#WritingRambles #amwriting – Writing “What You Know?”

Good Morning, Folks!

It’s a lovely, sunny Sunday in central Florida, after a drizzly, gray Saturday. Happily, yesterday’s weather didn’t stop anyone from attending my talk on Owls at the gorgeous DeBary Hall Historic Mansion.

In fact, we had four extras show up, but had plenty of open space at the back of the room to accommodate them at a safe distance from everyone else. And as you can see from this week’s header image above, I’m still in an owlish kinda mood. (This is a barred owl, btw, my favorite of all.) And talking about these wonderful birds yesterday, gave me the idea for this post today. 

We’re often encouraged or advised to “write what we know,” and in general, I tend to do that, as all of my books are set in the southern part of the United States (just as *I* am), and feature the kinds of people I’ve known all my life. (Except for the serial killer in Swamp Ghosts. I confess, I’ve known some unpleasant folks over the years, but none that I know of have ever gone so far as to kill people and feed ’em to the local alligators! 😉 )

But, in general, I do write people I understand and who speak in a manner I’m familiar with. I also go a step farther by including habitats and wildlife I’m familiar with, too. I like to set up a scene so that readers will feel like they’re “there” along with the characters. For me, this can include describing a canoe trip on the St. John’s river, or a walk through a Florida wetlands area, or a slippery climb down a rock face beside a North Carolina waterfall. I think many of us do this when setting up a scene, and if done well, I believe (hope!) it makes it all more real to readers. But I want to take it a step farther today.

Here’s my question for you: do you ever include things from your real life that only your friends or family would likely recognize? Maybe as a private joke, or maybe simply because whatever it is happens to fit well with what you’re writing? I do, even though I don’t set out with that in mind. It’s just that as I’m typing along, I think of a familiar item or happening, or even a line of dialogue, that is part of my life in one way or another, and find myself including it.

For example, in Swamp Ghosts, one of my secondary (but pretty important) characters is Lester Purvis who drives an ancient, primer red and gray, 1967 VW bus. I’m very familiar with this bus, as is everyone who knows Mark and I, because it’s parked in our garage. My husband has had it since the early 80s, and, like Lester, has always planned to restore it to its former glory. (He drives it for short errands on the weekends, and can’t stop at a traffic light without someone pulling up beside it and yelling out to ask if it’s for sale.) You would be staggered to know how much he’s been offered for it, even with all the body work it needs. Apparently, being the last year they made VWs with the split windshield gives it some serious collectability. 


(Taken many years ago. Nothing much has changed.)

The VW is one of the more obvious personal tidbits I’ve tucked into my books, just for fun, but I find myself drawing on small events and funny moments from my own life fairly often. I’ve also mentioned a real person now and then, like my friend Bev who owns the DeBary Nursery, where my character Willow Greene likes to buy plants for her herb garden. Heck, even the barred owl that greets Sarah on her arrival at Wake-Robin Ridge is taken from my life. Everything is fair game, I figure, as long as it doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy, and it actually fits into the moment I’m writing about. (Bev was thrilled, btw. She sells my books at her shop and one of her customers who’d bought a copy of Finding Hunter from her returned to get Bev’s autograph after reading the scene! 😀 )

So, your turn now. Have you ever included something of this nature in your own books? Maybe as a little nod to a friend or family member? Or just to make yourself smile as you’re writing? Tell us about it in the comments below, since, as always, inquiring minds wanna know. Especially if you’ve ever included any private jokes or situations that only some would recognize. 

Thanks! And have a beautiful, peaceful, productive day! 🙂

#OnSale #Promo – Entire Riverbend Series – $1.99 each

Good Morning, Everyone! Hope your Christmas was Merry & Bright! Today, I’m offering a Happy New Year special, in the hopes that something fun will get the new year off to a great start. If you haven’t checked out my Riverbend series, now’s the time! Each book will be on sale for the (ready?) “low, low, LOW” price of $1.99 from today through December 31. Riverbend is a fictional small town in central Florida where anything can happen. And does. Unlike my mountain series, there’s nothing paranormal going on here because the folks who live in Riverbend are weird enough all by themselves. 😀 Hope you’ll check it out.  Happy Reading!

SWAMP GHOSTS: Riverbend Book 1

BLURB:

Wildlife photographer Gunnar Wolfe looked like the kind of guy every man wanted to be and every woman just plain wanted, and the St. Johns River of central Florida drew him like a magnet. EcoTour boat owner Maggie Devlin knew all the river’s secrets, including the deadliest ones found in the swamps. But neither Maggie nor Gunn was prepared for the danger that would come after them on two legs.

