On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Belated Celta Thursday, cut snippet from Heart and Soul (in Hearts and Swords: Genista and Cardus)

He held her tightly against his body, whispered in her hair. "I was afraid you'd never let me close, loathe the fact that I'd been hired to keep watch over you – as you figured from the first moment."

She sighed and it only made the fit of her to him better. "Thank the Lady and Lord you were." She spaced her words steadily. "On the whole, the Hollys are a good family." A huge admission that she'd released some of the bitterness to her ex-husband's parents who'd brought the curse down that caused her to miscarry.
Cardus' hand stroking her hair and back stopped and she understood he knew everything about her – yet still didn't judge.

His chest expanded under her own as he took a deep breath. "You know that your ex-husband found his HeartMate," Cardus said very, very carefully.

"I had heard." She looked up at Cardus' less chiseled, more ruggedly commoner features. How dear they were, this man who loved her for herself. Not her beauty, not her rank, not her treasures. Respected and loved the woman he'd discovered in the small house in Gael City.

Again his face was frozen in that impassivity that she knew covered deep emotions, but a wildness in his green eyes betrayed him.

"He's a good man. We knew we weren't HeartMates, but my father had something he wanted. Love grew between us once, then died. I am glad for him...but he is not you." She stroked his hard and still watchful face with her fingertips, feeling the slight coarsness where his beard grew. A strong man. A real man. Finally a man for her? "I want you."

"You have me. Forever."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sept 20 - Ghost Talker Excerpt (re: Clare's Gift from the Universe for Ghost Killer)

Amazon: Sept 20 - Ghost Talker Excerpt (re: Clare's Gift from the Universe for Ghost Killer): Scowling at the bag in Zach’s hand, Rickman said, “Why are you bringing that here to the office?”


“Clare didn’t want it at her place. She’s still going through the boxes delivered to her from her great-aunt’s house in Chicago.” A lie in the way he’d put the two sentences together, but this time Rickman didn’t pick up on that. His frown stayed fixed on the canvas grocery bag.

Rickman grunted, then said, “I don’t want it in my office safe either.” With a jerk of his head, he turned on his heel. “There’s a general building safe down here.”

Rickman led the way to the main corridor and went left, wended through another couple of hallways. Finally he stopped at a nondescript door and blocked Zach’s view of the numeric keypad he used to open the door. The action irritated Zach a little. *He* was the ex-cop here. He could be trusted. He’d bet his substantial disability pension that Rickman and his special-ops guys had broken through more than one vault.

So he stopped just within arm’s reach of the man and offered him the bag by its handles, smiling. “Go ahead and stow it. I’ll let you know when we need it back.”

Obviously Rickman didn’t like the idea that he’d have to retrieve the thing. They stood a solid minute staring at each other. “You’re new to my company and still in your probationary period.”

“Yep.”

“Geeze.” Running a hand through his hair, Rickman took the bag and slid silently into the vault. The hallway immediately felt better to Zach. Still had a faint smell of machines and a trace of gym, but felt fine.

When Rickman came back, Zach noted the slight sheen of sweat on his forehead. Interesting that the portrait had physically affected Rickman. Before the door slid shut, Zach began walking to the gym.
Rickman caught up with him easily, of course.

They were back at the elevator bay before Zach said, “Psychometry, the ability to learn facts about an object, or the people who owned the item, by sensing vibrations or whatever from the object. You could be useful.”

“That’s what the government thought, though my commanding officers never referred to any little skill I might have.” Teeth clenched and jaw angled up, Rickman stared straight ahead and not at Zach.

He took a couple of paces toward the door to the parking garage.
A while back Zach had realized his old tribe of police officers only welcomed him as one who’d lost the good fight, but that he could make a new place for himself in Rickman’s small tribe of operatives.

An honored place, since he had more investigative skills and training than all of the others put together. He hesitated, but if he wanted that tribe, he had to act, and now.

Buy at amazon:


Monday, September 19, 2016

Ghost Talker Days -- Sept 19 -- EXCERPT

A chuckle escaped Zach. He shook his head and grinned. “Seems like Mrs. Flinton convinced Welliam yesterday to hire us on to officially find the poltergeist haunting Buffalo Bill’s grave.”

Clare’s lips pinched. “We were doing that as a pro bono, a service to the community.” She sounded offended at having Rickman orchestrate things. Her brows came down as she stared at him. “I thought you were all about serving and protecting the public.”

That caught him on the raw, but he knew she didn’t mean any offense. He unclenched his teeth, then said patiently, “Clare, this is not a case that the Denver Police Department wants to handle—that ANY public law enforcement officer would like to handle.”

“Oh.”

“And it’s not a case they could handle. We can. Me, you, Enzo, and the ghost of Texas Jack.”

She nodded.

Zach appealed to her baser self. “And I’d prefer to be paid for taking care of the mess. How about you?”

“That’s true.”

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Celta Thursday, A couple of Naming Notes

Celta Thursday, A couple of Naming Notes: HEATHER, Ur

Plant Names: Calluna (Lark's mother) VULGaris (Lark's male cousin), Bella (Lark's nickname by Holm), ericaceae (used to make brooms), cinerea (Lark's cousin, the mental healer), PHYLLodoce (Lark's Fam) breweri, hyemalis, phyllodoce empetriformis, cassiope mertensiana, glanuliforea, brewer's mountain, French, pink mountain, scottish, white, white winter, yellow mountain, LINGA (mentioned in Heart Duel)

*****************************************************************

HAWTHORN, Huathe

Plant Names: Crataegus, CRATAG, monogyna, LAEVigata, raphiolepis indica, aponogetonacae, aponogeton, distachyos, kratos, crusgalli, laciniata, lavallei, tanacetifolia, oxyacantha, haw, may, MAYBLOSSOM, mayflower, rosaceae, maybush, maytree, quickset, thornapple, whitethorn

Friday, September 09, 2016

Belated Celta Thursday: Snippet from Heart FATE

Belated Celta Thursday: Snippet from Heart FATE:

When Tinne returned to T'Holly Residence and took over the tower as his living space, they consulted with Mitchella D'Blackthorn on the decoration.

Again.

She had advised restructuring rooms just outside his tower on two floors to connect with it, making it into a suite for his HeartMate.

She'd even tinted the walls, added murals and holos, furnished the bedroom, sitting room and the small sunroom that opened onto an area that could be made into a garden. Apparently TQ and Mitchella had consulted on Lahsin's taste.

The suite was lovely bare, and after it was done, it reminded Tinne so much of Lahsin when he entered it that he never went back.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Fate

Celta Thursday cut scene from Heart Fate. Tinne asked TQ to show him the record of Morning Glory's audition as the voice of TQ: (due to my current work copy edits of Ghost Maker this is raw).

An image coalesced with amazing quickness, showing the outside courtyard and gate. The colors were garish in intensity. Tinne said nothing. Fancy shoes clicked on the flagstone walk before the House. Morning Glory was a blurry shadow.

Again the coughing came and Tinne realized the House had been testing its voice.

The virulent green gate swung open
.
"Gweetyou, gweetyou, gweetyou!" The House squealed in the unfortunate baby tones of the previous actress.

Morning Glory came into view. Once more Tinne felt the shock of recognition that she looked like his lost wife. She stopped, put a hand on her lush hip, surveyed the House with a curled lip. "Lord help me, it glows. A baby Residence. This has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever done." A feral smile, a caress of her pursenal. "But it pays well and will pay better when I snag the Holly SecondSon."

The tone, the walk, the expression was all Morning Glory and none of Genista. Then Tinne saw her put on a bad mask of his wife and it was even more revolting. She glided up to the House, opened the door and entered, stood in the small atrium. "Greetyou...Residence."

"I am the Turquoise House!" Another squeal.

"You certainly are." Then words under her breath that the Turquoise House still heard and recorded. "Incredibly tacky color on the outside and that glow. Lord help me, I'm glad I don't have to live here with this infantile thing." A quick shudder.

Chapter 22

The actress examined the room, raised her voice. "Lovely decorating, Turquoise House. You were lucky Mitchella Clover D'Blackthorn took an interest in you. She does wonderful work, so...rich. And the brash and eclectic showcases your, ah, personality."

Tinne winced at the snide remark of the actress
.
In the viz, the House answered, "Yeth?" Uncetainty was in the word. A tapestry rippled on the wall.

Morning Glory went over to finger it. "Excellent thread count, pure llamawoolweave. Yes, D'Blackthorn made her life well. Imagine being able to leave such furnishings in a House that so often stands empty. Turquoise House, I hear that Holly SecondSon is living here at the moment and requested you have a new voice. I'm sure we can come to an agreement on that," she purred, and Tinne understood she meant him and her, not the House and her.

