Sunday, November 10, 2013


Yep.  Neglected.  That's what this blog has been.  At the moment, I am hidden away in a bit of a writer's retreat.  Actually, I'm house sitting, but I have time on my hands.  I've polished on Oneiros a little more.  I'm feeling better about it.  I'm having trouble deciding if I want to look spend this accrued time on A&F or Oneiros.  It should be A&F.  Oneiros is at a "pause" spot, so it should be easier to pick up once again. 

Otherwise, I've picked up crocheting and jewelry making.  The cello is sounding better, to me anyway. Yay!  You can say there has been progress, depending on the angle you look from.

I'm not able to take part in NaNo this year, but that's ok.  I owe my stories all kinds of time and attention.

Bring on the writing!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A&F Cover Mock-Ups on the FB Page

W.J. Smith Facebook Page

Eeeek!  I might be just a little excited :-)

Photo credit: Justin Sherrick
Cover art: Lisa Law

You guys rock!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

They Caught On

Amazon has "Where to Belong" for free (kindle version).  I'm glad they made note of that.  Yes, I'm still being spiteful.  But it's totally awesome to see all the downloads!  Thank you, and rock on!  And I love seeing it raising in the ranks.  Happy author :-)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just a Thought

Sequels.  Prequels.  Series.  They have a place and time (in my opinion).  Some books rock as a series.  Trilogies seem to be the big thing anymore.  I won't knock that.  Quite a few of my favorites stories played out into trilogies and then some.  One of my WiPs will be a three part series if I ever get it out of my head and beyond my hard drive.  But the majority of my WiPs are one part stories.

There was a time I thought there was something wrong with me as a writer for not having a stack of trilogies waiting to be typed up.  Now I'm happy to have stories that begin and end in the span of one single book.  Again, nothing against series of any size.  But is the idea of a series being abused?

Like I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of books that happen to be series (some quite lengthy) on my favorites list.  Then there are the ones that have to be series.  Let's use Tarzan as an example (nod to Justin).  How can that not be a series?  Yes, you have the main story of Tarzan, who he is and what he became.  So I guess you could read the first book and be satisfied.  But there's an entire series (that I'm not even close to finishing yet) out there.  I mean, it's Tarzan!  How can his story be contained in one volume?  Every day of his life could be turned into a book.  Sure, sure, it could be accomplished.  I'm making it complicated.  Even still, it works as a series.  That's my point.  If the story stopped with book one, yes, you have the story of Tarzan.  But since Burroughs was kind enough to continue the tale of Tarzan, why not take it all in?

The thing that irks me about series, mostly trilogies, is that they aren't always needed.  They could be, but it isn't fluid.  Several books I've picked up and loved continued to grow into long, drawn out series.  I still read them.  I wanted to know what happens next.  I wanted the happily-ever-after.  But I've since backed off.  Just because the characters move on into another book doesn't mean their story continues.  One author, whose books I bought and read on the days of their releases, is about to release yet another.  But the story was done.  It finished.  Why is she releasing yet another book in the series?  "Because they're paying me to."  Her exact words.  She agreed the story had reached its climax.  All loose ends were tied up.  It was over.  But the publisher waved a check in front of her and she threw together an add on.  (Disclaimer: I'm not saying it's easy to write another book.  I'm sure she put tons of work into it.  It isn't for the faint of heart)  My problem is that I feel she sold out.

It isn't just her.  There's several who have recently decided to restart finished stories.  Now if the plots flow and the characters grow even more, then that's what a series is all about.  But if a writer is writing a story for other reasons, how can I be expected to still feel for those characters.  It leads to disappointment.  If the author's heart isn't in it, the reader can tell.

Then you have the authors who thrive on their one-book stories.  They have plenty to go around.  Yes, you fall in love with a character in one book, and they stay in that one book, but you aren't sad to see their story come to a close.  When the author releases their next piece of work, it's full of completely different characters and elements and still captures your heart and holds your attention.  I like how one author put it.  "You have a start of a story, what the character must overcome.  You have the plot that grows along with the character.  Then you have the climax.  The climax brings a resolution with it.  It brings a close to the story.  That is the formula for a book."

So, again, there is nothing wrong with a trilogy or a series as long as the writer's heart is still in their work.  Once they lose their love for the story, it ceases to exist.  It will wither and crumble and leave the reader with a bad taste in their mouth.  Don't force the story onward.
(note to self)

Only a few writers I've quit reading since they stretched out their stories for the sake of royalties.  There are lots and lots of pressures in the writing world.  There are also lots and lots of rules.  But at the same time, there are no rules.  Weird how that works.  It can be daunting and exhausting, but it can also be a real joy.  Keep your heart in your work and your readers will follow.  Stay true to your story.  It is your story after all.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Oh, And ...

I forgot to mention "Where to Belong" is free through Smashwords.  Yes, I'm being spiteful.  *evil grin*

September Means Changes

To be honest, I never thought there was anything different about the month of September until these past few years.  It's difficult to explain, but it has this feel about it.  I guess it's like a change in the weather (although the weather hasn't changed here)  But there is a change coming.  Maybe that's all there is to it.

Or maybe it's just me.

Not many noteworthy updates in the writing department.  I should be in writers' detention for how negligent I've been to my works.  Then I sort of tried crossing two different stories.  It sucked.  I probably won't do that again.  That idea I mentioned awhile back including that dark and quiet character comes and goes.  I have a little file open for it. 

I'm about to drop Always & Forever.  I know I shouldn't, but I think I've taken too long as it is.  It's time seems to have passed.  Unless it pulls an "Oneiros" and beats me upside the head with an "Ah hah!" moment.  I don't mind those.  I wonder if they ever come at a convenient time, though.

I've brought home another tort.  Also a Sulcata.  I didn't realize how much Tiff has grown.  The newbie looks like a mini tort nugget when they're together.  But I did find out a goof.  Tiff is a boy.  Oops.  Now he's gonna have a complex about his girly name.  I'm sure he doesn't even realize I call him by a name, but now it's just not right.  Can you rename a pet after having them for five (or more) years?  I've been calling the baby Ping since I brought it home.  I don't plan on keeping that name.  It's more of a reference.  I was holding the tiny tort on the way home and it tumbled out of my hand when we pulled into the drive.  Poor thing looked like a ping pong ball bouncing around in the truck.  Colt looked at me with accusing eyes and said, "Don't tell me that's the tort."  I just tucked the baby back in it's carrier and went inside.  So now Colt calls me a bad tort-momma.  I am a little worried about this one.  It is more accident prone than the others have been.  It's usually upside down when I check on it.  But it's already growing quickly, so I hope it quits trying to scale the side of it's enclosures and finds something else to occupy its mind about.

