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, 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...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Celta Thursday. Heart Choice re: Pinky becoming a FamCat:


Talk around the table lapsed into comfortable silence. Antenn cleared his throat and the adults fastened their gazes on him. His face was one of mulish determination. He lifted his chin. "Pinky wants to become a Fam." He shut his mouth, lips tight, and stared at Danith. She looked astonished.

"There are Fam animals and regular animals," T'Ash mumbled. "Look at Zanth, see how big he is, his brain–"

"He can't be smarter than Pinky!" Antenn didn't move his gaze from Danith. "He wants to be a Fam. He's a little cat, but he's very smart, and there are other cats as little as he is that are Fams." His voice took on a note of desperation and the cat in question, no doubt reacting to his friend's emotion, jumped onto the dining room table. Antenn petted him.
Mitchella winced.

T'Ash raised his eyebrows, but one side of his mouth lifted. "We have a rule in this Residence. No animal on the table while a human is eating." T'Ash looked around at the empty plates.

"Pinky knows the rule!" Antenn's chin jutted. "He wants to be able to talk to me and I want to talk to him, and he maybe wants to talk to other humans and other Fams. Fams who might think he is stupider than they are. Snotty Fams."

Straif coughed and T'Ash joined in, hiding their smiles behind their hands.

This was definitely Drina's fault, Mitchella thought. A day hadn't passed where she hadn't picked on Pinky – hiding around corners and swatting his rump as he strolled by. Hissing at him. Making comments to Straif about the young tom. All that Queen of the Universe Fam's fault.

Danith appeared thoughtful.

"I can pay!" Antenn said.

Staring at Pinky, Danith waved that away. "Gilt isn't important in this matter, knowledge is. I've never actually done a study as to why some animals are Fams and others aren't."

She nibbled at her lip, glanced in the direction of her MistrysSuite. "I don't know whether Princess would like to be a Fam. I don't think so. I think she's happy to just be a cat of the T'Ash household. Though she does communicate to Zanth, on occasion. She might not want to be a Fam, but I don't see why I couldn't give her that choice." Danith held out her hand to Pinky and he trotted over to butt it with his nose. Mitchella noted that he left a smear on Danith's hand, but she didn't seem to care. Probably got slimed all the time, Mitchella thought with an inward shudder. She could never accept that as part of her vocation.

Danith scratched Pinky's head, looked at Antenn. "Does Pinky have any relatives? Any family that might have been Familiars?"

Antenn bit his lip. "I don't know. I got him right after the gang–" He darted a glance at T'Ash.

"Don't worry," Danith said, "we aren't distressed by speaking of the Triad."

But Mitchella saw a fine tension running through T'Ash. After all, the Triad had kidnapped Danith and tried to kill the Ashes several times.

"I only found Pinky. Or he found me."

T'Ash relaxed. "That's what happened to me, too. Zanth found me."

"Where is Zanth?" asked Mitchella.

A smile played at T'Ash's mouth. His eyes gleamed. "Hunting Celtaroons."

By this time, Danith had stood and was examining Pinky on the dining room table.

Mitchella shook her head. There were some things that she and her friend completely disagreed on. Animals on the dining room table was one of them.

Danith's eyes went foggy. She was using her Flair. An instant later, she spoke to Antenn again. "Pinky is a fine cat in excellent health. I'd like to keep him here to study for a couple of days."

At Antenn's frown, Danith continued hurriedly, "I won't harm him in any way."

"You won't let Zanth beat him up?"

"Absolutely not."

Danith bent down and caught Pinky's gaze. A few heartbeats later, she looked up. "I believe Pinky understands that he will stay and we'll explore the difference between Fams and regular cats. Antenn, how did you know he wanted to be a Fam?"

Antenn reddened. "I don't know. A dream, maybe." He shifted in his chair.

Danith just nodded. "All right. Pinky and Princess and Zanth will all be part of my study." She tapped a finger against her lips, glanced at T'Ash and Straif. "Holm and Lark Apple are coming to visit this weekend, I'll make sure to ask them to bring their Fams. Their cats are just out of kitten-hood. I'll have two more Fams to work on – uh, with." She smiled.

Everyone except Pinky looked dubious.

Straif sighed theatrically and looked at Mitchella with a half-smile. "I suppose you think this is all Drina's fault."

"You must be telepathic," she said drily.

"Drina is a snot," T'Ash said.

