Saturday, March 31, 2018

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Priscilla Brown overhauls a manuscript

A contemporary romance set on a dreamy Caribbean island

This and my other contemporary romance novels are available on Amazon and on Kobo. For details, visit my Books We Love Author page.

Fiction writing and working with textiles are my creative interests. I attended a textile class where we layered differently textured fabrics and embellishments to assemble a small wall hanging. My piece was based on handmade felt. The next three layers were of frayed-edge organza in decreasing sizes from red through gold to white, this last with holes burnt into it for a different look. On top of these I randomly placed various sizes of kitchen foil scrunched into ridges and painted, and scraps of pretty fabrics formed into tiny flowers. Dabs of glue, beads and stitching with wool and embroidery threads held it all together.

As I worked, I thought how constructing fiction is similar, and how 'layering' concentrates on aspects of a manuscript, structuring them into a cohesive whole and bringing the story to life.

An early draft of Where the Heart Is was too long and such a mess that it had no chance of credibility as a publishable piece and demanded a major re-write. While the basic plot idea had potential, the story's 'building blocks' were at best shaky, at worst crumbling. I attempted this overhaul by employing a 'layering' process.

The first fresh layer concentrated on the two lead characters, whose motivations for their actions and emotions needed to be much stronger and more credible. What is Cristina's agenda on this particular island? Why is Cameron so cagey? Questions such as these led to the development of their backstories; in this novel, these personal histories became a layer in  themselves, only to be condensed and slotted in as the storyline proceeded. Another layer dealt with secondary characters, establishing their credentials for their presence and making sure they were there to move the story along while not allowing them to take over. I found several secondary and tertiary characters and plot episodes involving these to be superfluous; their removal resulted in a tighter faster-paced story.

A further layer worked on strengthening physical situations, including a hurricane, a hazardous motorbike ride in a forest, a risky sea incident, and intensifying the characters' responses to danger.

This led to heightening the emotional layers throughout the story. These can, perhaps especially in a romance, be sources of tension and conflict between the lead female and male characters. Such emotions may be temporary in reaction to an immediate situation, or they may include 'baggage' held due to past events and experiences, an undercurrent of strong emotions such a lack of trust, anger, confusion, insecurity, impacting the characters' relationships and actions. Cristina brings these and more to her relationship with Cameron.

Now the layer which holds it all together, like the glue, beads and threads.This involves fixing any plot holes, tying up loose ends, checking the ms for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, and for repetitions and inconsistencies. The final layer for me, undertaken after the ms has been allowed to hibernate for some time, is a comprehensive re-read, extremely valuable as I always find something previously missed. The ultimate layer consists of the professional editor's revisions.

Layers are everywhere in our daily lives. Right now, it's getting cold so I'll put on a warm sweater layer, then I'm going to bake a multi-layer chocolate cake. After writing about layers, I deserve to eat them.

Enjoy your reading! Priscilla

Friday, March 30, 2018

West on I-70.

I don’t do much long distance driving these days, except to western Ohio to visit my 91 year old Aunt J. She was the last the 3 girls born to my grandparents. Paradoxically, she was the one always in ill health. She had trichinosis in her 1930’s childhood and barely survived. She had spinal fusion during the 60’s—not an optimum decade for surgical tinkering with the skeleton. Though she’s weak as a kitten—between busted spine and unused muscles—here she still is in 2018—breathing and talking, as full of opinions and stories as she ever was. A  perfect description for her would be Shakespeare’s: “though she be but little, she is fierce.”

ALL my female relatives were spacey in one sense or another, so I come by it naturally, but with my aunt, I am just beginning to note a faint slippage between her past and future selves. Aging is such a bitch, as it takes place on in both body and brain. Read a Thurber story, like “The Night the Ghost Got in” and you’ll have a acquired good sense of what my family is/was like. (Even the cousin who has become a big shot cousin politician.)

I’ve done a lot of traveling on I-70 over the last thirty years, always making the “homeplace” pilgrimage. In the beginning there would be mixed messages when I arrived. Yellow Springs has acquired a Disneyland quality in my mind. When I was nine, I chronicled the tears in a diary, written on my way home from “Grandma and Grandpa’s house” on the train. We were little and good.
Later, my family and I developed a troubled relationship. There was a rift between their perfect 1950’s genteel world and what I saw acted out by my parents during and after their divorce, and later, traveling around the UK and West Indies, dealing as a teen with my mother’s alcoholism. When I passed 30, mother wrote me off, and so therefore did my grandmother.  This, even though I paid tribute to the old girls (Mother and Grandmother and even both aunts) the old fashioned way with 19th century letters sent almost weekly.