Now there is a lot of rock in my life.  And I still need to be banned from craigslist.  I've been looking for large rocks or stones to build a patio with.  I think it's ridiculous how much people/places sell rock for.  IT'S ROCK.  But I guess it's no different than water or grass.  You still end up paying for that.  Anywho, I finally found an ad with plenty of rock to accomplish my plans.  After checking in with the guy, a price was set and an appointment made for me (and whoever I could drag along with me) to get this stuff.  That same day I learn the guy I've been talking to is the middle man.  The guy in charge says something about discussing prices when we decide how much of the rock I want.  Also that same day, the truck and trailer I had reserved for hauling several tons of rock ends up spending the entire day and much of the following night in North Texas.  Now Mr. Rock doesn't answer his phone.  So we meet up at the rock pile anyway.  He's doubled the price.  I hesitate.  It's still a 'deal' considering the sheer amount of rock, but it's rock and I don't see why it costs so much.  I start backing out.  "The truck and trailer is out of town.  I only brought this much money.  I wasn't able to bribe many people into helping me haul this stuff."  He counters.  "I have a trailer you can use for as long as you need.  Take as much time and rock as you like.  I'll even load it today with a Bobcat, that'll make things easier.  You can bring the difference later."  My mind was screaming "NO!", but I handed him the money.  We ended up using a different truck and a the much smaller trailer to bring home the first load.  Day two, we return the trailer and end up loading rock into the back of the truck by hand.  Day three, the truck and trailer I planned to use showed up, but loaded their own supply of rock and left.  My parents and I piled some in the back of my truck and headed home.  Those big rocks are a little unnerving to move in the dark.  But it's coming together.

Now I have to talk myself into paying for sand as a base.  BUT IT'S SAND!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Already August

This month is going by too quickly.  I keep thinking it's still July.  No real reason, just good at getting lost in time.  Let's see ... updates.  Baby Bird flew away.  He surprised me.  He stuck around for awhile so I figured he was getting comfy.  I set up a bird feeder in the back yard and another bird bath, and he took off.  Yes, I stood out in the middle of the yard and waited for him to come back.  I haven't seen him since.  Sad to see him go, but I hope he's found a much more spacious sky than the little bit around our house.

Now there is a baby gutter-kitty hanging out.  I thought it was Bob (the neighbor's cat), but it turned out to be a mini version of him.  I'm checking into any feral cat programs in the area to see if I can at least get him fixed and vaccinated.  There's already a bunch of gutter-kitties around here.  I know the next county over has a feral cat program.  This one needs one.  I guess I shouldn't get into that.  The soap box gets a little worn out.

Oneiros has been cooperative lately.  I'm trying to write up a synopsis for a certain publishing house.  It's still a little early, but knowing how many times I rewrite things, it's probably a good time to at least get the basics down.  I have the end of Oneiros written, but there's still a few holes in the manuscript.

Oh, and the AC is out again.  We replaced the outside unit not too long ago.  Two window units are keeping it cool enough for now.  We're scheduled to have the system checked.  I hope it's nothing major.  Odds are the inside unit needs replacing.  It didn't get a good report on its last check-up.  We've been expecting something like this.  I'm just glad this summer has not has been as hot as last year.  I know it isn't over yet, but there's been a major difference.  A nice difference.

I've ordered Of Triton from the new bookstore in town.  It's supposed to come in today.  I'm excited about that.  I've lost track of Anna Bank's series and need to get back with the program.  Now the trick will be getting this copy signed.  I think I lucked out last time when she came to Houston. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July ... Thus Far

I think this month has been filled with me making plans, but not really sticking to them.  I helped my parents with a yard sale at the beginning of the month.  One day only.  I think we set a record.  We had it up and going not much after 6 am and then everything sold by 10 am.  That gave us plenty of time to pick out donuts and find beds for naps before lunch.

My only baggage that day and since then is a baby dove.  I tried putting him back in his nest, but he kept falling out.  It was about to storm and he was huddled in the gutter, so I brought him in.  I tried the next day to put him back and ended up bringing him home with me.  Hand feeding isn't bad, I'm just a clean freak and baby birds like to get their meals on everything around them.  By the time he was done with hand feeding, I had figured out an easy to clean method.  So he moved on to seed.  Time to let him fly away, right?

He's still in our garage.  We've let him go.  He comes back.  I think he's attached to the Land Rover in the garage.  He still has the baby bird chirp, so I'm not in a hurry to push him out.  He's nice to visit with when I'm out there doing laundry or working in the yard.  He stays just out of reach and chirps the whole time.  When Colt comes home, the bird goes all crazy and flies to him like he's been starved.  I always figured it would be that way if we ever had children.  Colt would be the fun parent. 

There's a row of windows across the top of our garage doors and Baby Bird sits up there and watches the day pass by.  I make sure to wave to him when I go out to the car and when I come back home.  He's still sitting in the same place with that goofy dove face.  He roosts on the Land Rover.  Colt isn't a fan of that.  I'll have to wash it once Baby Bird finally decides to leave us.  He's made a mess of it (and everything else in the garage).

Cello progress is slow.  I've been told I'm being too technical.  "Lighten up.  Relax."  Apparently I'm not a calm person.  But I'm still loving it.  Diesel still hides when I play.  I don't take that personal anymore, though.  He hides when I have my learning-on-line videos playing too.  And that guy plays beautifully.  Diesel just hates the cello.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cutting Room Floor - Deleted Scene from Shattered Remnents Book III - The Scarred Healer

