On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Heart Legacy Cast of Characters

Coming November:
Heart Legacy Cast of Characters:

Draeg Betony-Blackthorn's Family:
Note: Draeg is undercover as Draeg Hedgenettle.

Corax, his new raven Fam.

Straif T'Blackthorn: adopted father, FirstFamily GrandLord, tracker (hero of Heart Choice)

Tinne Holly: cousin to Straif T'Blackthorn, Draeg's adopted father. Concerned about the old Yew threats against his Family (hero of Heart Fate).

Ilex Winterberry: cousin by marriage to Draeg through Mitchella Clover D'Blackthorn, Chief of all the Druida City guards (police) and formally in charge of the investigation, (hero of Heart Quest).

Mentioned: Draeg's Family

Mitchella Clover D'Blackthorn: adopted mother, interior designer, FirstFamily GrandLady (heroine of Heart Choice)

Antenn Blackthorn-Moss: step brother, architect and inhabitant of the Turquoise House (hero of Heart Fire)

Draeg's full brothers:
Nico
Vesus


Loridana Itha Valerian D'Yew's Family:

Baccat, her cat Familiar companion.

The Residence: the sentient manor house, Yew Residence.

Cuspid Yew: distant cousin, a generation older than Lori, maître de maison. He and the Residence and Folia Yew run the staff of the Residence and the Family.

Folia Yew: thirty-something unmarried Housekeeper.

Vi Yew: Daughter of Cuspid Yew, about a year and a half older than Lori. )Twins
Zus Yew: Son of Cuspid Yew, about a year and a half older than Lori. )

Everyone who lives on the Yew estate and works in the Residence are Family members.

Lori's stridebeasts, two of six named:

Semper
Cana

The horses:
Smyrna
Olusa

Lahsin Holly: Lori's grandfather's (FatherDam's) ex-wife, Lahsin Yew, now Tinne Holly's wife.

Others:

Cal Marigold, reincarnated boy of Draeg's mentor, Tab Holly

Garrett T'Marigold, Cal's father, an ex-merchant guard (hero of Heart Change)

Garrett Primross, Private Investigator, informally in charge of the investigation (hero of Heart Secret).

Nuin Ash: Heir of the Ashes, son of GreatLord Rand T'Ash and Danith Mallow, friend of Draeg. Nuin is a fire mage.

Marin Holly: younger child of Tinne Holly and Lahsin Holly.

Anthema Mayweed: chance met new acquaintance of Lori D'Yew.

GreatLord Rand T'Ash: jeweler/smith/Flair tester, (hero of HeartMate), Fam Zanth.

GrandLady D'Grove: former Captain of the FirstFamily Council.

Avellana Hazel: youngest child of the Hazels, HeartMate to Muin (Vinni), T'Vine. Avellana is a holographic artist.

GreatLord Muin (Vinni) T'Vine: the prophet of Celta.


Some of the last listed have VERY short cameos.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Dance

Dufleur closed her eyes and stood still. Just stood still for once in her life and let things be. She was not pushing, pushing, pushing to get onto the next task. As she calmed, she felt her Flair settle around her like a rich, heavy cloak, seeming to gently filter through her skin and body, then back out, enveloping her.
She breathed.
This was good.
On an inhalation, she opened her eyes. Nearly lost the sweet serenity as she saw a glowing open door before her. A one person sized passage way.
To the past.
Never had she been able to move more than five seconds in the past. Now the door glittered before her, beyond it, the past in darkening shades of gray until the horizon was black.
She could go back in time! Could she return?
No, not if you change events that effect you. It was if time itself whispered to her. In her bones she could see herself of the now being absorbed at some point in time by the changed self then. That was scary. But it might be worth it.
Could she go back to where her father had died? Sidling toward the very edge of the door, she peeked in, sent her Flair probing. My father's death. Far in the distance, miles away, a slight flame shot red. She shuddered. Too far.
But perhaps she could go back to before her fight** with Saille. Now a wall of flame indicated the point. Yes, it had felt that horrible, engulfed in a wall of flame. Maybe she could even go back to...when? When Fairyfoot had dragged in his HeartGift again? A golden glow appeared, several blocks away. Tempting.
She thought of all the mistakes she'd made with Saille. Her lips curved up. She could go back and fix them. Then she frowned. That might be too easy. And hadn't she learned lessons along the way that made her a better, deeper, person? Wouldn't the person she was now be a better HeartMate to him than someone who hadn't faced her own blind faults?
Yes.
Sighing out, she let the air of her breath disperse the door, watched it fade away.
This time.
And thinking of time, it was time for her to go to Saille and see if she could win him back. Her Heartgift! She'd made one a couple of months ago, during her Passage. Where was it?
She'd thought it pretty stupid at the time, to make a ceremonial pillow that held marriage bands during a HeartMate wedding. It was rare for people to use those during a ceremony in this day and age. Unless the wedding was very formal, very expensive. For a GreatLord, say. Her stomach clutched. She should have known, then. Hurrying to a dark corner, she placed a stool under the high corner cabinet that she'd bespelled and opened it, reaching in for the box she'd brought home from the discard pile at work. She took it, then shut the door of the cupboard, stepped off the stool.
Setting the box on her bed, she dispelled the shieldspell and opened it, her breath whooshed out of her at the power of the thing. Sexuality twined around and through her like the long, subtle curves of branches and leaves she'd emgroidered in gold on the scarlet silkeen. Old, creamy lace edged the pillow.
Heat raced through her.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

List

FIRST FAMILIES:

GreatLords/Ladies:

November: Birch/Beith
December: Rowan/Luis
January: Alder/Fearn
February: Willow/Saille
March: Ash/Nuin,
April: Hawthorn/Huathe
May: Oak/Duir
June: Holly/Tinne
July: Hazel/Coll
August: Vine/Muin
September:: Ivy/Gort
October: Reed/NgEtal
13th month Elder/Ruis

GrandLords/Ladies

Thursday: Apple/Quert
Blackthorn/Straif
Silver Fir/Ailim
Furze/Ohn
Heather/Ur
White Poplar/Eadha
Sunday: Yew/Ioho
Friday: Grove/Koad
Spindle/Oir
Honeysuckle/Uilleand
Beech/Phagos
Monday: Mor;Sea

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Celta Thursday: Cut from Heart Fire, After Snack with Antenn at Darjeeling's HouseHeart

Tiana stepped inside D'Licorice Residence and it greeted her, then asked in a female voice, "Do you have a migraine?"

"Not yet. And if I'm lucky–" But she didn't need to finish her sentence, the Residence released herbs that reminded her to unclench her teeth and loosen the muscles in her neck. If she'd been dressed as normal she'd have done a stretching pattern.

She heard a click and turned her head and saw in that in the mainspace to her left, a no-time food storage unit had protruded a tray.

"An energy drink," D'Licorice Residence said
.
She must look very weary if this Residence noticed. She took the drink and sat in a rocking chair. "No one else is around?"

"The Family remains at the PublicLibrary. I am pleased to have the company, Priestess Tiana."

"Thank you."

"You carry an aura of serenity wherever you go,"

Sure didn't feel like that from the inside. "Thank you again, for your kind words and the drink."

"It is the kind you like. It will not cause an energy crash later."

It wouldn't give her the big boost she could really use, either, but she drank it down, then stepped into the center of the rug in the room, grounded herself and said a small blessing for the Residence and the Family in gratitude. The tiny ritual let her ground herself, center all the swirling emotions the events of the day had caused. And as she scanned herself, she had that hint of foreboding of an external problem rather than an internal one.

Closing her eyes, she traced the feeling back to standing in the wind on the plateau, then earlier, to the mention of GraceLord Equisetum, a man whom she'd tried to banish from her thoughts for years. The very idea of him gave her nausea, made her feel helpless. Took her back to the night she'd lost her home to a firebombing mob who'd chased her Family away more than had hurt them, or the house. They'd lost and run. Or had run and lost.

A notion wisped in her brain. She was in the CityCenter neighborhood, where the PublicLibrary and D'Licorice Residence stood. Where the GuildHall stood. Perhaps it was time for her to take a look at the man for the first time in years. "D'Licorice Residence, can you tell me if the NobleCouncil is still meeting in the GuildHall?"

"Yes, Tiana," the Residence said. "There is debate on the requirements for testing from one strata of society to the next – Commoner to Noble, a GraceLord to a GrandLord. A large faction in the NobleCouncil want to increase the level of Flair that must be proven."

"I hadn't heard of that." She wondered if her father had. She frowned. "I don't like that idea.** The most vital society is one that is not rigidly structured, and where talented individuals can rise through the classes."

"That is what we Licorices believe, too. Some go beyond that to think the current Celtan society is too structured."
Liberals like the Licorices took that stance.

Tiana liked the present system just fine...a system where a Commoner like Walker Clover with great Flair could test to become a GrandLord...and on his abilities might rise to the most influential man on this side of the world, Captain of All Councils. A system where a boy from the slums like Antenn Moss Blackthorn could become a top level architect. She shook her head once to dismiss the attractive man from her mind.

"Is GraceLord Equisetum in the GuildHall?"

"Yes. He is vociferous in his support of the tougher requirements."

"Hmmm. I wonder how he might Test in comparison to Walker Clover," she murmured.

The Residence chuckled. "Not a consideration. His Family is nearly two centuries old."

Tiana knew. Not quite as old as the Mugworts. Not nearly as old as the Licorice Family that had been founded, along with the PublicLibrary, within the first decade of the Earthan colonization of Celta.

"D'Licorice, of course, will vote against the measure."

"Of course."

"This issue has split the FirstFamilies Council, t oo. Those who feel threatened by Commoners and their increasing Flair.

"But Flair is increasing across the whole populace."

"We Licorices have researched this, and those FirstFamilies who tend to intermarry, or who do not have a vocation or avocation have not had as much an increase in Flair as those who have gone outside the twenty-five FirstFamilies for their spouses, or have lived in luxury on their wealth and not contributed to Celta. Have not found a passion to pursue. The younger set of Ladies and Lords, are, of course, in favor of a more flexible society."