"Really–" Danith started.

"I'm afraid you're right," Straif said. "And she'll be preening with triumph over the next few days, thinking she's banished Pinky." His eyes narrowed in thought. "It's going to be rough if Pinky comes back a Fam."

Monday, November 17, 2014

For New Friends: Feral Magic

All right, for my new friends, who might not know. I did publish an ENOVELLA about 2 years ago for $2.99 here: http://amzn.to/1yd83sW The ghost books took me in a different direction, but I'm hopeful I'll get back to Dak and Brandy...

A blue moon rises, bringing with it magic and danger to a sleeping Denver.

Brandy Svensson mourns her lost soldier fiancee and struggles to move on. Her own near-death experience has brought her an odd "gift" – she has a telepathic connection with cats. She's coping with life’s changes until the night she finds a lost jaguar cub, just the start of the greatest changes of all...

Dak, a warrior Pantherman, is alarmed when his baby nephew, the Chief of the klatch, vanishes. Dak must find the infant before his enemies do...or be branded a murderer and risk igniting warfare among the clans.

When the cub turns into a human baby, shock and confusion flood Brandy. And when a full-grown jaguar arrives to claim him, then transforms into a man, fascination sweeps through her. Dak's protective instincts are triggered by this lovely woman, and the certainty that he's followed by a killer.

Drawn together in their fight to protect the baby, Brandy and Dak confront the enemy and the final choice threatens. Will the feral magic they've discovered together save or doom them?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Celta Thursday, Heart Fire cut (because too creepy)

Celta Thursday: HEART FIRE, Cut because too creepy (said mentor), Tiana touring TQ after being requested to reside there:

"Do you have tears in your eyes?" TQ asked.
She sniffed. "Yes. I truly am honored."
"May I have some of your tears?"
Wiping a finger under her eyes, she gathered a few droplets, touched them to the doorjamb and saw them vanish.
TQ sighed like the wind passing along his windows. "You are generous. I like the feel of your tears, priestess."
"I hope that you don't want me to shed a lot of them while I'm here," she said, walking again along the corridor, turning right to follow the ell of the house.
"There are tears of joy, yes?" TQ asked.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Belated Celta Thursday: SPOILER FOR HEART FIRE

Belated Celta, sorry, I lost track of the days. I wrote some of the flashback to the night Tiana's Family's house was firebombed in Antenn's Point of View. Here's a bit:
"You're looking out the windows, yes?" Primross asked.
"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," Primross continued.
"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.

Monday, November 03, 2014



Friday, October 31, 2014

And another excerpt to celebrate Halloween/Samhain

You can find it here:


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Celta Thursday, Heart Fire Excerpt

Yes, next Tuesday Heart Fire is out, and here's a last excerpt:
*Stooopppp! Let me IN!* screeched a mental voice.
Reacting instinctively, Tiana snapped, “Stop the vehicle immediately.”
The glider whooped a warning to others, jerked still, deployed the landing brackets, and rocked back and forth on them.
*Windooww!* yelled something. Tiana turned toward the sound and jolted as something dark and furry showed beyond the tinted window.
“What are yo—” she began, but saw a whippy cat tail. All right. She commanded, “Thin the back windows to air.”
The spell took hold, and the furry animal bolted through, landing close to her. She put out a hand to keep the cat from tumbling onto her and thought she saw drool or spittle flying toward her, too.
*Yay! Look at Me! I am with My FamWoman! I have CATCHED her!*
Tiana stared at the brindled cat of drab shades of brown and gray. One of his ears was half gone. Obviously not a pampered Fam, but a feral.
He smiled ingratiatingly, showing a broken fang, too, and then his loud and rumbling purr filled the glider.
“FamWoman?” Tiana asked faintly.
His head bobbed. A white scar showed the length of his head and disappeared into the fur near his neck. *I am your Fam.*
“Do you even know who I am?”
The Fam snorted. *Acourse I do. You are the priestess who lives in the secret place that welcomes the really scared or sad.*
Her heart thudded and her mouth dried. That was true.
*You are not the Healer who lives there and who has a raccoon Fam.* The tom lifted a paw and flicked it as if dismissing such a creature. But Tiana’s sister’s Fam was young and pretty, especially compared to this one.
So was everyone else’s Fam.
Light-green eyes fixed on hers. *I am a good fighter. Like you.*
“I see.”
He preened and turned his head and licked a mat by his shoulder. *We will be good together. I have been smelling you for the last two weeks, and knew I had to find you.*
That simply appalled Tiana. “Smelling me?”
He sniffed. *Yes. You are my FamWoman.*
Well, he had no doubt about that.
“I take it you haven’t come from GreatLady Danith D’Ash’s Fam Adoption Rooms.”
The tom made a disgusted noise. *Bunch of soft pussies.*
“We are now ten minutes late to the appointment,” the mechanical voice of the glider said.
“Oh! Resume driving!” Tiana ordered.
*This is a nice glider,* the tom said, looking around, flexing his claws. *I have always wanted to ride in a glider!*
“Don’t you dare put your claws in the leather seat—”
But in went the claws and Tiana bit her lip as she watched the cat knead, but when he pulled out his claws, his whiskers turned down at no holes in the leather. A very good trick.
“Ah,” she said. “What’s your name?”
The cat sat proudly. *I am RatKiller. All the Fams in the world know RatKiller!*
Tiana just stared.
*But you may give me a human-gift name, too. A Mugwort name. That will be good. Then I will be Something RatKiller Mugwort.*

