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Posts Tagged ‘The Turning Stone Chronicles’

Friday Features

We talk about

Taking a free trip to Scotland

Many books require research, and The Mercenary and the Shifters was no exception. We had to research a bunch of things for this book, but our favorite was the Hebrides Islands in Scotland. It’s a lot of fun when your book requires you to visit other countries. In The Mercenary and the Shifters-Book Four of The Turning Stone Chronicles, our hero goes to the Hebrides in Scotland.

We have never been to Scotland, but it’s somewhere Catherine has always wanted to go, so we set off to discover these remote islands with our hero, Mike Corritore, who lands in Benbecula airport in the Hebrides in the early dawn.

From the airport we headed south for South Uist, crossing a causeway lined on both sides with white boulders. Back on land, the road periodically narrowed into a lane and a half, the bulged-out lanes barely big enough to hold a vehicle. Houses dotted the landscape, surrounded by fields of low, green grass. Squat, wire fences penned in white sheep, grazing contentedly. Along the edge of the road, bushes leaned into the pavement, the tips of the branches sporting white blossoms.

En route for Loch Baghasdail, we crossed a second causeway. Just past the end of the causeway, a series of small, deep blue lakes dotted the countryside. As the road moved inland the landscaped changed. Fewer houses appeared along the roadside. Bleached, white boulders jutted from the ground like cemetery markers. The flat, slightly curvy road became straight, with low, rolling rises. Gray mountains, their tops ringed in matching gray haze, lay against the horizon on the left. The scenery was beautiful, bucolic, and stark at the same time.

Do you want to know the best part about this trip? It didn’t cost us a dime.

We went via Google Maps to the Scottish countryside. Ain’t the internet wonderful?

Maybe someday we’ll get to see the Hebrides in person. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy our hero’s trip to Scotland, the exciting action-packed story, and the results from the fun research we did for this story.

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The heroine of our book, Son of the Moonless Night, with ten facts about her.

One of the fun things about creating characters is coming up with quirks, personality traits, and interesting tidbits about their personal background. Katrina Romanovski is one of our reader’s favorite characters. We’ve already been asked if she is going to appear in another book. Much to the reader’s dismay, we wouldn’t reveal the answer.

Here are ten interesting facts about Katrina Romanovski, the heroine from our new book, Son of the Moonless Night-The Turning Stone Chronicles, book three.

    1. She is from Transylvania but not Romania. We do solve this mystery in the book.
    2. She hunts paranormals. Hates vampires. And swears by Count Dracula.
    3. She wears a huge Celtic cross as a talisman against vampires.
    4. She not only hunts paranormals, but she’s had her share of paranormal boyfriends. No zombies please, they’re just too creepy.
    5. She is a blonde version of NCIS’s forensic scientist Abby but with a medical degree.
    6. She decided to leave her father’s paranormal hunting business because she was looking for normalcy in her life. Instead she found Owen, the hero of Son of the Moonless Night, a shape shifter.
    7. She is part gypsy, on her father’s side. Her mother is British. Prim-and-proper breeding war with Katrina’s gypsy walk-on-the-wild side. The gypsy usually wins.
    8. She has traveled the USA as an FBI agent but now likes Cleveland, the mistake by the lake.
    9. She loves Italian food but has trouble cooking it, especially when Owen is around.
    10. She spends a lot of time in alleys.

Here is a little more about Katrina from the book:

A crash in the alley stopped Katrina Romanovski mid-stride. Like the October mist swirling in off the lake, her gypsy blood stirred sending her intuition into high gear. Something unnatural was happening.

Go see what’s wrong. She heard her father’s voice as clearly as if he stood next to her.

On the heels of his words came her mother’s pragmatic warning in clipped British tones. You know what curiosity killed. Katrina pushed the ever-present warning aside. Mom never approved of Dad’s supernatural hunts and even less of his drawing her into them.

Pulling the oversized cross she always wore out from under her shirt, Kat looked around for a weapon. Please, not a vampire. I hate vampires! A piece of wood sticking out of the trashcan at the front of the alley caught her eye.

