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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Sheila Stewart's Favorite Scene


This excerpt from Penetrating the Darkness, is one of my favorites. I tend to write about some pretty dark stuff so I like to thread some comedy into the story to break things up. I’m a sarcastic person and I like to use that in my stories. When I wrote this scene, I decided that my characters, Jonah and Dante needed to have a discussion about the future. With the Darkness engulfing the city, everyone is starting to feel it. They miss the simple things in life like grass, flowers, life. Dante and Jonah were human before the Darkness fell and the vampires took over, so they’re still getting used to it. Jonah is a nerd, as Dante likes to refer to him. He’s brilliant and has created some fierce and helpful gadgets to help take out the vamps. In this scene, I showcase two of them.

Jonah and Dante couldn’t be more opposite. Dante is a Private Detective and used to seeing and dealing with some pretty tough stuff. Jonah is used to being behind a computer. I put these two together to learn from each other.

I like to write with music going. Dance music is usually the play list I choose because it pumps me up. I feel energized. I usually don’t plot out how my story will go. I just let it flow. When I’m in the zone, I can write for hours. I remember this scene taking over. I don’t remember what song was playing, what was going on around me. I found myself in the dark, sitting on a car with two men who like to jab at each other and have fun while they wait for the vampires to find them. I was there, chuckling at their humor. It wasn’t just words I wrote, it was life taking place in front of me.

I hope when you read this you can picture yourself sitting on a car, in the darkness, waiting for the vampires to come and get you.

Penetrating the Darkness: Book 6 in the Darkness series.

“What’s the first thing you’re going to do when the sun comes back?” Dante asked as he picked up a small rock and began tossing it in the air.

“Hide.”

“Seriously.”

“Seriously. I hear getting scorched by the sun hurts like hell. I have no desire to have that happen any time soon,” Jonah responded. He hadn’t been a vampire before the sun was blocked out and truthfully, it kind of scared him to think of life with the sun shining.

“Me either. Still…it would be nice to see the sun shine again.”

“Yeah. Green grass—hell green anything would be nice. All this brown is boring the hell out of me.” Jonah realized that if any vamps came out of the warehouse, or Chaos, for that matter, the two of them didn’t stand a chance.

“I would love to give Gyspy a bouquet of flowers.”

Jonah pulled the net out of the trunk. “Yeah, Raven would love that too.”

“If things go back to normal after this is all over, what are you going to do? Still gonna work with computers?”

“I’ve been considering contacting the military about my inventions. I think I could be of use to them.”

“That would be perfect for you. You’re really getting good at making devices to help us nab the bad guys.”

“It keeps me busy. What about you? Are you going to go back to detective work?”

“I was thinking of going back to being a cop. Pays better than my investigation agency. You think we’re ever going to get Chaos?”

“I try to stay positive.”

Dante sat on the hood of the car. “I do too. Still….”

“Yeah. Here.”

He handed Dante the electro net, wrapped in a thin plastic and the trigger box.

“What is this for?”

“Protection. You up for taking on a bunch of vamps? Just the two of us?”

“This thing better not zap me again.”

“As long as you don’t switch the trigger on before you release it, you’ll be fine.” Jonah pulled the Flash device he’d made a few days ago, and slipped it into his pocket. It was the size of a small flashlight, but it packed a hell of a punch. One flash of it and it rendered the person blind for several moments. Just enough time to take them out.

“You better pray to God that it doesn’t. Can I still do that now that I’m a vamp? Pray to God?”

“Hell if I know.” He took a seat beside Dante on the hood. “What do you think about Felicity being back, and being a child instead of a baby?”

“It's weird. It was one thing to know Trinity was preggers, but a kid is different than a baby. I didn’t know vamps could have kids.”

“Basil said that only pure vamps can do it. I wonder if the kid has powers like Basil and Trinity?”

“That kinda scares me. Basil and Trinity are adults and can make the right judgement calls. A kid doesn’t always know that. She could go off with her powers if she’s pissed or upset or anything for that matter.”

“We have visitors.” Dante slid off the hood.

Jonah joined him and pulled out his light.

“How come I have to take the scary ass Electronet and you get a lame flashlight?”

“Just watch and learn young grasshopper.”

“Careful, my hand might slip on the trigger.” Dante aimed the Electronet at Jonah.

“Don’t be a spoilsport.”

“I don’t know. It might feel satisfying to zap you for a change.”

Using the back of his hand, Jonah pushed the devise aside, aiming it forward. “You could, but, then you’d have no Electronet , and I’d be incapable of helping when those three vamps come at us ready for a fight.”

“Shit, you have a point.”

“That’s why I’m the smart one. Here, put these on.” Jonah handed Dante a pair of dark glasses that sat on the nose and covered the eyes.

