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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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut Epilogue of Heart Thief

I'd completely forgotten I'd written an Epilogue of Heart Thief. Balsamea is the baby now known as Dani Eve, Diva became Drina, Straif T'Blackthorn's cat.

Samba touched noses with Balsamea, then leapt aside as one chubby hand grabbed for her calico fur.
**Time to play.** The Fam jumped down and glided over to the door. She turned and lifted her nose. **I saved you all,** reminding them, as she did every few eight-days.
"Thank you," Ailim replied gravely.
Samba ordered the door open, then she glanced back. **Thanks are enough for me. My sister, Diva, demands adoration.** A gentle sniff. She eyed the baby. **Diva is most particular. She would make a good Fam and needs a home–**
"Hmmm," said Ruis.
Samba whisked her tail just once and left.
Primrose put her paws over her eyes and whimpered.
"No other cat," said Ailim.
"No," agreed Ruis.
The baby made a noise. They turned to her in surprise. It was an excellent imitation of Samba's rumbling mew. "Let's go play!"
Ruis stared at his wife and and their precocious child. He scooped Balsamea up in one arm and wrapped the other around Ailim. She grinned up at him.
A huge wave of triumph filled him, breaking into free and hearty laughter. "The Ship awaits our tour. Let's go play!"
Ailim danced toward the door, tugging at his hand. "Lets!"

Friday, April 10, 2015

Celta Cut: Heart Change

I was requested by a reader on Facebook to post a cut in honor of her birthday, so here it is:

"I think we should go out to dinner tonight," Signet said.
Cratag and Avellana looked up from their craft tables and stared at her.
"Go out to dinner," Avellana said as if it were a foreign concept, frowning.
Signet switched her gaze to Cratag. He'd been briefly surprised but now was impassive. She raised her brows. "You must have eaten out."
"Plenty of times. I was a merchanter guard, you know." His wave was brief. "Ate on the trail, at inns. Stayed at inns between jobs."
"So now you like dining with your Family."
"Why go somewhere else when there's a chef on staff?"
"A Family member?"
"Of course, trained with T'Pepper himself. And if I want something simple, the T'Hawthorn no-times are well stocked." He glanced around. "Like here."
"The food here is excellent," Avellana said. "We've always had chefs and chefs' helpers and cooks and cooks' helpers, but I like D'Marigold Residence's no-time food. Those people who made meals and put them in the no-times were chefs, too."
Signet sighed. She hadn't anticipated this much discussion of something so simple.
"Thank you," the Residence said.
"You're welcome," Avellana replied.
"Why go out to someplace when the food and atmosphere and company here is so good?" Cratag asked. He seemed baffled.
"For a change," Signet said. She glanced at Avellana. "For an outing, an evening outing. We can start with a dinner in a fine restaurant, then go to the theater sometime."
Avellana's eyes widened and she appeared fascinated. "Go out," she said in a hushed voice. "In the nighttime. In Druida City."
There was a moment's silence, then Avellana said with awe, "I've never been out in the city at nighttime, except maybe to go to holiday parties."
"And you, Cratag?" Signet asked.
He shrugged. "All the evening events T'Hawthorn must attend – social and ritual situations. Sometimes I ate, sometimes I didn't."
"Have you ever dined at a fine Druidan restaurant?" Signet asked, then was sorry she pressed when some kind of painful memory flashed in his eyes.
"All alone in Druida City," Avellana breathed, obviously liking the thought more and more.
"We'll be with you," both Signet and Cratag said at the same time.
"Without anyone from my Family," Avellana said.
"Some restaurants accept and serve Fams," Signet said.
Cratag sent her a glance. "Perhaps we should try dining out in the daylight, first."
That sounded reasonable. "Brunch or lunch or tea?"
"Brunch," Cratag said.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Celta Thursday, Heart Story from the collection Hearts and Swords

I had trouble with the beginning, this was #3.
*The old woman is dead. Finally,* the cat said mentally. *Good riddance,* she sniffed.

Arbusca Willow stopped pacing the private dining room she'd rented for the first meeting with her HeartMate, her fated husband.

She addressed the cat, "Fairyfoot, you aren't even my son's Familiar Companion. You are my daughter-in-law's. You didn't know my mother."

*Saw her long enough to know she was a mean GreatLady. Had all of you under her paw.* Fairyfoot licked her own forepaw. *That's true?*


*Tried to live forever. Lied, killed,* the cat snapped down her paw as if on a bug, looked at Arbusca slyly. *Maybe even killed your husband, years ago.*

Arbusca didn't think so. Her mother, GreatLady D'Willow, descendant of a FirstFamily colonist, rich in psi magic, wealth and power, had only intimidated Arbusca's long-late husband to death. As the lady had intimidated everyone until Arbusca's son had claimed the title. She held up her hands. "That's past. She's been gone more than a year."

*You deserve your own life and HeartMate,* Fairyfoot said virtuously, repeating the oft-said phrase of Arbusca's son and daughter-in-law.

That was true too. Arbusca yearned for her HeartMate, and was nervous about meeting him. They hadn't connected in twenty-five years. Even then, they'd never met, but linked during hot, sexual dreams when their psi magic had been freed during fugue states.

But the cat had an agenda – getting Arbusca, the housekeeper with strict rules for Fams – out of the Residence. She tucked her hands into her opposite long, embroidered sleeves and resumed pacing. "Tell me why I brought you with me to this meeting again?"

Fairyfoot lifted her nose. *You did not bring Me, I came by Myself.*

"That's right." Arbusca stopped pointed a finger at the cat. "You're univited. Leave."

*No, I must report to your son.*

"You're just nosey."

The door opened.

Arbusca swooped down on Fairyfoot, avoided the cat's claws and teleported Fairyfoot back to her room in Willow Residence. "You are gone!"

Twenty-five years since the links had been forged between herself and her HeartMate. She'd known that her HeartMate had gone south, all the way to a different continent. But the bond between them had been the slimmest, she'd suppressed it – if not the yearning for her HeartMate – so long. In several hopeful moments over the last year, she'd given the bond gentle tugs.
Last month Dri Paris had contacted her, and now he walked into the room.

She straightened fast, hid her fisted hands behind the folds of her heavily emproidered silkeen tunic. She was in the far corner of the room, not graciously by the table ready to pour cinnamon caff. Typical of her luck.

His gaze focused on her. The emotional connection between them seethed with feelings. "Who else was here?" he asked.

"No one of any importance," she said breathlessly.

He was not the tall, lanky boy whom she'd watched from afar, but a solid man of broad shoulders and craggy face. Suddenly this venue seemed over-civilized as he brought the scent of the wilds into the place. Arbusca stilled to immobility.

He raised his brows. "No one?"

"Of any importance," she emphasized.

He hesitated, then his hard gaze softened and as he strode toward her, little flutters of more than attraction – lust – stirred within her. She wasn't a young woman, but he wasn't a young man.
His lips curved and a quick thought from him impinged on her mind. Both in our prime.

Her shoulders relaxed, her hands unclenched enough that she curtseyed to him. Deeply, as if to a GreatLord. Smoothly she moved to her place, near the caff set, ready to pour. Her hands were steady enough.

He stopped, bowed, one hand remained behind his back. Dri wore clean leather trous that were cut narrowly for a working man and heavy leather boots, both in dark brown. His matching leather tunic also was workmanlike with no frills, encasing him from a round neck to his waist. His shirt underneath was a warm cream color of a soft weave, the material itself showed it wasn't a work shirt, and the sleeves had a faint blouse of fashion.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Dance

Celta Thursday: Cut from Heart Dance:

Once again Saille Willow knocked on her door in the morning. Fairyfoot had announced his presence in the Residence – as if Dufleur couldn't sense him – and had pranced to the bedroom door.
When Dufleur opened it, he held a single bloom – a fancy orchid brilliantly yellow. She was glad she was wearing another new tunic and trous set – this one in teal. The flower's fragrance was outrageously strong, yet mingled well with the other blooms he'd brought her. She set it in the face, tilted her head. It didn't look quite right.
"May I?" Saille asked.
She shrugged.
He gave it a twitch and it seemed to settle into perfect place highlighting some of the other flowers and still being a focal point. More. She narrowed her eyes. Somehow the orchid seemed to pick up a pale hue of yellow under the glossy white luster of the graceful urn. As the other blooms. There seemed to be a multitude of pale shifting colors just beneath the white surface. A Flaired urn. She looked at Saille who was staring with a wonderful smile at her. Gesturing awkwardly to the tall porcelein vase, she said. "I heard that your creative Flair was pottery, did you make this?"
"Yes." He tucked his hands behind his back as if defensive. "What do you think."
"I think you should have a show at Enlli Gallery."
He laughed and the sound rolled over her and sank into her and warmed her. She couldn't recall the last time she'd heard laughter in this house, and never a man's. She couldn't remember the last time her father had laughed and that thought lodged in her heart like a thorn.
Saille's smile faded. He touched her cheek. "How have I made you sad?"
"Not you." She cleared her throat. "Thank you for the blossom, for the flowers, for the vase."
"You're very welcome." He glanced around her bedroom and the secret ritual room that was now always open. She sensed he disapproved of the stark shabbiness. The vase and flowers were several classes of expensive elegance above her worn belongings. Just as he was several classes above her in station. "I'm glad they please you," he said softly. "I'm glad they add beauty to your surroundings."
"Yes," she said, then fell miserably silent, not knowing what to say next.

