Once a week, every Tuesday, an excerpt from one of my books, chosen for no special reason.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

excerpt from Moon Dust

From Moon Dust where the heroine is thinking back on the family's Thanksgiving dinner after she announced she and her husband were getting a divorce. She's home now and thinking about how the day had gone. Although I've not had a divorce, at her age, I did have a family that was not so different from Susan's. When a couple decide to separate, it impacts their family, friends, and community.


With a sigh of relief, Susan sunk into the large, white chair in her living room and stared at the lights of the city strung out far below. Thanksgiving with her large family had been for the most part enjoyable, delicious and tiring. Everyone wanted to know about her separation from Dane, to ask questions about what he had done to make her leave him. Half of her family had approached her at one time or another to try to either change her mind or get the full scoop on what had really happened, but since she'd been expecting that, it had been tolerable.
 Kicking off high heels, Susan rubbed her feet as she thought back on her conversation with Sarah. Big sister Sarah, who always wanted to take care of Susan's hurts, had wasted little time in zeroing in on this issue and putting pressure on her not to get a divorce. "But how could you just leave him?" Sarah's large blue eyes had been intent on Susan, her plump body effectively blocking flight from the family room. "Don't you know divorce is a sin, Susan?"
"Sarah," Susan had tried to explain, "you aren't going to understand any of this. You've got a marvelous husband and three bright kids. With a life as full as yours, how could you possibly understand the barrenness of what Dane and I had?"
 "Barrenness? What kind of word is that? Are you reading those wacky psychology books, Susan, is that how you got this wild idea from that psychologist pal of yours? That stuff is garbage."
Susan had felt stymied, how could she explain any of this to her down-to-earth sister, who seemed satisfied with so little in life.          Knowing it was useless, Susan had tried. "How can I continue to live with a man who doesn't love me? Who closes me out of his life? Who won't share anything with me? I mean, get serious, could you live that way?"
 "Frankly, Susan, most men are not so good at sharing their feelings as women are, Do you think Jack tells me when he's hurt or feeling down? I just have to be understanding, not demand too much." 
 "But what if that wasn't enough for you?" Susan had been determined somehow to make Sarah understand. "What if you want a man to tell you how he feels, and you don't want it to take a gun to make him do it. For that matter, with Dane, I'm not sure that even at the point of death, he'd admit to being frightened or in doubt."
  "So then that's just his way!"
  "But it's not mine!" Both their voices had risen with their frustration level.
  "Susan, divorce is wrong."
  "Maybe so, but sometimes so is marriage."
  "But you were joined by God. You can't divorce him."
I was joined by a contract, a piece of legal paper, and the same thing can end the marriage." Susan had walked to the large bay window, to stare out at the sheep and cows grazing in the pasture below the big, old farm house.
Sarah had followed, and the two sisters, so alike and so different, stared from the window. "Dane is such a nice guy... And something else. He does love you. I'm sure of it."
 "Sarah, you’ve chosen the way you want to live your life. Can’t you give me the freedom to do the same?  I have to do what I believe is right just as you did."
Sarah's voice had lowered to little more than a whisper. "Was the problem in bed?"
Susan had laughed. "No! It was not in bed. Listen, this is something I'm not going to argue about. I know you've always thought you know what's best for me, but you have to let go of this. I'm not a kid in school. I'm a woman, twenty-eight years old, who knows exactly what she wants." Or did she I? But that had not been the time to admit that to Sarah.
 "Don't you love Dane?" Sarah had wailed.
 "I don't think that's the issue."
 "But do you still love him?"
 Susan had thought for a moment, not wanting to tell her sister, wishing she could bring herself to lie because it would be so much simpler. She had looked across at Sarah and said, "I do, but sometimes love isn't enough."
 Sarah had obviously been unable to fathom her sister's thinking. For a moment, Susan had been certain she would walk out of the room without another word, but she had reached out instead and drawn Susan into her arms. "I think you're wrong, but you're my sister and I love you." And so the two had a good cry before they returned to the others, who had peeked their heads in to see there was an argument, but had stayed away to let them settle it.
           As Susan stared out into the black night of the city, lights twinkling to remind her other people existed, she wondered, not for the first time, where Dane had spent Thanksgiving. She looked through the darkness in the direction of their neighborhood and saw the twinkling of the first Christmas lights. 

Moon Dust is a contemporary romance set in Portland Oregon. It deals with some tough subjects including the ramification of sexual abuse on adults and our education system as well as divorce as a solution-- or is it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holiday novella

Last week I watched the first of the Hallmark Christmas movies. I don't watch them all week, just the new ones on Saturday and Sunday. I discovered them last year and find them simple, require nothing from me, and usually have a good life moral.

For me a Christmas movie or book has to have certain qualities. I started to watch one on the 14th and could not stand its premise, which was of a heroine who was an habitual liar, using her lies to avoid problems and get ahead. A wish made it impossible for to tell a lie and led to complications. Frankly, I couldn't stand her. I left the story before it got to where she was forced to stop telling the lies. I know this premise for a film had been used before. I didn't care for it then either.

On the other hand, I liked the one on the 15th-- Christmas Incorporated. It had a charming heroine and hero, just enough plot, and lots of Christmas. Did I mention the hero was hot? I can see that actor, Steve Lund, having a bigger career as some other stars from Hallmark have.

I've had the holidays in a few of my books, but never at the center of their plots. I did that with the novella, A Montana Christmas, which takes forward a few years the ranch family in From Here to There. Rather than a romance as such, this is more a slice of life story. It has all the characters from FHtoT as well as some additions. (Writing it also suggested a future story for the family, involving an older couple, which I have yet to write because this was the year of historic romances but next year, it's in the plan.)  