“What the hell is this?”

“It's something to prevent you from going blind when I use my flashlight,” he added sarcastically.

“Don’t be a bitch.” With his finger on the trigger, Dante readied himself for the fight. “There are four of them. No way we can take all four. The net only holds two.”

“I said, watch and learn—”

“You say young grasshopper and I will walk to the car and get the hell out of here, leaving you to fight them off.”

“Pussy. Get the two on the right, I’ll get the other two.”

“Pussy. Who is carrying a lame flashlight.”

As the two marched toward Dante, he pressed the trigger and the net shot out like a bullet, covering the two vamps. They dropped to the ground, flopping about like fish out of water. Jonah never tired of seeing that. He flicked the switch to give it a charge, then pressed the button. Light shot out brighter than a flash of lightning, blinding the two vamps. They stumbled back, then dropped to the ground, wailing like babies that they were blind.

“Damn, dog. That is one kick ass flashlight.” He took the glasses off and set them on the hood.

“Did you just call me dog.” Jonah set his beside Dante’s.

“Sorry. Saw it on TV. I guess it stuck with me. I’ll deal with the whining babies.” Dante handed Jonah the Electronet remote, then grabbed his blade from the car and stabbed them both in the heart. “Want me to take care of them too?”

“I’ve got it.” He took Dante’s knife and killed one vamp. “This one we take back to Basil and he can torture some answers out of him.”

“Good idea, dog.” Dante laughed as he headed to the remaining vamp. “I couldn’t resist. Is this turned off?” He pointed at the net.

“I don’t know. Why don’t you touch it and find out?”

“You’d like that. It's all yours.”

He so enjoyed his banter with Dante. He pressed the button and the wire attached to the net sucked back into the compartment, neatly bringing the net with it and sealing it in the remote. It was a pretty damn good device if he may say so himself.

Dante lifted the vamp and slung him over his shoulder. “Trunk.”

Jonah nodded. “Let’s hope the guy talks.

About the Author
Shiela Stewart has been writing for the better part of her life, pouring her heart out in words, living a fantasy through the characters she creates. It has always been a dream of her to have her work published, a dream she has finally seen come to life.

When not writing, Shiela likes to spend time with her husband, best friend and love of her life. Together they have three grown children and one granddaughter.

Shiela has a deep affection for animals which is evident in the seven cats, one dog, fourteen fish and one turtle.


Books available at 
Shiela’s website

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Behind the Scenes Look at Unscripted by J.S. Marlo


