Sunday, April 24, 2011

Second in Line, But First in Our Hearts! By Allure Van Sanz

No, I’m not talking about Prince Harry, who is living in the shadow of his brother making questionable choices. I’m talking about secondary characters writers and readers grow to love.

For me, I don’t start off adoring my secondary characters. I love my hero and heroine (or heroes or heroines—or any combination)—my love for them is what drives me to write the story.

And yet, I have noticed, while writing my secondary characters, I come to love them more and more, and by the end of the story, with my main characters happy and together—I’m totally in love with my secondary character(s) and wanting to write their story.

My first example is Grey. Grey is from my Indie release, Murder Creek; a book I wrote using the role-playing logs between myself and Random Wicks as inspiration. Grey is a Nomad (think sexy elf meets sexy bad-boy biker) who has a fascination with the 80’s. He’s best friends with Vic, a buddy he’s known all his life, and not very happy with the new girl in Vic’s life. Grey’s a funny guy. Random always wrote him funny, so when I was writing him in the book, I was nervous. Every scene in Murder Creek came out with relative ease…except the ones with Grey in them. I had one of those Top Gun moments after I finished the first draft of the book and was going through to tighten characters, setting, and emotions. “Talk to me, Goose(Grey).”

Dead air.

He either wasn’t ready to talk or I was too worried to listen. And then one day…it happened. I inserted a stake-out scene. Vic and Grey are outside of the heroine’s place, waiting for her to make a move. Originally, the scene went like this:

Grey bit down on a dried sliced banana, staring out his windshield at the warehouse in front of them.

Two and a half stories high, the building had a ramp sloping from the sidewalk down to a roll-down garage door. Great for parking an expensive car in a piece of shit neighborhood. The windows of the first floor were boarded up, and from what he could see of the second, the small tile-like windows in various shades of green and fogged gray were missing a few panels.

“You’re positive this is her place? I mean, the garage entrance is bangin’ but the rest ain’t much.”

Vic held a pair of binoculars and peered up at the soft glow coming from the second story. “I’m positive. You see the little panes missing in those factory windows? They’re strategic, easy to put a gun through in every direction to snipe someone who might be gunnin’ for you. There’s fresh brick at each of the corners too, probably hiding new sensors that will tell her if anyone is on the roof or on the sidewalk surrounding the building.” His finger pointed, tracing the bricks in the distance. “Same thing by the garage. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were machine guns that lowered from the overhang to shoot anyone that got too close to her car. It’s a damned fine car.”

“We’ve been here a while and haven’t seen shit. I hope you’re not wrong.”

“I saw her leaving a flaming gift behind and followed her here. Or near here. She turned the corner and I lost her. This seemed the perfect place.”

“What’s that shit?” Grey asked, nodding his head toward the object between them.

Vic looked at the box next to him and smiled. “I stole it. It’s a cell phone recorder. You point this cone-thing toward the target and it locks onto the cell line. It tapes everything. The little lights blink when it’s picking something up.”

After writing the new scene, I felt blah. BORING! I took a shower like it would help wash away my epic failure. The second the water hit my face I heard. “Flaming gift?? You think I’d let that shit slide?” I laughed out loud, jumped out of the shower and ran to my keyboard to type up the “true” scene.

“I saw her leaving a flaming gift behind and followed her here. Or near here. She turned the corner and I lost her. This seemed the perfect place.” Vic lowered the binoculars and caught Grey staring at him as though he lost his damned mind. “What?”
“Flaming gift?”

“Yeah,” Vic shrugged. “A corpse. Deceased target. You know…a gift.”

“Yeah, Vic. I got that. Who the hell calls them that? I thought they were packages.”

“Package is military. Besides…flaming package?”

“Well Gran calls dogshit ‘gifts’.”

They both quieted for a moment.

“She torched a corpse in an alley.” Vic conceded.

“Much better.” Grey tilted his snack bag in Vic’s direction. “Monkey chips?”

Vic took one and brought his eyes back to the building. “Flaming package.”

They laughed.

“Speaking of the military, what’s that shit?”

And that, my friends, is the reason I fell in love with Grey.

But secondary characters, to me, don’t have to be people. Sometimes, I fall in love with a setting or atmosphere. In my newest release—out now titled Love Revisited: Davit and Jenova—the ghosts who haunt the ruins and the ruins itself are my secondary characters, and one of the reasons I wanted to revisit Davit and Jenova’s story.

In this book, Jenova convinces the spirits to help her take control of her head-strong lover, and show him the joys of complete submission—whether he likes it or not!

Here’s an excerpt I hope gives you a sense of the atmosphere: 

“Something feels a little screwy,” Davit said, clapping his hands free of dirt.

