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Friday, May 31, 2013

"Remains": chapter 7

I had such plans for hammering out a blog post at six this morning...and that just wasn't happening. So happy Friday, all, and enjoy another look at Whatever Remains. It's still in rough draft form, so apologies for typos.




            Jade had thought there was nothing more destructive than a man in his twenties. That aimless, mindless wandering; the restless dissatisfaction with their lives and everything in it. They were cocky and brass and unapologetic, clambering from day to day like stampeding wildebeest. They cared about nothing save the idea that they stood for something: “paper-maché Mephistopheles,” each one of them.  

            But she’d been wrong.

            Calculated, focused destruction – the cold cruelty of an impartial predator – was devastating. A man in his forties, lean and sharp-eyed and jaded, could draw you in with such skill you never noticed that he was planning to cut you down all along. A man like that could play charades and spin lies effortlessly; they could let you go without a backward thought. A man like that was untouchable. Jade had always thought she’d been smarter than to be fooled so thoroughly.

            But she’d been wrong.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Another quote

“I’m okay, I think. My face broke my fall.”
~Jade, Whatever Remains

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Monday

I don't know if you can see them in the picture - blame my snapping-while-driving bad picture taking - but every Fourth of July, Veteran's Day, and Memorial Day, the city (thank you small town west Georgia) sets out American flags all the way down the median along the main stretch of highway. There are little footers set down in the grass where a contingency of volunteers place each pole. There's a flag per every ten feet or so, for a good eight to ten mile stretch of road: the whole width of the city (cities out here are one every stoplight, almost). It's a simple salute, but it has a big impact. At the end of the day, the volunteers collect them again, riding in the back of an antique fire engine. In a city fast going suburban, it feels very Mayberry. And patriotic.

There's plenty of places in the world I want to visit, but I love my US of A. Days like today - and flags along the highway - are reminders that there are so many men and women to thank for my little country life. I'm forever grateful to our troops.

It's been a quiet day around here. Yesterday was a usual yard work/chore day, so today is lax. No cookout. No guests. No fuss. It's lovely. And the farm is at its greenest. When everything is mown, trimmed, watered and tended, it's nice to sit back and enjoy it for a bit.

I wish you could smell the honeysuckle!

I have a busy week, so while I'll try to blog as per usual, I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to. If you don't hear from me, I'll be back next week. I hope everyone had a lovely day of revelry - or relaxation, if you're like me. I reached the 80k word mark with Remains this morning, so be on the lookout for news on that front. It won't be long now!


Saturday, May 25, 2013

For Ellie

Watch necklace from Country Outfitter for Ellie circa Dream of You. With appropriate background!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Currently Reading...

...And almost finished with:

 "And it is you, spirit - with will and energy, and virture and purity - that I want: not alone your brittle frame."
~Mr. Rochester 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Remains" Snippet

It was still raining, though softly, and she pulled her hood up against its gentle pattering. The night was a runny, watercolor black, rain sighing high in the tree tops, rustling on the pavement. There was no wind, no animal sounds, no eyes blinking along the fence line. Peaceful. Jade clicked on her big Maglite and let the beam bounce along in front of her, leading the way down the drive to the cracked front barn doors. Raindrops flared in the light, bright as crystal, there and gone again. For a moment – one brief flash that she didn’t understand – something like a cold wet hand slid along the back of her neck: trepidation. A spike of hesitancy that she waved away because she couldn’t find any context for it. She tucked a loose piece of hair behind her ear, inside her hood, and slipped through the doors.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jade Barn-chic Visuals

Image from

**Somehow, talking about Jade has turned into a tribute to Ariat. I'm okay with that; all us horse gals love us some Ariat...everything. This is in no way a sponsored ad.**

She’d been riding since she was seven, and it was the only area in which she’d ever excelled. Her legs and seat and abs and shoulders knew the rhythms by heart; her body accommodated and encouraged Atlas’s big swinging gaits and her fingers moved feather-light on the reins: flexing here, slowing there. The sound of his hooves on the wet sand was as familiar as music to a dancer.
Jade Donovan

With the exception of Lightning (and we won't go into that), this is the first time I've worked with a character who's a dressage rider. It is so much fun. It's such a detailed, nuanced sport, and that parallels nicely with the ins and outs of the murder mystery that is the underlying plot of the story. Life as a horse trainer prepared Jade - even better than I'd originally thought - for Ben. Horses have a grounding effect: the frivolities of life can't stand up to the routine, the sweat, the work, and the wisdom of the farm. Remains might be Ben Haley's story, but Jade is by no means a secondary character. Her determination to be treated the way she deserves and their love for their daughter have made theirs one of the most interesting relationships to write. I hope all my readers will like her when the release date finally arrives.
Image from

Monday, May 20, 2013

Jo's Pendant

           “Sorry,” she said as Jo neared her, “I didn’t mean to screw up your night.”

