Friday, November 30, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Welcome back! Last week we met one of the new samurai Hiro had recruited to help fight against the ronin. This sample picks up where last week's excerpt ended:
She nearly dropped the long wooden chopsticks she used to stir her concoction. "Nakamura-san, forgive me," she cried, quickly turning to bow to her esteemed neighbor.
"Please do not stop your work. I was passing by on the way to the village, and the wonderful aroma from your new home enticed me to investigate."
"Thank you. But — this is actually Hiro’s home," she began.
"And you are merely a servant? No, this will be your home soon, when you and Hiro marry. And then you will have servants to prepare your food."
"Servants? No, I —" she paused in her denial, realizing that Hiro, as the head of the household, would undoubtedly hire servants to take care of the housework. The idea was unsettling. After working hard all her life, how could she sit back and let people work for her?
"Have I disturbed you, Hanako-san?"
"Oh! Of course not. Would you like some tea?"
"You are kind to offer, but my son is outside fixing a broken wheel on our wagon. I must be ready to go when he is. But I wanted to let you know — I have heard about the extra samurai Tanaka-san has recruited. You should not have to feed all these hungry men alone. Please allow me to assist you. Since you already have tonight’s meal started, I will send food over for tomorrow."
Hanako stared in amazement at the woman’s offer. It had never occurred to her to ask for help. "I — I am humbled by your generosity, Nakamura-san," she finally managed.
The older woman smiled. "You are so accustomed to doing everything alone. But these men are helping the entire village and surrounding areas. It is only right we should all help to feed them."
Hanako again stammered her thanks. "But how did you hear about the new soldiers? Watanabe-san arrived only today."
"Tanaka-san is a celebrity in the village. When his friend arrived, asking where to find him, word immediately spread. My sons learned that others are coming. When they arrive, we will all be honored to help feed and house them."
Noburo Nakamura appeared at the doorway. He bowed a greeting to Hanako and then to his mother. "Okaasan, the wagon is repaired enough for us to return home. I am sorry to make you wait."
"It is no trouble, Nobu-chan," the widow replied. "I rather enjoyed this opportunity to visit with our neighbor." Turning to Hanako, she repeated her promise to send food the next day, and left.
Hanako returned to her cooking, but as she worked, she marveled at this unfamiliar feeling of contentment. It wasn’t from the fact that she wasn’t hungry or excessively tired. It wasn’t from the fact that she felt safe with three former samurai in her home. It came from her connection with another human being, another woman, who expressed care for her well-being and was willing to help. This must be what people referred to as friendship.
She decided she liked having a friend.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to check out other samples by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

The Samurai's Garden is available at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Welcome back! While I've enjoyed sharing my Christmas novella with you, this week I'd like to return to my Japanese historical novel The Samurai's Garden. I've spent the last two week promoting this book by visiting the blogs of several other authors. Many, many thanks go to Nancy Gideon, S G Rogers, Catherine Bennett, Lindsay Downs, Lisa Orchard, Diane Burton, Jennifer Lowery, Babette James, and Marsha Ward for hosting me on their blogs! 
So now that I'm settled back at my virtual home, I'm busy working on my next projects (I'll share some of those after the holidays!) as well as looking for new ways to promote my November releases.
Recently, we observed Veterans Day, and I joined with others in paying tribute to our men in uniform. It occurred to me that Hiro Tanaka and his friends provided the same kind of protection for his village as our soldiers do for us. Here's an excerpt that explains how he accomplished this:
During one of Hiro’s unexplained absences, Hanako noticed a stranger standing silently at the edge of the field. The last time strangers came, Hiro and Ginjiro had fought them off. But this man looked more dangerous than the two ruffians who had attempted to abduct her. She looked around for Ginjiro, wondering how she could signal a warning to him. Her hands trembled as she attempted to appear unconcerned, continuing to tend to the radishes, but her eyes were not focused on her work. Faster and faster, she moved toward the end of the row away from the stranger. Quick, furtive glances assured her that the man had not moved from the edge of the field. Finally, she spotted Ginjiro, working in the next field with the ox and the ancient plow. She gave up all pretense of calm and raced to him. He looked up in surprise as she approached him.
"What is wrong?" he asked.
Hanako struggled to catch her breath as she gasped out a description of the man at the roadside. Ginjiro’s expression tightened, and he checked for his sword before heading to where she had seen him. He trod slowly, looking around for signs of other intruders, until he spied the newcomer. Then his face broke into a wide grin, and he re-sheathed his sword before running to greet the man.
Hanako breathed a sigh of relief. If Ginjiro knew this person, he was probably not a threat to her. But why would an acquaintance of his travel here? Perhaps he was a relative.
Ginjiro brought the silent man to her and introduced him as a former comrade. He had answered a request to come and help the town defend against the ronin. The newcomer was immediately invited inside for tea. Since the new house had a larger kitchen and dining area, Hanako usually prepared and served meals there. She got out her fine china cups and special tea. As she worked, she caught snippets of their conversation.
The newcomer, Watanabe-san, was younger than Hiro and Ginjiro. Like Hiro, he walked with a proud, erect posture that bespoke a life of privilege and importance. She suspected that he, too, came from a long line of samurai. She wondered what business he had with Hiro.
Hanako strained to hear the men’s conversation as she prepared the tea and a light snack. Ginjiro’s voice carried more clearly, and she could make out his words. Being a lower-level samurai, he was respectful as he spoke to the younger man.
"Watanabe-san, we are honored you came here to assist us. The ronin have caused much damage here and in other nearby towns in the last year."
"Yes, Tanaka-san told me about their evil deeds," the newcomer replied. "It is a shame that some of our kind have chosen to use their skills in dishonorable ways. It was an honor for Tanaka-san to invite me, and I was intrigued by his offer of payment."
Payment? Hiro was paying men to help fight the ronin? Hanako nearly dropped the teapot.
"I have never owned property, and since I am a younger brother, I will not inherit my family’s estate. My older brother would provide for me, of course, but a chance to have my own land was an enticement for me."
Hanako brought the tea in to the men, bowed, and left to complete dinner preparations. But she left the sliding shoji screen open just enough so she could hear more of their conversation.
So Hiro has promised land in exchange for fighting power. Such a brilliant idea. But is he purchasing this land to give to them?
"I have spoken to Fukazawa-san and Kobayashi-san, and they should arrive within the week," the newcomer continued.
The rest of the conversation was lost to her. There are more men coming! He is recruiting an army! The village will be protected! She let the rest of the conversation flow as she prepared the finest meal she could provide.