He straightened. "I would like to invite you to meet my Family. Tour T'Willow Residence. Have the midday meal."
She backed up until the bed hit her behind the knees and she abruptly sat. "N–"
"Don't say no. It's a casual invitation."
Crossing her arms, she said. "It's not. How many other women have you invited to meet your Family and eat with them?"
"SupremeJudge Ailim Elder."
"Since you used her title, I'd imagine that you consulted her."
"It was a social occasion."
"She's married."
"That she is. I invited her husband and child, too."
"That certainly isn't the same as inviting an unmarried woman to meet your Family and take midday meal. They would be bound to know that I was . . . ."
"Important to me? My HeartMate? My Family all has matchmaking Flair to some extent, of course they'd sense that. So what?"
Her fingers twisted together in her lap. "A bunch of strangers. Saille, I don't know how to act around a loving Family." She smiled her grim smile, threw him a glance, looked away. "I don't know how to act around an . . . a man who's attracted to me. For more than a few minutes of sex."
He picked up her hand and kissed her fingers. "It will be easy. They're nice people. They like me. You like me. You all have something in common."
She closed her eyes and felt his amusement through their bond, and attraction, and banked desire. She felt his need for her to meet his Family. His pride in her and them. "I'm going to mess** this up. I know it." With her free hand she tugged at her hair in distress.
He captured that hand, too and drew her to her feet.
"Come with me to meet my Family."
"They'll gossip. Everyone will know I'm your . . . your . . .
"I'm not ready. Please."
His pleasure dulled and guilt rose inside her.
"I'll ask them to keep our relationship secret."
"You'll be a target of rumor if you associate with the daughter of a man your MotherDam ruined."
"I don't care."
"You should. You're just firming up your alliances–"
"If my allies don't like my actions, I don't want them as allies." He pulled her to the closet, dropped her hands to take out her coat and hold it for her.
She just stared at him. She wanted to spend time in his company. Wanted to get to know him even better, especially out of bed. "They won't gossip?"
"Not if I ask them to keep quiet."
She didn't believe that for a minute.
"Why are you afraid to be singled out by me?"
She felt her mouth turn down. "Because you are a GreatLord and I am the daughter of a minor GrandLord. Because your MotherDam ruined my Family and that talk is still making the rounds and I'd prefer not to see it in the newssheets social columns. Because my mother would encroach upon you and your Family if she could. Because . . . . because I'd like to think I could be myself around you. Learn about you and let you learn about me without any pressure."
His expression sobered. "That last is a good reason." He studied her. "As I said, my Family members are matchmakers. They know that courtship can be touchy."
A chill went through her at the word, matching the cold anxiety that touched her spine when he'd said "HeartMate."
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Zanth and the Treasure

Zanth and the Treasure is up as a free short, short, short story today:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What a crash! And cleanup...

Celta Thursday, Complete Scene Uncut from Heart Journey

Celta Thursday: Here's the COMPLETE scene of after-party glider break-in from Heart Journey. As you can see I had an idea of a subplot for a lover for Johns, but figured it would be too much:

It had turned out to be one of the best parties of Raz's life. True, Del had left after a few dances and a couple of coversations, but when she was with him his blood pumped faster. He hadn't managed to seduce a kiss from her, her eyes were too knowing. She had left without any promises to meet, though he was sure that she felt the same sweet zings of passion that he did.
A very unusual woman, she had made no overatures, had not flirted. Had left him aching with arousal after she'd gone...and had challenged the hunter in him to pursue.
He wasn't the only one she'd danced with. She'd walzed with Johns and they had looked good together, like a study in athletic grace. Damn Johns. He'd nipped Del away from Raz just because they were competitors, but two minutes later was laughing with her. Yes, the hunt was on.
Before the dullness of her absence from the party could set in, he'd received a couple of compliments on his work from people he'd admired, then an agent had hinted to him about a part in a new play by Amberose. Raz hadn't been quite able to show simple casual interest, he'd pressed the man, who had smiled enigmatically, changed the subject, then slid away. Raz had seen him talking to Johns who had gone as impassive as a rock face – a sign he was suppressing excitement. Another thing to compete for.
Raz didn't know which he wanted more, the woman or the part. That was due to the springreen wine. He'd had another glass or two. Almost enough to affect his timing so that he remained too long. He liked to exit an event at the right time – leaving people behind charmed and wanting more of his company.
But now he breathed the soft summer night air as he stood near the steps from the terrace to a side grassyard where gliders were parked. He inhaled the scent of full-blown roses trained over the terrace wall and the heavy air made him yearn for one more whiff of Del's scent. He glanced to the rows of gliders, grinned. He had his own, just like the wealthiest nobles, a gift from his Family. It was parked at the far end of a row, a few feet before a tangle of forest.
With three tuneful notes, he summoned it, saw the blurs of black movement tumble from it as it moved. "Hey!" Raz shouted.
"I told you these damn shields would take to long to breach. Should have just smashed and searched and run." A low voice said, began to swear. The man should have known better than to talk in that pitch.
"We had to disable the stun!" the smaller one said. He muttered something and the vehicle stopped, stand's clicked down.
Raz suppressed his own shout as he jumped over the low terrace wall, grunted as he hit the ground three meters below. The thieves weren't running away. Noise of shattering glass game but Raz didn't waste breath. His glider was shrieking: "My virtue is threatened!" The old-time melodramatic phrase had seemed funny at the time he'd programmed the alarm, but now it fed his anger.
The world of black and white was hazed with the red of his anger. Not this time. His home had been violated, his work area defiled, his property smashed. Putting some Flair into his leaps he bounded toward his glider. The smaller person was inside his glider, rifling it. He heard rips.
This time he yelled as he hopped up on a large, old, Family glider, jumped toward the large man with a flying kick to his head. The man got an arm up, threw Raz off balance. He landed, rolled, came up swinging. His knuckles connected with the man's jaw and he grinned in satisfaction, hardly noticing the sting. The big guy swung back, Raz slid aside, but caught a fist on his left shoulder that numbed his arm. He led with his right and got the guy again, as the man stumbled back, Raz hooked a foot around his ankle and brought him down.
More slashing behind him, he whirled. "Open!" he yelled, realized the doorframe was bent too much to rise. Reaching in, he grabbed at the other thief, caught fabric and did some ripping of his own.
He was yanked back and spun around, jerked his head aside as the big man's hand skimmed his temple. Someone else hit him in the stomach.
There were three!
"My virtue is threatened!" screamed Raz's glider.
"Hey!" someone yelled from the house. The shout was mixed with other car alarms. "Back away, I have stun," from the Family glider Raz had hopped on. His glider had stun, too, why hadn't it?
Grinning he kicked out at the third man, connected. Pounded short jabs on the first man's chest.
"Gotta go!" squeaked the man in the glider. He kicked Raz through the broken window, right into the big man's fist. Pain shot from his cheek through him.
"No!" the first man said. "Get him and hold him." He yelled to the third. "Play-actor too damn much trouble. Who'da thought?"
"Have a problem with actors?" Johns asked, grabbing the third man from the back and throwing him aside.
"I'm gone," that one yelled.
"Won't get your gilt," the big man snapped, panting. He slugged Raz on the left shoulder again. Raz punched with his right to the guy's jaw.
Yelling, the smaller man flung himself on them. All of them went down, Raz, the big guy, Johns. Raz's head cracked against metal, he landed badly on Johns, whose breath went out in a painful whoosh.
"Gotcha!" The smaller man yanked at the larger, dragged him free, and they teleported away.
"Uhhhn." Raz sat up slowly, put a hand to his head. His lip was cut and bleeding and he thought his cheek was fractured.
Johns lay flat and spit out words in short pants. "Sorry. Too late." He groaned and it seemed to take all his breath.
"You did fine." Raz wiggled his jaw, it hurt, too. A dull throbbing came from his temple. "Many thanks, I'm grateful."
Sudden quiet descended except for Raz's glider. "My virtue has been violated," it said mournfully.
"Want to quiet that one down?" rumbled Cratag as he strode over, hand on his blazer hilt as he scanned the trees.
"Alarm stop, Cherry," Raz said, then turned 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, 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 said. His eyes were hard and reminded 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 hands. 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 beamed 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 here.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Thief

