Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ringing in the New Year

Happy Birthday Bo’sun!


Happy Birthday! 

Yup Yup! It is the Bo’sun’s birthday today and a special day it is! The last day of the year is currently upon us and it’s time to celebrate another year past and rush in the new one to make more great memories and lasting friendships.


And for every New Year celebration, you need a little chocolate to

bring love and happiness into full circle. Not to mention a little eye candy to get the blood flowing. Good for creativity and he certain inspires a little creativity in me. I got him special just for you Bo'sun. Remember moderation makes for a good time, overindulgance gets you into trouble.


Nevermind, you're a pirate. The more the merrier I say!


What are your New Year's plans (if any)? Do you enjoy writing or reading party scenes?




midnight parties

PS. BTW, Ter, in case you missed it above- HAPPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I hope it's a great one!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Next Year's Mantra: DISCIPLINE

Around June, I felt a twinge of guilt, but I tamped it down, being I’m a practiced rationalizer when it comes to nebulous things like “shame” and “slacker.” The fact it had been a year since I technically finished Girl on a Grecian Urn, and I had neither finished the revisions nor completed a new manuscript didn’t pang me too long. At a time.


I mean, it panged me every day. I’d go to bed, thinking, you haven’t written. If you had done this or so, I bet you could have written two pages at least. I thought about writing; but that never manifests itself into words on the page like you think it would. I reassured myself that I still had six months to get it in gear. I would surely have the revisions done by November so I could send the revised manuscript to the Golden Heart.


Between planning to write and non-writing, I sent out queries. I believed if someone asked for the book, then that would inspire me to finish the revisions for the last four chapters. I was fishing for motivation (in myself and my characters) like I was Ishmael after a freaking whale. Neither of us found any.


In September, my procrastination took a new tact. I would work on other aspects of my life instead. The Virginia Woolf procrastination epiphany. I wasn’t writing my magnum opus because I didn’t have a room to write in. All by myself. Away from awful, awful distractions like handsome men who wanted to lure me to bed with hot sex…and the internet. Call me Odysseus, stuck on this pain-staking journey of writing: shoals, hurricanes, doldrums, hot sex, you name it—I had a writer’s equivalent for it. I was in a leaky boat, sailing nowhere fast.


I consoled myself that the sex and the internet were research. I had three months to get it all done; plus I could totally do that NaNo thing.


So after three months of researching, I’m now staring at my calendar in stark disbelief. Holy hell, it’s December 30th and I still haven’t finished the revisions on that blasted novel. Nor have I finished a new manuscript! Hell, I couldn’t even tell you the idea for the new manuscript. I keep coming up with new ideas, but none of them want to stick to the wall. They’re all…blech.  


I’m beginning to feel like one of those locusts who only mates every seven years. Well, I used to feel that way about my sex life too, but now I think it only applies to my writing. I haven’t found a locust I’m willing to crawl out of the woodwork for. In the meantime, I’d rather sleep until something brilliant comes to me. (Napping is my number one favorite pastime. Sometimes it’s number two, but…well, never mind.)


So what’s a sleepy, uninspired, unmotivated, and undone pirate to do? Well, lucky for me, this is the time of year for resolutions. Which is to say, I’ve found another way to procrastinate. (And I need to add: generally speaking, we all know resolutions don’t usually stick for long. There are one-night stands that last longer than most.) So how do I word my resolution in such a way that it doesn’t dissolve faster than a Britney Spears’ marriage? What do you do to put your words into actions? You know, besides the obvious action of: butt in chair, hands on keyboard? No, no, too obvious.


Then Janga did it for me. We were discussing Resolutions yesterday; and Janga listed out what resolutions she was going to implement in the next year. But she didn’t leave it at just the resolution: she broke the resolution into two or three smaller attainable goals or solutions. Simple things anyone could do to accomplish the Herculean task of overcoming procrastination.  Then she capped the whole thing with a theme mantra: DISCIPLINE. All it takes to accomplish any of the small attainable tasks is discipline. Which clearly is the antithesis of procrastination.


Besides a good mantra clears your mind as you set into action into one of those smaller, clear goals. So my resolution this year is to adopt Janga’s resolutions (and concrete actions to attain resolutions and her mantra) as my own so as to not find myself on December 30, 2009, going “Holy sh*t, have I literally screwed around all year again?” (Okay, that might not be a totally wasted year in my opinion, but…I should vary it a little.) Besides, isn't stealing from your friends the highest form of flattery? Or laziness? I'm unsure which. Maybe both.


Until I figure it out (this head cold is the pits), I will add: Janga's got this figured out. I'm going to try to be a bit more like Janga this year. (And if she doesn't conform strictly to her new disciplined regime, then I'll go with the "do as I say, not as I do" approach. Whether she follows her own advice or not, it's still brilliant.)


Who do you admire and wish to emulate more this year—and why? What small, concrete ways will you do to accomplish your resolutions? What’s your favorite mantra/motto?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Obligatory New Years Resolution Blog

With the New Year right around the corner, it’s that time of year when we all start taking a look at what we’re glad we did, what we wish we could have done, what we wish we hadn’t done, and what we plan on doing next year.

I prefer dwelling on the good and hopeful than bemoaning the unattained and disappointing, so in my true Pollyanna fashion, I figured I’d say what I’m particularly thankful for and what I’m hoping to accomplish this coming year.

In case anyone in the free world hadn’t heard, I managed to finish my first MS.  But I’m not just happy about the finishing.  I learned so much about how I write, about my process and my voice, about the ups and downs on the journey, that I don’t even care anymore what happens to my first MS.  I’m just thrilled with the entire experience.

This coming year I’d like to finish two stories.   Now that I know more about myself and my process, I think that’s possible, if I just buckle down.   And I could stand to lose 10-15 lbs (damn holiday baking).

As far as personal stuff, my baby turned two, my hubby got promoted, and I managed to remain sane the entire year through, with only a few meltdowns and fits of hysteria on record.  (I am a stay at home mom so I’m alone a lot, therefore there are probably many more meltdowns and fits of hysteria that occurred that no one witnessed but if no one sees it happen, it remains conjecture and speculation, I say.)

I hope this year brings another year of health and prosperity for those I adore and for you too, gentle readers, er, pirates.  May you seize your booty and plunder where you may.

What events are you proud of this past year and what do you hope to accomplish?  Any new years resolutions you wanna share?   I hear public shame is a good motivator.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from the RWR Crew!


From all of us here at RWR, we wish you the very best this Christmas.  Hope your day is filled with family, friends, food, and fun!
Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas RWR Caroling Review

[ship railing twined with tinsel and fat Christmas lights; decorated Christmas tree with a Captain Jack Sparrow action figure tied to the top as the “angel” in the Crow’s Nest; a snow-machine on the fo’c’sle, launching fake snow onto the main decks and the crew, which most keep dusting from their costumes with various degrees of hostility. Hellion, dressed in an Elf costume and an ostentatious number of jingle bells, is handing out crib sheets to everyone.]