Physics—a long side by side train of vehicles emerging in a long snake as we go west out of Columbus, OH. Construction, construction, on I-70 and on I-71, as well as I-270, causes a pinch point of driving stress.  The semis are rolling; FDX with pups, Crete, and they are not the only ones, the heavy equipment long bed, except for some big chains, want to run back for the next load at 75-80 mph, and a whole bunch of what I am told are called by the professionals “Roller Skates” are sharing the road with them, driving like fools. There are some grayhairs out there beside me, but I flatter myself that I’m the best driver of the lot. 

The rest are “Kids” which is now, in my book, anyone under 50. Of course, the real kids, the backwards hat twenty-thirty somethings—both male and female—can be a real problem. A couple of them in a beat up black Japanese something or other—maybe a fifteen year old Civic—decided that the tiny crack between a semi and the aforesaid heavy equipment long bed would be a good spot into which to wedge. 

Maybe they were playing automobile roulette, or maybe they thought they were still in the video game they’d been playing earlier, the one which automatically resets the players at start. From my vantage point, there appeared to be no sense that where we were, this could be "game over," --and not only for them. I took a quick look at the shoulder in case I had to escape. I, at 73, have much less faith in this kind of magical thinking, so, instinctively—I was traveling the inside lane so I had a clear sight line of  their dice with Death—I tapped my breaks, just to tune up the guys traveling (naturally) too close behind me.

The long bed hit his brakes and the back of the rig lit up like a Christmas tree. I don’t know if the dopes who’d just asked the truck driver to perform a miracle in order to keep them alive—this, while the poor working stiff is just out there trying to have a decent day in the office. I prayed he did have a decent day, and cast a glance to my right--the shoulder. Fortunately, that part of Ohio is still flat as a pancake, even beside the sculpted earth vandalism of an interstate. No ditches, fences or trees—good! To my great relief—and I don’t think I was the only one in the queue who noticed—there was no collision. We and the backwards hats were spared one of those fatal lessons in the laws of physics.
Yellow Springs: 1.9 square miles surrounded by Reality.
The Sixties landed and never took off from this town (my hometown) in a sometimes less than pleasant way. Some things delight me, the flash back pipe shops, the book stores, the import and antique/junk/clothing shops, the deli, restaurants, and Tom’s incredible grocery store, full of organic free-range everything. It’s the attitude of the visitors, and of many of downtown folks and new residents too that grates. Some towns have town drunks, but YS also has it’s downtown tattooed/pierced posers, coffee table sitters, scattering cigarettes and dog poop indiscriminately.  I mean, you can be tattooed and pierced and have green hair—no problem—just be polite. Smile and say hello to people—and don’t let your dogs bite me –or more to the point—my aunt -- in the leg as we pass by. And of course there’s the 21st Century too, to contend with. The cell phone users who insist that everyone needs to listen to their very important conversation, the ones in cars who can barely operate the vehicle because they are busy talking, the scofflaws who don’t use the crosswalks—of which there are a plethora.

Birds—black vultures and where they hang  American Eagle by Mcconnellsburg—probably dropped down from Raystown Lake.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

OB/GYN and the historical

Amazon  and   

For women's history month, I thought I'd check into a topic that isn't exactly hearts and flowers, but which (perversely, maybe), drew my searching feminist interest. After all, what did our fore-mothers' experience in their real lives? Inevitably, after the romance comes the babies. It's Mother Nature's plan to trick us that way.) Women then had to cope with their bodies as well as their emotions when caught up in an amorous physical relationship. Exactly what, in the 18th Century, did that mean? 

The very first historical novel I wrote, Mozart's Wife, got me researching a kind of social history that has, until lately, been little regarded.  Back in the 1980's when I began to write a novel from the POV of a young Viennese woman  who had the fortune/misfortune to marry the Rock Star of her day, I had to do some serious digging to unearth information about these female rites of passage, from birthing customs, feminine hygiene to contraception. It's top secret info into caring for what--believe it or not--one of our modern (?) politicians is still referring to as "lady parts." 