The House said, "Tinne Holly, yeth. Are you going to wead to me?"

"Oh, yes." Morning Glory's lips curved. She cleared her throat, and when she spoke again, it was the closest she'd come to Genista's voice that Tinne had heard from her and he squirmed.

"Why don't I recite some nursery rhymes and a few grovestudy prayers and lessons for you?"

"Didn't you bring thomething to wead?"

"My dear, I am an actress, I don't need to read a part, particularly in this instance. Memorization and recitation can be fine. Or," she went to a gilded mirror and primped, and the slyness was back, marring her face, "I can recite some...love...poetry, or something from my last play. I was the lead in a romantic drama."

"I don't think I need to hear love poetry." The House was turning stubborn.

"Very well." Morning Glory shrugged, adjusted the off-the-shoulder dress, fluffed her hair. "When do you expect Holly – Tinne, back?"

"When he arriveth."

Tinne chuckled. Good response.

"He goes out in the evenings, then?" She frowned, touched the line between her brows as if to banish it, turned away from the mirror and began to wander the House. Tinne hoped sincerely that she hadn't entered his room.

Morning Glory sauntered through the dining room, trailed her finger along the surface of the gleaming table. "A single slab of reddwood. Incredible, expensive. Lovely. My dear House, don't you like this voice? I assure you that Tinne Holly would prefer it."

"It changeth too much. Not conssistent in the tones."

"What! Are you, an childish construct, insulting me!"

"I think I want you to go," the House quavered.

"Dear, dear one. You have so much to learn." Morning Glory recovered quickly, oozed mock sympathy as sweet as the syrup in Tinne's cup had been. "A man – a real human person – prefers to have different tones in the voice. More than one personality for companionship. Most Residences have many ancestral characters for the noble lord or lady to choose from."

"I've heard that," the House muttered.

"I'm sorry that you have only one ego emerging, but we will do the best that we can with this." She sighed deeply. "Listen carefully." She declaimed intricate instructions for celebrating Yule in a close approximation to Genista, if Genista had been pompous and sly and mean. "Therefore the house must be pristine for the enjoyment of the holiday, and adorned in the proper manner..." she ended, studiously scanning the mainspace for Yule decorations that Tinne hadn't bothered with.

"I don't think–"

But Morning Glory segued into her last script, and now her voice changed to her own natural tones. It appeared like she was going to do the whole damn play.

"House, stop," Tinne said.

The image froze. Morning Glory's voice cut off mid-word.

"How long does this go on?"


"Another septhour."
"Ah." Ouch. "Can you, um," Tinne waved. "Make it go faster."

"Yes."

The pace picked up, and after a moment or two, Tinne realized that between various pieces of recitation, Morning Glory was sweetly chiding the House on the lack of maturity, intelligence, sophistcation. Qualities that Tinne would prize and that the actress had but which were woefully lacking in the Turquoise House.

His anger simmered. "Please show the woman's last five minutes inside here."

The mist dissolved, then reconstituted. Morning Glory's last recitation was a Yule prayer, delivered in a pious tone that revealed absolutely no hint of spirituality in the woman who repeated the words. Then she glanced at her wrist timer. "Now, dear one, you must recall that with my help we can make this a loving, special home for Tinne."

"As if you aren't special enough," Tinne said.

"But I must leave," the actress said.

Because she'd been paid for that amount of time and not a second more, Tinne understood. She drew on her rabbit fur cape**, Tinne loathed garments made from real fur, as did Genista. That must have been the first clue he'd instinctively noticed upon meeting the actress.

"We'll be perfect together," Morning Glory said, and again Tinne thought that she meant him – and his gilt – and herself, not a team of Morning Glory and Turquoise House. Without any farewell, she left the house.

"A nasty woman," Tinne said, belly queasy from a surfiet of the female.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August 30th in Ghost Seer.

I am behind on my Ghost Seer (books) calendar. Today, August 30th, is the next to last day of Ghost Seer. So here's an excerpt, and a pic of Virginia Dale where Clare has gone to dig up a bottle:

She turned a corner and could see the station. Shock!

There was a house, a ranch, buildings, whatever just below the station, on the other side of a barbed-wire fence.

Heart thumping, she crept along the road, hoping no one saw her, would come greet her . . . anything. Why in tarnation had she worn a floral shirt? She should have stuck to natural beige or brown, should have bought a beige or brown shirt. At least she had a straw cowboy hat.

At another open barrier, she read the sign. Of course it said not to disturb or take anything, gave the penalty. It specifically mentioned no digging. She swallowed.

And right there, in the middle of the open space by the large wooden sign, stood the ghost of Jack Slade. Yes, if anyone found her digging she could get in deep trouble. She’d say she was looking for the GPS cache? Putting one down? Maybe that would be all right.

But her mouth had dried.

*There’s Jack!* Enzo yipped with the enthusiasm of a ghost dog, not Other spirit.

“I see him.” His standing by the sign that lied about him just seemed too sad. Yet such things would be part of her life.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Heart Journey cut to become Script of the Heart

Here's the original cut from Heart Journey that I intended to use as the basis of Script of the Heart, Johns' and the Healer's story (coming later this year, I hope). The story and this scene has changed significantly. :)

"Want to quiet that glider alarm down?" rumbled Cratag Marigold as he strode over, hand on his blazer hilt as he scanned the trees.

"Alarm stop, Cherry," Raz said, then looked to Cratag. "The thieves got away."

There was a quiet woman's sob – not from his glider. "Oh, my poor baby, I didn't shield you and look what happened, your jeweled timer, stolen!"

"This is a bad thing." T'Spindle, their hose, a short, rotund man, said. People cleared the way for him. "Healer needed here!" he shouted, making both Raz and Johns wince.

"Getting my bag!" answered a voice from the direction of the Residence. Obviously the Spindles had a Healer on staff.

"This is a very bad thing," GrandLord Spindle repeated, eyes hard, reminding Raz that the man was of the FirstFamilies and used to playing dangerous politics. Raz's anger eased at the thought that the thieves would truly regret this night. Spindle was easygoing, but he was stubborn and no doubt would make sure the guards on this case were equally stubborn about solving it. Of course Spindle would look at his enemies first.

A large hand curved under Raz's elbow. "Let me help you up," Cratag said quietly, lifted Raz to his feet with ease. The warrior narrowed his eyes. "Looks to me like you need more than stage fighting instruction."

That stung as much as Raz's wounds. He opened his mouth to say something and his lip split. He swore under his breath. "Maybe you're right." He nodded to Cratag as the man stepped away. "I'll think about it."

A lovely young woman rushed close, a Healer's bag in her hand. Johns groaned. She went to him, her hands swept over his chest. She frowned. "I don't sense anything wrong with your lungs."
Johns sat up, smiled crookedly at her. "Just bruises." He tilted his head toward Raz. "You should see to Raz. The three of them got the worse of him."

"Three!" she exclaimed. Her hands continued to stroke Johns, easing his bruises, as he rose to his feet.

"Thanks, Johns," Raz muttered, wincing as his mouth stung again.

"Anything I can do." Johns bowed as the Healer looked on admiringly. Then he glanced at Raz's glider, Cherry, grimaced and shook his head. "That was a real pretty glider, Raz."

The Healer had finally reached Raz. "Broken cheekbone, bad bruise on the temple..." she pressed on his ribs and he yelped. "I think you should come inside where I can treat you." Her voice held the faintest hint of glee, as if her job with the Spindles was pretty boring.

"I'll help him along." Johns was there, crowding a raised-eyebrow Cratag aside and wrapping his equally brawny arm around Raz's shoulders. They hurt, too. Everything hurt.

"That's so kind of you." The Healer smiled approval.

"Let's get you going, friend." Johns tightened his grip.

Raz hissed out a breath, but followed along, fairly steady on his feet, though he felt a little light-headed. He limped. He might have broken some toes. His hands weren't feeling good, either.

Johns actually shortened his stride and slowed his steps. "Thanks, Johns," Raz said. This time he meant it.

"'Welcome. Sorry about you and your glider."

Raz knew that was true. Johns had been open in his envy at Cherry.

"Tell you what," Raz said as they took the steps slowly. "Why don't I ask my father to get another sportcoupe at cost, sell it to you for the same price."

Johns eyes gleamed. "In blue?"

"The same color as your eyes," Raz agreed as they angled through a door to a sitting room that was furnished in a masculine fashion where blood and grime wouldn't show – much.