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mile Hi Con

I guess I should have posted here EARLIER that I am at Mile Hi Con this weekend (as usual, I've been going since before I got published, since before I started seriously writing, even). I have a 1pm panel, Ask The Authors, and a 4 pm panel Suspending Disbelief (reminds me I'm moderating those and I have questions fine for Ask the authors but not Suspending Disbelief so I need to look at those...) Come by and visit me. I have hardcopy ARCs of Heart Fire with me.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Celta Thursday: Heart Fire, FIRST MEET

The priestess was late. Annoyingly unprofessional.

Antenn Blackthorn-Moss wanted to pace the flagstoned sidewalk in front of his business, a nicely elegant building with tall rectangular windows set in rough-cut red sandstone that he’d recently redesigned and rehabbed. But he couldn’t show his impatience or tension because his client, a Chief Minister of the Intersection of Hope, a stocky man but with an innate elegance, remained serene.

Antenn couldn’t even look at his wrist timer, though his preliminary engineering crew awaited them at the building site, a dusty piece of land at the edge of the Varga Plateau, the geographic area Druida City was built on. His forewoman knew what to do, so hopefully they had started without them.

Finally a glider stopped near them and the door rose. A woman gathered a formal robe and stepped out before Antenn could take the couple of paces to offer his arm. When she turned to them, her face seemed flushed with irritation, which immediately annoyed him. THEY were the ones waiting on her . . . but his frustration simply dropped away as he got a good look at her. She’d made an attempt to tame curly brown-black hair by putting it in a bun that might have once been smoothly elegant, but tendrils wisped in fine strands around her oval face.

As she’d exited the vehicle, the fabric of her gown had tightened here and there and he’d seen she was slender but with nice, and nicely proportioned, breasts and hips. Her fine-boned features eased into a standard priestess pleasant expression.

Elegant, dainty. Out of his league. And exasperatingly late.

Chief Minister Custos moved toward her, stopped, and bowed four times. “We of the Intersection of Hope had requested you be our liaison but had not hoped you’d agree. The High Priest and High Priestess stated it was your decision.”

The priestess’s emerald eyes flickered and Antenn guessed that the Powers-That-Were in the Temple hierarchy had put pressure on her. Yet her manner held the strength and serenity of most priests and priestesses he’d met, along with steely determination.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chihuly at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Spent the am at the Chihuly Exhibit in the Denver Botanic Gardens with Mom. Wonderful! And really glad because now it's clouding over.

Ghost Seer Page Proofs

Well, I'm fretting a little. The fabulous Rose Beetem worked on my page proofs (galleys) for me for Ghost Killer despite her crazy schedule for Mile Hi Con this weekend, I worked a little on it, then sent it off last night. THEN remembered I had to check on a scientific fact (which they got WRONG on Forever last night). So as soon as I remembered I went through the pages, caught another comment I didn't see by Rose, and now I'm just hoping the fact is fixed.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gwydion Ash's story

**head desk** I am BEHIND on Heart Legacy. And what comes to my mind this morning? The opening to Gwydion Ash's book, that I've been thinking about a little (and it's at least #2 down the line, after Vinni's book):

*You don't speak Fam properly,* the young fox whisked it's tail at Cordata as she sat, nearly defeated, on the park bench just inside of the south gate of Druida City. She'd just had enough energy and money – gilt – to get this far. How she was going to obtain any more was a question.