Terri: [taking sheet, tugging at short skirt which could double as a napkin] You know, when you did this crap on the Vagabonds, you didn’t make them wear embarrassing outfits.

Hellion: Yes, I did.

Tiffany: She really did.

Terri: Tiffany?

Tiffany: [tugging at her skirt, but to show off her belly ring] Yeah, she complains about my Nick Cave, but come Christmas, she wants my Soprano in her choir.

Ely: [fluffing hair and scarf] And mine!

Hellion: [sheepish shrugging] Caroling is more fun in large groups. Kris? Mags? Come on out! You look adorable, you do!

[Maggie and Kris emerge from below deck, looking the supreme Madonnas of Cool, elf outfits, glittery silver scarfs and sunglasses. Hellion hands them their sheets.]

Marnee: [bouncing up] I do like the outfits, but the heels are a bit much. These are not every efficient to chase toddlers in.

Ely: [winking] No, but they’re perfect for making you slow enough to be chased. [blows kiss at one of the crew hands who makes a ‘call me’ gesture]

Sin: [emerging from the Crow’s Nest, though no one can figure out how since there is a tree there; everyone stares at her elf outfit which is completely black, with no tinsel or bells. Hellion stares at her] What? I’m wearing it.

Hellion: I gave you a RED outfit.

Sin: This was hell to dye, let me tell you. Ninjas don’t wear red outfits, Hellie. I’ve told you that.

Hellion: And where are the jingle bells?

Sin: Nor do super-secret agent spies wear bells. Don’t you read spy books?

Hellion: [sighing] I should just be happy you’re wearing it at all.

Sin: Atta girl.

Hellion: Okay, ladies, a one, a one, two….

Crew & Vixens:

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want him for my own
More than he could ever know
Santa, make my wish come true...
All I want for Christmas is

[Hugh Jackman bursts out of a rum keg, wearing a Santa hat and not much else, though the rum keg does keep this all PG-13.]

Hellion: [sashaying]

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
(and I) Don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I don't need to hang my stocking
Above my hammock on the deck
(ahhh) All I need is hot Hugh Jackman,
Lathered up, all soapy wet
I just want him for my own
More than he could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is Hugh... [Hellion spreads arms wide, belting]

[Captain Jack Sparrow staggers out onto the deck, admires Hellion, does a double-take at Hugh]

Hugh: Good-day, mate.

Jack: Where are your clothes?

Hugh: I’m not sure. I just woke up like this.

Jack: [grunting] That’s happened to me more times than I care to recall. [looking about] Hellie, baby, when is my part?

Hellion: [sheepish look] Later, baby. I told you, at rehearsal, after the Hugh song. [muttering] Like wayyyy later.

Jack: There was a rehearsal?

Crew & Vixens: There was a rehearsal?

[music replays cue. Replays cue again.]

Sin: Sh*t, damn, f*ck. I missed the cue. [plays cue again, Sin sings]

Oh I won't ask for much this Christmas
I won't even wish for rum
I'm just gonna keep on waiting
Right here, till my feet go numb;
I won't make a list and send it
With my requests for all things Twilight
Vampires can’t hold a candle
To Hugh’s soapy, chesty sight
'Cause I just want him here tonight
Holding on to me so tight
What more can I do
Baby all I want for Christmas is…Edward!

Hellion: That is not what it says!

Sin: I improved it.

Hellion: You did not!

Sin: Did too!

Jack: Ladies, ladies, ladies…I’m here. You can stop singing the song now. [sniffs, glances over at the still grinning Hugh] And I think you need to find your clothes.

[Tiffany, Ely, Kris and Maggie run over to the barrel]

Tiffany: I can help him. I think I know where he might have left them.

Kris: I think I might have a better idea of where he left them, Tiff.

Ely: [stroking a fingertip down Hugh’s chest] I’m good at finding things, Hugh….

Maggie: This goes to show how much you three know what to do with a naked man. Hugh, why don’t you come with me? You, as always, are dressed perfectly for the occasion.

[Vixens whisk Hugh Jackman below decks. A new glance on the ship shows Sin is hanging off the side railing, calling, “Edward? Are you there?”; Terri is trying to glue an extension to her short skirt; and Marnee has exchanged her heels for tennis shoes.]

Hellion: [music cues and Hellion begins striding across the ship with grand gestures]

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Here upon the ship;
Take a look at the carronades, those tinsely grenades,
What Man-o-War could be more prettily equipped?
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Toys for every Ninja Spy,

[Sin holds up three Ninja stars in one hand and a Glock in the other]

But the prettiest sight to see is the rum casks that will be
Stacked up to the sky.

Jack: There’s more rum? Excellent. I’m out. [uncorking a cask and refilling his bottle]

Sin: [sticks Glock at her back holster, starts juggling stars]

A pair of CFM boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of our Captain Hellie;
Terri wants Big Ben, Lisa wants a variety of men,
And Marnee wants cologne to make her husband smelly.

Jack: And we all want rum balls for our bellies! Bugger, are they gone too?

Lisa, Marnee, & Terri: [in harmony]

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Here upon the ship;
There's a tree in the Crow’s Nest high, and there’s plenty of pumpkin pie,
Piled with plenty of that canned whip

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the singing will start,
And the thing that will make us sing is the jolly our ‘lubbers bring
And those little delightful rum tarts…

Hellion: Has anyone got any rum tarts? I mean, is anyone baking on this ship this year? I’m hungry….

Jack: [finishing the rum in his bottle] We’re out of rum tarts too? What is going on this ship? Stress-eating? Is it the holidays? Are you worried about what to buy me, my little love muffin? [wiggles fingers under Hellion’s chin]

Hellion: The economy. Pirating has been way down.

Terri: Oh, like you know anything about the economy. Why don’t you have some more rum? You’re a lot more coherent about the economy when you’re trashed.

Hellion: No, I’m not.

Terri: Okay, you’re not. But you are more optimistic…and well, fun, and I’ll take that. [pouring rum for Hellion] Now are we done butchering Christmas songs yet?

Hellion: Not quite. I have a special guest for the finale.

Jack: Yes! I have the finale?

Hellion: No, Ranger has the finale. [Jack pouts, Hellion blows kiss] We have a finale later.

Jack: Later? You mean… [waves a hand to the cabin]

Hellion: [nods]

Jack: [grinning] Pirate queen and naughty first mate who has to swab the deck….

Terri: Ewww, do we have to hear this? Really?

Hellion: [nods at Jack] Later, yes, my naughty first mate.

Jack: Yes!

Hellion: [clearing throat] Okay, Ranger, you can come out now!

[Ranger descends from the Crow’s Nest, again, much to the bafflement of the rest of the crew because no one can figure out how they’re fitting up there. Though we now know what Sin was doing.]

Ranger: [crossing arms] I don’t sing.

Hellion: You lost the bet, buddy. Now just like in rehearsal, one, two, thr….

Crew & Ranger: There was a rehearsal?

