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Posts Tagged ‘The Turning Stone Chronicles’

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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Friday Features

What people want to know about C.D. Hersh and our Turning Stone Chronicles series.

Over the years while promoting our series, The Turning Stone Chronicles, and appeared on different blogs or radio interviews we’ve encountered many questions. Today, we are sharing a few of those questions and answers.

Who’s had the greatest influence on your writing careers?

At Donald’s uncle’s 90th birthday party, when we were talking with him about writing when Donald retired, he said we should just go for it now. We took his advice and the rest is history. He died a year later and really didn’t get to see that we got published.

Where’s the most romantic vacation spot you’ve been together?

Wawasee Lake in Indiana, where you can see a full sky of stars on an evening stroll arm-in-arm along the lake, listening to the sounds of the evening.

Are you a morning writer, afternoon writer, evening writer, or midnight oil writer?

As a team we tend to be afternoon and evening writers, although Catherine has been known to be a midnight oil writer when she is working with the first draft.

When did you first realize you were a good writing team?

Our first experience as a writing team came when we were writing drama scripts for our church. We had so much fun doing it and people seemed to really like what we wrote, that on a business trip Donald took, we wrote a three act play called Adam and Eve on a Raft. After that we were hooked on writing things longer than two minute skits. Then on another business trip we were discussing writing a book, to pass the time and keep awake, and the paranormal series was born.

In your Turning Stone Chronicles, you have a unique take on shape-shifters. Can you talk a little bit about that?

As we developed the book concept we decided that we wanted something different than the normal were-shape shifters. In reality, we can thank Donald’s psychology courses for the idea of the various forms of shifting. One of the psyche theories is that we all have three parts to our psyche, commonly called id, ego and super-ego. We added a twist to that theory using male, female, and animal egos, and a magic ring that could tap the various forms.

What is your favorite sentence or quote in The Promised One?

We have several but probably the best is: “Grief is a midnight indulgence when no one else can hear.”

Who do you envision as your lead characters?

Alexi Jordan and Rhys Temple are the heroine and hero of The Promised One. Their story line runs through all the books, although the lead characters will change in each book.

In The Promised One, the partnership between Rhys and Alexi is extremely powerful and hits you immediately from the beginning of the book. Do you think this is a reflection of the strength within your own relationship together?

We’re laughing out loud here as we read this question. It’s not something we intended, but since our daughter said she could see us in the characters, we guess it does reflect our relationship, minus the shifting, of course. We suppose a bit of self comes out in all writers’ writing, at some point.

Since we’ve commented about Rhys and Alexi’s relationship, we thought we’d give you a brief look at those characters.

Tucking his gift under her arm, she started to leave.

“Hey.” He pointed at the other gifts. “Aren’t you going to add yours?”

“Nope. I’ll give it to you later, when we’re alone.”

“Ooh. Something special. Mineral or animal?” His right eyebrow raised, his smile growing.

Alexi laughed. “Just embarrassing.”

“For you or for me?”

“I’m not telling.”

Sidling close to her, he backed her against the wall. “Come on. Just a hint,” he said, a purr in his tone as he placed his hand on the wall next to her shoulder and moved into her personal space with the ease of a lover. One of his famous melt-the-girl looks smoldered in his gaze. The golden flecks in his green eyes lit up like fireworks. Hot fireworks.

Enjoying his closeness and the raw sensuality emanating from him, she lingered for a minute, then slowly moved away. Standing this close she could get burned, and she wasn’t ready to play with fire . . . not yet. She shook her head. “Not a chance.”

He crossed his arms, obviously irked that she hadn’t succumbed. “My irresistible charms work on everyone else. Why not you?”

Oh, if you only knew. She had to fight to resist him. She flashed him a smile. “Because I’m special. And I’m your partner. Keeping your back safe is more important than getting you on your back.”

He laughed, a deep, throaty, and utterly sexy sound.

She locked her knees to keep from melting into a puddle.

“I like the sound of that.”

Of course you would. She felt her face flame.

Links for our books are on our book page or under the menu at the top of the post.

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Friday Features

Sharing Excerpts from our series

The Turning Stone Chronicles

Often we are asked what is our favorite book or author. As writers there is another favorite that we have and that is certain sections of the books we have written. These favorite sections or excerpts become the lines shared to promote interest in the book. Today we thought we’d share some of our favorite lines from our paranormal romance series, The Turning Stone Chronicles Series.

Each of these books is a standalone in that there is a HEA in each. However, you will understand the continuing characters and their relationships if you start with the first book in the series.

With that said we will start our excerpts with the first book, The Promised One.


Tucking his gift under her arm, she started to leave.

