RITA and RITA–Hall of Fame edition



Some of you have seen the news elsewhere, but it did seem there should be an official announcement.  How To Bake A Perfect Life won the RITA from Romance Writers of America last week, a third win in its category.

That means, my friends, that I was inducted into the Romance Writers Hall of Fame.  It was one great night, let me tell you.  Christopher Robin was there, and my best writing buddy Christie Ridgway, and my long-time editor Shauna Summers, who happens to be a great friend now, too.  We share a love of food and books and music, and dinners with her are always the highlight of my conference.

And this was the highlight of this conference.


How One Writer Persisted

Here is the story of a novel.  

It was written in the wee hours before dawn before the writer’s family awakened and needed to be herded off to school.   Before the work of the day began,  before the brain was sullied by the noise of news and commerce and obligations.

And when it was finished, she sent it to her agent, who loved it. Declared it one of the best romances she had ever read. Ever.  She took it to market with great energy—but the book was rejected over and over with the kind of crushing rejections that say, “we love this book, but can’t imagine that it will sell very well.” The setting was wrong. The love story was too unusual.

After nearly a year, the writer admitted defeat and put the book away.

The writer was me, of course.  I was divorced and dating when the book arrived in my consciousness again, when Christopher Robin and I discovered we both knew the facts of the English arm of WWII backwards and forwards.  On one of our first dates, we eagerly exchanged facts about the landings at Normandy and Battle of the Bulge—but I one-upped him: I knew the history of the African American soldier in that war; knew that it was the bloody, bloody toll of Normandy, then the push across France that led to the Army finally dropping its policy of segregation, so black troops were armed and pressed into service, to fight against Hitler’s army in that harsh, terrible winter of 1944-45.  It was that year that led to the desegregation of the Army, and in my opinion, the eventual desegregation of the country.

I knew it because that was part of the story I told in that book I woke up early to write.  Isaiah High joins the Army to flee his hometown. Through his letters home, we see his journey, in England and through France, at last at Dachau, where he is part of the forces of liberation. It’s also a love story, of course, but the WWII aspect is very important.

CR was entranced.  It had been a long time since I’d read it, but I pulled it out and discovered that I had grown quite a lot as a writer and wanted to rewrite it, but the bones were good, and I still loved the characters madly.  The trouble was, I only had a hard copy, and scanning technology—which has taken off insanely the past couple of years, was extremely primitive.  The scan was a mess.  An absolute, practically unreadable mess.   I had deadlines and side projects and just didn’t have time to fix it.

And perhaps I was wary of getting my heart broken all over again.  As long as the book sat safely in my heart and drawer, it would never be rejected again.

But CR did not give up.  We visited the British War Museum.  We traveled to the beaches of Normandy.  He sometimes had a book on black soldiers sent to me, or linked me to a story online.

Two years ago, feeling the urge to maybe make some time to clean up the draft to see what I actually had there, I stumbled over a website devoted to the letters of a young WWII soldier home to his family.  He was stationed in England, just like Isaiah, and he was headed for Normandy.  I read, engrossed, one night, thinking of the letters Angel and Isaiah had exchanged.  I read to the very end of that soldier’s letters.   Powerfully moved, I decided that I would at least give The Book a chance.  Tucked between deadlines was a six week window that I could spare.  I booked a hotel room in a retreat center, and before I went, I cleaned up the worst of the typos and strange words in the scanned file.  By the time I arrived at the retreat center, I was ready to dig in.

I rewrote it, and then came home and rewrote again.  I knew my main publisher and agent would be wary, because it is a very different story than the books I am publishing now as Barbara O’Neal, and we’ve all put a tremendous amount of energy into branding those books.  I knew who I wanted to publish it—Belle Bridge Books.

But again, I was terrified.  What if they didn’t like it, either, and my baby, this book of my heart, was orphaned again? I sent it to a writer friend to read, and she emphatically pronounced it beautiful and moving, so with some trepidation, I sent a note to Deb Smith at Belle Bridge, and she responded in about two hours: SEND IT.

She loved it.  She made an offer in one of the shortest negotiations I’ve ever participated in.   I needed the time to go through it one more time.  One year later I am pleased to announce:

 The Sleeping Night is now on sale!