Her spine straightened so she sat properly as her G'Auntie had taught her as a child. Her chin lifted as she stared the gray fox in its light yellow eyes. Unlike the rest of her Family, except that G'Auntie, she'd wanted to drift away from the grift and the con and better herself. Who knew it took so much more work to be honest? More gilt, too. She was broke.

But she had prospects.

*Are you going to speak to me and take me as your Fam or not?* The thing hopped onto her bench walked across her knees insolently waving her tail in Cordata's face – yes, she noticed the femaleness of it – tickling Coradata's nose and making her sneeze at the scent of fox and road dust.

*Greet you, fox-ling,* Yeah – yes – her mind accent was broken, but she wasn't accustomed to talking to anyone telepathically. One of her prospects – a strong, wild Flair she'd need to tame.

Note: I spend a lot of time on Facebook, but I know you all might not be there, so I will be posting more of what I do there, here. I THINK this blog feeds into my amazon page, where you might be able to read it, and to my goodreads page.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celta Thursday! Heart Fire excerpt, the Turquoise House! Coming November 4!

Celta Thursday: Heart Fire (coming 11/4!) excerpt:

The Turquoise House hummed to himself, happy with his existence as much as he’d ever been since his HeartStones had wisped into awareness twenty-two years ago.

The tune wafting through his walls was one of the latest that Trif Winterberry had composed for him. He was beloved of the FirstFamilies and had had many wonderful guests.

But he was impatient and it was time to gather in his Family.

He was no longer an adolescent, but a mature adult. He was wealthy from his leases and the belongings his previous Family had gathered over two and a half centuries, but most of all, he was beautiful, with a gorgeous, shiny light turquoise exterior.

No one, not even the person he’d been luring and who had not come back, could resist him now.

And TQ was brilliant. He’d set his plans. Soon he would have his Family, and everything would be perfect.

Yes, for the first time ever I have a different Point of View than the hero or heroine in a Celta HeartMate book! The intelligent house, the Turquoise House. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Celta Thursday: Heart Fire, intro of heroine

Celta Thursday. You might have seen the intro of Tiana in Heart Fire before, but here's a bit again: “I know you desire my position, dear,” the High Priestess of GreatCircle Temple, the main priestess on the planet, said to Tiana Mugwort.

Tiana stumbled over a small rock in the meditation path. Her mentor’s comment caught her off guard. She’d been concentrating on keeping her new, expensive, and white formal robe from catching on some of the twiggy bushes along the trail instead of watching where she was going.

“Most FirstLevel Priestesses would be honored to have your position,” she said. No help for it, she’d have to use psi power, Flair, to coat her gown. She’d anticipated this career review would take place in an office instead of one of the winding paths near GreatCircle Temple.

With a huge, hopefully discreet breath, she used nearly the last of her Flair to protect her robe for a half septhour. Surely that would be enough. She’d spent her psi energy recklessly this morning with several teleportations before the meeting.
She’d thought there’d be tea and flatsweets. Instead she needed to catch up, both on the path and with the conversation.

Of course she shouldn’t have expected her own ambition to become the High Priestess—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, GrandLady Ulmaria D’Sandalwood, paused in their trek and smiled with good humor plumping her round cheeks, kindness showing in her sparkling dark-brown eyes. “I may never be ready to retire. Nonetheless, it is time to evaluate you for your next step up this career ladder you wish to pursue, yes?”

Sunday, October 05, 2014

5 book bundle for 99 cents!

Today I'm doing some promo for my friends, in the order the request was received:
First: Get FIVE BOOKS for .99 cents. This includes the wonderful fantasy world of my critique buddy Cate Rowan. Amazon: http://amzn.to/1uoNN6H
BN: http://bit.ly/DarklyD-BN
iTunes: http://bit.ly/DarklyD-iT
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/DarklyD-SW

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Heart Thief cut: Sick Puppy

Again my apologies for this being late due to Jury Duty.

