Authorpreneur Dashboard – Patricia Reding

Patricia  Reding


Science Fiction & Fantasy

An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required. When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by the powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the protection of her charge. Armed with a unique weapon and her attendant magic, and with the assistance of her Oathtaker cohorts, two ancients, and a spymaster, Mara seeks safety for her charge from one who would end Oosa’s rightful line of rule, and from assassins who endeavor to bring ruin to the land. As Mara puzzles to decipher ancient prophecy concerning her charge, as she is haunted with memories of her own past failings, she discovers the price her oath will exact. To renounce her word would be treasonous; to fail, ruinous; to persevere, tortuous. Abiding by an oath requires sacrifice.

Book Bubbles from Oathtaker


We go through life making all sorts of assumptions. Our exchanges with people and our experiences in the world, are the grounds on which we form our ideas that create them. Here, Therese has done just that in assuming that Rowena's unborn child had died when Rowena died. But, assumptions are often untrue--as here--much to Therese's surprise and delight!

A Need to Know

I imagine we've all been in the position of making decisions for others. When in a decisionmaking role, one quickly learns that not all of the information relied upon is, or should be, open and available to others. Holding confidential information can be difficult, but I found a way to do this from my earliest days of practicing law. Specifically, I treat the information as though it is something physical--and I recognize that once I've handed a physical thing over to someone else, it is no longer something under my protection. Unlike a physical thing, however, information cannot be retrieved after it is disclosed. This concept keeps me clear headed when dealing with private information How do you handle these situations? Are you good at keeping things to yourself?


In this age of identity fraud, online socials bots that post information online, and public figures of all stripes that attempt to gaslight the public, it is difficult to know who to trust, when, and on what issues. In my experience, the best one can do is to consider several sources and to review, whenever possible, the original audio or video they purport to represent. Once done, one ought ask if the representations of the public figure meet up with what you see with your own eyes and hear with your own ears. Here, Mara has magic to assist her in determining if Therese's statements are true. How often I wish I had access to such powers! How about you?

Are "Bonds" the Stuff of Fantasy?

The idea of one person being bonded to another in such a manner as to be drawn to that person fits in a story complete with the stuff of fantasy. But is it fantasy? As a parent, I can say that there are times I feel a bond from a distance, even to my now-grown children, when I am drawn to contact or connect with them, when I have a sense that something is amiss. The phenomenon is not merely an emotional feeling; it is a physical pain. It begins with a nagging that creeps up, then lingers, and finally takes over. It comes from deep inside, although I cannot precisely identify its physical source. This is akin to what I think an Oathtaker feels as his or her bond to his charge. Have you ever experienced anything of that nature?

Fullest Trust

In whom do you place your fullest trust? Are there any cracks in the armor of your belief? Have you ever fully trusted, only to discover that you should not have? It is difficult to trust in general, but once broken, it is even more difficult to extend once again. I find that the older I get, the more challenge I face in trusting others, in general. What do you think? Do you trust easily? Do you extend that trust again after someone breaks it? Do tell.

Traumatic Amnesia

Here Therese tells the story of what occurred following her fall from a cliff after an assassination attempt. Initially unaware of her identity, she (fortunately) found herself in the hands of those who cared about her and so, cared for her. In looking into this issue, I discovered that there are 13 different types of amnesia. It seems Therese suffered from "traumatic amnesia." This can occur following a trauma or injury to the head, and the extent of memory loss depends on the degree of trauma. But here's the scariest part: it can be permanent. There are many things a writer can imagine for purposes of telling a story, but I confess that trying to imagine the emotions of one suffering from a loss of memory, presents a difficulty. Have you ever imagined what that might be like?

Dreams? Or Reality?

Have you ever dreamed something so real that when you awakened, you questioned for a moment if it had in fact been real? Have you ever dreamed something and awakened understanding the message of the dream so clearly, that you could almost swear to have audibly heard it? Have you ever had a dream of your own, or has someone you know ever had one they shared with you, that came true? I can answer "yes," to all of the above. Here, Mara contemplates what she believed to have been a dream. Is it possible she might discover that it was actually a true life experience?

Wisdom Begat of Experience

Mara learned a valuable lesson when she discovered that Lilith, a member of the Select, was the power behind efforts to assassinate the twins. Thus, she has little reason to trust Therese. Sometimes the information we glean from past experience becomes wisdom; other times it threaten to becomes prejudice. We see here that Mara does not conclude, based on her experience, that she knows anything more about Therese than that she ought use care. But isn't that true of any first meeting? Do we extend trust casually? Or is it something that is earned? What do you think?

First Impressions

Sometimes we get things thoroughly correct with our first impressions of others. Other times, things are not what they initially seem. Psychologists tell us that people tend to size one another up rather quickly, and that a person's first impressions can be difficult to change. On first meetings, people are influenced by factors such as mannerisms, expressions, vocal inflection, general appearance, dress, and more. Here, Mara's first impression is that she is unsure whether Therese may be trusted. Perhaps this is due in part, to the fact that Therese arrived unexpected and uninvited. Perhaps it is due to Therese's efforts to elicit information. When I consider the factors that influence me on a first meeting, I can spot things thatI find instantly pleasant, and things that might cause me to seek a ready escape. What about you? What factors are likely to grab your attention most readily? Are your first impressions usually correct?

Favorite Scents

I admit it. I like quality fragrance. When choosing scents for various members of the Select, I used some of my favorites. Therese's scent is Princess by Vera Wang. Other favorites I used include Herve Leger by Herve Leger for Rowena, Mariella Burani by Mariella Burani (which I believe is no longer available) for Reigna, and Coco Mademoiselle for Eden. Several years ago, I wrote a blog post about the significance of scent in Oathtaker. If you are interested, take a look here: What are your favorite scents? Do you have memories associated with any of them?


Once more, we see the significance of how members of the Select are identified with signs and scents. Here, a stranger to Mara introduces herself in just such a manner. With the exception of Lilith, Mara has not to date encountered a member of Select who could not be trusted. Even so, a single exception to a rule is enough to put her on notice. In what ways, what characteristics, what prior experiences, do we use when encountering others today? What assumptions or generalizations might such identifications bring to mind? I heard it said once that "all generalizations are false, including this one." I'm frequently reminded of the saying, as it seems good advice in general. Do you agree?

Weapons Training

Yes, we've all heard the joke about using the pointy end of a knife or similar weapon to get the desired effect. Here, even as Nina finds the need to prepare to defend the infant twins and possibly herself, we see her growing relationship with Mara. Notwithstanding the potential danger of the moment, Nina adds a bit of comedic relief here in response to Mara's question when she indicates the extent of her knowledge with regard to weapons. "Stick it in the bad guy," might seem elementary, but in this context, it is also a bit amusing. Do you agree?

If I Must

Sometimes life forces us to make decisions for our own benefit, and sometimes for the benefit of others. We see it every day with those called to serve their communities. Acting against crime or evil can be difficult, but it is sometimes necessary. Here, Mara realizes that she is uncertain what she is to face on the other side of the door to her room at the inn, but she knows potential danger lurks there. Rather than cower, she prepares herself to meet the challenge. How would you meet such a challenge? I wonder if contemplating what might happen before an event can give us greater confidence should it occur. What do you think?

Senses and Magic

In contemplating ideas for different magical powers various Oathtakers might possess, it occurred to me how often magic amounts to the exaggeration of something we already have that is used for another purpose. For example, we all breathe, but we can't breathe underwater. Imagine having that power and what that could mean and the worlds it could open. Likewise, we all feel heat, but imagine if fire could not harm you. We all see and smell, but what if we could see like an eagle or smell like a wolf. Coming back to this scene that I introduced in a previous BookBubble, we find Mara trying to make sense of her ability to smell color, determining that this attendant magic is allowing for her to "sense" potential danger. In many ways that is one of the main functions our senses serve. We see, hear, or smell danger before it arrives, and so forth. Is there an exaggerated sense you wish you had?

The Smell of Purple

Smells intrigue me. How one's brain identifies and processes smells, and the fact that they are amongst the best of memory triggers, intrigues me. The gift of smell is powerful--but also limited in its own way. For example, we identify many scents, but our pets identify many more. In this scene, Mara shows an ability to smell something most have probably not previously considered, namely, COLOR. Some time ago, I read about a condition called "synesthesia." It involves a trick of the brain that allows certain people to see colors in letters or numbers, or in sounds, tastes or textures. Fascinated with the concept, I determined I'd find a way to use the idea in my stories. Not only is this ability a unique addition to this particular character in this particular scene, but later the ability leads Mara to making key discoveries. Is this a super power? I think so. Is it one you would like?