On a quest to make history photographing the rarest birds of them all, Gunnar hires the fiery, no-nonsense Maggie to canoe him into the most remote wetland areas in the state. He was unprepared for how much he would enjoy both the trips and Maggie’s company. He soon realizes he wants more than she’s able to give, but before he can win her over, they make a grisly discovery that changes everything, and turns the quiet little town of Riverbend upside down. A serial killer is on the prowl among them.


FINDING HUNTER: Riverbend Book 2

BLURB:

Before, I never thought about taking a life. Not once.
Now, the thought fills my mind day and night, and
I wonder how I’ll hide that terrible need,
As an old car swings to the shoulder,
And stops.

~ Traveling Man ~

Hunter Painter’s darkest fears have shaped his offbeat personality since he was a child, crippling him in ways invisible to those unable to see past his quiet exterior. In a sleepy Florida town known for its eccentric inhabitants, he’s always been a mystery to most.

Only one person sees beyond Hunter’s quirky facade. Willow Greene, the new age herbalist who owns the local candle and potpourri shop, has secretly loved him since they were in high school. When, sixteen years later, she discovers Hunter has loved her just as long, Willow hopes her dreams are finally coming true.

Willow soon learns that Hunter fears happiness at her side isn’t in the cards for him. With her natural optimism and courage, she almost convinces him he’s wrong—that they can really have that life together they both long for—but even Willow can’t stop what Hunter knows is coming.

One by one, his worst nightmares become reality, culminating in an unthinkable tragedy, which devastates everyone it touches. Willow’s battle begins in earnest as Hunter is plunged into a bleak, guilt-ridden despair, threatening to destroy not only their love, but Hunter, himself.

Finding Hunter is the story of a lost man’s desperate struggle to make his way home again, and one woman’s unshakeable faith in him and the power of their love.


THAT DARKEST PLACE: Riverbend Book 3

BLURB:

“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”
~Hunter Painter~

The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.

As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.

Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”

Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?

Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.


And there you have my last sale of the year. Hope you’ve found a new book or two that appeals to you. Thanks so much for being such a lovely group of followers. You’ve made my life richer throughout good years and not-so-good ones, and I appreciate every single one of you! Here’s to a much better year ahead!

 

Catching Up – #amwriting #MondayBlogs

 

HELP! Where Did All My Writing Time Go?

Happy Moon’s Day, Folks! I hope this Monday morning finds you in good health and good spirits. Just wanted to take a moment to let you know that my blog posts may be spotty for a bit. I have finally come to the conclusion that I am never going to get caught up again in this lifetime, but I can’t keep floundering in a sea of To Do Items and ignoring my writing. Sad but true, the time comes in life when we no longer have quite the energy or stamina we once did, and we have to slow the pace a bit. 

As a result of the above-mentioned (and truly annoying) energy decrease, I haven’t written a word in months, and it’s making me very unhappy. Therefore, I’ve decided I’m  going to take some time to write each day (at least until I get my 4th Riverbend novel completed) even if it has an impact on my blog posts and my blog visits. I’ll do the very best I can to keep up with both, but if I miss some of my regular features or a stop or two at my favorite blogs, please forgive me. And don’t be alarmed. It just means I’m working on my book.

 I know most of you will understand how frustrating it is to want to write but not have time to do so. (And the pandemic isolation, oddly enough, was not at all conducive to the process for many of us, either.) The good news is, I started said book Friday and managed to get the short prologue and the first two scenes of Chapter 1 written. Words cannot express what a difference even that little bit has made in my overall mood. Stress levels are definitely lower, and I’m actually smiling again. 

I have #GuestDayTuesday posts scheduled for several more weeks, and will definitely be reblogging Bad Moon Rising posts through the month’s end, and Story Empire posts always, so it won’t be completely empty here. I plan to touch base at least weekly, and I’ll try to find time for other goodies here and there, too, though I’m not going to promise when or how often. Once I’ve made substantial progress on this story, I’m sure things will starting heading back to normal, but until then, I hope you’ll all understand if you see less of me online for a few weeks. 

Thanks so much, and now, the Painter Brothers are demanding my attention. They have some interesting things happening in their lives, and some new characters coming into play. Must. Go. Write. 


Yes I know these three guys are really actors, but in MY world,
they are Hunter, Forrest, and Jackson Painter, and I’ve 
truly missed them! 🙂 ❤

What’s Up With This?

Sometimes you just have to wonder what the heck is going on in people’s minds. I’d say this isn’t for real, but it’s been in this range for several months.