~ * ~
His chair tipped back against the wall and his feet up on the top of his desk, Blythe stared out the window on his left while contemplating the last scene of the script in his head.
“Hello, honey.” Sweeter than liquid sugar, the sound of Isabella Neuville’s voice interrupted his reflections and made Blythe’s stomach churn. Without waiting for an invitation that would never have materialized, the stunning actress who played Vivian entered his cubicle. “You look lonely tonight.”
He was lonely, but that wasn’t something he wanted to remedy with her. “You should go home, Bella, before your skirt shrinks up to your cheeks.” And he didn’t mean the ones above her neck.
“Miniskirts are back in fashion, honey.” Like a cougar on the prowl, the blonde actress sat on the corner of his desk and leaned sideways across the top. “This little black leather skirt cost me a fortune. Don’t you like it?”
“No.” Overpriced and distasteful. “Get off my desk, Bella.”
Unlike many of his colleagues, Blythe liked having a big desk with large drawers. It gave him ample space to store memos, receipts, schedules, and his briefcase, and as an added bonus, it created a physical barrier between him and the unwanted guests entering his cubicle. Tonight, however, the obstacle hadn’t deterred Bella.
Propped on an elbow near his feet with her head cupped in the palm of her hand, she crossed one leg over her knee as if she intended to crawl toward him. Her long, toned legs showed off more skin than a beach volleyball player on a hot summer day, but he wasn’t interested in her fine attributes.
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m busy.” He didn’t bother to conceal the aggravation in his voice. The script on his lap should have been a clue not to disturb him. “I’m reviewing the scene for the retake tomorrow morning.”
Her dark eyelashes fluttering like the wings of a hornet, she inched her free hand toward his knee and clawed at his pants.
“We could review together.” Whispered huskily, the words rustled with sultry overtone.
Disgusted by her shameless attempts to flirt, he grabbed his script, straightened his chair, and lowered his feet to the floor. “For the second time, Bella. Get off my desk.”
“It’s late.” Apparently oblivious to his request, she maintained her pose and tucked a lock of blonde hair behind her ear, showing off a pearl earring. “Would you like to join me for dinner?”
Her interest in him confounded him. For as long as he’d known her, she’d lived up to her reputation of only dating men that were at least a decade younger than she was. Surely she’d noticed his age. “I’m going to the hospital.”
She nibbled on her bottom lip, looking deceptively innocent. “Wouldn’t you prefer to eat first? I’m sure you’re tired of hospital food.”
Hunger—or desperation—wasn’t enough to make him seek her company. “Don’t you have some poor college boys to chase?”
“Not tonight, honey. How’s Claire? Any news on then shooter?”
The private inquiry jabbed an invisible knife through his chest. Bella didn’t care about Claire’s condition any more than she cared about the baby-faced lovers she seduced then dumped. Her morbid curiosity didn’t deserve to be satisfied.
“Good night, Bella.” He spoke firmly without trying to keep the impatience out of his words. To his relief, she withdrew from his desk.
“One day you’ll need me.” Those lines might as well be written on her forehead. She repeated them every time she caught him alone.
“Don’t hold your breath.”
An exaggerated sigh preceded her dramatic exit.
Outside the window, the sun had set over the park across the road. In the maze of streets beyond his sight was the hospital where his happy past and empty future collided.
Blythe glanced at his watch. Already seven thirty? It’d been a long day on the set, and after six retakes, Martin still wasn’t happy with the last scene they shot. When the producer called it quits, Blythe had retreated into his cubicle to unwind and ponder the parts he could improve upon in the morning. Unfortunately for him, staring outside the window for an hour hadn’t provided any feedback, so he retrieved his briefcase from the lower drawer and stowed the script inside.
Silence filled the office he shared on the seventh floor with five other actors, not all from Wild Rescue. He stood and looked above the partitions. No sign of life.
He left the light on for the cleaning crew and exited into the corridor. The elevator was down the hall to the right, and past it was the Pencil Wing, the name given to the opposite end of the seventh floor where the writers’ offices were clustered.
He veered left and walked to the stairwell connecting with the parking garage. When he opened the door, he came face to face with a maintenance guy.
“Sorry, Mr. Huxley, but someone spilled gallons of purple paint on the stairs. It’ll be a couple hours before we’re done cleaning. You should take the elevator or the emergency exit in Pencil Wing.”
Unless he carried something heavy, Blythe preferred going up and down a flight of stairs to riding an elevator. It kept his legs moving and his heart pumping, the only exercise he had time for lately.
To access the emergency exit, he backtracked, passed the elevator, and ventured into a sideways corridor where he came to an abrupt halt near Andy’s office. The door was ajar. And a woman sat on her knees in the doorway.
“Riley?” She had no business being alone in the Pencil Wing tinkering with the lock of Andy’s door.
Her head snapped up, and a pocketknife clanked on the floor. “Hux? What—I mean Blythe—Mr. Huxley—” A rosy blush spread over her face. “How should I address you?”
It occurred to him he’d never properly introduced himself. “I’d prefer Blythe, but Hux is fine.” Bemused by her actions, he crossed his arms over his chest and stared. “What are you doing posing as a locksmith?”
Rumors had circulated all afternoon about a new female writer joining the writing team for the rest of the season. Blythe never paid much attention to the grapevine, but he made an exception for the woman he’d abandoned in the lion’s den. When Martin had a bad day, he acted like an insufferable bastard, and today had been one of those days.
“I was locked inside and couldn’t get out, so I had to improvise.” The doorknob lay in detached parts near her knees. “But now I have to fix the mess I made.”
Unsure of her explanation, he squatted by her side to examine her handiwork. “Why didn’t you call for help?”
“The recorded message on the phone gave me five options, none very useful.” As she spoke, she inserted the square peg into the pawl and aligned the screws with the hole.
“So you took the doorknob apart?” He was impressed. “Where did you find the knife?”
“I always carry it with me.”
The pocketknife lay on the floor near his foot. He picked it up. “How did you smuggle it on the plane?”
“It was in my checked suitcase. Are you always this nosy?”
“Yes.” Her no-nonsense attitude reminded him of Claire. “Where did you learn to reassemble a doorknob?”
“I live on an old ranch that needs constant repairs. If I waited for my husband to fix things, we’d still be pumping water and using an outhouse.”
With those few words, she’d unleashed his curiosity. “You’re an interesting character.”
“Really?” Soft laughter trickled through the word. “Somehow, that doesn’t sound like a compliment.” She extended her hand. “Knife, please.”
“Why don’t you let me finish?” When she declined his help, he surrendered the knife. “How did you end up trapped inside?”
“I’m not sure.” She used the blade as a screwdriver. “Do either Andy or Paul play practical jokes?”
“Not Andy.” The senior writer had showed up on the set around six. After Martin wrapped up the scene, he’d requested Andy’s presence in his office. “If I’m not mistaken, he’s still in a meeting with Martin.”
“I see.” She secured the last screw and smiled. “All done.”
The chrome plate was in place, and it didn’t look like anyone had tampered with it.
“Great job.” It was late, and like him, he suspected she hadn’t eaten yet. He stood, and she did the same. “Would you have dinner with me?”
“Me?” A look of surprise registered on her face. “I appreciate the offer, but don’t you have a wife or a girlfriend waiting for you?”
The reference to Claire soured his disposition, and he took a step back. He didn’t need to be reminded of his obligations toward his wife, not when his latest altercation with Bella was still fresh in his memory. To blurt out an invitation had been a mistake. She was a married woman he’d met hours earlier, not a longtime friend.
“I’m not sure what I said to upset you.” Chewing on her upper lip, she turned her attention back to her pocketknife. “Maybe I should leave now.”
Riley hadn’t known about his wife. That much was obvious. And since his character wasn’t married, Blythe didn’t wear his wedding ring at the studio. “Riley...” The last thing he wanted was to hurt her feelings over a misunderstanding. “I’m the one who should apologize. I’m married, but my wife is in a coma.”
Her mouth opened and then closed without saying any of the platitudes he’d come to loathe, and it encouraged him to continue. “Most nights, I eat at the hospital, alone. Not sure I recall the last real meal I had. I thought...” Maybe loneliness had prompted him to send the invitation. He shrugged, feigning nonchalance. “Not sure what I thought, but I didn’t mean to offend you or make it sound like a date.”
“I understand.” A richer shade of green clouded her eyes. “If the offer is still good, I’d be happy to have dinner with you.”
~ * ~