    David found himself in the Great Hall surrounded by finely garbed men and women of his realm.  He was back at the festival, standing in the middle of the dance floor.  The music filled the room, accompanying the laughter and conversations of all those in attendance.  He could smell various aromas of the prepared meats and breads for the evening's meal.  He looked about the scene and recognized most of the faces around him.  "This is familiar," he thought to himself.  Watching the joyous activities around him, David was soon moving through the crowded room, not knowing where he was headed or why.  He came to a stop at the edge of the dance floor and peered into the gathered people before him.  Someone was coming to him, the crowd gradually shifting to allow their passage until he was finally able to see who approached. 
    It was Dea, but unlike anyway he had ever seen her before.  David studied her as she stood a short distance from him.  She wore a brilliant scarlet silken gown with a plunging neckline.  It had gold woven cords that crisscrossed her bodice before coming to a rest in a delicate knot at her hip, accentuating her slender figure.  Her russet hair framed her pale face and draped down her back.  The gleam of her green eyes shone unmatched by any of the flickering chandeliers in the room.  She was stunning.  He wanted to smile, but something kept him from it, something unknown.  He could only mover closer, offering his hand to request her company for a dance.  She accepted.
    They turned gracefully about the floor amongst the other dancing couples.  All eyes were on them, but Dea's gaze never left his.  She stared up at him with an  adoring expression as she held to his shoulder, her other hand clasped within his.  David held her firmly; her smooth hair brushed his hand at her waist.  He could feel the warmth of her body so near to his.  He thought he should have been happy at that very moment, but he wasn't.  Something was amiss.  Something was off. 
    As their shared dance came to an end, he turned her full circle once, and then pulled her close.  Dea wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his throat.  David felt a strange sense of loathing come over him, and it was aimed at her.  He found himself wanting to push her away.  Just as he was about to move back, she shuddered.  He looked down at her as she slowly raised her eyes to his, and they were filled with pain. 
    "I thought you loved me," she came in a whisper.
    "You told me not to," David coldly replied.
    Dea winced again.  "I lied," she breathed, then lowered her head.
    David followed her gaze.  His breath caught at what he saw.  His own hand clutched the hilt of a dagger, and he had driven the blade into her chest.  Her arms came loose from around him and she closed her eyes.  He pulled the blade free and dropped it to the ground, sending droplets of red blood across the floor beneath them.  He knew he should have felt remorse for what he had just done, but did not.  He observed the crimson blood flow from the wound and darken the silk gown; it lessened in volume as the beats of her heart slowed.  Even though he knew it was wrong, he found satisfaction as he watched the life leave her.  Dea looked up at him, the light in her eyes fading.  She then closed her eyes once more, a tear escaping each.  The tears stole the glow from her eyes as they fell, rolling down her flushed cheeks with the odd illumination within them.   
    It was the sparkling tears that brought David back.  Dea went limp and began to crumple to the floor.  He caught her in his arms and held her close.  He wanted to cry out, but his voice failed him.  "No, no! I'm sorry!" rang through his head.  She grew heavy in his embrace until he could hardly hold onto her.  He sunk to the floor and let her down against his knees.  She looked peaceful, as if she were only sleeping.  He gently shook her and hoped to see those beautiful eyes open.  They did not.  He shook her again, calling her name this time.  Again, she didn't respond.  David's heart broke as her head lolled back and her arms hung down from her lifeless body.  He leaned over her and pulled her closer, resting his head against her neck.  He could feel her growing cold as he held her.  "I'm sorry," he repeated in his head over and over. 
    As he sat with her, he noticed the dancing continued around them.  No one seemed to care about what had just happened.  David looked up and watched as the festivities proceeded unhindered.  He couldn't believe there was no one to turn to.  Then a hand came to his shoulder.  Marsden stood beside him, peering down at him. 
    "The Elfling has been executed as you requested, sir," Marsden informed him without hesitation.
    David gazed up at him speechless.  He thought to ask him to explain his statement, or to plead for help for Dea, but he couldn't form the words.  He looked back at Dea's inanimate body in hopes of catching Marsden's attention, but his friend merely walked away and left him alone.  David watched him until he vanished in the sea of people, and then turned back to Dea.  He wanted to weep for her, but his eyes remained dry.
    Another hand came upon him on his other shoulder.  David's eyes flashed up and found Thadean standing beside him.  He was shocked to see the old man, knowing he was dead.  He looked very much alive, and very much displeased as he glared down at David. 
"Help me," he thought, but was again unable to voice it. 
    "I knew you would only bring her death," Thadean whispered angrily at him.  "I knew you would cut out her heart."
    David rocked forward over Dea.  He shifted his hold on her, supporting her head in the bend of his arm.  "She's sleeping," he finally spoke.  His words seemed more for his own sake than for the old advisor.  He stroked her shining hair as he studied her stillness.  "She's only resting."
    Thadean came beside Dea's body and knelt down as he took her slack hand in his.  He placed his other hand over the stab wound on her chest.  David watched in awe as the blood dried up and fell away like dust.  When Thadean drew his hand back, the wound had closed, leaving the flesh renewed and skin unblemished. 
    "Thank you!" David sighed.  He looked up at Thadean, finding the old man peering at him with a discomforting expression.
    "Your father would be proud of you," Thadean spat.  "You are nothing more than his agent."
    "No," David shook his head and pulled Dea closer, "She is sleeping."
    Thadean turned his attention to Dea; a kind smile came to his face.  He held her hand up and closed his hands around it.  "Come, child," he whispered, "It is time."
    David's heart leapt in his chest at the sight of Dea's opened eyes.  He moved to embrace her, but he couldn't take hold of her, his hands slipping away at each attempt to grasp her.  He could only watch helplessly as she sat up and looked to Thadean.  The old man rose and aided Dea to do the same.  He then guided her to his side where she stood with a blank stare.
    David slowly got to his feet, his gaze fixed on Dea.  He was relieved to see her unharmed, alive.  Looking into her eyes, he noticed something was missing.  Their gleam was gone.  He shifted to move closer but Thadean stepped defensively into his path.  David halted his advance and stared at Dea, aching to tell of his concern for her. 
    A light breeze stirred the air around them.  His attention broke away from her at the movement of the air.  He glanced about their surroundings; they were now standing in a forest.  He did not recognize the area, but it felt soothing. 
    The breeze picked up, becoming more of a strong wind, the kind that precedes a storm.  David brought his hand up to shield his eyes from the debris carried in the wind.  He then realized Dea and Thadean remained undisturbed by the gusts, their hair and clothes not even ruffled.  His recently accrued comfort melted away.  He knew Thadean was in fact deceased, and he began to understand that Dea, too, was now dead.  The trees and grass swayed under the force of the harsh winds, even David himself staggered at the strength of the increasing gusts, but the two standing before him were never effected.   He tried to call out to Dea, but his voice failed him once more.
    Thadean noticed David's vain attempt.  He looked to Dea and offered his arm, which she took.  He then turned back to David.  "You have to let her go.  There is no place for her here."
    "Where are you taking her?" David asked in a strained voice.
    Thadean shook his head and pet her hand upon his arm.  "There is no longer anyone to hold her in Memory.  She is lost, and I with her."
    Grief tore at David.  He had forgotten about the Baldorian belief; one can only continue after death in Memory, held there by those who live on after them.  Dea was the last of her kind, as far as he knew, there were no others.  "I will hold her, if she will let me."
    "You are the son of Darien, the one who stole her away," Thadean growled over the howling wind.  "You take what is not yours.  You cannot hold her.  Memory does not answer to you." 
    David looked to Dea.  She stood motionless beside Thadean holding tightly to his arm as if she were cold or frightened.  He longed to console her; he wanted to keep her safe.  Her eyes were opened, but she didn't seem to see him.  He took a few steps and reached for her.  She never noticed him.  David glanced at Thadean.  The old man only watched, not moving to hinder him from seeking Dea's attention. 
    As he came nearer, she raised her eyes to him.  He froze in front of her in hopes of finding a chance to win her back.  He whispered her name; she merely blinked at his calling.  He stared into her eyes and found nothing that resembled the Dea he knew.  Taking a step back, he studied her still frame for several breaths.  She looked flawless, untouchable. "She is an angel," he thought to himself with a sad smile.  
    Thadean nodded to Dea as she warmly turned to him.  "It is time to go, child."  He then glared at David, "You shall return to your world.  Leave us to ours."
    The wind died down following Thadean's order.  David peered about his surroundings, finding himself standing in the Great Hall once again, which was still bustling with festivities.  The constant movement and noises filled his head and was nearly overwhelming.  His breathing felt hurried in reaction to the pace of life around him.  He looked down at his feet; they were stationed on the forest floor.  The glossy tiled flooring began to take over the earthen ground before him.  He turned his eyes back to where Dea and Thadean last stood.  They were watching him for a moment, then turned and walked on into the thick woods. Dea's scarlet gown stood out in contrast to the dormant shades of green and brown of the forest.  As they moved away, the Great Hall claimed the grounds they left behind. 
    David kept his gaze on them for as long as he could, until their silhouettes blended into the shadows cast by the full trees above them.  The forest then diminished from his sight and was overtaken completely by the Great Hall and its active atmosphere.  He stood disillusioned as exuberant peoples danced and shuffled about the room.  He clasped his hand together and noticed a foreign texture on them.  He held them up and examined his palms; they were varnished with dried blood.  David checked the front of his dress jacket, remembering he held Dea's lifeless body against it.  The fabric, too, was stained. 
    He frowned as he realized she was gone, and that he was the one who snuffed out her life.  He closed his eyes and tried to drown out the flurry around him.  He couldn't catch his breath; he began to gasp for air.  Panic crept in, threatening to undo his sanity.  The loud music and laughter and chatter and clamor pressed in as if to crush him.  It was too much to handle.  It was maddening.  He couldn't take it any longer.  He drew in a deep breath and tried to shout back at the chaos, but the breath caught in his throat, gagging him, choking him.
    David jolted awake and threw the dense pillows from his face.  He stared up at the ceiling as he caught his breath, the cool air rushing down his dry throat to fill his lungs.  His heart pounded in his chest.  After realizing it was only a dream, he closed his eyes and waited out the ringing in his ears.  He used his sleeve to wipe the sweat from his brow as he turned over on his side.  The early morning light teased at the jagged horizon out his window.  Knowing he would not be able to find any useful rest with what little he had left of the morning, David sat up and rubbed at his sleepy eyes. 
    He looked about his room, his gaze coming to the door that closed off the passageway.  He wondered if Dea was resting comfortably, hoping she didn't suffer from bad dreams as he had.  He thought to check on her, but then felt foolish about taking the risk of disturbing her. 
    Shaking his head to clear it again, he moved to the edge of bed and set his bare feet on the cold floor.  He couldn't help but shiver at the feeling of the hard surface as he stood and staggered to his washstand.  He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror as he reached for the water pitcher.  Turning fully to the mirror, David decided he needed more help than the washstand had to offer.  He moved for his door, a hot bath seeming like a good idea. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dusting Off