"Done," Johns said.

But Raz had a nasty feeling that things had just begun....

The Healer bustled in, ordering others to provide hot water, softleaves...She was small and voluptuous with bright red hair and a smattering of freckles. Johns watched her every move. Raz closed his eyes and wished Del was there.
****

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Celta Thursday -- Snippet of a scene never written in Heart Search

Celta snippet from Heart Search of a scene never written...meeting between Laev T'Hawthorn (hero) and T'Ash at T'Ash's:

Two septhours later, Jasmine issued him into T'Ash's office, the first time Laev had been in the room since he'd become T'Hawthorn. He still remembered the first time he'd been there ...as a child whose Flair would be Tested to determine the type of magic he had and the strength of it.

T'Ash looked the same, a very formidable man. But when he gazed at his daughter it was with love and wonder, as if he still blessed the Lady and Lord for bringing her into his life.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back to the Captain's Log from Heart Thief

As I said before, this was a failed experiment, a secondary story at the beginning of each chapter of Heart Thief. I have at least 3 versions up through Chapter 7, after that I gave up. I used the basis of these logs as the story Heart And Sword.

NUADA'S SWORD CAPTAIN'S LOG, AWAKE INTERVAL, WEEK 2, DAY 4, 2100 HOURS

I am confident and in command outside my quarters, slowly regaining the trust of many. I've instituted probe-building to saturate our pathway. The new program has attracted the intelligent and competitive young, channeling their energies.

Those people who were Awakened and lived their full lives aboard the ships have bred for psi-powers. I see a significant increase in this talent, now called "Flair." Other technical genius has prospered. The engines have been overhauled, also satisfying young scientists who have an outlet for their skill.

I am guardedly hopeful and constantly reassure the rational ones in the crew. Only here can I say how the irrational ones scare me. A new home for us all must be found, and soon. I lead a double life. I need Miriam.

Those are first steps, and if I plan correctly, I can regenerate the ideals I believe in, in the crew. I pray we find a new planet soon.

I snuck away to see Miriam. Her cube was cold to the touch, and I ached to see her smile. The cryogenic room is huge and awesome and terrible. Something was wrong with the controlled atmosphere, when I left, my face was wet.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Belated Celta Thursday -- The Vote from Heart Thief

The Vote from Heart Thief (not included in the book)

Current HouseHolders

T'Birch - Death (Birches in Heart Thief, not HeartMated)

T'Rowan - Death (T'Rowan dies in Heart Thief, D'Rowan, HeartMate is burned, follows within a few weeks).

D'Alder - Banishment (not HeartBonded)
D'Willow - Death
She is a widow, so she must not have had a HeartMate. This may be another reason she resents her Daughter'sSon so much.

T'Ash - Banishment
Recently HeartBonded with Danith D'Mallow

T'Hawthorn - Death
Widower, he had a wife, not a HeartMate

T'Oak - Banishment (T'Oak in Heart Thief) HeartBonded
T'Holly - Banishment (T'Holly in HeartMate; T'&D'Holly in Heart Thief, Heart Duel and Heart Trail)
HeartBonded with Passiflora, a GrandHouse Apple

D'Hazel - Banishment (HeartBonded)
T'Apple - Banishment
D'Vine - Freedom
D'Vine dies in Heart Thief, her heir T'Vine, Vinni is in Heart Duel. D'Vine is an old widow, she wasn't HeartBonded. She knows that her Heir, Vinni, can lose his HeartMate before they bond and warns him.

D'Ceylon, second daughter of GreatHouse Vine is head of her own Household and has a 96% accuracy for reading tea leaves.

T'Ivy - Banishment (T'Ivy and D'Ivy are in HeartMate)
Had a wife, now has a HeartMate of the Aloe Family

T'Reed - Death (T'Reed is in Heart Thief)
NOT HeartBonded

T'Blackthorn - Absent (T'Blackthorn is in Heart Thief, his story is Heart Trail)
HeartBonded to Mitchella Clover

T'Elder - Death (T'Elder dies in Heart Thief, who succeeds?)
Not HeartBonded, wife from T'Reed Family

D'SilverFir - Absent (D'SilverFir's story is Heart Thief, she abdicates to her heir Caltha in Heart Thief, she's in Heart Duel)

D'SilverFir is HeartBonded to Ruis Elder. Her mother was not HeartBonded, her MotherSire was. Does this play a part in her story?

T'Furze - Banishment (Not HeartMated, One Dies in Heart Thief)

T'Heather - Banishment (Lark's MotherSire in Heart Duel)
HeartBonded

WhitePoplar - Death
T'Yew - Death (Not HeartMated, One dies in Heart Thief TINNE'S HEARTMATE MARRIES YEW)

D'Grove - Banishment (D'Grove is in Heart Thief)

T'Spindle - Banishment
HeartBonded to another Spindle

Honeysuckle - Banishment
Beech - Banishment

T'Sea - Banishment (T'Sea is in Heart Duel)

TOTALS: 14 Banishment
8 Death
1 Freedom
2 Absent

Friday, July 29, 2016

Newsletter #2 going out tomorrow morning, Link Below

http://eepurl.com/b_Nqs1 That's the link to my second installment of my newsletter. Some Celta worldbuilding questions answered.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Celta Thursday: Next Captain's Log originally from Heart Thief, the story of which became Heart and Sword:

Celta Thursday: Next Captain's Log originally from Heart Thief, the story of which became Heart and Sword: NUADA'S SWORD CAPTAIN'S LOG, AWAKE INTERVAL, WEEK 2, DAY 2, 1100 HOURS
I am still alone, still untrusted by most of the crew, still working hard to establish my authority. I have no friends, dare not make any and still remain the inviolable Captain and manage a reasonable chain of command. I must have no obvious weaknesses or the whole shaky system will unravel and chaos will result.
I have consulted with the Captains of Lugh's Spear and Arianrhod's Wheel. The Captain of the Spear is a descendant of Philip Masur, calling himself T'Alder. The new naming system we initiated has been accepted by the generational crew. Juliet McLeod, now Juliet D'SilverFir is master of the Wheel. She was Awakened many years ago and is very old. The situations on the other ships are not as bad as the Sword, but the Captains made it clear they look to me for answers. My decisions will be followed by them.
I have taken steps to improve shiplife, hoping to stop revolutionaries from having a solid base. The blandness of the food was incredible. I instructed the computer to provide a larger variety, including desserts, that were dropped from the menu some time past due to the depletion of sweets. More sugar and honey will be raised in the Greensward. I have ordered the dead flower and greenery boxes along the corridors to be re-soiled and replanted.
I have also issued a statement that since our original destination may be out of reach, another planet ripe for colonization will be found.
Will my skills, my so-vaunted "charisma" be enough to save the ships? I have rarely had doubts in my life, never about going on this long trip and helping to found a new society. But that was when I was with others of my own mind, and Miriam. Just the sight of her sleeping and safe comforts me.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Celta Thursday, On with the cut Captain's Logs from Heart Thief

Okay, here's Celta Thursday, another cut from the Captain's Log of Heart Thief (hopefully in order, though I kept rearranging it according to the rewriting I did on the main story). As I said before, when I wrote Heart and Sword, I changed the names. :)

NUADA'S SWORD CAPTAIN'S LOG, AWAKE INTERVAL, WEEK 2, DAY 2, 1100 HOURS

I've learned the previous Captain, also Awakened from suspended animation, died in a mysterious, violent "accident." He was Joseph Martino, next on our original roster to be Awakened. But not the best person to have been placed in such a position in the seventh generation, rigid and authoritarian.

The trip should not have taken this long. Our projections were that Landing would take place in the middle of the fourth generation. A fourth generation crew would still have elders with faint memories of Earth. But the life-spans on ship are not as long as we expected and neither is the speed of the journey. The top speed lasted only two generations.

Our technology is failing: particularly the engines and the recycling systems for life support.

In the bedroom of my quarters, on my most private and secure monitor, I have a visual of Miriam and her life stats. Watching her, I recall the past, calculate the future, and ensure she is safe in the now.

