Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Prologue of My Latest Manuscript: Gold Fever by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

                                              Gold Fever 


             October 23, 1960


     It was late afternoon on a cold autumn day. The wind blew through the trees, snatching the few dead leaves left on the branches and swirling them through the air. Heavy dark clouds hung low over the mountains, threatening snow. Two men grunted as they carried a blanket‑wrapped body through the green cedars and pines and the already bare poplar trees. They were hunched down in their coats, their hats pulled tight on their heads. They turned their faces away from the wind.
     "This is a good spot," the man in the lead said. He was tall and gaunt, and with a three days growth of whiskers appeared older than his twenty-four years.
     The second man was younger than the first, hardly more than a boy. He didnt answer.
     They stopped and roughly dropped their bundle on the ground in a small meadow. Over the sound of the wind they could hear the sound of a waterfall made by a small creek dropping over the edge of a nearby cliff.
     Lets get this done, the first man said gruffly.
     The men unhooked their shovels which had been tied to their backs. During the summer the small meadow was knee deep in ferns, flowers, and small bush as were all the meadows in the region. The growth suggested a plentiful, rich, nutritious soil. But instead, of easy digging, their shovels clanged continuously against rock as they tried to remove the sparse layer of dirt. It was the occasional bountiful rains of the British Columbia summer that kept the vegetation alive.
     They worked silently. The young man occasionally snuck a quick glance at the covered body waiting to be buried. Many times they had to stop and lift out a rock before they could continue. Digging in the mountain side for gold was never easy, digging a grave was even harder.
     Despite the cold day and the wind, the older man was soon sweating. He stopped and removed his coat, throwing it beside the body.
     We shouldnt be doing this, the younger man said. If it was an accident like you said, we should tell the police.
     They wont believe us that he fell and hit his head on a rock. Theyll think we murdered him for the gold and send us both to prison. Then who would look after your mother?
     But he has a family.
     And we would have to give them his share of the gold. We have more of a right than they do. We did most of the work.
     B but wed agreed, the three of us, to divide the gold equally.
     "Shut up and keep digging.
     They resumed chipping away at the rock and dirt. Eventually the older man stopped. He looked at the depth of the hole and then over at the body. "Thats good enough. Weve got enough dirt to cover him." He dropped his shovel on the ground beside the makeshift grave and stepped out.
     The younger man followed suit. They knelt down beside the body. The older man lifted the corner of the blanket and took one last look at the face of the dead person.
     Nice guy but too trusting.He let the blanket fall and they rolled the body into the grave. They each grabbed their shovels and began filling in the hole.
     "Just fill it in 'til its level with the ground."
     "What about the rest of the dirt?" asked the younger man.
     "We'll just spread it around."
     Are we putting rocks on top to keep the animals away?
     No, throw them into the bush.
     "What about a marker?"
     "Dont be stupid. We dont need anyone finding it.
     What little dirt was left they scattered in the weeds. The younger man tossed the rocks near the edge of the bush. The older man pulled a few dead ferns and flowers and stuck them in the darker, fresh dirt trying to make it blend in with the rest of the area.
     "Do you want to say a few words?" asked the younger man. They had finished and were looking down at the almost unnoticeable grave. The wind had increased and the older man had put his coat back on. Night was rapidly falling.
     "Theres nothing to say.
     The younger man looked down at the grave. Im sorry, he said softly. This isnt right.
     The older man's anger was immediate. He jumped at the younger man grabbing the front of his coat and pulling his face close.
     Are you starting to go soft on me? Do I have to shut you up?
     The youngers eyes widened. No, no, he said, fear in his voice.
     Don't you ever tell anybody," the older man said through clenched teeth. He pulled the younger man closer until their noses almost touched. "Do you understand? Nobody. Ever."
     The younger man nodded as best he could. "Nobody," he whispered.
     "Promise me."
     The younger man hesitated and the older man shook him until his head flopped back and forth.
     "Promise me."
     "I promise."
     The older man stared into his eyes then, apparently satisfied, let him go with a shove. He gave one last glance at the rectangle then picked up his shovel and walked away.
     The younger man looked down at the grave then quickly followed the other man.
     Back at their large canvas tent, which had been pitched on a high bank overlooking the Salmo River, the older man began packing his few clothes into his duffel bag.
     "What are you doing?" the younger one asked.
     "I'm taking leaving here first thing tomorrow."
     "What about me? Can I come with you?"
     "Why not?" There was desperation in his voice.
     "Because I've got no time to look after you. Go back to Fruitvale and your Ma or go to work in the smelter in Trail.” The man tossed a small bag at him. “Here’s your share of the gold. It will keep you going until you make up your mind."
     "I don't know anything about working in the smelter."
     "I’m leaving this tent. Stay here if you want or find something else to do because you aren't coming with me." The man threw his duffel bag on his bed then took a step towards the younger man. He glared down at him. If you ever break your promise I’ll come back and kill you and your Ma and any other family you have. You understand? Even if it’s ten, twenty years from now.
     The younger man quickly nodded.
     The older man dropped down beside his duffel bag on the bed and turned his back to the younger one.
     After a few minutes, the younger man laid down on his bunk. He clasped his hands behind his head and stared at the sloping ceiling until it was too dark to see.
     Later that night when the storm had ended and the moon was high in the sky, a shadow crept silently out of the tent and worked his way through the trees to the small clearing. On the way he broke two branches off a tree and bound them together with some string. The clouds had dispersed and the moon was full and bright. Although it had only been a few hours since they had dug the grave, he already had a hard time locating it. When he at last found the right spot, he plunged the cross into the ground as far as he could, then took a rock and pounded it in further. He gathered the rocks they had thrown aside and piled them on the grave. Then he stood for a few minutes in the moonlight and gazed down at the grave.
     Finally, with a sigh, he silently left the small clearing. Instead of heading back to the tent, he started walking down the road. He’d been scared of being killed himself so he’d pretended he wanted to stay with the other man, acting as if he trusted him. But now he wanted to get as far away from him as possible and never see him again.