Grabbing it, she broke the end off into a sharp point. The mist-filled air filtered the light from the single bulb over one of the alley doorways. The wind swirled the loose trash around making a quiet approach difficult. Sidestepping the paper, with the stake in one hand and holding the gun she took from her purse in the other hand, she crept into the alley.

A roar echoed against the buildings, the sound nearly sending her running. That roar wasn’t a vampire. It sounded more like an animal. Kat inched closer. In the yellow pool of light from the back door of the building, a black bear, over seven feet tall, reared on its back legs and swung its paw at the man standing at the edge of the light. He crashed to the ground, shirt torn open from the slashing claws. Blood covered the fabric, and he clasped his left hand over his shoulder to stem the flow. The bear bent toward him, teeth bared in a smile. A wicked smile.

Kat aimed her gun, but before she could pull the trigger, a shot rang out. The flash of gunpowder lit the face of the injured man. The blast reverberated against the buildings. With an enraged bellow, the bear staggered backward against the wall. Shaking his head, the animal dropped to all four paws. Weaving like a drunk, he lumbered toward his attacker. The man took aim again, shooting the animal between the eyes. Animal and human collapsed on the dirty, littered pavement.

As she started to move forward, Kat’s gypsy senses crawled over her skin like angry red ants. As she slipped back into the shadows, the bear shed fur. Changing size. Then, finally, turning into a man.

Shape shifters. Her stake wasn’t any good against them, and her bullets weren’t silver. This one appeared dead anyway. Had the wounded man seen the shift? Tossing the stake aside, she paused by the shifter and quickly moved to the wounded man. Out cold. Still human.

When she touched him, his eyelids fluttered open. “Did I get it?”

“What?”

“The bear.”

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Our kitchen with an avocado pudding recipe from Catherine.

I (Catherine) have recently discovered avocado puddings. Never heard of them? Well, apparently they are full of good fats, loads of fiber, have a low glycemic index (which is important for those watching their carbs, and they can be made without dairy products, if you are vegan or lactose intolerant). They have the creaminess of instant puddings without the unnatural ingredients that comes in that box. The extra bonus of avocado puddings–they taste good. The kiddos will never know they are eating something good for them. So far I’ve experimented with chocolate, which was super chocolatey and not as sweet as it could have been since I skipped a lot of the sugar. I like to see how low-sugar I can possibly go.

I love pumpkin. Donald not so much. The other day I got a pumpkin craving so I decided to play with avocadoes and pumpkin. This newest culinary invention is a Ginger Pumpkin pudding. I liked it, so I decided to share the recipe. Now I won’t guarantee this recipe that makes 4 servings is low calorie, but there is quite a bit of fiber in it to help offset some of the carbs.

Avocado Ginger Pumpkin Pudding

    1 ripe avocado
    ¾ cup canned pumpkin
    1 ½ – 2 cups vanilla flavored yogurt, divided.
    ½ tsp. lemon juice
    1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    8 small gingerbread cookies, crushed, with 4 tsp. reserved
    Canned whipped cream or make your own
    4 tbsp. shaved chocolate, from a candy bar

Cut avocado in half, discarding pit and skin. Put flesh in a food processer and blend until smooth.

Add pumpkin, and ½ of yogurt, lemon juice and spices to avocado and blend until well mixed.

Spoon remaining yogurt into small glass dessert cups, filling cups about ½ full. Spread evenly in cup.

Spoon pumpkin mixture over the yogurt, spreading evenly.

Cover dishes with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap onto the top of the pudding.

Chill.

When ready to serve, top the pudding with the crushed gingerbread cookies, sprinkling evenly on top of pudding.

Add a dollop of whipped cream to top of pudding. Sprinkle reserved cookies and shaved chocolate on whipped cream.

Enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the dessert to chill, check out The Promised One, the first book in our Turning Stone Chronicle series.

When month and day are the age that is the time
When day and month are the time that is the age
When time and age agree, trinity becomes unity

If a mark didn’t come out of the bar soon, he’d have to change his hunting spot.