To lose her would be to lose all hope.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Celta Thursday, model of T'Vine Residence (Hohenzollern Castle)

Celta Thursday. A while back I bought a couple of castle models, one is of Windsor, which was the one I based the Summoning series on. One was this one, Hohenzollern, which is Vinni's (I knew this in, ah, Heart Choice). I've been hauling it to the desk from it's shelf to study it, so I thought I'd put it up. The greenery/garden with the least amount of windows overlooking it is Vinni's private garden.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Heart Thief Captain's Log, cut

NUADA'S SWORD CAPTAIN'S LOG, AWAKE INTERVAL, WEEK 1, DAY 7, 2200 HOURS

My Miriam still sleeps. I must protect her and the rest of those in the suspension cubes at all cost. And I must save those who live now, on the ship. Will my skills, my vaunted charisma be enough? I have rarely had doubts in my life, never about going on this long voyage and helping to found a new society. But that was when I was with others of my own mind, and Miriam.

The computer would wake her, if I asked. If I said that I needed her to perform well. But better that she sleeps through this dangerous time. She would hate the ship, all metal and cold. She so anticipated colonizing a new planet, and is perfectly suited to that work -- but this ship would erode her soul.

This is my sixth night without Miriam.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Celta Thursday: Heart Thief Chapter 3, Version 3, Captain's Log:

I'm continuing with the Captain's Log from Heart Thief, the secondary story that I'd planned on telling before every chapter. That didn't work out. The story itself ended up being Heart and Sword in the collection: Hearts and Swords.



LOG: STARSHIP NUADA'S SWORD, CAPTAIN MATTHEW BOUDREAU, AWAKE INTERVAL, DAY 3, 1100 HOURS
As I fumble to understand a world strange to me, I must maintain a perfect facade of the all-knowing, all-powerful, completely capable Awakened Captain. Yet I get side-long looks from the generational crew, words of obedience but glances of wariness, suspicion, even hatred.
They judge me.
As I judge them, and the situation.
I must function as a leader. I cannot express any doubts, risk any sort of human error. The lives of those still sleeping in the suspended-animation tubes, human and animal, all the heritage of Earth, as well as the lives of all those now staffing these three starships are in my hands. Failure is not an option.
My orders are slow to be carried out. I've surprised muttering clumps of men who immediately disperse. Suspicious system breakdowns are common.
Mutiny may be imminent.
And I must stop it.
Somehow.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

New Story: Pinky Becomes a Fam, in my New Newsletter! So much new.

Yes, I will be sending out my first newsletter that originally went out on Monday, once again tomorrow. I wrote a new story especially for it, Pinky Becomes a Fam, from Pinky's point of view. The newsletter also includes (up first), the story Zanth and the Treasure.

You can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/bYc2dT

I hope you all enjoy my work!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cut from Heart Legacy

Okay, the filibuster I've been watching all afternoon and evening has ended and now I know where to go to see the senate in action/inaction all the time. Since it's after midnight here, and Thursday, I will post a small cut portion from Heart Fire.

**I have decided to accept your offer of a home with you and living in your stables,** said a slightly pompous voice in her head.

The Fam she'd found! He'd called to her mentally for a month, since she'd first begun her excursions into Druida and had found him prowling from one alley to another. She'd given him furrabeast jerky she'd had with her, and they'd actually talked, discussed various topics. He'd helped her firm up a map of the city in her head.

**Thank you!** she enthused back to him.

**You promise good food and a warm room of my own.**

**Yes!**

**You may come and get me tonight.** A feline sniff.

**I will.**

**I will be in the alley near Woodruff Street. I will see you later.**

**Yes.**
********************************************************************
Deathless prose. LOL. I'm punchy.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Beltated Celta Thursday, Original Scene from Chapter 8, Heart Thief

Belated Celta Thursday, Original portion of Chapter 8, Heart Thief. "We have replaced the warped panels in the energy storage
area," the Ship said four days after Ruis had fallen ill.

Ruis smiled and leaned back in his desk chair. He'd had some
techbots alter it until it was a pleasure to sit in. He was
getting used to the Ship speaking in the royal We. When
asked, it stated it was an amalgam of departments integrated
to communicate with him.

"We request further orders."

This made Ruis' smile widen and a kernel of pride unfurl.
The first time the Ship had asked him for orders had
startled him. *He*, Ruis Elder, the despised, asked for
orders. People had always avoided him. He had no good
friends and mere acquaintances. Lord and Lady knew, Samba,
his only companion, never asked for orders.

"List priorities."

It did.

"Repair additional maintenance androids," he decided.

"Yes, Captain," the Ship replied.

Ruis whistled through his teeth. He was Captain. The
Captain's quarters, *his* quarters, contained a small room
the Ship had converted into a workroom at his request. On
the table before him was his latest project, an Earth motor
the Ship was teaching him to repair and renovate. That was
his passion.

He had plans of the Ship spread out, covering the huge desk.
With a drawstick -- a *pen* -- the Ship called it, he traced
a thin line of red that showed where the infamous CommonCold
viruses had bred. They were gone. But not forever.

Ship had insisted that Ruis take samples to preserve in case
they were needed for the future. Ruis tapped his finger on
the area of the map that showed the DNA Room, a huge room
filled with samples of all the life of Earth, information on
papyris and film and "bubbles." Encyclopedias of
instructions and diagrams.

He shivered in pure awe at the thought of all that work and
knowledge and potential, all at his fingertips, all
available to be crammed into his brain. So many options for
his learning to follow, and his life, that he struggled to
decide what to study.

But he did know what he wanted to do most. He wanted to see
D'SilverFir

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Heart Thief, Book 2, Cut

That evening, before the SilverFir Family was to leave for the opera -- an annual box had already been purchased -- Ailim sat opposite her financial advisor, Donax Reed, in her den, drinking t'caff. He stretched his legs out. Ailim noticed he didn't have the elegant height or figure of Ruis Elder. Donax sipped from an antique china cup. Eyes half-closed, a small smile on his face, he said, "I want your cuz Cona."

A dangerous, but unreadable thought pattern emanated from him. Ailim lifted her own cup to give herself a little time and scalded her tongue. "In marriage?"

He inclined his head.


"I'm sure we can come to an agreement," Ailim said.

"She doesn't want me."

"She doesn't know you. Give her time." Ailim sipped.

"With a few reasonable risks and aggressive action, we can clear the D'SilverFir debt in this generation. Or," he shrugged, "we can plod along."

Blackmail. Her blood heated and her fingers tightened around the cup handle. The Family had to show more than plodding before the six month deadline to keep their Residence and estate. But two could play this game.

Inhaling deeply to tamp down her outrage, she set her cup down and leaned forward a little in her chair. "It will take time to develop a relationship between you and Cona. Court her. We can set a date for the formal announcement in six and a half months -- perhaps Spring Equinox."

He narrowed his eyes. "You think so?"

She kept her gaze locked with his. "You must decide your priorities, and what actions you will take to gain your goals. But," she smiled with teeth, "my cuz will not appreciate a man who lost her Residence. She is very proud." And vain. And selfish.And troublesome. Ailim smiled faintly. "I think you will do well together."

He stared at her and laughed, a hand flew up in a fencer's acknowledgment of a hit. "You look soft."

She curled her fingers over the chair arm. "I am Supreme Judge of Druida."

He stood and put the cup onto the saucer without the hint of a clink. "I want your cuz. Will you promise her to me?"

"No, not now."

His teeth flashed. "She's spoiled. I may need to be a little mean." He sounded as if he relished the task.

Her face froze. "No force or coercion at all, or your Family will be plunged into another blood feud."

He raised his eyebrows. The Reeds had more men and younger sons to fight than the D'SilverFirs. "No force or coercion. But she's my price, don't deny her to me."

"You have my agreement to wed her."

"And perhaps a D'SilverFir estate?" he asked

"Land for a younger son?"

"A cultivated, profitable portion," he pressed.

"We shall discuss that. If you do well and Cona refuses the marriage, then there will still be payment for you from D'SilverFir, a larger, more prestigious estate."

A corner of his mouth lifted. "Ah. I want the woman, though. But if my strategy does not work, perhaps a mid-sized estate would be acceptable." He glanced at the puppy sleeping beside her chair. "And a litter of pups."

"I'll promise a litter."

He bowed and left the den quietly.

Ailim knew one thing for certain, she couldn't trust him. She would have to be very cautious and very clever, or, at the end of six months, she'd lose the Residence and estate.
One telepathic word shot from his mind as he exited. Seduction.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Belated Celta Thursday, Lost Heart Cut, Barton Before Matchmaker

First, I apologize in not getting this up. I felt wretched yesterday.

Celta Friday: Lost Heart Cut, Barton before matchmaker:
Barton sat at a table to one side of the huge Clover Compound middle courtyard, a smile pasted on his face and a cold beer in his hand, and watched the play of a couple of dozen Clover children.

And pretended not to brood. None of those children were his. And the two who would also have stayed up for the Family celebration with fireworks like all the rest — Savi and Balansa — remained missing.

