Monday, December 30, 2013

A good story can be a real killer & Your Monday Fortune Cookie, 12/30/13

What doesn't kill us usually makes for a good story.

SNARKY RESPONSE:  And afterwards, it's best told with copious amounts of alcohol.

What doesn't kill us usually makes for a good story.

Isn't it strange how often the sad stories, the difficult issues, and the painful episodes are the ones that we harken back to the most? Tragedies are infinitely more relatable than comedies. And, if you look closely at any comedy, you'll find the funniest things are built around a moment of pain, be it slapstick or satire, someone's hurting in there somewhere. The difference is that experiencing tragedies is more often private while comedies are public. We withdraw with sadness, but we fling ourselves outward with laughter. This is my observation and my experience.

As writers, we are lucky to be expected to break with that pattern and outwardly share both the sorrows and joys of our characters. Only if we convey the emotional depths properly can we hope to bring our readers the connection they need and desire in a good story. So, we hoard every experience, good or bad, recording the stimuli and response so we can remember it for the page. And what we don't or can't actually experience, we delve into our imaginations, building on the closest proximity, and creating the best facsimile we can.

So, writers and readers, take heart and this advice, when life hands you lemons, yes, you can make lemonade, but be sure that  you also take notes. Someone, somewhere, somewhen is gonna ask you how you did it. Trust me.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wisdom? From Me? And your Monday Fortune Cookie 12/23/13

Wisdom is on her way to you.

SNARKY RESPONSE: I hope she's a lot more reliable than her cousin, Lady Luck! Marlon Brando immortalized that lady's unreliability in Guys & Dolls!

Wisdom is on her way to you.

Personally, I think Wisdom has opted to take the Grand Tour on her way to me. I get an occasional postcard in the form of a momentary burst of brilliance or personal fortitude, but mostly it's all kinda "wish you were here" from Lady Wisdom.

But I have learned this piece of wisdom - courtesy is never out of style.
Saying "thank you" is a simple two-word gift that you can give to anyone and everyone who offers you assistance and/or support.

Thank you, everyone, who has supported me in my writing endeavors - RichWriters, Writers Endeavor, James River Writers, Virginia Romance Writers, and especially all of the Strumpets of Tea & Strumpets! 

And thank you to my husband and family for everything they do every day to make my life more complete. Without you and your love, NOTHING would be possible. Love & thanks!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best Laid Plans...Last Minute Shopping...Books!

Drop by the Celebrate with a Book event at Regency Square Mall on Saturday, December 21st, from Noon to 4pm! I'll be with a group of talented authors braving the last minute shopping frenzy to offer a dazzling array of books to help round out that Christmas list. 

This will be the first public appearance the paperback version of COLLECTOR'S ITEM. I'd love to see it nestled underneath Christmas Trees or tucked into Christmas stockings this year!

Stop by and say hello.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Diamonds, Tears, and Your Monday Fortune Cookie, 12/15/13


SNARKY RESPONSE: Unless we're talking about diamonds. Just ask Marilyn.

The pleasure of what we enjoy is lost by wanting more.

I think this is a particularly cynical or perhaps puritanical fortune. Cynical by assuming that we're so unappreciative by nature that something is devalued by desiring more. I'd think that the value of what we have is increased by our desire for more. And that's where the puritanical comes in, we should NEVER ask for more than what we are given. Why not? We seldom get without making the effort to earn or ask for it. I'd love to hear your thoughts, pro and con.

Today's fortune is very apropos to this the final section of BY TEARS BOUND.