 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, and soon will be in all outlets.

The reviews are amazing.  Read a few here:

Romance Reviews by Sallie:  “The Sleeping Night is a refined, romantic tale.  I imagine if Jane Austen wrote novels today, her stories would read a lot like Barbara Samuel’s.”  Read More >>>

From Karen Knows Best: “Told partially in the present day, partially in Angel and Isaiah’s past after the war, and partially through their wartime letters, this is not just a suspenseful forbidden love romance, but a powerful story about spiritual and emotional needs. The letters give rich historical detail about everyday life while showing the closeness of their connection, the depth of their sorrow over the ugliness of the world, and their need to understand how such awful things could happen.”  Read More >>>

From Angela Booth’s Writing Blog:  “I’m not sentimental; I can’t remember the last time a book made me break down in tears, but this book did it. Several times I had to resist the urge to stop reading because it was too painful. I’m glad I kept on, because it was worth it. The Sleeping Night is wonderful, precisely because the characters’ struggle is so agonizing.

(That said, if you hate books with unhappy endings be relieved — there’s a happy ending. :-))”  Read More>>>


There will be some giveaways for this book.  Check back soon.  Oh, and check out the dedication.  Can you guess who got it?



Broken Hearts, Second Chances

For this Mother’s Day Weekend, Walk in Beauty is free at Amazon.  It is a searing, heartfelt  tale of lost love and a secret child, the terrible mistakes we can all make, and the possibilities love offers to heal even the darkest of wounds.  I love this book madly, for the Navajo aspects, and the lost child reunited with her father.  Luke Bernali was one of the first characters to ever walk on to the screen of my imagination, although it was nearly a dozen years before I wrote his story. He was my companion for a long time.

The special starts Friday and ends Tuesday, so don’t miss your chance.



Jessie glanced out the front window. “It’s cloudy. Won’t it be awfully cold?”

“Not really,” Luke said. “We’ll bundle up and put an extra pair of socks on. It’s nice up there this time of year. Do you remember Cheyenne Canyon? Helen Hunt Falls?”

Jessie chuckled, thinking of her ragged copy of Ramona, Helen Hunt Jackson’s famous novel of a California woman and the Indian, Alessandro, she loved. Jessie had discovered a dusty copy in the library when she was fourteen and read it three times—just that year. She’d lost count of how many more times she’d picked up the beloved book. “How could I forget?”

Luke grinned, and his face was suddenly ten years younger. He’d often teased her about falling in love with him because she had loved Alessandro first.

And in a small way, it was true. The first time she had seen Luke, hammering nails into the frame of her father’s new study, she had been riveted. As he worked in the heat of a California afternoon, his long black hair braided and dark skin shimmering with sweat, he’d been the most singularly attractive man she’d ever seen. His back was bare and long and dark, his arms strong and hard-muscled. A red bandanna tied around his forehead kept the hair from his eyes. She stared at him through her bedroom window, her stomach tight, unable to believe he was real. He paused, wiping a forearm across his brow. And then he looked up.

Jessie, romantic and young, had thought with a painful pinch, Oh, it’s Alessandro! Her heart flipped when he gave her a slow, mocking, sexy smile…..


In the mountains….

“You forget, Jessie, I was your number-one fan a long time before anybody else realized how good you were.”

Her gaze didn’t stray, but he saw a flicker of something oddly stricken cross her face. “I didn’t forget.” With a little shrug, not looking at him, she said quietly, “I’m pretty sure there would have been no paintings at all if it hadn’t been for you.”

He touched her hand on his arm. “So tell me about them.”

She looked at him, then back toward the up sloping path. “Well, I just sold a group called ‘Canning Time.’ It’s kind of a historical feeling, I guess—the thirties. Four women doing all kinds of things in a kitchen—getting the fruit, washing it, laughing.”

“I’d really like to see them.”

Suddenly she seemed to realize how intimate they’d become, walking close on the snowy path, enveloped by the silence of the winter day. She snatched her hand back and slipped it deep into the pocket of her coat. His coat.

Luke let her retreat. In a moment, he heard her breathy hum start up again. This time, the song clicked in. “I’m On Fire.” Evidently, he wasn’t alone in remembering how it had been between them.