A full two weeks had passed since they’d left and he hadn’t been able to find them. Thorny need still stuck in his heart that the Family must right the mistakes they’d made with the children. Barton must find them.

Shrieking echoed in his head as the last of the pre-teens scattered from a clump near him, running to their individual homes. The Clover Compound consisted of row houses built around two full city blocks with courtyards in the middle.

Construction around the third block they owned was ongoing. Barton’s own home would be dark and silent. Not even a Fam awaited him.

The last of his generation to marry. That realization needled him as much as the loss of his relatives. Clovers usually wed early and got started on their families. But they weren't the man who was responsible for the security of the whole Family. Family with a capital f. The entire, now noble, clan.

He scrambled every day to keep on top of his job as Chief of Security. Even though he'd had that job for ten years. And now Barton could also see that Walker would fulfill his potential. His quietly sneaky brother would rise to the very top of Celtan society and become the highest leader of them all. Barton swallowed more beer that sloshed in his gullet nicely. Yeah, Walker would eventually become Captain of AllCouncils, Barton had no doubt. And that meant security for his brother and the rest of the Family was vital.

Who could think about taking a wife and making children with that on his shoulders?

But as Walker gathered up his HeartMate and their two children, as couples slipped into recently claimed houses, as the older teens reluctantly trudged to their parents’ homes, Barton stayed alone in the dark courtyard and listened to cheerful and mundane sounds drift from the open windows.

And wondered, really, if the matchmaker GreatLord Saille T’Willow would be able to find Barton a lover, a wife, a partner. And what he would do with her if Willow did.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Celta Thursday, final cut from Enata in the Vault, Lost Heart

(something with Barton next week):
When her brother had left and she didn’t remember, had that been when her marrow deep loneliness began? Her dissatisfaction with her life? And if it affected her, it would have affected all of her Family!

She looked at the picture. Her father’s light brown hair had silvered significantly since that viz. And she hadn’t noticed. Her mother seemed harsher . . . herself more plaintive — and she must work on that! — Glyssa more restless. Though perhaps Glyssa weathered the unknowable tragedy better than the rest of them. She had two very close friends, closer in some ways than Enata herself. Her parents had each other, as HeartMates, but they’d both suffered a loss, not only of a significant portion of the memories or lives, but of their son. How could that possibly happen?

Enata’s head hurt with the thinking of it, her whole body ached with the feeling of the devastating bereavements. She curled over the book, snuffling in the honeysuckle smell and didn’t care when her tears fell onto the papyrus. The lines of print blurred before her eyes and she trembled with sobs for several moments before she used a softleaf in her sleeve pocket to clean herself up.

She read her brother’s biography. Twice. Knew that she and he had been closer than she and Glyssa, a pity. Let her own awareness of Reg gush through her. How his hand felt when it held hers, all the way from a child to when he helped her from a glider while wearing formal clothes the last full twinmoons ritual they spent together. And . . . yes! That was the last time she’d seen him. Full twinmoons.

Yesterday, last night, the moons were new.

It had to mean something. Or did it?

She had too few puzzle pieces.

Determined, she tried to turn the next page. And couldn’t. If not forward, then backwards, with long experience she riffled the pages . . . but beyond her brother’s biography they stuck firmly together.

Slipping a thumbnail — a golden with silver sparkles thumbnail — under the edge of the former page, she pried, to no avail.

Gritting her teeth, she positioned her hands on the bottom and the of the book, ready to rip the damn pages up, uncaring if she might harm it. She needed to know what was going on! Her fingernails dug into the deckled edges and she—

The book flew up, away, snapped shut and slid onto its shelf.
Glyssa stared. A distant chiming came to her ears that she couldn’t place for a moment. The belltower near CityCenter. Which she shouldn’t be able to hear. Had never heard here.

Stranger and stranger and now so weird she began to shiver, her body reacting to nerves once again. A headache slammed into her and terrible darkness began to devour her vision. Fumbling, she reached into her sleeve and came up with a thick nibbed writestick, scrawled drunken lettered words on her arm. Take recordsphere to Secure Vault Prime.

Darkness swallowed her.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Celta Thursday, Lost Heart Cut, Enata in Vault continued

Celta Thursday, Lost Heart Cut, Enata in Vault continued: She flipped the large pages, less than ten, so quickly an edge caught her finger and sliced open a deep and painful paper cut. Like all librarians, she stopped immediately and checked the papyrus of the book for blood, nothing. Whew.

A simple Word closed her cut,though the ache seemed to stick to the other hurts accumulating in her muscles and along her nerves. She turned to the end of the biography and saw: REGLIS LANDU LICORICE, REASON FOR RECRUITMENT: Excellent skills in the following areas: librarian, archival, document reservation, non-fiction writing and fictional story telling. Acquired Full Twinmoons of the month of Holly, as the colonists count time. Far, far down at the bottom of the page, in a tiny footnote, it said: Current status: subject exceeding expectations.

He lived! Or had when the book — this wonderful, awful magical book was printed. There were some volumes that when a person wrote in it, updated all of them. Magic, psi power, Flair. She could only hope this very important volume was one of them.
Her breath whooshed from her.

Reglis lived. Did he have a HeartMate?

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Celta Thursday, cont. from Last Week: Cut scene with Enata in the Library, Lost Heart

Celta Thursday, cont. from Last Week: Cut scene with Enata in the Library: Always quiet, a deeper silence seemed to flow from the corners of the huge foundation room. That didn’t scare her. She felt as home here as the D’Licorice Residence, everyone in her Family did. This building and their careers, their Family, had been founded before the house. The earliest librarians had slept here. . . and, at times, all of the librarians, Licorice or not, had found a corner chair or twoseat or sofa and crashed.

Nothing to fear. But the nerves under her skin yet twitched. She walked to the vault, opened it, and the correct amount of light for the records within brightened for her human eyes.

The scent of honeysuckle blossoms wreathed around her and she saw a thin hint of colored air, not smoke, drifting to her in curls. Within that stream sparkled flecks of silver and gold. She glanced down at her fingernails. Yes, like those.

She stepped inside, blinked, and the shape of the objects on one shelf of the far wall changed. Her eyes widened and recollection flitted around her mind as she stared at the large midnight blue volume now revealed. Catching her breath, she swallowed, then she turned in place and waved the door shut with a solid and quiet thunk. No one would know she was here.

A little recollection began sifting back. The materials of this book were rare, thick papyrus, leather binding from an animal she didn’t recognize . . . and the scent of honeysuckle that she thought came from the glue. Impossible. But the fragrance would always attract her. Her grandfather, MotherSire, had been from the Honeysuckle Family and there were plenty of those shrubs planted in both the library grounds and around their home.

When she grazed her fingertips along the spine of the book, again feeling the sparks along her skin and sinking into her, memories collided inside her brain and she remembered. Her brother! She’d had a brother! No, had a brother. One not here, one not remembered by anyone.

Yanking at the book, she fell backwards, danced a couple of steps with weak knees, then sank cross legged to the ground.

The book opened and floated before her on an inbuilt anti-gravity spell. Once more it flipped to the opening page of the article on her brother, Reglis Landu Licorice, CHOSEN. Aquired early summer of 421 years after colonization, the print read.

Aquired! Enata shuddered. A few months ago. Looking at the color viz showing her Family and Reglis, she recalled when they’d stood for that portrait, last spring.

Last spring.

Lady and Lord. Her big brother Reglis had been in Druida City last spring.

He'd lived in everyone's memories just last spring.

Breathing rapidly, actually trying not to hyperventilate, another thought occurred to Enata. She’d been born the middle child, and . . . and now, outside this space, she’d thought she’d been born first. Her role in the Family had changed. What conflict did that cause in her mind and her character?

Surely being thought a first born child must have affected how people treated her?

Not only that, but a whispery inner voice in the back of her mind wondered if her older brother had a HeartMate — wait, did he still live?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Belated Celta Thursday, Cut from Lost Heart

Belated Celta Thursday, Cut from Lost Heart: Enata and the Vault: The Next Night

She awoke, pain radiating through her. Though weariness hunkered behind her eyes, she couldn’t sleep. Her nerves itched. This morning she’d felt awful, too. She hadn’t quite been the same since . . . backtracking through the day, she found nothing…then the night before…that evening meal, the long nap in the afternoon, suffering through the nausea, the aching body, the filthy headache . . . after she’d been in Secure Vault Prime.