Celta Thursday: Cut from Heart Thief:
It was better they had no contact. Ailim was glad Ruis stayed far from Druida City and the law that would claim his life if he ventured inside. But no matter how fleeting the time she'd spent with Ruis Elder, the Null, it was time enough that it left a hole inside her.
He was a thief. She was a judge.
There was no way they could become friends. Her position with the FirstFamilies Council was precarious enough without endangering her career by harboring an outcast. Ailim grimaced at the very thought. That was all they'd need to jerk the estate away from the Family. Associating with Ruis couldn't be called a minor transgression. Not for a Supreme Judge. There'd be no way to claim ignorance, not of the law or the circumstances.
Duty had forced her to attend a noble party the night before. The guests had hummed with gossip regarding Ruis Elder, though it had been three days since his banishment.
And behind the gossip, Ailim had sensed the shadows of noble maneuvering. Bucus Elder, the Captain of the NobleCouncil, was not well respected or liked. Apparently he'd had a sheen of smooth affability combined with common sense as well as the all-important heritage and background to win the vote for Captain's Chair two years before.
It was generally known that the FirstFamilies Council, even the entire NobleCouncil, would prefer T'Holly as Captain. But he was banned from that position for fighting with T'Hawthorn in the CouncilHall and breaking the Great Pentacle many years before. And T'Hawthorn was too strong a man himself to alienate by electing his enemy Captain. The long and intermittent feud between the two Houses was always a concern in the back of the nobles' minds.
So T'Elder had won the Captain's Chair, and now his surface persona seemed to be eroding, showing the true man. Rigid, unpleasant, and quick-tempered were just a few of the better phrases Ailim heard applied to him.
But he was still in power, and still able to squash the hopes of D'SilverFir GrandHouse with one fat finger.
Ailim visualized a map in her head and shifted in her seat. She wished D'SilverFir estate didn't border with T'Elder.
And that thought brought her full circle. The map vanished before her mental eye to be replaced by the attractive image of Ruis, the disowned Elder. The image was linked with the feelings he'd engendered in her from the first moment she'd met him in the GuildHall. The flash of respect when she'd seen how uncaring he was of the council's opinion still lingered. All her life she'd considered the opinions of others, following the Family rules for an Heir, in the first years as a judge, and even more so now, watching her every step so she could keep the Family together.
Ruis Elder could teach her to be free. If she let him. With dizzying speed her mind blazed images of the self she could be if she learned to be free, so self-confident that she would never think again of people's opinions more than her own needs. Being able to completely express her emotions.
She knew if she spent time with him, she'd learn how to relax her guards. With him she would need no guards, would have none -- that was a trifle scary, but when she recalled how her senses expanded under the influence of his Nullness she thought she'd dare to be with him anyway.
Her memory played back every press of his fingers, the sensation of his hands massaging her, and the low heat deep inside. A sexual heat that she'd finally admitted to feeling.
Sex was not something she'd often enjoyed. Not since she realized that if she lost herself in passion, her Flair spiraled wide. Then she knew exactly what the man she was being intimate with thought and felt.
She shuddered as memory spun out her first sexual experience. She'd thought her first lover was making love with her.
But in uncontrolled passion, she'd found out differently. He'd believed he was just taking the edge off a physical hunger.
With a jerk of her head she banished the past. No need to think of that man -- who had thought her strange and not nearly as beautiful as the woman he really wanted. At least the old emotions of shock and shame were mostly gone from those memories.
But Ruis would be different. Though she couldn't read him, she sensed that he was an honorable man, obeyed his own rules. That those rules might not march with the standard laws of Celta bothered her, but she couldn't fault him for acting outside them since they had not protected him.
Ailim lifted her head from her arms and gave up waiting for the man. Gathering her papyrus together she pondered Ruis' life. Surely it would have been bad under Bucus. The lines of dissipation on T'Elder's face, the way his meek wife shrank into herself when she was near him spoke of a petty tyrant. The thoughts she'd sensed during the council meeting -- lavish punishments for Ruis, greed for D'SilverFir land, made Ailim wary of the Captain of the Council. She frowned in concentration, trying to remember the "feel" of his thoughts. She sniffed and the clean scent of autumn brought the memory back -- by contrast. His thoughts had held a sly oilyness, like the sticky residue of a slug's passage. It was not the resonance of a moral man, let alone the strong inflection of a nobleman with integrity.
Despite growing up under T'Elder's rule, Ruis seemed open to affection. He had managed to survive and develop his own moral code. She needed facts and information if she was going to be able to overturn Ruis' banishment. She paused. Was she really thinking that? Oh, yes.
Ruis had given her a measure of peace and contentment. He had been kind. Now it was time to give something back to him.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Celta Thursday, Residences, T'Blackthorn's, Cliveden

Celta Thursday, The first Residence I visualized well (I had it in mind and had to find a Family for it, T'Blackthorn), which is Cliveden. I liked the looks of it and used it in an unpublished Regency Historical romance as a house called Lilrennin. Eventually Mom and I visited it as I was writing Heart Choice.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Cut from Heart Fortune

The beginning of Heart Fortune changed significantly...several times. Cut from one version of the scene with Glyssa at T'Hawthorn Residence with her friends, Tiana Mugwort, the newly wed Camellia Darjeeling D'Hawthorn and her husband

"It was five years ago that I had my weekend fling with an out of town stranger."
"Five years!" Laev looked appalled. He jacknifed from his casual sitting pose.
Glyssa gave him a weak smile, rushed into words. "I didn't know he was my HeartMate then. And if I had, if I'd followed him, abandoned my studies and my career, my Family – who are my employers and FirstLevel Librarians – would have been unforgiving." She bit her lips, she'd had nightmares about that. "I don't know whether they'd ever have let me return, and I love them. I love librarianship." Despite herself, tears welled in her throat and she swallowed them down. "And I'd have abandoned my friends, Camellia and Tiana, to follow an...an adventurer."
But Laev's brows were down, empathizing with the man, no doubt. "Hmmm."
"It wasn't as if he knew either. As if he returned for me. At least I have figured out who, what, he was and is." Glyssa lifted her chin belligerently. "I don't think he still has a clue." Then she winced inside. All those emphasized words. True, she could be passionate about matters, but the whole little speech sounded like rationalizations she'd repeated to herself. They were, but they were also true statements. Her family would not have understood. They would not have approved, and would have taken years to forgive her.
She continued, "And by the time I understood he was my HeartMate, he was gone from Druida City." She spread her hands. "I didn't know where he went to, where he was."
Laev frowned. "You could have followed your bond."
"Our teeny, tiny bond?" She stared at the man who took his responsibilities more seriously than any she'd ever known. Laev had been born into a FirstFamily and trained with every breath to do his duty.
"Ignore my Family and obligations?"
That was a point that struck home with him.
"Chase after a man who might have someone else?" Camellia said in a high voice, her gaze fixed on the dark window that only reflected the room and themselves.
Dammit! This explanation was hurting Camellia, bringing back to Camellia the awful circumstances of her and Laev's past.
Glyssa and Laev both turned to her, and Glyssa opted to distract her friend by playing on her sympathies. She pressed her lips together, then choked out – passionately, "And I have my pride. I didn't want to go running after a man who thought our time together was a holiday fling."
Laev stood and plucked Camellia from her chair, sat down with her on his lap, offered her a flatsweet with cocoa chunks. She bit into it, then he took a bite, looked over to Glyssa. "I agree with your reasoning," he said mildly......

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Celta Thursday: Heart Choice cut bits, Drina, Straif's FamCat, on bloodline:

Drina stopped licking her paw and looked at him. *I fail to understand why this blood thing is so important.* She lifted her pink nose.