Danny Shaw glanced at his watch. In the past hour, only two men—too big for him to handle—had staggered out of the Dew Drop Inn Bar and Grill. He needed someone rich and easy to take down. And soon. If he arrived late again, he’d get canned. And if he lost one more job, he’d lose Lulu.

The door opened, spilling crowd noise and blue haze onto the dimly lit street. He moved back into the shadow of the building. Waiting.

A slender woman walked by, her legs wobbling on spiked heels as the hem of her blue slinky dress swished around her thighs. Whiskey and perfume wafted on the air. As she reached to smooth back her blond hair, a prism flashed on her ring finger.

As his gut tightened, adrenalin pumped through him. Perfect. Tipsy and a rock too. A big haul could make this his last job this week, allowing him more time to spend with Lulu.

He pulled his ski mask down then took his gun from his coat.

Withdrawing a silencer from his left pocket, he screwed it onto the barrel, and stepped out. The woman didn’t notice him, so he scanned the street for witnesses. No one around. Closing the gap, he made his move.

Shaw jammed the gun barrel in her back and hooked her arm. “Don’t scream,” he whispered, “and I might let you live.”

Under his hold, she stiffened. Her high heels tapped rapidly on the pavement as he steered her into the dark, littered alley. When they were well into the shadows, hidden from passersby, he shoved her against the graffiti-covered building. “Gimme your purse and jewelry.”

The woman raised perfectly manicured hands above her head, her shoulder angling toward him as she started to twist around.

“Keep your face to the wall,” he ordered.

She mumbled something into the bricks and then lowered her left hand, dangling a bejeweled handbag behind her head.

“Now the jewelry.” He snatched the purse.

She unhooked her necklace, slipped off her watch and diamond ring, then held them out.

He stuffed them into his pocket. “The other ring, too.”

“That ring has no value. It’s costume jewelry my niece gave me.”

“Take it off.”

“You’ve got my cash and credit cards, and my diamond. Isn’t that enough?”

Damn. He hated when they resisted. “Give me the ring.”

She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “No.”

He jerked her around to face him. “Dammit, woman. Give me the freaking ring or I’ll blow your head off.” He yanked on the band.

Without warning, she swung her hand up, connecting with his jaw. Stunned, he stumbled backward, still clutching the hand with the ring. They fell to the pavement. Her hands clawed at his, and her feet kicked his shins, scrabbling their legs together.

Fighting for control. Fighting for the gun.

Wrapping his legs around hers, he rolled her over and pinned her beneath him with his body. Freeing his hand from her grasp, he slammed her skull on the ground. Her head rolled to the side and she lay still.

Certain he’d knocked her out, he tried to remove the ring from her finger. Suddenly she bolted up, head-banged him, and grabbed his gun hand.

As he struggled to keep control of the weapon, the barrel twisted toward him. Heart pounding, he watched his life flash in front of him.

Abusive childhood. Lousy job. Lulu. The elaborate wedding plans she’d made. He didn’t want to die. Not now.

He wrenched the gun toward the woman. The metallic pfft startled him. Round-eyed shock reflected in the woman’s face.

Shaw’s heart stopped racing as she relaxed in his grip, then amped back up, pounding against his ribs. Shit. Assault, battery, and now . . . murder. Quick and easy money to pay for the wedding. That’s all he’d been after. They’ll put me away for life if I get caught. Lulu’s gonna be pissed if I screw up her wedding plans.

Pushing into a squat, he stared at the dark stain spreading across the dress front. He removed the ring from the woman’s finger. She should have just given it to him.

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

BUY LINKS

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Our suggestions to spot “telling” writing in your WIP.

We’ve all heard the admonition “Show, don’t tell.” When we show we are producing better writing that will capture our readers. Showing, instead of telling, lets editors and agents see you are not an amateur.

In spite of hearing the phrase over and over, many writers don’t know how to recognize “telling” writing. Writing that tells analyzes, generalizes, editorializes and summarizes instead of making the writing interactive and sensory for the reader. Naturally, there will be some generalizations and summarization in your writing, but you need to make sure these elements are in the minority, not the majority of your book. You need to show what’s happening so the reader can create in her own mind the picture you, the writer, want to share.