The Travelling Detective Series
Illegally Dead
The Only Shadow In The House
Whistler's Murder


Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Today’s reader is savvy and knowledgeable.  I believe this is the reason for the rise in the suspense genre.  Complex characters and shocking plots grab the reader tight, unwilling to let go until the very end.  Conflict advances and drives the plot into an unpredictable story that leaves us exhausted – yet satisfied.

Suspense is the aphrodisiac that keeps readers turning those pages.  So how do you create a gripping suspenseful story that leaves everyone talking?  By creating characters the reader cares about while giving conflict, tension, pacing and clever foreshadowing.  

Create situations where your reader is curious about what’s coming next.  This curiosity builds suspense and a good writer will make it flow naturally.  There are many ways to create suspense:
·         By withholding information from the reader
·         By withholding information from the main characters
·         By telling the story from the villain’s POV – withholding from main characters
·         By the main character knowing who the killer is – but he/she has to prove it
·         Maybe there’s more than one killer
·         The options are endless as are plots.

Most writers know who the killer is . . . oh, we may be surprised now and then, but most likely we have a good idea who we believe did the dead.  You could let the reader know right away – but if you’re like me – I love guessing.

Keeping the killer a mystery to the main characters works so well, it’s the most common plot.  Like I just said, we love guessing.  I want to dissect all the evidence, evaluate the characters, apply common sense, and finally draw my own conclusion and hope I guessed who dun it!

Writing the suspense can be tricky . . . you need to foreshadow along the way just enough so the reader realizes they could have figured it out – but failed to take that vital bit of information seriously. 

So what should you avoid when writing suspense?  I think a prolog is a killer.  I hate them to be honest.  Whatever you need your reader to learn about a character should be fed in small doses.  Make sure it’s important and ameliorates the plot so the reader will understand the character’s motive and why he reacts/behaves in certain conditions or anxious situations.

Intensity is the key to gripping your reader and not letting go.  It speeds up the momentum and the writer must increase the awareness with each new chapter until it climaxes at the end.  Never let this suspenseful action slow . . . or your reader will lose interest.

Suspenseful stories also revolve around relationships, usually love interests, but that can’t realistically interrupt the flow of the intensity.  Don’t have your hero and heroine chasing down a possible killer in an old mine shaft, then have them suddenly rolling on the ground in a passionate interlude, then get back to the chase.  I know – we’ve read it before and doesn’t it just annoy the crap out of you?  It does me.
Keep in mind if your characters are in danger and dealing with a killer – then we have to be realistic.  Think it through and ask yourself, “Would a couple really stop in the middle of a chase, have a quickie, then resume the chase?”  This might be their only chance to catch the killer.  Your reader would probably scream, “What are you doing?  You’ve almost caught him!  Put your pants back on and be real.”  You must create believable scenes so your readers don’t question what’s happening. 