Shortly after Oathtaker was published and a dear friend of mine had read the story, she gave it to her teen daughter to read. Later, her daughter asked her what it meant to be "stillborn." I understand that she was visibly moved by what she learned. The word "stillborn" is indeed, chilling. By contrast, the word "quickening," used to describe the first movements of an unborn that the child's mother feels, is thrilling. I remember that feeling. There is nothing like it in all the world. Call me old-school, but I'm enthralled by the entire mystery, majesty, and (dare I even say?) magic that relates to the carrying and bearing of a child. What do you think?


I love a good escape story! Don't you? I can recall cheering for prisoners escaping, con artists escaping, even grand jewel and art thieves escaping! One of my favorites of all time is the Count of Monte Cristo. (Have you a favorite?) It seems there is something universal about the idea of a person's getting away from those in pursuit. Maybe it is the cunning they must exhibit. Maybe it is the risks they must take. Maybe it is the sheer good fortune that must play in their favor. In this instance, all those factors come into play. As a consumer, when I read or watch a story of escape, I find myself holding my breath until the danger has passed and then breathing in relief when it is over. The feelings are both mental and physical. Do you enjoy a good escape story?

Run for Safety

Nina and Erin in this scene, live in Chiran, a place that has allowed for them to be enslaved. Like these two young women, it seems everyone is running these days for safety from diseases, mobs, political arguments, loss of privacy, and more. Of course, every age has it difficulties, and some more than others. And so, It is times like this when I am most appreciative of my Constitutional rights, and most concerned over any efforts to curb them. Yes, some limitations are necessary and expected, but I view my rights not as concessions from a government that can change its position as and when it chooses. Rather, my rights are endowed to me by virtue of my existence and therefore, should be kept as broad as possible, whenever possible. Many are feeling the pinch on their rights these days. How about you?

The Power of Forgiveness

Nina, angry with her sister, Erin, avoided her for some time. Eventually however, unable to do so any longer, the sisters speak once more. Fortunately, Erin had experienced an awakening in the interim and also, Nina was willing to forgive her. And now that the two are cooperating, the way is opened for new opportunities. How often does this happen in our own lives? We avoid someone because we do not agree on some issue, only to discover that when we can find room for differences or misunderstandings or misplaced judgements, we are stronger together. Here, Nina and Erin discover, when working together, that they have a will to escape. In your coming encounters with family, friends and loved ones, I hope that you can set aside differences, find common grounds, and work together for greater things!

Listen - Speak

Like Nina and Erin, many of us today seem to live in the age of disagreement. Unfortunately, whereas in times past, people expressed their thoughts, debated their ideas, and essentially, agreed to disagree, too many today want to silence anyone who is not in agreement with them. This is true on a personal level, with respect to much of our media, and without question, it applies to big tech and social media outlets. I for one, find this a dangerous precedent. I would much rather entertain an idea I find deplorable, then discover too late, that one that could have solved problems was shut down before others could hear it. This holiday season, I suspect many will be walking on thin ice around family and loved ones. For my part, I vow to listen--and not to be silenced.

Human Trafficking

The scene here is one that resulted from human trafficking in the Oathtaker fantasy world, but human trafficking is by no means a "fantasy" or a new phenomenon. Sometimes referred to as "modern slavery," the phrase "human trafficking" refers to both sex trafficking and compelled labor. The U.S. Dept. of State provides that this crime, which deprives millions worldwide of their dignity and freedom, "undermines national security, distorts markets, enriches transnational criminals and terrorists, and [most significantly] is an affront to our universal values." The sad truth is that human trafficking has occurred in most places throughout most of history. For a long time, we in the States were not generally aware of its prevalence. We heard little about it in the news. More recently, however, significant measures have been undertaken to bring light to the issue and an end to this scourge. Perhaps this holiday season, when looking for a cause to support, you might consider giving to an organization dedicated to bringing an end to human trafficking and to assisting those the practice has victimized.

There Are No "Ruins" Here

Nina's story is a difficult one. She came from a place that did not value women or children, and as a result, she suffered at the hands of those in power. Her losses were great. I cannot imagine the pain that would come with the lost of a child, for example. To say it would be crushing, would do it the deepest injustice. That said, I expect we've all known people who have gone through such a loss. As my years have advanced, I've found the most intriguing aspect of the loss and pain that I witness, is how different people handle it in such different ways. Here we see that Nina mourns her losses and that she has not, and will not, forget them. But at the same time, she has risen above them. She is more than a single event or two, and she is not allowing her past suffering to determine her future or to rob it of joy. I am saddened by those I see these days--especially young people--who think that a single awful event can "ruin" a life. In my experience, it can shape a life, but it cannot "ruin" it unless the person allows it to do so. What do you think?

Series Reading and Writing

When reading books in series, I love the surprises that come in the form of new characters, storylines and/or events that spring up from the least little statements made some time earlier. For example, in this excerpt, Nina mentions how she would recognize her son, were she to meet him again. This is the exact kind of thread that is fun to pull at a later time. Indeed, I've often thought about how I might introduce Nina's son in another story, about what his role might be, and so on. What are your favorite things about reading books that come in series? What ideas do you have that I might use to introduce Nina's son in the future?

Truth vs Fiction

At times I've wondered what others think of this scene. Do they think something of this nature is impossible? That it has never happened? That it doesn't happen even today? To those, I suggest a quick online search. There you will find information on human trafficking and exploitation in many places around the world, conducted for various purposes including for sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, servitude, or even the removal of organs. Have you ever heard of the trafficking for young boys for camel jockeying? Agents go around the poor districts of some countries to find male children for the purpose. They tell the parents the children will earn significant money that they can send back home. In fact, the children are abused, physically and psychologically. Does that change your thoughts on the handler noted here? It is not so far from the truth then, after all ...

Dire Circumstances

It is a sad truth that some parts of the world still foster, enable, and even courage, dire situations for those who reside there. Nina's story always reminds me of that. Even while my own home may have issues to resolve, a history with which to reckon, and improvements to be made, we are all imperfect people living in an imperfect world and, overall, it seems that the arc of goodness prevailing over our existence has improved over time. In many places that is not the case. In fact, in some places, freedom has been known to go backward. I can think of one place in particular where, some people today are less free and independent than they were 50 years ago. This is particularly true for women and girls. Can you think of any such places? Does that reality help you to identify and appreciate your own home in a more honest and fair manner? Do you expect perfection of your fellows? Do you know anywhere that is "perfect" and that is filled with perfect people?

It's a Hard Life

Nina's story is contrary to so much of what I've known of the world from the safety of the place in which I was born and raised. Unfortunately, however, her story shares features in common with what others experience in various places around the world. I believe that for the most part, the world grows better as time moves forward. We have done much to eradicate, or at least to vastly reduce, the incidents of disease; fewer starve today that at any time in history; we have found innovative ways to expand the availability of everything, from goods to information. Even so, there are places where disease abounds, governments suppress their people, slavey lives on, and human rights are ignored. When I read Nina's story, it makes me grateful for all I have and hopeful for what some parts of the world have yet to experience. What do you think?


Now and again in the course of writing, an author will come to a "what next?" moment. Sometimes it comes about when her creative juices run low. Occasionally when this happens to me, I consider whether there is something more to learn about a character. Dropping into a person's memories can provide critical background information, flush out personality quirks and details, and open new paths for future discovery. This is in part what is happening in this portion of the story. In the end, the information Nina shares with Mara becomes critical to the coming story. The best part of doing this, from an author's perspective, is that once she is engaged in the character's memories, the particulars play out as they they are happening in real time. So buckle up and dig in as Nina's background story will soon unfold!

Narratives and Indeologies

Oh, but we live in interesting times! How will the history books tell the story of this pandemic? Whose narrative will prevail? Even now, powers at play are trying to divert attention from the source of this disease, lay blame on the innocent, and shame the blameless for some shadow failure. Similarly, in this excerpt, Mara reads from three local fliers, details of Dixon's arrest. One generally supports him and waits for the truth to be prevail; one is clearly opposed to him regardless of what the facts might suggest; and one requires the reader to fill in the blanks, although it is primarily opposed to Dixon. Most times when I experience things of this nature in the real world, I can discern the fundamental different philosophies/ideologies of the particular narrators. Sometimes, they allow for--nay, CALL for--intentional deceit. I try to measure what I'm told against my true life experience. From where do you get your information? Do you trust the narrators you follow? Do their stories line up with what you see with your own eyes? Do you take in the details provided from all sides? Do you actively look for the prejudice, the underlying ideology, of the narrator? How will YOU narrate the story of this pandemic for those who come after?