A good part of Constanze’s life, and rarely mentioned by Wolfgang’s biographers--who, for many years, loved to pile on her for not being the same sort of caretaker of genius that his father had been--the poor girl was pregnant or convalescent from childbirth. For six  out of the nine years their marriage lasted, she was expecting. The longest interval between her pregnancies was seventeen months, the shortest (on two occasions) six months. In 1789 she was bedridden for months. Her legs swelled, she had intermittent fevers and racking pains in her legs and abdomen throughout the entire pregnancy. The daughter she bore that year died at birth and very nearly took Constanze with her. No wonder the poor creature was often distracted. Not only was she struggling to manage a household with an income that came in and went out like some kind of wildly irregular tide; her energies were concentrated upon staying alive.

From the Mozart Family Letters, and from what I’ve read to research her symptoms, it would appear that Constanze nearly died of puerperal fever on two separate occasions. Childbirth and the resulting illnesses brought doctors, midwives, wet-nurses, and prescriptions--and attendant expense. It would be difficult, even today, to keep a woman with such an obstetrical record “in good general health.” And the cure for her ailments? Trips to the spa to bathe in the hot water--and who knows what microbes lurked in those pools, in continual use since Roman Times--and, of course, leeches. The leeches actually might have helped, as they draw blood through areas where swelling or infection has caused circulation to stagnate. They are so used in hospitals today. There is also an anesthetic the critters secrete when they latch on which may have a welcome local effect.

All large European cities were dirty. There were backhouses behind the apartment buildings. If the latrines were inside, this meant a collection point at the bottom of the house which was occasionally scooped out. What this meant for the summer water supply is not hard to guess. The brief life of four of Mozart’s children and the illnesses of the parents are not unusual for the 18th Century. However, it can only be imagined how difficult the birth and death of four infants in such a short space of time was upon the mother.

Congratulations, you are a grandpapa! Yesterday, at half past six in the morning, my dear wife was safely delivered of a fine sturdy boy, as round as a ball. Her pains began at half past one in the morning so that night we both lost our rest and sleep. At four o’clock I sent for my mother-in-law and then for the midwife. At six o’clock the child began to appear and at half past six the trouble was all over. My mother-in-law by her great kindness to her daughter has made full amends for all the harm she did her before her marriage. She spends the whole day with her.”

Raimund Leopold, as he was named, was born strong and healthy, but what the proud father originally wrote to his father is an 18th Century tale, one that today sounds totally crazy. 

“My dear wife….will make a full recovery from her confinement. From the condition of her breasts I am rather afraid of milk-fever. And now the child has been given to a foster-nurse against my will, or rather, at my wish! For I was quite determined that whether she should be able to do so or not, my wife was never to feed her child. Yet I was equally determined that my child was never to take the milk of a stranger! I wanted the child to be brought up on water, like my sister and myself. However, the midwife, my mother-in-law and most people here have begged and implored me not to allow it, if only for the reason that most children here who are brought up on water do not survive as the people here don’t know how to give it properly. That induced me to give in, for I should not like to have anything to reproach myself with.”

It was a good thing that Grandma Cecelia, tactful for once, managed to persuade Mozart that babies do not live long on sugar water! And, certainly, Constanze doubtless did have milk fever more than once, because while they had money, Mozart, that 18th Century husband-whose-word-must-be-obeyed, never allowed her to nurse. Of their six children, only two survived to adulthood. Her last baby, Franz Wolfgang, was probably nursed by his mother, but this was only because that final summer of 1791, the couple were stony broke. In Mozart's mind, breast feeding was "lower class," a stigma that, if you think about it, has lasted for a very long time in our western "civilized" society.  

After Mozart died, Constanze never bore another baby, though she did marry again. I had to assume that such a fertile woman had at last learned the unholy secret of contraception. When I did a little research into that veiled subject, I learned that there weren't a whole lot of options for a "decent" married couple in the late 18th Century. Perhaps she'd learned the trick with the natural sponge and lemon juice or vinegar douche. Perhaps her new husband used a sheep gut condom--there are images of these quaint relics online--complete with a red ribbon to keep it snugly fitted.

~~Juliet Waldron

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Targeting Your Audience by Connie Vines

The ‘how long?’ question has to be one of the most commonly asked by new authors – perhaps even experienced ones, too. It was certainly one of the first to pass my lips when I began to cross genres.