“Hey.” He pointed at the other gifts. “Aren’t you going to add yours?”

“Nope. I’ll give it to you later, when we’re alone.”

“Ooh. Something special. Mineral or animal?” His right eyebrow raised, his smile growing.

Alexi laughed. “Just embarrassing.”

“For you or for me?”

“I’m not telling.”

Sidling close to her, he backed her against the wall. “Come on. Just a hint,” he said, a purr in his tone as he placed his hand on the wall next to her shoulder and moved into her personal space with the ease of a lover. One of his famous melt-the-girl looks smoldered in his gaze. The golden flecks in his green eyes lit up like fireworks. Hot fireworks.

Enjoying his closeness and the raw sensuality emanating from him, she lingered for a minute, then slowly moved away. Standing this close she could get burned, and she wasn’t ready to play with fire . . . not yet. She shook her head. “Not a chance.”

He crossed his arms, obviously irked that she hadn’t succumbed.

“My irresistible charms work on everyone else. Why not you?”

Oh, if you only knew. She had to fight to resist him. She flashed him a smile. “Because I’m special. And I’m your partner. Keeping your back safe is more important than getting you on your back.”

He laughed, a deep, throaty, and utterly sexy sound.

She locked her knees to keep from melting into a puddle.

“I like the sound of that.”

Of course you would. She felt her face flame.

Now for the second book, Blood Brothers, excerpt.


Sylvia Jordan Riley winced as Falhman dug into her shoulder and extracted a bullet. He dropped the bullet into the trash and swabbed the wound. “You want to tell me how you got injured?” he asked as he reached for the needle to stitch the gaping hole.

“Chasing Promised Ones.” And the man who murdered my ex-husband.

“I hope it was worth this.”

“It was.” She’d torn Baron’s killer to shreds, but that wasn’t the best part of her news. “I’ve found someone who shifted with me by using the power from my ring.”

Falhman stopped stitching and stared intently at Sylvia, his eyes glittering with undisguised interest. “Is he a rogue shifter?”

“I don’t think he’s any kind of shifter. He seemed startled when the shift occurred.”

“A non-shifter who can use the ring without the incantation? What’s his name?”

“Temple. Rhys Temple. There’s only one problem.” Sylvia paused then continued, “He’s in love with Baron Jordan’s niece, Alexi.”

“I thought that whole family was dead.”

“She’s the last one left, and I think she’s on track as a Promised One.”

Falhman went back to stitching Sylvia’s skin with practiced ease. “Get rid of her and get him. If we can control someone with that kind of power, we can control the world.”

Sylvia looked at her superior. He made it sound simple. Kill Alexi Jordan and lure Rhys to the dark side. Piece of cake? Not if a Jordan was involved. From her recent dealings with Alexi, she knew there would be one heck of a fight if she tried to take her man.

The third book in the series, Son of the Moonless Night, has some new characters but continues the underlying story. Here’s the excerpt:


A head of lettuce and a grapefruit escaped from the paper grocery sack as Katrina leaned sideways on tippy toes to get the topmost lock. The vegetables rolled across the small concrete patio at the bottom of the stairway well and stopped against a leg of the wrought iron café table. Whispering an expletive, she pushed the door open and placed her purse and grocery sack on the entryway table just inside the door. Then she swiveled to get the runaway vegetables.

A very pleasant and interesting sight greeted her. A pair of dark trousers caressed a toned posterior of the man bending over to retrieve her vegetables. She fought to rein in the path her mind started down. Been too long, Katrina, she said to herself as the vision straightened and turned around.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “I thought you had gone inside.”

The way he held the vegetables out in front of him made her wonder what his hands would feel like if he held her breasts in that manner.

“Hello? Are you awake?”

“Ah, ah,” Katrina sputtered as she focused on his face to get her mind out of the gutter.

“Okay. Awake, but not here yet.” The corner of his lips started to rise.

“You,” she breathed when she recognized him. “Where’s my grandmother’s afghan and my Cleveland Brown’s hoodie?”

“Nice to see you, too, and thank you, I’m feeling fine.”

She crossed her arms tightly over her chest. “If you hadn’t run off I’d have known you were okay.”

The smile inched up the side of his cheek, lighting his electric blue eyes. “You worried about me. How sweet.”

“Sweet, my patootie. I just . . . You could have bled . . . Oh, crap. Where’s my stuff?”

He took another step closer to her. The deep blue ring around his amazing eyes seemed to darken.

She leaned back from him.