Straif frowned down at her. "It's a difference between humans and cats."
She sniffed. *Maybe. Maybe just some humans. Cats are more sensible. Having offspring who die is bad. Worse than having same bloodline.*

Straif clenched his teeth. "You wouldn't understand."

*Who does? No one agrees with you.*

*I am your Fam, connected to you. I do not run away, *she replied haughtily. *We are Family, yes?*


*Then you will get good mate and children, and I will have kittens. My kittens will be bloodline.*

He stared at her, trying to grasp the concept. Marry who he would – Mitchella — his heart leapt at the thought. And he loved Antenn like a son. A HeartMate, and children.

*I never wanted to have kittens, but I will, for you,* Drina said generously. *My blood is good. I will have strong kittens for your House and line.*

Straif stared at her. Her Sire was Zanth, a Downwind feral, Lord and Lady knew who his forebears were. But he was a huge, tough, scrapper. And his get was the prized line in all of Celta. Trying to imagine a poor or sickly kitten from Zanth or Drina boggled Straif's mind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fresh Fiction Review of Ghost Killer

Wow! Wonderful review, here! http://freshfiction.com/review.php?id=50927

Friday, February 20, 2015

Nailing Voice

For those of you who like to read my monthly contribution to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog, today I talk about Nailing Voice here: RMFW Blog.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Celta Thursday - cut from Heart Thief

This was the original first scene introducing our heroine, Ailim D'SilverFir, and is now in the backstory of the book.

"The Family is deeply in debt. We must sell this Residence and Estate." Ailim D'SilverFir kept her tone steady though she blinked back tears. She glanced around the gleaming u-shaped reddwood tables in the D'SilverFir GreatHall, studying her relatives. Then she looked at the huge space of faintly rippling air that showed those attending by viz. Meeting blue gazes ranging from light sky-crystal blue to indigo, or her own shade of blue-gray, she watched shock ripple through them.
Family. They were all Family. And they were all her responsibility. Because of her great Flair, she'd been named her Mother's Heir at birth, but she hadn't anticipated inheriting the GrandHouse title until she was middle-aged at sixty or so. Twenty-nine was too young to be burdened with the Family.
All the muttering and mumblings stopped as if sucked from the room.
"NO!" screamed several people in chorus.
Even though she'd been braced, their emotions hit her mental shields like a tidal wave, testing their limits. She pulled more energy from her body to bolster them, and felt the beginning tightness in her head of an incipient migraine.
"You can't sell the estate! We are a FirstFamily, a GrandHouse, and the land has been ours since the Colonists claimed Celta four hundred years ago," sputtered G'Uncle Ab, his ruddy-veined cheeks puffing out a final breath.
Ailim matched stares with each of her relatives. "I see no other option. What little income we have should go to the productive lands. This town Residence and grounds only drain--"
"You don't know," Aunt Menzie shrilled, hurting Ailim's ears. "You can't know what has passed these last few years. How we've struggled. Your MotherSire and Mother--"
"Quiet!" Ailim commanded.
"You've no respect for your elders and betters," sniped Menzie.
Ailim nearly replied in kind, but that wasn't the way a GrandLady behaved. Whether they liked it or not, whether she liked it or not, she was now the head of the Family and held the title of D'SilverFir. Obviously, some of them didn't respect her. She stared pointedly at those who wore little cheaptin crowns. Even a couple of relations attending by holo sported the pointed metal bands. The headpieces were supposed to block the wearer's thoughts from any telepath. The cheaptin didn't work.
Ailim's specific psi gift, called Flair, was telempathy -- being able to hear thoughts and emotions from others, and she was acknowledged the strongest on Celta. She could have read every opinion in every head, even that of the person furthest away. And experience every emotion. But why would she want to? She already knew their arguments.
She had erected her own mental shields so her relations' thoughts couldn't pummel her more than the occasional sharp blows she expected of such an emotional meeting. But the discomfort of having so many people in the room, shouting at her with their minds as well as their voices, bordered on pain.
The tall white walls of marble veined with gold of the spacious GreatHall seemed to darken and close in on her as an effect of her Family's emotions.
After drawing a deep breath, Ailim returned to the topic. "We have a 1,500,000 gilt debt. The sale of the ancestral estate would clear the debt and allow every member now living here in the Residence a modest home."
Everyone followed her glance down to the flimsysheets containing Family financial information. For security purposes, the papyris was already deteriorating and would be gone in another septhour. Right now, the figures loomed large and red.
"This Residence would be transformed from a drain on the Family to a positive asset," Ailim said.
"This Residence and the estate, the FirstFamily GrandHouse D'SilverFir estate would be gone!" screeched Menzie.
"The Residence and estate, and the standard of living that the ten current inhabitants demand, consumes too much gilt," Ailim countered. "We cannot maintain the estate, let alone pay off the debt." Again she inhaled deeply. "That's why I've called this meeting. I would appreciate any input that would lead to acceptable alternatives."
She didn't dare look at Menzie again, or any of the other Family members who lived in the Residence and contributed nothing but complaints.
Ailim continued. "I urge Family members who have a paid avocation to donate as much as possible to the Family coffers. Both my past and my current annual allotment from the Noble Council has been applied to the Family finances. I've stopped my free circuit rounds. I have an application in for an appointment as Supreme Judge here in Druida."
The old folk scowled, but other heads nodded at her plans.
"Hopefully the Council will decide in a couple of days. I should hear no later than an eightday, when the FirstFamilies Council meets. Our financial dilemma must be resolved by then, so I can inform the FirstFamilies Council of our situation, for good or ill." Ailim stood.
Her shields weren't equal to the horrible lashing waves of emotions and thoughts thrown at her from the others, that started a migraine pounding in her head. The exertion of keeping her shields strong eroded her energy. Knowing her limits, she had to leave, now, or be incapacitated for the next day. And she couldn't afford that.
She couldn't afford much of anything -- certainly nothing she wanted.
She wanted to have her MotherSire and Mother back, but they were dead, their souls resting before rebirth.
She wanted to wash her hands of the Family and all its responsibilities, but that would bring a chaos of infighting amongst the others that would destroy it.
She wanted her old life back. It was gone forever.
Ailim squared her shoulders. "Please consider the budget, and your own personal and Family budgets and talk amongst yourselves. I encourage creative options and will welcome any new ideas. We'll meet again in three days to discuss this matter and any additional solutions that you can find, before I make my decision. Again, this needs to be handled before the FirstFamilies Council meeting in an eightday. Be inventive." She smiled crookedly. "It's a pity we aren't a more financially astute Family."
With raised hands, palms up, she uttered a Word. A one-word spell of the most powerful -- binding her relatives, and whoever they consulted, to silence. Then, with lifted chin and steady step, she walked from the quiet D'SilverFir GreatHall, her footsteps echoing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Celta Thursday: Cut bits and notes on a scene from Heart Thief

Celta Thursday: Cut bits and notes on a scene from Heart Thief:

Her appointment as Supreme Judge of Druida had been 'ported to her personal scry cache at dawn that morning, along with a request that she start immediately in Druida's Judgment Grove. She'd blinked sleepily at the official parchment, then read the cover letter. Her appointment* had been based on her record as a circuit judge and on her Flair testing after her Third Passage, the emotional storm that had freed her psi power completely. At the time she had tested highest in telepathy, empathy and judgment. XX years had passed and she still held the highest scores. And now she had grown and matured, and her Flair, too had increased. She'd rubbed her sleepy eyes and yawned. It was to be expected, after all. She was the Daughter of a GrandHouse, a FirstFamily, that like all FirstFamilies, had bred for Flair for centuries. She'd been named "Ailim" at birth, the heir's name, when the oracle attending her birth had sensed the power of her Flair. So she was confirmed as Supreme Judge, and soon to be publically and officially confirmed as D'SilverFir.
She shifted her shoulders, feeling the unseen burden as if weighed on her back.
Her day ended in the early afternoon.
In the distance, between a small, planned, gap in the trees, loomed Nuada's Sword, the last of the three starships that had brought the colonists to Celta. The grove had been planted in such a way to remind all of the society they had sprung from -- a society that had hated and feared their ancestors for their beliefs and their burgeoning psi powers.
**The ritual ending Judgment Grove.**
Ailim removed her robe in the small building that housed her offices and hung it in her refresher. She stepped from the small two-story, building and admired the flagged terrace and the semi-circle of pillars that arched behind her altar-table. Her glance rested on the matching building at the other end of the pillars. It held a suite of rooms, a small but stately apartment for the Supreme Judge, should he or she wish to reside there.
She went and sat once more in her chair behind her table. Ailim smiled. One of the first things her bailiff had done was to initiate the spell that made the chair conform to Ailim's body, a personal ComfortChair. She ran her hands on the XX (stone & color) surface, smooth and slightly warm from the sun's rays that the weathershield had magnified.
The weathershield and anti-harm forcefield faded as the Grove returned to normal, or as normal as it ever would be. The manifestation of great Flair over generations had given it an atmosphere as strong as any Healing Grove, or outdoor RitualCircle. She looked out to the grove, massive trees of all the FirstFamilies namesakes were planted in a way to draw the eye. Some of the earth trees had not prospered and had either died or been cross-bread with Celtan flora. Still, the prospect was both stately and comforting*.
She breathed deeply of the fall scents of turning leaves and fading flowers. A sense of peace enveloped her as she enjoyed the lovliness of the Grove, and she was glad that her Family was a GrandHouse and had no month named D'SilverFir, like the GreatHouses did. What would she have done if she'd been born a Hazel, a Family with a month in high summer, and loved the autumn like she did? Ailim chuckled at the fancy, an impractical, unlikely thought to be flitting through her brain.
Still, as the air shimmered a little less, the colorful purple, maroon, and red leaves became highlighted by the sun, brilliant in their beauty. A last summer-warmed breeze swirled through the trees. Ailim smiled, but the stress of her first day in such a lofty position, the use of her Flair, and being the scrutiny of all of Druida who came to see the new Supreme Judge D'SilverFir seemed to transmute to weariness in every cell of her body.
She loosened the pins in her hair, just a little, and rested her head on her arms, just for a moment.
And slowly, wonderfully, peace came upon her.
"Sleep." She imagined she heard it, almost as if the Grove itself spoke, deep and quiet and infinitely tender. "You've had a full day, and you haven't recovered from all the time you went without sleep to try and solve your Family problems, have you?" The voice turned a bit tart, with an autumn apple bite. Ailim murmured, she agreed she needed sleep, but to agree that her Family was plaguing her would be disloyal.
"Sleep." She heard again, and the tight braids on her head loosened*, and wonderful, massaging fingers seemed to knead the knots from her neck and travel down to her shoulders and her back. A soft sigh of pleasure escaped her. And a little laugh, something supple and furry tickled her cheek, then her nose. Even as she thought of sneezing, she fell asleep.
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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Celta Thursday: Tabacin Cards

Celta Thursday: All right, I've spent an hour looking for a good cut, and I can't afford any more time away from Heart Legacy and the next Ghost proposals, soooo, below find the back of the Tabacin cards in Heart Journey, before they were cut individually.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Photo Used for Ghost Killer Cover

If, by any chance, you want to use this pic, please give me credit. :) I was in Creede doing research for Ghost Killer when we emailed about the cover and cover conference. I sent several pics, and they chose this one.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Ghost Killer Out Tomorrow!

Yay, it's finally come, the third in the first installment of the Ghost Seer series.

I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Celta Thursday, ORIGINAL HeartMate. This was just-messing-around writing. I'd finished 3 books and none were selling. NO HOOK in this very first effort, as of May 16, 1997:

As was his morning custom, Rand T'Ash set down his half-finished first cup of caff and drew a black suede pouch from the cubbyhole of his desk. He spread the drawstrings, and upended the bag. Instead of the ususal four divination dice, six spilled into his hand. A tingle of premonition shivered up his spine.

He curved his fingers over the six-sided pieces of bloodstone and put away the pouch. He drank some of his hot caff to let his emotions flow through and from him and to focus his will and intuition, his mage power.

Uncurling his hands, he stared at the bloodstone dice. He'd created them himself a few years back, an interesting task for a man who used his talents with metals and gems.

Six. Four were sufficient for a daily divination, six were used for major holidays, like the solstices and equinoxes, and all eight to forecast lifetime prophecies.

He took one more swallow of caff and deliberately set the mug down. With a flick of his wrist, he threw the dice. They rolled, spun, landed on one of their six-sides.

He glanced at them. The polished blue-green stones gleamed in the light, the glyphs incised on them taking advantage of the deep red veins, looking nearly like blood. The thrumming of blood pulsed in his temple. He'd never seen this particular configuration before, but he didn't have to consult a text. The dice showed symbols of one of the primary divinations everyone knew. Today you will meet your heart-mate.

He sat down and cradled his caff mug in both hands, then closed his eyes. His heart rate had increased, a shimmering tension had taken hold of his nerves. The ebb and flow of his preternatural talent had changed. Over the last few days, he now realized. The daily divinations had lately intimated something unusual, something he had still missed. Twosday -- Enjoy the moment, for it will pass, Midweek -- Prepare yourself, Three-Moonsday, yesterday, Restructuring is necessary.

Opening his eyes, he stared at the dice once more. Today you will meet your heart mate.

A sigh escaped him, carrying a low moan with it. He was thirty-seven. The sole member of the once great family, a First Family, the Ash. He'd had to fight to survive. It was only in the last few years, when his talents had been recognized and his reputation burgeoned, that he had been able to relax and live life with some ease. Tomorrow he would no longer be alone. An exciting, but frightening thought.

His caff was cold, he no longer inhaled the pungent scent with his deep breaths. He looked around. His workroom, the large desk of gleaming reddwood in sharp contract to the scarred workbenches. On the far wall, behind the protection spell, was his selection of gems and precious metals. And in the corner -- he stiffened. In the corner, hidden by deep shadows, was his walk-in vault. And in the vault was the smaller safe containing his most precious possessions. The necklace.

Stiffly he rose and walked to the vault. After a moment of disarming the spell, he swung open the large door.

The necklace. An item created in three days after his last major Passage. In the delerium of that Passage he'd had visions of his heart-mate. His talent had spiralled out to connect with her in a bond, though he had never felt the link since.

He squatted and placed a palm on the safe, with long-unused words he cast the spell to open it. He reached back until he felt a large velvet case. And the moment he touched it, urgency swept through him. He slammed the safe shut, strode from and armed the vault in mere seconds, and placed the round-cornered box in the middle of his largest worktable, positioned in the sunlight.

Rand watched with disbelief as his hands trembled when he opened the box.

Energy, power, magic spilled from the necklace, driving him back. He raised his hand and felt continuing pulses from the piece. The sexual potency of a virile twenty-year old man imbued the necklace, a man who had spent three days in a sexual delerium of a Passage that finally freed his talent. Rand had focused all of the creative, sexual energy on fashioning the necklace. Seventeen years past, and it still radiated. The erotic tension washed through him and lodged, tingling his nerves, warming his muscles, pooling in his groin. And he knew beyond all doubt, that he would feel the pressure until he took his mate. The tautness was disconcerting, pleasure bordering on pain. Anticipation.

He sucked in his breath. Then looked at the necklace again. Now he only saw how it was fashioned. He frowned. The strands of silver, gold, red-gold wire were not of a uniform thinness, showing nodules in places. The caging and the mounting of the gems was clumsy now and again. That sapphire there -- he shook his head.

The side of his mouth quirked. When his hands hadn't trembled from sexual energy, they'd shaken from exhaustion. He didn't remember eating or sleeping at all during the days he created the necklace. The final gem was a large roseamber he'd spent hours shaping. With the energy pouring through him, he wouldn't have been surprised if it had turned out to be in the shape of a phallus.

He'd made a heart.

His eyes focused and he saw the necklace, beyond its inherent power, and the skill that fashioned it. He saw the style and the color of the gems. And in that moment he knew who the woman was. His mate.

He had never seen her, but he knew of her. Today you will meet your heart-mate. Not today, but tonight. For the first time in several years he had to man his exclusive shop. And now he knew that the customer he'd been teasing with his creations the last few months would come in.

He glanced at the necklace one more time and left it displayed on his workbench. He needed more caff. He could feel power swirling around him, being caught by his inner anticipation, rising.