“What’s the age range?” I asked a multi-published at my local OCC/RWA Chapter monthly meeting.
“I’m thinking of aiming for older children,” I told her.
“That would be ages eight to twelve, then. In that case, it should be between 30,000 and 50,000 words.”

The precision of her answer was satisfying, but it also piqued my curiosity.
“Why that particular length?”
“It’s just considered to be the ‘right’ length at the moment for that age range,” she explained. “Not too long, not too short.”

This ‘Goldilocks’ principle is good general advice to keep in mind, but there are also more specific factors to consider that will help you nail the ‘right’ length for whatever genre book you’re writing. While you should work to your natural style, it’s advisable to be aware of and (as much as possible) write to the length that publisher and readers expect (logon to a publisher’s website for ‘publisher-specific’ guidelines.)

Type of book and target audience

You can hone in on a rough idea of ‘how long’ simply by categorizing what kind of book you’re writing and its target audience. Clearly, any six-year-olds without the miraculous intellect of Roald Dahl’s Matilda aren’t going to want to read something the length of A Tale of Two Cities. Similarly, most adults won’t be very interested in a 40-page picture book.

Most of the data I’ll be using throughout this article was sourced from Writer’s Digest  and personal experience.

Children’s picture book: 500–600 words over 32–48 pages.

Children’s chapter book: 1,000–10,000 words.

Middle grade: 20,000–50,000 words.

Young Adult (YA): 40,000–70,000 words.

Flash fiction: 500 words or less.

Short Story: 5,000–10,000 words.

Novella: 10,000–40,000 words.

Novel: Anything over 40,000 words. Anything over 110,000 words is an ‘epic’.

Adult literary and commercial fiction: 80,000–100,000 words is considered to be the ‘Goldilocks’ zone, though you could get away with 70,000 words minimum and 109,000 words max.


Again, when considering the authority of agents and publishers, “adhering to the expected word count demonstrates that you understand your market.” The ‘right’ answer to ‘how long should my book be?’ is dictated by the audience’s expectations.

Genre has more influence on book length than you might think... 

Here’s a guide to the recommended lengths for genre books.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: 90,000–120,000, anything over 150,000 words might be testing for your readers. As I just touched on above, books in these genres are allowed and expected to run longer than others. This is due to the amount of world building required to introduce a reader to a fictional setting, but be careful not to let this expectation manipulate your natural style.

Historical: As above.

Romance: 50,000–100,000 words. The wide range for this genre is because of the number of sub-genres that it can divide into: supernatural, erotica, historical, ‘chick-lit’, etc.  It’s also worth bearing in mind that longer romance novels seem to be the trend du jour, with bestsellers Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey both comfortably over 100,000 words.

Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Horror: 70,000–90,000 words.  Suspense is key to all of these genres. Pacing is vital in creating suspense, which means it couldn’t be any more important to nail the word count.

Personal style

While you should certainly keep the data I’ve provided in mind, being too prescriptive about sticking to word counts will only impede your personal writing style. If you end up way under the standard word count, you know that you either need to slow the pace a little or flesh out some underdeveloped areas.

Never, ever loose your 'voice'.  The way each and every author tells a story is unique.  Your readers are downloading your novel or snagging it off a bookseller's self knowing you are a gifted storyteller.  Allow your readers to feel the emotion of first love, see and hear the waterfalls, experience the sweet taste of a huckleberry. . .the possibilities are endless.  Allow your readers to live this adventure--guide them well!

Happy Reading,

Barnes&Noble UK

2018 Releases:

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Why I love Science Fiction so much - by Vijaya Schartz

I would love to write a story where the problems we tackle today are faraway in the past, where children are safe, where women are equal to men in every way, where race or species do not matter, where people live long lives free of diseases, where everyone feels appreciated and loved, where society takes care of all its members regardless of age or status, where greed is irrelevant, where power has no meaning.

Keep dreaming. We are not angels.

Even as I envision the far future, I cannot imagine that human nature will evolve that much. Changing the laws for the better, yes. Treating everyone fairly or else, yes. Increasing longevity and good health, yes. So, what's the problem?

Have you noticed that when a refined society falls, it only takes days for it to reverse to bloodshed, savagery and oppression? Take away our power grid, food distribution, and communication systems, and we reverse to bloody savages fighting over the last water bottles and cans of tuna.