This was from Chapter 10 of Heart Thief:

A warm puppy nose nudged at her cheek and woke Ailim. Primrose panted in distress. *Me not feel good.*
"Scry bowl, voice only, call D'Ash," Ailim commanded.
Swearing came across the link, a holo showing intertwined bodies. "Holo off!" said T'Ash. His voice was followed by a lighter one. "D'Ash here."
"D'SilverFir, my Fam is ill."
"Stones don't have these sorts of emergencies," grumbled T'Ash and almost made Ailim smile through her anxiety.
"Can she still speak to you?" asked D'Ash.
Primrose made a small yip. *D'Ash!*
"Not too terrible, then. I'll teleport to D'SilverFir Residence within the next quarter septhour," D'Ash said and ended the call.
*Aunt Whitey,* Ailim mind-called her housekeeper. *Please arrange for an elegant breakfast in the nook next to the solarium. D'Ash comes. I'd like an assortment of pastries. Please inform anyone who asks for me that this is to be a private, uninterrupted, meeting.*
*Humph!* her Aunt snorted. *We have no budget for elegant pastries.*
Ailim grit her teeth. *The no-time box index I saw yesterday showed enough pastries to host a breakfast for the full NobleCouncil. Indeed, haven't we been feeding our visiting Family from the no-time?*
Whitey's distinctive sniff came through telepathically, but she didn't respond to Ailim's last question. *No-time foods do not taste as well as others. Why some of those dishes were prepared when my Father'sDam was D'SilverFir!*
Ailim ignored her aunt's protest and dressed hurriedly in a soft tunic and trous suit of teal that came to hand. Though it was one of the days she sat in Judgment Grove, a dark purple robe would cover what she wore. With a quick spell, her hair was intricately arranged in braids.
She picked up Primrose. The pup felt hot and her little tongue flopped out of her mouth.
*Me hurt.*
"D'Ash is coming."
*You say pastries? Me like pastries, like from no-time.*
"You'll eat what D'Ash says, and nothing more. And I agree, there's no difference in taste in no-time dishes, unless it's that we could afford a good pastry chef during the era of the generations ago D'SilverFir. Ignoring no-time stocks while preparing fresh is only Whitey's foolishness, a stupid Noble custom to make us more exclusive. Donax was right in indexing the no-time larders, and in recommending we use what we have," she muttered, petting Primrose and hurrying down to the breakfast nook set in the curve of one of the towers.
A glass table was set with the best china and held a three-tiered set of platters heaped with mouth-watering sticky-buns, scones, rolls, cakes and filled croissants.
*Yum,* Primrose said weakly, eyeing the bounty.
"No." Ailim set her Fam down on a cushioned chair and poured herself a cup of caff.
"D'Ash arrives," said the mellow tones of the Residence.
Ailim looked out the arched window that faced the lake and the drawbridge, but couldn't see beyond the trees of the estate to the great greeniron gates.
"D'Ash here," said a breathless, cheerful voice, transmitted by the resonating stone embedded in the wall by the gates. She looked as optimistic as she sounded and relief lightened Ailim's heart.
"Come," Ailim teleported the GreatLady to the nook.
D'Ash examined Primrose. "What we have here is a puppy who has been eating well, but not too wisely. No doubt taking advantage of the banquet yesterday, the Ritual foods, and all your fascinated relatives who'd slip her anything she begged for."
Primrose opened her eyes very wide, tilted her head, flopped her ears and looked pathetic. It didn't soften Ailim's heart. "I'll make sure the family knows that she must strictly adhere to her diet."
Primrose whimpered. *Candies. Wildrunner. Honied CeltaHen. Cat food so goood.*
"Cousin Canadena will have to stop feeding you. You can't visit her kitten if she's going to ignore my orders," Ailim said.
Primrose moaned.
D'Ash stroked the long hair falling over the Fam's eyes. "I can heal her, but using such Flair on a bellyache is a little overmuch. If you'll let me, I'll take her with me, treat her with a bit of herbs and spells, and return her later in the morning."
"I'm in Judgment this morning."
"I've always wanted to take a look at Judgment Grove when something interesting is going on. Now that I make my own schedule, I can." D'Ash unfolded a carrier bed lined with fluffy CottonSorbaroot and carefully placed Primrose in it. The animal healer touched a finger to Primrose's head. "Sleep, and feel no pain."
Primrose's body settled limply into the bed.
"She will be fine in a few hours," D'Ash said, pouring herself some t'caff and reaching for a cocoa-filled croissant. "Oh, these are delicious. For my fee, could I take them all?"
"I owe you more than that."
The GreatLady raised green-hazel eyes, and Ailim saw a wealth of compassion. A flush of embarrassment at her Family's lack of funds heated her neck.
"As T'Ash says, we are GreatLords, what we choose to set as our fee is completely up to us. His Fam, Zanth, has a habit of terrorizing our chef. A terrorized chef doesn't have a very light hand with pastries." Danith sighed. "And we all have a taste for sweets."
"The pastries are yours, then."
Primrose's stomach rumbled.
D'Ash glanced at the puppy. "I'd better be going. I'll be at the Judgment Grove at mid-morning bell. See you later, D'SilverFir." D'Ash expanded a visible sphere of Flair around her, the pastries on the table, and Primrose.
"Call me Ailim, and my most heartfelt thanks. Merry meet."
"And merry part."
"And merry meet again," Ailim said, just before D'Ash winked out.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Celta Thursday to be Delayed