Hellion: Just sing it.

Ranger: [glaring at Hellion, sings]

There's something stuck up in the Crow’s Nest
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all night long.
Well, I waited up for Stephanie all Christmas night
But she never came and it don't seem right.
And there's something in the Crow’s Nest
And it doesn't make a sound,
But I wish you Merry Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the Crow’s Nest
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all week long.
Well, Sin keeps bitchin’ ‘bout the Crow’s Nest pew
And we don't know what we're going to do.
Cause there's something in the Crow’s Nest
And it doesn't move around,
And it's been a week since Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the Crow’s Nest
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all month long.
Well, it's jammed up tight in the Looking place
Now the ship smells wonky, should we replace?
That something in the Crow’s Nest,
That doesn't talk at all,
And it's been there since last Christmas.

There's something stuck up in the Crow’s Nest
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all year long.
I'll been waiting up for Stephanie like I did last year
But my pirate ninja says, "She's already here."
And she's stuck up in the Crow’s Nest
And she doesn't say a word
And she'll be there every Christmas.
And I'll have her every Christmas.

Hellion: [clapping] Excellent, excellent, brilliant job. Okay, there is no easy way to transition to an ending to this, I noticed that three pages ago, because well, I’m not good at finishing things.

Sin: Yeah, I saw that latch hook rug kit you got when you were in 4th grade. Are you ever going to finish that?

Hellion: No, I’m past my fascination for wall decorations in the shape of 70s-era shag carpeting. Do you know you can still get them? Latch Hook Kits. I know what my nieces are getting for Christmas! Now the question of the day: what do you want for Christmas? (The first do-gooder who says, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men” is going to be knocked in the head with a rum bottle. I mean, I want a serious answer like, a Wii or Hugh Jackman in a red ribbon.)
Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pirate Presents Day

Since this is my last blog before the big day, I figured I'd hand out the presents that I bought my fellow pirates.


For Sin, I found the perfect presents.  You know those times when you're looking and looking for the right gift, and then you see it.  That thing that just screams out a person's name.  These shirts not only screamed Sin's name, they screamed her exact words!  Aren't they cute?!?







While I was trying to figure out what to get Marn, this commercial came on television and I just knew I had to get this product for her.  Not only is Marn the only one of us who wrote an entire manuscript this year, she's the haggled mum of a toddler, holding down a regular job, and working on making her family bigger.  Don't ask us why, we're not really sure. Though we understand the desire to *practice* making the munchkins.  So for Marn (and Mr. Marn who I do believe will be sending me a financial thank you for this one) I have this.  We'll expect a full testimonial as to the effects and benefits of this product. J


Shopping for Lis was tough.  As the mistress of the Hottie, I knew whatever I found, it had to be hot.  Real hot.  With this present, Lisa can enjoy the fittest, hottest bodies all year long.  Talk about the gift that keeps on giving. 


And we come to the Captain.  You might think I would go for the obvious, something Harry Potter-ish or anything with Jack on it.  But when you really think about it, do you think there's anything left in either of those arenas that she doesn't already have?  Yeah, I don’t think so either.  So, I went a little obvious but put a twist on it.  The Captain is about to get her own new cabin here soon, so I figured she needs some new pirate essentials.  Every pirate captain needs her own, fully-accessorized pirate bath.

I do hope all my shipmates like their presents.  Here's the question of the day.  If money, size, and practicality were of no concern, what is the perfect gift for you.  Time to dream ladies.  Dream big!



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Leave the Lights On Santa.

When I was little, we had a wood stove that heated the living room. The sounds of wood crackling and popping were soothing as was the smell on a cold morning. But at Christmas, the smell was accentuated by the smell of cedar tree in the living room. In the dark, the Christmas lights shined in multi-colored happiness and sparkled off the TV screen and the wood stove. You could see these lights glowing all the way down the hall and underneath the door. Of course there wasn’t many times when I was a child when the door was shut. You can’t get warm in a closed room. Every night before my parents went to bed, they turned the lights off the Christmas tree.


I hated this because you only get a Christmas tree for one month out of the year. I'm not particularly a great sleeper at night so seeing the Christmas tree lights always gave me something to look forward to throughout the night as I'd wake up.


There is one particular time I can remember very vividly about Christmas. I wasn’t very old- maybe seven or eight- I asked for Santa to leave the Christmas lights on to show me he was there. I was about to the age when believing in Santa was the cool thing to do anymore and I just wanted a sign that he was around. Sorta like my belief in unicorns. Someday I’m going to find myself a purple unicorn with wings and I’m going to fly away to the moon like a faerie princess with my iridescent wings shimmering in the wind.


At first I heard the tree bells. It was a very soft sound, tinkling in the air like impish laughter. We had this Christmas tree cut out with bells on the ends. I put it on the front door every year because I liked the sound of bells ringing. Since we didn’t have a chimney, I knew I could trap Santa this way.


I waited, listening for the sound again.


I waited. I held my breath in case I was too loud and couldn’t hear them ring again.


I heard hooves on the roof. Impatient, stomping in protest. My childish heart leapt in joy. I quietly slipped from my top bunk bed, silent as my feet hit the carpet. My flannel nightgown brushed the floor as I tried to slip on my house shoes. The fumbling was take too long and my impatience made me sneak to the door and peek around the door jam. All was dark. All was calm.


Except for the glorious glow coming from the living room. Red and blue and yellow and green! They danced in the darkness as though there was a race to be won!


I held back a squeal of joy as I tiptoed towards the living room. My stocking was on the ledge, held by a snowman hook. My name was in glitter, the tree lights sparkled off the stocking. It was filled to the brim with cookies and snack cakes and fruit! I nearly did a backflip with happiness!


And the most amazing thing was beyond the doorway into the living room.


The tree was lit up more beautiful than I could ever imagine!


I flew down the stairs onto the linoleum, the cold not even registering on my bare feet, as I beheld the most beautiful Christmas tree ever known to mankind. The star on top of the tree shimmered with the lights, the ornaments bejeweled. Even the TV screen looked bigger in the lights. Beside the tree was my note to Santa and the plate of empty cookies. On my note was a smiley face, not of my own drawing, but of-




I sat down on the carpet in front of the Christmas tree and just looked at it. I can’t remember how long I sat there just thinking about all the rotten things I’d done all year long and how Santa could’ve written me a note saying how awful of a kid I’d been, except he chose to draw me a smiley face and turn the lights on.


I’ll never forget it. Doesn’t mean I cleaned up my act though. Just made me more conscious to make the clean up a little better and leave no evidence to be found.




Now with a week away from Christmas Eve, I’m struggling to get into the Christmas spirit this year. So help me out. Let’s tell stories of our favorite Christmas memories to remind ourselves what’s most important this time of the year. It’s not our mile long list of stuff to do to make this important for everyone else that counts today, it’s all about us.