With one sweep of his hand, he gathered the dice on his desk. Two bounced and fell to the floor. He bent and his hand stilled. Swords surround a vulnerable woman. He picked the glyph of the woman up and the die cracked into pieces in his hand. A woman in danger.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Fire

Celta Thursday: Just squeaking in before midnight my time. Okay, I had originally had the climax/black moment of Heart Fire at the Temple and here is the Cut:

The door flew open and T'Sandalwood strode in. "What is going on here? Your emotions are affecting everyone in the Temple. Including people we are counselling."
He stopped and stared at the disheveled Tiana. She thrust up her chin, swallowed again, pulled a softleaf from her robe sleeve and mopped her face. "It appears that I had more unresolved issues than I believed."
His brows winged up. "I...see."
She swallowed. "Yes. Despite everything, I have realized I'm angry with my parents–"
T'Sandalwood raised a hand. "I know. We all know. Right now we are all angry with our parents." He gave Antenn a sardonic look. "And at our mates. This is not good for the High Priestess and me."
Tiana sucked in her breath between her teeth.
Antenn snorted. "Oops."
"It's not funny," she said.
"No. It isn't. I suggest you go discuss this matter with your parents and finally clear everything up. Please don't return until your emotions are stable."
"I can do that."
"Of course you can," the High Priest said.
"Of course you can," Antenn echoed.
She glared at him as if she thought he was being sarcastic. He wasn't.
Using the softleaf she wiped away continuing tears – most of them from frustration and embarrassment, he figured – then she blew her nose, inclined her head at T'Sandalwood. "I will discuss this with my parents. And my sister."
Once again the door opened and a flushed D'Sandalwood strode in. She glanced disapprovingly at her HeartMate. "I thought this would be settled by now."
"My deepest apologies," Tiana said, sinking into a low curtsey. "I am about to remove myself. I need to speak with my Family...and find forgiveness for them. And for myself."
She rose and looked at Antenn, then speared her fingers through her undone hair, flushing miserably. "I'm not sure I can find forgiveness for you. You've hurt me." She put her hand on her heart, and continued telepathically. You've hurt me for a long time, and now you've...you didn't choose this...timing...wisely and I have made a fool of myself at my workplace.
I don't think so, he replied.
"I'll see you, FirstLevel Architect Moss-Blackthorn, sometime. Not soon," she choked. She walked over to the teleportation pad.
"Hmmph," D'Sandalwood said and left.
Antenn's brain ignited. "Way to go, Tiana! Breaking up with me in the Temple of the Lady and Lord in front of the High Priest and High Priestess."
"Get over yourself. And you work on yourself. Finally."
"Right!" he yelled as she teleported. "I'm not the only one with fliggering issues. But at least mine are all out there for you to see. You find me when you're done pouting!"
A steaming hiss from her rattled his eardrums and he actually heard a "pop" as her body left the space.
He panted and leaned against the wall, let it help him as he slid down to the floor, his knees had gone so weak.
The High Priest stared at him, then slowly shook his head. "Son, you have more courage than I'd thought."
Antenn found a lopsided smile. "Thanks."
"And more sensitivity and intelligence. None of us – my lady, myself, Tiana's own counsellors and friends – knew she had that last seething pocket of negativity in her."
Antenn thought there was nothing wrong with having a little dark in a person along with a lot of light, but he didn't say so. Wasn't sure the priest believed that or not. 'Cause he'd gone lightheaded, mind spinning, his stomach felt a little wobbly, too, good thing there wasn't anything in it.
"HeartMates," he gasped.
"I understand that," the priest stated in a rich voice.
"Something else you gotta' know," Antenn said.
"I'm listening."
"This whole thing has been real hard on Tiana. She thinks she lost a lot of respect and status–"
The priest's brows snapped down. "Absolutely not."
"Maybe not from you and the High Priestess. But I got the feeling that a lot of your underpriestlings and preistesslings," his voice had begun to slur and all he wanted was sleep, "think it was an inferior job you gave her, associatin' with the Hopefuls, and it's gonna smear her career in their eyeses for years. You better fix that." His own eyes closed so he couldn't see the older man's reaction.
"Hmm," the guy said and Antenn didn't know if that meant the priest had listened or not.
Then a soft form alit on his lap, a rumbling purr came against his belly.
**I am here, FamMan,** Pinky said. **We are safe.**
**Tha's good.** Tiana was a softie. She'd come back to him, as soon as she settled down.
A couple of prodding kneads on his thighs. **You can sleep.**
**Guess I will....** and he dropped right down into a deep hole.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Celta Thursday: Heart Fire Original first chapter (change of setting for Tiana and the Priestess)

"I know you want my position, dear," the High Priestess of GreatCircle Temple, the main priestess on the planet, said to Tiana Mugwort.

Tiana was lucky she'd only taken a sip of the hot floral tea and hadn't swallowed or she'd have spewed it out. Of course she shouldn't have expected her ambition -- no matter how masked behind a quiet manner -- to have been overlooked by the savvy woman.

"And despite the rumors, I am not ready to retire within the next few years." The older woman, Ulmaria Meadowsweet Sandalwood, smiled with good humor plumping her round cheeks, kindness showing in her sparkling dark brown eyes. "I may never be ready to retire. Meanwhile, it is time to evaluate you for your next step up this career ladder you wish to pursue, yes?"

Warning! Tiana began to sweat even in the high priestess's office suite that was cool from the large floor to ceiling windows on this curve Great Circle Temple.

Ambition and spirituality didn't often mix well and everyone who'd chosen to become a priestess or priest knew it. With great care, Tiana took a swallow of the hot brew then set the delicately thin porcelein cup down into the equally delicate saucer, handpainted antiques from the lady's birth Family -- a Family with much more clout than Tiana's disgraced one.

That disgrace that was a thorn in Tiana, spurring her need to reach the greatest pinnicle in their religion, one of the highest positions in their culture. Her eyes stung as she glanced around the space that she wanted for her own.

They sat in the innermost, the smallest, sitting room. One that the high priestess used for her most personal office...or her most noble clients needing counselling...or her most challenging problems. This room, like the others, was richly appointed, with the four high windows surrounded by carved stone in patterns of intricate knotwork.

Three rugs layered thickly on the floor. The antique and comfortable furniture, scaled for women, sat in the comfortable room, upholstered in deep amber, appropriate for the season and the gorgeous golden-leafed trees of the sacred grove just outside the window.

Lovingly crafted, as the whole GreatCircle Temple was lovingly crafted.

This building was Tiana's sanctuary, her heart's home. "I don't want to leave here for another temple," spurted from her lips without passing her brain first, appalling her.

The woman's plump hand poured more tea into her own small cup and the scent of it soothed, as it was meant to, even as Tiana's mind raced to amend her words and mitigate her mistake.

But the high priestess continued, "There have always been two paths to the top ranks of the priests and priestesses of Celta. One way is to stay here in the GreatCircle Temple, the other to prove your worth by rising as the priest or priestess of small temples to medium ones, then very influential ones and when the time comes to choose the next high priestess your name is known."

"I understand," Tiana said, pushing her impatience with this conversation, down, down, down.

"First let us touch on the matter of your wish to become the highest priestess in our land."

Tiana swallowed more brew. The taste lay on her tongue like dying flowers.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Celta Thursday: Voyage of the starship Nuada's Sword

Celta Thursday. When I first started book 2, Heart Thief, I wanted to tell the story of the discovery of Celta along with Ruis' story in the starship Nuada's Sword's Captain's Logs excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. They way I write and my technique back then didn't allow this. But I still have the logs. Several versions of the logs. Some of these I used for the story Heart and Sword in the Hearts and Swords collections. Here's the first:

I am awake. I do not know, yet, what dire circumstances have caused Nuada's Sword to Awaken me. I shiver from the aftermath of the fluid in the suspension cubes and the drugs injected into my body which have circulated through my veins for so very long. I brush crust from my eyes and lips and worry. The starships have not made landfall, there is no planet to colonize, what terrible thing has happened? My wife, my beloved Fern, was not Awakened. Will we ever hold each other again? I fear I am lost.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Pic and HeartMate Excerpt

Once upon a time I went to a Cartier exhibit and saw all sorts of wonderful items. They impressed me and I've used them in the years since. AND now there is a Cartier Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum and I went, and saw old friends. Here's a pic and an excerpt from HeartMate (oh, and in the pic, as well as the pig, you can see a bit of the rabbit):

Danith pressed her hands against the stabbing pain in her head. "Zanth. I hear you. I think." Beyond her new, fearsome headache, she didn't want to explore the consequences of this development.


"Yes." She clamped her hands to her head and rocked back and forth in pain.


Danith moaned.

She felt a rough tongue between her ankle and her weaves. Opening her eyes, she saw Zanthoxyl—Zanth—trying to copy Princess's sweet smile, and it bordered on frightening.