She rose and crossed to the long glass doors that led to the balcony, opened them and stepped out into the warm summer night. Not a hint of autumn coming next month. Glancing to her right, she saw only darkness from Glyssa’s rooms. Her sister had flown away to a new adventure at the excavation of the recently discovered starship, Lugh’s Spear and for other reasons Enata sensed but Glyssa had hidden from her and their parents.

Enata missed her sister, but they hadn’t been close since the spring. Enata rolled her shoulders. Mostly her fault. A deep dissatisfaction with her life had hit her about that time, along with an overwhelming loneliness and the hard realization that she didn’t have a HeartMate like her parents or her sister. She’d never connected with a HeartMate during the fugues that freed her Flair as her sister, her younger sister, had.

And HeartMates bonded so closely that they always died within a year of each other. So when one of her parents died . . . . and if Glyssa found and HeartBonded with her HeartMate and one of them perished . . . Enata would be left alone. The sole member of her Family.

Terrible.

She leaned on the rail and sucked in air. Here, in the privacy of her own rooms, she could weep. Self-pity. Anticipatory loss. Both of those emotions coursed through her, both rather foolish, but Lady and Lord, Enata ached.

Wiping her tears away, she noticed across the green park of their back grassyard, in the PublicLibrary that connected with their land, a small light shone in one wing. The building never closed, was always open and available to the public, with a librarian ready to serve patrons.

Impulsively, she decided to head back to the vault, discover what might have affected her.. Dressing in an acceptable robe if she were discovered and arranging her hair simply, Enata teleported to the staff’s basement pad closest to their strongest vault. No one should be down here unless a patron requested something from restricted stacks, very unlikely.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Belated Celta Thursday -- CUT FROM LOST HEART (to lure those who haven't bought it)

Belated Celta Thursday -- CUT FROM LOST HEART (to lure those who haven't bought it)

A week and two days earlier, the reference to the matchmaker torturing Barton had been humerous. Now, after a full morning session, Barton gritted his teeth to hide his discomfort. Thankfully, his Flair-made clothes wicked away sweat, though they released an herbal scent that would clue anyone in that Barton perspired.

Saille T’Willow ignored that, as he had with the earlier humiliating evidence that one of the tests — the illusion of a naked woman who morphed until she sexually appealed to Barton — had aroused him.

Barton felt fully as pummeled mentally and emotionally by Saille as Barton had previously, and often, physically walloped the guy. Payback was hell.

Yeah, tests of what Barton found emotionally pleasing, mentally compatible, as well as physically attractive. All sorts of assessments, the amount and quality of which boggled his mind. Who knew surviving a matchmaking appointment was so tough?

He felt like he’d run a gauntlet, a rough game all the Clover boys played now and then.

Finally, finally, they’d paused. The “comfort” chair that conformed to Barton’s body, tilted from a horizontal position to nearly straight. Barton sucked back a groan of relief. His fingers loosened the white-knuckled grip that he had on the chair arms.

“Good job,” Saille murmured, clapping Barton’s shoulder as the man walked around him and sat behind his desk. Not as nice as Walker’s, but centuries older. Saille T’Willow, a FirstFamily GreatLord, wasn’t as tall as Barton, not quite as solidly built, but moved reasonably well. He’d never touch Barton as a fighter, but Barton didn’t have a thousanth of the amount of Flair as the guy.

Smiling — that was a good sign, wasn’t it? Maybe the fliggering evaluation was over? — Saille T’Willow said, “I have no doubt I’ll be able to find an extremely harmonious woman for you, a true love.” He paused, then went on. “I’ll keep my eyes out, ears straining, and senses primed to find a wife for you.”

“We’re done?”

“Yes.”

Barton bolted from the chair and to the door of the room before stopping. “Good,” he said. “Really fine. Thanks.” Reluctantly he dropped his hand from the latch to give Saille, who’d risen, a bow worthy of his status as a descendant of the people who’d funded the trip from Earth to Celta, a FirstFamily Lord. “My thanks and the thanks of all my Family.”

“We can discuss this—”

Barton waved his hand before he put it back on the latch and opened the door. “No, no. I trust you. Implicitly. Gotta go!”

“One moment, Barton,” Saille called.

Barton darted a glance over his shoulder.

"I trust you won't take this out on me in the next general melee at The Green Knight Fencing and Fighting Salon."

Barton angled his head, grinning. "Oh, you can be sure of that."

Saille sighed. "I was afraid of that."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lost Heart E-Novella Live on Amazon!

Here it is! http://amzn.to/1VsPfEB

LOST HEART AVAILABLE IN PRINT, COMING SOON TO YOUR FAVORITE EBOOK STORES

$9.50 LOST HEART IS AVAILABLE IN PRINT COPY HERE, NOW! https://www.createspace.com/6076721 And, yes, the estore is pretty.

The novella has been uploaded to Amazon for the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. Ibooks and All Romance Ebooks are still checking me out and I haven't been able to upload. So it should definitely be available next week, in electronic copy, for $3.99.

RITA®Award Winning author Robin D. Owens’ first Celta novella!

Celta, a place of magic, telepathic animal companions, and romance . . . Lost Heart, a story rife with hidden agendas and dangerous secrets.

Barton Clover, Chief of Security for his large and noble family, is deeply aware of his responsibilities. When two young relatives repudiate the family and later disappear, he's determined to find them and convince them to return. He has no time or inclination for love . . . but his family disapproves of his nothing-but-work life. They decree that he must visit a matchmaker or lose his position.

Enata Licorice, a respected librarian, has been doing research in a mysterious records vault . . . and is finding odd blanks in her memory. Lonely, she yearns for a good husband and arranges a matchmaking session of her own.

It's love at first sight for Barton and Enata, but both are crucial members of their families. Clans who practice opposite lifestyles. And both families demand the couple's time and attention, causing strife.

While trying to resolve their issues, Barton discovers Enata's secret and they must work as a couple to resolve the puzzle that includes Barton's missing relatives -- if they dare. And if they fail, more than their own lives are lost.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Celta Thursday Cut from Heart Legacy

A LONG excerpt from Heart Legacy. This was the original conversation between Draeg and Tinne Holly, took place later in the book, and is Too Detailed and Long. So it was cut and put up front