Biting back a grin, he started humming along, loud enough for her to hear. A bright pink splash of color flooded her cheeks. He nudged her gently, chuckling.

She bent her head, but said nothing.

They walked for a long time in the soft gray day. Jessie finally protested that she needed to rest, and they paused at the edge of a wide, high field, blanketed with unbroken snow. Giselle and Tasha raced into the snow, kicking up sprays and tumbling each other into it.

Luke felt the cold air and the brisk walk in his blood as a tingling glow. Next to him, Jessie leaned against a pine, laughing as she watched Giselle. “I should get her a dog,” she said. “I had no idea how much she liked them.”

“Tasha’s not just any dog. She’s the greatest dog I’ve ever had.”

“Really?” Jessie grinned up at him, cocking her head. A fall of hair rippled down her arms. “What about Boris?”

“Yeah, Boris was great, too.” He rubbed his cold nose with cold fingers, thinking of the shepherd that had accompanied him on his wanderings for ten years. Every night for three weeks after Jessie left him, Boris had paced the house and howled mournfully.

“What happened to him?”

“He was so big, his hips started to go. I had to have him put to sleep. He couldn’t walk anymore—I even had to carry him outside to do his business.”

She regarded him steadily, a softness of sympathy in her eyes. It struck him all at once that it was Jessie standing here next to him. She was smiling gently, as if she wanted to tell him she knew how hard that had been for him, that she knew he’d wept privately when he buried his dog. She was the only one he’d ever let close enough to see that weakness in him. Embarrassed, he glanced away.

Overhead, an enormous blue jay—a camp robber—claimed a branch. With a flurry of wings and noisy straightening, he harangued the intruders, screeching at them like a fishwife to get out of his territory. Jessie laughed.

“You still like those evil creatures?” Luke asked.

“Yes, I do.” She grinned. “They’re sassy and strong.”

Drawn by her grin, he stepped closer and then paused. All at once, the tumult of emotions that had risen at the surprises of the past day dropped away. Left in its place was a calm, sharp desire—a hunger that had never ceased, not in eight years; a need that still thrummed through him, like the eternal sound of drums in a heartbeat. He wanted her. Plain. Simple. Clear.

He licked his lip. “You’re a blue jay,” he said, touching the array of bracelets on her wrist and then the earrings winking through her hair.

“Am I?”

Earlier, she had kept up walls of fear between them when he stood this close. Now there was nothing, only Luke and Jessie the way they’d always been. Before she could protest, he bent and brushed a kiss over her cold lips.

The contact sent a zinging rush over his nerves. In the tiny second it took, he felt the slight dryness of her chapped lips and a hint of the warm moisture beyond. Her hair brushed his cheek, and her chin jutted up a little so she could meet him halfway.

He lifted his eyes to meet her surprised gaze. A snowflake caught on her cheek and he brushed at it, feeling his heart thump and his soul swell a little from the headiness of finding something lost. In her eyes he caught a flicker of pain and fierce desire. He winked.

Before she could protest, he quickly stepped away and joined his daughter in the snow.

* * *

The walk back took much less time. Jessie felt oddly free and calm as they hiked down. She and Luke didn’t speak, but she felt his kiss lingering between them, not quite a promise, not fierce enough to be a threat. He seemed as content as she to simply be quiet.

Back at the truck, Giselle begged to be allowed to ride in the rear with Tasha. Jessie frowned, and Luke shook his head firmly. “Nope—there are tools and all kinds of other junk back there right now. Maybe another time.”

Exhausted by the long walk and her romp with Tasha, Giselle looked mutinous. Jessie recognized the expression and stepped forward to gather her into a hug before she fell to pieces. “I think,” she said to Luke over her daughter’s head, “we have one very tired young lady here.”

He returned her smile. “I’ve got some stew at the house. Some lunch and a nap and she’ll be fine.”

“I really think we need to go back to the hotel.”

“Why would you want to pay good money to eat at a bad restaurant when you can eat my home cooking for nothing?” he said lightly, opening the bed to let Tasha into the truck. “If you want to go back to the hotel after lunch, I’ll take you.”