In writing suspense, emotion is what gets your reader invested in the story.  In knowing the characters, the reader will either pull for them or become anxious for them to get their due castigations.  

Keep the emotion high so the reader understands the importance of the situation.   It’s the emotion that motivates us, what dictates how we react, and controls our decisions.  And, I’ll say it again, “Suspense is the aphrodisiac that keeps readers turning those pages.”  

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Monday, August 11, 2014



Puget Sound has a lot of mystery writers—writing is a good thing to do when it rains—and, for years, I went to meetings of the Mystery Writers of America. They were well-attended and exciting. Then, one of the writers decided people who hadn’t been published by MWA-approved-publishers should be banned. Now, if 20 people attend, it’s a good turnout. However, during the heyday of smooshing with Ann Rule and Earl Emerson, I learned about the three-legged stool:  characters, setting, and action, and giving equal space to each. 

I am currently editing Tahuya Daze (ta-who-ya) the second of my Puget Sound Mysteries, which takes place on Hood Canal. At the book’s beginning, the heroine, Mercedes, comments on madrona trees. They’re unique to the Pacific Northwest. Supposedly, Captain George Vancouver thought their color was like that of strawberries, but then, he’d been at sea for a long time.

Goeducks are also indigenous here. Halfway through the book, Mercedes goes over to the Skokomish Indian Reservation and sees one of these. For those interested, they’re very hard to dig and the skin peels off the neck. (Not to be crude, but it is similar to removing a condom). Ground up goeduck necks and breasts make great chowder. On the TV show, dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe visited a goeduck farm and dug one up. Sadly, he broke its shell, a big no-no.

Since my book takes place in July, my husband and I have been photographing. When Mercedes is captured by the bad guy and forced to walk through some clear-cut land on the hills above the canal.

I remember reading Phyllis Whitney’s books, each of  which took place in a different country. As someone on Goodreads wrote, “Her novels are set in interesting locales that often become a character themselves.”
Not everyone in my critique group likes the three-legged stool: too many people and too much physical “stuff”. I, however, want a sense of place and an opportunity to know the characters. Aren’t well all lucky there’s no right answer?

I tried very hard to make this blog pretty and to have the photographs next to the appropriate paragraph. Unfortunately, it didn't work.  Thanks for any comments you care to make. Karla

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Get the Fire Extinguisher! - by Cheryl Wright

Oh my. I do love a fun card. And these Girlfriends cards by Art Impressions literally take the cake!

I've seen a few versions of other people's interpretation of this stamp set, appropriately called Giant Cake, and I might have to, ahem, borrow, some of their ideas.

Here's my version:

These cards are absolutely perfect for my age group, and are just so much fun, albeit a little fiddly to color!

I've lashed out, and have ordered two more sets from the Girlfriends range, which should arrive in the next couple of weeks. (They are extremely difficult to buy in Australia, so I have no choice but to buy them from the US.)  I absolutely adore these stamps, and I'm having an absolute ball with them.

It's wonderful to see what other cardmakers have done with these cards, and I spend quite a bit of time - way more than I'd like - on Pinterest seeking them out.

 Since my last post, I've made another card with the Party Girls set. I added some blue hair this time, as it reminded me of the older ladies I knew in my youth. Blue hair was very popular back them, for ladies 'of distinction'.

Thanks for stopping by. Til next time,


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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Using a Pen Name - by Tia Dani

As promised we are giving our friends and readers a chance to get to know us a little better. The second question that pops up after why write as a team is "Why write under a pen name?"

Using a Pen/ Pseudonym is a personal decision. There are many reasons to use one. For us the decision was made because at the time we still had plans to publish stories on our own and when we did we would use our real names. Plus the first story we published was erotic and we were a bit self-conscious about how our families might react when they found out.

After our second book was contracted and became successful, we made the decision to put all our future work fully under Tia Dani. We registered the trade name and formed a partnership.  From that time on we looked at our writing as a business and Tia Dani was our business name.

How we came up with the name Tia Dani is interesting as well. We thought long and hard on a name to use and first, Bev came up with the suggestion to put our 'middle' names together. That didn't work because Christine doesn't have a middle name. However Christine really liked the name KrisTia. She used it for a while but eventually shortened it to Tia.