An hour after they were forced to abandon their rented Rover and walk deeper into the jungle, their camp was finally set up, and just in time. The sun painted the sky gold and peeked through the dense trees as it sank toward the horizon. Darkness would come soon…and with it the entities Jenova and Davit had grown to think of as their tribal family.

…Their bizarre, long dead, tribal ghost family.

“We’re here on our annual visit with a tribe that’s been dead for centuries. Something is screwy, Davit, and it’s probably us.”

He gave her the look she’d come to love, the one that said “I’m gonna spank your ass in a second”. She was totally okay with that.

She grinned.

“It’s different, Jen. There’s usually a tremor inside me. Like I can feel them when we get here. But there’s nothing. I felt a flutter when I was pitching the tent but now… I dunno. Something’s up.”

Davit wasn’t the paranoid type. If he thought something was off, then something was.

Gazing around the canopy of trees, up to the steep steps of the ancient temple, she looked for a wisp, a sign—a bird flying backwards or some crap. But Davit was right. Nothing out of the ordinary. The jungle teemed with life, but the dead were silent.

Years ago when he’d first brought her here to the ruins, she’d witnessed the magical energy of the place. The hum of the people who once inhabited the jungle prayed at the altar she’d been strapped to, and poured their souls into the very soil she’d stood on. Before her eyes they’d turned from specters into spectators on the full moon, eager to be part of the living again.

They celebrated her and Davit’s love making, rejoiced in its power and ability to revive their spirits.

And year after year, as promised, she and Davit came back, bringing with them the gift of existence for the duration of the solstice.

“Hm. Maybe we need to head to the altar?” For her, that’s where all the magic began. It only made sense they’d have to return if the mojo was too weak to—

Yes, bring him, came the whispers.

Jenova smiled. It was time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on secondary characters, whether you’re a reader or a writer. Thank you so much for stopping by, and as a reward for doing so, I’ll be giving away a copy of Love Revisited: Davit and Jenova for every six commenters.
You can come visit me any time here:
Murder Creek is a full-length novel available for just 99 cents on Amazon:
Love Revisited: Davit and Jenova is available here:

A big thank you to Rochelle for hosting me this holiday weekend! Thank you so much!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lara Nance, Author of Memories of Murder

I’d like to welcome my first guest author, Lara Nance. Her first book, Memories of Murder, came out in March.  Let’s get to know her better…

RIW: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

LN: Right now, I’m a nurse practitioner. I live on my sailboat with my hubby and our dog in Norfolk, Virginia. I write in every spare minute I can find, hoping eventually to make that my full time job.

RIW: How long have you been writing?
LN: I started writing in 1985, but didn’t get serious about being published until about 3 years ago.

RIW: What is/are your favorite genre/s?
LN: I love sci-fi and fantasy, as well as mysteries and thrillers the most. But I sample all the genres at one time or another.

RIW: Who are your favorite authors?
LN: Frank Herbert, who wrote Dune, my favorite book of all time. I also like George R.R. Martin, John Grisham, Jane Austin, Georgette Heyer, Anne McAffrey…yep, a wide variety!

RIW: When do you get your best writing done?
LN: After dinner. I put on my headphones and listen to music while my hubby watches TV and write until it’s time for bed.

RIW: What is a typical day like for you?
LN: Get up, go to work at the day job, come home, spend time with the hub, have dinner and write.

RIW: What else have you published?
LN: In addition to Memories of Murder which came out in March, Crescent Moon Press will be releasing Dealers of Light in May.

RIW: If you went to “that God-forsaken rock the Moon,” what one special thing would you take
LN: My Samsung Tablet.

RIW: Tell us about your current book. 
LN: It’s a paranormal romance about a witch who gives up her powers after a traumatic event. She’s also a nurse practitioner, like me J. Then she struggles with that decision when she ends up working in a place that was built on the site of an old insane asylum and an evil spirit from the past starts killing people.

Tag Line : A bewitching paranormal romance

RIW: How can we reach you?

Buy Link:

After Maeve renounces her powers as a witch and moves to Virginia to start a new life, the last thing she expects to see is a man jump to his death the second she gets out of her car. She also doesn’t expect to fall in love with the town’s sexy sheriff, Paul, the son of one of her Alzheimer patients. Unfortunately, as their relationship intensifies, so does the energy of the malicious presence haunting the old asylum whose ruins lie beneath where Maeve works.
When a century old journal with ties to the asylum’s long forgotten cemetery surfaces, Maeve must conquer her inner demons and harness the magic she’s denied in order to stop the murders. If she doesn’t, she and Paul may be the phantom asylum killer’s next victims.