She rose and went to the bathroom for a feverfew hurtease. As she pulled out a small soluble vial and swallowed it, she noticed a line of little precious stones carved in the shape of animals. There was a whimsical pink-quartz pig, a graceful purplebird with wings out-stretched ready to fly, even a green malachite cricket. She wanted to stroke them.

Instead she mumbled a swear word. Master and Fam, they were determined to get her.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut/Alternative ending of Heart and Soul from the collection Hearts and Swords

Celta Thursday, Altenative End/Cut from Heart and Soul in the Heart and Sword Collection:
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."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Heart Dance cut


"Oh, for the Lord's and Lady's sakes, I don't care about the secrecy of the ritual. Just say the spell to open the HouseHeart."

"I can't," whispered D'Winterberry through dry lips.

Dufleur glared at her Mother. "You do it, WinterberryHeir."

"I . . . I . . ."

Taking more and more of D'Winterberry's weight, Dufleur said. "I don't want the fliggering Winterberrry title. I don't want this– " she stopped in time. No need to tell the Residence she didn't want it. She didn't know what sort of feelings it had, whether any rejection would crush it. As calmly as she could with fear fluttering in her chest, she said. "I am ThymeHeir," of a lost Residence. "I will not stand by and see another Residence die!" She only realized she was screaming when D'Winterberry whimpered and put her hands over her ears. Dufleur shoved her against the wall, saw a bench form from it as D'Winterberry slid down.

Retreating to the stairs, Dufleur crossed her arms over her chest. "This issue is not about power, it's about saving a life. If. You. Do. Not. Open. That. Door. In. Thirty. Seconds. I. Will. Call. Meyar. I have no doubt he would minister to the Residence." Flipping through her mind regarding the instructions she'd had about T'Thyme Residence, she added. "If it needs blood, you bleed." She turned her gaze on D'Winterberry. "You, too."

It wouldn't do her any harm to bleed a little for the Residence, too. Her mother took a shaky breath then mumbled a chant to measured beats in mathematical sequence.
The door cracked open.

Casting Dufleur a fearful look, Dringal hauled D'Winterberry from the stone seat and into the HouseHeart, closed the door in Dufleur's face.

Then she hurried up to her rooms, locked the door behind her and plunged into the secret room. How could she have been so stupid? Relying on housekeeping spells to open and close the secret door to her laboratory. If the Residence died the door to her laboratory would probably become part of the all too solid stone wall. Inside the chamber she looked around. Then strove to settle her senses.

She'd only done a brief scan when she'd discovered the room, to check the vibrations and see if there were any echoes of dark deeds that might have tainted the space and affected her experiments. Time was a tricky thing.

Now she raised her arms and expanded her Flair to discover anything unusual. She'd lived in the Residence for a year and a half**, writhed through the Time Flows of her Third Passage here four months ago, freeing her Flair. So she was stronger than she'd been when she moved in. She scoured the room for information.

There was something. Wisps of Time floated through the chamber. She half-smiled, results of her experiments. Probing further, she found the far right corner of the room had once, centuries before, been used as an altar. That was an appropriate place.

With a less hurried step, she returned to her bedroom, to the deep closet/storage area along one wall, and pulled out her own sacred tools. She coughed pain and hurt from her throat as she touched the flannel wrapped instruments. None of the Thyme Family tools had survived. She'd combed the ruins.

Sighing, she set the packet on her bedsponge, then cleared off a small table. Since it was here when she came, it belonged to the Family and the Residence and would serve well for an altar. Guilt crept through her like a rash that she hadn't performed more than a couple of rituals here, that she hadn't thanked the Residence more often for its shelter and its help. Its privacy and its ** in keeping her secrets.

She took the table and her tools into the corner and began her own ritual to send all the energy she could afford to the faltering entity. Fairyfoot came in when she was just about to slit a vein and add her own, diluted Winterberry blood to her mother's and D'Winterberry's efforts in the HouseHeart.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING? The cat's ears flicked as she sat just outside the small pentacle that Dufleur had drawn, watching.

"I thank Winterberry Residence for its gracious hospitality, for the shelter of its strong walls to keep me and mine safe against the elements of nature." She cut her vein, dripped three drops in each cardinal direction marking the limits of her Circle on the foor, in the salt on her altar that she would spread in the corner when she was done. "I thank Winterberry Residence for its strong spells to keep me and mine safe from the harm of humans. I thank Winterberry Residence for its strong personality to keep me and mine company in the heat of summer and dark of winter."

ME, TOO, Fairyfoot said and held out a paw.

Dufleur flinched. They stared at each other, remembering the dreadful time when they'd been toys of murderers, lying on a black altar, Fairyfoot's paw slit open and bleeding for the awful ritual.

They held each other's minds for a minute or two, then Fairyfoot withdrew and Dufleur sighed. The hard kernel of hurt she'd carried inside at Fairyfoot's blackmail had desolved. They had survived a hideous ordeal together, and that had forged bonds between them that would never be broken.

"Come into the Circle," Dufleur said, opening the sacred space so Fairyfoot could enter.

The small cat did, with great dignity. Dufleur closed the Circle. Fairyfoot bobbed at each corner of the room...

Holiday Wishes

I salute you.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not, but there is much that what I cannot give, you can take:

No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today; take Heaven.

No Peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant; take Peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow, behind it, yet within our reach, is Joy; take Joy.

And so at this Christmastime I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

From Fra Giovanni to Friend, 1513

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Welcome, Yule!

The Shortest Day

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the
Snow-white world,
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen.
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.

And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can year them
Echoing, behind us--listen!

All the long echoes sing the same delight
This shortest day
As promise wakens in the sleeping land.

They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year, and every year.

Welcome, Yule!

--by Susan Cooper, 1977
written for The Christmas Revels

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Interview on USA Today Online & Cut from Heart Fire

So thrilled! http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2014/12/18/scifi-encounters-veronica-scott-heart-fire-robin-owens/20547251/

And here is Celta Thursday, a bit cut from the scene where Tiana is regressed to the firebombing of her house.

Garrett's jaw tightened, then he said, "What was the noise?"

"I don't know you. Who are you? Are there people inside, too?"

Another scream tore from her, a girl's scream.

"Easy. I'm just here to help," Garrett said. "I love you like a bro–, like an uncle."

"My uncles don't love me."

"What's going on?"

"Someone threw something in the window while we were all reading! It broke the window, there's glass all over. It went boom and there was fiiirree! Papa is putting out the fire but some of it hit Artemisia and hit her head and cut her and burnt her hair! Mama is helping Artemisia Heal!" Panting. "There's more, more, more! I can hear them exploding in other rooms, here on the ground floor, in the ResidenceDen! Will it hurt the books?!

She coughed, then continued, "Papa's running from room to room.. And a lot of people outside, screaming . Why would they be screaming and throwing fire at us?" She shuddered.

"You're looking out the windows, yes?"

"Yes," girl's voice pitched even higher with tension, with fear. "Artemisia is hiding under the desk, but I can't. I can't. I have to see who would hate us so that they threw a firebomb in our house. Who?"

"And you can see faces."


"Which room are you in?"

"The ResidenceDen in back. I think they are all around the house. I need to check everywhere!"

"Tiana, can you stay calm for now, please?"

A whimper. Antenn sat, his fists tight, his knuckles white. He hated listening to this.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Celta Thursday: Map of the Area Where the Starship Lugh's Spear landed

Celta Thursday: Map of the area where Lugh's Spear starship landed.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Map of the planet Celta

Sorry folks. I thought yesterday was Wednesday most of the day, and last night, so I spaced Celta Thursday. Not a cut this week, but a map of the planet...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! Celta Thursday, Return of ZANTH AND THE TREASURE.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for all of you who enjoy my work, and who share such wonderful words and feelings with me. Celta Thursday, a return of the piece, ZANTH AND THE TREASURE (Free Short Short Story set in the Celta Universe)

Celta, 406 Years After Colonization, Summer

Zanth's whiskers twitched. The smell was incredible. Incredible and wonderful and with the scent of great Flair magic.

He padded warily through the night and the bushes that rose high above his head. He'd never been out of the city of Druida before. Here on his FamMan's southern, overgrown estate there were creatures that might try and make a mouthful of him. But he was a canny and clever cat, the pre-eminent cat of Druida, and therefore, of course, the whole world of Celta.

The bushes loomed and rustled with animals and midnight noises. He placed each paw carefully, flexed his claws.

There was treasure up ahead and he meant to have it.