Uncertain Travels in Uncertain Times

This excerpt makes me realize how unsettling traveling can be. There are so many unknowns. Will I find my way? Will my car arrive in time? Will I miss my flight? Will my luggage get lost? I'll be away from home for a few days coming up soon, and now I have all sorts of new worries about what might well be the beginning stages of a pandemic. I'll be taking a flight (in a closed cabin full of air others have been breathing!) and then a car from the airport to my destination (which no doubt, many others have had their hands all over!). Mask? No. Gloves? I don't know. But ... I discovered recently that I'm much more nervous and fretful over things that might happen than I am with things that are already upon me. So in some ways, for me, anticipating a potential pandemic is/was worse than knowing that it's pretty much here. Perhaps that's odd, but somehow I have this feeling that aside from the normal and easy things I can do--like washing my hands and not touching my face, etc.-- nothing much that I do or do not do will change anything. So I guess I might as well relax and enjoy it while it lasts, then. Right? What about you?

Character Disclosures

Any author will tell you that her characters are wildly complicated. Just when I think I know one of mine, that character might reveal some new aspect of her personality--sometimes in most mundane and unanticipated manner. For example, in this excerpt Mara reasons that the most difficult things to find are often those hidden in plain sight. This offhand note actually tells me much about Mara: she doesn't necessarily take things at face value, and she thinks ahead, often saving herself the trouble of reacting to unexpected circumstances. In fact, this simple truth about Mara is revisited later in the story at a time when Mara seeks to locate a missing object. Because I already knew that Mara is one who'd given thought to how to hide things and/or how to find hidden things, I had a ready-made formula for how she might go about her business. What do you think about how you might create a character? Do you think the traits you anticipated might change over time?


The first meaning of the word "broken" is typically applied to objects. That definition is: "having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order." I believe this word can be applied to people (as Basha uses it here about Lilith), as well as to things. I've personally experienced the feelings of brokenness, and I suspect you may have, as well. The thing about the first definition of this word, however, is that it doesn't necessarily suggest permanence. (Arguably, the second definition of the word does, that being: "having given up all hope; despairing." That is not the meaning I use here.) An object - and I argue a person - could be so broken as to be emotionally shattered or fragmented, but not all breaks are equal, and not all are forever. Just as a broken vase may be glued together, a broken leg can mend and a broken heart can heal. As I struggle through some personal issues at this time, this idea brings me hope - hope that the brokenness that I feel and that I identify in my loved ones, is brokenness that can be mended. Have you ever felt that life and circumstances have broken you? What did you do to restore yourself? Please do share.


The concept of "the bond" between an Oathtaker and his charge came about as a result of friendships and familial relationships I have had over the years. Sometimes, I feel people I am close to, very strongly. For example, recently a friend was undertaking a new venture. The day had arrived; the minutes drew nearer. As she was constantly on my mind, I finally texted her, saying, simply, "Relax. You've got this." She responded minutes later with, "Can you feel me?" Indeed, I could. Have you ever experienced a bond like this with/to someone? It is an amazing thing, don't you agree? Please, do share your experiences.

New Members into the Family Fold

As we prepare for the holidays, many of us will spend time with new family members--those our children have brought, or may soon be bringing, into the fold. When my son married, we were fortunate that his bride-to-be made efforts to become a part of our family. Her helpful and inclusive spirit is all part of why I love her so dearly! This year, we are spending time with another person who (I don't know!) might end up officially joining our family in the future through my daughter. I look forward to getting to know him better. In the meantime, I've already cautioned myself not to share pictures or stories or memories from years past that my now-adult children might find embarrassing (as Dixon was embarrassed by the story his mother shared all those years ago!) Do you ever experience that? How do you go about bringing a new member into the fold?

Welcome Home

As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season, I hear people comment on the difficulties they have when meeting with family. Yes, difficult discussions can be had, but I personally am so very grateful for my family, that the cost is a small one I am more than willing to accept. In fact, it seems to me that difficult personalities and discussions are all part of life. I suspect most everyone experiences them to some degree. That said, as I prepare for the holidays, I remind myself to stay calm and not to borrow trouble. How about you? Are you ready to welcome your loved ones home, complete with all their foibles?


I quite enjoyed writing about Dixon and Basha's friendship. This is just the introduction. Soon, the two will put their heads together in an effort to resolve serious matters. Dixon admires her for her ability to think clearly and follow through. She admires his loyalty. Do you have friends like that? Those to whom you can go when the going gets tough? What traits do you find most essential in your friends? Do you think that you exhibit the same traits in return?

Scratching Where it Itches

Dixon had not wanted to go "home" to the palace with Lilith, but ended up there anyway. Here we see some of the reasons for his feelings. Lilith is selfish, demanding, uncompromising, nasty, and difficult. Yet she is now in charge at the palace, largely because Dixon cannot tell the truth about the twins (which would put Mara and them in danger). But it is Basha who points out an important truth here, which is that the palace is not always safe. Translation: "home" is not always safe. That is, while a place you once knew as "home" remains familiar, it may no longer serve as a place that is good for your mental, emotional, and perhaps even physical, well-being. This issue becomes more critical as we turn ourselves to the holiday season. So if you know a place you have called "home" that is no longer safe for you, and if you are unable to make peace with the others there, make this the year in which you find or create a new home--a place where you can laugh, love, learn; a place where you are loved, respected, and cared for; a place where you can make mistakes, find healing, and even scratch where it itches. Found it? Great. Welcome home!

Recipes for Posterity

One of my favorite things to write about in my stories is . . . Wait for it . . . Food. That's right. I like to take the opportunity to sprinkle in the contents of some of my, and my family's and friend's, favorites. The first paragraph here mentions game hens with a stuffing. I once made a dinner for 60 people. Actually, I, and two of my friends, made the dinner. The main course: stuffed game hens. The recipe for the stuffing/dressing came from some experimenting I'd been doing. I wanted something out of the ordinary. So I concocted the recipe here. As to amounts, well that was another story. You see, I experimented by preparing for 4 people. When it came came time to make the quantity for 60, I estimated what I had used for 4, and then repeated it 15 times. Crazy? Yes! And it was crazy good. It is still one of the most memorable meals I've ever had, made so by the special stuffing. And now the "recipe," such as it exists (or at least the main ingredients thereof), is recorded in this story, for posterity. (I'm smiling now. Are you?)

A Family Falling Apart

Life can play nasty tricks on people, causing them and their families to suffer. I recently returned from a vacation that was long, long, overdue. The last five years or so have been extremely difficult for me and for my family. Collectively, we have experienced the deaths of loved ones, the consequences of crime, the ravages of disease, and more. While most days I feel that we are on the mend, it still doesn't take much to send me reeling. My recent vacation helped remove me from all things familiar. For awhile, I unplugged from my work emails and tried to avoid noting the passing of time. I spent the week on a working ranch, where I became acquainted with the lovely "Red," my ride for the week. When I wrapped up 8 hours in the saddle one day, I could hardly move. Red seemed to know exactly what I was suffering and was so gentle with me. I'll never forget that experience. Like me, I imagine Basha had to unplug from life after Therese fell from the cliff those years ago. Even now, Dixon is in growing need of a get-away following Rowena's death. What about you? Do you take regular breaks from life? Do you find that they are helpful? What's your favorite, most healing, recommended get-away?

Living on Display or Reserved

Some people find it easy to put their innermost lives on display, to share their deepest thoughts with anyone, anywhere, at any time. That's not true for me. Now and again I hear someone suggest they "know" me. When this happens, I am generally surprised at the source. Typically, it comes from someone I've kept at a distance, someone I've not let "in." In truth, there are few I have ever let "in." The reason is simple: I don't trust easily. I think that is true of Dixon, as well. But when he runs into his old friend, Basha, a fellow Oathtaker he's known for some time, he's able to let loose a bit. Although the two are at a table with numerous others, for these few moments, they are alone together, each sharing his/her pain, each sharing his/her feelings of guilt over having lost the charge in their care. Are you free and easy with your innermost self? Or reserved? If free, do you find that satisfying? If reserved, do you have friends in your life with whom you do share your deepest self?

Is This Why Writers Write?

We all have those people in our lives. You know the ones I'm talking about. They get under our skin and fester there. Everything they do annoys us; everything they say puts us on the defense; every mannerism they display tickles the anger within. We are on constant guard around them. Sometimes when this happens to me, I wonder if it even pays to be "nice." Like Dixon in this scene, I wonder if surliness might work better. But I try hard not to act on those feelings. I suppose that's because rudeness isn't a character trait that I'd like to feed for myself. However, in writing this scene, since the character of Lilith is fashioned, at least in part, on the basis of a few people I've known over the years, I got to take a moment to step into Dixon's shoes, to wear my feelings on my sleeve. I got to experience what it would be like to allow my real feelings to shine through. In a strange way, I found it ... satisfying, therapeutic even. I wonder sometimes if that's why we writers write--so that we can experience on some fictional level what we cannot on the real one. What do you think?