"The stratified want to remain stratified."

"That is our reading."

"I must be going. May I take the glider you're loaning me to the GuildHall, then home?" she asked.

"Certainly."

She bowed in a circle, once again saying a simple blessing.

"The day is waning and cooling. Take a cloak from the front closet," the Residence said. Obediently she went to the closet, then smiled as she saw one of her own cloaks, dull, brown and respectable, that she'd left.

A few minutes later she took the final steps to the gallery above the NobleCouncil chamber. She vaguely recalled where her father's throne-like chair had been, closer to the speaker podium than Equisetum's. And the chair positions were based on the status of the Family – when they'd been established, whether they had outstanding Lords or Ladies, how substantial their Flair was. Tiana couldn't recall the last time the order of the Nobles had been reshuffled. Though when her father was stripped of his title, everyone would have moved up one, of course.
That still bothered her. It would bother anyone.
She stayed in the shadows of the doorway at the back of the gallery and looked down at the members who were present at the NobleCouncil. Quietly, gently, she opened herself to the spiritual eddies of the room. She found passion, both for and against the issue being discussed.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Celta Thursday: Heart Story from Hearts and Swords

I often write several first scenes or first chapters, this was one that didn't make it, for obvious reasons like the first line...
Druida City, Planet Celta 406 Years After Earth Colonization, Spring

Her mother was dead. Finally. Good riddance.

Now Arbusca Willow – and the rest of her family – was out from under the woman's tyranny and they all could get on with their lives. Some of the women who'd lived in the Residence had already found lovers or husbands of HeartMates.

Arbusca's son had convinced her that it was her turn. But being married was something she'd forgotten how to do long ago, when she'd married the man her mother had wanted, someone rich whom the woman could dominate. A man who hadn't lasted two years. She was fairly sure her mother hadn't actually killed him, though, just intimidated him to death.

So Arbusca paced the private dining room she'd rented at her social club for the first meeting with her HeartMate.

Before last month, they hadn't connected in twenty-five years. Even then, they'd never met, but linked during hot, sexual dreams when their psi magic had been freed during fugue states. Through their link she'd only known that he'd travelled south...all the way to the southern continent.

The bond between them had been the slimmest, she'd suppressed them – if not the yearning for her HeartMate – so long. But in several hopeful moments over the last year, she'd given the bond gentle tugs.

Last month Dri Paris had contacted her, and now he walked into the room. She hid her fisted hands behind the folds of her heavily emproidered silkeen tunic. Her pacing had brought her to the far corner of the room when he'd entered, not graciously by the table ready to pour cinnamon caff. Typical.

His gaze focused on her. The emotional connection between them seethed with feelings.

He was not the tall, lanky boy whom she'd watched from afar, but a solid man of broad shoulders and craggy face. Suddenly this venue seemed over-civilized as he brought the scent of the wilds into the place. Arbusca stilled to immobility.

But his hard gaze found her and softened and as he strode toward her, little flutters of more than attraction – lust – stirred within her. She wasn't a young woman, but he wasn't a young man.
His lips curved and a quick thought from him impinged on her mind. Both in our prime.

Her shoulders relaxed, her hands unclenched enough that she placed them on the table – though not near her cup of cinnamon caff in case her movements went jerky.

Dri wore clean leather trous that were cut narrowly for a working man and heavy leather boots, both in dark brown. His matching leather tunic also was workmanlike with no frills, encasing him from a round neck to his waist. His shirt underneath was a warm cream color of a soft weave, the material itself showed it wasn't a work shirt, and the sleeves had a faint blouse of fashion.

His smile was full as he stopped by her booth. "Well, if it isn't Blush Willow."

She'd forgotten that childhood name and even as he said it, she felt heat flowing up her neck, into her cheeks. So stupid, so unattractive.

"Now that's a pretty sight," he drawled, more than a hint of a southern continent accent in his voice. "Pretty blush on a pretty woman." He reached out and picked up her hand, bowed over it and kissed the back. Tingles sizzled down her nerves, mixing with the flutters in her core.

He smelled of fire – his psi magical power, Flair – and man. Exciting.

His thumb rubbed over her fingers. "So smooth." Gently, he placed her hand back on the pale pink tablecloth and slid onto the maroon leather bench opposite her. Taking his other hand from behind his back, he revealed a large pink rose in full bloom. "A blush rose. Always reminded me of you."

Her cheeks were pinker than that now. She took the rose that had been stripped of thorns. It was plump and full, almost overblown. Like her. "Thank you." She fiddled with it a little, then caught herself. She moved the vase already on the table sporting a daffodil closer and put the rose in, saying a small stay-fresh spell under her breath.

Dri and she stared at each other.

His hair was still ginger colored with only a few strands of silver. Her own dark brown hair was streaked with gray. She hoped he thought it was due to genetics instead of being worn down by a tyrant's demands.

Weathered skin and a touch of lines were around his amber eyes. She fought time relentlessly and her skin was smoother, but she worked indoors. She'd become plump, too.
A waiter showed up and asked what Dri wanted. Dri glanced at the floral china carafe that held her cinnamon caff, the delicate creamer and sweet holders. His nostrils widened. "Cinnamon caff, nice." He looked up at the waiter. "I'll stick with this, thanks."

Arbusca took the second cup and poured as gracefully as she'd been taught, clamping her nerves tight so her hands wouldn't shake, mindful of her long, heavy sleeves.

"Beautiful Blush Willow," Dri murmured. He put his hand over hers as she was about to lift his cup. "Who'd've thought that I was HeartMate to GreatMistrys Blush Willow, of the colonist FirstFamilies?"

Now a tremor shivered through her at his touch...a touch she'd only experienced in dreams...intimate dreams...and her fingers shook.

Dri's eyelids lowered, his smile grew satisfied, and his hand curled tighter around hers. Once more they stared at each other and the only thing she heard was her pounding blood.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cut from Noble Heart in Hearts And Swords: D'Ash Fam Adoption Rooms:

”They’re Fams, they’re intelligent,” Walker said.


“Yes.” Danith looked around, lowered her voice. “Not as intelligent as cats or foxes or dogs, but sentient.” She went over to a big box on the counter at the end of the room, cooed. “Here they are. Adorable.”

He peered into the box and found a huddle of small housefluffs piled together and sleeping. Most women would want one. For himself, he was glad he had an adventurous fox on the way.

“My Fam won’t eat it, will he? Since Sedwy will be my liason to all of you scary nobles, explaning FirstFamily customs, I don’t want to irritate her.”

Danith lifted a small brown housefluff with long ears edged in cream, held it close to her body and stared up at Walker. “She’s going to explain customs to you?”

“That’s right.”

“Oh, good. Someone I can ask when I get confused. Even if T’Ash knows stuff, he never explains.”

“Always glad to be of service. Take the housefluff. You know any good Grove names?” Danith asked.

“Not off-hand. You know those FirstFamilies are weird. Never paid much attention.”

“That’s fibbing, Walker. You probably know every secret this household has and a lot about the Blackthorns.” She tilted her head. “Know more about the Hollys than they’d care for, some about the Furzes. All FirstFamilies.”

“And you are all weird.”

“Not me, commoner, like you.”

“Just go on believing that.”

The door opened and T’Ash stepped in. “You’ve been flirting with my woman all morning long, Clover. The All Councils’ Clerk got tired of waiting for you and left. Your cuzes are still entertaining the other noble reps. Get them all out of the Residence. Take the bunny and go away.” T’Ash’s lip curled at the housefluff. “Sweet pet.”

“Fam!” Danith corrected.

“Fam,” T’Ash said automatically.

Thank you, said a tiny voice. The housefluff opened its eyes.

“It’s not my Fam,” Walker said. “I have a fox.”

“I’ve told you T’Ash,” Danith said.

“Yeah, yeah,” T’Ash said. “Take the thing.”

I am a she, the housefluff said.

“She’s a gift.” Walker stretched out a hand and Danith carefully set the animal in it. His hand was bigger than the Fam. He’d never felt anything so soft. “For a lady. I think this lovely housefluff will be perfect.”

“I think so, too.”

“Wait,” T’Ash said. “Danith, you have a waiting list for Fams.” He looked into the box, rolled his eyes. “Even housefluffs, but Walker gets two?”

Walker stroked the small animal and she relaxed in his palm, seemed to hum with pleasure. “I’m special.”

“Walker’s special,” Danith agreed. “And people who are elevated to Noble class usually get gifts. This can be his. Unless you want to choose something else for him?”

“No. But hurry it up. Walker can get those folks out of our home.”

“Just go in and scowl, they’ll leave,” Walker said.

“I want the house back to normal,” T’Ash grumbled.

Danith put her arms around him, hugged. “That’s not possible. Walker is gone. Our son is growing up, he’s finished his First Passage.”

“Hate to lose you, Walker,” T’Ash said.

“You’ve still got me as a friend.” Walker offered his arm for a grip.

“Good.” T’Ash took it, squeezed, not quite painfully. Removing his arms from his wife, he said. “In the Family dining room five minutes. Later, Walker.” He smiled, inclined his torso. “GrandLord Clover.”

“Later, T’Ash.” As soon as the man had left, Walker said, “Danith, you’re sure this little one is right for GreatMistryss** Grove?”

“I think she needs something young and vulnerable to take care of. Something innocent.” Danith glanced at him. “Especially since she’ll be dealing with you.” Danith paused, brows raised. “You don’t want to ask about her?”

Of course he did. He smiled. “I’ll ask her myself.”

Danith poked him in the abs. “I know that smile, Walker Clover. You’ve talked me into more things with that smile....”

“Good to know.”

“Hmmph.” She opened a drawer and pulled out a square pouch with a long strap. “Carrying case.” She handed it to him.

“Couldn’t Sedwy just put her Fam in her sleeve pocket?”