Copyright © 2011 Lara Nance
All rights reserved — a Crescent Moon Press publication
"Ready?" Maeve found Paul sitting in the foyer near the Golden Acres entrance. He had changed out of his uniform into black slacks, a white Polo shirt, and a tan raw silk blazer.
"Yes, let's go. I'm in the Range Rover over there." Paul pointed.
The tingle of excitement had returned upon seeing him. She walked to her car, a little breathless. Hopefully they could talk about more than ghosts and evil spirits tonight. She'd shut herself off from others since the attack, filled with guilt and fear. But she was desperate to get over the closed-off feeling that lingered and to connect emotionally to others.
She followed Paul's car past the guardhouse, down the winding road alongside the mountain, and into downtown Rolling Gap. The view over the ravine to her right took her breath away. Jagged rocks interspersed with mountain laurel and cedar trees made a spectacular combination.
Paul sped away from her, going faster and faster. She frowned. Was he showing off? If so, it wasn't funny. It was dangerous. Two of his wheels came off the road around a turn. When the tires landed back on the pavement, the brake lights remained red, but his car went faster. Her heart nearly stopped. Something had to be wrong with his car.
She increased her speed as much as she dared and lost her breath when he skidded around another curve, almost losing control. He could be killed! Instinct took control. Raising one hand from the wheel, she strained her fingers outward. She recited the words of old, and a silvery stream of mist flew from her hand. A sheen of perspiration dotted her upper lip as she twisted her fingers, melding strands of magical gossamer together to form a web that attached to Paul's car. She pulled back on the strands and kept the vehicle from sliding off the edge of the ravine. Her voice grew louder. She tried to direct the path of the car with the web, but only managed to slow it. The best she could manage was to force the SUV into a tree to completely halt its progress.
She skidded to a stop beside him, jumped out, and ran to his door. Clouds of dust swirled up around them. He clutched both arms around the wheel, and a small cut on his forehead oozed blood. She wrenched open the door, and he tumbled out, keeping a hand on his arm as he looked back at his car.
"What the..."
"Paul, get in my car. Now. We have to get out of here."
"The brakes just gave out on my truck. But I don't know how it stopped."
"That's not what happened. You have to trust me. We have to get away from this place," she pleaded.
He hesitated a second, then slammed his door shut and pushed her toward the driver's side. He climbed into the passenger seat.
"Go." He barked out the order with one hand on the dash.
He groaned and touched his head. She put the car in gear and hit the accelerator. She was glad he didn't question the need for urgency or where she was taking him. She couldn't explain anything until they were safely inside the protective barrier the Gems had spelled around her cabin.
They were only five minutes from her place, but it felt like an eternity getting there. She flew up the dirt road and skidded to a stop at the front door. Her mind reeled over what had just occurred. There was no denying she had her powers back, and she was grateful her witch instincts had taken control. If she had paused to think, Paul would be dead. But how had the binding broken?
"Maeve, wait a minute..."
"Come on." She frantically pulled him inside the cabin, slammed the door shut, and took a deep breath. Liadan gazed up at her.
"Damn it, Maeve, what happened?" He spun her around to face him. His fingers dug into her upper arms.
"Come in, Paul. Sit down, and I'll try to explain." She breathed a sigh of relief as the grip on her arms relaxed. He followed her into the living room and sat on the sofa. She ran into the bathroom for the first aid kit and her medical bag.
She knelt before him, cleaned the wound on his forehead, and put a Band-Aid on it, even though he tried to brush away her ministrations. Then she checked his eyes and neurological status. No sign of cranial injury other than the small cut. Pulse was up, but then, so was hers. He had not sustained a serious injury. She had been so afraid the vehicle was going too fast when she moved it to crash into the tree, but it appeared he hadn't hit his head very hard.
"My brakes gave out completely, and yet somehow my vehicle stopped. I don't understand it."
"I know, I know. Just..."
"I'm not stupid. This is almost exactly what happened to my father today."
She nodded.
"You agree?" His brows went up.
"Yes, I do. And if I'm right, the same thing caused both accidents."
She imagined the thoughts that must be running through his head. She had to tell him everything now. If she didn't, he would be dead in the next few days. He needed protection.
She stood up. "Want a glass of wine? This is going to be a long conversation."
"Since I was just nearly killed, how about some whisky?" He fell back against the sofa. Liadan put her paws on his chest and licked his face.
Maeve walked into the kitchen, trying to figure out how she'd gotten her powers back. It dawned on her that the morning after the Gems had arrived, her tea was not in its regular spot on the counter. She'd assumed her mother had only been cleaning, but apparently she'd also switched the contents of the jar to non-spelled tea.
She reached into the cabinet for the tea container and looked at it, shaking her head, then laughed. Never had she been so glad for the Gems meddling in her life. She threw it in the trash and returned to the living room with glasses, red wine, and a small bottle of George Dickel, missing a few sips. "Here you go."
He took the whiskey and tossed back a shot, then poured another glass, which he held between his hands. "So, what is it that tried to kill me and my father today?"
"You're not going to believe me at first, but if you'll hear me out, I think I have a pretty good case."
He gestured with one hand for her to begin.
"Everything I've seen and heard, all the information in the journal, points to the presence of an evil spirit. I believe it's the spirit of Dr. Colton Carterage."
Paul stared at her for several moments. "You're serious."
"Completely." She poured herself a glass of red wine from the freshly opened bottle and sat in the chair across from him. A tingle of energy floated in the air. She recognized a witch cat at work. She tried desperately not to laugh at Liadan working her little cat magic on him, licking his face, nuzzling his chest, pushing her paws against his arm. He couldn't have known what was happening, but darling LiLi was removing the mists of doubt from Paul's eyes.
Maeve explained about patients in the dementia unit seeing the ghosts of people described in the book. She told him about the white deer and why the limb had fallen. When she came to the part she dreaded most, she looked at LiLi, and the cat complied. She curled up in his lap, purring, increasing the intensity of her witchy magic to strengthen his belief.
"There's one more thing you need to know. My mother, my aunts...and me...we're witches."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dental Care Redux

