick was among the cream of the area’s social crop. He had money, influence, and unparalleled good looks.
Sarah Mary Williamson was a housekeeper, the mother of an illegitimate child. and the guardian of a sister-in-law who had been pursued against her will by the father of that child. Like spotless white shirts and rough red hands, the two didn’t belong together.
Liz, I loved your excerpt. This one goes on my TBR list. Come back and see us anytime.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Welcome to Michelle Picard's blog tour! Michelle, thanks for letting us be a part of your tour. For the benefit of those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about you. Any unusual hobbies or interests?
First, thanks so much for having me here today. My name is Michelle Picard. I’m an adopted New Englander, live the crazy suburban life with kids and hubbie, a job outside of my writing passion in social work, a cat, frog and fish, a never ending need to clean my disorganized home, and a quest to live an examined life. I don’t think any of my hobbies are unusual. If I say reading you’ll laugh because what writer doesn’t share the same addiction? But I admit I wish I went dancing more often. My newest release is a book entitled Surviving Eden. It’s a contemporary fantasy romance and the second in the Eden’s Court series, which began with Ruling Eden.
It sounds busy around your house! What attracted you to the paranormal genre? Have you written in other genres?
I’ve always read paranormal, or what years ago was simply the fantasy genre before the proliferation of paranormal. I’m a dreamer by nature. What I write is some paranormal-fantasy hybrid, coming down on one or the other end of that spectrum depending on the book. I’m open to writing other things if my muse visits and insists.
Is your work based on old myths or legends, or did you start from scratch to create a new world with a new mythology?
I do a bit of both. I use pieces of standard western mythologies and then add my own elements. For instance, you’ll find familiar myths about the paranormal creatures in my books-- vampires, shapeshifters, angels, demons, witches and dragons—but I add my own twists. Additionally, I created an entirely new creation myth to explain the concurrent existence of humanity and these paranormals. That part was the most fun, I admit.
I totally understand the lure of creating your own world. What’s your biggest challenge when you write paranormal stories?
To track all of the world building. My imagination goes wild, but there are millions of details to manage. I’m not an organizer by nature, so most of it sits in my brain cells.
LOL. Yes, world building is a pretty big job. What are you working on at the present time?
The third book in the Eden’s Court series tentatively titled Recasting Eden.
6.What future goals have you set for your writing?
Just to write something every day. Even if it’s a line. I don’t create ambitious goals because I want to ensure I enjoy my writing. An artificial target just builds pressure. I do better when I let the muse ebb and flow. Plus, if I’m not enjoying it why am I doing it?
Good point. Would you share your links with us?
Sure. My website is www.michellepicard.com and my blogsite is at www.michellepicardsblog.wordpress.com. I have a wonderful group of ladies with whom I also blog at www.thequirkyladies.com.
I’m also found on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/people/Michelle-Picard/100000107670126
And twitter at: http://twitter.com/RulingEden
We’d love to read an excerpt from Surviving Eden. Be sure to include a buy link.
Buy links: publisher’s website http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/SurvivingEden.html
Amazon paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-Eden-Michelle-Picard/dp/0984180524/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280621882&sr=1-2
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-Eden-ebook/dp/B003UNJZPK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1286309713&sr=1-1
Barnes & Noble paperback: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Surviving-Eden/Michelle-Picard/e/9780984180523/?itm=1&USRI=surviving+eden
Rachel Rieh wields enough magic to make a goddess jealous, or so she learned three weeks ago when she thought she was an ordinary, reclusive, and short-tempered gal from Boston. In this second story of Eden’s Court, Rachel, now the new ruler of the Kesayim, (angels, demons, dragons, faeries, vampires, shapeshifters and witches¾the goddess-created protectors of mortalkind) finds herself faced with the task of stopping vampire hunters from annihilating the vampire race. Her lover, Gabriel, half-angel, half-demon, stands by her side to help if she can escape her obsession with protecting him at all cost.
Earth is already on the verge of destruction within six months because magic is out of balance. The new threat to the vampires destabilizes the situation more. In her race to save the vampires, Rachel meets Lilith, goddess, creator of all Kesayim and humans, and the one with all the answers to Rachel’s problems. But is the cold-hearted goddess intent on changing Rachel into her image the greater threat to Rachel and everyone she loves?