Well, I got on a jury, so I will be a regular 7-6er for the next three days and Celta Thursday will probably go up Friday. Take care!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Quest, Mitchella Gets A Baby (Long)

Mitchella sat straight up in her chair, eyes widening in horror, hand to her throat.

"What is it?" demanded Trif.

"The Turquoise House," pressing fingers to her temples. "Something's wrong. Something's bad. I need to get there now!"

Trif braced herself, wet her lips. "I might be able to teleport us there." She'd helped Mitchella work on the house, restoring it, and watching the place gain in sentience.

Her face white, Mitchella said, "Are you sure?"

Jerking her head in a nod, Trif said. "We are linked and both know the house, so we can visualize it well. You'll lend me Flair and urgency." She set her shoulders, began the breathing sequence that Winterberry taught her. Grappled with her unruly Flair and sent it down straight paths – known 'porting pathways in her mind.

Mitchella stood and joined Trif, squeezing her hand. "Let's do it. Here's how the courtyard looks." An image appeared in her mind, formed by Mitchella. It had glowing yellow gridlines on it. That would make it easier.

Belief is EVERYTHING, Trif heard Ilex's words as if he spoke them calmly beside her. From the corner of her eye she saw the gray light of the day and modified Mitchella's visualization from sunlight to cloudy.

"Good," Mitchella said on an exhaled breath, and Trif realized that Mitchella believed utterly that Trif could 'port them to the house with no trouble.

Of course you can, purred Greyku from her bag. The kitten reinforced the image. The three melded Flair, Mitchella's small but perfectly steady and understood, Greyku's young and bright, Trif's strong and directed.

"On three," Trif said, sinking into the heightened awareness that she needed as she began to feel the place in her mind take on three-dimensions. "One courtyard. Two courtyard. Three."
The air popped as they appeared in the center of the cobbled space. Exultation surged through Trif – she'd done it. No grayness, no flickering. Just complete control.

Then her Flair spiked and the heat of it tingled from the soles of her feet through her to raise the hair on her scalp. She muttered under her breath, stumbled.

Everything looked quiet at the house – the clean cobblestone yard and trimmed bushes, the solid door – seeming peaceful. But as she watched the turquoise colored walls pulsed in a disturbed pattern.
Mitchella ran to the house. It began pulsing gently in a disturbed pattern. She set her hand on the door. "Tell me." Cocking her head, her face strained as she listened. Then she cried out and ran past Trif to the gate, shoving it open, turning to the left.

Trif followed to see Mitchella disappear through the portal of the house next door.

Put me down. I want to run and see, too, Greyku demanded. Grumbling, Trif did.

When they reached the house, the door was already open and Mitchella nowhere to be seen. She screamed.

Hurrying, Trif followed the sound to the mainspace where Mitchella crouched over a young woman who lay crumpled on the floor. Trif's heart clutched and her breath stopped in her throat. She hadn't seen death often, the Clovers were a hearty and long-lived family, but she knew the woman was dead.

Greyku screeched. Dead thing. Won't stay. She retreated outside.

"Oh, Lady and Lord!" Mitchella whispered.

Trif joined her, tentatively reached out a hand and touched the woman's shoulder. Cold. Trif shivered.

Mitchella jumped to her feet. "Her baby!"

Dimly, Trif heard a small, fitful crying. Before she could say anything Mitchella had shot out of the room. Trif stared down at the young woman, slowly stood and glanced around the room. It was furnished with a minimum of old, rough pieces. The walls showed damp and mold and gray patches. Everything about the house spoke of a once affluent Family now impoverished.