You think maybe these stores are having a hard time finding someone who wants Finding Hunter this badly? (Especially given that it is not out of print and is still available on Amazon for the low, low price of $13.99. )

Hey. Maybe these are signed copies! Oh, yeah. That would explain it. (Insert derisive snort here.) 😀 

Don’t get me wrong. It is a great book, of course. (Just ask me.) But get serious!

 Anyone else find things like this now and then?  Just curious. 😀

 

 

Emeralds and Silver by Hunter Painter #FindingHunter #Romance

149507s

In lieu of a #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger this week, I’m inviting one of my favorite characters from Finding HunterHunter Painter, himself–to share something with you. Hunter’s a very quiet man, and doesn’t do well around large groups of people, so he won’t be chatting with you today. But with much arm-twisting, I got him to agree to let you read one of the poems he wrote years ago about the love of his life, Willow Greene.

Hunter fell in love with Willow in high school, but as a quiet, introspective sort of guy, he committed all his thoughts to paper, instead of voicing them aloud. It’s a shame, really. Unbeknownst to him, Willow loved Hunter right back. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that. For the rest of the story, you’ll have to check out the book, I’m afraid. 🙂

In the meantime, here are the thoughts of a young man who was given to observing everything and everyone, then writing down all he’d seen and heard. And maybe next week, we’ll have a post from a REAL LIVE guest blogger.  🙂

Emeralds and Silver
  By Hunter Painter, Grade 11

No emerald pulled from
  darkest earth holds
    light so warm, so
      full of life, as the
        green in those eyes.

No precious metal
  curled or curved in
    filigrees of man’s design
      offers half the sheen of
        that spun-silver hair.

Who would trade her
  incandescent glow for
    emeralds and silver
      lonely and cold?
        Joyless, both, next to her
          bright sparkle.

#ExcerptWeek – #FindingHunter No. 1

Final FH Cover Smaller

You guys with books to promote should really take advantage of #ExcerptWeek, you know. But as long as it’s this slow, I’m going to fill in with excerpts of my own, so be forewarned. This is the first scene of Chapter 2 in my latest book, Finding Hunter, which is Book 2 of the Riverbend series. Hunter Painter is a quirky, shy man, who carries a lot of secrets close to his heart. Some of them are tragic, and some pertain to how he feels about Willow Greene. Namely, that he’s loved her since high school, and never had the nerve to tell her, or anyone else, before confessing to his best friend. He has just hung up the phone and realizes he’s agreed to lunch at her house. Blind panic is all he feels. (And in this book, there is a poem at the start of each chapter that relates to the prologue, and hints at a mystery to come.) Enjoy!
*********

Before, I never thought about taking a life. Not once.
Now, the thought fills my mind day and night, and
I wonder how I’ll hide that terrible need,
As an old car swings to the shoulder,
And stops.
~ Traveling Man ~ 

~~~
Doomed
~~~ 

8:15PM Friday, December 28, 2012

“OH, MY GOD, Biscuit. What have I done?” Hunter Painter flung himself backward on his bed, and stared at the ceiling in shock. His dog immediately took this dramatic event as an excuse to leap onto the bed and begin administering first aid. This mostly consisted of lots of very warm, very wet licks to Hunter’s face.

“Stop, Bisk! If you’re staying up here, lie down and be still.”

The smooth-haired collie lowered himself, head on paws, concerned eyes watching every move Hunter made, in case more attention was needed. But it seemed the drama was over, except for some muttering and grumbling.

Hunter scratched his tan and white companion behind the ears as he replayed the phone conversation in his mind. He had only intended to test the waters, just wanting to see if he could handle a one-on-one conversation with Willow and not turn into a gibbering idiot. Like a moon-drunk fool, he had confessed to Gunnar Wolfe that he had been in love with Willow since the eleventh grade, and Gunn had urged him to call her. After a week of long, hard thought—and fortified by three cold beers—he had decided he would.

Of course, he had only meant to thank her for inviting him and his brothers to Gunn’s wedding. Just that. “Hi, great party, thanks, goodbye.”

He figured that would be enough for a start. When had he lost control?