    To locate telling writing look for:
    • Passive sentences. Often passive sentences, especially those with the word was in them, are a tip-off you might be telling instead of showing. The sentence Sally was angry, is telling. Sally’s lips drew down into a thin, taut line, her jaw working side to side, shows us Sally’s anger. We can deduce from the picture that is painted how Sally feels because we know that look.
    • Passages that have very little sensory information. You can tell us the woman smelled good, was sexy, and she knew it, or you can show it by saying John turned to watch her as she strolled between the restaurant tables, her hips swaying like a belly dancer in slow motion. As she neared she tossed her hair behind her shoulder, casting the scent of violets and vanilla in waves toward him. The fragrance made him salivate. Her perfectly manicured nails trailed along his shoulder as she passed by. He shuddered under her touch and she smiled as he looked up at her. Here we know what the woman smells like, how she walks, how John reacts to her and how she reacts to him. Much stronger than just saying she was sexy.
    • “LY” adverbs. ‘LY” adverbs rob sentences of conciseness and force, making your writing weak. Which sounds stronger? The man yelled loudly or The man roared, the sound drowning out the radio. The dog’s tail wagged happily or The dog’s tail wagged in time to his barks as he bounded around the room. The taxi drove very slowly down the street, or The taxi crept at a snail’s pace down the street.

Get the picture? By adding active verbs, sensory information and using fewer “LY” adverbs, you are showing the reader a snapshot of what’s happening.

Here are a few telling phrases. Choose one, or two if you’re ambitious, and see if you can come up with a better picture.

    • skinny lunatic
    • fanatical nun
    • old paper
    • disgruntled employee.
    • frazzled mother.

Share in the comments what you’ve come up with so everyone can see what you created.

Links for our books are on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

suggestions from Us about ways to keep your characters in turmoil!

We recently came across an old email entitled Instructions for Life. The 45 positive recommendations on the list are meant to help make one’s life better. By turning some of the instructions upside down and we created bad life advice that will keep novel characters in turmoil.

Next time things are going too smoothly with your WIP try throwing one of these in the mix.

    1. Let them believe in love at first sight, but fight it like it can’t exist.
    2. If they make a mistake, don’t let them be too quick to acknowledge it.
    3. Let them fall in love deeply, passionately, and with people they would never choose. They might get hurt, but it’s the only way to live life completely.
    4. Make them fight to keep their values, but make sure they do keep them. No one loves an un-heroic hero.
    5. Remember silence is sometimes the best answer and unanswered questions are always suspect.
    6. Let them dredge up the past; it makes for good conflicts.
    7. Let them read between the lines … a lot. Miscommunication thickens the plot.
    8. Let them slowly discover that not getting what they want is sometimes the best thing that ever happened.
    9. Never let them mind their own business. You can’t get in trouble that way.
    10. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risks, and make them willing to risk everything to get their goals.

Do you have a favorite trick for keeping your characters in turmoil?

Links for our books are on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A story from our past.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Image by Michael Sylvester from Pixabay

At age 18, I (Catherine, the C of C.D. Hersh) decided to cook a dinner for my then boyfriend to show off my homemaking abilities. It was something you did way back then. I planned a four-course dinner to cover all the basics of a meal. I served him two sets of appetizers: shrimp cocktail with homemade cocktail sauce and bacon wrapped hot dogs. A big salad, an entrée and two vegetables, and poached pears drizzled with chocolate sauce for dessert rounded out the meal.

I’ve long since forgotten exactly what I served for the middle portions of the meal because the beginning of the dinner was so spectacular that it is burned in both our memories. The shrimp cocktail was a huge success. I lined the pedestaled dessert cup with lettuce leaves, piled a generous amount of the homemade cocktail sauce in the center and carefully laid the curved shrimps around the edge of the dish. The presentation was exquisite. He was all smiles as he ate my offering.