This is a scene taken from Unscripted – Duty Bound #1. It takes place inside a production studio. One of the many reasons I love that scene is that I get to introduce three amazing characters—Blythe, Isabella, and Riley—while showing two sides of Blythe’s personality.
Now, let’s delve deeper into the scene, shall we? For easier reference, I divided it in five colorful parts: blue, orange, purple, green, and red.

Let’s look at the blue section first: Isabella’s failed seduction attempt.

Isabella is a talented actress, so I figured if I exaggerated her shameless behavior, she would manage to make it ring true. She was my first “cougar”, so I had lots of fun writing that part, from miniskirt to college boy, but then she crawled on Blythe’s desk. Both my editor and I could see her on that desk, but I couldn’t give justice to her description. I must have written that scene a dozen times while my editor tore her hair out. Come to think of it, Blythe probably wanted to pull his hair—or Isabelle’s hair—out too LOL

Now that I look back at the entire scene, I realize I could have cut it into two or three different scenes.

Next stop, the orange section: after six retake, the producer wasn’t happy with the shot.

While I wrote Unscripted, a colleague at work asked me about the storyline. I told her it took place into a movie studio, and the two protagonists were a male actor whose wife was shot and a new female writer who joined the show. Well, my colleague knew a producer who was coming into town to shoot a documentary on emergency services. She introduced me to the producer and he allowed me to shadow him for two days while he filmed on location at the fire station. I sat on the production meetings, I met the actors, I held the script, I watched while they set the scenes and shot them, I talked to real firefighters, and got a tour of the fire station. It was an amazing experience and it provided me with so much inside information. One of the things that stuck me was the number of “retakes” the produced took. He did a retake even if the first scene was good, but he always stopped at six even if all the scenes were bad, because in his experience, it only went from bad to worse after six retakes. He preferred to restart fresh in the morning. I can honestly say, there was nothing glamorous about being on location for two long days. It was hard work and exhausting.

Now, let’s move to the purple section: Blythe’s face-to-face with the maintenance guy.

I needed an excuse for Blythe to take the stairs at the other end of the corridor instead of the ones near his office. I racked my brain to come up with something believable, but harmless, that could put a staircase out of commission for a few hours. Since it’s a production studio and there are indoor sets on the premises, I figured paint. I was painting at the time (I’m always painting something in the house), so I could see myself dropping a gallon while I rushed up or down the stairs. It would make a terrible mess in a staircase (and on my antique rose carpet), take a while to clean, and force Blythe to use the other exit. You may wonder why the paint is purple? Don’t worry, I wasn’t painting anything purple in the house. I just love purple.

And this was the reason the previous post was purple.

Here’s the green section: Riley fixing a doorknob.

One cold winter morning, not long after I started writing Unscripted, I went out to check my mail. It was -30C outside, so I pulled the door shut behind me. Well, the doorknob stayed in my glove. I wasn’t crazy about changing it when it was that cold. I could have asked my hubby to come back from work and do it, but he kind of resembles Riley’s husband, and I didn’t want to wait till spring for a new doorknob. Besides, there was a gaping hole in the door that let the frigid air in. It couldn’t wait. I also stuffed a rag in the hole before I drove to the hardware store, but that’s another story. Anyway, while I froze my fingers changing it, I swore I’d put a doorknob in pieces somewhere in my story. So, here it is. When my editor reviewed that part, she asked if I checked the name of all the knob parts. I’d kept the instruction sheet from the doorknob kit I bought, so it gave me the correct terms. My editor also asked where Riley found the knife since she flew in that day, and it couldn’t have been in her carry-on. See, that’s the reason Blythe is so nosy about the knife. My editor wanted to know.

