>Chasing the Wind – The Next Generation

>By the time I had completed Chasing the Wind, I not only knew it was the beginning of a series,  I knew the basic plot points of each of the subsequent books. I also knew that the later books would involve the future generations of the Mackenzie and Stewart families–particularly Daniel Mackenzie and  Rusty Stewart.

I write everything down as it comes to me and file it away in case senility sets in and I can’t even remember my own name. In the following scene, Daniel, now twenty-five, is struggling to establish his own identity and deal with the supernatural gifts inherited from his father. As a result of his psychological rebellion, he’s become a bit of a scoundrel….

* * * * * * * * * *

The storm had knocked out the power.

From the moment Serena entered the house, she had the uneasy feeling she was not alone. She moved cautiously in the darkness, looking for a weapon–something, anything, with which she could defend herself. After a few frantic moments, she remembered the broadsword. It was hanging on the wall in the foyer.

She’d inherited it from her late father. It had been handed down through generations of his family. Now, it might well save her life. She gripped it tightly. Whoever was in the house was very close now. Watching her. Approaching her from behind….

Serena acted quickly. She spun around, stomping down hard on the intruder’s foot as she brought the sword upward, pushing him back against the wall.

“Put that thing down before you hurt somebody!” he yelped.

Serena immediately recognized the voice. She looked up in the darkness, realizing she had the blade pressed to his throat. “Daniel Mackenzie–what the hell are you doing here?” she demanded, lowering the sword.

“I could ask you the same question,” he responded, taking a deep breath.

“I live here, remember?”

“You were supposed to be in Hong Kong,” he said. “I thought I’d get the rest of my things and be gone before you came home.”

“I couldn’t be so fortunate.”

The lights came on abruptly. Serena wished they hadn’t. Face-to-face with him, he was damn near impossible to resist: well over six feet tall, with thick hair that was either chestnut or golden, depending upon the lighting, blue eyes that often held a wicked gleam, and a seductive grin. He’s hot and he knows it, she thought miserably.

(Chris Hemsworth looks exactly as I pictured Daniel, except he dresses a whole lot better!)

He bent to pick up his hat, which had fallen when she pinned him to the wall. He’d had the battered fedora for as long as she’d known him. And those scuffed boots, she thought, glancing downward in an attempt to avoid his eyes. All his family’s money and he dresses like a bum. It had never mattered to Serena. Daniel without clothes was spectacular. So what if he never made the cover of GQ?

“Come on, Serena,” he said in a teasing tone. “You still love me. Admit it.”

“Any woman who loves you has to have a masochistic streak,” she shot back at him. “Get your things and go.”

“You’re not even going to offer me a drink?” he asked.  A lock of his hair fell across his forehead. Serena stifled an urge to push it back, as she’d done out of habit when they were together.

He didn’t wait for her response. He stepped past her and went into the kitchen, taking a bottle of beer from the refrigerator. “I see you still keep it around,” he observed as he opened it. 


“Serena, my dear, you don’t drink beer,” he reminded her. “You kept this here for me, didn’t you?”    

“No,” she said with a shrug. “Just never bothered to get rid of it.”

He lifted the bottle to his mouth and took a long drink. “I’ve missed you, you know.”

“Haven’t found a replacement yet?” she asked.

He tried, but didn’t quite manage, to feign innocence. “I could never replace you.”

“Daniel, you’re so full of shit your eyes should be brown,” she told him. “Now, would you please just collect your things and leave?”

“You’d send me out into this storm?” he asked, playing the pity card.

“Storms have never bothered you before.”

“Maybe I’m just making excuses.”

She laughed at that. “Maybe?”

“Maybe I just want to be with you.”

“Maybe you just want to get laid.”

He laughed. “You say that as if it’s a bad thing.”

“Look, I don’t intend to be a casualty of war,” she told him. “You need to exorcise your demons, Daniel.”

“Demons aren’t allowed anywhere me,” he said, his tone suddenly somber.

>The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Among Writers)

>Fellow writer/blogger Eve (The Desert Rocks) recently wrote about an unpleasant expeince she’d had at a writers conference. Though I’ve always enjoyed the conferences myself, I can’t say I’m surprised by Eve’s experience. Writers have always seemed to me to fall into two groups: those who are unfailingly supportive of each other, and those who are all about themselves. Eve’s experience was clearly with the latter.

Some authors, no matter how much success they achieve, are always insecure. They’re afraid someone new will come along who will eclipse them–make more money than they do, have better numbers than they do, be more popular than they are–so they snipe at each other. They tear each other down. And they’re judgmental. We all make mistakes. They use those mistakes against each other like weapons. Makes me think of that Bible passage about casting stones….