“I saw the gown she was wearing. Long, elegant sleeve pockets aren’t good for carrying fragile Fams. The pouch is softly lined and will be comfortable for our Fam. It will also minimize the smell or stains of any unexpected accidents.”

“Ah.”

Danith stepped tiptoe, kissed Walker’s jawline. “Take care.”

“I will. I do.”

“I know.” She gestured him from the room and bent toward the housefluff box and Walker pretended not to see the sheen of her tears as he left.
His own footfalls were heavy as he went through the Fam adoption room, then out into the office suite, down the corridor to the Family’s quarters. “Residence, where are the Groves?” he asked the house.

“In the main sitting room. They have excellent patience.”

“Thank you.”

“I, too, am sad to see you go."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Celta Thursday: Cut from Heart Thief

Celta Thursday, cut from Heart Thief: An alarm pealed. Ruis dropped the plans he was studying onto his desk and shot to his feet, then grabbed the back of the chair to steady himself. "Ship, what's wrong?"
"Transmission from T'Elder GreatHouse requesting help from Ruis Elder, FirstSon and Heir to T'Elder GreatHouse."
"Just tell me what's wrong!" Ruis strode to his bedroom and grabbed Celtan clothes, pulling them on.
"Elder Residence states imminent destruction of the HouseHeart by the current T'Elder."
Ruis jolted and his mouth dried. Even he, never allowed in the sacred T'Elder HouseHeart that he could remember, valued it. Something inherent in his very genes.
Ruis cursed. He should have anticipated this action by Bucus. They all should have thought of this. His uncle was just the mean type to destroy what he couldn't have.
Why hadn't he thought! Because he'd been stunned by his own rapidly changing fortunes, appointed Captain of Nuada's Sword, reinstated as the FirstSon and Heir to the T'Elder Family. He dragged on his boots.
"Connect me with T'Elder Residence," he commanded.
"The line -- ah, scry -- is open." Ship had been diligently amending its language to fit Celtan norms.
"T'Elder Residence, this is FirstSon Ruis!" The first time he'd ever said that aloud. He'd have savored the moment if he hadn't been so worried.
"Greetyou, FirstSon." T'Elder Residence's voice was wispy and strained. "We are conflicted. The present T'Elder approaches the HouseHeart with weapons--"
"Stop! As FirstSon and Heir, I order you to take all action to protect the HouseHeart and yourself, T'Elder Residence!" Ruis shouted.
"Thank you," the Residence sounded relieved.
"I'm on my way," Ruis said. "Detain the present T'Elder by any means possible."
"Noted. Thank you," T'Elder Residence repeated.
"Ship, what transport do we have?" asked Ruis.
"We have 'bots fitting a faster motor onto the xx as we speak. It is being prepared in the southern docking bay."
Ruis started to run. As his feet pounded down the hallways of he smiled. He was Ruis T'Elder, Captain of Nuada's Sword and experienced in command, and he was glad. T'Elder Residence needed him, him, the despised Null. And he could help.
He ran faster and grinned at the thought of getting his hands on his Uncle Bucus.
When he reached the docking bay, the transport was revving and the doors opened to the cold night. Ruis vaulted onto the xx, winced at the clumsy vehicle. "Go, as fast as possible to T'Elder Residence."
"The transport** has the coordinates." Ship said. There was a small pause, but as Ruis zoomed out of Nuada's Sword, he thought he heard it say. "Merry meet."
"Merry part!" He turned back to shout.
"And merry meet again," Ship boomed.
Ruis faced forward again and rubbed his hands, then flexed his fingers in and out of fists.
**************
Note, I completely forgot I'd written this.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Celta Thursday: Map

It's been a while since I posted a map of the main continents of Celta. So here it is:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Celta Thursday -- peek at Heart Legacy

Celta Thursday -- peek at Heart Legacy. Since I'm deep in the guts of Heart Legacy, it's easier for me to post from it than spend time looking for anything else, and I've found you all usually prefer words over pics or maps, thus: "We have decided to accede to your request for a horse, FirstFamily GrandLady Loridana Itha Valerian D'Yew," the Residence, Yew Residence, said in its usual arrogant male voice. As if its words were a portentous announcement.

The thick, rich fabrics of the furniture and rugs in the library, even the expensive wallpaper, softened its tone.

Lori kept her spine straight in the chair, but answered with more force than usual. "Oh, thank you!" Since it always monitored her physical reactions, it would have noted her pulse leap and quicker heart rate.

**You are disturbed, FamWoman?** questioned her Familiar companion, Baccat, in a thought to her. Naturally, he'd felt the spurt of her excitement and dismay. He was the only one she didn't keep a barrier of control between her mindshields against, didn't control her every thought and feeling with.

**No, Baccat, surprised. Apparently we are finally getting a horse,** she sent to him mentally. **Can you check out the stables to see if the Residence is . . . fibbing to me again?**

**I spent a septhour in the stables this morning and am enjoying the sun in Our garden,** Baccat grumbled, but she sensed he rose to his paws from a flattened bed of catmint and stretched, rump up. **I will accede to your request and do this for You, MY FamWoman.** (This is the second scene in the book).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cut From Heart Search -- Camellia's HouseHeart Research

Camellia was very proud of the decor and ambiance of her tearoom, Darjeeling's HouseHeart. All in all, it seemed like a HouseHeart to her.

Not that she knew of a HouseHeart personally, she didn't, but she did her research – hard not to do that when one of her best friends was Glyssa Licorice, the Heir to the PublicLibrary Family. So she had seen records describing HouseHearts in general, and even some private records and holospheres of an unnamed HouseHeart or three. Since the destruction of the HouseHeart led to the complete ruination of a Residence, information on them was stingy.

But Glyssa knew what a HouseHeart looked like. She lived in a Residence and was an Heir to the title, so she could spend several hours in her HouseHeart every month. She had done so with her Family's and HouseHeart's permission as research for Camellia. Not only that, Camellia sensed the PublicLibrary itself had something like a HouseHeart since it was supposed to be intelligent, even if rumor said it spoke only to the Licorices.

Camellia's other friend, Tiana Mugwort, hadn't said much but had made comments with pointed glances and innuendo-laden tones. Whenever Camellia tried to think of Siana's home, her brain fogged with some spell, but the place had a HouseHeart.

Furthermore, a new Residence had developed in the last decade or so. That Residence, TQ, was in an upper middle-class, lower noble area that had also been rejuvinated. Camellia had been unable to talk herself into TQ. The renters had preferred privacy...and Camellia had had the odd notion that the family living there hadn't had access to the HouseHeart.

Then there had been the discovery of an old Residence that had been lost, ruins that had been excavated, and the exciting realization that the HouseHeart was still alive, though sluggish. In the first flush of excitement there had been vizes taken of the HouseHeart itself. It had been rumored that the ruins had been the Residence of the only FirstFamily to die out, the Mistletoes. Then the FirstFamilies had moved in and taken over the site with proper compensation. But information had been shut down and even the Licorices didn't get enough to satisfy them. Glyssa had bitterly complained to Camellia for days.

Like many people, ever since the sunken ship had been raised, Camellia had had an interest in archaeology – or treasure hunting. But the foundation of all her dreams had come from that wreck. She'd reclaimed a perfect set of china that had been her Family's and had gone down with the ship. A fifty-place tea set by a now-famous chinju potter. Selling the largest piece, an urn a meter tall, had gotten her the gilt to set up her business, eventually open Darjeeling's Teahouse.

Now she had two.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut Epilogue of Heart Thief

I'd completely forgotten I'd written an Epilogue of Heart Thief. Balsamea is the baby now known as Dani Eve, Diva became Drina, Straif T'Blackthorn's cat.

EPILOGUE OF HEART THIEF
Samba touched noses with Balsamea, then leapt aside as one chubby hand grabbed for her calico fur.
**Time to play.** The Fam jumped down and glided over to the door. She turned and lifted her nose. **I saved you all,** reminding them, as she did every few eight-days.
"Thank you," Ailim replied gravely.
Samba ordered the door open, then she glanced back. **Thanks are enough for me. My sister, Diva, demands adoration.** A gentle sniff. She eyed the baby. **Diva is most particular. She would make a good Fam and needs a home–**
"Hmmm," said Ruis.
Samba whisked her tail just once and left.
Primrose put her paws over her eyes and whimpered.
"No other cat," said Ailim.
"No," agreed Ruis.
The baby made a noise. They turned to her in surprise. It was an excellent imitation of Samba's rumbling mew. "Let's go play!"
Ruis stared at his wife and and their precocious child. He scooped Balsamea up in one arm and wrapped the other around Ailim. She grinned up at him.
A huge wave of triumph filled him, breaking into free and hearty laughter. "The Ship awaits our tour. Let's go play!"
Ailim danced toward the door, tugging at his hand. "Lets!"