“Soon as she said hello, that’s when,” he muttered. “Never, ever thought she’d ask me over. How in God’s name will I handle that? Can’t be in the same room with her, even in a crowd, without breaking out in a cold sweat. Don’t know if I can do this, Biscuit. Can’t just waltz into her home, tour her garden, and have lunch with her, like we’ve been hanging out together for years. She screws up my brain, you know. Years and years gone by, and still—one smile from her and everything in my head short-circuits.” Continue reading

#Excerpt Week Finding Hunter CH 8

Final FH Cover Smaller

A shorter one this time…a scene from CH 8, from Hunter’s POV, and giving you a bit more insight into who Hunter Painter really is. Another of his secrets, exposed. 🙂 Poor Hunter. He’s so befuddled.

******

I duck, climbing in, nod my thanks, but don’t speak.
He talks enough for both of us. My head hurts.
I yell at him, see his shocked face.
He stops, pushes me out, drives away fast.
Walking again.
~ Traveling Man ~

~~~
Chapter 8

You Write
~~~

Saturday, January 19, 2013

 HUNTER WATCHED WILLOW stroll through her herb garden, basket over her arm, and small, sharp scissors in hand. The weather had been mild this winter, and there were plenty of hardy herbs still green and fragrant. She gathered bunches to hang in the kitchen, and the snip-snip sound followed her as she moved along each row.

Sitting at a white wrought iron table in the shade of a young laurel oak, legs stretched out in front of him, Hunter’s sharp eyes missed very little. Admiring Willow’s graceful movements had been a pastime of his since the first day she came into his life, an activity as familiar as breathing in those days. Today, it brought a perspective that was new—and completely unanticipated.

Today, she was his, as he was hers. Today, his heart was at peace, even if only temporarily, and the constant, unfulfilled longing from years ago was gone. She loved him, which made everything different, and he refused to let anything steal this moment from him.

His gaze lingered on the silky blue fabric of her skirt, blowing around her slim legs, and the pale gleam of her unbound hair, cascading down her back. Words tumbled through his mind, and that familiar need to commit them to paper took over.

With his small, spiral notebook and pen in hand, Hunter wrote, spilling his thoughts onto each narrow blue line, still as in love with the process as he had been as a young child. Then, as now, random marks turned into letters in front of his eyes, and letters into words. Words became sentences, then thought, then pure emotion. His pen flew across the paper, capturing every image and feeling, so he could revisit them later, at will.

Hunter Painter loved to write. It helped convince him he wasn’t simply taking up space on this planet, and it was as much a part of him as his gray eyes and brown hair. When he was lost in the process, the rest of the world disappeared, which is why he didn’t realize Willow had finished her herb gathering, and stood behind him, reading over his shoulder. Oblivious, he scribbled on, trying to capture each word before it got away.

When she laid her palm on his shoulder, he shot straight up, pen flying from his hand, and spiral notebook dropping to the ground. “Geeze, Willow! Didn’t know you were there!”

He scrambled around, retrieving pen and notebook, hoping she hadn’t had a chance to see what he was doing, but one glance at her expression told him he’d been caught. Running wouldn’t help. He’d tried that. She would follow.

Willow took a seat at the tiny table, the basket of herbs by her feet. “You write.” Amazement was in her voice and shone from her eyes. “Poems.”

Cheeks burning, he eased back into his chair, uncertain how to respond. “Yeah … I guess I do.”

“You guess? You write, Hunter. Why are you so embarrassed? What I read was wonderful.”

He stammered, face flushing redder. “I never … show anyone. It’s just … something I do.”

“For how long?”

“Always. Long’s I can remember.”

“You’ve been writing as long as you can remember, and no one knows about it? No one has read any of it?”

Hunter sank lower in his chair, groaning inside. She wasn’t going to let this go. “No. Never.”

“Why on earth not?”

He shrugged, face still hot. “Never showed it to anybody.”

Brow slightly furrowed, she uttered a noncommittal sound. “Hmm.”

“What’s ‘hmm’ mean?”

She rose, picked up her basket, and beckoned to him. “Let’s go inside. I’ll fix us some lunch.”

Left alone, he had little choice but to follow her, muttering under his breath the entire way. “Done it again. Never showed anybody a word I’ve written for thirty years, and somehow, after only a few weeks, Willow knows all about it. How does this keep happening?”

#FindingHunter Available in Print Format Now!

Final FH Cover Smaller

Woohoo! Finding Hunter is now available in print as well as Kindle format. Here’s the blurb from amazon:

Before, I never thought about taking a life. Not once.
Now, the thought fills my mind day and night, and
I wonder how I’ll hide that terrible need,
As an old car swings to the shoulder,
And stops.

~ Traveling Man ~

Hunter Painter’s darkest fears have shaped his offbeat personality since he was a child, crippling him in ways invisible to those unable to see past his quiet exterior. In a sleepy Florida town known for its eccentric inhabitants, he’s always been a mystery to most.