I like to think I would be one of the good guys, helping those who cannot help themselves. But I cannot condemn the mother picking up a gun to feed and protect her family, the older brother killing human predators to protect a younger sister. Then eventually, small groups get together around a leader to defend and organize themselves. New towns form, and new nations are born. Eventually they war against each other, then unite again... until a natural or man-made disaster sets them back to the dark ages.

I suspect the future will not be any different. Our very nature is emotional, volatile, ruled by self-preservation. As long as we carry these aggressive genes necessary for survival, we will fight. When we lose these genes, the human race will wither and disappear. So as long as there is a human race, we will fight for survival. The means of destruction and the weapons may change, but the motivations will remain the same.

This is why I enjoy science fiction so much. It's a magnifying glass to experiment with new ideas and build new worlds, and observe the far-reaching consequences of our actions. It's a learning tool to guide us into a better future. It may help us make better decisions.

In the meantime, I just finished some edits on the first book in a new romantic sci-fi series: ANGEL MINE. It's set on Azura, a planet populated by angels, an ideal society at odds with the harsh reality of intergalactic greed and domination... but no society is ever ideal. The heroine is a bad ass bounty hunter, and the hero is an angel... what else?

ANGEL MINE is set for release in May 2018 from BWL Publishing. Here is the blurb:

What in the frozen hells of Laxxar prompted Fianna to pursue her quarry to this forbidden blue planet? Well, she needs the credits... badly. But as if crashing in the jungle wasn't bad enough, none of her high-tech weapons work. She'll have to go native, after the most wanted felon in five galaxies. It's not just her job. It's personal.

Acielon has never seen an outworlder like this fascinating female, strangely beautiful, and fierce, like the feline predator loping at her side. He always dreamed of exploring the universe, despite the legends... and the interdiction. Is it truly a hellish place of violence, lies and suffering? If it spawned this intriguing creature, it must also be a place of wonders, adventure and excitement.

Fianna's hunter instincts tell her someone is watching. Sheba, her telepathic feline partner, doesn't seem worried... yet, something on Azura isn't quite right.

Hope you will enjoy this new series.
Happy Reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Romance with a Kick
Find my list of books at:

Monday, March 26, 2018

Fact or Myth, it depends on which site you choose for your research—Tricia McGill

Find all my books and where to buy here on my BWL Author page.

My next book due out later this year is set in two time zones, the Viking era, circa 850 AD, and the present day. It is not a time-travel but more a reincarnation story, hence the different times. The original idea for this book came from a friend, I confess, but we share this interest in Vikings, and the idea of lovers though time intrigued me.

Why I keep returning to the Viking era I have no idea. They just seem to fascinate me. Because they didn’t leave a lot of written history in the early days, so much that has been written about them is based on what has been garnered from the excavation sites around Scandinavia, Britain and elsewhere. Of course every new book has to be researched, especially when you are returning to a subject such as the Vikings. During my research for this book, I found out facts unknown to me before.

Fact one—Norse weddings. These it seems were extravagant affairs, and planned well in advance.   So much tradition was tied in with the ceremony, partly to please their gods and partly to please the families of both parties. A lot of haggling went on between relatives of the bride and groom. Considering the Vikings gained a reputation of being a coldblooded lot of invaders who ransacked and ravaged their way through life their respect for the treatment of women was one of the reasons so much haggling went on. Marriage was a way to control sexual activity and reproduction in the community. Both important to them, as marriage was the heart of family structure in their culture, a fact that surprised me.

Weddings were held on a Friday, the sacred day for Frigga the goddess of marriage, and the proceedings generally lasted up to a week. Family and friends often travelled far to the wedding hence accommodation had to be provided for them, which took planning, not to mention the provision of food and drink for all these guests. A special ale was drunk by the bride and groom during the ceremony so this had to be brewed in advance.

The couple were separated before the big day and for the bride this entailed being stripped of old clothing and any symbols of her virginity, the main one being her ‘kransen’, a gilt circlet. This was handed down through generations of daughters. The bride wore a crown during the ceremony. Apparently the Norse women were not worried too much about the bridal gown but more about their hair, which indicated her sexual allure, and therefore was kept long and flowing. This crown was an elaborate article, decorated with silver and rock crystals, crosses and even leaves.