Holding her daughter close to her chest, Jessie looked at him. His black, glossy hair was tousled from his play in the snow, and the wind had stung dusky color into his high cheekbones. Tasha leapt into the truck and turned to give an adoring, thankful lick to her master’s chin. Luke scrubbed her ruff, smiling fondly.

It was so easy for Luke, Jessie thought. He just opened up and loved things—dogs and cats and cloudy days and little girls. So easy. And they all loved him right back.

Just as Jessie had.

Her silence stretched a long time. Luke seemed to sense her gaze and he turned. Across the snowy ground, with a child of their making and a cold wind between them, they looked at each other. His strongly chiseled face was grave. She hoped hers showed nothing, but was afraid he could still read her all too well.

“Hotel or rabbit stew?” he asked at last.

Jessie couldn’t repress the chuckle that rose in her throat. “You didn’t tell me it was rabbit.”

He slammed the doors closed on the back of the truck and winked. “Tastes just like chicken,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

Jessie inclined her head, thinking with relish of his fragrant stews. “It’s been a long time.”

“Is that a yes?”

She nodded. “I guess it is.”

He grinned, and the expression gave his eyes a devilishly sexy tilt. “Will you show me how to make Mrs. O’Brien’s biscuits?”

“I don’t know,” she said, pretending reluctance. “Maybe her biscuits are one of those things that just needs a woman’s touch.”

“Maybe. It’s worth a try, eh?”


Giselle fell asleep before they had driven out of the canyon. She slumped against Jessie’s shoulder. “I am definitely buying this child a dog,” Jessie said quietly. “Tasha wore her out—and believe me, that’s no small feat. She’s like that battery—she just keeps going and going and going…”

Luke glanced at the girl. “She’s out cold now.” He shook his head and signaled to join the main street out of the canyon. “She’s so much like Marcia, it’s almost eerie.”

“I guess you’ll want her to meet Giselle.”

A strange expression flickered over his face. “Mmm.


He touched his jaw, shifted the truck and glanced in the rearview mirror. “I, uh, already made arrangements. She’ll be here this afternoon sometime.”

“You had no right do that without my permission.”

“I know.” He sighed. “I’m sorry. I did it last night when I was feeling so blown away. If you want me to take you to the hotel now, I will. Marcia doesn’t know it’s you guys—I just told her there was somebody I wanted her to meet.”

Jessie stared at him, holding the warm weight of her child against her, and suddenly realized it was not only Jessie who was upset by all this. Luke, too, had to grapple with the demons of the past. “No,” she said. “It’ll be all right.”

He gave her a grateful smile and reached over to touch her hand. “Thanks, Jessie.”

All at once she realized how much she had relaxed in his company. He was so damned easy to be around, so easy to talk to. He never seemed to expect anyone to be anything except just what they were.

Alarmed, she moved her hand gently from his and saw a ripple of hurt cross his features. Pressing her lips together, she resolutely turned her face to the window. “It’s only fair.”

His voice sounded tired as he said, “Fair doesn’t have much to do with any of this.”

“No,” she agreed softly. “I guess it doesn’t.”

Two people pretending they don’t need anybody at all….

From Breaking the Rules, a fast-paced, sexy, adventure-romance originally published by Intimate Moments.  I love the escapist aspects of it, and love both Zeke and Mattie’s need to protect themselves, and hide their pasts, even as they are falling in love.  And just for the record, if you want a brand-new first edition of the paperback, it will be a tiny bit pricy–lowest price is $152.

Luckily, it is free for the next five days on Kindle.  Grab it while you can.


It was Zeke’s habit to rise early, one born in childhood when he’d awakened to help his mother weed the garden, knowing it would be the only time he could have her to himself in a day.

So even now, when his work was in the evenings and sometimes ran very late, he found himself wide-awake as dawn broke the night sky. Over the past months, he’d developed a habit of going to the canyon, knowing that if he got there early enough, as with his mother, he’d have it to himself.

Of all the flyspecks on the map he’d blown through the past eighteen months, Kismet would be the hardest for him to leave behind, a thought that bothered him this morning – just a little. He had a rule about getting attached to things. When you got attached, you got in trouble. People, animals, places – he didn’t let himself get too comfortable with any of them. Probably time to move on.