This will be a short-lived rant, to bring you up to date on my search for teeth.

After I came home from the Lake County Public Health Dental Clinic I cried most of the day and evening.  Both my younger daughter, Christine, and an author friend told me about a place called Affordable Dentures.  It is apparently a franchise with branches all over the country.  I researched them and not only were their dentures half the price of the Public Health Clinic, but they had a credit company that accepted my credit for the price of the partial plates I needed.

The closest location to me is about fifty miles away, but there is one about ten miles from Christine’s home.  She lives in Paris, Illinois and there’s one in Terre Haute, Indiana where they do all of their shopping.  I planned the trip for the first Monday in April, when my Social Security came in.  Unfortunately, Christine’s home is very small and they did not have space for me to stay with them, so I stayed with my ex-boyfriend, Raymond in Rantoul, IL.

Monday, April 4 was not the best day to go over to Terre Haute.  I got very little sleep Sunday night.  I tried to go to bed early and read myself to sleep, but I’m a night person.  It was about one when I finally got to bed.  A thunder storm awoke me at two-thirty and Raymond came in to get me up, thinking it was five-thirty.  An hour later, I thought I felt his cat jump on the bed.  It was not her.  I’ve felt that before in his room—I think it’s haunted by a cat.  I had asked another neighbor to be my designated driver in case they agreed to pull all of my teeth and do full plates.  Raymond is legally blind and could not drive me.  At four-thirty, she called to say she was sick.  I didn’t have an appointment—it was strictly walk-in and you have to be there by nine to get same-day service.  I should have waited one more day.  Instead, I roused myself, got out the door almost an hour late, sped through pouring rain, got lost looking for them and crushed my rear fender parking my car.  In all, the trip cost me about $55.00 in gas (and I drive a Prius) and the damage to my car has been estimated at between $1,100 and $1,500.

I am still toothless.  First, Affordable Dentures in Terre Haute does not accept credit for less than $1,000.  And, after looking at my mouth, the dentist there said that my bite was so askew, he did not feel qualified to produce dentures for me.  So, I cried my way over to Christine’s, gummed a salad for lunch and took a nap in her recliner.  I stayed until supper time and got to at least hug my grandkids when they got home from school and spend an hour or so with them before I drove back to Rantoul for another night at Raymond’s.

When I got home I found a local dentist who agreed to at least do a lower partial plate for me.  We got as far as taking impressions when the bookkeeper came in with the bill: $1,700.  We called the credit company and I was honest about my income.  It occurs to me that maybe I should have lied.  I wonder if they would even have checked.  Since my income is $1,033/month, they would only extend my credit to $1,000.  So, again, I came home toothless, and toothless I remain.

If you write for a living, my advice to you is:  get your teeth fixed before you quit your day job if you have dental insurance.  Or move to a country that provides dental care.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Six Sentences from Rock Bound

Jake saved Annie’s life. Now slaves on that God-forsaken rock, the Moon, how will they survive?

This excerpt is from the first chapter.  Rock Bound is now available in paperback at Create Space and Amazon, and in multiple e-book formats at Smashwords.  See my website for more information.

Paul’s head lolled forward, the charred hole still smoking, and Annie fell to the ground trying to cradle him. She sobbed, crying “No! No! No!” Crystal’s arms were around her, as she sat on the ground, clutching her dead husband. People were trying to run but there was nowhere to go. Annie felt Jake fall atop her and Crystal. Oh, my God! He’s dead, too!

To see what other six sentences of other authors’ works, check out Six Sentence Sunday.