Snippet from A Montana Christmas:


When Helene heard the truck outside, she went to the door to open it for her smiling uncle and Curly as they stamped the snow from their boots.
“How’d it go?” she asked at the two, who were grinning as though they had been up to something.
“What part?” Curly asked winking at Rafe.
“The doctor part, of course.”
“Oh that,” her uncle said pouring himself a cup of coffee and ignoring her frown. “Doc let me go. Looks like I’ll live to be eighty after all—if I don’t ride with Curly driving again that is.”
“Dangnabit, I did not take the corner that fast,” Curly grouched as he took a big sip of the coffee with a satisfied smirk.
“What else were you up to in town then?” she asked not ignoring the original grins she had seen.
“Little shopping is all and don’t ask for what,” Uncle Amos said. “Tis the season and all that.”
“Speaking of seasons,” she said, “with Christmas just three weeks off, I was thinking we should make some plans.”
“More than the usual with Nancy, Emile and the boys?” her uncle asked.
“I was thinking yes… Phillip will be here, I hope. I’d like to have the dinner up at our house. How would that be?”
Amos shrugged. “Never no mind to me if it don’t matter to Emile and them.”
“I invited too?” Curly asked.
“Of course, and a girlfriend if you wish.”
Curly snorted as he leaned back against the counter, crossing one boot over the other. “Women are too danged much trouble. Not gonna mess with one again. I’m too old anyway.”
Now it was Helene’s turn to snort. “You are still a handsome man, Curly, and you know it. What happened with Sherri?”
Amos was the one to laugh that time. “She found out about Jan and that was pretty much it for both of them.”
“Good riddance to both. Women just wanta own a man.”
“Maybe you haven’t found the right one yet,” Helene suggested.
“He’s been married three times. Maybe he’s right to give it a rest.”
Obviously to divert that direction for the conversation, Curly asked, “What you going to cook, Helene, not that I’d be picky or anything.”
“Just traditional fare.”
“So long as that means turkey, dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and lots of gravy,” her uncle said with a grin. “I got no complaints. But what’s this planning business about. Throw a spread, open some presents, isn’t that about it? What’s to plan for?”
“There are the numbers. I’ll call Nancy to be sure they can come.” She glanced at Rafe who had said nothing. “You will come also, won’t you?”
“Where else would I go?” he said with a grimace as he shifted positions and manned up to another sip of the potent coffee.
“If no one minds, I’d like to include a few others. One or two that might have to sleep down here.”
Uncle Amos frowned. “My sister coming?”
“Heavens no.” She laughed. “Mother is in Palm Springs with her bridge buddies, and Dad is off with Sharron to wherever it is she convinced him to take her this year. No, not them. I’d like to ask Phillip’s mother, sisters and brother.”
Curly choked on a swallow of coffee. When he got his voice back, he asked, “Phil okay that?” His look said he doubted it. 

 Available at various sell sites: A Montana Christmas links

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

secondary characters

In my writing, secondary characters are as important or almost anyway as the main protagonists. I love it when one shows up and proves to enrich every scene they're in. It's like a gift as those rich secondary characters give more dimensions to the hero and heroine.

I had one of those briefly in Arizona Dawn. He was an itinerant prospector who the hero, Rafe, didn't trust one bit. When he showed up a few years later in Lands of Fire, I was happy to finally get to know him better. I thought he'd be good for enriching the reader's understanding of the hero, but he proved better than I imagined and on multiple levels. Here's the scene when Jesse met him for the first time.


   Lighting a cigarette, he didn’t bother with a lantern. A waxing moon was high enough in the sky to light the desert with a soft glow. Something rustled the rabbitbrush to Jesse’s right. Far in the distance, he heard the howl of a coyote and another answered from not far beyond his shed.
   Until Jesse had come, this place had been theirs. Now, with him living in the adobe, putting a door back on it, his work on the corral, and increasing the size of the livestock lean-to, they had been pushed back. They didn’t like it. He didn’t blame them.
   Bear growled. “Shhh boy,” he said, “I hear it.” He reached for his revolver on the barrel behind him. He never was far from a gun.
   “You got any food, seƱor?” a man’s voice asked from the shadows.
   Jesse rose. “Come closer where I can see you.”
   “Your dog looks mean.” The voice was old.
   “He is. So mind your business. Come out where the moonlight hits you.” A bearded old man, wearing a poncho walked slowly forward.
   “Don’t hurt me, compadre.”
   “Who are you?”
   “Jose. I was gathering saguaro fruit. I got lost.”
   The gathering part was possible—the accent not so much. “You have family nearby?”
   “I do. They will be looking for me.”
   “Jose, you are a liar.”
   The old man edged closer as he nervously watched Bear. “He’s big. He bite?” he asked.
   “Not if you stay where you are.” Jesse edged back in the adobe and brought out a lantern, which he set on the table and lit. “Come up here now and let me get a look at you.”
   The old man came forward. “I did lie, but not about being hungry.”
   “Why are you out here then? This is not near any villages. You have no horse.”
   “I had a burro. She got away from me. You see her?”
   Jesse smiled. “You really are a liar, aren’t you? And a poor one. What’s your real name? You aren’t Spanish, not with that accent, and don’t look Indian.”
   When the man smiled, he revealed a mouth with few teeth. “What you doing out here, son?”
   “Me first.”