So be selfish for just a few minutes and share your story. Santa will be watching.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The anticipation is killing you. You’ve waited for this given opportunity to rise and now it is upon you. You pull your sweat shirt hood up over your head and it covers your eyes. Your heart is beating so fast it’s merely a flutter in your chest as you walk down the dark corridor. You can hear your song thrumming through your veins as you reach the end. Your name is being chanted by the masses, the announcer brings you out and the crowd reaches a frenzy point. But you’re focused. You’re solid. There’s nothing in your mind but the ring and your opponent. You’ve sweated and bled for this moment. You’ve visualized your opponent’s face a thousand times on the bag as you beat the hell out of it with your fist and elbows and knees and feet.


This moment is yours. This victory… it’s all you can think about.


Your opponent is pacing inside the cage, eyes on you. And you return the stare, welcome it. You want them to see what you’re about to do. They should be scared.


You step inside and have a Zen moment, where the only thing you can hear is the sound of your own breathing. Out of respect you pound gloves and you cock back and smash into their face. You’re white on rice. Butter on bread. You think of all the times when you were told you’d never win. You’d never be on top.


You’d show them.


The opponent is strong. Round after round, the opponent takes it to you. Shows you no matter how well you do, you can’t beat them. Still you rail against it, you fight with everything in your being for the win.


And when everything you have, you plant a mean right hook into their kidney and then upper cut to the chin. As they start to straighten up, you put your foot into their stomach and with one last final stand, the opponent drops. The referee waves you off and the bell sounds.


You look around to your team. The ones who helped you get to where you are right now, holding the championship and beaming with pride and they feel it too. You finally did it. Everything you’ve worked for was all for this moment and there was nothing sweeter than the satisfaction of having it.


I watched UFC fights this weekend and if you don’t know anything about the UFC (Ultimate Fighter Championship) it’s Mixed Martial Arts fighting. The whole thing reminds me a lot of the uphill battle you have as a writer to get recognized and published. You have to sacrifice almost everything to get almost nothing in the beginning. You get no respect. You get no love. You fight for everything you’ve got to prove and in the end what do you have left? Sometimes a published book and sometimes a really nice (and sometimes not so nice) rejection letter.


Now, I don’t have any experience in this because as everyone knows, I can’t finish. Which is ironic. Don’t ask me why. It’s a gutter topic and I’m trying really hard to mind myself OUT of the gutter this week.


So I was curious this week. What do you guys liken writing and finishing to? I mean, I like to liken it to football and UFC fighting, what else can we make references to? And if you’re a reader, what Christmas reads are you looking forward to?

Following Your Gut: How Not To Miss the Road Signs on the Path To Your Authentic Life

It is with great pleasure (and apologies for the lateness) that I introduce back to The Revenge special guest pirates and co-authors of The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel Christie Craig and Faye Hughes.

Are you on the right path to meet all your writing goals?  I’m a firm believer that if we are trying to live our authentic lives, if we are following the right path, we will get a little help from the universe.  I’m not saying it will be easy, or that it will happen over night, but I think if we watch closely, we see the signs that can help guide us and those signs can help us keep going.

 Below is an example of one of my personal stories about gut instinct and about being on the right path.

I met Wilma when I was doing an all-day workshop.  She was in her eighties, bright, funny, and beautiful.  Wilma shared that her husband had recently died, and practically with his last breath he made her promise three things, that she’d start back golfing, that she’d try really hard to get published, and that she’d learn to balance a checkbook.  She told the class that day that she hoped two out of three was going to be enough, because she didn’t think she’d ever balance her checkbook. 

Later when talking about how to turn the little nuggets of your life into stories, Wilma held up her hand and shared her own nugget.  Her story was so engrossing, so compelling that I went up to her afterward and told her that if she didn’t write that story, that I was going to steal it.  Oh, I was serious, too.

I also told her that I felt her story could be a Chicken Soup For the Soul story.  This was in the mid-nineties, and my mother had given me that book for Christmas.  In January, another writer friend had called me and asked I’d ever submitted to the Chicken Soup to The Soul books.  I hadn’t submitted, and I hadn’t even read the book yet.  But the second mention of the book had me pulling it out and reading it.  And oddly enough, when Wilma told her story, my gut whispered it was right for them.  I even told Wilma that I would see if I could find who she needed to send the story to.  And that if she would send me the written story, I would help her polish it.

Months passed, I got busy, Wilma didn’t send me her story.  Then at another conference I ran into Wilma again.  I reminded her that I was going to steal her story.  Another month passed, but I didn’t forget about her or that story.  Finally, one day, after again remembering it, I wrote it down on my day planner.  Once things were in my day planner they always got done.  The note read, “Call Evelyn about Chicken Soup.”  Evelyn was another writer I knew had submitted to the Chicken Soup publications. 

Imagine my surprise when the most amazing thing happened that morning.  Before I called Evelyn, I got a call–a call from a Chicken Soup editor.  They had read some of my stories in another magazine and wanted to know if I had anything that would fit their book. 

I stood there in awe that she was calling me and that she wanted me to submit.  Then I remembered Wilma.   Wilma’s theme was so right for this particular Chicken Soup book.  So, on the phone that day, instead of telling the editor about my work, I told her about an amazing woman I’d met.  I told her Wilma’s story. 

The editor was as blown away by the story as I was, and she said, “I want to buy that story.”

I called Wilma, “Wilma, an editor from Chicken Soup is going to call you.  They want to buy your story.”  Wilma was shocked.

Wilma called me back after she spoke with the editor, and asked if I would critique her story.  I did.  It needed tweaking, and I did it for her.  Then because the editor had wanted the story immediately and Wilma didn’t have email, she asked if I would send it.  I did.

Wilma got the call within a week, that they were indeed buying her story. 

I remember thinking after I hung up with Wilma that day, that perhaps I should have also pitched a couple of my own stories to the editor.  But I wasn’t really sorry. Somehow I knew in my gut that I’d done the right thing.

Two weeks later, the same editor called me again.  She said, “You know, I got so excited about Wilma’s story that I forgot to ask about your own stories. 

I went on to sell five stories to Chicken Soup.  I was even the leading story in their Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul #2.  And I just got another call from Chicken Soup that two of my stories are being reprinted and honored as some of the best Chicken Soup stories published over the past 15 years.

*  *  *

Guardian angels.  ESP.  Or just ol’ fashion gut instinct.  What ever you want to call it, I’m a firm believer that it exists and the Wilma story is just one of those examples of this.  I sincerely believe that if we keep our eyes, ears, heart and gut open, we will receive clues.  Clues like road signs, giving us insights to detours we might need to take, a new path that will take us to a different, but better place, a sign that leads us to the best rest stops, places we can refresh, fill up with go juice, and recharge our creative batteries.  

Okay, maybe I’m an optimist.  But I believe that when I’m doing my part, when I’m on the right path that there’s something out there besides just luck, that offers me a helping hand.

And as with the Wilma story, I’ve experienced this helping hand many, many times.  I’ve also had hindsight and realized the hand had been offered, but because I wasn’t on the right path, or wasn’t open to receiving the help, I lost an opportunity.  We don’t have to miss opportunities. 