But this morning, he was here, and that was good. He stripped at the edge of the river, taking deep pleasure in the brush of cool morning air against his skin. Overhead, a tangle of larks and sparrows sang to the light, as if it were a unique event. He smiled at them, standing on the bank for a moment to brace himself . Taking a deep breath, he touched his stomach in preparation, and with a whoop, jumped into a deep pool.

The water was a biting, icy shock – exhilarating as it stabbed through his hair and needled his flesh. He touched bottom and pushed himself back up, then lazily paddled in the broad pool, admiring the colors around him.

Back in Mississippi, rivers were wide and muddy and slow, as if the heat sucked their energy from them. Their banks were covered with cattails and grass. This river was crystal clear and mountain-cold and ran fast through the canyon it had carved from red sandstone. There was no mud to speak of, because the streambed was the rock itself.

The beauty of it was that the water had played capricious games with the soft rock, creating slides and carving pools and ignoring little flats, with no rhyme or reason. Later in the day, it would be crowded with tourists, come from the campgrounds nearby to enjoy the miracle.

He kicked out and submerged himself again, now used to the invigorating cold. He looked at the sky, vividly blue above the red of the rocks, and wondered that such color could exist.

It was only then that he became aware of a prickling uneasiness. With a flush of embarrassment, he wondered if some campers had wandered over. He’d been coming here since summer started and had never been discovered. After a few weeks, he’d shed his cutoffs in favor of skinny-dipping just because it seemed natural to do so in such a place. Keeping himself covered to the shoulders, he spun around slowly, peering into the trees at one side of the water. Nothing moved but a squirrel, who chattered in some irritation at Zeke’s gall invading the quiet so early. He grinned to himself, relieved, and splashed backward to lean on a rock in the warming sunlight.

It was only then he caught sight of her, standing at the foot of a path that probably led straight back to her little cabin.

Mary. He wiped water from his face and straightened. “Well, well, well,” he said. “I’m just runnin” into you all over the place.”

She carried a small paper bag and a thermos. “I come here every morning to eat my breakfast,” she said, and pointed to a small outcropping of rocks on the other side of the stream. A natural staircase led to the perch. “I won’t bother you.”

“Maybe I’ll bother you.”

“I doubt it.” He saw that it took some effort, but she resolutely headed toward the perch, leaving her sandals at the edge of the stream to splash through the shallows to the stairs. When she reached the top, she settled herself primly with her bag in her lap. “You mind your business and I’ll mind mine.”

Zeke half smiled. She probably had no idea he’d left his clothes in a pile at the edge of the water, or she wouldn’t be quite so calm. The pool he stood in was deep enough to cloak his nakedness, but if he moved at all, the clear water wouldn’t hide much. “Nice sentiment,” he said, “but we’ve got a little problem.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, Miss Mary, all my clothes are over there on the bank.”

A flash of something crossed her face – satisfaction? She raised her eyebrows. “I guess you’ll have to wait until I’m finished with my breakfast

The original cover

to finish your swim, then, won’t you?”

Zeke licked his bottom lip. It had been a mistake to underestimate this woman. She might look young and naive, but there was something hard as barbed wire running beneath it all. If he hadn’t been so rattled by that mouth yesterday, he would have realized it, too.

“Not necessarily.”

She shrugged, cracking open a peanut. Her composure was utterly unrattled this morning, and he wondered what had brought about the change.

“I think you’re pretty mad at me, aren’t you?”

“Why would I be mad? You deliberately tried to embarrass me at the restaurant, then you followed me home, dropped all these innuendos, then made it sound like I was the one who initiated things.” A blaze of color touched her cheeks. “Not to mention the fact you stuck your nose in where it didn’t belong.”

“All right, all right.” He raised a hand. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

Sunlight angled through the high trees and over the canyon wall to strike her face. “I’ll turn around if you want to get out.”


In the moment……

It is a late Friday afternoon in February.  My dog Jack is snoring on the floor behind me. My old cat Athena is comfortably sitting in the sunshine , peering out at the world. The kittens randomly leap on the back of the chair, up to the desk, over to the bookcase, hoping to get me to come open a can of food for them.   I am waiting for my son to call and say that we’re going to the hospital so that his wife can be induced, a call I have been waiting for–and THEY have been waiting for all day.  It was supposed to happen at 6 am. Then 9 am. Now 6 pm.