Now let’s look at the final part of that scene, the red section: Blythe invites Riley for supper.

On set, Blythe projects a formidable and intimidating persona, but in reality, he’s a very private actor agonizing over his personal life. On the spur of the moment, he invites Ryley for supper, a friendly supper, not a romantic supper. Well, my editor sent me back that section many times for rewrite. She’d be like “Blythe is too pushy”, “Blythe is too creepy”, ”His motives are not clear”, “Why would Riley accept?” You know, it’s hard to explain why Blythe threw the invitation out when he doesn’t know why he did it either, but for me it was important to portray the real Blythe, not the actor. And Riley isn’t lying when she says she understands. Trust me. She truly does.

So, did I pique your curiosity yet? How about a nice blue blurb?

After a bullet shatters his world, actor Blythe Huxley befriends Riley Kendrick, a new writer on the television show Wild Rescue, never expecting to discover a kindred spirit.

No stranger to tragedy, Riley lends a compassionate ear to Blythe's difficulties and soon becomes entangled in a web of illicit affairs and deadly intrigue.

When an arsonist and a killer both strike, Riley's fate intertwines with Blythe's, and her life and her heart hang in the balance. Will they be able to protect their past? And save their future?

“Unscripted – Duty Bound #1” is available at


I am J. S. Marlo

J.S.%20Marlo/J.%20S.%20Marlo%20Author.jpeg

You can visit my website at https://sites.google.com/site/jsmarloauthor, email me at JSMarlo@shaw.ca, follow me on twitter @JSMarloAuthor, or friend me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005715001393


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Monday, September 4, 2017

Print Release of Sugar Babies


Sugar Babies
Thriller/Mystery
$14.95 Print
$3.95 eBook
Buy on:

A sugar daddy can make your money woes disappear, but for sugar babies, life is like a chocolate-covered time bomb: sweet on the outside, deadly on the inside.


Young, beautiful, and hungry, Esme, Maire, and Niki want what every woman wants: love, work, safe shelter, the bills paid off, a diamond-studded Rolex and a two-bedroom condo with an ocean view. Working as sugar babies seems to be the only way to make this happen. But the sugar life is more dangerous than they thought.

Red hot Maire O’Rourke has landed one of the richest sugar daddies in Coconut City, a tropical paradise full of lonely multimillionaires. Now Maire has bigger plans: an international dating service for those seeking to trade sex for funding during difficult economic times.

Sweet Esme Grant, a breathtaking blonde, comes to Coconut City for a sugar daddy to fund her boyfriend's Mayberry-gone-bad dreams. Once she lands a hot playboy sponsor, Esme works for Maire as spokesperson for a new generation of professional girlfriends.

Niki Stephanopoulos, a student at Coconut College, has money problems. She sleeps with her sexy landlord when she’s short the rent. Maire shows her another option.

Then Niki goes missing.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Siren's Song Scene Breakdown with K.M. Tolan

One of my favorite scenes to write came from my last SF novel Siren’s Song. The scene isn’t particularly long, nor pivotal. Instead, it delights in incongruity – namely having a monster in your kitchen making breakfast. My main character, Scott Rellant, is in his father and mother’s house for the first time in many decades. So is a rather startling guest – Water. She is a crystalline creature who normally would’ve been quite happy fricasseeing the entire neighborhood. Aquatic with twin dorsal fins that sort of look like wings, one would be excused for thinking her a bioluminescent glass angel. At least until she goes to work on you with her cutting fins or worse. We call her kind “sirens”, because their singing can kill you, too. Until yesterday, Scott’s parents had thought her a figment of Scott’s fractured psyche. Well, she’s not inside him now. She’s making breakfast using Scott’s memories.

So, here is Scott and Water, both of them glancing at Scott’s father as he stares at them like they were a nightmare come true. Welcome to breakfast with the Rellants!

~*~

“Jesus.”

They both looked to where his father stood in the living room hall wearing a brown robe. Muttering, the man walked back into his bedroom.

Water straightened. “I will not kill him, today.”

Scott shot her a wry grin. “How charitable of you. Try and be a bit more polite, okay?”

“No.”

“Try, damn it. He’s putting his neck on the line to help us.”

She smiled. “No.”