Bev's middle name is Ann. Tia Ann didn't quite have the ring we wanted. So we decided to go to the mall, walk around, and brainstorm.  While running through a few names to go with Tia (not to mention trying on so many pairs of shoes our feet hurt, spraying ourselves with various types of perfume making us smell like a bordello, and…of course…sampling assorted chocolates and caramel corn) the name Dani was thrown in the mix. We both loved it. Bev likes being called Dani. It fits her. So Tia Dani was created. It was later we realized that Tia Dani in Spanish means Aunt Dani. But we don't care, it's a pretty name and seems to be well liked. So far, no one has asked whose aunt we are.

As most of you know writers are generally a shy group. This is why a pen name has worked well for us. Not that we are shy in front of others but using our pen name makes it easier and a little more fun. It's kinda like acting. When we give a workshop as Tia Dani, we like to role play. It takes away the Christine and Bev thinks, to Tia Dani says…

Anyway, that's our pen name story and we're sticking with it.

A second thing we thought about is several of our friends use a pen name to keep their writing identity secret from employers of their day jobs. It might work but it's not that easy to remain anonymous. Publishers are required to report to the IRS (via Form 1099) of payments made to writers, which means they need your real name along with your social security number.

Well…that was fun reliving our beginnings, but now we need to get back to work. We are wrapping up our next story, a paranormal set in the northern part of AZ. We have shape-shifters, ancient legends, apache warriors, magic, and reincarnation. And always a little romance. We hope reading Call down the Darkness will bring you as much joy as we have had in writing it.

See you next month,

Tia Dani
Authors of, Time's Enduring Love.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Action Heroes of My Past by Jamie Hill

Last month I talked about how Channing Tatum would make a good hero in my cop novel, Family Secrets. The post had me remembering who I was fond of in the past. Yes, you will see a Teen Beat Magazine image below. No, it is not from my personal Teen Beat collection. (I got rid of that a couple years ago. heh heh heh)

Sylvester Stallone in the first Rocky movie sent me to the theater for more than one showing. I had certainly never seen abs like that before. 

In the photo below, he looks like he'd make a good cop. I have a thing for writing about cops, in case you aren't familiar with my work.


Sam Elliott in Lifeguard sent me to the theater even more than Sly. That was an amazing movie, which I'm sure has not withstood the test of time. LOL


Sam Elliott in Mask is also a sight to behold. That movie has stood up to time. I loved Cher's performance and will still watch that show every now and then.


Beau Bridges was a hottie back in the day, I can't name you one movie he was in except The Other Side of the Mountain (he died, I cried).

And if we're talking TV shows, Paul Michael Glaser, er, I mean, Starsky and Hutch was one of my all time favorites. I even wrote an episode script for them in high school, and another for S.W.A.T., co-starring Mark Shera.

Gosh, I guess my love for hot cops started early!

Don't even get me started on musicians. Bobby Sherman had me wishing my name was Julie for about a year. And then there was Mickey Dolenz, and the Bay City Rollers, and....I'm suddenly off topic here and can't even remember what the topic was.

I hope my memories have brought a smile to your face. I'll leave you with an old scratchy photo of me back in the day with my aunt's dog Tuffy, my vacation playmate since I had no cousins my own age. You can tell by the long-suffering expression on his face that I enjoyed our play dates more than he did. And by the way, my grandma was a great card player though I always teased her that she cheated.

You can find my collection of hot cops and other stories here:

Until next month, keep cool! ~ Jamie Hill

Sunday, August 3, 2014


by Diane Bator

I spent a few days away at a friend's cottage this week with my kids. I labeled it a "vacation," but is any writer every truly on vacation? Unlike some people, a writer's brain has no off switch. We tend to think of everything as a prompt, the start of a plot outline or a great hook. For example:

          Feeding the chipmunks led to thoughts of a children's book.
          Paddling on Lake Huron on a piece of fiberglass-covered Styrofoam gave me ideas toward a Young                      Adult book I've been battling with for years.
         Walking on the beach watching the waves rush to my feet, sent my mind reeling with thoughts of                              messages in bottles and bodies washing ashore.
          Building sandcastles...see above.

So after a few wonderous days of swimming and miniature golf, I find my hands busy with laundry and cleaning and my brain buzzing with ideas. Apparently, "vacation" time away from a keyboard to try new things can do a writer a little good!

Stop by and visit me at my website:

Saturday, August 2, 2014



Housekeeping and tidying up. Not my favourite topic or occupation, unless we are taking about tidying up my garden. In particular my rose garden, which I tend with loving care, because roses truly deserve special treatment. No chore to tidy up here. I banish any weed the moment it rears its ugly head near my “lovelies.”