Friendships and Seasons

Sometimes even the best of friendships go through seasons. These can be brought on by factors that cause a geographic distance of separation, or even by duty. Here, Dixon feels duty bound not to put Mara or the twins in more danger than he knows they already are. While he would generally tell his good friend, Edmond, all sorts of details, including confidential details, in this instance, he holds back because he doesn't feel the information is his to share. He doesn't want to risk that someone else might overhear him, that Edmond might later repeat something innocently but detrimentally, or that Edmond may be held to account for the simple reason that he knows something. And so, Dixon remains silent. Sometimes holding things to ourselves can be the hardest because it means we've no one with whom we can share the emotional burden. Have you experienced seasonal changes in your friendships because of things you felt you had to keep to yourself?

Friendships Born From Adversity

Two old friends can settle into a quick and easy comfort with one another. Dixon and Edmond do so here. Readers know that they have known one another since childhood, when Edmond's father was tried and convicted of treason. Each keeps generally aware of where the other is and what he is up to. This scene between these two seems so natural to me. I have friends I have seen only once or twice in the last six to eight years, but I still count them among my closest. One common denominator I've discovered with friendships, is that the best of them are often born out of hardship. In other words, it is those with whom I've struggled through difficult times, that I feel closest to at all times. Do you find that to be the case in your life? Or have you discovered other factors that determine who you feel closest to--even when you are geographically far away from someone? Please do share!

Friends and Gatherings

I find it interesting how I can meet with a friend or two and have it feel like a big event, or I can gather with a large group and have it feel like an intimate encounter. It all seems to come down to the personal connections. The closer I am to someone personally, the more intimate the get-together feels, even when there are many people around, because those special ones and I can go right to the heart of things that matter to us. In this scene, Dixon is reunited with an old friend, Edmond. Although it has been some time since the two saw one another, you can tell by Dixon's greeting that it is likely they will fall right into their old and easy flow. Do you have friends like that? People you can be apart from for years, but with whom you feel the same closeness as when you were last together, as though mere days had separated you?Those are the dearest and closest friends and make for the best gatherings, don't you agree?

Wanting What You Cannot Have

I don't know if it is part of the human condition, but so often it seems that people want what they cannot have. I'm not talking about those situations when the desired thing may be acquired or attained through time and effort. I'm talking about those situations that simply cannot be: a tall person cannot be short; a history cannot be changed; a deceased loved one cannot be brought back. To Dixon, Lilith will never change. In truth, if she tried to be a better person, she could be, and in doing so, she might earn Dixon's respect. However, Dixon thinks she only desires what she cannot have. Do you know anyone like that?

Minor Characters - Major Impact

While some authors offer a plethora of miscellaneous unnamed characters identified with simple descriptions such as, "the doorman," or "the waiter," or "the shopkeeper," for example, others tend to name every (or nearly every) minor character that enters a scene. I tend to name my minor actors. I've found that when I do, the personalities are apt to take on greater importance. Giving someone a name makes me want to know more about that person. Here, Bernard the doorman is a more complete character who readers learn is aging, and who possesses a wealth of information about those at the palace. Naming a minor character also makes it more likely that the person will show up again in later stories. Such happens with Bernard who shows up again in a scene in another volume of the ongoing Oathtaker series, some years after this scene. There, I let readers know that Bernard had entered the winter season of his life. I do so by paralleling the description provided here. How about you? Do you appreciate minor characters with names, personalities, and their own particular idiosyncrasies? Or do you prefer "the doorman," "the court fool," or the like? Please do share!

Characters and their Histories

While writing the exchanges between Lilith and Dixon, I found a sense of friction always in play. As things unfolded, it became clear to me that that friction was of old. That is, the two had a history of not getting along. Oddly, when introducing a new character, an author typically knows something about the person. Usually, he or she shows up to meet a need in the story. Still, just as people through their words and actions surprise us and reveal more of themselves to us in real life over the course of time, so too do characters sometimes surprise the very people who created them. I know that some authors plan out their characters in detail. There are even "character sheets" an author can make use of. With them, the author can determine for each character, all sorts of details, like what kind of homes they grew up in, whether they have any pets and if so what kind, what slang words they use, and whether they have any personality quirks. For the author that plans out those details, I'm betting that even then, more make themselves known over time. In this way, art once again, imitates life ...

Not So Much Love in the Air

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and those who celebrate it with gusto are making plans for chocolates and flowers and so much more. Others lament they've no date for the big day. If it were Valentine's in this tale as it progresses here, I can safely say that there would be no exchanging of candy hearts. Lilith puts on a great show of pretending she cares for others--even pretending that she's soft on Dixon--but he sees through her. Moreover, he's one of the few ever to have had the wherewithal to speak truth to her, as he does in this exchange between them. Perhaps that's why she seeks his approval, even while behaving as though her own thoughts, feelings, and desires, are the only things that matter. Have you ever known anyone like that?

The Games People Play

Fortunately, Dixon is on to Lilith's games. But have you ever known someone as self-centered as Lilith? It seems that her main goal is to be the center of everyone's attention at all times. In truth, I expect this of very young children. After all, they're learning their way in the world. I even give a wide berth to teens for "self-centeredness" since their job is figure out how to take care of themselves so that, eventually, they will learn how to provide for others. But at some point, a person needs to move into the ranks of the adult-world (in actions if not in spirit). Lilith never did that. She focused on herself in her younger years and she never got beyond that stage. What do you think? Is it important for young people to focus on themselves so as to learn how to become independent? Will that help them to become people on whom others can rely? By what age do you think that process should be accomplished? Please do, share your thoughts!


This short excerpt says so much! Every time I read it, I'm reminded of someone I knew years ago who was very Lilith-like in her dealings with others. This woman would drive to the home of "friends" with her children in tow. Then, as she entered the driveway, she'd call to announce that she was there, knew her friends were home, and needed to drop her kids off for a few minutes while she ran some errands. Her friends never felt they could refuse her. Wouldn't you know it, though? This woman didn't just run a couple of errands that took a few minutes. No, she'd be gone for hours! Then there was the time she emotionally blackmailed her friends into allowing her and her children to tag along on a family vacation. After all, who could turn those children away? They'd known such misery after their father had left them! I used this woman as a pattern when writing this excerpt. Do you know anyone like that? Someone who would be surprised to learn that anyone else had any feelings, or interests, or needs? How do you, or how would you, deal with such a person? I'm asking sincerely, as any insight would be most appreciated!

Shocking News--and Giveaways!

The real Lilith is under great restraint here. Of course, she knows that her sister, Rowena, could very well be dead, as Lilith had sent assassins after her. Thus, hearing Dixon's account no doubt brought her great joy, yet she seeks to keep her secret from others. BUT YOU NEEDN'T KEEP SECRETS! In fact, here's something you can tell everyone you know: Oathtaker is currently included in two separate giveaway drawings. One is hosted by The Kindle Book Review and may be found at But you must hurry, as the entry deadline is December 23. The other is hosted by A Drift of Quills. The raffle entry form for this one is at It runs until New Years Eve--so hurry to enter and be sure to tell all your friends. Also, sign up for my newsletter there. Happy holidays!

Lessons Learned and Family News

Every day comes with something never experienced before, a new challenge to meet, a new lesson to learn. One can never anticipate from whom she'll learn something. This scene offers the reader insight into Lilith's characteristics that mimic those I've seen and learned from over the years simply from observing family dynamics, and in particular, sibling interactions. Dixon, as readers know, was Rowena's Oathtaker prior to her recent death. When I "watch" Lilith here, I can see that with her actions, she intends to sway Dixon--to seduce him into going her way in whatever she chooses. I think it would come as no surprise to readers to learn that Lilith has always been extremely jealous of Rowena and so, she seeks to undermine her sister in whatever way she can. The history of this relationship will be revealed to readers in due course, but I suspect that many of those who have read this exchange immediately drew on their own life experiences and concluded what I just revealed here. How about you? What kinds of things do you learn from others simply as a consequence of your observing them?

Creations to Music

Oh, what fun it was to create and then to follow Lilith. She is exasperating! Too full of herself by half, she frequently catches men off their guard. Indeed, she seeks to do so. She thinks it gives them the impression that she is girlish and innocent. Dixon, however, sees through her. It is such fun to write characters and scenes of this nature. Often, I do so while listening to background music. I usually stick to movie soundtracks, like those from "Lord of the Rings," or to other orchestrations. I try to avoid music with words--or at least without words in English, so that I don't sing along. I choose music that is complicated and that has the capacity to alter a mood. Sometimes deep and dark, sometimes light and airy, it can add depth to my thinking and creating. Here is a character who seems shallow on the surface, but beneath are many more notes. I'm sure you know people like this. Yes?