Throwing his hands up, Scott headed for the kitchen. He’d better warn his parents about what had happened in Jeremiah’s Canyon before they jumped to awful conclusions. “I’ll fix up some breakfast with a side order of bright lights for you.”

Odd how his selective memory worked. The fridge and oven didn’t jog any recollections, but he vaguely recalled the copper skillets hanging neatly over the island. He picked a pan, watching with amusement as Water pulled open the fridge door. “Easy with the claws, okay? She’s already pissed about the table.”

“Four eggs,” Water hummed, deftly using two talons to scoop up the shells from their cups along the door.

He slid the pan toward her. “Triple it. Got two extra to feed. No, idiot, don’t try and cut the damn things…”

“They cut,” she announced, dropping the contents of a neatly halved egg in the pan. She fixed him with an accusatory expression. “You did not grease the pan, first.”

“You want to cook?”

“Yes. I will make everyone too afraid to eat anything.”

The smirk on her lips told him the Rellant family siren was working herself into a good mood. He allowed Water to finish with the eggs. At least until his mother walked in.

Maiko tightened the cloth belt around a brown robe similar to her husband’s and eased the pan out from beneath the siren’s hands. “We do not stir with our claws.”

“I no longer have his fingers,” Water pointed out, inclining her head toward Scott.

His mother set the pan on the stove. “And thank God for that. Sink’s behind you. Clean up and go back into the living room before you scratch something else. Scott, there’s fresh clothes in the bathroom for you.”

“I do not obey thieves,” Water crisply sang back in Air.

“She says good morning,” Scott hurriedly interpreted, grateful Water had the sense to be snarky in a language his mother wouldn’t understand. He shepherded his siren back into the living room.

“She was not polite,” Water huffed.

“Just have patience,” he sang in turn.

~*~

So, what was it about this scene for me that made it among my favorites? First, there was a lot of drama piled on before this scene. Especially at Water’s introduction when Scott pulled her out of a lake much to his mother’s horror. More shock and awe when his father, who had fought her kind with disastrous consequences, sees what’s curled up in back of the golf cart they’d brought her back in. I felt the readers needed a lighter moment. So this was my “writer’s reason”.

My personal reason? I mean, come on. Aquatic killing machine running around the house the next morning? Fertile ground for my particular sense of humor. Water has all of Scott’s memories due to how the two grew up together, and here we get to see the results in a way I felt would not only be a hoot, but say something about the characters. Especially Maiko, Scott’s Japanese-born mother. Like her husband, she’s a pretty tough cookie.

You would think writing this scene would be a lark, but no. By this time, I’ve established all four characters, their fears, motivations, and everything else I could toss in to make them believable independent entities. Everything you see in this short scene was a “What would <insert character> do?” There is a dance of personalities here. This is what I had to start with:

Water, our siren (she prefers “Song Guard”), is still getting used to having her own body again (long story), and her instinctual combative nature is in constant struggle with having been raised with Scott and learning human ways. She’s out to save her people, putting aside her antipathy with these “thieves” in order to gain their help. She also likes Scott a lot more now that he’s starting to see things her way for once. She wants to show herself as being “normal”, but of course that’s a really tall order.

Scott, on the other hand, has to face parents whom he hasn’t met since they had him committed for his own good. He’s more than a tad bit estranged from his parents, and has the kind of displacement one gets on going home and finding everything changed, and yet familiar. He really doesn’t know his parents now.

We only meet Scott’s father, Harry, briefly in this scene. He’s avoiding the moment for good reason. He has nightmares about his merc squad getting butchered by sirens, and now there’s one of these hideously lethal creatures in his house. Oh, and here’s his son whom he had put away for thirteen years. Guilt from both incidents puts a lot of distance between him and the rest. Yeah, he’s going to head back to the bedroom. Probably for a drink from that bottle in the closet.

Maiko hates Water. Seriously. She’s never forgotten how tortured her son was by the monster inside him. One that apparently was real. The only thing keeping the woman from trying to shoot Water is that she doesn’t have a gun, and fully understands that this…thing could wipe out everyone in the house at a whim. So Maiko, who hasn’t resolved any issues with her son, either, has armored herself with a stern politeness born out of necessity. Not that she will stand for that monstrosity trying to take over any aspect of her household routine. Being an ex-merc herself, she’s got all the nerve necessary to get in Water’s shiny little face just the same.

So, with all of these personalities and mind sets, I proceeded into this scene. Sure, it could’ve turned both dark and awful at any point, but the balancing act between entertaining readers and staying true to each character was achieved. Which makes this one of my favorite pieces of work.

KM Tolan

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Tattle and Wrye column September 2017 edition

From the desk of ~
DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.
AND
ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH


September 2017

Greetings!