Walking through the lush beauty of the Garden of Eden was meant to be inspiring, stimulating, a damned orgiastic delight for the eyes. This morning it was only annoying. Mostly because I was late for my first official diplomatic visit to the vampire realm, and fuming because the path through the garden refused to cooperate and lead us to the appropriate portal.
But the garden, its exotic sentience plucking at my mind, riffling through my thoughts and twittering its opinions--always a spine-tingling sensation--preferred to shift its dimensions and keep the elusive portal far from me and my companion. I would have questioned its motive, but I doubted it practiced anything but an amusing propensity for stirring trouble.
The Eden I strode through wasn’t anywhere on twenty-first century mortal maps of earth; more like a parallel realm snapped out of normal space, disconnected long ago by the goddess who created us all. Same as the home realms of all of the seven Kesayim peoples. Unfortunately, the garden had never recovered from its upset over the separation and tended to become testy at the oddest times. Oh yeah, PMS had nothing on this paradise when it got in a snit.
And now I had to negotiate its moody walkways and get to my destination or else. Without all the Kesayim races stable, including the vampires, I had no chance of uniting them to prevent the literal destruction of our world.
I walked faster.
What’s a little deterioration of the balance of magic on the planet, Rachel? End game, that’s what. So get your butt in gear and figure out what to do about the vampires. Christian’s counting on you. Or do you want to see him murdered too?
My heart rate skyrocketed with the last thought. I so didn’t have time for the garden right now.
On top of the furious pace I set as I stormed down the dirt-covered pathways winding through forest and meadow, I had Tarn, my fae guardsman, still harping at me about my limited escort. His long legs and graceful stride were more than a match for my own. His waist-length white-gold hair, braided down his back, trailed him as he followed me and left no visual impediment to his hard, toned body. Tarn was of the fae’s warrior caste, and he wore his position with every powerful movement, a counterpoint to the more delicate beauty of his face with its milky complexion and deep blue eyes.
As a rule I loved the irreverent fool, but he damned near pushed his limit today with his uncharacteristic doomsday warning that started from first light, when I’d stepped outside my suite in Eden’s Court. His usual caramel tones had flowed to burnt sugar instead. “My lady, if you will not contact Gabriel and ask him to join us for your own safety as we visit the vampires, at least do so for my welfare,” he repeated yet again. “He will tear me up into countless number of little pieces when he discovers only one guard accompanied you.”
I glared at the fae, his scrollwork-covered sword already drawn with his concern, before continuing down the path. I snarled, “Tarn, if you don’t shut up about Gabriel, I’ll be the one tearing you into countless pieces.”
The morning was not shaping up as I’d hoped and the reminder that my lover no longer held his position by my side as constant companion and protector did nothing to improve my mood. I was irritated with Gabriel anyway. I couldn’t figure out the why of it, I just was. “If you don’t remember, Gabriel’s no longer part of the guard and has no say whatsoever about my choice of escort. Anyway, he’s stuck in another bamboo up the fingernails, walking over hot coals negotiation between the angels and the demons today. He does not need any distractions.” No matter how much I want him here, too, I carefully kept to myself.
We dodged a grouping of new bushes popping up in the middle of our path and diverted down a new lane to our side. The garden cackled.
“But my lady...Rachel, if we just--”
I rounded on him, stopping in place with a sudden movement born of anxiety-edged irritation, causing him to skid to a halt to avoid ramming into me. “You know, this shit really gets to me. I’m supposed to be the Mother Heir, the exalted leader of the seven magical races of the Kesayim, all their powers rolled into one complete package. I’m the ruler of Eden’s Court and half the time I’m read the riot act by my own guard, my court seneschal, and the council of representatives, all of whom are supposed to answer to me. Me, remember? The crazy woman in charge of this nuthouse. I say who goes with me to visit the vampires.”
This sounds wonderful, Michelle. I hope you have great luck with it.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Hmm. I do like the title of Pamela Hearon's new book, don't you? His Hotness. Pamela, welcome to the blog. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Southerner, born and raised in Kentucky. Though I live in the Midwest now, I’m still a blood-runs-blue UK basketball fan. Before writing full-time, I was an educator with several different positions through the years, including guidance counselor and English teacher. I’m married with three children. We have a motorhome, so I love to travel and love that I can write while we travel. When I’m not writing, I enjoy gardening and reading. I’m an avowed cat person and Francophile.
I'm a teacher too, but I have four more years before I retire. I'm a cat person too. What did you hope to accomplish with your books?
I wanted to draw my readers into my world and make them believe my characters are their best friends.