The Samurai's Garden is available at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and find more excerpts by visiting the blogs of other authors. Those links can be found at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blog Tour!

I'm all over the internet this week! Check out my interviews with these great authors:

Marsha Ward

And thanks again for stopping by! Your support means so much. This week I'm so thankful for all the "liking", "tagging", and purchasing people have done in the last two weeks. Thank you, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Image credit: belchonock / 123RF Stock Photo

Welcome back! Last week Amelia left her Giles, her trusty footman, waiting for her at the front entrance to the milliner's shop while she scooted out the side door. Read on to find out why Amelia was so secretive about her errand:
Phineas Culpepper looked up from his ledger at Amelia's entrance. "Prompt, as always, Lady Amelia."
"Of course, Mr. Culpepper. I've brought the edited manuscript, as you requested." Reaching in her borrowed satchel, she removed the bulky package and handed it to the editor. "I trust the revisions I've made will be suitable for your markets."
"I'm sure they will be. You're an excellent writer, as I'm sure you've been told."
She hadn't been told that. No one but Mr. Culpepper knew of her double life, but that was all right with her. She was able to get much more fodder for her stories when people didn't think their dirty laundry would be featured in a book.
Mr. Culpepper opened his desk, pulled out a thick envelope, and handed it to her. "Here are your earnings for the past month. Your romance stories are so popular I have my printer working six days a week now."
Amelia took the envelope and hefted it to gauge its weight. Her eyebrows rose and she drew a quick inward breath. "I had no idea my stories were this successful."
Mr. Culpepper chuckled. "Thanks to you, I may be soon able to move my operations to a more respectable area of the city." He paused and studied her over the rim of his spectacles. "You did bring someone with you this time, didn't you?"
"Oh, yes," she reassured him. "He is waiting for me at the door."
She wasn't actually lying, she told herself. Giles truly was waiting for her at the door. Just not at the door to Culpepper and Winston.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to visit other authors participating in Sweet Saturday Samples.

The Partridge and the Peartree is now on Amazon's best-seller list in Regency Romance! Check it out at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and of course, at Astraea Press

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Please Welcome Author Marsha Ward

I "met" Marsha on the Sweet Saturday Samples blog hop, where she regularly posts samples from her wonderful historical novels. I love reading her stories of the American pioneer days. They're full of the strength and resolve of those who settled in the western part of the continental United States. In addition to posting her samples, she often stops at everyone else's blogs, reading and responding to our offerings. She often dispenses great advice for making our writing stronger.

Last Saturday, author Marsha Ward celebrated the release of her fourth novel in the Owen Family Saga, Spinster’s Folly. She’s my guest today, telling us one step in her novel creation process. Welcome, Marsha!


Like many writers, I rely on beta readers to evaluate my novel manuscripts. This choice list of people includes ordinary readers, writers at all levels, and those wonderful author friends you cultivate carefully so you can trade manuscripts with them for critiques. I usually go over a finished manuscript at least twice before I let anyone appraise it. But with my third novel, Trail of Storms, I was trying to meet a deadline, so what I sent out was pure, unadulterated first draft dreck. Scary!