So, how do we gear ourselves up for these opportunities?  Below are tips to help us recognize those little messages that our gut might be trying to tell us.

Make sure you’re on the right path.

One book I’ve read through and through and am returning to again, is Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It really helped me stay on path.  Funny thing was, I was reading it daily when I met Wilma.  The book is a daily meditation that in many ways changed my life.  It’s a book that gives clues on how we can live more authentically.  I highly recommend it.  

Living an authentic life means you are being true to yourself, living your life the best you can.  Being on the right path is felt within.  It’s a feeling of contentment, of passion for what you do, and gratitude for what you have.  If you have any questions about whether you are on the right path, pick up this book, I can assure you, that you won’t be disappointed.

Make sure you’re actively pursuing your goal.

It’s not enough just to be on the right path, you have to constantly move on that path to the next place you need to be.  Life is about learning, growing, and living through the lessons life offers.  To become stagnant is the first step to death.  The poet, Wendell Barry says, “The life we want is not merely the one we have chosen and made.  It is the one we must be choosing and making.”

Teaching and encouraging other writers has always been important to me.  Helping Wilma felt important and by pursuing that goal, and merely by taking steps to make that happen, look what happened.  I’m a firm believer if I hadn’t put that in my day planner, if I hadn’t been about to do it myself, I would have never received the call.  Set goals, and meet them.  Rewards await you.

Make Sure You’re Giving Back to the Universe

We’ve all heard it, it’s better to give than to receive.  But I have learned so many times that giving is almost a selfish act.  When I give, the most amazing thing happens: the kindness seems to return to me twofold. My Wilma story is a prime example of this.

Listen With Your Heart

If something for an unknown reason tugs at your heart, or gives you a moment of pause, pay attention.  Wilma’s story touched me.  Only by listening to my heart, to that little emotional tug, did I hear the little voice that said, “This is a Chicken Soup story.”

Pay Close Attention to Repetitions

If something is put into your awareness more than once, take notice.  It could be the universe trying to tell you something.  I received the Chicken Soup book for Christmas, but it took another friend calling me about the book before I picked it up and read it.  If I hadn’t paid attention to the coincidence and read the book, I wouldn’t have known Wilma’s story was perfect for them.  Wilma may have never met her promise to her husband, I may have never published in Chicken Soup, I wouldn’t have had this story to share with you.

Ride the Elephant When it Shows up

I read it in Simple Abundance.  I can’t remember the exact story, but it was something about the author taking her little girl on a trip.  And her little girl was a little bored, and then a hotel clerk called and said a man had brought an elephant and was giving elephant rides.  And the moral of her essay was, “Sometimes when you least expect it, when life seems so mundane, suddenly an elephant will show up for you to ride. 

The story touched me and I shared it with my husband and to this day we are always looking for elephants to ride.  In other words, we look for the opportunities in the everyday moments.  And when they show up, we get on their backs and see where they might take us.

Recognize Opportunities in their Varying Forms

You may have heard the story about the man who lived in a flood area and the weather had predicted a flood.  The man was a devout Christian and he believed God would protect him.

When the storm started, it was announced on television. When his son called to warn him to get out, the man said, “No, God will protect me.”

The rain started and the man’s neighborhood started to flood and the police showed up and told him he needed to leave, and he told the men, “No, God will protect me.”

The streets became flooded and impassable and National Guards showed up in boats and told the man to get in, but he said, “No, God will protect me.”

The water continued to rise and the man was forced up on top of his roof. And a Red Cross helicopter showed up and told him to grab a hold of the rope and the man said, “No, God will protect me.”

The water got worse and the man drowned.  When in Heaven he looked at God and said, “I thought you were going to protect me.”

And God said, “I put it on television.  I had your son call you.  I sent the police with a car, the National Guard with a boat, the Red Cross with a helicopter.  You never once accepted my help.”

Sometimes, we refuse to see what is or isn’t an opportunity.  Don’t become so close-minded that you think one way is the only way.  Be flexible in this path called life.   

When I stopped writing novels and started focusing on my freelance, part of me wondered if I was giving up a dream, but looking back at where I am now, and where that detour took me, I don’t think it was giving up, I was simply taking the path right for me.  Writing non-fiction all those years, not only paid the bills, but I was growing and learning as a writer.  I was becoming stronger in the face of rejection, and I was learning to listen to my gut instinct.  Even more importantly, I was learning, and am still learning, to live my authentic life. 

What is it you need to be doing?  Should you be writing in a different genre?  Should you be adding humor or should attempt to write a sexier story? 

Only you can really know what is right for your path.  Only you will know if you are you living your authentic life?  Are you watching out for the road signs on your path?

Stop Worrying About “the Market” and Labels – Start Thinking About Possibilities

So, what kind of a book do you want to write?

The truth about publishing today is that sometimes, you have to compromise.  If contemporary romance is your passion, or if cozy mysteries are your cup of tea, what do you do if the market goes soft?

Notice how I didn’t say, “the market has died”?  That’s because markets never die.  They just sometimes go through a slow growth period.  Of they get a new name.  (Think Chick Lit, now know as Women’s Fiction, among other labels.)

But back to the original question of what you should do when your market goes soft.  Well, that depends.  Are you writing traditional versions of this dead-in-the-water genre?  If so, you may have a problem.  When the market is soft and editors aren’t looking for “those kind of books,” your book really has to be exceptional, as in genre-changing, to sell.

If it is just a well-written, well-plotted version of the genre . . . well, the odds aren’t in your favor.  But you can change that by changing genres.

Say, for example, you’ve written a chick lit novel about some young twenty-something.  What other genre does it most closely resemble?  Start to brainstorm.  Does it have a mystery?  If so, can you increase the mystery and market it as a mystery?  Does it have a Young Adult vibe?  If so, can you revise and market it as a YA?

In other words, take a look at the work in question and figure out what options you have for it.

Sometimes you may have no options at all, and that is okay.  Just shelf it until the market changes.  Then ask yourself what you want to work on for your next book.  Don’t make the same mistake you did with that book you have to put on the shelf.  Take the strengths of your writing and see how they can apply to another genre.

Explore your possibilities.  You might be surprised at what you find.

 Now that you're incredibly inspired, grab some rum and fire off with the questions.  I'm happy to say one lucky commenter is going to win one of Christie's previous published books, Weddings Can Be Murder (2008 RT Romantic Suspense of the Year Nominee!!!) or Divorced, Desperate and Delicious plus adorable Christmas cards and a pen.  I got one of the pens earlier this week and it's the cutest thing!

Fire away!!!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coincidence? I think not...

My latest love has been paranormals.  I’ve pretty much read every one I’ve been able to get my hands on of late.  But, with my new reading direction, I’ve started to notice the “fate as explanation” tendency in romance as it’s particularly obvious in a lot of paranormals.

For example, we’ve been talking the Twilight series of late (with the movie out so recently – PS, I saw this weekend and swooned like a 15 year-old). 