What is the greatest test you ever faced as a writer?
My first book was under contract with a company that filed for bankruptcy. Thank heavens, nothing had been done with my story, and, although it took a year to do it, I got my rights back. After that, I was very “gun-shy” of publishers for a while. I’ve got to say the greatest test I ever faced as a writer was finding the courage to place my “baby” into another publisher’s hands.
The same thing happened to me, but the publisher did it with style, and I didn't go through the aggravation you did. What’s the best advice you ever got about the publishing industry?
If you can walk away from this business, do it. It’s not for the faint-of-heart or anyone who doesn’t sport the hide of a rhinoceros. Rejections are an everyday occurrence, and you can’t sit around and nurse your wounds for very long. The only way to get published is to keep putting yourself out there. And after you get published, there is constant public scrutiny of your work. Some will like it; some won’t. Write what makes you happy, and let that expression fulfill your dreams.
Very well said! If you could meet two authors, which ones would you pick and why?
Anne Frank and Diana Gabaldon. Anne Frank because I taught about her and her diary for so many years, I feel as though she’s an old friend. I would love to let her know that her courageous story still touches the hearts of people everywhere, old and young alike. Diana Gabaldon because her Outlander series has provided me with hours upon hours of scintillating reading, and I would love to say thanks for that to her in-person.
Could you share your links with us?
My website: www.pamelahearon.com
My publishers: www.thewildrosepress.com (His Hotness—a romantic comedy)
www.lyricalpress.com (The Timestone Key—a romantic Arthurian fantasy)
We’d love to read an excerpt. Be sure to give us a buy link.
Here’s the opening of my romantic comedy, His Hotness, which can be found here: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/his-hotness-paperback-p-3927.html
His Hotness (Excerpt)
“What you need, Chickie-boom, is a good old-fashioned, head-banging, sheet-fisting, toe-curling orgasm.” Gram snatched up the journal with the worn, floral cover and waved it toward the nightstand. “And by old-fashioned, I mean one that involves a man, not one that requires a battery-pack and a warranty.”
Jade closed her laptop on the Regency she was editing. “What I need is a job with a great publisher, so I can quit sponging off my precious-but-nosey grandmother.”
With her toe, she nudged her closet door closed before Gram could see the empty spaces that once housed her vast collection of Pradas and Guccis. She slid the check from the consignment shop into her desk drawer and raised a questioning eyebrow toward Gram. “How did you know where I keep my, um, toys?”
Gram shrugged. “Lucky guess. And it’s the same place I keep mine.”
Pamela, I feel sure readers will like Gram. Good luck with the book.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Hello, Lisa. Welcome to the blog. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks for having me here, Elaine. I’m a Wisconsinite, born and bred. My science teacher husband and I live in a 150-year-old Great Lakes ship captain’s house. He puts up with my dragon collection, dear man. We also own a farm in western Wisconsin where we hope to retire in a few years. We have two grown sons and wonderful daughter-in-laws. I have a bachelor of science in history and Russian studies, and have been writing professionally since 2004.
History and Russian studies! Two of my favorite topics. What genre do you write in? What drew you to it?
I’m still settling on genre. Of my three novels published so far, the first was a cozy mystery for a book club; the second a romantic intrigue with paranormal subtexts, and my latest is a love story with some twists, but marketed as a romance. I’m trying not to get labeled as a purely romance writer, but I do like to include some sweet love scenes and something historical in everything I write.
What do you think makes a book a page turner?
Ah, page turners are those stories that don’t have tidy chapter endings. They make you want to find out what happens after the cliff hanger you’ve left dangling. It’s a fine line, though, between exhausting your reader and letting him or her come up for air. I love to have my readers say something like “I couldn’t put it down,” but I also want them to say “I had to go back and read that again and I tell my friends about it.”
Those are words of praise indeed to an author. How many WIP do you have going?
I had a few prolific years there during the time I got into the top ten in my first novel contest in 2004, signed my first contract in 2006 and saw my first books come out in 2009. I had to slow down last fall due to some health issues, and now I’m going back to re-work some of my earlier pieces. I’m actively working on editing two of my other manuscripts and writing the third of the mystery series that came out in February 2009.
LOL. Sounds similiar to my own situation. What other authors if any have influenced your writing?
My very eclectic list includes Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffrey, Garrison Keillor, Zane Grey and Taylor Caldwell.
Would you share your links with us?
Sure, thanks for asking.