I believe that when I’m asking for a favor, it’s incumbent upon me to make it as easy as possible for the favor-giver to help me. For that reason, I provide a sort of tip sheet as to what I’m looking for in their critique, especially if my beta reader hasn’t read my previous novels, or is unfamiliar with my genre.

The following is from the tip sheet I sent to volunteers on that occasion. It includes my “off the top of my head,” and oftentimes, “in no particular order,” concerns. It also alerts my critiquers to the fact that they’re not simply reading for pleasure. I didn’t want them to dash off a note at the end saying, “This is good.” I needed to know why it’s good or not, so I was specific about my expectations. It seemed to work wonderfully well, and I got very detailed responses.

Thank you for agreeing to read and critique my manuscript. I'm anxious to know what you think about it.

When you want to make a comment, suggestion, or correction, please go ahead and do so, using whatever method suits you best, such as colored font, bracketed notes, or Word’s Track Changes editing tool.

The spelling and grammar have been gone through pretty well. I still find a few words that should have been deleted when I substituted something else. If I mess up, please let me know! I use colloquial language from time to time, but not every time. In other words, not every "g" will be missing from the end of "going". That is okay, so don't worry about that if it doesn't irritate you. If it does, say so!

If you find anything in particular that you like, go ahead and tell me that. If the story carries you forward so thoroughly that you forget you're suppose to be editing, let me know that. On the other hand, if the novel is merely so-so, I have to know that, as well.

These are the major things I'm hoping you will find and mark:

Repetitious use of words that are likely to hit the reader over the head—words like "fresh," or "journey," or "enough" showing up twice in the same paragraph or in successive/close paragraphs.

Consistency: Do I capitalize Daughter or Sister/Sis when used as a form of address throughout, or did I drop to lowercase in some instances along the line? Robert should always be driving a mule team. His hair is brown and he wears a beard, as does James. However, James's hair is black; Jessica, George, and Hardy are blondes or blonds; the other characters' hair is unknown as to color. The dog should be brown. Note the possessive form of James's name. I always use the "apostrophe s" convention. He rides either a black mare or a sorrel gelding, but I may not have mentioned the sorrel's neutered state. That's okay. If his horse is a gray or a palomino, I'm in trouble. I don't believe I specified horse color for other prominent characters.

Sections that drag.

Consistent character motivations: I've changed a few things, and might not have caught every build-up that goes with them. If anything puzzles you, mark it!

Characters doing or saying things that are out-of-character for them.

Over-explanations of the same thing to various people, or one character telling another about a past occurrence more than one time. It doesn't count if new information is imparted, but please note any concerns.

Places where I avoided writing a scene that should be there, or failed to expand a scanty scene. Or wrote a scene that has no point in furthering the story.

Story strings left hanging at the end.

Which is akin to this: Characters dropped on their faces when more of their story should be told. I sometimes forget about the dog, but I didn't see any point in killing it off just to get rid of it, so it should be there from time to time, especially since it appears to be transferring loyalty. Where is the baby in tense scenes? Should someone be throwing up?

Too much development of minor characters.

Padding that appears to be solely to boost word count. Trite or passive construction. Unnecessarily pounding a point home. Drecky conversations, cliches, and stupid stuff.

I really should make this mish-mash into a formal document, but it worked at the time. Perhaps if I ever have spare time, I will create an all-purpose form to which I can add specifics. Like I’m going to find spare time lying around on the ground! Wish me luck!


I certainly understand about lack of spare time! Thanks for visiting today, Marsha! Spinster's Folly can be found at your favorite ebook distributor.