I owe lots and lots of time to the blog.  Thus, while munching on a sandwich that contains nearly everything in the fridge that looked edible, I'll see what I can manage to type out.

I will not attempt to regale you with the past however many months I've been absent from the cyber world.  Illnesses, death, misunderstandings, and disagreements are not much of anything I want to recount at the moment.

One new thing!  We tried once again to get a saltwater tank going.  Once again, we failed.  That's ok.  I still cry over my goldfish when they die, I don't think I could handle balancing the lives of all those gorgeous little fish and starfish and corals and horseshoe crabs.  Yes, I get attached.  Anyway, since that fell though, I'm now trying my hand at playing the cello.  If you are of the people who know me in person, you know I am lacking in the rhythm department.  And apparently I'm not so good at hearing tones as I thought I was.  But I'm still enjoying this adventure.  Learning lots.  Realizing more.  Yes, I'm trying to pick up an instrument as an adult!  Yes, I'm learning via book and YouTube!  Yes, I know none of this is ideal, but I think that's what's adding to the fun.

The place where I got my cello is the only shop that didn't tell me my plan was crazy and try to persuade me to start with a smaller instrument.  Oddly, they're as excited an I am to see if I can pull this off.  It was an interesting conversation and lively introduction to the world of strings.

I can't quite get past the death grip on the bow.  I'll start out with the relaxed hold and strokes, but I'm choking the life out of the bow after a few draws.  I'm kind of cheating on finding the notes.  Colt found an awesome tuner that lights up all pretty when I find the right note, then I mark said note with tape on the fingerboard.  It is very different from the piano.  My pinky needs to bulk up a bit.  That's going to take time. 

Practice time is usually when I'm alone.  It isn't pretty just yet.  But I can say I'm progressing.  I played and played and played one day until my fingers went numb trying to conquer Ode to Joy to no avail.  I left the cello set up in hopes of regaining feeling in my fingers so I could try again.  I wasn't discouraged at that point.  Then, Colt came home from work, picked up the cello for maybe the third time, and nailed Ode to Joy.  I was happy to hear it come from the cello, but at the same time I was a little put out that he could play so easily.  There's that thing I have about people with musical talent.  I won't call it a grudge.  It's straight up envy.  I guess Colt caught my ice daggers.  He promised to never play the cello until I'm at a more advanced stage.  I've come home to find it has been used several times now.  I haven't said anything, but I'm sure he's mastered even more songs by now.

The tort is back outside today after being under house arrest for a few days.  Something has been hanging around in our back yard, digging holes and tearing stuff up.  Of course, it comes at night and I am yet to catch it.  I'm guessing it's an armadillo or skunk.  I wouldn't mind the armadillo so much, but a skunk would make me uneasy.  Besides the likelihood of it eating the tort, there's also the worry of rabies and getting skunked.  I've moved things around and haven't seen anything that hints at an intruder lately, so Tiff is back in her roaming pen.  I check up on her more often than I used to, but that's ok.  She's fun to watch.

I've worked some in my notebooks as of late.  I'm getting protective of my writings again, hiding them away and keeping them to myself.  No idea why, but I fallen back to that.  WIPs have changed, progressed, digressed, and new ones have begun to form in my head.  I'm not sure I'll let this one stick around.  It's darker than I like.  But that might just be me after these past few months.  I don't even know this guy's name yet.  Only that he's a quiet wanderer, a vagabond in search of his own placement.  There is something he fears, but he hasn't met it as of yet.   I haven't even let him into any of the notebooks.  I guess I can wait and see if he stays or moves on.  He isn't giving me much to go on. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dreamwalker by M.G. Chester

Part of the fun of being a part of the world of writing is taking part in things like this.  Here is the cover reveal for book one of the awesome Mireille Chester's new middle-grade series to be released June 1, 2013.  It's entitled Dreamwalker.

If there's anything Kate love's, it's a good book.  Her new favorite series, Quallen's Quest, follows the Faerie prince in the land of Kallaryn as he goes from one adventure to another.  When Kate awakens in Quallen's secret cave, she's sure she's dreaming.  Is she really in Kallaryn and if that's the case, will she ever be able to get back home?

The cover is by Smokey Boy Designs.

For more info, check out her pages-

Looking forward to it, Mireille!  Thanks for sharing!
(This is my first post via phone.  I hope it works)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chronic Junkie

I know I have issues.  I try to restrain myself, but issues have a way of making issues.  I'm hopeless when it comes to taking in abandoned pets (among other things).  I think I've done well as of late.  Our zoo's population has stabilized.  But temptations come in all forms.