His last kiss still warm on her lips, Annaree watched Erskine stride away from the village toward the cliffs.  He stopped at the edge where the cliff trail dropped below the horizon to wave before he turned to start down to the beach.
She stood staring long after he disappeared below the horizon, imagining his path down to the pocket beach, to the cave and to the discovery of his missing pelt.  She imagined his anger at her betrayal.  She had tried not to fall into the trap, but it had closed around her heart just as it did for every man or woman who had loved a selkie.
Unbidden images of their life before and after this morning rose in her mind.  The fading of shared laughter into the silence of betrayal, the passion that drew him to her turning to a desperate passion to return to the sea.  What had possessed her?  She had thrown it all away.
Knowing the realization came far too late, she drew a shaky breath, slammed the door behind her and ran down the path toward the village.
Annaree burst into her best friend's house.  "Maeve!  Maeve!  Where are you?"
Maeve poked her head around a doorway and frowned.  "What's wrong?"
"Where is it?"  Annaree demanded.
Maeve stepped into the room and jerked her chin toward a chest tucked under the front window.  "Not to worry," she said, wiping her hands on her apron.  "I've got it safe and sound in there."
Annaree threw herself to her knees and yanked the chest open.  For a moment, she stared down at the seal pelt, the reality of what she had done catching at her heart.
"'Twas right where you said it'd be," Maeve said, unaware of Annaree's distress.  "Had a real time getting it in that storm."
Annaree gathered the pelt into her arms and rose to her feet.  "I can't. 'Twas a mistake. I can't trap him this way."
Maeve reached out a hand as if to hold Annaree back, but stopped, hazel eyes clouding in sympathy.  "Even if you give it back, he'll never forgive you."
"He'll understand.  He has to understand.  He has to."  Annaree's voice cracked against the truth reflected in Maeve's eyes.  She shook her head, spun and raced out the door.
Oblivious to the surprised looks and shouted questions, Annaree ran through the village, her arms straining to hold the pelt.  But she refused to stop; she could not spare the time.
The village disappeared behind a curve in the cliffs and still she ran.  Storm debris littered the beach beneath her feet--crushed shells, dead crabs, foam and driftwood.  She stumbled and almost fell several times, but she did not stop running until she saw him standing on the sand, bareheaded, staring out at the sea.
She staggered to a halt at his side, gasping for breath, tears wet on her cheeks, and held out the pelt.
"I'm sorry," she said.  He did not move or acknowledge her as her words tumbled over each other.  "I don't know what I was thinking.  No, that's a lie.  I know exactly what I was thinking--I love you and I wanted you with me always.  Not just on stormy nights or foggy days or whenever you show up, but every day."
She studied his profile--the high brow, the bold nose and the line of his jaw, tight now with anger.  But he said nothing and she filled the silence with her attempt to explain.
"But when you left this morning, I knew I couldn't do it.  I knew I couldn't trap you here.  You're everything I asked for, but you're not mine.  So, here--take it.  I'm giving it back to you.  Just please don't leave me."
Again, she held out the pelt and waited.  He stood silent, so still he could have been carved from the cliff behind them.
The wind caught the tears that trickled down her cheek and tossed them into the waves.  She felt each drop that left her skin.  Just so had she cried the day she wove her spell and now she felt her tears unweaving it.
The man she had known as Erskine turned to look at her and she bit her lip.  His eyes held no warmth for her, only a cold flatness that cut her to the core.  Her arms sagged and the pelt slithered to the sand between them, a shimmering pile of brown.
He bent and scooped it up without hesitation, his silence eloquent, his face expressionless.
"Good-bye," she whispered to the stranger in front of her, then turned and walked away.

Do not cry into the sea, lassie
Let not your tears meet the waves.
For should the water of your eyes
Meet the waters of the sea
A selkie man will steal your heart from thee.


I hope you enjoyed BY TEARS BOUND. I'm sorry if you were expecting an HEA, but perhaps a future incarnation of the story will provide one. Maeve and Random Bay appear in my fantasy e-novella, The Festival of the Flowers: The Courtesan and The Scholar.

The poem that brackets the story leapt into my mind as I was researching selkies for this story. The Orkney Jar website spoke of the spell and Annaree's desire, dilemma, and disappointment were born. I just love research, don't you?

Sooo, do you agree or disagree that today's Fortune Cookie matches up?

Monday, December 9, 2013

By Tears Bound continues and Your Monday Fortune Cookie


SNARKY RESPONSE: Except for brussel sprouts. Oh! Nor anything intentionally containing insects as an ingredient.

Try everything once, even the things you don't think you will like.

You might be expecting me to take back my snarky response, but I'm standing by it. 
Now that that's out of the way, here's the next section of my story, By Tears Bound. I hope you're discovering that, unlike brussel sprouts, you like this.

By Tears Bound

Dressed in a gown of flowered cotton, Annaree left her black hair loose about her shoulders.  When she dabbed a drop of perfume in the hollow at the base of her neck, the touch of the dropper sparked memories of other touches.

Gravel crunched outside and she stoppered the bottle.  Setting it on the shelf, she turned to the door.

A knock, and it opened.

Erskine stood on the threshold, his hat pulled low over his eyes, his smile a flash of white.

She forced herself to cross the room calmly, her voice casual.  "Why is it you only come to see me when a storm's brewing?"

He pulled her into his embrace with a laugh.  His cloak blew around them while the storm broke over Random Bay, sending rain and wind racing through the village.

"I guess the wind just pushed me this way," he said before his lips made conversation impossible.


Life in the village revolved around the pub during a storm.  Life on the beach depended upon hiding from the ravages of the storm.  And life in the house at the edge of the village consisted of languorous kisses, passionate sex and drowsy conversations.

"Tell me another story," Annaree asked, snuggled against Erskine, her hand on his chest.

"I almost think you bed me for my stories as much as for my dashing good looks," Erskine teased, his voice rumbling against her ear.  He yelped as she tugged on a handful of chest hair.  "I yield!  I yield.  What would you hear?"

"Another story of your people and mine," Annaree said, hoping her voice would not betray her.  "Something with a happy ending."

"My people's experience with yours seldom ends happily, Annaree," Erskine said.  "Selkie magic is linked to his pelt and that link is our greatest weakness.  We cherish our time as humans; the contacts we make are treasured and savored for their rarity and brevity.  But humans have persisted in using it to trap and control us for centuries.  And even without that, there's the spell--the one you cast to call me from the sea."