Marsha can be found  at her blog, Writer in the Pines, at

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Welcome! This week I debated whether to continue with my excerpts from The Partridge and the Peartree or share a bit of The Samurai's Garden, which was released this week. Presently, I'm making the rounds of author blogs to promote the samurai book. I've visited the virtual homes of Nancy Gideon, SG Rogers, and Catherine Bennett (click on their names to see the posts on their blogs), so I decided that since Samurai has gotten a lot of attention this week, I'd share a bit more of Partridge. After all, it's a Christmas story and we'll probably wrap up the Sweet Saturdays in another few weeks. So here is the continuation of last week's scene, in which Lady Amelia figures out a way to get rid of her curious footman:
She took a circular route, hoping to lull her companion into thinking she was merely out for a stroll. Pausing at a popular milliner's, she made a show of looking in the window then turned to the young footman.
"I think I'll go in here for a while. I need a new hat. I'll take the satchel now. You may wait for me out here."
Giles bowed his acquiescence and handed the satchel to her. She hoped he wouldn't question her need for a satchel in the milliner's shop, and like a good servant, he didn't. At least not aloud.
She carried the satchel into the shop. Madame LeFevre, the proprietor, rose to greet her potential customer.
"Bon jour, mademoiselle."
"Bon jour, Madame LeFevre. I wish to place an order for a hat. Er, something to go with my new winter cloak."
"Oui, mademoiselle. Ze new cloak, it is in your bag?"
"My bag? Oh, no. I, er, forgot to bring it along. But it's... blue."
"Blue is an excellent color for you, mademoiselle. What shade of blue?"
"Ah, it's…a deep blue. Rather like—" She cast a quick glance around the shop, and her eyes caught a bright, peacock blue felt hat. "That one."
Madame blinked, obviously swallowing her distaste. "Oui, mademoiselle. Ze entire cloak is that color?"
"Perhaps I should return another day and bring the cloak with me. Forgive me for wasting your time this morning. I'll just get going." She strode toward the back of the shop.
"Er, mademoiselle? Ze door is this way."
"Yes, but my next errand is on the street behind your shop. If you don't mind, I'll just use your side entrance to get there more quickly. Thank you for your time." She scooted out the door, mindful of the lady's stare. She probably wouldn't be back, at least not this season. But she'd accomplished her goal and left Giles waiting at the front entrance. Hopefully, by the time he realized her duplicity, she'd have her errand completed.
The side entrance of the shop emptied on a quiet street. No traffic here, and Amelia cast a cautious look about her before proceeding. She had an important errand, and nothing was to be gained by dawdling.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to enjoy the excerpts offered by other fine authors by going to Sweet Saturday Samples

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blog Tour!

I am so excited about the release of my first full-length novel, The Samurai's Garden. It was released at Astraea Press earlier this week, and now it's also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. For the next few weeks I'll be "on tour" visiting the blogs of several writing friends, talking about different aspects of writing the book. Today I am thrilled to visit Child of Yden, the blog of YA Fantasy author SG Rogers. I'm talking about Japanese traditions that sparked the writing of The Samurai's Garden. I'd be thrilled if you'd stop in for a visit!
SG Rogers' blog is at

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Welcome back! I am so pleased to announce that The Partridge and the Peartree was released a day early at Astraea Press! You can find it at the Astraea Press website, or (by the time you read this) at your favorite ebook distributor.
Amelia Partridge is a very independent woman. Unfortunately, the regency period in London didn't encourage women to be independent. Amelia tries to escape the constraints placed on her by sneaking out, as described in this excerpt:

Amelia settled her bonnet over her curls and reached for her gloves. She didn't call for Jeanne. Getting herself dressed for an outing, especially when the weather outside was sunny and relatively warm, wasn't that difficult. It had always seemed a waste of time to wait for servants to assist her with tasks she was perfectly capable of doing on her own. Besides, if Jeanne knew she was going out, the rest of the household would find out, and she didn't want everyone knowing about her excursion.
She had almost reached the gate at the street when a dreaded voice from the house halted her.
"Lady Amelia!"
She froze. Marks, the butler, was a stickler for convention. As a woman — especially an unmarried woman — she shouldn't leave the house unattended. But a companion would slow her down and make it more difficult to go and do as she wished.
"Lady Amelia, Giles is ready to accompany you. Kindly wait a moment." He didn't have to add a reprimand, though displeasure was evident in his voice. There would be a dressing down later on, from her brother.
Seconds later, the gangly young footman rounded the house from the servants' entrance, hastily adjusting his hat as he ran. He skidded to a stop a respectful three paces from Amelia and bowed respectfully.
"Apologies, my lady, for keeping you waiting."
Amelia suppressed a sigh and resumed her walk toward the street.
"Lady Amelia, please allow me to carry your satchel for you."
She paused. The satchel wasn't especially heavy, but it was large and awkward.
"Thank you, Giles," she said as she handed the bag to him. "But you must let me take it myself into the, er, establishment where we are going."
The young man frowned but nodded.
Amelia led the way, plotting as she went. Though she usually took time to observe the changing of the seasons, today her mind focused on one thing: how to get rid of Giles.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to visit other blogs with wonderful excerpts by going to Sweet Saturday Samples

Phillip Peartree, Duke of Bartlett, dreamed of a peaceful life with a suitable mate until a hunting accident left him scarred and nearly deaf.  Resigned to spending the rest of his days alone, Phillip has devoted himself to rebuilding his family estate.  But, a chance encounter with a lovely young woman in a dusty bookstore rekindles his almost-forgotten hopes and dreams.
Lady Amelia Partridge has no time for the frivolity of the London social scene. She is much too busy.  In addition to her work with the Ladies Literary Society, she has a mission – educating poor children in the city. She also has a secret life, one she fears might drive away the young duke who has become increasingly important to her.

Get your copy of The Partridge and the Peartree today!