Magic Dreams

Readers know that different Oathtakers are endowed with different magic powers. Mara's seem to include something relating to her dreams. Here we discover that she had dreamed the night before about someone who might try to take the infant twins from her. Dixon, recognizing the event as magic-in-play, quickly sends her off. I know people whose dreams have come incredibly close to real-life events. Just a few weeks ago, greeting a long time and very dear friend quickly in passing, she mentioned she'd had the strangest dream about me the night before, but couldn't make out what it meant. Having found in the past that I seem to have some insight into the meaning of dreams, I asked her to share the details with me. Amazingly, she described in a odd, almost spiritual way, exactly what had been happening with my family over the past weeks. When I told her I knew what the dream meant and gave her the real-life story, she was shocked. Have you ever experienced anything of this nature?


Oh, this was a fun bit to write! To wax eloquent on the beauty of a statue was great fun. For purposes of the old woman, I thought to those characteristics that I find to stand out when I see a truly elderly person. I notice their wrinkles, of course, their eyes, and the prominence of things like knuckles and arteries. It was also fun to compare these things to the plump health of a newborn. Interestingly, some statues I've seen have come close to seeming life-like. Consider the muscle tone they display and more. A study of art can help in writing. Do you agree?

The Seventh-born of the Select

Finally, we get to the seventh-born of the Select, responsible for balancing the first six principles and applying them to the lives of the people of Oosa. Of course, the wisdom that the seven-born members of the Select exercise does not come about by accident--quite the contrary. It takes discipline for anyone to learn as much as he can, to come to understand the ways of people, and to have the insight to properly and correctly apply those principles to given situations. I've known people like this in my own life--and I suspect you have too. These are those few who understand and have good insight. These are those few whom we'd like in charge of our schools, our businesses, and our government. Yes, they may make mistakes from time to time, but they usually get it right. Part of the reason for this is that they know that they require input from others. They know that they can learn from others. They know that they are not infallible. They are willing to look for answers and they are ready to request forgiveness when they get things wrong. I wish we had more people like this in charge of more things. How about you?

Chaos Reigns

Mara and friends continue their review of sanctuary windows made of crystals that depict the areas the Select are responsible for overseeing. The sixth-born of the Select we read here, oversee issues relating to humankind. When out of balance, people behave in ways that are detrimental to themselves and others and the societies they've created. At those times, Ted says, "chaos reigns." It seems there are real-life examples of this occurring around the world, everyday. Think of those places where dishonest leaders who promote their own interests and economics over those of the people, have led to the ruin of a state. When this occurs, a society's economic standing is harmed and, of course, when that happens, people are left with no, or with limited, medical assistance, food, and other basic life necessities. When people behave as laws unto themselves, chaos does indeed reign. Do you agree?

Honeybees and the Fifthborn of the Select

The fifth-born of the Select are responsible for the environment and all in it. This includes animal life, forests, waterways, the air, and the earth itself. The goal is to care for the environment and to promote its health. This makes sense, as eventually life cannot continue without a healthy environment. When I read this passage, I think of a major environmental issue we face today, and that is the health of honeybees. Yes, they are tiny creatures, but their role in the ecosystem could not be more important. Yet year after year, we lose some, while those with the power to change things, do not. If we lose too many bees, eventually, life as we know it will cease. I believe we are responsible to take action to avoid such disaster. In fact, I've considered keeping bees myself, although in truth, I'd like to think that those who are younger and have more time and energy would do so! Hmmm . . . Perhaps that's what everyone else is thinking and they're waiting for me to act. So . . . maybe I should. What do you think? Are you up to such a challenge?

Those Fourth-born

As Mara and her friends make their way through sanctuary, they review the series of mosaic-like windows, each made of tiny crystals. The fifth of them depicts a building with an emphasis on its cornerstone. It signifies that those who are fourth-born among the Select are responsible to see to the health and continuity of the foundational institutions upon which society depends: sanctuary, family, community, government. Put another way, we might say that we ought to focus on things in the following order: faith, family, fortune--and finally, the state. When I see something out of balance, I can almost always see something near the top of that list that is also out of balance. This can apply to something as simply as a child out of order in school. Often, it is because that child's home is out of order--and often that is because those running it have their focus on their own selfish interests and not on the interests of those for whom they are in charge, which is what their faith would tell them to do if they were paying attention. Do you agree? Or am I out of line? If that's the case, I would be very interested in any explanation you have to posit. Please do share!

Third born of the Select

Continuing on the theme of birth order, Mara and friends discuss the significance of a third-born child in a family of Select. Those who fit this category have a duty to oversee the health of the community insofar as it relates to the balance of its individual members. The emphasis is in following in Ehyeh's ("God's," if you will) ways. Regardless of how we see people in the real world around us today--in terms of the issue of serving in body, mind and spirit--I think it is fair to say that we are experiencing some imbalances in our society. While we might disagree as to the causes and possible solutions, I think we can agree that we have problems with gang violence, imbalances in education, terrorism, and so much more. In some ways, our society does indeed suffer. Can you give an example of how this might be an outgrowth of the imbalance of individual people? Or do you disagree with my premises?

The Secondborns

Much of the life-work of a member of the Select is determined, or at least is focused, as a consequence of that person's birth order. Secondborns, we learn here, are those whose purpose is to support the family system. Today, families come in all varieties and people certainly differ about what a family ought to look like. That said, it seems to be a matter of universal agreement that every child needs a place to grow in where they feel wanted, safe, and secure--whatever that place looks like. This is the "cocoon" if you will in which we prepare little ones for the bigger world. In my experience, every child feels they missed something in their bringing up. This comes as no surprise to me, as we live in an imperfect world. Still, it seems incumbent on us all to do the best we can, and to be the best we can, for those for whom we're responsible. This doesn't mean giving little ones everything, or allowing them every experience. In fact, in many ways, the best cocoon is the one that puts limits on things. Do you agree? Or no? Why or why not?


A fantasy tale requires some world-building. Occasionally I read such a tale that opens with a chapter or more of background and history, setting the stage for the world in which the story is set. I admit: I'm not a fan of the approach. When a story doesn't grab my attention at the start, I may never complete it. Thus, I determined that I'd tell about the world of The Oathtaker Series as things progressed. Often I disclose things through conversations between the characters, or their memories, or reflections. It helps me to draw out unique characteristics of the players, and I believe, keeps readers engaged. In this part of the tale, I begin to set out the meanings behind the birth order of members of the Select. Each sees to an area of life--of family, faith and community--beginning with the firstborns who are responsible for protecting life at every stage. How do you prefer that an author disclose the ways in which his or her fantasy world works?

Architecture and History

I've spent an enormous amount of time reviewing lists of "must-read" classics and reading the suggested works. (In general, I've found there is a reason a work has withstood the test of time and so, is included on such lists.) One work included on many lists, is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is one of my favorite stories of all times. Lest ye be confused, however--it is not the story Disney told. The Hunchback is a story through which numerous themes run, but in my mind, it is most notably a story of the power of the spoken word. When you speak blessings, good things may happen. When you speak curses, bad things may happen--and they may end up happening to YOU (or those you love, Sister Gudule). All that said, the tale comes complete with long (often skipable) discourses on the architecture of Notre Dame. There is a history in the building of the cathedral that the craftsmen set out for posterity. Indeed, this is true of many ancient buildings. Intrigued by the concept, I decided to embrace it (in a considerably shortened manner) for the sanctuary at Polesk. Although there is more to come, the entrance itself leaves visitors awestruck. What about you? Does the history told through architecture intrigue you?

A Longing

I'll never forget when this revelation came to me: that people have an innate longing to create. You see, shortly after I'd graduated law school, taken the bar, and began my practice, most of my everyday contacts were still my former classmates. We compared notes about what we were doing and how we did or didn't like it. One day, one of my dear friends told me how unfulfilled she felt. We discussed things she missed and wanted to do--and that's when the insight came. She was longing to make something--to build something--to create something. As she was a person of great faith, it seemed to me that she was longing to mirror her Creator. I started watching for that in others. I discovered that the happiest people I knew were those who were creating something--and it didn't much matter what. Whether they were building a piece of furniture or writing poetry, those people who were making something seemed more satisfied than those who were not. What do you think? Do you believe you are a creator at heart? If so, why do you suppose that is? What do you think you were created to create?

Dropping Hints and Opening Doors

It's interesting how often, when writing, an idea comes to mind that I expect I will want to expand on at some time in the future, but am unable to do so in the moment. Often this happens in a case as is presented in this excerpt, where reference is made to the fact that the sanctuary in Polesk was built with magic. As Ted explains, much of the history has been forgotten. A simple line like this can leave the door wide open for me to enter in the future. I can then choose to create the circumstances of the magic that was used, and how it might still be in operation. I can even explain then how the details about it were lost over time as Ted mentions here. In truth, I've had a vague idea since writing this scene some time ago, how that magic will come into play in the future. Of course, I won't know until I actually get there. I'm curious if you have any ideas of how you think it might be used...