Friday, April 10, 2015

Celta Cut: Heart Change

I was requested by a reader on Facebook to post a cut in honor of her birthday, so here it is:

"I think we should go out to dinner tonight," Signet said.
Cratag and Avellana looked up from their craft tables and stared at her.
"Go out to dinner," Avellana said as if it were a foreign concept, frowning.
Signet switched her gaze to Cratag. He'd been briefly surprised but now was impassive. She raised her brows. "You must have eaten out."
"Plenty of times. I was a merchanter guard, you know." His wave was brief. "Ate on the trail, at inns. Stayed at inns between jobs."
"So now you like dining with your Family."
"Why go somewhere else when there's a chef on staff?"
"A Family member?"
"Of course, trained with T'Pepper himself. And if I want something simple, the T'Hawthorn no-times are well stocked." He glanced around. "Like here."
"The food here is excellent," Avellana said. "We've always had chefs and chefs' helpers and cooks and cooks' helpers, but I like D'Marigold Residence's no-time food. Those people who made meals and put them in the no-times were chefs, too."
Signet sighed. She hadn't anticipated this much discussion of something so simple.
"Thank you," the Residence said.
"You're welcome," Avellana replied.
"Why go out to someplace when the food and atmosphere and company here is so good?" Cratag asked. He seemed baffled.
"For a change," Signet said. She glanced at Avellana. "For an outing, an evening outing. We can start with a dinner in a fine restaurant, then go to the theater sometime."
Avellana's eyes widened and she appeared fascinated. "Go out," she said in a hushed voice. "In the nighttime. In Druida City."
There was a moment's silence, then Avellana said with awe, "I've never been out in the city at nighttime, except maybe to go to holiday parties."
"And you, Cratag?" Signet asked.
He shrugged. "All the evening events T'Hawthorn must attend – social and ritual situations. Sometimes I ate, sometimes I didn't."
"Have you ever dined at a fine Druidan restaurant?" Signet asked, then was sorry she pressed when some kind of painful memory flashed in his eyes.
"No."
"All alone in Druida City," Avellana breathed, obviously liking the thought more and more.
"We'll be with you," both Signet and Cratag said at the same time.
"Without anyone from my Family," Avellana said.
"Some restaurants accept and serve Fams," Signet said.
Cratag sent her a glance. "Perhaps we should try dining out in the daylight, first."
That sounded reasonable. "Brunch or lunch or tea?"
"Brunch," Cratag said.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Celta Thursday, Heart Story from the collection Hearts and Swords

I had trouble with the beginning, this was #3.
*The old woman is dead. Finally,* the cat said mentally. *Good riddance,* she sniffed.

Arbusca Willow stopped pacing the private dining room she'd rented for the first meeting with her HeartMate, her fated husband.

She addressed the cat, "Fairyfoot, you aren't even my son's Familiar Companion. You are my daughter-in-law's. You didn't know my mother."

*Saw her long enough to know she was a mean GreatLady. Had all of you under her paw.* Fairyfoot licked her own forepaw. *That's true?*

"Yes."

*Tried to live forever. Lied, killed,* the cat snapped down her paw as if on a bug, looked at Arbusca slyly. *Maybe even killed your husband, years ago.*

Arbusca didn't think so. Her mother, GreatLady D'Willow, descendant of a FirstFamily colonist, rich in psi magic, wealth and power, had only intimidated Arbusca's long-late husband to death. As the lady had intimidated everyone until Arbusca's son had claimed the title. She held up her hands. "That's past. She's been gone more than a year."

*You deserve your own life and HeartMate,* Fairyfoot said virtuously, repeating the oft-said phrase of Arbusca's son and daughter-in-law.

That was true too. Arbusca yearned for her HeartMate, and was nervous about meeting him. They hadn't connected in twenty-five years. Even then, they'd never met, but linked during hot, sexual dreams when their psi magic had been freed during fugue states.

But the cat had an agenda – getting Arbusca, the housekeeper with strict rules for Fams – out of the Residence. She tucked her hands into her opposite long, embroidered sleeves and resumed pacing. "Tell me why I brought you with me to this meeting again?"

Fairyfoot lifted her nose. *You did not bring Me, I came by Myself.*

"That's right." Arbusca stopped pointed a finger at the cat. "You're univited. Leave."

*No, I must report to your son.*

"You're just nosey."

The door opened.

Arbusca swooped down on Fairyfoot, avoided the cat's claws and teleported Fairyfoot back to her room in Willow Residence. "You are gone!"

Twenty-five years since the links had been forged between herself and her HeartMate. She'd known that her HeartMate had gone south, all the way to a different continent. But the bond between them had been the slimmest, she'd suppressed it – if not the yearning for her HeartMate – so long. In several hopeful moments over the last year, she'd given the bond gentle tugs.
Last month Dri Paris had contacted her, and now he walked into the room.

She straightened fast, hid her fisted hands behind the folds of her heavily emproidered silkeen tunic. She was in the far corner of the room, not graciously by the table ready to pour cinnamon caff. Typical of her luck.

His gaze focused on her. The emotional connection between them seethed with feelings. "Who else was here?" he asked.

"No one of any importance," she said breathlessly.

He was not the tall, lanky boy whom she'd watched from afar, but a solid man of broad shoulders and craggy face. Suddenly this venue seemed over-civilized as he brought the scent of the wilds into the place. Arbusca stilled to immobility.

He raised his brows. "No one?"

"Of any importance," she emphasized.

He hesitated, then his hard gaze softened and as he strode toward her, little flutters of more than attraction – lust – stirred within her. She wasn't a young woman, but he wasn't a young man.
His lips curved and a quick thought from him impinged on her mind. Both in our prime.

Her shoulders relaxed, her hands unclenched enough that she curtseyed to him. Deeply, as if to a GreatLord. Smoothly she moved to her place, near the caff set, ready to pour. Her hands were steady enough.

He stopped, bowed, one hand remained behind his back. Dri wore clean leather trous that were cut narrowly for a working man and heavy leather boots, both in dark brown. His matching leather tunic also was workmanlike with no frills, encasing him from a round neck to his waist. His shirt underneath was a warm cream color of a soft weave, the material itself showed it wasn't a work shirt, and the sleeves had a faint blouse of fashion.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Dance

Celta Thursday: Cut from Heart Dance:

Once again Saille Willow knocked on her door in the morning. Fairyfoot had announced his presence in the Residence – as if Dufleur couldn't sense him – and had pranced to the bedroom door.
When Dufleur opened it, he held a single bloom – a fancy orchid brilliantly yellow. She was glad she was wearing another new tunic and trous set – this one in teal. The flower's fragrance was outrageously strong, yet mingled well with the other blooms he'd brought her. She set it in the face, tilted her head. It didn't look quite right.
"May I?" Saille asked.
She shrugged.
He gave it a twitch and it seemed to settle into perfect place highlighting some of the other flowers and still being a focal point. More. She narrowed her eyes. Somehow the orchid seemed to pick up a pale hue of yellow under the glossy white luster of the graceful urn. As the other blooms. There seemed to be a multitude of pale shifting colors just beneath the white surface. A Flaired urn. She looked at Saille who was staring with a wonderful smile at her. Gesturing awkwardly to the tall porcelein vase, she said. "I heard that your creative Flair was pottery, did you make this?"
"Yes." He tucked his hands behind his back as if defensive. "What do you think."
"I think you should have a show at Enlli Gallery."
He laughed and the sound rolled over her and sank into her and warmed her. She couldn't recall the last time she'd heard laughter in this house, and never a man's. She couldn't remember the last time her father had laughed and that thought lodged in her heart like a thorn.
Saille's smile faded. He touched her cheek. "How have I made you sad?"
"Not you." She cleared her throat. "Thank you for the blossom, for the flowers, for the vase."
"You're very welcome." He glanced around her bedroom and the secret ritual room that was now always open. She sensed he disapproved of the stark shabbiness. The vase and flowers were several classes of expensive elegance above her worn belongings. Just as he was several classes above her in station. "I'm glad they please you," he said softly. "I'm glad they add beauty to your surroundings."
"Yes," she said, then fell miserably silent, not knowing what to say next.

He straightened. "I would like to invite you to meet my Family. Tour T'Willow Residence. Have the midday meal."
She backed up until the bed hit her behind the knees and she abruptly sat. "N–"
"Don't say no. It's a casual invitation."
Crossing her arms, she said. "It's not. How many other women have you invited to meet your Family and eat with them?"
"SupremeJudge Ailim Elder."
"Since you used her title, I'd imagine that you consulted her."
"It was a social occasion."
"She's married."
"That she is. I invited her husband and child, too."
"That certainly isn't the same as inviting an unmarried woman to meet your Family and take midday meal. They would be bound to know that I was . . . ."
"Important to me? My HeartMate? My Family all has matchmaking Flair to some extent, of course they'd sense that. So what?"
Her fingers twisted together in her lap. "A bunch of strangers. Saille, I don't know how to act around a loving Family." She smiled her grim smile, threw him a glance, looked away. "I don't know how to act around an . . . a man who's attracted to me. For more than a few minutes of sex."
He picked up her hand and kissed her fingers. "It will be easy. They're nice people. They like me. You like me. You all have something in common."
She closed her eyes and felt his amusement through their bond, and attraction, and banked desire. She felt his need for her to meet his Family. His pride in her and them. "I'm going to mess** this up. I know it." With her free hand she tugged at her hair in distress.
He captured that hand, too and drew her to her feet.
"Come with me to meet my Family."
"They'll gossip. Everyone will know I'm your . . . your . . .
"HeartMate?"
"I'm not ready. Please."
His pleasure dulled and guilt rose inside her.
"I'll ask them to keep our relationship secret."
"You'll be a target of rumor if you associate with the daughter of a man your MotherDam ruined."
"I don't care."
"You should. You're just firming up your alliances–"
"If my allies don't like my actions, I don't want them as allies." He pulled her to the closet, dropped her hands to take out her coat and hold it for her.
She just stared at him. She wanted to spend time in his company. Wanted to get to know him even better, especially out of bed. "They won't gossip?"
"Not if I ask them to keep quiet."
She didn't believe that for a minute.
"Why are you afraid to be singled out by me?"
She felt her mouth turn down. "Because you are a GreatLord and I am the daughter of a minor GrandLord. Because your MotherDam ruined my Family and that talk is still making the rounds and I'd prefer not to see it in the newssheets social columns. Because my mother would encroach upon you and your Family if she could. Because . . . . because I'd like to think I could be myself around you. Learn about you and let you learn about me without any pressure."
His expression sobered. "That last is a good reason." He studied her. "As I said, my Family members are matchmakers. They know that courtship can be touchy."
A chill went through her at the word, matching the cold anxiety that touched her spine when he'd said "HeartMate."
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Zanth and the Treasure

Zanth and the Treasure is up as a free short, short, short story today:
http://btsemag.com/editorials/zanth-and-the-treasure/

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What a crash! And cleanup...