The bridegroom also didn’t worry too much about his outfit, but might carry a symbol of Thor to indicate his mastery of the universe. This symbol also ensured a fruitful marriage. It seems this was their main consideration, producing offspring. Sometimes the religious ceremony began with a sacrifice, probably to the gods of fertility. A poor hapless goat might be slaughtered and his blood collected, and then sprinkled on the happy couple, so ensuring the pleasure of the gods. Another fact that surprised me was to learn that the couple traditionally exchanged rings during the ceremony.
Find lots more on Viking wedding rituals here.

Fact two—Vikings were good seamstresses. Their thread was usually the same texture as the woven cloth they were stitching together. I have always wondered how their clothes were made, as when you see pictures of them, either during everyday activities or in battle, it is obvious their outfits must be stitched by someone.  They were pretty handy with a needle, actually using different stitches for differing fabric thicknesses, such as silk, wool or leather. Because their traders travelled far and wide bringing back silks and treasures from perhaps Byzantium, Cordoba or Alexandria they were never short of fabrics to work with. A coin dug up in Jorvik (York) that was from a town near the Himalayas signifies how far they travelled. Anything about the Vikings’ decorating of their garments technique is sketchy but they possibly liked gold thread.  

My thanks to this site for the above information: 

Fact three—Viking burials. A lot has been written about how the warriors and chieftains were buried with their slaves, all their weapons and jewellery etc. and how they were sent off to Valhalla in their flaming ships, but I was more interested in learning how the ordinary folk were sent on their way.   It seems that most were cremated on a funeral pyre, and then their ashes buried. Some of the wealthier would have been buried along with a wagon, perhaps for transport to wherever they were going in the afterlife. Not a lot is written about the lower classes so we are left to presume they were cremated along with any meagre possession they might have treasured.

Find more here:

If, like me, you enjoy learning new facts then have fun, as I do, while exploring the wonderful WWW. And, if like me you are fascinated by the Vikings or reincarnation, then keep an eye out for my next release, Powerful Destiny.

My Web Page

Saturday, March 24, 2018

White Raven - a paranormal short story by S. Peters-Davis

Hello everyone – thanks for stopping: ) I belong to a short story writing group on GoodReads and I’d like to share one of my paranormal stories – a favorite genre of mine. Hope you enjoy – White Raven

            We met when I was thirteen. The cool morning mist lifted off the water, my parents had already launched to fish, and I was left tending the campsite. My book lay open on the picnic table and I was totally absorbed in the paranormal romance of shifters when a white bird the size of an eagle landed on the table in front of me.

            It studied me, cocking its head side to side, stepping to the right then the left of me.

            Watching it watch me might have been unsettling to someone else, but I found comfort with its interest in me. I studied it right back; a Raven, only white and a huge size, with deep purple eyes and dark lashes. So, it wasn’t an albino.

            “Where did you come from? You’re amazing.” My words must have startled it because it stumbled off the table, hitting the ground with a loud thud. I shot to the other side where it lay unconscious. “You can’t die. I’m sure you’re one of a kind.” I touched its soft feathered head. A tingle vibrated through my fingers and up my arm. The bird shivered and its eyes opened. “Oh, my gosh, you’re alive.”

            “And you, Lacey, are nothing like I was told you’d be,” a masculine voice spoke inside my head.

I jumped back landing on my backside. My heart beat erratic as I gasped for air. We stared at each other. “You just spoke inside my head. You know my name.” I croaked the words, still working to breathe. “What are you?”

* * *

            Blaze glared at me in the moonlight, his purple eyes glowed. “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be practicing.” His straight white hair fluttered around his broad shoulders, his lips pinched together. “You’re eighteen and should have full access to your powers. Now is when you need to be trained.”

            We stood on the edge of a Picture Rock cliff, he expected me to jump, gain my wings and fly. Only I’d never flown on my own, even though I could make feathers appear randomly on my body, it wasn’t like launching myself into the abyss of Lake Superior just to prove I can’t fly. He swore the full moon would give me insight on what would happen if I jumped off the cliff, but I definitely wasn’t feeling it.

            “Come on, Lacey. Your parents were strong flyers, both of them. You’ve spent too much time with the human family and lost your instinct to the Avian way.” He stepped closer, his palm rubbed across my shoulder blade, warming my insides and making me feel safe. “It takes a nice dose of adrenaline to get those natural abilities firing through your system.” He shoved me and I tripped off the ledge.

            The moonlit water was not my friend. I closed my eyes. The rocks below would kiss me dead.