A moment later Mitchella appeared, holding a bundle. Tears welled from her eyes to trickle down her cheeks. "Thank the Lady that we arrived in time." She jiggled the blanketed baby. "Cordif doesn't seem to be hurt." She bit her lip. "If...if...the Turquoise House hadn't heard him crying and called me, he might have died here alone." She shuddered.

Trif stared down at the woman. "Who is she? What's happening?"

"She's – she was – Murica, GraceLady Gale, the last of her line, except for Cordif here." Mitchella shrugged. "She had little more Flair than I do, and is – was – a fourth level PerSun." She shook her head. "I don't know what's happening."

With a firm nod, Trif said, "Well, I know that we have a mysterious death on our hands. Black Ilex Winterberry!" she called, sending the mental cry with a touch of fear and alarm. They'd linked during his lessons on teleporting, but how closely, and whether he'd hear her–"

A slight "whoosh" announced his arrival. "Trif, what's wrong?" With one observant glance he took in the room, Mitchella, herself, and the body. He strode over to the dead woman. "Tell me what happened."

Clearing her throat, Trif said. "Mitchella is working with the house next door – midwifing it into being a sentient Residence."

"The Turquoise House called to me," Mitchella said. "I only understood that something was very wrong and I had to get here fast." She looked at the young woman. "Even though Trif 'ported us here, we were too late. The house told me that it heard bad noises from next door." She cuddled the baby.

Ilex had squatted by the body and was running his hands a few inches over it, reading it's aura? Did dead bodies have auras? A chill quivered at the base of Trif's spine. She would never care to find out, how proficient Ilex was!

He glanced at Trif then looked at Mitchella. "Trif 'ported you?" His voice was expressionless.

"Yes, she did." Mitchella smiled. "She's been such a help. I'm so glad she's here. And proud, of course."

"Of course." He rocked back on his heels and studied the body.

"She's dead," Trif said.

His eyes were sad when they met hers. "Yes."

Trif gulped. "Was it...."

"Unnatural?" He shook his head. "I don't believe so." He stood, lifted his hands and sent a swirl of energy throughout the room. The force of it raised motes of dust to catch the light. When everything settled again, he shook his head. "I felt no presence other than GraceLady Gale's and her son's in this room for the last day, but for you two." He moved over to Mitchella and looked down at the baby. "May I?"

Mitchella hunched protectively over the baby, but Ilex just waited patiently. Finally she straightened and held him out. "He was dirty and I used a spell to clean him and the blanket." Her lips trembled, then she pressed them together. "I don't think he's eaten recently. He needs to be cared for."

Ilex held the baby easily, staring down at him. "I sense no knowledge of anyone else here from him, either."

"I'll take him."

Lifting a brow, Ilex said, "In these instances, we of the guard call the Maidens of Saille who run the House for Orphans."

"I'll take care of him," Mitchella said fiercely.

Trif got the idea that Ilex was thinking the same thing that she was. Mitchella would fight for the infant.

"He knows me," Mitchella insisted. "It's better for him to be with someone he's familiar with."

Sweeping a hand around him, Ilex said. "I'll teleport the Lady's body to Noble DeathGrove where a Healer will examine her. But I'll have to report everything regarding the circumstances I found here.

Mitchella sniffed. "Cordif will do well with me. With Straif and me."

"And you have the ear of SupremeJudge Ailim Elder who has already placed a child with you," Ilex said. "I'll go through the house to glean additional information, and probe for any hidden treasure belonging to the boy, though I don't think there's much to inherit except this place, which should probably be sold and the gilt invested for his future."

"How do you know?" Trif asked.

He lifted and dropped a shoulder. "It's my business to know. I'm a guardsman." He scanned the room again. "This is not the first untimely death in this Family. There is much concern about these older Families who are dying out." He looked at the body and sighed. "I'll speak to the Healers and see if this occurrence was expected."

"I'm sure she would have told me if she had health problems." Mitchella's brows dipped.

A corner of Ilex's mouth lifted. "I'm sure she would have." He gazed at her, then Trif. "The Clover women are easy to talk to." Again he shook his head. "I've heard quite a bit about GraceLady Gale, but not that she made provisions for her son if she died so young. Or about the father."