Without taking his eyes off her, he nodded to a brightly colored gift bag on the ground beside the door. “I got blood on the afghan so I had it cleaned. It wasn’t badly stained. The blood came out. The hoodie’s a different story. I couldn’t salvage it, so I bought a replacement.” Balancing the vegetables in one hand he lifted the gift bag to her. “Forgiven? Please?”

Book four, The Mercenary and the Shifters, gets more characters involved in the struggle. Here’s the excerpt:


Mike Corritore wheeled up the circular drive of the impressive house on Lakeshore Road and cut the engine on his motorcycle. After a quick glance around, he shouldered the bags containing his clothes, ammo, pump shotgun, and talwar sword. Then he headed for the carved front door. The doorbell echoed inside indicating the mansion had a cavernous entry hall. He searched the entrance stoop for security cameras and found none.

What the heck had he gotten himself into? A rich bitch, with no security on her home, mixed up with a bad syndicate spelled major trouble. With this chintzy level of security, it would take more time than he originally anticipated to make her house and business secure.

After a couple of minutes the door opened.

“Can I help you?” asked an attractive redhead.

“I’m Mike Corritore. Here to see Fiona Kayler. Will you tell her I’ve arrived?”

The redhead looked him over, then braced her legs shoulder width apart and crossed her arms over her curvy bust. “Do you have identification, Mr. Corritore?”

Mike returned her once-over. Her porcelain complexion blushed pink at his bold examination, and she tossed her mane of wavy, mahogany hair defiantly.
Damn, she was gorgeous.

If she thought her insolent pose enough to keep him, or intruders out, she’d better reconsider.

“Hugh sent me.” He stepped forward but she blocked him.

“A driver’s license for your very expensive motorcycle will suffice,” she said, wiggling her fingers at him. When he didn’t comply, she stepped back and reached to the side of the door.

The distinct cachung of a gun cocking sent him flying to the right of the doorway.

“Identification, Mr. Corritore. Please,” she said as she leveled a pistol at him.

Mike dug in his rear pants’ pocket. “Hugh lied,” he said as he held out his driver’s license. “You don’t need protection.”

After inspecting his identification, she lowered her weapon and waved him inside. “For my business, Mr. Corritore. I’m capable of protecting my home, but I can’t draw my gun just anywhere.”

“You should get a conceal and carry license,” Mike said as he entered.

She put the safety on the gun and stashed the weapon in the table beside the front door.

“I take it you’re not the help,” he said, glancing around the entry hall.

She held out her hand. “Fiona Kayler. Nice to meet you, Mr. Corritore.”

“Mike,” he said, taking her hand. Her palm, warm and soft, told him she lived a life of leisure. But her strong grip screamed, No patsy. He held her hand a bit longer than he should have. She wriggled free and waved him to the left.

“Ladies first.”

With a nod, she led him toward a sumptuously decorated room. He followed, his eyes taking in the soft curves of her rear as she sashayed across the marble-tiled floor. Mike’s body reacted to the seductive wiggle of her bottom. She walked as sexy as she looked.

Keep your mind on the job, Corritore. He shifted his gaze away from temptation, searching the ceiling and corners of the entry for security cameras. If she had them, they were well hidden.

The measured click of her high heels on the hard marble tile floor disappeared as they stepped on the thick, white carpet of the living room. This room appeared cozier than the entry. A huge gold, gilt-edged mirror hung over the fireplace reflecting the scene outside the oversized plate-glass window.

She motioned to a seat beside the fireplace. Mike chose a location less exposed to the exterior, where he could watch the entrance to the room. Fiona dragged a side chair across the room to where he sat, positioning it at a right angle to his seat. Two vertical furrows appeared in the carpeting, bisecting their shoe impressions and the vacuumed paths in the thick fibers. Apparently, she didn’t use this room much.

“So, Ms. Kayler—”

“Fiona,” she corrected.

“Fiona, exactly what do you need me to do?” As he said the words, he had a lurid vision of what he’d like to do to this lovely woman. He shook it off. She was Hugh’s friend and in trouble. He had no business screwing around with damsels in distress. They were needy. The last thing he wanted.

“A couple of years ago I had a problem with smugglers. They brought in some hazardous materials which got me in trouble with Homeland Security and the FBI. They cleared me, but my business took a pretty big hit. To keep things afloat, I’ve had to get in bed with some rough characters recently.”

At the phrase get in bed with Mike cocked his eyebrow at her.

“Not literally,” she amended quickly, as a dusky pink blush crept over her pale complexion. “I need my security beefed up so I don’t have a replay of two years ago.”

“Any good security company could upgrade you.”

“I also need someone I can trust implicitly. Hugh vouched for you, and I trust Hugh.”

“We should start with your home security. I didn’t see surveillance cameras at the door.”

“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.