Tattle slid open the curtains and looked out the window. "Soon there will be a lot of leaves in your yard."
Wrye stared at the computer, considering if éclairs cured writer's block. "I will handle it."
"Mr. Leaf Blower handles the autumn leaves in my yard."
"You know it is too soon to start worrying about it." Doesn't look her way. "It's still green outside."
"We should be prepared."
"Fine. Ok. Whatever." He moved from the office to the kitchen and added two cookies to his éclair plate and started to munch.
"You will get tired of looking at them, and it will be overwhelming before you know it."
"You're a noodge."
She steals a cookie off his plate. "Yeah, and I'm good at it.
He frowns at her, pockets the remaining cookie. "I have a plan when the time comes."
"Really."
"Really."
"What?"
"I'll show you." With a mouth full of pastry, he went into action and closed the curtain.
Before she could say another word, Wrye snapped his fingers and the two dashed into their monthly Love of Literature Leap: a review of COLD SWEAT (HEAT & ENDURANCE 1) By  J. S. Marlo and a revisit review of UNBALANCED by Courtney Shepard





Tattle and Wrye appear in COLD SWEAT by J. S. Marlo, a romantic suspense.

"Wait!" Wrye held his chest, puffing.
Tattle looked startled. "You ok?"
"It's this book! It is so fast-paced I have to catch my breath."
Tattle did the double-eyed-tumble skyward.  "Scared me, you did."
"Yes, be afraid, be very afraid, m'Yodaish sleuth," Wrye countered, his face tense with emotion. "Seventeen-year-old Hope Craig was kidnapped while training to make the biathlon Olympic team. Two creepazoids seized her right off a ski slope and stashed her in a remote, winter secure cabin as time trickled away toward her possible ta da da daaaaaaaaaa death.... For the ransom demand is unfeasible"

Gives Wrye the look, the ya-gotta-get-it-together-dude look. "You can get dramatic, you know, but this time you aren't far off the bull's eye. Hope Craig is resourceful and tenacious but she is also deaf. In some ways that is an advantage, cause the 'nappers have their imbecilic moments and don't expect her to be so clever."

Poised as a wise ole sage, foot on a snow dusted log while stroking his chin, Wyre contributes. "Hope's mother Colonel Amelia Matheson recruits Sheriff Rich Morgan to aid in the investigation. The two have... history."

"Look, fire!"

"Where?"

"The book, silly. Colonel Matheson and the Sheriff are flint to tinder. She simply can't forget that he once hurt her. And he simply can't forgive himself either. Yet the sparks continue as they assemble information, process clues and uncover truths long hidden. Meanwhile, they try to come to terms with their embittered past while confronting one unexpected and sinister circumstance after another."

"As always, J. S. Marlo never fails to entertain and rob me of sleep." Wrye points into cyber space, thinking Marlo can see him. "Yeah, I mean you, keeping me up to all hours. I can't even stop at a chapter break cause they are all cliffhangers. How can you do that to an old geezer! Huh!" Took a breath, shook his head and continued. "I digress. Seriously, folks, this is one of her best suspense thrillers to date. It's like listening to a drummer who starts out with a steady, enticing beat that grows and intensifies then gets louder and louder, and then becomes wild and frantic. You killed it, lady!"

"Didn't I tell you, dramaaaatic! But, I, too, digress. Another winner for J. S. Marlo, going to read this saga about Quest, Phoenix and Ducky again because I was so caught up, I read like a fiend. Now, I want to take my time. Oh, y'all wondering who those characters are? Gotta read the book to find out. Let's just say, they are so well-rounded and dimensional, they must be real. I am looking them up online cause I wanna meet them. Truly and seriously, Marlo is an author of suspense surpassed by none, and this book is one you don't want to miss. Just buckle up for a wild and intoxicating ride!


Tattle and Wrye loop arms as they jump into a revisit review of, UNBALANCED by Courtney Shepard, a paranormal romance.

Tattle clears her throat and begins, “Long, long ago four young girls were abducted by the Master, and henceforth generations of four sisters are pulled back to the current Master of The Order.  The sisters’ powers grow with every generation; thereby The Order’s need for that power intensifies.  They cannot exist without it, and they have a decisive and heinous end plan.”

“This latest generation of sisters had been separated at birth yet they are all still hunted.” Narrowing his eyes, Wrye offers a sinister snarl.  “And they feel it, believe there is something more to their existence and soon those reasons unfold even as the threat of death dodges them.  This is a tale of four powerful women who have the ability to command the element of nature.  Asha, the main heroine of this story, is fire and is as independent and tough as they come as well as quite explosive when her temper is ignited.” Uses both hands to imitate the universal symbol of something exploding.