SPOILER ALERT, in case there is someone out there who hasn’t read yet.

In Breaking Dawn, Bella is revealed to have a power that turns out to be the exact opposite of Edward’s power.  Oh, perhaps Bella just happened to move to Forks where she just happened to meet Edward who just happened to be able to hear everyone in the entire world’s thoughts save hers.   And perhaps I could assume that Bella just happened to meet Jacob who just happens to love her until it’s clear, once Bella has Nessie, that Jacob was really connected with the parts of Bella that would become Nessie.  And that relationship, with Jacob able to remain immortal and Nessie to be immortal just happened to work out perfectly.

Maybe I could believe all that.  But, I’m probably not supposed to assume that it’s all just coincidence.  Instead, I’m sure I’m supposed to assume that fate was at play, that these folks all found their soul mates, despite unreasonable supernatural complications.

In another example, I’ve been reading JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  Like many other vampire series the protagonists are super duper old with many of the vampires alive for hundreds of years.   Yet, it seems that all of them are going to find their soul mates within months of one another. 

The explanations are good.  For Twilight, Edward is uncontrollably attracted to Bella’s scent.  In JR Ward’s stuff, Rhage initially falls for Mary’s voice for example.  In numerous other stories, there is something that just draws the hero and heroine together.  Smells, sounds, the feel of them, something.   It’s the chicken or egg debate whether fate caused the attraction or the attraction is because of fate.

Before I sound too sarcastic, I admit to loving both the Twilight books and Ward’s series.  I mean no disrespect.  Both authors are incredibly talented.

I just started wondering about the use of fate, or some manifestation of it in regard to body odor or what have you, as a catalyst for love, for soul mating, in fiction.

I think that to some degree, fate plays a role like this in every book.  We assume that our hero and heroine are supposed to be together.  The glittery hoo-ha, etc.  But in paranormals, the trend seems to be more overt than that.  There are prophecies and visions; there are angels and hardly known scripture passages suggesting the coupling. 

My question to you is does any of that make it harder for you, as a reader, to believe in the happily ever after?  If a couple’s happiness is heavily manipulated by fate, does that make you sigh or frustrate you?  If it’s satisfying, why?   If it’s annoying, why?

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Little Tuesday Fun: Career Options

I always was a straight-laced, straight A student,
Teacher’s pet and child prodigy,
Though I wasn’t going to get rich throwin’ a basketball,
I had dreams about my future, you see.

So I sat down with momma and daddy,
Who tried to veer me to a teachin’ degree,
But the best advice that I ever got
Was from my best friend, Frances Marie:

Just get you a laptop and learn how to type,
Get a couple characters, make sure they snipe,
Soon you’ll be in be a world where you’re thoroughly hooked,
Find a few good CPs, write a book,
Write a book, write a book.

And all those boys that were too cool to talk to,
They’ll be wondering if you’re as hot as your scenes,
You’ll be infamous in your own hometown,
You’ll be popular with the hottie Marines.

Just get you a laptop and learn how to type,
Get a couple characters, make sure they snipe,
Soon you’ll be in be a world where you’re thoroughly hooked,
Find a few good CPs, write a book,
Write a book, write a book.

Write a book, scrape up some words, get a hook,
Learn POV and how to microwave cook,
Be groped by your honey in every nook.


Just get you a laptop and learn how to type,
Get a couple characters, make sure they snipe,
Soon you’ll be in be a world where you’re thoroughly hooked,
Find a few good CPs, write a book,
Write a book, write a book.

No need to teach, write a book
Call up some kooks and write a book….

Guess what's been playing on my radio lately? And what dream career did you have as a kid that probably horrified your parents the most? (Vegas Show Girl.) Which one did you have they most wished you'd taken? (Teacher, obviously.) And anyone getting any writing done? (Not nearly as much as Kelly.) It was NaNoWrMo...and though I did not sign up, I know many of you did it.

Special Guests Coming Soon!

This Thursday we celebrate the return of Christie Craig and Faye Hughes to the Revenge.  They'll be talking about following your gut and finding your genre.  This one is NOT TO BE MISSED!  Both of these authors are fonts of priceless information when it comes to writing.  And they also know a thing or two about life.  So be here this Thursday with Christie Craig and Faye Hughes.  One lucky commenter will win one of Christie's books as well as some fun animal notecards (I have them and they're great!) and a pen. 

Plus, Christie Craig's WEDDINGS CAN BE MURDER is up for 2008 Best Romantic Suspense from Romantic Times so we have another reason to party.  Not that we need a reason.....
Sunday, December 7, 2008

Writing By Numbers

It's well known that I don't have much leisure time these days.  Which means instead of taking a week or two to read a book, it takes me months.  This means I'm even pickier about what I choose to read.  In more than two decades of reading Romance, I've almost never given up on a book.  But in the last year I've lost track of how many books I've tossed away.  It makes me wonder if the problem is me, or if the books just aren't as good as they used to be.  Odds are it's a little of both.


Right now I'm reading an Historical and though I'm far enough in that I'm really enjoying it now, it was touch and go at first.  The problem was the obvious formula.  Things I enjoyed about Romance before I'm now finding irritating.  Here's my list of formula ingredients for Historicals.


1)     Instant attraction – The moment the hero sets eyes on the heroine, he feels an attraction like nothing he's ever known.  Though we know he's been chasing skirts and lusting over any glimpse of ankle for at least ten or fifteen years, he's *never* met anyone like the heroine.

2)     Vanishing Virtue – Somehow the heroine, a young woman raised in a society where virtue is everything and who knows very little if anything about sex, finds herself wrapped in the hero's arms being kissed senseless.  All brain cells in her pretty little head disappear as soon as the hero is near.

3)     The Declaration – Almost within minutes of meeting, the hero, supposedly a gentleman of the highest honor, declares to the heroine that he will have her in his bed.  He doesn't declare that she will be his wife when she finds herself there, he simply states he will have her, end of argument.

4)     The Denial – Upon above declaration, the heroine denies she will ever grace the hero's bed all the while her mind keeps telling her she will.  She makes a declaration of her own, often insulting the hero whom she finds pigheaded and overbearing then contradicts her own words by falling for a charming smile and a wayward lock of hair.

5)     The Change – This is the moment, often not long after making her acquaintance, that the hero realizes he might be falling in love with the heroine.  In most cases, the hero is a rake who has sworn off ever marrying.  And if he hasn't sworn it off, then he plans on marrying simply to create an heir and doesn't believe in anything as silly as love.  Until he meets the heroine and everything changes.


I admit that all of these ingredients can make a great read and appear almost unnoticeable when in the hands of a gifted author.  But what I want to know is can we write a Romance without them?  Would anyone read a Romance where the relationship is gradual instead of instant?  I think this happens much more often in Contemporaries than in Historicals.  Not sure why. 