We are very, very ready for her to be here. Yesterday was long enough by itself, since we heard the news on Wednesday afternoon that Morgan probably needs to deliver.  But there were…electrical problems on the floor at the hospital. They had to postpone.  I would be lying if I said this didn’t make me anxious, but I am also a believer in things working together for good, so I’m focusing on the fact that it would have been worse for her to be in labor when the power snagged.

So presented with an entire day, what have I done?  A lot of Facebook.  A lot of texting with my sisters. I made a stab at writing new material for The Mirror Girl, but the first time was a bust, so I took a little nap.  I woke up and shot a bunch of photos with my new camera, mostly playing with depth of field on little tiny things (you may have noticed I love shooting very little things up close), made some lunch read more Facebook.

BORED.  I can’t really go to the gym because I had a stomach bug earlier this week and it kicked my butt, so I’m restricted from the gym for the week. Not even yoga. Yesterday, my dog was so slow on the final stretch that I got worried about him, so he got a bone instead of a walk today.

I finally did write some pages on The Mirror Girl (which is almost finished, at least this first book is) and did another round of deep research on childhood leukemia, which figures into the new book for Bantam.  I sent out some emails for The Garden of Happy Endings and made a list of things to do for the release, April 17.  (I will be at several events through April and May, so be sure to check back.)

(And by the way, if you’re collecting the old titles, two more have gone up, Light of Day and A Minute to Smile.  Check out the covers–aren’t they pretty??)

But really, all I’m doing is waiting for Amara.

Here is one of the photos I shot.  I love old silver and tiny spoons and salt cellars in particular.  Have you ever had one?


What do you do when all you’re really doing is waiting?

“They were London rakes, a breed of man beneath Madeline’s contempt….”

 It is blizzardy and deliciously wintery here today, so I thought you might like reading Lucien’s Fall, available now at Amazon Kindle.  Lucien is one of my all time favorite heroes, reckless and beautiful and very nearly unredeemable.

A taste, if you’re so inclined:


The riders raced up the road madly. The gleaming, sporty phaeton rocked dangerously in the rain-rutted course. The other man rode on a beautiful, lean black horse; beast and man were illuminated with the bars of hazy light falling through thick tree branches. They were young men, London rakes, a breed of man beneath Madeline’s contempt. She found their arrogance and idleness a bore.

And yet, as they laughed and shouted, each goading the other to a faster pace, Madeline felt her blood rise in a strange excitement. It was in particular the man on the horse who caught her eye. He wore no powder or wig, and his thick dark hair was drawn back into a queue with a black ribbon. His body was long and sinuously made, and he rode as if he and the horse were one being. From where she stood, his face gave the impression of exotic tilts and powerful bones.

But it was the hedonism Madeline ordinarily found so distasteful in such men that drew her now, made her take up her skirts and run toward the opening of the maze so she would not lose sight of him behind the hedge.

She broke through to the open stretch of lawn between the maze and the Elizabethan house of Whitethorn just as the man urged his horse into a full run. Light dappled faster and faster over his dark hair, his dark horse, his long legs. Next to him, only a little behind, the phaeton rocked noisily.

As they neared the end of the drive, Madeline burst into a run. The man on the horse left the road and bolted across the same lawn. His speed was almost dizzying, and he headed with purpose for a shoulder-high hedge that edged the house garden.

Madeline froze. They would both be killed.

But even as she clamped a hand over her mouth, watching in horror, the black beast leaped with stunning grace over the squared hedge. Horse and man hung—haloed and gilded by the afternoon light—for an endless time against the sky.

As he hung there, suspended in midair, looking like Pan, like some untamed beast come in from the wild, the man laughed. The sound rang with robust defiance into the day, and Madeline felt her heart catch with a sharp pang.

To be so free!

Order this book now.

A Piece of Heaven bargain priced

Just noticed that the digital price for A Piece of Heaven has dropped to $4.99.   Check it out at

Barnes and Noble Nook Store

Amazon Kindle Store 

First Chapter

Filler from The Taos News: Full Moon FactsThe full moon is the phase of the Moon in which it is fully illuminated as seen from Earth, at the point when the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides of the Earth. The full moon reaches its highest elevation at midnight. High tides. Names for the August and September full moon: Full Red Moon, Full Green Corn Moon, Full Sturgeon Moon.