My website: http://lisalickel.com
Wisconsin Author Review: http://wisconsinauthorreview.blogspot.com
I’m on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lisalickel
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/283940.Lisa_J_Lickel She Writes: http://shewrites.com/profile/lisalickel, and a host of other social networking places and blogging teams. I haven’t twittered, yet, though – I have only so much time and a dial-up connection.
We’d love to read an excerpt. Don’t forget to give us a buy link.
Thanks! Here’s an excerpt from Meander Scar, my latest release. Meander Scar is a story about a woman whose husband went missing several years earlier. She decides to live again when a younger man from her past, now a lawyer, comes home and offers to help put her husband’s estate to rest. In a freak turn of events she discovers what happened to her husband and has to decide whether to tell the truth.
This is from Chapter One:
The doorbell rang. Ann walked down the hall, grinning at the thought of Donna, her mother-in-law who hadn’t liked being a grandmother, becoming a great-grandmother. She fingered the colored square of paper in her hand while she pushed aside the filmy panel covering the sidelights to check out her visitor.
Bonus. A beautiful, dark-haired man stood on her step. Almost any company would be a welcome interruption. Ann opened the door to a gust of chilled wet breeze. Goose bumps rose at the sudden drop of temperature the coming storm brought. A scurrying rustle of dried leaves swirled on the unswept deck of her pillared front porch. Rain slashed at his little car on the brick drive.
Did she recognize him? Something about the nose…the photograph! Ann resisted the urge to compare her picture with her guest.
The man’s lips tilted into a practiced smile as he held out a hand. “Mrs. Ballard…Ann? Do you remember me? Mark? I’m Mark Roth. Trey’s brother? We lived next door.”
Yes…yes. That was it. He squatted at the edge of the frame in her photograph of Ritchie and Trey in fifth grade with a catch of bluegills. How could she have forgotten Mark’s eyes? Even when he had been a high-schooler, those eyes had been the talk of the neighborhood ladies. Arresting blue, the iridescent color of bluebird feathers, Patricia from across the way used to say. Patricia always had been a bit of a nature freak.
Ann put a hand to her mouth and held up the picture with the other. “Well, this is amazing. I was just cleaning Ritchie’s closet and thinking about the boys and their fishing and found this photograph.” What on earth made her say such a ridiculous thing? “Oh, you don’t care about that. Please, come in.”
Ann pulled the door wide and gestured. He had filled out from the wiry athlete who took the basketball team to a regional championship. How many years had passed since she last saw him? Ritchie’s high school graduation. Mark had gone east to college and stayed except for an occasional visit. After Trey’s accident a few years later, the Roths moved away from Wisconsin.
When Mark’s broad back was turned, Ann smoothed her hair and tugged her blouse straight, took a deep breath and prayed her deodorant was still working.
Mark preceded her into the living room and, with sweet attentiveness in enchanting smile and raised brows, waited until she had taken her own seat before he settled into a place of his own. Wow—no one had manners like that anymore. She perched on the edge of one of the oxblood club chairs on either side of the formal brocade sofa. “Well, how are you? It’s been a long time. Are you visiting friends?”
“I’m fine, thank you. I’ve moved back to town. Just a week ago, as a matter of fact.”
“You moved from Virginia? So, you quit your job? I’m afraid your parents and I haven’t kept up much, just a note once in a while, since their…retirement.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Ann saw the rumpled stack of newspapers she had left on the end table and a cobweb hanging from the lampshade. Unexpected company rarely happened. Shame! How could have let the place go? She looked back at her guest before he answered. “I’ve accepted a position with Jung and Royce.”
A tingle of surprise made her raise her eyebrows at the name of the well-known private law firm here in Clayton. Unfortunately, she and Gene had required their services more than once to yank Ritchie out of some scrape. That, besides their general legal business. “Todd Royce was a golfing partner of my husband Gene’s. I hope it works out for you. They must think highly of your abilities.”
Mark turned his head toward the cold gas fireplace. He shrugged and faced her again. “I’ve had a few successes. I hoped to catch up on news from the old neighborhood. I heard Ritchie and Colleen are expecting a baby. And I wondered how you were doing.”
The book is available from your local book seller, as well as Amazon, print http://www.amazon.com/Meander-Scar-Lisa-J-Lickel/dp/1934912239/ref=sr_1_1_oe_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267452628&sr=1-1 and Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Meander-Scar-ebook/dp/B0037Z6YM8/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2 , and Barnes and Noble http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Meander-Scar/Lisa-J-Lickel/e/9781934912232/?itm=1&USRI=Lisa+Lickel and will soon be available in Nook. It’s also coming out in large print this fall.