The next appetizer up was the bacon wrapped hot dogs (recipe below). You could use little smokies or sausages, but hot dogs were the choice that day. I carefully wrapped each hot dog in a strip of bacon, cut them into bite-sized pieces (because a savvy hostess would never serve an entire hot dog as an appetizer), and laid them on a baking rack. The bacon kept falling off. So I hunted for something to skewer the strips of meat to the hot dogs. I finally found a box of toothpicks, or rather a few toothpicks, in the pantry. I counted the number of hot dog pieces I had and then how many toothpicks I had. I was woefully short on toothpicks. So, like any frugal cook, I broke the toothpicks into the number of pieces I needed and carefully stuck them into the hot dogs, making a mental note to remove the skewers before serving. I popped the hors d’oeuvres in the oven and went back to work preparing the rest of the meal.

Then the oven timer rang, I removed the appetizer from the oven, put the next course in to finish cooking, checked that none of the pots were boiling over, plated the hot dogs and proudly presented them to my boyfriend who was in the living room watching television.

“Yumm,” he said. “This looks good.”

Pleased that I hadn’t burned them and that they looked appetizing, I picked up the empty shrimp cocktail dish—which look like it had been licked clean—smiled, and returned to the kitchen. A bit later I returned to the living room to retrieve the hotdog platter. My boyfriend had eaten every single hors d’oeuvre.

As I looked down at the platter my stomach dropped to the floor. “Where are the toothpicks?” I asked anxiously.

“Toothpicks?” he said. “You had toothpicks in them?”

“Yes, to hold on the bacon.” By now my heart was racing. “Did you throw them into an ashtray or the waste basket?” I glanced at the ever-present ashtray sitting beside the sofa. It was empty. So was the wastebasket.

He put his hand to his throat and massaged it. “I thought they were a bit crunchy.”

“You ate them?” I asked in terror.

“You didn’t take them out?” he responded. “Why weren’t they sticking out of the hot dogs?”

I looked at him in dismay. “I didn’t have enough to put in all the hors d’oeuvres, so I broke them into smaller pieces. I must have forgotten to remove them. Oh. My. Gosh! I fed you toothpicks! What if they rip up your stomach or intestines? I may have killed you! I’m soooo sorry.”

He took my accidental murder attempt with great aplomb. “Don’t worry,” he assured me. “I chewed them up real good.”

His assurance didn’t make me feel much better. “Do you want the rest of the meal, or should we go to the emergency room?”

“What are you serving me?”

I told him the menu, and then added, “With no toothpicks in sight. I’ve used them all up on the appetizer.”

“I’ll eat,” he replied. Then we both broke out in gales of laughter. But I kept a real close eye on him for a few days just to be sure.

That boyfriend was Donald (the D of C.D. Hersh), the same man I married a few years later. He didn’t die. I wasn’t indicted for murder, and we’ve lived happily-ever-after for half a century. Occasionally, I serve him a burnt offering, which we laugh about, but I never, never, never break a toothpick for use in meal prep. I can’t even pick one up without remembering that first meal I cooked for him.

I learned an important lesson that day—for a happy life, don’t kill your future spouse.

For your eating pleasure here’s a version of the hotdog hors d’oeuvres, using whole toothpicks.

Bacon Wrapped Hotdog Hors d’oeuvres

    4 hotdogs

    4 slices lean (center cut) bacon, thin slices

    2 slices American cheese (optional)

    Toothpicks (WHOLE)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lay a cookie rack over it.

Wrap one slice of bacon around each hotdog. Secure with WHOLE toothpicks at ends and middle. Place hot dogs on cookie rack.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, turn hotdogs. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until bacon has cooked and crisped.

If using cheese, cut each slice in half and lay a half slice over hot dog and leave in oven until cheese begins to melt.

Remove from oven and cut hotdogs into bite-sized pieces.

REMOVE TOOTHPICKS.

Tip: Cooking the hotdog whole means you won’t need as many toothpicks and will help ensure you don’t puncture your beloved’s intestines when he accidently eats them because you forgot to remove the tiny wooden skewers. ☺

Links for our books are on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Friday Features’

We talk about

Can gardening & writing have anything in common?