            Her sister was in tight jeans and a fitted, pretty sleeveless top the color of the sky after a rainstorm, her hair loose and wavy, the silver J pendant Tam had given her for her eighteenth birthday catching a stray light fragment around her neck. She was flushed and smiling, and she shook her head as she turned and settled down on the step beside Jess. “You’re not,” she assured. “What’s up?”
- from Fix You

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Look at Whatever Remains: Chapter 2

** Another look at my novel in progress Whatever Remains. If you missed chapter one, it's HERE. Again, this is still in the rough draft stage, so apologies for any typos!**


            Why? Why, of all the houses in the county, did it have to be that house? Had Ben believed in karma, he’d say this was her way of screwing him over after all this time.

            Lucky for him, all he believed in was the existence of evil people. And numerical statistics. Statistically, it was only a matter of time until evil found its way to 4253 Iris Lane.

            But, statistics or no, it sucked big ones that he’d been the detective to get the call.

            He had a 2011 Charger – dark blue and rear wheel drive for police practicality – and the radio knob had snapped off two days before; he couldn’t adjust the volume or turn the thing off. Short of unscrewing the antennae – which he was about ten minutes from pulling over and doing – he was stuck shuffling through channels. “Sympathy for the Devil” seemed too ironic for words, so he flipped to the pop station and settled for some chart-topping British boy band shit that was slightly more tolerable than rap or hipster elevator music garbage. He wanted to turn the damn thing off – take a moment to collect his thoughts before he hit his partner’s drive and launched the two of them full-tilt into this new case – but in a way, maybe the noise was a good thing. Maybe collecting his thoughts was a piss-poor idea because once dread took hold of him, he wasn’t sure he could be objective when he arrived at the house on Iris Lane.

            Instead – prepubescent boys singing shrilly about love they could only pretend to understand in the background – he went back to the statistics. They were comforting.


When she figured it safe, she went around the coffee table and took his seat, gaze falling on the wallet he’d left behind. She told herself she wanted to know his full name in case she ever had to give it to the police – because he had that look about him – but she was gripped with good old fashioned nosiness too, as she picked up the wallet and flipped it open.

There were a half a dozen ten dollar bills and a few ones in the cash sleeve. Two credit cards. A CVS customer card. A ticket stub from an AC/DC concert in ’08. He looked shell-shocked in his license photo, but she couldn’t read his info because the plastic sleeve was scratched and cloudy. She worked a nail beneath and managed to slide the ID out. Tameron Wales, she read before something that had been tucked behind the license went fluttering down to the floor.

She leaned forward and took a corner of it between two fingers. It was a photo, the kind you’d get at a carnival photo booth, of Tam sporting even longer hair and a girl on his lap. She was young, a dirty blonde, with a sweet little pixie face and huge eyes. Both her arms were around Tam’s neck and she smiled up at the booth’s camera as he pressed a kiss to her temple.

Delta flipped it over and read the bold, all-caps label handwritten on the back. JOEY 2003. Back to the wallet, she found two more from the same photo booth session inside the license sleeve. Tam was smiling in both pictures, the kind of smile that reached off the paper and told anyone looking at this snapshot of time that he’d been deliriously happy in that booth with that girl, whoever she was.

~ From Better Than You
I got to go to that show. Ticketmaster booted me off twice and I lost my floor seats; ended up sitting in nosebleed and it was still amazing. There's no way Tam missed it. Mike had tickets and he took his bestie.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Rosewood Inn (from Fix You) is a white Victorian with black shutters and wraparound porch, semi-inspired by houses like these: 

Pic found HERE
Pic found HERE

Harry S. Truman's former house; pic found HERE


For Jo

Tam scanned all their faces before he allowed himself to latch onto Jo. She was walking side-by-side with Jordan, the two of them talking about something – they’d always been the closest, the “twins” – and Tam fought a smile when he took stock of what she was wearing. Jeans, a tall pair of those leather Dublin boots she’d always talked about wanting, a thin, gray zip up hoodie over a white tank, a baseball cap, her hair streaming loose beneath it. With those big sea-foam eyes of hers, the fair skin, she looked like an Irish native and not a tourist. Like some farm girl he might run across on a rutted dirt road, a slop pail in each hand, mud all over her boots.
~ From Keep You

Dublin river boots; photo courtesy SmartPak Equestrian

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

When Animals Attack

I went to take some candid shots of the horses because the wildflowers are in bloom in the pasture and because Markus is so nice and black right now.
AB will not keep her mask on; it's off within ten minutes of turning her out every morning.

I'm sure there are a lot of people who would go stir crazy out on this farm, but I love it. A quiet, semi-solitary life suits me.

I snapped some pics...