Celta Thursday, Complete Scene Uncut from Heart Journey

Celta Thursday: Here's the COMPLETE scene of after-party glider break-in from Heart Journey. As you can see I had an idea of a subplot for a lover for Johns, but figured it would be too much:


It had turned out to be one of the best parties of Raz's life. True, Del had left after a few dances and a couple of coversations, but when she was with him his blood pumped faster. He hadn't managed to seduce a kiss from her, her eyes were too knowing. She had left without any promises to meet, though he was sure that she felt the same sweet zings of passion that he did.
A very unusual woman, she had made no overatures, had not flirted. Had left him aching with arousal after she'd gone...and had challenged the hunter in him to pursue.
He wasn't the only one she'd danced with. She'd walzed with Johns and they had looked good together, like a study in athletic grace. Damn Johns. He'd nipped Del away from Raz just because they were competitors, but two minutes later was laughing with her. Yes, the hunt was on.
Before the dullness of her absence from the party could set in, he'd received a couple of compliments on his work from people he'd admired, then an agent had hinted to him about a part in a new play by Amberose. Raz hadn't been quite able to show simple casual interest, he'd pressed the man, who had smiled enigmatically, changed the subject, then slid away. Raz had seen him talking to Johns who had gone as impassive as a rock face – a sign he was suppressing excitement. Another thing to compete for.
Raz didn't know which he wanted more, the woman or the part. That was due to the springreen wine. He'd had another glass or two. Almost enough to affect his timing so that he remained too long. He liked to exit an event at the right time – leaving people behind charmed and wanting more of his company.
But now he breathed the soft summer night air as he stood near the steps from the terrace to a side grassyard where gliders were parked. He inhaled the scent of full-blown roses trained over the terrace wall and the heavy air made him yearn for one more whiff of Del's scent. He glanced to the rows of gliders, grinned. He had his own, just like the wealthiest nobles, a gift from his Family. It was parked at the far end of a row, a few feet before a tangle of forest.
With three tuneful notes, he summoned it, saw the blurs of black movement tumble from it as it moved. "Hey!" Raz shouted.
"I told you these damn shields would take to long to breach. Should have just smashed and searched and run." A low voice said, began to swear. The man should have known better than to talk in that pitch.
"We had to disable the stun!" the smaller one said. He muttered something and the vehicle stopped, stand's clicked down.
Raz suppressed his own shout as he jumped over the low terrace wall, grunted as he hit the ground three meters below. The thieves weren't running away. Noise of shattering glass game but Raz didn't waste breath. His glider was shrieking: "My virtue is threatened!" The old-time melodramatic phrase had seemed funny at the time he'd programmed the alarm, but now it fed his anger.
The world of black and white was hazed with the red of his anger. Not this time. His home had been violated, his work area defiled, his property smashed. Putting some Flair into his leaps he bounded toward his glider. The smaller person was inside his glider, rifling it. He heard rips.
This time he yelled as he hopped up on a large, old, Family glider, jumped toward the large man with a flying kick to his head. The man got an arm up, threw Raz off balance. He landed, rolled, came up swinging. His knuckles connected with the man's jaw and he grinned in satisfaction, hardly noticing the sting. The big guy swung back, Raz slid aside, but caught a fist on his left shoulder that numbed his arm. He led with his right and got the guy again, as the man stumbled back, Raz hooked a foot around his ankle and brought him down.
More slashing behind him, he whirled. "Open!" he yelled, realized the doorframe was bent too much to rise. Reaching in, he grabbed at the other thief, caught fabric and did some ripping of his own.
He was yanked back and spun around, jerked his head aside as the big man's hand skimmed his temple. Someone else hit him in the stomach.
There were three!
"My virtue is threatened!" screamed Raz's glider.
"Hey!" someone yelled from the house. The shout was mixed with other car alarms. "Back away, I have stun," from the Family glider Raz had hopped on. His glider had stun, too, why hadn't it?
Grinning he kicked out at the third man, connected. Pounded short jabs on the first man's chest.
"Gotta go!" squeaked the man in the glider. He kicked Raz through the broken window, right into the big man's fist. Pain shot from his cheek through him.
"No!" the first man said. "Get him and hold him." He yelled to the third. "Play-actor too damn much trouble. Who'da thought?"
"Have a problem with actors?" Johns asked, grabbing the third man from the back and throwing him aside.
"I'm gone," that one yelled.
"Won't get your gilt," the big man snapped, panting. He slugged Raz on the left shoulder again. Raz punched with his right to the guy's jaw.
Yelling, the smaller man flung himself on them. All of them went down, Raz, the big guy, Johns. Raz's head cracked against metal, he landed badly on Johns, whose breath went out in a painful whoosh.
"Gotcha!" The smaller man yanked at the larger, dragged him free, and they teleported away.
"Uhhhn." Raz sat up slowly, put a hand to his head. His lip was cut and bleeding and he thought his cheek was fractured.
Johns lay flat and spit out words in short pants. "Sorry. Too late." He groaned and it seemed to take all his breath.
"You did fine." Raz wiggled his jaw, it hurt, too. A dull throbbing came from his temple. "Many thanks, I'm grateful."
Sudden quiet descended except for Raz's glider. "My virtue has been violated," it said mournfully.
"Want to quiet that one down?" rumbled Cratag as he strode over, hand on his blazer hilt as he scanned the trees.
"Alarm stop, Cherry," Raz said, then turned to Cratag. "The thieves got away."
There was a quiet woman's sob – not from his glider. "Oh, my poor baby, I didn't shield you and look what happened, your jeweled timer, stolen!"
"This is a bad thing." T'Spindle, a short, rotund man, said. People cleared the way for him. "Healer needed here!" he shouted, making both Raz and Johns wince.
"Getting my bag!" answered a voice from the direction of the Residence. Obviously the Spindles had a Healer on staff.
"This is a very bad thing," Grandlord Spindle said. His eyes were hard and reminded Raz that the man was of the FirstFamilies and used to playing dangerous politics. Raz's anger eased at the thought that the thieves would truly regret this night. Spindle was easygoing, but he was stubborn and no doubt would make sure the guards on this case were equally stubborn about solving it. Of course Spindle would look at his enemies first.
A large hand curved under Raz's elbow. "Let me help you up," Cratag said quietly, lifted Raz to his feet with ease. The warrior narrowed his eyes. "Looks to me like you need more than stage fighting instruction."
That stung as much as Raz's wounds. He opened his mouth to say something and his lip split. He swore under his breath. "Maybe you're right." He nodded to Cratag as the man stepped away. "I'll think about it."
A lovely young woman rushed close, a Healer's bag in her hands. Johns groaned. She went to him, her hands swept over his chest. She frowned. "I don't sense anything wrong with your lungs."
Johns sat up, smiled crookedly at her. "Just bruises." He tilted his head toward Raz. "You should see to Raz. The three of them got the worse of him."
"Three!" she exclaimed. Her hands continued to stroke Johns, easing his bruises, as he rose to his feet.
"Thanks, Johns," Raz muttered, wincing as his mouth stung again.
"Anything I can do." Johns bowed as the Healer looked on admiringly. Then he glanced at Raz's glider, Cherry, grimaced and shook his head. "That was a real pretty glider, Raz."
The Healer had finally reached Raz. "Broken cheekbone, bad bruise on the temple..." she pressed on his ribs and he yelped. "I think you should come inside where I can treat you." Her voice held the faintest hint of glee, as if her job with the Spindles was pretty boring.
"I'll help him along." Johns was there, crowding a raised-eyebrow Cratag aside and wrapping his equally brawny arm around Raz's shoulders. They hurt, too. Everything hurt.
"That's so kind of you." The Healer beamed approval.
"Let's get you going, friend." Johns tightened his grip.
Raz hissed out a breath, but followed along, fairly steady on his feet, though he felt a little light-headed. He limped. He might have broken some toes. His hands weren't feeling good, either.
Johns actually shortened his stride and slowed his steps. "Thanks, Johns," Raz said. This time he meant it.
"'Welcome. Sorry about you and your glider."
Raz knew that was true. Johns had been open in his envy at Cherry.
"Tell you what," Raz said as they took the steps slowly. "Why don't I ask my Father to get another sportcoupe at cost, sell it to you for the same price."
Johns eyes gleamed. "In blue?"
"The same color as your eyes," Raz agreed as they angled through a door to a sitting room that was furnished in a masculine fashion where blood and grime wouldn't show – much.
"Done," Johns said.
But Raz had a nasty feeling that things had just begun....
The Healer bustled in, ordering others to provide hot water, softleaves...She was small and voluptuous with bright red hair and a smattering of freckles. Johns watched her every move. Raz closed his eyes and wished Del was here.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Thief