Craigslist is a dangerous place for me.  It never fails, I fall for the scams and heart-breakers every time.  You'd think I'd stop looking.  Nope.  Because every now and again there is a genuine find on there.  Well, at least some kind of find.

There was a listing from an apartment manager asking for someone to adopt a pet she found abandoned in one of their units.  Cage and all.  Just come get it.  I stewed a bit and ended up passing it up ... at first.  Then I got to thinking about how terrible that was for someone to leave the poor critter behind, locked up, without food.  That's irresponsible and insensitive (and I'm pretty sure there exists laws against it).  So I looked the ad up once again.  Still there.  I mentioned it to my hubby as he was leaving for work this morning, and he didn't have much of a reaction.  That's usually a good sign.  After talking myself into it, I sent him a text asking if he would go with me at lunch to pick this poor baby up.  No answer.  "Are you ignoring me?"  "No."

That 'no' was aimed at the ignoring part, right?  Or was it meant to say he wouldn't go with me?  He didn't say, "Don't go get it."  I had already told him I wouldn't keep it.  I'd just keep it fed until I could find someone to take it in.  I know people out there are always looking for one.  Surely it wouldn't take too long.

When I checked for the ad again, it was gone.  Someone took the critter home.  I'll admit I was sad.  I know I don't need anymore pets.  I already have three cats, one of which is pure evil even though I saved her from a kill shelter.  The tort and the dragon are here, but they don't require nearly as much attention as the others.  Do you even count fish?  I mean, really?  If so, four ... no ... five of those.  One never come out of the rock.  And then there's my longest running house pet, the hateful love bird.  When I said the cat was evil, I guess I was wrong.  Her seedy attempts on my life are nothing compared to what the bird come up with.  So why would I need to bring home another that would probably hate me more than the cat, dragon, and bird?  And this would have been the scariest of all.

A tarantula.

I guess it's a good thing someone else took it in.  Tiny spiders give me nightmares.  Me adopting a tarantula is just asking for more trouble.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Makes an Ending Happy?

It isn't a trick question.  I've probably been spending too much time pouring over story lines.  Books, movies, series, theater; they all have so many different kinds of endings to offer.  Happily ever after.  Is it only one scenario?  The hero and heroine live on in their peaceful and beautiful world, never to face another shadow or doubt again?  It's a lovely idea.  And there are lots of those story lines out there.  But is that the only ending a telling must have in order to be considered a good story?

It seemed that way while growing up.  Bad conquered, good saves the day, sunshine and happiness all around.  That doesn't mean the hero doesn't face any hardships.  What would a story be without angst?  The hero grows and overcomes.  He learns.  Adapts.  Evolves.  Or, does he?  What if he doesn't give an inch?  What if he sticks to his stubborn yet proven ways and manages to wrap everything up in a pretty bow and sprinkle it with glitter.  It can still be entertaining and have a moral to take in.  And sometimes it isn't the hero who reaches your heart.  Supporting characters have a way of stealing the show with their quirks and antics.  That always adds to the deal.

Then there's the other kind of conclusion.  Maybe the hero risks it all, suffers throughout, and still comes out victorious.  What was his price?  What did he have to sacrifice?  Will he carry a permanent scar around for the rest of his life to remind him and those who walk with him of what they've gone through?  Does the hero have to be saved?  Was he a hero to begin with?  The stories where the main character is happy being a tiny pixel in a much bigger picture, but he's dragged into a situation - whether it's kicking and screaming or with his head held high - and goes through an experience that changes him.  It teaches him even the smallest of pixels can be touched, torn, bruised, and loved.  Not all heroes begin on the good side.  Not all heroes are brave.  The hero may not always be right.

I bring this up because the majority of the stories I've taken in as of late ended without the happily ever after those familiar and comforting stories have.  But somehow, there is still comfort in there.  The sacrifice mentioned earlier, was it more than he realized?  Once he pays the price, is there a tax thrown in to kick him while he's down?  Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, strengths, and with a variety of clever or cunning moves.   Even still, how does he measure success?  What does he see as a win?  It can be as simple as seeing the innocent smile or stop a single person's pain.  Then again, it can be something much bigger.  Multiple lives are saved, maybe even the world.  He paves the way for denizens to live on in an improved state.  Does that make it a good story?  Is that a happy ending.  Now, what if the hero accomplishes all this and is unable to save himself?  Do heroes always win?  What would you consider a win?

I won't give examples of books or movies that have the less than "happily ever after" ending in case of spoiling their stories.  All did not end well, but the problem is resolved, peace is able to prevail.  Is it still a happy ending?

 Admission:  There are WiP's in my possession that do not have the "happily ever after" ending.   The troublesome elements are conquered or capped, but not everyone goes home, not everyone gets what they want.  Some pay a bigger price than others.  While each and every character has a name and face in my mind, and I am fond of most of them, that doesn't give them a free pass.  A part of me wonders if there is something messed up on my end that allows my heroes to suffer and fall.  The guy doesn't always get the girl, or vice versa.  Does that taint a story?  Does it take away from its overall appeal?

Yes, it is saddening when the hero or supporting characters suffers losses in a story.  But isn't that what makes them stronger?  Isn't that what sets them apart from others?  There are a few books and movies I've walked away from mad because of the hero or heroine making the ultimate sacrifice.  Even still, I have to admit they captured my attention and took hold of my heart nonetheless.

As long as the hero remains a hero.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Due Date Update

Yep, I have the official date I'm supposed to turn in Oneiros for its first round of edits.  Remember when I said BFF was going to give me until July?  Well, she changed her mind.  She will be in town April 27th and plans to go home with a copy of it.  That means I'm finally getting my butt in gear.  I've patched a few holes in the writing I have on the computer but can't find the one notebook with the most important notes.  I'm sure it's on my desk somewhere.  That can be a dangerous place these days.  Here's hoping to it turning up soon!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Am Ashamed

Yes, I've been avoiding the blog.  Shame, shame, I know.  I'll try to make up for it.  A quick ramble will have to do for now.

Let's see ... what's been happening?

Bits and pieces.  Little bits and pieces.  A&F is still here staring me in the face.  I get in the mood every now and again to work with it.  I know I've said it many times before, but it is so close to being finished, it hurts.  The cover art is currently being created.  That is a nice and sturdy push.  It might just be me, but getting to see the cover is of the more exciting parts of writing stories.  It's the image your story will be associated with.  Maybe I'm just being dramatic.

Oneiros has forced its way back into the mind.  Of all my WiPs, I have to say it is the most fun I've had writing.  I don't know what it is, but Oneiros is my escape of escapes.  I wasn't serious when I started it, and I wrote the end before the rest.  Weird.  It has a bit more to go, but not too bad.  I sent it (the chunks that are on the computer) to a few friends to let them know what I've been up to.  I love getting feedback from them.  But, this time I think I've summoned the cattle-prod once again.