Henbit

The warm days this week enabled us to take a stroll through the yard, another put-our-butts-in-the-writing chair avoidance tactic. We found a slew of winter weeds scattered throughout the landscape. Some tiny-leafed, prostrate thing has taken over a portion of the easement making it the greenest it has been in years. Buckhorn plantain spills out between the path stepping stones. Flat rosettes of chickweed carpet the stone gully in the backyard, and henbit, with its scalloped leaves and purple stems, juts out of the grass—or at least what passes for grass in the lawn.

We’re letting the unidentified weed taking over the easement and the lawn. It’s green, low growing, and doesn’t look like it would need much mowing. But after an afternoon of surfing weed identification web sites (another avoidance tactic), we’ve come to the conclusion that we might have to dig out this patch of weeds and eradicate it every other spot we find. You see, if we’ve identified it correctly, we’re harboring shot weed, also known as hairy bittercress. Oh, it looks innocent enough, but when it sets seeds the slightest touch will send hundreds of seeds shooting out in a three-foot radius across the lawn into flowerbeds and pathways looking spots to hide and root.

Jimson Weed

Fighting weeds in the garden is a full-time task. It starts in early spring with digging out winter weeds like plantain, chickweed, and henbit from the paths and flower beds. By the time we get those eradicated the dandelions rear their yellow heads. After that it’s pigweed and purslane and nutsedge and Canadian thistles and Jimson weed and ground ivy and goose grass. Spring and summer progress marked by an army of weeds marching through the garden. We hoe and pull and mulch and spray, and they just keep coming. The only thing that keeps them under control is persistent daily effort—and maybe a hard, hard freeze.

Like the cycle of weeds in the garden, writers face different challenges along every stage of our careers. As soon as we think we have a handle on our craft and profession something new springs up and surprises us. The beginning writer’s weeds might be learning the basics of the craft or finding that story idea or dealing with writer’s block. For some it’s getting to the end of the book, or figuring out what to do with the sagging middle. For the more skilled, unpublished writers the weeds that need pulling could be social networking, getting an agent, or getting published. Whatever the weeds in your writer yard there’s one universal truth—they will always be there. Our job is to figure the best way to control them.

We’re not beginning writers. We know how to write. That has been reinforced with a number of contest placements. We have a good grasp of the skills and have been published. We know our stories and the characters. We even have books waiting in the wings to be written. But we still have writing weeds to pull—BIG ones.

We haven’t finished our series—yet.
We want to write in several genres, which presents branding problem and sometimes an identity crisis.
While we have some social networking and internet connections there isn’t a large following wanting our books—one of the biggest weeds for a lot of writers.
Currently, we spend more time blogging than writing the books.

Gertrude Jekyll, one of the most important British landscape designers and writers, once said, “There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight. It cannot always be done easily; many things worth doing are not done easily; but there is no place under natural conditions that cannot be graced with an adornment of suitable vegetation.”

Gertrude’s advice applies not only to the garden, and all those weedy patches, but to writing as well. The road to success isn’t easy, but we can accomplish it. We can transform those bare, ugly pages into something overflowing with suitable vegetation (the best words and story we can make). When we finally reach that goal it’s worth the work. So, pull those weeds out of your writing garden and create something beautiful!

We’re going to try this year to get rid of our biggest weed and finish our next book.

What are the writing weeds that are stopping you from creating your masterpiece? Do you have a plan to pull them out?

While you figure out what weeds to attack here’s an excerpt from the first book in our series.

In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her secret society mentor has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew his fiery cop partner and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan, had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship—professional or personal.

Danny Shaw needs cash for the elaborate wedding his fiancée has planned, so he goes on a mugging spree. But when he kills a member of the secret society of Turning Stones, and steals a magic ring that gives him the power to shape shift, Shaw gets more than he bargained for.

EXCERPT

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

If this peeks your interest then the links for our books are on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A recurring character in our series The Turning Stone Chronicles and his favorite snack.


In our Turning Stone Chronicles paranormal romance series the Keeper of the Stone, an ancient Scottish man named Eli McCraigen, serves an ever-present cup of tea and scones when serious matters need to be discussed. You’ll see him in every book brewing his tea and serving scones or biscuits of some sort. Our character most likely does this because tea is a breakfast ritual at the C.D. Hersh house.