Celta Thursday: Cut from Heart Thief:
It was better they had no contact. Ailim was glad Ruis stayed far from Druida City and the law that would claim his life if he ventured inside. But no matter how fleeting the time she'd spent with Ruis Elder, the Null, it was time enough that it left a hole inside her.
He was a thief. She was a judge.
There was no way they could become friends. Her position with the FirstFamilies Council was precarious enough without endangering her career by harboring an outcast. Ailim grimaced at the very thought. That was all they'd need to jerk the estate away from the Family. Associating with Ruis couldn't be called a minor transgression. Not for a Supreme Judge. There'd be no way to claim ignorance, not of the law or the circumstances.
Duty had forced her to attend a noble party the night before. The guests had hummed with gossip regarding Ruis Elder, though it had been three days since his banishment.
And behind the gossip, Ailim had sensed the shadows of noble maneuvering. Bucus Elder, the Captain of the NobleCouncil, was not well respected or liked. Apparently he'd had a sheen of smooth affability combined with common sense as well as the all-important heritage and background to win the vote for Captain's Chair two years before.
It was generally known that the FirstFamilies Council, even the entire NobleCouncil, would prefer T'Holly as Captain. But he was banned from that position for fighting with T'Hawthorn in the CouncilHall and breaking the Great Pentacle many years before. And T'Hawthorn was too strong a man himself to alienate by electing his enemy Captain. The long and intermittent feud between the two Houses was always a concern in the back of the nobles' minds.
So T'Elder had won the Captain's Chair, and now his surface persona seemed to be eroding, showing the true man. Rigid, unpleasant, and quick-tempered were just a few of the better phrases Ailim heard applied to him.
But he was still in power, and still able to squash the hopes of D'SilverFir GrandHouse with one fat finger.
Ailim visualized a map in her head and shifted in her seat. She wished D'SilverFir estate didn't border with T'Elder.
And that thought brought her full circle. The map vanished before her mental eye to be replaced by the attractive image of Ruis, the disowned Elder. The image was linked with the feelings he'd engendered in her from the first moment she'd met him in the GuildHall. The flash of respect when she'd seen how uncaring he was of the council's opinion still lingered. All her life she'd considered the opinions of others, following the Family rules for an Heir, in the first years as a judge, and even more so now, watching her every step so she could keep the Family together.
Ruis Elder could teach her to be free. If she let him. With dizzying speed her mind blazed images of the self she could be if she learned to be free, so self-confident that she would never think again of people's opinions more than her own needs. Being able to completely express her emotions.
She knew if she spent time with him, she'd learn how to relax her guards. With him she would need no guards, would have none -- that was a trifle scary, but when she recalled how her senses expanded under the influence of his Nullness she thought she'd dare to be with him anyway.
Her memory played back every press of his fingers, the sensation of his hands massaging her, and the low heat deep inside. A sexual heat that she'd finally admitted to feeling.
Sex was not something she'd often enjoyed. Not since she realized that if she lost herself in passion, her Flair spiraled wide. Then she knew exactly what the man she was being intimate with thought and felt.
She shuddered as memory spun out her first sexual experience. She'd thought her first lover was making love with her.
But in uncontrolled passion, she'd found out differently. He'd believed he was just taking the edge off a physical hunger.
With a jerk of her head she banished the past. No need to think of that man -- who had thought her strange and not nearly as beautiful as the woman he really wanted. At least the old emotions of shock and shame were mostly gone from those memories.
But Ruis would be different. Though she couldn't read him, she sensed that he was an honorable man, obeyed his own rules. That those rules might not march with the standard laws of Celta bothered her, but she couldn't fault him for acting outside them since they had not protected him.
Ailim lifted her head from her arms and gave up waiting for the man. Gathering her papyrus together she pondered Ruis' life. Surely it would have been bad under Bucus. The lines of dissipation on T'Elder's face, the way his meek wife shrank into herself when she was near him spoke of a petty tyrant. The thoughts she'd sensed during the council meeting -- lavish punishments for Ruis, greed for D'SilverFir land, made Ailim wary of the Captain of the Council. She frowned in concentration, trying to remember the "feel" of his thoughts. She sniffed and the clean scent of autumn brought the memory back -- by contrast. His thoughts had held a sly oilyness, like the sticky residue of a slug's passage. It was not the resonance of a moral man, let alone the strong inflection of a nobleman with integrity.
Despite growing up under T'Elder's rule, Ruis seemed open to affection. He had managed to survive and develop his own moral code. She needed facts and information if she was going to be able to overturn Ruis' banishment. She paused. Was she really thinking that? Oh, yes.
Ruis had given her a measure of peace and contentment. He had been kind. Now it was time to give something back to him.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Celta Thursday, Residences, T'Blackthorn's, Cliveden

Celta Thursday, The first Residence I visualized well (I had it in mind and had to find a Family for it, T'Blackthorn), which is Cliveden. I liked the looks of it and used it in an unpublished Regency Historical romance as a house called Lilrennin. Eventually Mom and I visited it as I was writing Heart Choice.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Cut from Heart Fortune

The beginning of Heart Fortune changed significantly...several times. Cut from one version of the scene with Glyssa at T'Hawthorn Residence with her friends, Tiana Mugwort, the newly wed Camellia Darjeeling D'Hawthorn and her husband



"It was five years ago that I had my weekend fling with an out of town stranger."
"Five years!" Laev looked appalled. He jacknifed from his casual sitting pose.
Glyssa gave him a weak smile, rushed into words. "I didn't know he was my HeartMate then. And if I had, if I'd followed him, abandoned my studies and my career, my Family – who are my employers and FirstLevel Librarians – would have been unforgiving." She bit her lips, she'd had nightmares about that. "I don't know whether they'd ever have let me return, and I love them. I love librarianship." Despite herself, tears welled in her throat and she swallowed them down. "And I'd have abandoned my friends, Camellia and Tiana, to follow an...an adventurer."
But Laev's brows were down, empathizing with the man, no doubt. "Hmmm."
"It wasn't as if he knew either. As if he returned for me. At least I have figured out who, what, he was and is." Glyssa lifted her chin belligerently. "I don't think he still has a clue." Then she winced inside. All those emphasized words. True, she could be passionate about matters, but the whole little speech sounded like rationalizations she'd repeated to herself. They were, but they were also true statements. Her family would not have understood. They would not have approved, and would have taken years to forgive her.
She continued, "And by the time I understood he was my HeartMate, he was gone from Druida City." She spread her hands. "I didn't know where he went to, where he was."
Laev frowned. "You could have followed your bond."
"Our teeny, tiny bond?" She stared at the man who took his responsibilities more seriously than any she'd ever known. Laev had been born into a FirstFamily and trained with every breath to do his duty.
"Ignore my Family and obligations?"
That was a point that struck home with him.
"Chase after a man who might have someone else?" Camellia said in a high voice, her gaze fixed on the dark window that only reflected the room and themselves.
Dammit! This explanation was hurting Camellia, bringing back to Camellia the awful circumstances of her and Laev's past.
Glyssa and Laev both turned to her, and Glyssa opted to distract her friend by playing on her sympathies. She pressed her lips together, then choked out – passionately, "And I have my pride. I didn't want to go running after a man who thought our time together was a holiday fling."
Laev stood and plucked Camellia from her chair, sat down with her on his lap, offered her a flatsweet with cocoa chunks. She bit into it, then he took a bite, looked over to Glyssa. "I agree with your reasoning," he said mildly......



Thursday, February 26, 2015

Celta Thursday: Heart Choice cut bits, Drina, Straif's FamCat, on bloodline:



Drina stopped licking her paw and looked at him. *I fail to understand why this blood thing is so important.* She lifted her pink nose.

Straif frowned down at her. "It's a difference between humans and cats."
She sniffed. *Maybe. Maybe just some humans. Cats are more sensible. Having offspring who die is bad. Worse than having same bloodline.*

Straif clenched his teeth. "You wouldn't understand."

*Who does? No one agrees with you.*
****

*I am your Fam, connected to you. I do not run away, *she replied haughtily. *We are Family, yes?*

"Yes."

*Then you will get good mate and children, and I will have kittens. My kittens will be bloodline.*

He stared at her, trying to grasp the concept. Marry who he would – Mitchella — his heart leapt at the thought. And he loved Antenn like a son. A HeartMate, and children.

*I never wanted to have kittens, but I will, for you,* Drina said generously. *My blood is good. I will have strong kittens for your House and line.*

Straif stared at her. Her Sire was Zanth, a Downwind feral, Lord and Lady knew who his forebears were. But he was a huge, tough, scrapper. And his get was the prized line in all of Celta. Trying to imagine a poor or sickly kitten from Zanth or Drina boggled Straif's mind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fresh Fiction Review of Ghost Killer

Wow! Wonderful review, here! http://freshfiction.com/review.php?id=50927

Friday, February 20, 2015

Nailing Voice

For those of you who like to read my monthly contribution to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog, today I talk about Nailing Voice here: RMFW Blog.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Celta Thursday - cut from Heart Thief

This was the original first scene introducing our heroine, Ailim D'SilverFir, and is now in the backstory of the book.