Time Redeemed

Among the faith-related lessons I've learned over the years, is how God can redeem the things lost to us and how He is likely to do so when we lose things in our service to Him. So, if we spend time or money on a cause for Him, often we find it returned to us in another fashion. Another faith-related lesson I've learned is about how, when we give to or for others, that giving will later come back--often multiplied. These are the concepts behind the "rules" of the Oathtakers. With an oath to protect one of Ehyeh's chosen--usually taken when an Oathtaker is quite young--that Oathtaker loses the ability to commit to another for so long as his charge lives. In exchange, he does not physically age. Consequently, after the death of his charge, the Oathtaker can begin life anew. He or she can marry and have a family. Imagine doing something in your young years--at perhaps 20 or so--and then not physically aging for what could be decades. Imagine having a body that is quick and strong and agile with a mind that has grown in wisdom and experience. Imagine how different your later relationships might be. Is this a deal you might make?

Everyday Events

One thing that makes a story real for me, is when its characters do everyday things--although of course, as an author, I don't want to bog my readers down with too many such details. Still, a touch now and then reminds readers that the characters are in many ways like us. When I write such scenes, I try to add some quirk of an interpersonal relationship, or perhaps some unique food, or note an intriguing decoration. Here, I had fun showing Faith as the very capable woman she is, easily able to get Dixon to follow her bidding. Mara's noticing this shows her increasing awareness of his every move. Another thing here that I had fun with was the breakfast menu. First of all, who doesn't love scrambled eggs as described? But it was the fruit that I wonder if anyone notices. I like to take fresh fruit and sprinkle it lightly with some fresh herb or another. The (very) best is rosemary, which marries--oddly-with fruits like melon, apple, and my favorite: pear. Chop fresh rosemary leaves to small bits, and then sprinkle them over fresh fruit like you would season anything else. The result is a fresh, juicy, fruity, earthy taste unlike any other. Let me know if you decide to try it!

What's Happening?

It seems when Rowena birthed the twins, which was an event never before heard of amongst the Select, something unexplainable happened. First, Mara was able to take on both infants as her charges. Now we also find that Dixon, himself an Oathtaker, and Nina--who is not--have also felt motivated to swear life oaths to protect the twins. To their shock, each received Ehyeh's confirmation of his or her oath, in the form of an earthshaking. Mara, Dixon, and Dixon's friend, Ted, are all without explanation. Thus, the story has added to it, a mystery of sorts. For the writer, adding such features complicates the process. When I wrote these portions, I realized I had to tell my readers enough to satisfy them that there would be some sort of explanation coming in the future, while holding back information necessary to build some suspense so that the reader would have the desire to keep going so as to learn more. I like such elements added to the tales I read, as they keep me engaged and challenge me to come up with possible explanations. Have you come up with any for these events?

Danger Follows

Readers may remember Dixon telling Mara early on that sometimes Oathtakers do "what they have to do." He repeated that sentiment recently when he chatted with his old friend, Ted. Now with this excerpt, readers will find a classic example of that principle at play. When Mara and Dixon met Nina, they were so in need of a wet-nurse for the infant twins that they recruited Nina--without first telling her of the danger she could face if she joined them and their cause. But as often happens, the truth wins out. In this scene we learn that Nina knows the twins are Select, has already ascertained that they are in danger, and has determined she will help them anyway. I remember writing this scene and realizing that Nina had already fallen so in love with the infants that nothing could part her from them. That's when she swore to protect them. Much to MY surprise, her oath got the same result as had both Mara's and Dixon's: the earth shook. Whatever is going on here, do you think?

Magic . . . Wands . . . of Sorts

I've been an Apple customer for some time. I ordered my first iPad shortly after they were initially introduced. When it arrived, I was completely mesmerized. "This," I kept saying to people, "is magic!" Indeed, the means by which we communicate with others these days is nothing short of magic. At the center of our technology is the smart phone. With it we can get information about nearly anything within mere moments. Add Siri in the mix and we don't even have to open a device or find a website to get what we need. I have Bluetooth in my car, and recently I was gifted an iWatch. Now while traveling, I just say, "Hey, Siri . . ." and Siri responds, providing for my instant needs--giving me weather reports, finding me directions, or making calls for me. I've discussed before how I think that in fantasy tales, magic can take the place of technology, medicine, and even travel. Here is a classic example: an artifact infused with magic that, like a cell phone, is used to communicate between people who are long distances from one another. I suppose in that regard, carrying an iPhone or iWatch or iPad is like having a magic wand. So, I wonder, do you carry a magic wand with you?

Speaking Without Thinking

Oh, that Lucy! I don't know if I mostly admire her or am mostly frustrated by her. Notwithstanding her (very) advanced years and the experience and wisdom that might (should?) have come of them, she is quick to judge and to speak. At times, her comments seem out of place, such as here when she asks Mara if she's certain there are two infants. Seriously? There is a classic example of speaking without thinking! (Although this exchange does make me laugh every time I read it . . .) Still, speaking off the cuff can happen to those with great responsibilities. This may be because there are times decisions have to be made while the issue at hand is not up for discussion. One's mind thinks through options quickly, and often one is unable to fully assess all aspects of the problem before verbalizing ideas. So, the person's thoughts come out rather muddled . . . Have you ever experienced this and said something truly zany--something actually a bit embarrassing? If so, please share! You never know--your experience could end up in one of my stories someday.

When All Hope Seems Lost

I believe there is a higher power at work in the world. I call that power, "God," although I know others might choose differently. That God exists is the only explanation I find for any number of things I see around me--things that make no sense by everyday human "reason." That is not to say that I expect God to take care of the everyday issues and problems for me. You see, I believe God has already endowed me with sufficient talents and skills to be able to handle a number of situations on my own--and that it is expected I would do so. But life sometimes hands us the unexpected, as well. That is where I most fervently seek God. For it is the unusual event or problem--the situation which would otherwise seem hopeless, the situation about which I (a lowly human being) can do nothing--that causes me to hope for supernatural assistance. In this scene, Lucy experiences a moment of hopelessness. She had done all she could to bring about Rowena's seventh-born, but suddenly it seems she'd lost it all. But then . . . God . . . Have you ever experienced something akin to this?

What is the Meaning of This?

I can hear Ricky Ricardo now, saying, "Luuuccccyyyy!" I think of that whenever I re-read this scene. Here, readers meet Lucy Haven, a woman instrumental in seeing to the interests of the Select over the years. (In due course, readers will learn just how many years!) Lucy is a character that has sometimes proven very exasperating to me. She can be quite difficult--she is demanding, she doesn't stop to listen, she acts on impulse, thinking that she knows the best at all times, and so on. Still, I find that I don't want to dislike her. Interestingly, just when I think I've had it with her, I find that she does something that redeems her in my eyes. It's funny how characters seem to take on a life of their own. For me, Lucy most certain did. For that reason, I never quite know just what she'll do when she happens along a scene . . .

Could it be Magic?

Some time ago, I realized that magic used in a story set in what might be compared to medieval times in our real world, often replaces technology. Those things we rely on today for transportation, communication, medicine, to gain information or intelligence, and so forth, are often the stuff of magic in tales set in pre-industrial worlds. In this scene, Mara and Dixon, with the assistance of Dixon's friend, Ted, discuss what Mara's attendant magic abilities might be. Then, quite out of the blue, something strange happens. Could it be magic? You'll have to read to find out. And do tell, what are your favorite magic powers? What powers do you which you possessed?

Taking Inventory

As the ages pass, information often passes with them. Think of the pyramids and how they were built to such great mathematical precision, with carefully cut stones set at precise cardinal points. They are just some of the mysteries we see but cannot explain. In Oosa, the unexplainable mysteries are not so much about physical things, they are about magical ones. Some lore simply didn't make it through the ages. This means, of course, that those recently teaching new Oathtaker recruits didn't possess full knowledge themselves. So it comes as no surprise that Mara would find some things a bit difficult to accept. Here she discusses with Dixon and Ted, those things that might be evidence of her attendant magic powers, like the ability to sing someone to sleep. But are these her powers? And if they are, what possible use could they serve? You'll have to read on to find out more--but in the meantime, please do share: what magic power do you wish you had?

Didn't They Know the World Had Stopped?

We've all experienced the phenomenon, I'm sure, of suffering some great loss that leaves us feeling as though the world somehow stopped. As I wrote this scene, I recollected a law school friend of mine who told me about her father's death when she was a young women. I actually "stole" her idea here. You see, she told me that, following the incident, she couldn't understand why everyone around her behaved as though all was well, as though things should continue on as they had before. So here, Dixon describes a similar feeling. Have you had this life experience? Does the world ever return to "normal" after such an event, do you think?