What do you think?  Do these ingredients bother you or are they the very things you love about Romance?  Are there other formula ingredients that bother you?  If you're a writer, do you use these devices or do you challenge yourself by trying to avoid them?  As a reader, have you gotten pickier about what you read and how often do you find yourself rolling your eyes by page four?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pamela Clare talks Scots, her new release, UNTAMED and Never Before Seen Excerpts! Oh My!


*Sin climbs the rigging to the crow’s nest with a mega phone* Wenches! Pirates!


*Hellion rolls her eyes and pushes Capt’n Jack into a dark corner*

*Terri grabs another glittery hooha and makes eyes at a deck hand*

*Marnee’s flirting with the new hottie of the week, fluttering her eyelashes*

*Readers are merrymaking with our previous hotties and pirates we’ve kidnapped*


*Sin yells into the mega phone*  The ship is on fire!


*chaos ensues and everyone swings around to give Sin the death eye*


*Sin grins* Now that I have your attention…


Hellion- You can’t be serious! 


Sin- As a deadly eyelash to the back of your neck.


*Ter moves closer to Hellion and looks over her shoulder* I told you not to provoke her.


*Marn grimaces but tries to smile* She’s only teasing.


*Hellie and Ter both roll their eyes* You sleep with one eye open.


*Marn grins* Someone has to watch the rations of men.


*Sin clears her throat* Yeesh! Pay attention! We have a guest on board!!


*Pamela Clare rises from the sea like a siren and steps off her magical wave and onto the deck*


*Everyone on deck instantly fan squeals*  Pamela!!


Pamela- “My thanks to you for havin’ me back aboard your fine ship. I return wi’ a new tale I’ve penned for you. But I’ll speak nary a word till my cup is brimmin’ wi’ rum…”


*Sin flips down from the crow’s nest and sneaks up behind the wenches* Boo!


*Ter and Marn squeal*

*Hellie tugs at her shirt sleeves- appearing unruffled*


Sin- Since I couldn’t wait to have Pamela Clare back on the ship and tell us another wonderful tale and corrupt her some more, I’ve kidnapped her!


*All wenches and pirates nodding by this wonderful feat!*


*Pamela saunters by Chance and Chance gives her a glittery hooha*


*Pam blinks and looks back at the pirates*  A glittery hooha?


*Pirates and Wenches holding up their drinks* Rum soaked goodness.


*Pam looks unsure and takes a drink. The smiling grows as she keeps drinking*


*Sin claps her hand and pirates and wenches part like the red sea and she steers Pamela to the bow of the ship* Now, let’s get her drunk and wind her up so she’ll spill all her secrets!


*Pam gives Sin the look*


*Sin whistles and looks innocent. She tips PC’s glass up further* I mean, let’s be nice and ask her questions about her greatness.


*Pam drinking her drink and looking suspicious*


Let’s get this show on the road! Without further ado- I give you the most wonderful, and bestestest (shut up, Hellion, it’s a word) Pamela Clare (THE author of I-Team series and five historical romances including her newest release UNTAMED!) She’s going to share with us a never before seen excerpt of UNTAMED that was cut in the final edits and a tale from the MacKinnon brothers.




This tale I’ve put to words, ’tis about Morgan MacKinnon, a son of Scotland, exiled wi’ his da’ and mother and two brothers across the ocean sea to America. He was but a striplin’ lad when the Sassenach avenged themselves on the Highlanders for Culloden. They put his grandda’, laird of Clan MacKinnon, on a prison barge and forced his father, Lachlan MacKinnon, to take his wife, Elasaid, and his wee sons Iain, Morgan and Connor and leave Skye wi’ naught but the clothes upon their backs.


 They sailed westward beneath a troubled sky to the Colony of New Yorke and then journeyed over land upon roads long and weary until they came to Albany. So you’ve heard of Albany? Aye, ’tis that port on the river won from the Dutch, but you’re puttin’ a kinch in my tale, so sit back and hauld your whist, aye?


The brothers watched the wilderness claim first their gentle mother and then their da’. But it could not claim them, for they were young and hale and grew quickly seasoned to this harsh and wild land. In this none aided them more than the Mahican.  Some call them Mohican or Stockbridge Indians, but it matters no’ what you call them. ’Tis one and the same.


The Mahican taught the three brothers how to survive.  They showed them the secrets of the hunt so that they might fill their bellies and no’ starve.  They showed them how to move through the long reaches of the forest wi’out losin’ their way or fallin’ into enemy hands.  And they taught them to fight.


’Twas Iain as the oldest who first earnt his warrior marks, provin’ to the village that he could survive as a man.  Morgan was next, eager to show that he, too, was a warrior of worth.  And Connor?  Och, that lad!  A stubborn lad and full of piss and vinegar, he was!  (And still is if half the tales about him be true!) He earnt his marks a year after Morgan, and proud of them he was!


The three lads might have settled to a life of farmin’ on the land that had been their fathers had Lord William Wentworth no’ spied them comin’ to the aid of whore on the streets of Albany, savin’ her from the knife of a man who’d tupped her but didna wish to pay her fee. Wentworth saw how well the brothers fought, and he kent that ’twas men like them the British needed should they hope to win this war against the French and hold fast to their colonies. He had them placed in shackles and brought before him, and he told them he would see them hanged for murder if they didna take up their rifles and swords and fight for Britain. He tasked them with drummin’ up men who fought as they fought — in the Indian way — and trainin’ them as Rangers. And so the brothers fell under Wentworth’s yoke, chained to a war no’ of their makin’, leaders of a Ranger company.


Iain’s story is known to many of you — how he came to find Annie in the wild and save her from a war party of French and Abenaki, who would have slain first her spirit and then her body if he hadnae stopped them. He chanced his life and those of his brothers and his men to spare her that cruel fate — and paid in pain and blood. But though his back was bloodied by the lash at Wentworth’s command, he gained for his sufferin’ a true wife in bonnie, sweet Annie.


But Morgan’s tale you have no’ heard. It begins in the spring wi’ the trees well budded out and the birds singin’ in the sky.


Morgan bad Iain farewell and led the Rangers northward to Ticonderoga — what the French call Carillon. There they spied upon the French as Wentworth had ordered and made preparations to raid the pier, where a wealth of gunpowder sat in hogsheads, waitin’ to be loaded into French rifles…


Morgan and his Rangers waited.  Until the sun had set and sky was darkened by night, they waited. And then they crept by stealth to pier and fired their muskets at those hogsheads, ready to set the pier aflame! But when they fired those fateful shots, they saw that they had been deceived. For ’twas no’ powder in those casks, but sand! ’Twas a trap!


Morgan ordered his men to fall back, and fall back they did, but no’ as cowards who drop their swords and flee! Nay, those Rangers returned shot for shot as they drew back amongst the trees, laughin’ at the French canon balls and cryin’ out wi’ the Mahican war cry. (’Tis enough to raise the hair on the back of a dead man’s neck, I’d warrant!)