One of my friends, we'll call her BFF (and not just because she encourages my hobby), texted me the same night I sent Oneiros to her.  I got a call from her in the week again about the WiP.  Her love for it was growing.  She has ordered me to finish it.  When BFF says to do something, you do it.  That's it.  No way around it.  So, she's Oneiros' keeper, or bodyguard, or guardian.  I've dubbed her my agent for the story.  She gave me lots of ideas to work on and set a tentative due date of July.  We're supposed to catch up again Sunday and make some rules for me to work by.  I've needed that.  I've shared my hopes and plans about Oneiros with BFF.  She is taking those and combining them with reality and her advice and we'll have a more defined due date.  As in manuscript-packed-and-postmarked-by date.

The idea kind of scared me at first.  Now I'm telling myself to shut up and get to work.  So I guess I better find all my notebooks and obey BFF.  A&F is still on my desk.  It will stay there until its final edit.  My plans for it are not the same as my plans for Oneiros.  Is it odd that I write these stories with different goals in mind?  I can't say that any two have been aimed at the same target.  Maybe that means I'm still looking for my genre and platform.

Anywho, BFF has also demanded I not leak anymore pieces of Oneiros until it is finished.  That will be hard to promise.  I've always liked sneaking little samples out on the blog.  We'll see how that goes.

Yep, two WiPs once again.  That's ok.  Keeps it interesting.  I'm still kicking.

Oh, and BTW, if you like anime of any form, I highly recommend giving Steins;Gate a try.  I loved every bit of it.  The story is addictive and the characters are a blast.  There's too many twists and turns to keep track of.  Just go into it knowing you're in for a ride.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Always & Forever - Chapter Seven

