Emeralds and Silver by Hunter Painter #FindingHunter #Romance

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

#FindingHunter Excerpt #2

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Thought I’d share a bit more of the romantic part of #FindingHunter with a scene from Chapter 3. First, the Chapter 3 snippet from the top of the page, then a moment from Hunter’s POV, as he has lunch with Willow Greene, something he’s terrified to be doing. (Hunter has issues. 😀 ) Later, I’ll share another scene from Chapter 3, from Willow’s POV, which that will include their first kiss. Hope you’ll enjoy this bit, and THAT one.  😉

CH 3 Snippet/Poem

Which way, he asks, face all sharp angles and bright teeth
Under a straw hat, and above his bib overalls.
South, I mumble, climbing into the car.
South toward death—but I don’t say
That part.
~ Traveling Man ~

Excerpt

His thoughts were tangled around each other in his head, and his mouth betrayed him, as usual. “Never have grown up, have you?”  He saw the hurt in her eyes immediately.                                 

“Why would you think that, Hunter?”

“Oh, God, I’m sorry, Willow. That didn’t come out like I meant it.”

“It sounded clear to me. You think I’m still a silly teenage girl, full of frivolous ideas.”

“No.” He gave a determined shake of his head. “Don’t think that at all. What I think is that the rest of us grew up … grew weary … grew complacent. We bent to the way of the world, beaten down, or just too tired or unhappy to care anymore. Some of us grew old by thirty. None of that happened to you. You grew up without letting the world kill who you are. Life may have touched you—or even hurt you—but it hasn’t changed you.”

Now she was staring at him, and he felt his face burn. “That’s what I meant,” he mumbled, studying the green and white checked tablecloth. “Just didn’t get it all out.”

“Oh. Well, then … thank you. I think? I mean, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

He raised his eyes to hers. “A very good thing. Nice to see.”

They finished up lunch, Hunter still feeling like a clumsy bumpkin, but doing his best not to spoil the mood again. Chatting more easily, they covered mutual friends, the challenges of taking care of an older home, and anything else Willow thought of. Hunter just went along for the ride, letting her pick topics that made her happy. He didn’t really care what the subject was, as long as he could sit there watching her hands fly and her eyes shine.

She’s the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. It’s like talking to a being who’s made of pure joy. Gunn may not be able to see how she sparkles, but I do. She’s magic, all right. None of us are good enough for her, especially not a bumble-mouthed country nobody like me.

**

Finding Hunter available for download on Amazon.  Print book coming soon.

Finding Hunter Excerpt #1

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Finding Hunter is Book 2 in my Riverbend series. It follows Swamp Ghosts, and can be read as a standalone, but since most of the characters were introduced in Swamp Ghosts, it makes more sense to read that one first. 

At the beginning of Chapters 1 through 20, there is a “snippet” at the top of the page. I’ve included the one from Chapter 2 here, even though the excerpt is actually from the middle of Chapter 1. This is Willow Greene thinking back to meeting Hunter Painter when they were in the 11th grade at the small town high school. Enjoy!

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CH 2 Snippet First:

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 ~

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

CH 1 Excerpt:

He had been a quiet, thoughtful boy, cut from completely different cloth than his brothers. Forrest, a senior that year, and the oldest brother, Jackson, were like peas in a pod. Outgoing, popular, and always up to something. But not Hunter. He marched to that different drummer we’ve all heard tell of, always present, but never quite in the moment.

Willow was very popular with both girls and boys, but the more the other boys came calling, the more Willow had thought about Hunter. He never seemed to be dating anyone, and he always greeted her with a smile and a quiet word or two, but then he would turn away, ambling off to find a quiet spot by himself.

The only class they shared that first year was English, and even though Willow had chosen the seat directly behind Hunter, he never turned to talk to her before the final bell. In fact, he usually waited until the last minute to enter the room and take his seat, leaving Willow to stare at the soft, brown hair curling against his neck, fascinated by the slight bump of each vertebra marching along under his pale skin.

It was his neck that did it. I never would have loved him so much if I hadn’t fixated on that one bit of skin, right in front of my eyes, five days a week. Who falls in love with a neck? And who still remembers it sixteen years later?

All that junior year, Willow had longed for Hunter to call her, to ask her out, or at least to sit by her at lunch. But he never did, and she never told anyone—not even her best friend, Maggie—that out of all of the boys they knew, only Hunter Painter touched her heart.

****

Finding Hunter for Kindle is Available on Amazon now.

Aaaahhhhh…that’s better!

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Thankfully, last week’s problems seem to be sorting themselves out satisfactorily, which is nice, because it frees me up to deal with THIS week’s problems, as they arise. And they are sure to arise. 😉

Swamp Ghosts, it all its forms, seems to be looking correct once again. Finding Hunter has been corrected on Kindle, so that the formatting is prettier, and I have just ordered a new proof of the print version from CreateSpace.  So Hunter Painter’s distressing tale seems resolved, at the present time.

I can breathe again. And possibly even sneak in some reading this weekend. (I’m close to the halfway point in Lee Child’s latest Reacher book, Make Me. OH, how I love watching Jack Reacher tug on threads one at a time, as he slowly unravels the latest mystery he’s uncovered.) And I can even catch up on my Bookin’ It reviews, perhaps.

However, I can’t dawdle for long. Rabbit has a story to tell, and when that boy gets to talking, there’s no stopping him. So, I plan to start Harbinger in the next day or two. I’m already putting together my inspiration board, filled with gorgeous images of the North Carolina mountains. *sigh* Makes me want to load up my car and go!

But…here’s the biggest news of all. Starting on Monday, here at The Write Stuff…we’re going to have an EVENT! Nothing earth-shattering or difficult, but it should be fun. Stay tuned for details shortly.

And that’s it for me today. What wonderful things are you guys up to this weekend?

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Happy Ending Almost In Sight!

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Even as I type, the correct version of Swamp Ghosts is being restored to its rightful place between the alligator infested covers of same! Woohooo. And the Usurper, Finding Hunter, has been sent back to his OWN book, with firm instructions never to stray from within those covers again! Ever!!

Like many of Life’s Learning Experiences, this one wasn’t fun. But it did teach me to be very, very careful in the future, and not let anything cause me to rush, or to work when I’m too tired to think straight. But, when everything’s said and done, all’s well that ends well. (I made that up. No, really. I did. Okay, I didn’t. Not a bit of it. So sue me.  *grin* )

By tonight or tomorrow, this whole thing will be nothing but a memory, and me? I’m movin’ on! I have stories to tell, books to write, and self-marketing to . . . to . . . to try and palm off on somebody else! 😀

Have a great week, you guys! I think next week, we’re due to have an event around this place. Maybe an Excerpt Week. Haven’t had one of those in ages, and I’m sure you all have books you’d like to promote. Stay tuned!