Slithering under the rusted greeniron gate, he wallowed for a few instants in the dirt and dust, spreading his own scent. Notifying all in the area that the mighty Zanth was on the prowl, that this estate, once abandoned, was now his.

He sniffed luxuriously. No celtaroons. He'd cleaned out two nasty nests in the few days they'd been here. There was wolf, far away, but the pack was made of low, unintelligent creatures and no match for Zanth.

He was a FamCat of the highest order, of the greatest nobility. Now he was pampered, and that was absolutely his due. He'd found the boy child, Rand T'Ash, in the slum of Downwind and cared for him, let Rand love him and be a Familiar companion.

Then they grew big enough to walk the Vengeance Stalk. They'd killed those men who'd murdered Rand's Family. Zanth had gotten his Residence and his room and his bed and his velvet pillow.

And his chef.

It was a lie that Zanth was soft and fat. He could still take any feral tom in Druida.

The tantalizing scent came from beyond the ragged gliderway...it came from the road. Not a big road, but one with lots of odors of stride beasts, llamas, a horse or two. And predator and prey animals and carrion eaters.

The lake to the south ladened the air with rich smells of fish and small prey and his favorite, sewer rat.

But even wet rat didn't smell as good as this human-Flair-made-thing.

He sauntered out, nose lifted, reveling in all the excellent new smells, the slight breeze sliding against his fur, the beingness in a new place just waiting for him to put his paw prints all over it.

In a few bounds he found the sphere. Glass with interesting-unique-special stuff floating inside. It smelled of woman and strange places beyond any Zanth had experienced. There was a little tang of the Great Platte Ocean that he recognized, and of Gael City where he'd been, and even a icy wind that caused him to shiver and his hair to raise, the far north. More recently was the gaminess of the Hard Rock Mountains. Slightly buried in dirt, he pawed it out, grinning as his claws dug deep in the rich earth of this new place that would know him.

He rolled the sphere a little way, watching something sparkle inside it. Tasting it, his tongue absorbed some of the Flair that created it and emanated from it and he purred. It made him feel better. A treasure indeed.

**That is MINE.** The snarling shout – mental and physical – stopped Zanth in his tracks. He rolled the globe behind his front paws. It felt good against his heart.

A scrawny and scruffy fox slipped onto the road. Not much like those aristocratic foxes in Druida City. Zanth was as big as this one and had more muscle and mass.

But the last time he fought a fox his emerald stud had been ripped from his left ear and lost. He'd also teleported home with a broken hind leg.

FamMan Rand T'Ash had sworn and had taken a long time to make the new stud.

FamWoman Danith had cried.

**Mine!** the fox yelled again.

Zanth didn't run from fights. He could win against this dog fox. The fox lifted his lip, showing teeth, and Zanth growled back, packing it with power. The fox set his paws and hunkered, ready to fight.

**Go away!** Zanth commanded. **This is my place and all here belongs to ME. All prey, all leaves to chase, and essspesssially this TREASURE THING.**

The fox barked challenge. Zanth hissed and growled until he could only hear himself. Then he grinned because the fox hopped backward. Still there was something in the animal's eyes that told Zanth the fox might pounce if he turned his back, or took his gaze off the fox to enjoy his new treasure.

**Leave the sphere,** said the fox.

The sphere sent warmth into Zanth's middle. He wanted it. He would have it. **This Treasure Thing is Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine!** Zanth switched his tail. That was that. Six "mines" and that pointy-nosed creature should know it was his. Cats never backed down after six "mines."

The fox snapped out a bark. **That landscape globe belongs to my FamWoman. She made it.**

Zanth sniffed. **Then why doesn't she have it?**

**She makes them and lost some. I have gotten two.**

Zanth saw in the fox's mind that there had been three. He reverted to the slum speech of his kittenhood. **ME HAS THIS ONE!**

Again the fox showed a lift of upper lip and muzzle, growled. This time the toughness of battle reflected in his eyes. **Del made it with sweat and blood and Flair.** A shifting of balance of the paws and tail. The stringy fox would fight.

With one strong kick of a hind leg and a demonstration of his own fabulous Flair, Zanth sent the "landscape globe" soaring back into the estate, between the rails of the green iron gate.

The fox narrowed his eyes, flexed his dark, dirty claws.

Zanth matched glares. **I am Zanth, and the bauble is Mine. I will win.** He swaggered forward and his very presence made the fox step back.

**Zanth. I have heard of Zanth,** the fox said.

**Of course.** Zanth smiled with all his teeth. **I have killed many sewer rats, many celtaroons, sired many litters.**

With a long stare, the fox looked Zanth from tooth to tail tip. **You are uglier than I thought.**

Zanth curled his lip. **You are so ugly the twinmoons hide.** They'd gone behind a cloud.

**You are FamCat to T'Ash,** the fox said.

It was a rare fox who could match insult with insult and this one obviously wasn't so smart, though annoying all the same. **T'Ash is MY FamMan.**

The fox darted in and swung a paw. Zanth hopped aside, then hissed and surged forward, back arched, all his hair out. Yes, he was more muscular, thicker than this stupid, scrawny fox.

It hunched it's back and screeched so Zanth had to flatten his ears.

**I WILL fight you!** Even as he rumbled a growl deep in his throat, Zanth's thoughts sped.

In a fight he might lose his emerald ear studs and his collar. FamMan refused to fix them again or make him more. FamWoman would be sad. Tears might drip down her face and onto Zanth's fur like the last time he came back bloodied. That made him feel almost worse than losing his gems.

But he extended his claws. He let battle anticipation sit on his tongue before saying, **I am Zanth and I will win this battle, as I win ALL My battles.**

He paused. He was so clever. Then he said, **But...**

The fox snapped up Zanth's bait. **What?**

**I could pay you for the landscape globe with rabbit.** In Zanth's experience foxes loved rabbit.

His adversary's tongue rolled out and a string of drool hung to the ground. **Real Earthan rabbit or the Celtan mocyn?** The fox asked.

Snorting, Zanth said, **Rabbits. Two. Freshly killed and put in a cold spot where I can get in with my Flair.** A neighboring farmer had done the killing, but Zanth didn't care. If it was available to him and no one guarded it from him, it was his.

**Done!** cried the fox, and he was equally irritating as he kept up with Zanth on the run to the neighbor's cold shed.

Feeling magnanimous, Zanth showed the creature how to manipulate the latch with Flair. The fox took both rabbits while Zanth sat and groomed his paws. The treasure was his and it would last a lot longer than a couple of rabbit meals. Besides, he didn't like rabbit.

Once they were away from the shed and the road, they eyed each other, then the fox nodded and said, **I am Shunuk.**

**I haven't heard of you,** Zanth said.

The fox's tail bristled and flicked, then he was gone in the night, nearly as quiet and stealthy as Zanth himself.

Zanth hurried back to his estate to claim his treasure. He stared at it and for an instant in the twinmoons' light and an image solidified inside the sphere – Zanth's Residence and room and his velvet pillow. He lipped up his treasure and grinned around the globe.

He was the strongest and cleverest and best FamCat – FamAnimal – on all of Celta. Naturally.

Life was good.

Monday, November 24, 2014

CE Murphy Kickstarter: Rosie the Redeemer

A kickstarter by my good friend, Catie (CE) Murphy, urban fantasy and fantasy author. The deets and READ THE FIRST 3 CHAPTERS at --> link:
BLURB As monsters follow the boys home from WW2, Rosie learns she can redeem a damned soul--but will she lose her own in the process?

The war is over...but for Rosie the Redeemer, the homefront battle is just about to begin!

It's July 1945, and handsome young Johnny B. Goode is home from the war. Reportedly shattered by his experiences, he takes a night shift job at the local factory. It's no surprise that the girls there are smitten with the handsome young soldier, but as they start to leave their jobs--and no forwarding addresses--Rosie Ransom begins to suspect there's more to Johnny's homecoming than believed.

When Johnny tries to turn a vampiric bite on her, Rosie kills him in self defense--and sees his soul, pure and uncorrupted, rise into the ether. Within hours, she's approached by handsome, dangerous Hank Turner, who believes her to be a Redeemer--a rare talent who can save a lost soul even after demonic possession has taken place.

Rosie, facing the loss of her factory job as men--and her fiance Rich Thompson--come home from the war, is eager for any future that grants her the independence she's come to cherish as a working woman. If there are monsters to slay, she'll embrace the opportunity. Because without Rosie's help, the scare started by Johnny may turn into a full-fledged nightmare...

Out of the Blogosphere
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