These are the users, the writers who want others to support them, to read their books and their blogs and recommend them to everyone–but give nothing in return. “Buy my  book, give m
e good reviews, tell your friends about me, help me promote my stuff. Just don’t expect anything from me in return. I don’t have time to read your books, let alone comment on them. And if I take advantage of you, just smile and keep putting out the good word–after all, it’s an honor to serve me. Can’t you see that?”

The smart writer realizes that success for one is good for all of us. When any author develops a healthy following, people are buying and reading books. Which means they’re going to be buying and reading more books. Other writers’ books. For those who still want to be traditionally published, remember this: another author’s monster success means the publisher has money to invest in new writers. Maybe you.

I’ve known a few from the Dark Side–one in particular comes to mind. She was smart, funny, fun to be around–but she’d sell her own mother into the white slave trade for a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. She didn’t mind using others, including those who were supposedly her friends. A group of writers in Kansas City gave her a most unflattering ego-inspired nickname. Her career took a downward turn–two publishers dropped her. She didn’t get the support she would have gotten from the writers community that would have been there, had she not been so self-centered.  

I’ve been fortunate in that I had a great group of friends during my time in traditional publishing, and I have the best, most supportive writer friends anyone could want now. William, Beth, Donna, Karla, Mike, Mark, Christina, Eve, Shelly, April, Robb, Nicole, Cathy, Kyle (if I’ve forgotten anyone, I apologize)…here’s wishing the best for all of you. I will cheer each of your successes as I would cheer for my own!

Now, guys, if you want to have fun at a writers’ conference, we should all go together…. 

>The Undiscovered Country….

>Sunday night, Collin and I watched Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. We’ve seen it many times before, but I admit we’d never watched many of the Special Edition DVD’s bonus features until now.

Watching cast and crew as they discussed the inspiration for and evolution of the story, I found it very similar to how I develop my novels. Everyone connected with Star Trek VI knew this would be the last film featuring the cast of the original series. They weren’t getting any younger, and joked that their last theatrical outing should be called The Search for Geritol.

As they were trying to come up with a plot, world events handed them one: Chernobyl. From the Soviet nuclear disaster came the inspiration for the explosion on the Klingon mining moon, Praxis. Like Mikhail Gorbachev, the Klingons initially rejected offers of outside help. Finally, however, realizing they could not survive without it, an olive branch of sorts was extended to the Federation. Of course, James T. Kirk was the only one who could be sent to escort Chancellor Gorkon to the peace summit…for the same reason that, as Spock put it, “Only Nixon could go to China.” 

Though Gorkon was initially inspired by Gorbachev, there was also a bit of Abraham Lincoln in the Klingon chancellor: his beard.

Many authors start with a character. Others start with a plot. I wish I could say I have a formula. I don’t. With Chasing the Wind, inspired by the news stories on cloning and stem cell research, my protagonist didn’t even show his face until the third draft. It started out as a completely different story–that wasn’t working. I was about to give up on it when the Connor character came to me in a dream. It was like finding the missing piece of a very large puzzle, and once he was in place, everything came together–after another six drafts!

An Army of Angels has been a long labor as well, in spite of the fact that this is a sequel to Chasing the Wind. In fact, I’d originally interwoven Alex’s story with Connor’s, until I realized the finished novel would be longer than War and Peace!

Final Hours, on the other hand, was inspired by events that have not yet happened: the two near-misses the Earth will have with the Apophis asteroid in 2029 and 2036. The characters and their story came fast. I wrote the novel in six weeks.

When I wrote my third novel, A Time for Legends (soon to be re-released in e-book format as The Unicorn’s Daughter), it was originally supposed to reach its climax in Amsterdam. The US air strike in Libya (which took place as I was writing the book), however, seemed much more timely and exciting.

Timing is everything for writers!

Check out the books’ respective blogs:


>Six Sentence Sunday (An Army of Angels)

>This week, I’m taking my six sentences from my upcoming novel An Army of Angels….

He was about to be executed.

It means the fiasco I created with the children born in the last decade was not a factor in your cloning.”

Robyn nodded again, still stunned by the resemblance even though she’d known this man existed.

He begrudgingly admitted they were his best and most original work, but they gave him no pleasure, no sense of satisfaction.

Instead of the traditional bride and groom topper, the couple at the top of this cake were Beauty and the Beast.

Okay, so this one’s a twofer, but it was necessary….

And if I get old while you’re still young?” he asked.

            She grinned. “Then people will look at us and say, ‘Look at that old geezer with that hot babe. He’s either filthy rich or an amazing lover.’ And I’ll wink and say, ‘He ain’t got a dime.’’”