"The Family is deeply in debt. We must sell this Residence and Estate." Ailim D'SilverFir kept her tone steady though she blinked back tears. She glanced around the gleaming u-shaped reddwood tables in the D'SilverFir GreatHall, studying her relatives. Then she looked at the huge space of faintly rippling air that showed those attending by viz. Meeting blue gazes ranging from light sky-crystal blue to indigo, or her own shade of blue-gray, she watched shock ripple through them.
Family. They were all Family. And they were all her responsibility. Because of her great Flair, she'd been named her Mother's Heir at birth, but she hadn't anticipated inheriting the GrandHouse title until she was middle-aged at sixty or so. Twenty-nine was too young to be burdened with the Family.
All the muttering and mumblings stopped as if sucked from the room.
"NO!" screamed several people in chorus.
Even though she'd been braced, their emotions hit her mental shields like a tidal wave, testing their limits. She pulled more energy from her body to bolster them, and felt the beginning tightness in her head of an incipient migraine.
"You can't sell the estate! We are a FirstFamily, a GrandHouse, and the land has been ours since the Colonists claimed Celta four hundred years ago," sputtered G'Uncle Ab, his ruddy-veined cheeks puffing out a final breath.
Ailim matched stares with each of her relatives. "I see no other option. What little income we have should go to the productive lands. This town Residence and grounds only drain--"
"You don't know," Aunt Menzie shrilled, hurting Ailim's ears. "You can't know what has passed these last few years. How we've struggled. Your MotherSire and Mother--"
"Quiet!" Ailim commanded.
"You've no respect for your elders and betters," sniped Menzie.
Ailim nearly replied in kind, but that wasn't the way a GrandLady behaved. Whether they liked it or not, whether she liked it or not, she was now the head of the Family and held the title of D'SilverFir. Obviously, some of them didn't respect her. She stared pointedly at those who wore little cheaptin crowns. Even a couple of relations attending by holo sported the pointed metal bands. The headpieces were supposed to block the wearer's thoughts from any telepath. The cheaptin didn't work.
Ailim's specific psi gift, called Flair, was telempathy -- being able to hear thoughts and emotions from others, and she was acknowledged the strongest on Celta. She could have read every opinion in every head, even that of the person furthest away. And experience every emotion. But why would she want to? She already knew their arguments.
She had erected her own mental shields so her relations' thoughts couldn't pummel her more than the occasional sharp blows she expected of such an emotional meeting. But the discomfort of having so many people in the room, shouting at her with their minds as well as their voices, bordered on pain.
The tall white walls of marble veined with gold of the spacious GreatHall seemed to darken and close in on her as an effect of her Family's emotions.
After drawing a deep breath, Ailim returned to the topic. "We have a 1,500,000 gilt debt. The sale of the ancestral estate would clear the debt and allow every member now living here in the Residence a modest home."
Everyone followed her glance down to the flimsysheets containing Family financial information. For security purposes, the papyris was already deteriorating and would be gone in another septhour. Right now, the figures loomed large and red.
"This Residence would be transformed from a drain on the Family to a positive asset," Ailim said.
"This Residence and the estate, the FirstFamily GrandHouse D'SilverFir estate would be gone!" screeched Menzie.
"The Residence and estate, and the standard of living that the ten current inhabitants demand, consumes too much gilt," Ailim countered. "We cannot maintain the estate, let alone pay off the debt." Again she inhaled deeply. "That's why I've called this meeting. I would appreciate any input that would lead to acceptable alternatives."
She didn't dare look at Menzie again, or any of the other Family members who lived in the Residence and contributed nothing but complaints.
Ailim continued. "I urge Family members who have a paid avocation to donate as much as possible to the Family coffers. Both my past and my current annual allotment from the Noble Council has been applied to the Family finances. I've stopped my free circuit rounds. I have an application in for an appointment as Supreme Judge here in Druida."
The old folk scowled, but other heads nodded at her plans.
"Hopefully the Council will decide in a couple of days. I should hear no later than an eightday, when the FirstFamilies Council meets. Our financial dilemma must be resolved by then, so I can inform the FirstFamilies Council of our situation, for good or ill." Ailim stood.
Her shields weren't equal to the horrible lashing waves of emotions and thoughts thrown at her from the others, that started a migraine pounding in her head. The exertion of keeping her shields strong eroded her energy. Knowing her limits, she had to leave, now, or be incapacitated for the next day. And she couldn't afford that.
She couldn't afford much of anything -- certainly nothing she wanted.
She wanted to have her MotherSire and Mother back, but they were dead, their souls resting before rebirth.
She wanted to wash her hands of the Family and all its responsibilities, but that would bring a chaos of infighting amongst the others that would destroy it.
She wanted her old life back. It was gone forever.
Ailim squared her shoulders. "Please consider the budget, and your own personal and Family budgets and talk amongst yourselves. I encourage creative options and will welcome any new ideas. We'll meet again in three days to discuss this matter and any additional solutions that you can find, before I make my decision. Again, this needs to be handled before the FirstFamilies Council meeting in an eightday. Be inventive." She smiled crookedly. "It's a pity we aren't a more financially astute Family."
With raised hands, palms up, she uttered a Word. A one-word spell of the most powerful -- binding her relatives, and whoever they consulted, to silence. Then, with lifted chin and steady step, she walked from the quiet D'SilverFir GreatHall, her footsteps echoing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Celta Thursday: Cut bits and notes on a scene from Heart Thief

Celta Thursday: Cut bits and notes on a scene from Heart Thief:

Her appointment as Supreme Judge of Druida had been 'ported to her personal scry cache at dawn that morning, along with a request that she start immediately in Druida's Judgment Grove. She'd blinked sleepily at the official parchment, then read the cover letter. Her appointment* had been based on her record as a circuit judge and on her Flair testing after her Third Passage, the emotional storm that had freed her psi power completely. At the time she had tested highest in telepathy, empathy and judgment. XX years had passed and she still held the highest scores. And now she had grown and matured, and her Flair, too had increased. She'd rubbed her sleepy eyes and yawned. It was to be expected, after all. She was the Daughter of a GrandHouse, a FirstFamily, that like all FirstFamilies, had bred for Flair for centuries. She'd been named "Ailim" at birth, the heir's name, when the oracle attending her birth had sensed the power of her Flair. So she was confirmed as Supreme Judge, and soon to be publically and officially confirmed as D'SilverFir.
She shifted her shoulders, feeling the unseen burden as if weighed on her back.
****
Her day ended in the early afternoon.
***
In the distance, between a small, planned, gap in the trees, loomed Nuada's Sword, the last of the three starships that had brought the colonists to Celta. The grove had been planted in such a way to remind all of the society they had sprung from -- a society that had hated and feared their ancestors for their beliefs and their burgeoning psi powers.
**The ritual ending Judgment Grove.**
***
Ailim removed her robe in the small building that housed her offices and hung it in her refresher. She stepped from the small two-story, building and admired the flagged terrace and the semi-circle of pillars that arched behind her altar-table. Her glance rested on the matching building at the other end of the pillars. It held a suite of rooms, a small but stately apartment for the Supreme Judge, should he or she wish to reside there.
She went and sat once more in her chair behind her table. Ailim smiled. One of the first things her bailiff had done was to initiate the spell that made the chair conform to Ailim's body, a personal ComfortChair. She ran her hands on the XX (stone & color) surface, smooth and slightly warm from the sun's rays that the weathershield had magnified.
The weathershield and anti-harm forcefield faded as the Grove returned to normal, or as normal as it ever would be. The manifestation of great Flair over generations had given it an atmosphere as strong as any Healing Grove, or outdoor RitualCircle. She looked out to the grove, massive trees of all the FirstFamilies namesakes were planted in a way to draw the eye. Some of the earth trees had not prospered and had either died or been cross-bread with Celtan flora. Still, the prospect was both stately and comforting*.
She breathed deeply of the fall scents of turning leaves and fading flowers. A sense of peace enveloped her as she enjoyed the lovliness of the Grove, and she was glad that her Family was a GrandHouse and had no month named D'SilverFir, like the GreatHouses did. What would she have done if she'd been born a Hazel, a Family with a month in high summer, and loved the autumn like she did? Ailim chuckled at the fancy, an impractical, unlikely thought to be flitting through her brain.
Still, as the air shimmered a little less, the colorful purple, maroon, and red leaves became highlighted by the sun, brilliant in their beauty. A last summer-warmed breeze swirled through the trees. Ailim smiled, but the stress of her first day in such a lofty position, the use of her Flair, and being the scrutiny of all of Druida who came to see the new Supreme Judge D'SilverFir seemed to transmute to weariness in every cell of her body.
She loosened the pins in her hair, just a little, and rested her head on her arms, just for a moment.
And slowly, wonderfully, peace came upon her.
"Sleep." She imagined she heard it, almost as if the Grove itself spoke, deep and quiet and infinitely tender. "You've had a full day, and you haven't recovered from all the time you went without sleep to try and solve your Family problems, have you?" The voice turned a bit tart, with an autumn apple bite. Ailim murmured, she agreed she needed sleep, but to agree that her Family was plaguing her would be disloyal.
"Sleep." She heard again, and the tight braids on her head loosened*, and wonderful, massaging fingers seemed to knead the knots from her neck and travel down to her shoulders and her back. A soft sigh of pleasure escaped her. And a little laugh, something supple and furry tickled her cheek, then her nose. Even as she thought of sneezing, she fell asleep.
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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Celta Thursday: Tabacin Cards

Celta Thursday: All right, I've spent an hour looking for a good cut, and I can't afford any more time away from Heart Legacy and the next Ghost proposals, soooo, below find the back of the Tabacin cards in Heart Journey, before they were cut individually.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Photo Used for Ghost Killer Cover

If, by any chance, you want to use this pic, please give me credit. :) I was in Creede doing research for Ghost Killer when we emailed about the cover and cover conference. I sent several pics, and they chose this one.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Ghost Killer Out Tomorrow!

Yay, it's finally come, the third in the first installment of the Ghost Seer series.

I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Celta Thursday, ORIGINAL HeartMate. This was just-messing-around writing. I'd finished 3 books and none were selling. NO HOOK in this very first effort, as of May 16, 1997:

As was his morning custom, Rand T'Ash set down his half-finished first cup of caff and drew a black suede pouch from the cubbyhole of his desk. He spread the drawstrings, and upended the bag. Instead of the ususal four divination dice, six spilled into his hand. A tingle of premonition shivered up his spine.

He curved his fingers over the six-sided pieces of bloodstone and put away the pouch. He drank some of his hot caff to let his emotions flow through and from him and to focus his will and intuition, his mage power.

Uncurling his hands, he stared at the bloodstone dice. He'd created them himself a few years back, an interesting task for a man who used his talents with metals and gems.

Six. Four were sufficient for a daily divination, six were used for major holidays, like the solstices and equinoxes, and all eight to forecast lifetime prophecies.

He took one more swallow of caff and deliberately set the mug down. With a flick of his wrist, he threw the dice. They rolled, spun, landed on one of their six-sides.

He glanced at them. The polished blue-green stones gleamed in the light, the glyphs incised on them taking advantage of the deep red veins, looking nearly like blood. The thrumming of blood pulsed in his temple. He'd never seen this particular configuration before, but he didn't have to consult a text. The dice showed symbols of one of the primary divinations everyone knew. Today you will meet your heart-mate.

He sat down and cradled his caff mug in both hands, then closed his eyes. His heart rate had increased, a shimmering tension had taken hold of his nerves. The ebb and flow of his preternatural talent had changed. Over the last few days, he now realized. The daily divinations had lately intimated something unusual, something he had still missed. Twosday -- Enjoy the moment, for it will pass, Midweek -- Prepare yourself, Three-Moonsday, yesterday, Restructuring is necessary.

Opening his eyes, he stared at the dice once more. Today you will meet your heart mate.

A sigh escaped him, carrying a low moan with it. He was thirty-seven. The sole member of the once great family, a First Family, the Ash. He'd had to fight to survive. It was only in the last few years, when his talents had been recognized and his reputation burgeoned, that he had been able to relax and live life with some ease. Tomorrow he would no longer be alone. An exciting, but frightening thought.