...when suddenly...I was attacked. By a ferocious blanket-wearing dog.

Not really. Riddick's favorite game involves running backward - or bouncing, rather - in front of you while you walk and barking at you. I didn't realize how scary his teeth look until I uploaded the pictures. That's okay, though; that's why I have him: sharp pointy teeth (props to anyone who makes Tim the Enchanter rabbit fangs when saying that. Just me? Okay).

And because he's kinda cute.

For Jess

Jess is my most subtle girl to style.  She has definite tastes,
but, they're subdued. This dress (Eliza J at Nordstrom)
would be baby shower/potluck/PTA meeting appropriate.     
(Pre - Fix You)

She definitely doesn't mix patterns. Clean lines with understated accessories. She likes tank dresses, like this one.

And date night chic dresses, like this one.

She strives for classic.

Working on Rosewood it's all jeans (original boot cut), cutoffs (boyfit midis: I have a pair and they're the comfiest, best outdoor/barn/reno/yardwork shorts ever), and boots (cause you don't work around nails without serious footwear).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Characters are people too

There were several reasons why I wanted to write Better Than You, and one reason why I felt I had to. After Keep You was released, I got a little scared. And then a lot scared. It became a case of waiting for someone to slam me for "disapproving" of feminine women. I thought Oh, crap. Someone's going to read about tomboy Jo and think I'm trying to make a statement. And I hated having this thought because the last thing I ever want to do with fiction is make statements about any of the "-isms" in life, if you catch my drift. Because, by the end of Keep You, it becomes apparent that Jo has been quick to judge. And so has Delta. And Better Than You is the flip side of that coin.

In a perfect world, everyone would be sweet and accepting and bear no opinions. But we don't live in a perfect world - far from it; writing characters - real characters and not clipart images with names and rote taglines attached - is about capturing not just one, but all elements of a human. People are snooty. Sometimes characters are snooty. Jo's opinions are Jo's opinions - not mine - and the same goes for Delta. When we're in Jo's head, Delta is the frosty princess, snotty to the last. But in Delta's head, Jo is the snotty one, full of reverse snobbery and looking down her tomboy nose at the pretty girl. It's an unfair mindset on both their parts, but an accurate one, I believe. This happens in real life. Two people so outwardly different need time, and exposure, to see the girl beneath the exterior. They learn; they grow; they're sisters, at the end of the day. And that's what I wanted to explore with the series as a whole: the mosaic nature of families. Siblings are born related, but they aren't necessarily born similar or friendly. Walt and Jess and Mike are all preps - all in very different ways. Walt's serious. Jess is practical. Mike's a doof. Jordie's the jock, and the skinny kid brother, and the sarcastic, removed one. Jo's the baby trying her damndest not to be the baby. Jo envies Jess's grace; Jess envies Jo's don't-give-a-damn. It's messy. And then the spouses get sucked into the equation too, and the friction is heightened.

Okay, I'm rambling. And maybe I'm defending my choices when there's no need to. I've gotta have some faith in reading comprehension, right? But I guess my point is this: I see a lot of complaints from readers (of other books) that literature doesn't supersede the morals of real life, as if it were supposed to. This is impossible to ask. People are opinionated, and so too are characters. Jo and Delta, two polar opposites, are my favorite characters to write. I can like playing the tomboy and I can like glitz too. Each character is a window to a different room of the mind. So, yeah. I just needed to say all that. For reasons.
Frye Melissa Logo boots for Delta. Country Outfitter. I love the old top boot look. If you look at them on the CO site, you can see the detailing on the uppers.

Mint Julep earrings by Geranium for Ellie, circa Dream of You. Found these at Country Outfitter; love their stuff.

Delta's Dress

Delta's wedding dress from Better Than You.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Away

Hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day. My mom is so easy to shop for - she always wants more flowers (you'd think that would get old year after year) so she picks out her own gifts. I used to think that was sad - aren't the best presents surprises? - but the older I get, the more I learn the value of choosing your own presents.

Saturday was tractor delivery day( I'm sure I'll have more to say about that later)...

And Mother's Day dinner with the extended fam. Cue the strawberry margaritas...and this tequila lime chicken and this rice (minus the cheese and with diced tomatoes instead of whole) from Ree Drummond. Delicious, and gluten free.

Yesterday was pizza dinner and card-swapping. Here's where that flower thing is a bummer: nothing to unwrap. The pizza was gluten free pepperoni from Johnny's, and it's my one great food joy now that I don't get to eat wheat. It's fantastic.

I've been away from technology for three days straight and while the break is always nice, I woke up this morning itching to write. My brain thrives on routine. This week, in addition to working on Remains like a madwoman, I want to really beef up bonus Walker material here. More visuals; some online shopping; character aesthetics. So look for fun stuff this week and on into the future.