Mitchella clutched the baby to her breasts. Her lip curled. "His name is not on record Murica didn't tell me who he was – we weren't that close. Yet." She swallowed. "But she said he wanted nothing to do with his son." She lifted her chin. "That's unnatural, but I think he was married. Not to his HeartMate, of course." Shifting, she said, "I'd like to get Cordif home and call the Healer T'Heather to examine him."

Ilex made a little bow to her, smiled wryly. "I see GraceLord Cordif Gale will have only the best from your hands."


"Remember he has a name and heritage."

Her lips tightened, chin rose. "I'll see if T'Ash will come and give us an idea whether he might have Flair, what sort and how much."

"An oracle should have done that at his birth," Ilex said.

Looking pointedly around at the shabby room, Mitchella said, "Cordif's only a couple of months old, and Murica didn't have any relatives to be an Oracle, or gilt to pay one at his birth."

"Ahem," Trif cleared her throat. "Mitchella, what of Straif's opinion–"

"–Straif wants more children, too," she replied.

"And Antenn?" prompted Trif gently. "What will he think of a new younger brother?"

Ilex took Trif's arm. "You're being unusually pessimistic."

Trif grimaced and shut up.

The baby wiggled and let out a small cry. "We all must consider Cordif, firts. Guardsman Winterberry, please take care of poor Murica, then can't you teleport us all to T'Blackthorn Residence?" Mitchella asked.

Staring at them in turn, Ilex shrugged. "Very well." With a solemn spell and gestures, he sent the shell of Murica Gale to the DeathGrove. Then he swept a hand before him. "Let us depart from outside. I will seal the house until I, and some other guards, return to examine the house in detail."

They walked to the front grassyard and waited for Ilex to spellshield the entrance. Greyku was waiting for them, grooming a forepaw. She looked up and her ears rotated forward as she stared at Ilex. Greetyou, Ilex.

"Greetyou Greyku."

The kitten smiled. I always like hearing that. She turned her head and fixed her gaze on the swaddled infant in Mitchella's arms, then pranced over to her. I have not seen a human kit. May I?
Mitchella's eyes narrowed, but then she slowly crouched and moved a corner of the blanket aside. Greyku had to stand on her back paws and stretch to see the baby's face. The tip of her tail twitched. Uglier than most humans.

"He's beautiful!" Mitchella protested.

Greyku just rumbled a noncommittal sound, then lowered to run back to Trif, who picked her up, cradled her on one arm. The little cat butted her head against Trif's arm, insisting on being petted, so Trif did. She went over to look at young Cordif.

Mitchella beamed down on the baby boy. Trif glanced at the red-faced, round-headed child whose black hair stuck out in all directions. She shared a glance with Greyku, who smirked. "A wonderful baby," Trif said. It was a safe observation, and true. All Clovers believed every baby was wonderful.

"Yes, he is," Mitchella rocked the boy.

"All set," Ilex said, joining them. "Lady D'Blackthorn, since I am the strongest teleporter here, I think it would be best if I held the baby."

I 'port well, too, Greyku broadcast.

"Yes, you do, and I value your help," Ilex said.

Greyku preened. Trif sighed. "Let's go."

Reluctantly Mitchella handed Cordif to Ilex, then linked her left arm in his right. Trif hung onto his left biceps. He felt infinitely comforting.

"On three," he said. "One Clover. Two Blackthorn. Three."

And they materialized in the parlor from which they'd departed. Trif was close enough to the chair she'd been sitting in to sink back into it.

So much had changed in just a septhour! Mitchella crooned to the baby, who fretted, then instructed the Residence to request T'Heather's professional services.

Ilex bowed. "I'll be going–"

Trif jumped back up and crossed to him. His face was as impassive as usual, but she found gentle kindness in his eyes. She smiled. "Thank you for hearing me, for coming and helping us." She lay her hand on his arm, and he covered it with his own.

"You're welcome," he said. "I'm glad the occasion wasn't too terrible for you. You didn't know GraceLady Gale, did you?"


Some tension eased from his stance. "It's a sad situation." He looked at Mitchella. "But she will ensure the babe isn't neglected."

Trif glanced over to Mitchella, who stood at a sidebar newly covered with baby clothes. "After her infatuation dims, she'll be thanking you, too. And probably Straif as well." Frowning, Trif said. "How much trouble did I cause you, taking you away from your duties as I did?"

"None. Only put me a little behind schedule."

"It sounds as if you might not eat dinner again tonight."
"I have work," he said.

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