Catherine loves a good cup of Scottish tea and drinks either a robust cup of Scottish or Irish Breakfast tea every morning. Her Scottish and Irish teas of choice are Taylors brand, imported from across the pond. Donald prefers something with a bit more flavoring and brews a cup of Bigelow Carmel Vanilla tea. Most of the time we have high-fiber toast with our morning tea, but today we wanted to share an authentic Scottish recipe–scones (which when pronounced correctly rhymes with gone).

Catherine got the recipe a number of years ago from a lovely Scottish lady named Rhoda, who immigrated to America at the end of WWII after she fell in love with an American G.I.

We hope you’ll enjoy Rhoda’s scones!

Scottish Scones

    2 c flour
    3 t baking powder
    2 T sugar
    6 T shortening
    ½ t salt
    2 ½ c buttermilk

The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1) that has Eli serving his tea and scones.

Alexi thumbed her cell phone off and shoved it into her pocket. “Rhys should be here in a couple of minutes. Are you sure we need to do this?”

Eli took the screaming teakettle off the stove and poured boiling water into a ceramic teapot. “Aye. We have tae make sure he’s included. We need him.” He dropped three tea bags into the water and set on the lid. “He may not be a shifter, but he has a gun and, unless I miss my guess, isnae afraid to use it. Besides, going off and doing things on our own, without keeping him informed twill only push him away. Tae get him tae accept who he is we need tae draw him in.”

She lined the three mugs on the counter next to the scones Eli had prepared. “I don’t know. He’s been very resistant.”

“So’s a salmon in a bear’s mouth. All that flopping about after he’s been caught is for naught. But if he’d heeded the shadow on the water he might have stayed in the stream.”

“So your strategy is to keep Rhys in water?”

“‘Tis tae make him see the shadow, lassie. That’ll keep him alive and hopefully coming tae our side.”

Alive was good. So was on their side. She rubbed the frown creases between her eyes. Worry deepened the two lines more every day.

“Dinna be afeart. I have a plan.”

That was good, because she was fresh out of ideas. The doorbell rang. Alexi answered it and ushered Rhys into the kitchen.

Rhys eyed the scones and teapot. “Tea party, for me?” He took a scone and bit into it. “I’m not easily swayed by sweets, old man.”

“Yer actions would say different, laddie. But ‘tis for me. I’m an auld man, set in his ways, and ‘tis tea time in Scotland.”

Now if your scones are ready and tea brewed how about checking out our series.
Links for our books are on our book page or under the menu at the top of the page.

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Friday Features

We talk about

Pacing

Six Ways to Keep a Train from Rolling Through Your Scenes

By C.D. Hersh©2012

We’re not talking about stories about locomotives or the walking back and forth you do when waiting for someone. Pacing in writing is determined by the length of the scenes, how fast the action moves, and how quickly the reader is provided with information.

Have you seen the movie “The Descendants” starring Nick Clooney? If you like panoramic views of Hawaii and lots of close-ups of Clooney, then hunt it up on your favorite streaming service. If, however, you prefer a faster paced story, this movie is not the one for you.

When we belonged to a drama group our director was always talking about pacing. She hated pauses that were longer than it took for a ping pong ball to drop from a coffee table. In “The Descendants” you could have driven trains through some of the pauses in the scenes. Can you say sloooooow?

Try as we might, we couldn’t figure out why so many sluggish scenes were needed. Some of the unnecessary scenes included close ups of an angst-ridden Clooney staring out into space, for way too long; pedantic scenes of him buried behind piles of paper at his office desk; more than one silent, plodding hospital scene with Clooney and his family, while the camera panned the room; long camera shots of Hawaii you could have fit four commercials into; and a closing movie scene where the characters spent minutes staring wordlessly at the television. The only thing in the last scene that made a point was the quilt they all snuggled under. Come on, already. Pick up the pace. Even sad stories need to move along at a clip that keeps the viewer, or reader, engaged.

Pacing is such an important part of any story. Too slow and you lose the reader’s attention. Too fast and you leave them wondering what just happened. Here are a six tips to help you keep your story’s pacing moving along.