My body jolted as his talons slipped around my upper arms. I opened my eyes, his strong wings worked to save us from the crashing waves and rocks.

            He sighed. “Enough for tonight, we’ll try something else tomorrow.” He flew toward the forest.

Blaze had introduced me to the Avian race of people on my sixteenth birthday. They told me that I looked like my mother, who I didn't remember. They also spoke of my parents as royalty, which made me giggle. My parents had left me, a newborn, at the campsite of a human couple. Perhaps to save me from the hunter that had killed them. My human parents never shared I wasn’t biologically theirs.

My ventures with Blaze and our people were in secret. The more I learned about our kind, the more difficult it became to live in the human world. Especially knowing my aging process had slowed, upon turning eighteen I aged one year for every one hundred human years.

But perhaps part of my draw to the changeling world was Blaze. He knew me like no other.

            Blaze flew us deep into the forest, where our people lived in a small village settlement far off the beaten path, a place no human would ever consider living. He set me on my feet outside his home then he changed into human form. He’d insisted as my mentor and protector that I stayed with him.

            “Maybe you should change out of that tiny bathing suit.” His gaze wove a web of sparking prickles from my chest to my toes and back again and then our gazes connected. Those sparks on the outside of my skin scurried into my veins like a hyper-wave of lava. He stepped closer, his head tilted toward me, breath brushing my lips.

            I lifted my face toward him, my heart spiraling, eyes closing.

            He kissed my forehead. “Go, change, sleep. We’ll start again tomorrow.”

            My spiraling heart dropped as if knocked-out with a punch. I opened my eyes and watched him walk into the house, no need for lights with our excellent night vision.

My human mother came to mind. She had worried about my deep teal colored eyes and the distance I could see…miles away. I learned at ten years old to keep certain things to myself after running through a ton of tests. Thankfully she kept me from becoming a lab rat. I never shared my ultra-fine hearing or my ability to feel the minutest vibrations of insects and small creatures.

Like now. Vibrations and sound, snapping branches and twigs, I scanned into the forest at my left.

A gun fired. I saw the flame, fumes ripened the air. I sensed the vibration of the bullet as it passed my shoulder and slammed into the side of Blaze’s home.

“Umph.” His groan echoed in my head, then a thud loud enough to be his body.

My heart hummed, blood pumping through my veins with force. I stretched tall, my body automated. My bones and muscles snapped into a new place. I stared downward at talons instead of toes.

Another shot fired, again just missing me. My wingspan freaked me out momentarily, wider than Blaze’s, and brindle in colored. I lifted effortlessly into the air, soaring around tree branches, ascending then diving, hearing the ragged breath of the hunter. He was reloading his firearm.

His look of surprise told me he’d never heard my approach. I knocked him down, used my talons to grab his gun and snap the night vision goggles from his face. The Avians swarmed overhead, all sizes, ascending and lifting the unconscious hunter. With flying stealth, they carried him away.

I flew back to Blaze’s home; the door was open. My body morphed into human form as soon as I landed. Arianna, the Avian medic, was already leaning over his prone body, her glowing hands spread across his abdomen.

“How is he?” I ran to his side. His eyes were closed. “Is he unconscious?”

She stared at me with a look of awe. “You are the one.”

Not the response I expected, nor a clue on what it meant.

Blaze shuddered, his eyes opened. “Lacey?”

“I’m here. It was a hunter. He’s been removed from the area. How are you feeling?” I brushed a tendril of hair from his eyes. My fingers vibrated at the touch of his skin.

Arianna slid her hands away and inspected the area. A bullet clinked on the wooden floor. “Looks like you’re going to make it, my King.”

My King? I’d never heard anyone call Blaze that before.

“A little rest ought to finish the tissue healing.” Arianna rose from the floor, pocketing the bullet, and reached out a hand. I did the same and we both helped Blaze to his feet.

“What happened?” His eyes narrowed, brows drawing inward.

“Your owling came into her own. She protected first and foremost, like a true leader, my King.” Arianna bowed her head toward Blaze, then to me, and said, “We’re honored by your presence.”

I shook my head in disbelief, not quite sure what she was talking about. Nor why she was calling Blaze “my King.”

Blaze’s wide smile took my breath away, and as his gaze connected with mine my brain stopped considering anything else.

“You morphed?” He pulled me in, wrapping his arms around me. I nodded. “You morphed,” he whispered.