It was a good thing for Placida Ramirez that the moon was full when she set her house on fire at three o’clock in the morning that August night. Because it was the moon, shining like a searchlight through her bedroom windows, that had awakened Luna McGraw. Technically, it was a dream about her long-gone father that yanked her out of sleep. It was worries about her daughter’s arrival tomorrow that kept her awake.

But the moon, so coldly white in the summer sky, took the blame.Dragging on a pair of shorts beneath her sleeping shirt, she got up to make some coffee. It would make her mother crazy to know Luna was making coffee in the middle of the night. Why not a cup of tea? Something soothing and relaxing?

Not her style. Once upon a time, she would have poured a hefty measure of gold tequila into a water glass and sipped that. A part of her still wished she could.

The Otherlands Chronicles

I am quite pleased to be keeping up, posting almost every day (have had to take two days off, and I suspect there will be another this week).  More, I am having a blast discovering this world and story.  Who knew there was a magic cello?

He passed the cello over to me, and I almost felt a ripple through the body, as if it was as excited to be in my hands as I was to touch it again.  I pressed a palm against the front, and took in a breath.  Bartholomew gave me the bow.  “What would you like to play?”

“I would happily play Mary Had a Little Lamb on this beautiful instrument,” I said, nestling it closer to me. It reclined against my shoulder, the scroll close to my ear. As if it—no, she—could speak, I almost heard a whisper, a suggestion.  “Bach’s Air?”  I said.

He was very still for a long moment, then he riffled through a pile of music on the stand, and pulled out the selection.  “I have been working on it.”

We shifted, each of us bending into our instruments, finding our balance.  I mentally hummed through the first bars, sliding into the notes as if they were a suit.  He tuned the G string more finely.  Against me, the old cello vibrated very faintly.

I looked at Bartholomew, and he nodded, tapping his foot. I swayed into his lead and we began together, the long sweet notes pouring out, winding around each other. I found him in the music, and he fit himself into my playing, and we fell inside the piece, both of us.  It was melancholoy and romantic, and the profound beauty loaned by the cello took the notes to some wilder, deeper place.   It seemed to dance against me, the wood warming, glowing.  My cheeks grew hot and a trickle of sweat ran down my neck, and I closed my eyes, feeling an electric sense of tingling through my hands, up my arms, swirling through my neck, and somehow into me, into my chest and throat.


A frank moment on posting in public

The OtherLand Chronicles experiment continues, posting a new scene (almost) every day as a sort of NaNoWriMo exercise.  I say sort of because you are technically supposed to just blast through and not edit and there are likely other rules I don’t know about, but this is my gig and I’m playing it my way.  My goal was to post new work every day and to be as true as possible to the NaNo idea of moving forward even when things aren’t quite right.

Not that easy!  By the time you see one of my books, I’ve been over it a dozen times (at least!).  My agent and editor have read it, commented, made suggestions.  A line edit and copy edit have been done, weeding out the obnoxious repetitive phrases and clumsy sentences I have missed.  None of that has happened with this book, and it’s both thrilling and dismaying.

There isn’t time to edit much, frankly.  If I’m going to get the new scene written, I can’t spend a lot of time polishing the work from the day before–I just have to GO.  I have been writing the scene one day ahead, and giving myself and a beta reader a chance to catch anything that’s going to mess up the story, a dropped thread or anything like that, but not much more.

And you know what, this is FUN!  I’m more worried about getting the story down, keeping the tension up, balancing what the reader needs to know with what needs to remain hidden.   Planting clues, pacing, staying true to the character’s voice.

I thought I know all about the story, too, but stories have a way of birthing themselves into whatever they like.  I am being surprised and entertained.  I tell my voice students to play, to let themselves go, to take a chance every now and then to give the girls in the basement a chance to play.  That’s what I’m doing.  We are writers.  We are in wild mind, beginner’s mind.  A very good place to be.

Just posted the first scene of Chapter Four.  http://theotherlandchronicles.com/2011/11/chapter-4-scene-1-2/