Only one person sees beyond Hunter’s quirky facade. Willow Greene, the new age herbalist who owns the local candle and potpourri shop, has secretly loved him since they were in high school. When, sixteen years later, she discovers Hunter has loved her just as long, Willow hopes her dreams are finally coming true.

Soon, Willow learns that Hunter fears happiness at her side isn’t in the cards for him. With her natural optimism and courage, she almost convinces him he’s wrong—that they can really have that life together they both long for—but even Willow can’t stop what Hunter knows is coming.

One by one, his worst nightmares become reality, culminating in an unthinkable tragedy, which devastates everyone it touches. Willow’s battle begins in earnest as Hunter is plunged into a bleak, guilt-ridden despair, threatening to destroy not only their love, but Hunter, himself.

Finding Hunter is the story of a lost man’s desperate struggle to make his way home again, and one woman’s unshakeable faith in him and the power of their love.

*

Hope some of you will check it out here:

Finding Hunter

#ExcerptWeek – Finding Hunter Chapter 4

Final FH Cover Smaller

Pulling out all the stops as we head into the weekend. Decided to share an entire chapter! We last saw Hunter racing for home, leaving a shocked and miserable Willow behind, after a shared kiss in the garden that rocked her world. Willow, probably my strongest female character to date, is not going to settle for something like that, without an explanation. This is what ensues. (Note: Hunter does have reasons for his deep-seated fear of starting a relationship with Willow. But his resistance is giving way.)
***********

Bounced awake, I hold my head against the constant pain.
An arm reaches across me, opens the door.
Sorry, he says, wrinkling his nose.
You gotta get out now …
Go bathe.
~ Traveling Man ~

~~~
Chapter 4
I’ve Gone to China
~~~

Saturday, December 29, 2012

HUNTER GROANED, PULLING his feather pillow over his head not only to block out the world, but just in case he started shouting in frustration.

What the hell happened? What the bloody hell just happened? Everything was fine. It was going better than I ever thought it would, and then suddenly it all went crazy. She kissed me! Why the hell did she kiss me? How the hell was I supposed to resist that?

The memory of that kiss rocketed into him so hot and fast, it scorched a path through his soul. Never in his life had a kiss transported him that way. He could still feel her mouth under his, sweet and yielding, and burning like fire. The raspberry scent of her hair lingered on his hands, and he would never, ever forget the taste of her skin. Every nerve ending in his body felt burned raw from the experience—so sensitive, the slightest breeze sliding over it would cause unbearable pain.

But somewhere in his torment, he also remembered how she had responded to him, moaning into that kiss, and whispering his name over and over as they clung to each other. She wanted him, too, a concept that had never once seemed a possibility in all the years he had loved her.

Doesn’t make it any better, does it, you stupid fool? Still never gonna happen. You don’t belong with Willow Greene, and nothing’s going to change that. All you’re doing here is torturing yourself. Continue reading

#FindingHunter Excerpt 3

Final FH Cover Smaller

Promised the second part of today’s excerpt, and here it is. A bit later in Chapter 3, still at Willow’s house, but after lunch, this time from Willow’s POV. She’s on just as many pins and needles as Hunter is. 🙂 Enjoy!

*************

How could I ever have thought I cared a fig for Evan Ashe, or anyone else? No one has ever made me feel the way Hunter Painter does. Every single day of my life has been lost in sleep-walking, waiting, waiting, waiting.

She shoved that thought away. “Would you like to see the herb garden first?”

“There’s more?”

“Of course,” she said, with a self-conscious laugh. “I never can seem to do things by halves. I’ve made several garden areas, and then there’s a path through the trees, down to a little stream. What would you like to see?”

“Everything. Show me everything.”

She studied his face to be sure he really meant it. He looked serious. “Okay, let’s start over there.” Pointing to the side yard, she headed to her favorite bed.

Following traditional design, Willow had laid out her main herb garden as a large rectangle, with narrow brick paths that separated it into sections for each herb. Miniature purple coneflowers, her favorite butterfly plant, made a colorful, sweet-scented border around the entire garden. They strolled through the paths, sipping their iced tea, while Willow explained a bit about the uses of each plant. Hunter followed along, nodding, and making the occasional comment, as though he was truly interested.

I have no idea what I’m even saying. I can’t believe this could possibly interest him. Here we are, Hunter Painter and I, after all these years. Walking around my garden, and I don’t even know what I’m saying. God, if he stands any closer to me, I’m going to do something stupid, like touch him. Continue reading