His caff was cold, he no longer inhaled the pungent scent with his deep breaths. He looked around. His workroom, the large desk of gleaming reddwood in sharp contract to the scarred workbenches. On the far wall, behind the protection spell, was his selection of gems and precious metals. And in the corner -- he stiffened. In the corner, hidden by deep shadows, was his walk-in vault. And in the vault was the smaller safe containing his most precious possessions. The necklace.

Stiffly he rose and walked to the vault. After a moment of disarming the spell, he swung open the large door.

The necklace. An item created in three days after his last major Passage. In the delerium of that Passage he'd had visions of his heart-mate. His talent had spiralled out to connect with her in a bond, though he had never felt the link since.

He squatted and placed a palm on the safe, with long-unused words he cast the spell to open it. He reached back until he felt a large velvet case. And the moment he touched it, urgency swept through him. He slammed the safe shut, strode from and armed the vault in mere seconds, and placed the round-cornered box in the middle of his largest worktable, positioned in the sunlight.

Rand watched with disbelief as his hands trembled when he opened the box.

Energy, power, magic spilled from the necklace, driving him back. He raised his hand and felt continuing pulses from the piece. The sexual potency of a virile twenty-year old man imbued the necklace, a man who had spent three days in a sexual delerium of a Passage that finally freed his talent. Rand had focused all of the creative, sexual energy on fashioning the necklace. Seventeen years past, and it still radiated. The erotic tension washed through him and lodged, tingling his nerves, warming his muscles, pooling in his groin. And he knew beyond all doubt, that he would feel the pressure until he took his mate. The tautness was disconcerting, pleasure bordering on pain. Anticipation.

He sucked in his breath. Then looked at the necklace again. Now he only saw how it was fashioned. He frowned. The strands of silver, gold, red-gold wire were not of a uniform thinness, showing nodules in places. The caging and the mounting of the gems was clumsy now and again. That sapphire there -- he shook his head.

The side of his mouth quirked. When his hands hadn't trembled from sexual energy, they'd shaken from exhaustion. He didn't remember eating or sleeping at all during the days he created the necklace. The final gem was a large roseamber he'd spent hours shaping. With the energy pouring through him, he wouldn't have been surprised if it had turned out to be in the shape of a phallus.

He'd made a heart.

His eyes focused and he saw the necklace, beyond its inherent power, and the skill that fashioned it. He saw the style and the color of the gems. And in that moment he knew who the woman was. His mate.

He had never seen her, but he knew of her. Today you will meet your heart-mate. Not today, but tonight. For the first time in several years he had to man his exclusive shop. And now he knew that the customer he'd been teasing with his creations the last few months would come in.

He glanced at the necklace one more time and left it displayed on his workbench. He needed more caff. He could feel power swirling around him, being caught by his inner anticipation, rising.

With one sweep of his hand, he gathered the dice on his desk. Two bounced and fell to the floor. He bent and his hand stilled. Swords surround a vulnerable woman. He picked the glyph of the woman up and the die cracked into pieces in his hand. A woman in danger.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Fire

Celta Thursday: Just squeaking in before midnight my time. Okay, I had originally had the climax/black moment of Heart Fire at the Temple and here is the Cut:

The door flew open and T'Sandalwood strode in. "What is going on here? Your emotions are affecting everyone in the Temple. Including people we are counselling."
He stopped and stared at the disheveled Tiana. She thrust up her chin, swallowed again, pulled a softleaf from her robe sleeve and mopped her face. "It appears that I had more unresolved issues than I believed."
His brows winged up. "I...see."
She swallowed. "Yes. Despite everything, I have realized I'm angry with my parents–"
T'Sandalwood raised a hand. "I know. We all know. Right now we are all angry with our parents." He gave Antenn a sardonic look. "And at our mates. This is not good for the High Priestess and me."
Tiana sucked in her breath between her teeth.
Antenn snorted. "Oops."
"It's not funny," she said.
"No. It isn't. I suggest you go discuss this matter with your parents and finally clear everything up. Please don't return until your emotions are stable."
"I can do that."
"Of course you can," the High Priest said.
"Of course you can," Antenn echoed.
She glared at him as if she thought he was being sarcastic. He wasn't.
Using the softleaf she wiped away continuing tears – most of them from frustration and embarrassment, he figured – then she blew her nose, inclined her head at T'Sandalwood. "I will discuss this with my parents. And my sister."
Once again the door opened and a flushed D'Sandalwood strode in. She glanced disapprovingly at her HeartMate. "I thought this would be settled by now."
"My deepest apologies," Tiana said, sinking into a low curtsey. "I am about to remove myself. I need to speak with my Family...and find forgiveness for them. And for myself."
She rose and looked at Antenn, then speared her fingers through her undone hair, flushing miserably. "I'm not sure I can find forgiveness for you. You've hurt me." She put her hand on her heart, and continued telepathically. You've hurt me for a long time, and now you've...you didn't choose this...timing...wisely and I have made a fool of myself at my workplace.
I don't think so, he replied.
"I'll see you, FirstLevel Architect Moss-Blackthorn, sometime. Not soon," she choked. She walked over to the teleportation pad.
"Hmmph," D'Sandalwood said and left.
Antenn's brain ignited. "Way to go, Tiana! Breaking up with me in the Temple of the Lady and Lord in front of the High Priest and High Priestess."
"Get over yourself. And you work on yourself. Finally."
"Right!" he yelled as she teleported. "I'm not the only one with fliggering issues. But at least mine are all out there for you to see. You find me when you're done pouting!"
A steaming hiss from her rattled his eardrums and he actually heard a "pop" as her body left the space.
He panted and leaned against the wall, let it help him as he slid down to the floor, his knees had gone so weak.
The High Priest stared at him, then slowly shook his head. "Son, you have more courage than I'd thought."
Antenn found a lopsided smile. "Thanks."
"And more sensitivity and intelligence. None of us – my lady, myself, Tiana's own counsellors and friends – knew she had that last seething pocket of negativity in her."
Antenn thought there was nothing wrong with having a little dark in a person along with a lot of light, but he didn't say so. Wasn't sure the priest believed that or not. 'Cause he'd gone lightheaded, mind spinning, his stomach felt a little wobbly, too, good thing there wasn't anything in it.
"HeartMates," he gasped.
"I understand that," the priest stated in a rich voice.
"Something else you gotta' know," Antenn said.
"I'm listening."
"This whole thing has been real hard on Tiana. She thinks she lost a lot of respect and status–"
The priest's brows snapped down. "Absolutely not."
"Maybe not from you and the High Priestess. But I got the feeling that a lot of your underpriestlings and preistesslings," his voice had begun to slur and all he wanted was sleep, "think it was an inferior job you gave her, associatin' with the Hopefuls, and it's gonna smear her career in their eyeses for years. You better fix that." His own eyes closed so he couldn't see the older man's reaction.
"Hmm," the guy said and Antenn didn't know if that meant the priest had listened or not.
Then a soft form alit on his lap, a rumbling purr came against his belly.
**I am here, FamMan,** Pinky said. **We are safe.**
**Tha's good.** Tiana was a softie. She'd come back to him, as soon as she settled down.
A couple of prodding kneads on his thighs. **You can sleep.**
**Guess I will....** and he dropped right down into a deep hole.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Celta Thursday: Heart Fire Original first chapter (change of setting for Tiana and the Priestess)

"I know you want my position, dear," the High Priestess of GreatCircle Temple, the main priestess on the planet, said to Tiana Mugwort.

Tiana was lucky she'd only taken a sip of the hot floral tea and hadn't swallowed or she'd have spewed it out. Of course she shouldn't have expected her ambition -- no matter how masked behind a quiet manner -- to have been overlooked by the savvy woman.

"And despite the rumors, I am not ready to retire within the next few years." The older woman, Ulmaria Meadowsweet Sandalwood, smiled with good humor plumping her round cheeks, kindness showing in her sparkling dark brown eyes. "I may never be ready to retire. Meanwhile, it is time to evaluate you for your next step up this career ladder you wish to pursue, yes?"

Warning! Tiana began to sweat even in the high priestess's office suite that was cool from the large floor to ceiling windows on this curve Great Circle Temple.

Ambition and spirituality didn't often mix well and everyone who'd chosen to become a priestess or priest knew it. With great care, Tiana took a swallow of the hot brew then set the delicately thin porcelein cup down into the equally delicate saucer, handpainted antiques from the lady's birth Family -- a Family with much more clout than Tiana's disgraced one.

That disgrace that was a thorn in Tiana, spurring her need to reach the greatest pinnicle in their religion, one of the highest positions in their culture. Her eyes stung as she glanced around the space that she wanted for her own.

They sat in the innermost, the smallest, sitting room. One that the high priestess used for her most personal office...or her most noble clients needing counselling...or her most challenging problems. This room, like the others, was richly appointed, with the four high windows surrounded by carved stone in patterns of intricate knotwork.

Three rugs layered thickly on the floor. The antique and comfortable furniture, scaled for women, sat in the comfortable room, upholstered in deep amber, appropriate for the season and the gorgeous golden-leafed trees of the sacred grove just outside the window.

Lovingly crafted, as the whole GreatCircle Temple was lovingly crafted.

This building was Tiana's sanctuary, her heart's home. "I don't want to leave here for another temple," spurted from her lips without passing her brain first, appalling her.

The woman's plump hand poured more tea into her own small cup and the scent of it soothed, as it was meant to, even as Tiana's mind raced to amend her words and mitigate her mistake.

But the high priestess continued, "There have always been two paths to the top ranks of the priests and priestesses of Celta. One way is to stay here in the GreatCircle Temple, the other to prove your worth by rising as the priest or priestess of small temples to medium ones, then very influential ones and when the time comes to choose the next high priestess your name is known."

"I understand," Tiana said, pushing her impatience with this conversation, down, down, down.

"First let us touch on the matter of your wish to become the highest priestess in our land."

Tiana swallowed more brew. The taste lay on her tongue like dying flowers.

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