Roses are my favourite flower. My husband thinks I am obsessed with them.  I always wear rose perfume, Bush Rose, Musk Rose. The Yardley (English company) Rose has a lovely perfume, as sweet and fragrant as its namesake. How many wonderful people have you met who are called Rose, Rosy, Rosemarie, Rosemary?

I have to confess that my garden is full of roses. Hubby hates them with a passion because he thinks they deliberately jump out and stick their prickles into him.

I love the old fashioned roses the best. They may not be quite as colourful as the modern day varieties, but they always have a gorgeous perfume.  Just Joey, a beautiful large bloomed orange rose with a delightful perfume is one of my favourites.  Another favourite is a blood red rose named Oklahoma, the perfume is as heady as wine. My garden has recently acquired a rose called. The Chocolate Rose. I have to say that although the bloom is pretty, it isn’t stunning, but it certainly has a chocolate perfume, and you can take that observation from a chocoholic. If there is one thing I know, it is the smell of chocolate.

It amazes me how often I seem to give the characters in my novels a floral name. It must have been an instinctive thing because I don’t recall actively trying to do this.

A few examples. In Haunted Hearts, the heroine’s daughter is called Rosie. In A Mortal Sin, the heroine is named Daphne. Iris is the wicked mother-in-law in Make Love Not War

I have also written a short story with the title Call Of The Apple Blossom.  Can you see a pattern here?

There is rarely a novel of mine that doesn't have at least one rose garden scene.
So, there you have it. I wonder if there is such a thing as a roseaholic?

Falsely Accused has recently been released  by BWL and is available on Amazon.
On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson and Jake Smith meet and fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.
On arrival in Sydney the lovers are separated. Maryanne is sent to work for the lecherous Captain Fitzhugh. After he attacks her she flees into the wilderness and eventually meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang.  They set up home in a hidden valley and Maryanne falls pregnant.  Will Jake come out of hiding to protect his fledgling family? And how can love triumph over such crushing odds?
















Friday, August 1, 2014

Love's Treasure by Shirley Martin

romance : bride and groom silhouette kissing  Hi everyone,
I recently started a fantasy romance, and this is the first scene from the second chapter. I'm using this scene because it has more dialog than the first scene of the first chapter.
                                                  LOVE'S TREASURE
                                                   by Shirley Martin
"You'll have to hurry, son. I'll explain the situation as you get ready. I've already ordered the stable boy to prepare a  horse for you."
    Inside his bedchamber within the palace of Airen Tir, Garth pulled on his trousers, all the while focusing his attention on his father. He wondered what the 'situation' was.
    "As you know," his father explained, "we have a few spies planted inside the palace of Volanar. They act as servants of the palace, but they serve us. Now let me backtrack a bit. Have you heard about a cache of gold hidden inside a cave of Misty Mountain?"
    "Misty Mountain?" Garth paused while pulling his linen tunic over his head. "I've always thought that tale was a myth. You think there's some truth to the story?" 
    King Treherne nodded. "I have reason to believe so. The story has persisted throughout the years, and my grandfather spoke of it in his last days, regretting that he'd never sent anyone to find the treasure. There surely must be truth to the tale."  He leaned forward, his hands on his knees. "Yesterday, one of our spies was in the archives room of the Volanar palace--"
    Garth fastened his belt. "The archives room? What was he doing there?"
    "He followed Princess Olwen, clandestinely, of course, and checked the room after she left. First lighting a candle, he saw an open book that revealed a map of where the gold is hidden far to the north of Elucera in Misty Mountain."
    "Wait a minute," Garth said, dropping several coins in a purse attached to his belt, where his sword already resided in its scabbard. "How do you know this?"
    "A carrier pigeon brought the news early this morning on a slip of paper. A small map was included."  He drew the paper from a pocket and handed it to Garth. "Study this map later, when you have time.. Another spy saw a young man he couldn't identify ride off in the middle of the night."
    Folding the paper inside his tunic pocket, Garth sat to pull on his boots. "That still doesn't prove that the man was headed for Misty Mountain."
    Treherne smiled slyly. "Remember I once told you about a hole drilled in the wall of the king's study, behind a painting? One of our spies heard the princess talking to her father about the hidden gold." Briskly, he stood. "Enough talk. I want you to ride as if your life depended on it." His eyes narrowed. "You need to redeem yourself, son. There is still your unexplained absence from the kingdom earlier this year."
    "And if I arrive at the cache of gold the same time as this unidentified young man?"
    "Why, you kill him, of course."  
Find all of Shirley's books at Books We Love  


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