But then Dougie, one of Morgan’s men, fell, pierced through the leg by cruel lead, and Morgan would no’ leave him to be taken captive or killed.  He braved a hail of musket fire, drew Dougie onto his back and ran wi’ him to the safety of the riverbank, sendin’ him on wi’ his men and stayin’ behind to cover the retreat.


He didna see the French soldier in the riggin’.  The first shot caught him in the chest near his right shoulder so that he couldna hold his musket.  Still, he raised his pistol and shot that soldier dead.  But then others came and saw him wounded, a second shot piercin’ his thigh and drivin’ him to the ground.


His strength spent, he consigned himself to death, savin’ his last words for Connor.

“Beannachd leat!” he cried. Blessings go with you, brother!


The last thing he heard afore darkness claimed him was Connor’s anguished cry.


My tale doesna end here, for ’tis near death’s door that Morgan meets his angel, Amalie, whose love will save him from the cruelest of fates, even as it tests his loyalty to his brothers and his men.


Now, keep the rum flowin’ and I’ll be happy to bide shipboard a wee and chat wi’ you.





(The following scene was cut to comply with the publisher’s maximum page count.)


April 19, 1759


New York frontier


Major Morgan MacKinnon lay on his belly, looking down from the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain to the French fort at Ticonderoga below.  He held up his brother Iain’s spying glass—nay, it was now his spying glass—and watched as French soldiers unloaded kegs of gunpowder from the hold of a small ship.  Clearly, Bourlamaque was preparing to defend the fort again.  But if Morgan and his men succeeded in their mission tonight, that powder would never see the inside of a French musket. 

Connor stretched out beside him and spoke in a whisper.  “I cannae look down upon this place without thinkin’ of that bastard Abercrombie and the good men we lost.”

Morgan lowered the spying glass and met his younger brother’s gaze.  “Nor can I, but we didna come here to grieve.”

“Nay.”  Connor’s gaze hardened.  “We’ve come for vengeance.”

Last summer, they’d had no choice but to follow Abercrombie—or Nanny Crombie as the men had called him—to a terrible defeat.  An arrogant bastard who paid no heed to the counsel of mere provincials, Abercrombie had ignored their warnings that Ticonderoga could not be taken without artillery.  He hadn’t believed that the hastily built abatis—the barrier of felled trees and branches that had been piled afore the walls—could hinder trained British Regulars and had ordered his men against the French breastworks with naught but muskets.  Soldiers had become ensnared like rabbits, cut down by French marksmen afore they could reach the walls, victims of their own loyalty and Abercrombie’s overweening pride.

On that terrible day, the Rangers, then under the command of Morgan’s older brother Iain, had taken position to the northwest together with Captain Joseph’s Muhheconneok warriors and had fired endlessly at the French marksmen, trying to dislodge them.  But the French had turned cannon upon them and pounded them into the ground.  So many had been lost—good men and true, men with families, men who’d fought beside them from the beginning. 

’Twas here they’d lost Cam—and dozens more. 

Dead for naught.

When Abercrombie had finally sounded the retreat and the smoke had cleared, the fort had stood just as it had afore.

Never had Morgan seen such senseless death—and at the age of seven-and-twenty he’d seen death enough to sicken a man’s soul.  For nigh on four years, he and his brothers had lived and breathed war.  Forced by that whoreson Wentworth to choose between fighting for Britain or being hanged for a crime they had not committed, they’d taken up arms against the French and their Indian allies, harrying them with ambuscades, seizing their supplies, fighting them in forest and fen.  They’d slain fellow Catholic and heathen alike, burying their own dead along the way.

Morgan had never imagined that he, as a MacKinnon, would fight the French, traditional allies of all Scotsmen still faithful to Church and Crown.  During the Forty-Five, the French had aided the Highland clans, including Morgan’s grandfather—Iain Og MacKinnon, laird of Clan MacKinnon—in their vain struggle to drive the German Protestant from the throne.  Then, after the disastrous defeat at Culloden, the French had given refuge to many an exiled Scot, saving countless lives from the wrath of Cumberland.  Even now France sheltered the rightful heir to the throne, bonnie Charles Stuart.  Every true Scotsman owed the French a debt.

Aye, it was a devil’s bargain that had spared Morgan and his brothers the gallows.  Father Delavay, the French priest Iain had kidnapped last year when he’d had need of a priest to marry Annie, said the sin was not theirs but Wentworth’s.  And yet absolution stuck in Morgan’s throat, for it was not bloody Wentworth who pulled the trigger on his rifle, but he himself.

If anything gave him peace, it was knowing that Iain was now out of the fray, settled on the MacKinnon farm with Annie and little Iain, the firstborn of a new generation of MacKinnons.  Wentworth had released Iain from service, not because he’d wished to spare Iain, but because he was besotted with Annie.  Whatever the cause for Wentworth’s mercy, Morgan was grateful.  He’d never have found the courage to face Annie had Iain been slain in battle—or worse—taken captive.

Morgan saw something move in the dark forest below, heard the slow click of rifles being cocked around him, and felt a warm swell of pride.  He rarely needed to give orders.  Having fought side by side for so long, the Rangers thought and moved as one.  There were no better fighters in the Colonies, no men better suited to the hardship of this war.  ’Twas an honor to lead them, as Iain had done afore him.

Morgan closed the spying glass, raised his rifle, cocked it.  But it was not French scouts who emerged from the green wall of forest, but Captain Joseph’s warriors, eighty men in black and white war paint moving swiftly and silently through the shadows.  They’d been watching the Rangers’ west flank on the long march northward and had gone on to scout out the French sentries while Morgan and his men surveyed the fort from above. 

Morgan lowered his rifle and whispered to Joseph in the Muhheconneok tongue.  “You thrash about like a randy bull moose.  We heard you coming from a league away.   You might have been shot.”

Joseph grinned.  “There is more to fear in a bee’s sting than in your muskets.  My blind granny has better aim.”

Bonded by blood to Morgan and his brothers, Joseph Aupauteunk was the son of a Muhheconneok chief and a fearsome warrior.  He and his father had come to the MacKinnon farm, bringing gifts of dried corn and venison that had helped Morgan and his family survive their first bitter winter of exile in the colonies.  Though Morgan’s mother—God rest her soul—had at first been terrified of Indians, a lasting friendship had grown between Morgan’s family and the Mahicans of Stockbridge.  ’Twas Joseph and his uncles who’d taught Morgan and his brothers to track, to fight, to survive in the wild.  As for what Joseph’s sisters had taught them, Morgan was too much of a gentleman to say—without a gill or two of whisky in his belly.

Morgan switched to English so that those among his men who did not speak Muhheconneok could understand.  “What does Bourlamaque have waitin’ for us?”

It was time to plan their strategy.




Okay, readers and writers of the Romance Writer’s Revenge it’s your turn! Since we’ve kidnapped Pamela Clare and we’re not giving her back no matter what they offer for her, let’s talk to her about craft! Ask, ask, ask! Ask her lots of questions and you have a chance to win the signed book of your choice from among her eight titles!!!