“Her love interest, Clay,” Tattle sighs the name, “… has his own mysterious depths and from the first you feel he might pose a threat. Still, he has been drawn to her, believes her to be the powerful woman who has haunted his dreams, La Guerrero Reina, the Warrior Queen. He pledges himself to her, but there is something more to this hot-to-the-bone hero, and their romance has the curve twisting velocity of a roller coaster ride as their passion increases and their love strengthens despite an unwavering sense, woven into the underside of the story that smacks of betrayal.”

“The backdrop of the story also shows the persistent struggle of women through the ages in life and in religion. The prevalent magic underpinning the story, along with the slow unveiling of the truth behind The Order, and the reason for the sisters’ power is fully compelling.  Good and evil has its place as well, but neither is pure which makes it all more human and realistic.”

Tattle adds, “The characters are all well-drawn with the sisters being very tough, no-nonsense and determined. The men they are drawn to, with a future promise of possibilities, also exhibit that fighting spirit, and they too share a mysterious aura that keeps the reader wondering at the truth. The sexuality of the book has steam and heat enough to pull you into the romance, yet is delightfully devoid of any crudeness or obscenity, making the various elements of mystery, romance, fantasy, magic and danger all balanced.”

“Courtney Shepard wove a tale that stays with you days past reading it.” Wrye gives his serious and penetrating look.  “The plot was swiftly paced, cleverly written while the dialogue was brisk, addictive and true to life. If there is any complaint it is that it ended too soon.  I want to read more of this universe, uncover the finer depths of The Order, the deeper mystery behind the sisters. These feelings, I believe the author, skillfully and deliberately provoked with the purpose of sequels, one for each of the sisters, Ivy, Mere and Avia, of which I am looking forward to reading. UNBALANCED is a book with a hook! If you enjoy the paranormal with strong female leads, this is certainly the story for you.”


Hope you all enjoyed our reviews! Until next month, keep reading.


With another blink the two vanish and appear in J. S. Marlo's novel SALVAGED. 

"Yikes! Yuck! Oh no!" Tattle rushed backwards, falls on her buns and crawls backwards out of Star Fisher's nightmare. "Are you seeing that? Hellacious!"

"It's only a dream, m' squeamish fraidy cat."

"Not afraid, just ummm.... ahhh.... well... she can keep her dreams to herself, thank you very much." Tattle brushes herself off as if tossing off the fear. "Yes, yes, I know, she can't help this anymore than she can help the star-shaped scar adorning her cheek. Poor thing thinks it is disfiguring, but to Captain hunka hunka burnin' hunka Hauk Ludvikson, her new boss, it is intriguing, as intriguing as she is. Though he is not sure she is the right fit for his underwater salvage operation of a century-old Model T, at the bottom of a lake, linked to an equally old disappearance. Kyle, another diver feels the Captain is way too attracted to the young woman, something that could be a detriment on dangerous dives. At the same time, Star is pretty jittery herself, having been recently attacked. Yet, she is considered the best in her field, and Hauk is reluctant to let her go."

Wyre dons scuba wear, two air bottles and extra huge flippers as he renders his observations. "Attack is a key word in this story. Danger lurks like a...da da daaaaaa...stalking shark." A fishing spear comes out of nowhere and Wrye starts jabbing the air as if expecting an assault. "It soon becomes obvious that there is a mystery surrounding the wreck and someone doesn't want that mystery solved. It also becomes apparent that Star has her own personal haunts that she wants left alone. As they dig deeper into the murky waters and investigate the wreck, attempted murder, old murders and fresh murders rise like ocean scum. No one seems safe, and every answer comes with a new set of questions."

Wrinkles her nose at Wrye's outfit, Tattle sighs and ignores. "Star's Uncle Jimmy plays a key part in the mystery, but doesn't even realize it. Meanwhile, the chemistry between the hero and heroine starts at a gentle but persiiiiisssstent simmer and then bubbles, gushes and boils over. Star pulls away, Hauk moves closer. Be warned, read this book with the lights on. Suspense crawls over suspense. Nail biting and yelps of fear will occur. Looking over your shoulder and jumping in your seat is inevitable."  

"The storyline is delightfully complex and extraordinarily captivating. The characters are well-drawn and each have their own particular vibe. The good guys are the epitome of heroes with just enough of a quirk here and there to humanize them. Whereas the villains are menacing to the core of evil, yup, coughed up from the ninth level of Hades with hell hound escort."

"As always, J. S. Marlo doesn't disappoint. Of course, her own exclusive writing style and unique storyline intricacy is apparent but this book had an extra dose of multi-layering. It isn't a quick read, but a grab you by the intellect and keep you guessing ensnarement. You won't be able to put it aside from the first line to the last. I am thoroughly impressed by this story and look forward to all this author has to offer. Note: Already read everything she has written, and you should, too!"

Until next time, keep reading!


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