He'd disrobed and taken a waterfall, pulled back the bedsponge linens, when his perscry -- his personal scry pebble -- sounded in the quick blazer hum Draeg had programmed for Tinne Holly. Tinne was Draeg's contact with the cadre of nobles who'd sent him to find out what might be happening at D'Yew estate. And to discover if D'Yew or her Family was involved in attacks on others, as Tinne suspected.
The Yews had been the strongest and most conservative Family in all the FirstFamilies. Tinne and some other younger nobles of the FirstFamilies had thought that a fanatic fringe of the ultra-conservative Traditionalist Group had recruited them as well as being behind the attacks.
Though every group, political, religious, even sports related, could develop fantatics, the FirstFamilies hadn't had to deal with murderous ones for a long time . . . since the Black Magic Cult, nearly two decades ago.
Three weeks ago, when Draeg had been called into the company of his friends to undertake this spy job, the atmosphere had been grim.
Now he grabbed a long tunic and pulled it on, stroking his thumb on the scry pebble and saying, "Here."
The holographic image showed the head and shoulders of Tinne Holly, who seemed to have extra lines in this face than the last time Draeg had seen him.
"Greetyou, Draeg."
"Greetyou, Tinne. News?"
"Yes, and of the worst sort."
Sucking in a breath through his teeth, Draeg said, "Murder?"
"Attempted, and did include death." Tinne rubbed his temples with forefinger and thumb.
"Who?" demanded Draeg.
"A workman in the new GuildHall." Tinne's mouth twisted. "It appears as if he brought in a celtaroon to let loose. Probably bespelled to find and bite a particular person. But celtaroons are notoriously stupid and difficult to control. The guy got bitten himself."
"Good luck for our side," Draeg said.
"Yes."
"Target?" asked Draeg asked.
"The man was scheduled to be working on the office of the new Captain of AllCouncils."
"Walker Clover," Draeg said harshly, "a former Commoner raised to Noble."
"Walker Clover." Tinne matched Draeg's tone. A few seconds hesitation on Tinne's part when the lines in his face deepened, then he added. "As usual, Walker had brought a couple of his children with him today and would probably have done so tomorrow."
"Cave of the Dark Goddess. Still after the kids?"
Tinne rolled his shoulders as if shifting a burden. "Who knows? Getting rid of Walker would be . . . a great blow on behalf of the Traditionalist Stance."
Draeg followed his logic. "Walker is the first born Commoner to rise so high politically on his own merits."
"That is correct. And the Traditionalist Stance doesn't want any more Commoners to be ennobled, despite the strength and potency of their Flair."
"Yeah. What went on?" Draeg asked.
"Zanth and Felonherb FamCats happened to be in the GuildHall." The ends of Tinne's lips curved upward. "They sensed prey, found and tore the celtaroon to pieces. Apparently they considered destroying the thing a competition."
Draeg considered that. "Just as well."
Tinne snorted. "I suppose, though if there was any spell evidence on the creature, it was demolished."
"Huh. Any chance of such a spell remaining?"
"We don't know. That is to say, neither our chief investigator in this matter, Garrett Primross, nor the Clover head of security, nor the Captain of the Druida City guards have been able to determine anything from the shreds of the celtaroon."
"FamCats who 'help' can be a pain in the ass."
"Also correct," said Tinne, who had one of his own.
"So the workman got killed himself. Can't say I'm too surprised. Staging 'accidents' is problematical. When did all this happen?"
"At the change of shifts in the GuildHall from day to evening, WorkEnd Bell. A lot of people coming and going."
"I understand," Draeg said. As far as he knew, all the Yews had been at one of their formal dinners. Tired of standing, he went over to the bedsponge and settled in against two hard, thick pillows that no longer puffed out dust when he leaned against them. "What about the dead guy? Do we have any info about him?"
"He is a known member of the Traditionalist Stance, a minor relative of the Equisetum Family in the north who had their estate confiscated three years ago when their previous crimes were uncovered."
Draeg grunted, frowned and shifted his gaze to the beamed ceiling instead of Tinne's expression that seemed to age before his eyes.
"What about the Yews?" Tinne asked.
Draeg raised his eyebrows. "I'm sure that you and the others realized that when I hired on as a stableman I would be living near the stables. I am, three rooms over the stables. I am not allowed in the Residence. However, I saw no glider leave the estate tonight."
"They must be embroiled in this," Tinne said. This time he sent fingers of both hands through his hair. "No one else hates my lady, my children, so, and we were the first targets and none of us Commoners. And the former D'Yew made threats--"
"Thirteen years ago," Draeg reminded softly.
"All of the FirstFamilies are known for holding a grudge," Tinne shot back.
"Got me there," Draeg said. "So you suspect the Yews are behind this. That the 'accident' of the broken balcony was really an attack on your wife and daughter, and your son's near miss at being hit by a glider a week ago was intentional."
In the holo, Tinne stretched until Draeg could hear his joints pop. "I do. I suspect the Yews. My wife has no enemies except for them. Aurea and Marin have no enemies at all. True enemies of ours should be calling feud and sending guards out to fight, but these are sneak attacks." His face hardened. "Only the Yews would sneak around like this. They don't have guards?"
"None that I have seen."
"They've kept themselves confined to that self-sufficient estate, not participated in society. We don't know what's going on there."
"Thus the reason you sent me in. Still no evidence on your part."
"No, nothing I can point the authorities to, either Garrett Primross as our unofficial guy or the Druida guards, let alone good reason to convince my father call feud on the Yews," Tinne snarled. Then his face smoothed into a haughty expression Draeg had only seen when the man booted someone out of his place of business, The Green Knight Fencing and Fighting Salon. Tinne's voice dropped into a good imitation of his sire, GreatLord T'Holly. "My dear SecondSon,"
Draeg winced. He was a SecondSon and he'd never liked being called that in that particular tone.
Tinne's eyes gleamed as he recognized a good audience, and he repeated himself. "My dear SecondSon, we have no good and solid reason to suppose the Yews were behind the accidents, nothing that would stand up to scrutiny of other FirstFamiles. We would be ostracized if we called feud. Our old feud and other . . . missteps . . . have not been forgotten." Tinnes eyebrows raised as T'Holly must have raised his. "And who, precisely, would I call feud upon? The current GrandLady has not been confirmed by her Family as D'Yew, and is, I recollect, the age of one of my Son'sDaughters, not part of society. Innocent. Untried in political affairs. That would be perceived so very well by the authorities and the FirstFamilies Council."
Clearing his throat, Draeg said. "The man has a point."
"He does." Tinne paced and the new scry pebble Flair tech kept him in Draeg's view.
"Your G'Uncle Tab would not have approved a formal feud."
Tinne stopped, stared at Draeg, his expression fading from T'Holly's to Tinne's more mobile one. "You said his name," he whispered.
"Who? Tab's? Yeah."
"I think that's the first time you mentioned G'Uncle Tab by name since he died seven years ago."
Heat crawled up Draeg's neck. He hoped the dim light in his room didn't reveal it to Tinne. "I should have gotten over his death sooner."
"There is no set time for grieving," Tinne said. "And, in some ways, you were nearer to him than I. I'd already found my love, my HeartMate, been blessed with a daughter and son. You were Tab's closest protégé, and you'd just lost your parents." Tinne frowned. "The losses kicked you into Passage, didn't they? And you nearly died? Took a ritual to keep you with us."
Draeg so didn't want to hear that, go over that again, especially since he wasn't done with Passages to free his Flair. He should have had another one last year, or maybe next. His Passages weren't as well regulated as other people's.
"Yeah, well for a proper and official feud, Tab would have expected–" Draeg closed his eyes, he should be able to remember this. His mentor had schooled him more than he'd wanted on feuds and duels. "A list of five good reasons to call feud including enemy actions threatening the Family fortunes, Family estate, or lives of the Family. The most important being the lives of the Family."
Tinne grunted. "Yes, a deadly attack on one of our Family members."
"That would do it, too."
"No evidence, only suspicions." Tinne resumed pacing.
"Your wife and children are protected," Draeg said.
"Yes, they have Holly guards." Tinne's mouth flattened. "And I bought them amulets from T'Ash that at the first hint of hurt will teleport them to Noble HealingHall. But none of them, not even Marin, like the guards accompanying them everywhere, and my daughter objects to wearing the same piece of jewelry every day."
Idly, it crossed Draeg's mind that he hadn't seen one bit of jewelry on D'Yew. He said, "We seem to have two different issues here–"
Tinne made a disgusted noise, chopped his hand in the air. "I've heard that. If the Yews were behind the attack on my ladies it would be revenge for harm to their house, because Lahsin killed the old bastard T'Yew in self defense and his unstable daughter went mad and withdrew into that estate and no one has seen hide nor hair of a Yew in society since."
Draeg inserted, "And if, as it seems, the Traditionalist Stance has a deadly fanatic fringe making 'accidents' happen to ennobled Commoners . . ."
"Or their children," Tinne slanted Draeg a glance, "which could include all you Blackthorn adoptees."
Draeg felt blood drain from his head, his breath shorten, and was glad he wasn't standing. "I will point out that all of us adoptees came from Noble Families to begin with. Dad was GraceLord Betony, my sister Doolee is an Elecampane–"
"But Antenn, your oldest brother was a Commoner." Tinne did point at Draeg. "He was Mitchella Clover's ward when both of them were Commoners. And Antenn was nearly squashed by that block of granite while working on the cathedral a month ago."
"That was an acciden–" Draeg stopped.
"Was it?"
"You don't think the falling block was accidental."
"I think that your brother is a better architect and craftsman than to have left any tottery blocks of granite that might fall. I think that the near fatal balcony accident of my ladies had something in common with that block of granite."
"What!"
Tinne strode back and forth. "That balcony did not just happen to break. Everyone knewAurea wanted to watch the parade** and that my wife Lahsin would be with her. And everyone knew Lahsin and I had rented it for Aurea as a NameDay gift." Tinne shuddered. "If they hadn't fallen together when it broke and Lahsin hadn't teleported them away . . . ." His fingers fisted. "Druida would have seen a true and bloody Vengeance Stalk."
Wanting to distract the man, Draeg went back to Tinne's previous statement. "What do those accidents have in common?"
"Construction accidents, building," Tinne said. "And three years ago, when the Traditionalist Stance first came into being, there was a builder ruined because of his association with that political stance."
Draeg found his jaw hurting from clenched teeth. "That noble was ruined because he refused to honor his contract."
"Ruined in one day. By your brother, Antenn Blackthorn-Moss, who is not beloved of the Traditionalist Stance since he ruined at least two Nobles and uncovered the murderous tendencies of their founder. Doesn't it occur to you, to anyone that a murderous founder might have drawn other people of like mind into the party? The Traditionalist Stance has a deadly fanatic fringe. I'm sure of that."
"And you think the accident with Antenn wasn't one."
"Antenn is a Commoner who is part of a FirstFamily. He may be considered as your adopted father's heir. Isn't that true?"
"Yes."
"And as for the rest of you, you who were Noble by birth already, you all moved upward into FirstFamily status and society and influence. Your good friends are from the FirstFamilies, you belong to FirstFamilies clubs like The Green Knight Fencing and Fighting Salon, and social clubs. You have access to the strongest Flaired people in the world. People who shape society and the world. That can cause a lot of resentment in those from older Families who haven't been able to climb so high, that Commoners are better connected than Nobles who've had titles for three or even four centuries. And Commoner women like Danith Mallow and Mitchella Clover have married into the highest strata."
"They're HeartMates of FirstFamily Lords, fated mates," Draeg protested.
"They're Commoner women who have married FirstFamily Lords, born children of mixed blood, Noble and Commoner."
Draeg's mouth dropped open at the wrongness of that statement. "Nobody cares–"
"Born children with odd Flair, perhaps. Born children who might be mutants."
"We're all fliggering mutants here on Celta. Probably were on old Earth, too. Nobody cares about blood," Draeg's words exploded, the last bit of calmness from his meditation vanished.
"Most people care about the strength of Flair, true, but I think those of the Traditionalist Stance care about mixing Noble and Commoner blood. And I think the Traditionalist Stance has fanatics, like this workman today who targetted Walker Clover or his children."
"Your're sure the workman was involved."
"He was found in an empty room with a Celtaroon. A hole in the wall had been drilled for the beastie to be placed, for it to nest. Signs in his workbox showed he'd stashed a celtaroon in it and brought it in."
"You think this incident is linked to the accidents to Antenn and your ladies."
"You'd rather think them coincidental? That there are two sets of deadly folks running around?"
"Other than that, why do you think the Yews are behind this?"
"Gut feeling."
Well, Draeg wouldn't call him on that since Draeg trusted his own gut. But serious lack of evidence. He kept quiet and Tinne stopped pacing, said slowly, "Lahsin is suffering from nightmares, about the time she was T'Yew's child bride, caught in his Residence and with his Family who put DepressFlair bracelets on her." Tinne touched his own wrists that showed elegant marriage bands. "She's gone back to the MindHealer for sessions about that time in her life."
"And you think she's picking up on – what? – inimical energy from the Yews?" Draeg kept his voice even. He stared Tinne in his cold pewter eyes. "I can and will assure you that the current D'Yew is not involved in hurting your woman or a girl a year younger than she or a boy of ten."