5000; 12; 3; 1

We all have them, don't we? You know, those friends we can reconnect with after long silent absences, as though no time passed in the interim. Such is the case here, with Dixon and Ted. It reminds me of a sermon I heard many years ago about friendship. The overall message was about managing our expectations with others. The theme went something like this: Jesus fed the 5000; walked with the 12; prayed with the 3; loved the 1. It is true for most of us. We have innumerable acquaintances with whom we interact regularly (the 5000); that core group of friends and family we know we can turn to in troubled times (the 12); the couple of best and closest friends with whom we can share the more personal things in life (the 3); and the one we're the closest to (the 1). I would say that for Dixon, Ted fits into the 12. What do you think? Does this approach help clarify for you at all, where people stand with you in your life? Is that knowledge of any value to you?

A Wet Nurse

As readers learned earlier, Mara and Dixon set out to find a wet nurse for the twins. I'd always found the term "wet nurse" rather odd and so, while writing, I did some research. It turns out that in days of old, it was common for those of the aristocracy or royalty, to employ wet nurses. One reason was that, since lactation inhibits ovulation in some women, those women who didn't nurse their own children might then become pregnant again more quickly. It made for a good way for other women to support their families. In some places, a wet nurse would live in with the family of the child she nursed--possibly risking her own child's life. As you see, there are many interesting things one might learn in the course of writing. Of course, I have to discipline myself not to get lost in my research when truly interesting facts make themselves known to me, as they did in this case . . .

"When I Get Tall" and "I'm Bein' Haved"

Many writers take notes of all sorts of things they witness or are told about. The idea is that one never knows when a good idea might find its way into a story. While I haven't done precisely that over the years, there are some things I could never forget, like the funny things I've heard or learned about that were said by little people. This excerpt includes two such instances. The first, is when little Patrick suggests that being grown up is what comes with "getting tall." It wasn't one of my children who said this, but I remembered hearing the story. I found that it fit here just right! The other came from one of my daughters. When she was about two years old (and she was a very precocious two-year old!), if she was out of sight and I thought she was being too quiet, I would ask, "Madeline, are you behaving?" She would respond, "Yes, Mama, I'm bein' haved." More than one of the funny things she said as a little one found their way into the pages of Oathtaker. There, they will live on, in posterity.

The Gift of Charm

Time has played hard with the Oathtakers, as a result of which, much of their understanding and lore has been lost. Mara knows that once she committed herself to her charge, Ehyeh gifted her with attendant magic powers, but she is interested to learn more about the phenomenon, from Dixon. Imagine the ability to do some of the things he tells her that various Oathtakers can do. Truthfully, those I find most intriguing include the ability to understand and speak languages formerly unknown, and the ability to take on the pain of another. What about you? What power do you wish you had, or do you wish someone else had so that they could exercise it on your behalf? Also, what do you think: could it be that Dixon actually does have the gift of charm provided by his attendant magic, as he suggests? This little exchange ends up playing a part in things to come, as Mara seeks to determine if that could be true . . . Read on, for more!


Most of Oathtaker is told from Mara's point of view, but here we get a look into what Dixon is thinking and feeling. Having lost his charge, having spent long years finding others always wanting something from him, he hopes he has found in Mara, someone he can trust. But he also has some reservations, perhaps a bit of a fear, that he may develop feelings for her that he should not. After all, he has been released from his vow, but she is now subject to hers. And so, he determines, he will take actions that will keep a distance between them. Is it possible, do you suppose, that either or both of them may become one of those who lives in the state of pain that comes from loving someone while subject to his oath? Read on to find out more . . .

Family History

I recall that, before I started writing this story, I questioned myself repeatedly about where to begin. Then one day I realized that no matter where I started, it would be in "the middle." That is, something would have come before, and most surely, something would follow. Going forward, using a variety of storytelling tools, I filled my readers in on things from the past that I thought they should know. Sometimes I provided the information through a character's brief recollection of a past event. Other times, I provided a scene that actually put a character in the past--that is/was chronologically out of order. (I note that I always make sure my readers knew at the outset, that I am doing just that, so as not to confuse them.) But one of my favorite ways to provide facts from the past, is to have one character fill another in by way of a conversation, as Dixon does here. As Oathtaker progresses, some of the information Dixon provides here becomes quite relevant . . . What do you think is the best way for an author to provide important information about the past?

Tell Me About Rowena

The two Oathtakers, Mara and Dixon, have determined that they'd best work together. But there is much they don't know about one another. Here, Dixon begins to tell his story. He includes information about his family, friendships, and prior commitments to the Select. As he does, readers get their first glimpse at facts that suggest there may be something more between these two. Although Mara's oath forbids her now from committing herself to another, Dixon's smile mesmerizes her. Cautious, she dismisses the thought. But don't you wonder where this might be going?

Tell Your Story

We've all experienced situations that caused us to take an instant dislike to someone upon meeting him/her. Sometimes, we seem to read deep signals--almost warnings. Other times, we just . . . get it wrong. The circumstances may simply have brought out the worst in the other person at the precise moment he/she entered our life. Such was the situation with Mara and Dixon. When they met, she was frightened and feeling overwhelmed. He was angry with others, as well as with himself, felt guilty, and was mourning Rowena's death. The two would either have to come to an understanding, or they would need to part ways. Here we find the means they used to try to get to the next level: Mara asks Dixon to share his story. Do you think that, as a result, things will change between them? Perhaps. After all, sometimes all we need to do to find our way forward with another, is to take a look at things from that person's perspective. What do you think?


Those following along discover here that Mara, having had enough of Dixon's behavior, was able to get through to him. Not only does he apologize for his behavior, but he concedes that he blamed her for something he actually believed was his own fault. With his confession, comes an unexpected oath--and an even more unexpected result. Whatever do you suppose this all could mean?

Enough is Enough

I so enjoyed writing this scene! Mara and Dixon have been traveling for days now, in their efforts to keep the infant twins safe. But Dixon has been . . . difficult, to say the least. Here, Mara shows us a bit of her spirit when she decides she's had enough. Do you suppose this is the end for them? Read on to find out more!

Taking Cues

Have you ever noticed how much of your communicating with others is done through non-verbal cues? Consider the meanings behind the lifting of a brow, a scowl, a flash of your eyes toward another. We writers are often told that we are to "show" our readers, not "tell" them. This scene was fun for showing fear--and for showing how someone might "read" that fear, through their translation of nonverbal cues. Here, Mara senses the fear in her and Dixon's captive. Moreover, she is able to identify--precisely--what it is that the man fears. As the reader moves on, she will discover that Mara's abilities are in part, perfectly ordinary. But there may be another element in play here--Mara's attendant magic. Read on to find out more.

Paying With One's Life

Although Mara has contemplated, since swearing her life-oath to protect the twins, how it could change things for her going forward, she'd not given much thought to what the oath might demand of her. Here she comes to terms with the fact that to protect the infants, she may find it necessary to take the lives of others who threaten their well-being. This is a profoundly difficult concept, yet true on some level, for us all. Consider, for example, how you would react if someone put your life in danger. Or, what might you do to protect your loved ones who depend on you? Could you take the action necessary to save them? "Pull the trigger," as it were? Here, Mara's eyes open to the full danger and reveal some of the potential cost of her oath. Will she meet the challenge? Could you?

Outright Violence

As a non-violent person, I find violence to be one of the hardest things to write about. There is something dark, sinister, about getting into the head of a thug. Also, as a writer, I must allow the scene to play before me in my mind, often in a loop so that I can catch little details. Sometimes I have to play it in slow motion. Then I note details, like blood shimmering in the light, or its spraying out and leaving a "grotesque crimson spider web design." I never know at the outset what will catch my attention. Will it be a drinking glass that falls to the floor and lands "in a crescendo of broken bits of glass?" Or, perhaps it will be that an old man, when shaken, might look like a rag doll. While Oathtaker does not include many scenes of outright violence, I felt this one was necessary, as with it, I sought to establish the evil of those pursuing Mara and her new charges. What do you think? Did I succeed?

The Hunt is On

I must say, it is fun to write about "the bad guys." It can be daunting at times, as well. To do so, the writer must allow her mind to go to places and to contemplate events that she'd never do in her real life. Added to that, the writer must let loose, a sort of movie in her mind, complete with all the gritty detail, then capture those images in words for the reader. Here I ran with a scene that is not gruesome, but it does introduce some of those characters who required that I go to some of those places in my mind at a later time . . .

Their Cause

In building a fantasy world, the author must create an environmental background, a history, and a magic system. Then there are themes of a social order, legal standards, and so forth. With this excerpt I introduced Oosa's main opposition--Zarek of Chiran, and his evil ways. Interestingly, the ideas here are some I've had from time to time about issues in the real world. When the powers that be mess with the natural order of things, the result is "imbalance." Here, Dixon shares his conclusion that Zarek intends to use that imbalance to build his military might . . . Now, that would be a daunting idea if applied to the world in which we live. Would it not? What do you think?