We hope you enjoyed this look into some of our favorite lines from our books and maybe got a little interested to follow along with the story. Links for the books are on our book page under the menu or any of the links in the post.

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Friday Features’

We’re talking about

How To Write The Next Book

by

C.D. Hersh

At some point, in the beginning of every writing journey, we authors wonder if we can really write a book. We ask ourselves: Can I do this? And if I can, will I be able to write a second book? Will my next book be as good as the first book? Will an editor love book number two as much as the first one? And, heaven forbid, what will I do if no wants the next book I write— assuming I can even finish it?

When we started our publishing journey back in 2012, with the pitch of the first book in our paranormal/urban fantasy series The Turning Stone Chronicles to Soul Mate Publishing, we had some of those questions. Book One, The Promised One was taking a maiden journey into the editorial world of queries. And after the rejection stories we heard from other aspiring authors, we truly thought we’d have our first rejection slip. We had ideas about where the remaining books in the proposed series were going, but not much more than nutshells of ideas and a few paragraphs written in a black-and-white school composition book. Book number one didn’t even have a contract, and here we were bold enough to assume we could write and sell a six-book series.

Four years later (2016), with the release of book number four in the series, The Mercenary and the Shifters, we were now more than halfway through our series. Ah, but life had some interesting twists planned for us as we started on book number five. More later.

The journey has an interesting one. We’ve had a few surprises along the way. We never expected our series to sell on the first toss over the publishing world transom. And we certainly didn’t expect the editor would want all six books without ever seeing them. We also didn’t expect the overwhelming learning curve of marketing that came crashing down on us. But somehow, we figured it all out—including the total replotting of book 4 when a minor character in book 3, Son of the Moonless Night, suddenly decided she wanted center stage and took over the plotting process. We also learned, thanks to a lovely review we received, that we can write without the dreaded sophomoric slump in our later books.

If you’re just beginning your publishing journey and you’ve answered “no” and “I don’t know to the questions in the opening paragraph, you are starting your journey off stifling your creativity. If you can finish a single book that has all the elements an editor wants, then never fear. You can write another book as good as the first and maybe even better.

Now for the “more later” promised above. With the release of book four in July 2016 we started on plotting for book five. However, we got asked by our publisher to join a group of twelve other authors and to write a book in the series of The Soul Mate Tree. That happened in February of 2017 plus then a lot of promotion for the rest of the year as we tried to get back to plotting book five. The next three years proved to be a health challenge plus being asked to write and direct three Easter dramas at our church. Book five is plotted but still being written. Maybe this year? Now back to writing the next book in a series.

Here are some tips to help you make your goal of book number 2, 3, and more.

  • Keep a positive attitude. A lot of people want to write a book. Many say they’re going to write a book SOME DAY. You have written a book. You’ve slapped those all-important two words on the last page—THE END. Additionally, if you got a contract from an editor, you have validation that your book was good. So don’t let doubt get in your way.
  • Don’t wait until your creativity well runs dry to begin the next book. Writing stirs up our muses, and there’s no better time to start thinking about the next book than while you are working on your current book.
  • When you have an idea for the next book, let the need to write it spur you on. Having a second story waiting in the wings compels us to finish the WIP.
  • When you get that nutshell of an idea for book number two, write it down! Don’t say, “I can remember that.” Chances are you won’t. Instead, drop it in a computer file or paper file, whichever works for you. Read it often. Think about it before you go to bed, but not if it makes you an insomniac. Let it bubble and stew in the back of your mind until a full-blown story is born.
  • Capture ANY wild story ideas that come your way. No tidbit you find remotely interesting should be ignored. You never know when inspiration for the next book will hit. The plot could be residing in a snippet of conversation you overhear at your favorite restaurant, a story you read in the newspaper, or even an interesting road sign. The Turning Stone Chronicle series originated from a road sign for a place named Turning Stone that we passed on a long road trip. We said, “What an interesting town name. Could we write a story with that title?” And the rest is history.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Continued practice of the craft makes you a more skilled writer. Keeping a weasel word list, noting the places where your editor or beta readers say you are weak, and continuous education in the craft will improve your writing skill and storytelling ability. The more we write, the more second nature the job becomes. So, when the next book comes along, you’ll have an easier time putting it down. And who doesn’t want that?
  • Planning on writing a series be sure to keep a world book. Nothing slows the writing process faster than trying to remember someone’s eye color from book one or any other character’s feature or a place name.

For all the readers out there, here’s an excerpt from book four of The Turning Stone Chronicles, The Mercenary and the Shifters. We hope you’ll like it.

“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.”

Amazon buy links:
The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)

Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)

Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)

The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)

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