Chapter 8
"You're sure D'Yew isn't involved in any of the accidents or with the bloody Traditionalist Stance fanatics," Tinne Holly snapped, holographic gaze on Draeg blazer intense.
Draeg shot back, "All of D'Yew's energies are going into her Household–"
Tinne's mouth twisted. "And that doesn't clue you in that something is twisted in that Family, that they should demand such and drain her so?"
"–and in loving and caring for her animals. Her stridebeasts, new horses, and FamCat."
"She has a Fam?"
"That's right, one called Baccat."
Tinne grunted. "Fams usually don't hang around people who aren't loving to them." But his face set again. "Doesn't mean the rest of the Yews aren't up to something." Finally he hesitated, then said, "and I'm sure that the Yews are deep in the Traditionalist Stance."
"Maybe. We haven't established that connection."
"Except for my gut."
"Except for your gut."
"Three years ago people of the Traditionalist Stance said they had members in the highest households of Celta." Tinne pointed at Draeg again.
Draeg raised his hands. "Not me."
"No, no one in the Blackthorns, and no one in the Ashes. Both of your Families and staff have been rebuilt from one member these last twenty-four years." Tinne considered. "Probably not anyone in my Family, the Hollys. We're large, with relatives running our Residence, but we aren't so good at hiding agressive tendencies and sly sneaking." Tinne flicked a hand as if dismissing his relatives. "But we were never one of the ultra conservative Families who would be drawn to the Traditionalist Stance anyway."
So Draeg put into words the rest of the logic. "The Yews were the most conservative of the FirstFamilies, the bastion for following the old ways."
Ticking off FirstFamilies on his fingers, Tinne said, "From most conservative to least: the Elders, until he died and the new GreatLady from a minor branch of the Family inherited. The Yews, the Birches, the Ivys, the Hawthorns. The Hawthorns now have a young, progressive entrepreneur as a GreatLord, who is enriching his Family more than the last three have, if he had Family members who were of the Traditionalist Stance bent, I doubt they'd have remained that way. Since the contretemps three years ago, the Ivys have distanced themselves from the Traditionalist Stance. T'Ivy stated publically that he no longer belongs to the party. I believe him, though he might have people in his Residence who do."
"That leaves the Birches and the Yews."
"That leaves the Birches and the Yews," Tinne agreed, "and, I think, primarily the Yews."
"I hear you."
"Glad you do. Too bad others don't. Someone is putting gilt into the Traditionalist Stance's coffers, more than just those Nobles whose names are public. Significant gilt."
"Generational FirstFamily gilt?" Draeg asked.
"First Family gilt. And that's why you're there at the Yews. Thank you for that."
"'Welcome."
"Tinne, darling, Aurea and Marin want snacks with us!" called Tinne's wife, outside of the scry area.
"Draeg, come see me and report tomorrow night," Tinne ordered. "Later."
"Later."


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Celta Thursday Cut Scene from Heart Legacy

Heart Legacy Cut Scene (too many people, too much politics): This will be for those of you who know the books very well. This is in the FirstFamilies Council Chamber after the poisoning attempt on Marin Holly:

"Loridana Yew has no power-hungry wish," Draeg stated.

"And we only have your word for it," T'Ivy, a former Captain of the Council said.

Spearing him with a look, Draeg said, "I think a few of you are allied with the Traditionalist Stance?"

"No," T'Ivy snapped, his mouth pulled down. "They go too far."

"They challenged your leadership of the group?"

"They did not listen to us FirstFamily conservatives."

"Of course not, they want power, and will never be able to match the power we have in Flair, not in this generation, and I do not think their group will last through the next."

"The lower nobles and the middle class commoners are becoming stronger in Flair," D'Grove said comfortably.

"But the Traditionalists are correct that if we continue with the current qualifications for noble, we will have many Commoners becoming noble," T'Ivy stated.

"As a people we're all growing in Flair, and in wealth," T'Hawthorn, who wasn't that much older than Draeg, and knew all about wealth, said. "I consider that a good mark of a society."

"We got rid of the old Downwind slums," T'Ash said. "And none too soon. We have homes and jobs for those who cannot support themselves because of weak brains or bodies." He stood and stretched, Draeg heard pops. "Those who do not fit in our society have mostly left the city to carve out a living of their own on their own land. That's good, too." His bright blue gaze swept the room.

"We care for our own, an' harm none. That is how it's supposed to be. Every individual should be prized on Celta, 'cuz we could still die out here."

Draeg said, "We still have thieves, in the cities and preying on the merchant caravans."

"Will always be evil people, too," T'Ash said. "As for me, I don't think the mind behind these attacks belongs to an eighteen year old girl. If young D'Yew is involved, she's taking orders from someone else, and Zanth thinks not."

Draeg just stared. "Zanth. What does Zanth know about this?"

T'Ash's white teeth gleamed against his olive toned skin as he smiled. "Zanth still prowls the alleys of Druida. He sometimes meets other cats. And other cat Fams." Then the powerful man set his hands on his hips, scrutinized every person in the room. "What we all need to think about is how we will evolve. Not only the society around us, and how we might be able to shape our culture through rituals for the good of all as we have since our ancestors landed, but how we FirstFamilies as a group should evolve." He grunted. "That's my thought for the evening."

He slanted Draeg a look. "Can't you figure out how to bring young D'Yew to me to Test her?"

"Not great T'Ash," Draeg said. "Maybe a roadside peddlar, or low-class shopkeeper."

Now T'Ash's eyes gleamed, he tipped a hand in Draeg's direction.

"That might be fun." Then he teleported away. Draeg thought that Zanth might not be the only one who missed a little rough and tumble in the alleys.

//
Draeg wouldn't let them interrogate her. Not only would that blow the whole original scheme out of the water and reveal him being undercover – which he wasn't ready to explain until he found the right words – but he didn't know of anyone who'd react well to being hauled in and questioned by very powerful strangers. He'd pointed that out.

She might very well just shut up. She could even demand an advocate, and if she did, Draeg would request SupremeJudge Ailim Elder, a telempath, who would not be pleased with the FirstFamilies intimidating a young, naieve woman.

Nobody liked that idea.


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