The trailer is here, on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvD7mE_HQF0
Thank you again, Elaine. I enjoyed the visit!
Come back anytime, Lisa.
Monday, October 4, 2010
I'd like to share a new excerpt from Return Engagement with you. Return Engagement is available at http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com In this excerpt my heroine Elizabeth has just received a note from my hero Richard inviting her to a romantic rendezvous in a bad part of town.
Elizabeth turned her car around and backtracked. If she didn’t find the meeting place very soon, she intended to go home. She didn’t like this rundown, old neighborhood at all. Several scruffy looking people had already stared at her and scared her while her Lexus stood out among the old rattletraps she’d seen. She had also noticed some graffiti she thought might be gang related. That’d be just great. She wasn’t in the mood to fight gangs today.
This time she found 2341. The numbers flaked from a small sign in front of a run-down, decrepit motel. Elizabeth shivered. She didn’t like this look of this place at all. She’d bet anything the owners had abandoned it. Just look. One of the big plate glass windows in the office had shattered and been boarded up. A few straggly shrubs were all but swallowed by weeds.
She still didn’t understand why Richard wanted to come to such a trashy looking, slightly scary place, but she trusted him. His surprise would undoubtedly make her forget all about her troubles getting here.
She turned into the front parking lot which was empty of cars and saw a faded and dusty closed sign in the office window. Wonder how many years the place had been closed? Okay, she’d try around back.
She drove around to the back side of the motelwhere she found a late model silver Buick and a black Jaguar parked side by side. Richard must have a Jaguar, too, thought Elizabeth. She wondered who owned the Buick and decided it probably belonged to someone helping him with her surprise.
She parked beside the two cars and looked around. Richard hadn’t mentioned a room number, but all of the doors were closed except room 205 which stood partially open. That must be the one. She hurried across the parking lot and stepped inside Room. It smelled musty and seemed dark to her, but the sun shone brightly today. She paused a moment to give her eyes time to adjust.
The room was bigger than she’d expected. Actually, it was a suite, not a single room at all. At one time it had probably looked very lovely, but now it just looked old and battered. Water stained wallpaper peeled from one corner while the carpet underfoot was littered with some type of black, loamy substance, maybe dirt, maybe mildew. She didn’t see anyone, so she called, “Richard? Where are you?”
No one answered, but she saw an interior door hanging from one hinge near the back of the room and decided to check it out. She took three steps into the quiet darkness before she finally realized something was wrong. Things didn’t feel right in this room. Every nerve in her body screamed danger, and she seemed to have ice water instead of blood in her veins. She was getting out of here!
With a gasp she turned to run, but she had waited too late. A small man stood between her and the front door. He held an ugly, black gun that pointed straight at her.
“Miss Lane, how very good of you to come,” he began, his voice cultured, precise, and quiet. “This gathering would not be complete without your presence.”
“Who are you? Where’s Richard?” Elizabeth shrilly demanded.
“All of your questions will be answered in time, Miss Lane.” He didn’t take the gun off Elizabeth as he backed toward the outer door and shut it. “Please walk in front of me toward the next room. There’s someone in there who’s waiting for you.”
Elizabeth had no choice, so she turned around and entered the next room. Her eyes hurriedly scanned the interior. If Richard had decided to play some kind of joke on her, he was in big trouble.
Her heart almost skittered out of her chest when she saw a gagged man bound to the bed. He turned his face to her, and Elizabeth recognized Senator Lovinggood.
“Senator!” She darted across the room to remove the cloth stuffed into the Senator’s mouth, but the quiet, cultured voice prevented her.
“No, Miss Lane. Don’t remove the gag. I’ve grown weary of listening to the senator. You are, however, standing in the right place. Feel free to sit down beside Senator Lovinggood if you wish. You’ve gone a little pale, and I wouldn’t want you to faint and hurt yourself.”
Elizabeth defiantly faced the small man even though her knees felt like jelly and her arms had pimpled with goosebumps. “You’d better let us go right now. You have no idea who you’re messing around with.”
The man chuckled. “Of course I do. I’m in no danger from either of you. Please don't bother to threaten me.”
“Who are you? What do you want?”
“Excellent questions, Miss Lane. My name is Kensington Brady, and what I want is justice.”