  • Use more dialogue for faster pacing. We’re not talking about dull “How’s the weather” conversation, unless the story’s about a tornado. Make every word count and tell the reader something new.
  • Don’t repeat information. There’s no need to beat the reader over the head with information. Telling them once that Aunt Millie is dying is sufficient. They’ll remember it. They’re smart.
  • Use action instead of tags in dialogue. You’ll not only speed up the pace, but you’ll show the reader what’s happening.
  • Keep two or more characters on the scene. Think Tom Hanks in Castaway, versus The Transformers.
  • Use narrative or description sparingly. Nothing stops a story like a side trip down memory lane or descriptions of setting and characters. Drop that kind of information into the story in short bites. The reader will still get it.
  • Create tension in the scene. Donald Maas says every scene should have tension, even every page. If you don’t have tension there’s no reason for your reader to turn the page.

Check your work in progress. Are your scenes tight and exciting, or can you drive a train or a semi-truck through them? Scenes don’t have to be action packed, just tension packed. Keep those ping pong balls bouncing around to stir up the pace.

Here’s a scene from book four, The Mercenary and the Shifters of our series, The Turning Stone Chronicles, to give you an idea of fast pace.

My home is perfectly safe. It’s my business I’m concerned about.”

Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled.

“Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona.

They hit the floor as the pottery on the raised fireplace hearth exploded, sending shards across the room. Mike shoved Fiona behind the nearest chair then scrambled across the rug to the blown-out window. Removing his gun from his back-of-the-waist holster, he peered over the windowsill. Seeing no one in the driveway, he swiveled around to check on Fiona. The red laser point danced around the room, searching for a target.

Mike followed the trajectory of the beam. The shot came from across the street in something high. He remembered seeing a tree house in the yard across the road from the mansion.

“Who lives across from you?” he asked.

“No one right now. The house is for sale.”

“I didn’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign.”

“We’re in an exclusive neighborhood. The HOA forbids sale signs.” Another shot rang out.

Mike whirled around in time to see Fiona’s head sticking out from behind the chair. The image of her head reflected in the fireplace mirror. “He’s using the mirror to target us. Do these curtains close?”

“Yes. The cord’s on the other side of the window.”

“I’m going to crawl under the window and close them. He’ll probably see my reflection in the mirror and start shooting, so stay hidden. As soon as the curtains close, crawl to the window as fast as you can and follow the wall to the entryway. Then get the hell out of the front of the house. Got it?”

“Got it.” Fiona’s voice quavered up the scale.

“You okay?”

“Scared, but okay.”

As Mike crawled along the floor, a volley of shots rang out. The remainder of the pottery displayed on the hearth shattered. When he reached the other side of the window, he yanked the drapery cord. The curtains billowed closed.

“Now, Fiona!” he shouted.

As she belly crawled across the floor, Mike held his breath. Bullets sprayed the room, punching through the heavy draperies, the shots veering from floor to ceiling.

Don’t ricochet! he commanded.

Fiona reached the cover of the exterior wall, and he let his breath out in a whoosh.

“Hurry!”

When she came within arm’s reach, he grabbed her hand and yanked her the rest of the way across the room and into the entry.

“Do you have a panic room?”

She nodded, her eyes filled with fear. “In the basement, behind the trophy wall.”

“Get in it, and don’t come out until I tell you to.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get the SOB who’s trying to kill you.”

Now when your heart rate slows down how about checking out our books?
Links for our books are on our book page or under the menu at the top of the page.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Donald’s mother who created this easy recipe that soon became a family favorite.

CALICO FUDGE

    ⅔ cup milk
    1½ cups granulated sugar
    ¾ cup brown sugar
    Pinch of salt
    2 tbsp. butter
    4 tbsp. peanut butter
    12 marshmallows, cut into pieces

Cook milk, sugars, and salt to soft ball stage. Remove from heat.

Add butter and peanut butter. Beat until creamy.

Lay marshmallows one inch apart in a greased pan. Pour fudge over the marshmallows.

Cut into squares when cold.

Here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.
We hope you enjoy it.

Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in the series The Turning Stone Chronicles series.
Links for our other books are on our book page or under the menu at the top of the post.

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