Annaree paused, the words of the spell rolling through her memory.  Standing knee deep in the waves, she had cried her grief for one man and cast a spell to call another.
With seven tears shed in the sea
I call a selkie man to me.
From the ocean far and wide
My tears will call you to my side.
With seven tears shed in the sea
I call a selkie man to me.
"To a selkie male, the tears of a human female are like ambrosia to the gods, and yours the sweetest I'd ever tasted."  Erskine stroked her cheek with one finger.  "Such sorrow, such longing, such determination."  He rolled her over onto her back, his brown hair falling forward to curtain their faces.  "But I've no complaints.  Have you?"

Annaree fought the urge to tell him, then shook her head as she drew his face down to hers.  "None."


Silence pulled Annaree awake and she tensed beneath the blanket.  Eyes closed, she strained for the sound of raindrops pattering on the thatch overhead.  Instead, she heard the faint notes of birdsong.  The storm had blown itself out during the night.

For a second, tears prickled the back of her eyes and she squeezed her lids tight, willing the moisture not to betray her.  Only when the battle was won did she open her eyes.

The pillow beside her was dented from his head and her questing hand felt a trace of heat on the mattress.  She drew a slow breath and rolled over.  He stood before the window, naked, staring out toward the sea.

Pushing herself up on one elbow, Annaree watched him, admiring his unconscious grace.  "I've never known a man so comfortable in his nakedness as you, Erskine," she said.  "Though, to be honest, I've seen only one other naked man in my life.  And while Donnie shared my bed and my body, he never would have stood so before my eyes."

"Why should I not be comfortable like this?"  Erskine asked.  He turned, his face in shadow, his skin gilded by the morning sun.  "Should I get dressed?"

"No!"  Annaree bit her lip, embarrassed by the breathless denial.  She smiled.  "No, I like it.  But I'd like it better if you were over here with me."

"You're a wanton woman, Annaree Velton," Erskine said, laughter dancing around the edges of his voice.  "I like that about you."

"It's all that sunlight, my bonnie lad."  Annaree smiled and slipped back under the covers to clear a space for him.  "Now come and show me how much you'll miss me when you leave."


I hope you enjoyed this section and that you'll come back by next week to read the conclusion of By Tears Bound. Until next week.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Offering you a story along with your Monday Fortune Cookie, 12/2/13


SNARKY RESPONSE: Yeah, and it'll be way too late to do anything about it.

Someday everything will all make perfect sense.

Usually, I try to write something loosely related to the theme of the fortune cookie, but I think it's time to change it up a tad. You know I'm a writer, and I've indulged in the occasional shameless self-promotion of my books. Well, I've decided to offer you, in serial format, one of my short stories, published back in 2008 - By Tears Bound. I hope you enjoy it.

By Tears Bound

Do not cry into the sea, lassie.
Let not your tears meet the waves.
For should the water of your eyes
Meet the waters of the sea
A selkie man will be called to thee.

"Storm coming," Annaree murmured as she stood on the cliffs overlooking Random Bay.  The rising edge of clouds piled up on the horizon drew an early twilight over the coast.  The approaching storm pushed the wind before it and dusted the tops of the waves with foam.

Earlier, the fishing fleet had scurried into the harbor, the fishermen beaching and securing the boats as best they could.  Now the men would be gathered in the pub, downing dark beer and telling darker tales of storms long past.

A gust of wind wrapped Annaree's skirts around her legs and tugged at the shawl around her shoulders.  She tightened the knot at her throat as she watched the sea foam scattered on the beach below.  Then, she turned from the cliff edge and headed down the path to her house at the edge of the village.  Her fingers grasping the knot of her shawl tight, she smiled.

Storm coming.  Would he?


Golden lamplight filled Annaree's house while she bathed in the tub she had pulled in front of the fireplace.  Lavender scented steam rose from the water to perfume the air and coaxed the waves of her hair into loose curls.  But the relaxing warmth of air and water could not keep her from straining her ears for the sound of a footstep, a knock on the door.

She remembered the first time he came to her, appearing on her doorstep ahead of a savage nor'easter that raged for days.  She had checked her supplies carefully and prepared herself for a long lonely wait when there was a knock on the door.

Thinking it might be her best friend Maeve Tillson come to check on her, Annaree rushed to pull the door open.

"Maeve, I'm a big girl.  You don't ..."  She stumbled to a halt as she stared up at the tall stranger in her doorway.

"I'm sorry, sir," she said.  "Can I help you?"

"I think it's more a question of can I help you?"  The man's smile was a flash of white beneath the shadow of his hat.  He held out a bundle to her.  "I believe this may be yours?"

Before she could reach out, a sudden gust of wind made the door shudder in her hand and she remembered her manners.  "Please, come in."

"Thank you."  The man swept his hat from his head as he crossed the threshold and tucked it under one arm when he paused just inside the door.

Annaree latched the door against the wind and turned to see him still holding the bundle.  "Oh, I'm sorry."  She took it in her hands and then froze.

Her hands identified the familiar bumps and knots, her eyes recognized the pattern of stitches--her shawl!  The one she lost the day she ...

Her head jerked up and she stared at the man.  "Where did you find this?" she asked.

"It came to me on the wind," he answered, his dark brown eyes holding hers.  "It came to me when you called me from the sea."


I hope you'll come back next week to read the next installment of By Tears Bound.