Chase and Madison teamed up to see if they could get any more information about Mr. New Orleans.  Chase called in a few favors and was glued to the computer for most of the day.  Madison followed the tuition trail in hopes of finding names and addresses that way.
With a little assistance from Sawyer, they were able to get a list of companies that were targeted by Morgan's group.  There were two in New Orleans.  One was a small pharmaceutical company.  The other was an old factory.
Chase claimed to have ties in the medical field and jumped on the drug company.  He scurried off to his office and was working on it before Madison could counter him.  Not that she would have, but there was always the temptation to call him out on his connections.  She was yet to meet a single one.
It was almost too simple to get a list of the employees of the factory.  It was a family run, sheet metal fabricating shop.  They specialized in making lockers for schools and display shelving and racks for stores.  A total of forty-seven workers were left without employment.  Many had spent decades there.  And several were second and third generation workers.
Madison sat down at the table with her laptop and scanned the list of employees.  What were the chances of finding the one person out of forty-seven in less than twenty-four hours?  The phone numbers and addresses were up to date according to Sawyer.  Contacts were established when Morgan's case first began.  Each victim was given a chance to give a testimony, either in person or written.  Very few agreed to.  Most never knew they were victims to begin with.
The first twelve phone calls resulted in nothing.  They were answered, but either the person she was looking for was not available or had no idea what she was talking about.  She made a note to return the unavailable calls soon.
"My name is Madison.  I am calling on behalf of Mr. Skyler Andrew concerning your recent transaction with Atlas Corps.  Would you be able to answer a few questions?"
"Skyler who?  Atlas Corps went under six years ago.  I wouldn't exactly call that recent, lady."
While dialing the thirteenth number on the list, Madison made a search on-line for any information about the individual.  Not much came up.  But there was a link to view driver license photos.
Clicking on the link, she entered the name once more and hit enter.
A man's voice came over the line and caught her off guard.  "Hello." 
"Hi.  Hello.  How are you this evening?"
"Fine," he answered.  "May I help you?"
"Yes," she stammered.  "At least, I hope so.  My name is Madison Andrew.  I am calling for Mr. Timothy Sounders on behalf of Skyler Andrew."
"This is Tim."
The picture came up after his answer.  It was the man who brought papers to Skyler the day of their wedding, the balding man who acted so nervously.  Madison could hardly believe her eyes.  "Mr. Sounders?"
"But I'm sorry, I don't know a Skyler Andrew."
She feared he was about to hang up.  "Sir?  Sir!"
There was a moment of silence.  "Ma'am."
"Mr. Sounders, I don't mean to bother you, but you are exactly who I'm needing to speak with.  Please, I just need a few moments of your time."
"I don't know what you're talking about, ma'am."
"I know," she answered, "and I don't blame you.  But we really need your help right now.  Skyler needs your help."
Silence continued.
"You were at our wedding," she started slowly.  "You got the papers we needed.  Thank you."
"Mr. Sounders, I know you don't want to have anything to do with this, and I'm sorry to have to bring this to you, but Skyler is going on trial tomorrow for his part in the Atlas Corps scandal."
"Forgive me, ma'am," he said quietly, "but I believe everyone involved in that mess should be made to answer for it.  They wrecked lives.  Those people had families.  They were left with nothing.  There wasn't even a warning."
"I know," she returned, "and I'm sorry.  I know how hard that can be."
"Do you?"
She thought on her answer.  It was not completely honest.  "Only, I didn't have a family to care for at the time."
"Then you don't know what it's like."
"I do know."  Madison did not want to bring her personal situation into the discussion, but she felt it was already too late for that.  The entire scandal was personal.  Mr. Sounders was right, families suffered.  "I didn't then.  But I do now.  And I need your help to keep my family together."
Silence again.  Madison held her breath.  There was no going back from the direction she had gone.  Either the man felt Skyler was the criminal that had a hand in taking away his family's provisions, or he saw Skyler as the man who supported his family after the loss of a career.
"I'm sorry, ma'am."
"You have two kids in college, am I wrong?"
"Yes, you're wrong."
It felt as if he knocked her legs right out from under her.  That as all she had.  Her hope was founded on his kids' higher educations.  It was something they would undoubtedly not have gotten on a factory worker's salary.
"My only daughter is in college.  She's studying to become a doctor."
A sliver of hoped remained.  She clung to it.  "I'm happy for you.  That is really good to hear."
"Thank you, ma'am," he said with a little more warmth in his tone.  "We're all proud of her."
Madison smiled.  But not just for the relief of knowing she found her witness.  She imagined the smile on his face as a father.  He was able to provide his daughter with what she needed.  She could hear it in his voice.  "That's wonderful.  Congratulations to you all."
"What about you?" Mr. Sounders asked.  "How is your family?"
Her breath eluded her.  She didn't know where to begin.  She didn't want to scare him away by sounding too desperate, but that was what she was.  "Trying to get started," she began, searching for the right words.  "We're trying to have a baby, Skyler and I.  We were working on the nursery."
"Oh, congratulations."
She had to swallow the lump in her throat and took a deep breath to change her approach.  "We're still hoping."
"That is good news," Mr. Sounders said, "but, Mrs. Andrew, I'm not sure I can give you what you are looking for.  I can't say that I like what you're asking of me."
Madison nodded.  "I understand."  She wanted to beg and plead for his help, but she knew that would accomplish nothing.  The man had his reasoning.  It was rational.  Again the right words eluded her.
Mr. Sounders seemed to be having the same difficulty.  He hesitated, puffing out a sigh into the phone.  "What exactly are you wanting from me, Mrs. Andrew?  Be specific."
"Um …” The stammering returned.  "Sir, I need for you to …” Should she give him every last detail she had?  Did he want to know about Skyler being abducted, or the rescheduled hearing, or to know that Skyler was not even planning to fight for his freedom, he already surrendered, and she was the one hunting for a defense?
"Yes.  I'm sorry.  I don't know exactly.  His sentencing hearing has been moved up to tomorrow.  Our attorney is trying to get a little more time, but I don't know how that works.
"I need to find someone who will testify on behalf of Skyler.  I need someone to prove that he does not deserve to be locked away."
"You do understand that he took part in closing down that company, right?  He helped put us all out in one night.  We were left with nothing."
She nodded slowly.  "I know.  And you're right.  But he did not leave you with nothing, sir.  Not really."
"As a whole," Mr. Sanders said in sharp tone.  "I was two years from retiring.  I had friends who were planning to retire the following year.  No one wants to hire a bunch of old men.  We were left with nothing."
Madison cringed.  This man was not going to help Skyler.  If anything, he would probably show up just to make sure he gets the harshest punishment allowed.  "I understand," she answered, "and I'm sorry to hear that.  I know Skyler never wanted anyone to be abandoned like that.  He would have helped everyone if he could."
"He could have.  He could have turned himself in back then.  He could have stopped it before it even happened."
Another blow.  She regretted calling him.  Now she understood why Skyler did not even bother to look for assistance.  No one would come.
"I did not meet Mr. Andrew until after the company was shut down.  I didn't know who he was.  He handed me a piece of paper with some numbers on it and told me to keep it to myself.  I had no idea what it was.  I threw it away.  If I knew what it meant or who he was from the start, I would have called the police.
"My father was the one who found out.  He came across the numbers after I threw them away and he tried to find what they went to.  He tracked it down.  He learned of the trust fund.
"I didn't believe him.  I knew someone was looking to make us take the fall for something.  Someone set us up.  Who leaves strangers with their life savings?  How can someone destroy your livelihood with one hand, and expect you to trust them with the other?"
His reasoning was sound.  "Yes, sir.  I understand."
"I'm not finished," he growled.  "I wanted to turn it all over.  There had to be a way to track him down through the money.  He had no idea who he was messing with.
"So I used some of it to hire a private investigator.  I had his name, phone number, date of birth, everything I needed within two days.  Two days!  He didn't even try to cover his tracks.
"I took all my information and evidence and confronted him.  I told him I was turning him in.  I already phoned the police.  They were on their way.   He was finished."
He paused in his telling.  Madison closed her eyes and held her breath knowing she just complicated things for Skyler.  She was looking for the one person who would stand up for him.  Instead, she found the one person who wanted him thrown in prison.
"Do you know what he said to me?"
Nervous, she bit her lip.  "No, sir."
Another sigh was puffed into the phone.  "He said to make sure we had what we needed from the account."  He paused as if awaiting her reaction.  Madison could think of nothing to say.  She was completely lost.  "What kind of guy hands out bank numbers, doesn't bother to hide it, and couldn't care less if he was locked up?"
He had it right.  That was exactly something Skyler would do.  He felt he was stuck working for Morgan, thus he could only hope for someone to step up and turn him in.  That was his only escape.
"I told him to go," Mr. Sounders went on.  "He took his time.  He explained that the account would probably be suspended for a little while, but then would eventually be up and running again.  He asked me to take it, to use it, no matter where he went."
"He still does," she said without thinking, and then wished she could take it back.
Silence took over.  Madison wanted to bring an end to the call, but was reluctant to speak another word.  Mr. Sounders offered nothing.  He just sat there on the line, letting her squirm in discomfort.
Then he finally spoke up.  "I don't think there is anything I can do for you, Mrs. Andrew.  I don't know what to tell you.  I'm sorry if you thought differently of me.  But his hand outs do not make up for his part in taking down our company."