Arianna clicked the door shut on her quick exit.

Blaze tilted my chin up. “You have no idea how long we’ve waited; I’ve waited. Your timing is perfect, my Queen.” He closed the gap between our lips, crushing mine to his in a smolder of passion.

I held his face between my palms, our chests pressed together and our heart rhythms matched as one. An owl and a raven…

To see books by this author – check out author pages below:

DK Davis BWL Publishing Inc. Author Page:

S. Peters-Davis BWL Publishing Inc. Author Page –

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Giving in to Emmaline by Victoria Chatham

When I first saw Emmeline Devereux, my heroine in His Dark Enchantress, she was soaking wet with her long black hair plastered to her head and her dress cloaking her like a second skin. I saw her clearly, I knew her name, I knew she liked horses, I knew she was venturesome and then…what was I going to do with her? She really didn’t tell me anything more about herself and each time I put her into a story, it just didn’t work out for her or for me.

I’m sure there are many authors who will know exactly what I mean just as I’m equally sure that non-writers will shake their heads in disbelief or despair that anyone could be so fanciful. But it’s being fanciful that gets books written and on the shelves for readers to enjoy, or not, as the case may be.

Emmaline bugged me for weeks. I first gave her a Lara Croft type role. Anyone not familiar with that name might be more familiar with the Tomb Raider video game series that morphed into the 1993 movie starring Angelina Jolie. A remake featuring Alicia Vikander is currently playing. That role wasn’t quite right for Emmaline nor were any of the more contemporary settings I tried putting her in. A western romance didn’t work at all as she didn’t like the clothes. Once I knew that clothes had to be right for her, I started dressing her in different costumes. Maybe she was a Regency belle all along because as soon as I dressed her in a muslin gown, spencer jacket, and wide-brimmed bonnet everything fell into place and the words just flowed.

They weren’t necessarily good words, but first drafts rarely are. The purpose of a first draft is to get the story out of the author’s head and into a working document. Making it pretty and interesting comes with rewrites and revisions, help from critique partners and beta readers and a whole village of people. Here is an excerpt from His Dark Enchantress. I hope you enjoy it.


With Emmaline gone to the village, Lucius took a gun and two of his spaniels and set out across the park for a far covert where he hoped to flush out a brace of pheasant. 

The September afternoon basked under a clear blue sky. The gentlest of breezes occasionally buffeted his face and ruffled his hair, and all was as perfect as it could be. He traipsed through the fields, clambered over walls and fences that he would be jumping over once the hunting season started, got his feet wet in the trout stream that ran close to the southern boundary of the Park and the Beamish estate, and returned home well satisfied. 

He cut through the stable yard after leaving the dogs in the kennels and noticed the carriage house door ajar. Curious, he pulled it open. 

The place where the gig should have been was still empty. 

Puzzled, he closed the door and checked Sadie’s stable. It was also empty. He looked up at the stable yard clock. It was gone five. 

Panic gripped his heart, almost stilled his breathing. 

He charged up the stairs to the grooms’ quarters, two at a time bellowing for Noble who met him at the door. 

“What time did her ladyship leave, Noble, and who accompanied her?” he barked. 

“She left a little after noon, my Lord, and insisted she drive herself.” 

“Did she indeed?” Lucius seethed inwardly but paused for a moment, holding his temper. “And you let her go alone? Where were your wits? Saddle a hunter, Noble, I’ll go to Nettleford across country.” 

As soon as the horse was ready, Lucius set off at a steady gallop across the park, scattering the herds of fallow deer and sheep that grazed there. 

Damn her. The pig was one thing, but driving off without a groom? Who did she think she was to drive herself unaccompanied? And how could Noble have been so foolish as to let her go alone? 
He steadied the horse for a post and rail fence, soared over it and picked up the pace across the next field. A gate and two hedges later he was pounding along the road into the village where he pulled up abruptly and dismounted outside the inn. 

“Jackson.” he roared as he pushed into the taproom. 

The landlord had already heard him and sent a boy to take the horse and now met him in the corridor. 

“What’s amiss Milord?” 

“Have you seen her Ladyship?” Lucius demanded. 

“Put the gig up here while she did some visiting, left about mid-afternoon.” 

“Then where the devil is she?” Fear replaced the panic in Lucius’ heart and he cursed himself for not having asked the whereabouts of those she planned to visit. 


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