"Yes, sir.  I understand."
"All right.  Well, congratulations on your family.  I hope things work out for you somehow."
"Yes, sir.  Thank you."
"Take care, Mrs. Andrew."
"Thank you.  You too, sir."
And that was it.  Mr. Sounders hung up and smashed the only plan she had to help Skyler.  It was done.  Over.  They lost.
The sound of Chase's door opening followed the endless silence.  She didn't turn to see if he had any news.  She found the one they were looking for.  Chase would not have had any luck.
"Oh," Chase grunted, "Hi.  I didn't hear you come in."
Madison spun around.  A tall man in a dark suit with a long black coat stood just inside the open doorway.  His buzz-cut, brown hair sparkled with tiny drops of melted snowflakes.  He nodded at Chase, and then shifted his dark brown eyes to Madison.  His expression was blank, giving no hint to his thoughts or intentions.
"You seem busy," he said from his place.  "I can come back another time."
Chase waved away his offer.  "You're here.  Come on in.  We're never too busy to chat with you, Detective Payne."
The detective flashed an appreciative grin.  It was then gone so quickly that Madison thought she might have imagined it.  "I won't be long."
Chase and Detective Payne joined Madison at the table as she straightened the file in her hands.  With a careful and quiet movement, she guided the laptop closed.
She had nothing to hide, but she still felt as if he was looking for something.  She had never spoken with the detective in the past.  All she knew of him was from his dealings with Skyler.  He didn't say anything negative about the detective, but neither did he put faith in him.  In the end, all Payne wanted was to see Morgan Bristow behind bars.
"Madison Addley, I presume."  He said her name as if he was trying to sell her something.  A painted smile tightened his lips.
"Andrew," she corrected.  "Detective Payne."
He bowed his head in greeting.  Light caught the glistening winter water that specked his hair and shoulders of his coat.  "Please, call me Brock."
Chase took the seat beside Madison.  "What can we do for you?"
The detective looked to him and acknowledged his asking.  He shrugged the coat off his broad shoulders and draped it over the chair across from Chase, then slowly sat in the one next to it.  "I heard you were in town," he said to Madison.  "I just thought I'd drop by and see if there was anything I could do for you?"
She shook her head once and forced a kind smile.  "Thank you, sir, but I understand you have done all you can.  Still, I appreciate your coming."
He glanced at Chase, and then returned his gaze to Madison.  "Have you been in town long, Mrs. Andrew?"
"Only a few days, sir."
"May I ask how long you plan to stay here?"
She nodded, and then bit her lip.  "I don't know how long, to be honest, sir.  However long it takes to bring Skyler home."
Payne shifted his attention to Chase.  "I understand you found a lawyer to replace Jones.  I have to say I'm glad to hear it."
Chase shrugged.  "I did what I could.  I'd like to think it would help."
"Sawyer comes well recommended.  I'd say it couldn't hurt.  But, why now?  Why not at the start of Mr. Andrew's trial?"
"We didn't get the chance," Chase answered in a firm tone.  "This all kind of blind sided us.  His trial was scheduled and carried out before we were ready."
"Didn't I tell you about the warrant last week?"
"Yes, you did.  But a week wasn't much time to get everything together.  The prosecution seemed to get the memo a little earlier than we did."
"I understand," Payne conceded.  "I have to agree with you there.  They definitely had a head start."
"Why is that?" Madison spoke up.  "How come we only recently learned about this while the courts apparently knew it was coming?"
His brows arched.  "That, Mrs. Andrew, is what happens when you take on someone like Morgan Bristow.  I don't know exactly how far his reach is, but he is still a major contender in this."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
He steepled his fingers and leaned forward.  His voice lowered as if he was struggling to give her an answer.  "Mr. Bristow has more connections than we originally thought."
"Do you think he has someone inside the courts?"
His eyes narrowed and he clenched his teeth, slower to make a reply.  "I'm not sure.  But I would not rule it out."
That would complicate things.  Madison leaned back in her chair.  She traced the cracks in the laptop casing with her fingertips.  "Can I ask what is being done about that?"
Payne shook his head.  "It is only a theory.  I can't say anything for sure, but I am looking into it."
"What could be done about it … if it turns out that he does?"
"Sawyer could always move for a mistrial."
"I don't think Skyler would go for that," Chase said quietly.  "He plead no contest the first time around.  He wouldn't change it even if he was given the chance."
Madison bowed her head knowing everything he said was true.  It felt as if everything they did to benefit Skyler was met with two setbacks.  How much more could go wrong?
"Then I suggest you do what you can with the situation you have," Payne said.  "You have a very talented attorney on your side and a dedicated group of supporters," he said with a nod at Madison.  "I would say you should go ahead with whatever it is you two were doing.  If Sawyer manages to gain you some time, then you will have that much more going for you."
Madison looked to Chase out the corner of her eye.  "I found Timothy Sounders."
Chase perked up.  "You did?  Did you talk to him?  What did he say?"
She nodded.  "I spoke with him, but he won't help us."  She lowered her eyes.  "He said he believes Skyler should have done more to stop it, that he is just as responsible as the others who were involved."
"That's it?"  Chase tilted his head.  "He won't even help us a little bit?"
She shook her head.
"Now what?"
She shook her head again.  "That was all I had."
"What about the others?  There are two more."
"Two more what?" Payne asked.  His dark eyes shifted from Chase to Madison and back again.
Chase jabbed his fingers through his hair.  "Three people took hefty amounts from that account Skyler set up for some of Bristow's victims.  One was Mr. Sounders.  His was the most recent."
"You were able to trace it to him?"  Payne sounded surprised.
"Yes, sir," Madison answered as she raised her head.  "I guess we'll have to find one of the others now."
"It wasn't that hard," Chase said with a smirk.  "A few bank statements, match it up with locations of companies Bristow stomped on, and run through the payroll list.  Sooner or later, you get a witness."
"You didn't even try," said Madison quietly, "did you?"
Payne looked even more surprised.  "Mrs. Andrew, I assure you, we did everything we could to find a way to help your husband.  He would not give us the names of the people making withdrawals from that account.  I told him we would not interfere with it, but he just wouldn't cooperate."
"So you let him be prosecuted like another one of Bristow's men?"
"No, ma'am," he answered quickly.  "I did all I could.  I told him what we needed.  He worked with us to a point."
"What point would that be?"
He clenched his teeth again.  Payne's eyes darted to Chase, then back to Madison.  "I told him we needed to question you and the victims he had contact with after each job.  He gave us neither."
"So that's it.  He's no different from the rest of the goon squad?"  She didn't mean to sound hateful, but that's how it came out.
Payne's look was just shy of a glare.  "I told him what would happen.  I gave him every chance I could.  It was out of my hands."
"And if I agree to the questioning and give you the names of those accessing the account?"
He blinked and immediately softened.  "I don't know.  It's beyond me.  We can always try."
Madison shifted forward, leaning on the table to meet Payne's gaze.  "Could you tell me what you think?  Do you believe he's a criminal?"
Chase took a deep breath beside her.  He seemed to hold it in as Payne thought over his answer.  Madison bit her lip.  It was beginning to feel raw from the habit.
Payne finally shook his head.  "He took part in criminal activity.  That cannot be ignored.  But I don't think that's who Mr. Andrew is.  So, no ma'am, I don't believe your husband is a criminal."
Though she knew the detective's opinion would not add much weight to Skyler's case, she was glad to hear him say the words.  She knew Skyler, his heart and soul.  She loved him for all she was worth.  Perhaps she was not objective enough.  But for Payne to agree with her, that let her hold onto a twinge of hope, no matter how small it was.
"With that said," Payne went on, "I also believe you might be facing the same predicament.  Your name has come up on both sides of our investigation.  Skyler did a good job keeping you from us, but he is out of the picture now.  You need to be careful.  The fewer people who know you are here, the better."
Chase cleared his throat.  "Are you saying Madison could be in trouble, too?"
Payne nodded.  "I don't need to remind you of the Meredith Turner adventure, do I?"
Madison looked to Chase and shook her head.  "No, sir.  I understand."
"There isn't much I can do there, either."
She continued to nod.  "I understand."
"Are you planning on going to the hearing in the morning?"
"Yes, sir."
Payne looked to Chase, who nodded.  "Could I make a suggestion?"
They both agreed with another nod.
"It might be best for you to keep to the back of the room.  Don't do anything to draw attention to yourself.  And I know Skyler is not a fan of you being here, so give him some space.  It might be best for him to think you've gone back to Caicos.  He needs to be himself tomorrow to get on the judge's good side.  If he's being his overly-protective-guardian-of-Madison version, he won't be gaining anyone’s approval.  We need the business Skyler in that courtroom tomorrow."
"That's a few suggestions," Chase said with a chuckle.
Payne pointed at him.  "And make sure to get her out of there as soon as it is over.  I don't want you two hanging around outside this apartment much more than what's absolutely necessary.  Bristow still has his ties.  He knows too many people even now."
Chase raised his hand.  "Yeah, about that.  Are you more worried about this Bristow character or the law looking for Madison?"
It was a good question, but Madison turned to him wide eyed.  She gaped at him for a moment, and then snapped her mouth shut.  She didn't know if she wanted to know the answer.  Neither sounded like anything she wanted to tangle with.
Payne took a deep breath and leaned forward resting his elbows on the table.  He looked down at the smooth top, his eyes following the bends and waves of the wood grain.  "I can't answer that.  Both could be trouble.  Just stay out of sight.  Don't rule out going home."
Madison exchanged nervous glances with Chase.  It still was not an answer she liked.  Why was it so difficult for her and Skyler to disappear?