With morning comes the reminder that the Oathtakers must hurry if they are to get the twins to safety. In this regard, this story mimics other fantasy tales with the concept of a journey ahead. Still, as they say, "life is a journey." So, whether "life imitates art" or "art imitates life," it should come as no surprise that we readers continue to enjoy a story with a challenge . . . So it is that I included this aspect in my fantasy tale. Of course, the way includes--as does real life--obstacles to overcome. Perhaps this is the most rewarding aspect of a tale like Oathtaker--the concept of a quest, a challenge, and the need to persevere and to overcome. We can all identify with that. Can we not?

Temporary Refuge

It is interesting when I go back to read something I've written, what thoughts go through my mind. I remember working hard on the first paragraph of this excerpt to discuss the concept of "smell" without repeatedly using the same words. Then there is the description of Drake. I still like the idea that his hair sticks up, looking as though it has "somewhere it would rather be going." And I can see him with the idea that time told its tale on his face. Enter Maggie--and Mara's thoughts about how short and round she is. I hoped these little bits about the old couple would make readers care for them. Next comes Mara's embarrassment at discussions of a personal nature. This I used to show a base part of her nature--that she is innocent in some ways. As to Dixon, he holds a newborn properly. (So, perhaps he's not so bad, after all.) Finally, this excerpt includes some foreshadowing. Clearly, there is something about Dixon's family background that is yet to come. And why are Chiranian women who are pregnant or have newborns seeking refuge in Oosa? As to Mara's memories--what is she stuffing? Overall, this one little scene sets the stage for numerous things to come.


Readers will recall that Mara, frustrated by Dixon's overbearing nature, reminded him--emphatically--that the twins were her charges. So it should come as no surprise that she tries to do everything for herself, including carrying the newborns, one strapped to her frontside, and the other in a basket. It seems that both she and Dixon, possess a streak of defiance, of stubbornness. These are traits that over time, will serve to hinder--and to help--each of them. That seems true of people in general, doesn't it? Those things we've developed that help us to survive can become hindrances when/if we take them too far. In any case, Mara and Dixon's rough start continues to play out here as they run to find safety for Mara's new charges. But when she allows Dixon to slip Eden's basket from her arm so as to assist her, the softening (albeit minimal) begins . . .

The Chase

From time to time I read a work that opens with a scene that includes people who quickly disappear from the story. Occasionally that happens after the characters have (somehow) already endeared themselves to me. (Those situations frustrate me.) When I wrote the opening for Oathtaker, I decided not to tell all in chronological order because to do so would mean opening with those who were of lesser importance to the overall journey and who ultimately, would disappear from the story. Still, I wanted to open with something catchy. Consequently, I opened with an action scene starring my main character. Later then, I introduced the culprits who'd caused her such difficulties in that scene. Those villains are back in this excerpt, intending to complete what they'd started earlier on.


Here we find Gadon, a villain vulnerable to the arts of a beautiful woman. I suppose one could find this idea non-unique, but the older I get, the more I appreciate about the ways people fail. They are the same old things, over and over again, are they not? It is rare to find, when looking for the root of how and why someone went wrong, that it was anything more than a desire for something else--something more. And the paths people take to reach for those goals are equally predictable: drugs, alcohol, criminal conduct, and so on. Such it is that Gadon wants more--to do as he pleases. In the process, he gets caught up in the wiles of a woman--and something more--something bigger than the both of them.

Magic Trinkets

For me, the best part of a fantasy tale is the use of magic. I've long held that in those stories placed in pre-industrial worlds (such as is Oathtaker), magic takes the place of technology. It may allow for faster communication--whereas today we rely on cell phones and the like. It can allow for quicker transport--whereas we rely on trains, plains and automobiles. It can even provide access to information, unlike our reliance on the internet and all the tools and resources that go with it. Here, the use of a grut tooth to protect one from a grut attack in the future, is a bit akin to the use of a vaccine. The idea was a complete surprise to me when I wrote this part of the story, as I had no idea it was coming until the words tripped off the ends of my fingertips. Similarly, Mara was surprised since, as the reader will discover, the number of Select in Oosa had been reduced as a consequence of a long period during which they'd been the subjects of assassination attempts. Accordingly, during that time, the Oathtakers' training had fallen out of date. Thus, Mara had no idea of the power of the trinkets. It's a good thing Dixon was there . . .

Time to Hurry

Dixon seems petulant here and a bit condescending, but as the story progresses, it becomes clear that in fact, he is hurting. The loss of Rowena, his charge, will change his life. Although now released from his oath, free to begin his life anew, his long-time connection with her has been severed. As he grieves, Mara begins to get a picture of what her own oath means for her future. Even so, the two must hurry. Although the twins are protected by a magic web for a time, those who've followed Rowena to date, will not give up. It is interesting that by this time in my writing, I knew that the story had taken a significant turn from what I'd initially expected. I thought Mara's coming upon Rowena and the birth of the twins would be a preamble of sorts for the story to come--of the twins. But Mara and Dixon would not let go. They insisted that I tell their story instead. I am so very glad that I did!

The Reality of her Death

With the death of Dixon's charge, Rowena, Dixon was released from his oath. He was free to begin his life anew. Not having physically aged in the years during which he'd served her, he was uniquely situated to face the world with youth and vigor. But he now also possessed added wisdom that came with experience. As Dixon's reaction shows, to an Oathtaker, the idea of starting over was directly related to the suffering of a significant loss. Here we see that it is one that Dixon will mourn for some time. My thoughts with this passage were to give readers added insight into the workings of the Oathtakers--and perhaps to foreshadow some. Might Mara be one of those who, in time, discovers the pain of loving someone while subject to her oath?

Character Independence

I find it interesting how my characters--from time time time--simply take-over. It's as though the simple idea I have of them somehow brings them to life as independent, thinking beings. Consequently, at times, they act out in unexpected ways. In this scene, when Mara and Dixon first meet, things do not go well. Mara is recognizing the reality of what is to come with her new duties as Oathtaker to the infant twins. She is frightened of the unknown. In the same moment, Dixon, having just lost his charge, Rowena, is hurt, grieving. He feels responsible--guilty even. When I wrote this scene, I knew that each of them needed the other, but they seemed to find that truth difficult to process. So they acted out, as people in the real world often do, with bitter words and accusations. Now, when I read this passage, it feels true to me. I'm glad I didn't try to force something on my characters. In the end, they really did know best . . .

An Oathtaker's Blade

Ahhh, how I love magic! Don't you? In this tale, when an Oathtaker completes his training, he receives a blade that possesses magical qualities that will live for so long as the blade's owner lives. The blade: (1) will never miss its mark; and (2) will never take the life of another Oathtaker--except that if a blade was used against its own owner, it would result in his instant death. These magic weapons play a crucial part in The Oathtaker Series. When I prepared the cover for Oathtaker, I found a blade through an online retailer that had the look that I wanted. I purchased it, took photos of it, and then sent them to Phatpuppy Art--my cover designer. (Do check out the amazing work at!) Those pics were then used for the blade in the hand of Mara, the Oathtaker who is pictured on the cover.

Oaths and Confirmations

Imagine a world in which the very earth responded to one's spoken vow. There could be no question that the words uttered had great impact. This thought led me to the use of the "confirmation." It is a physical phenomena--an earthshaking--in response to an oath. When it occurs, the Oathtaker knows, without question, the import of her promise, and she knows that from that moment on, she is bound to something greater than herself. Once again, this concept takes on a life of its own in this tale . . . Indeed, as the book blurb indicates, Oathtaker tells of: An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required.

One? Or Two? Or is it One For Two?

I originally wrote this scene with Rowena bearing a single child, but something wasn't right . . . Interestingly, even after I was a few hundred pages into the story, I kept thinking that I had it all wrong. There was not one child born--there were two. The idea nagged at me, refusing to let go. Then, one day when my eldest daughter was reading for me, she came to me and said, "Ahhh, Mamma?" "What is it?" I asked. "I've been thinking," she said. "Oh?" "Well," she said, "I don't think there's one baby. I think there are two." I will never forget that day. Somehow, she'd determined exactly what I had considered. Convinced that those fleeting but persistent thoughts that I'd had were indeed correct (as was she), I went back and rewrote everything to accommodate for twins. In the end, I can't image the story going any other way!

Signs and Scents

The funny thing about this portion of the story is how true it rings to something I recall my mother having said when I was little--about women who screamed out while giving birth. I also remember those classes my husband and I took before the first of our children was born. We mothers were taught to focus our energies. I guess the coaching must have worked. When my third and last was born, a dear friend was with us in the delivery room. As she tells the story, I pushed--once. She says it was so intense that during that time, she could have gone to the grocery story, had her nails done, and etc. . . . I still laugh whenever I think of that. This excerpt also reflects on the few things I knew for certain when this story began. One was that the group of people known as the Select, those who'd carried the words of life and wisdom through the ages, would be easily identifiable. Specifically, each would sport a birthmark that would designate that person's standing amongst the Select. In addition, each would exude his or her own unique fragrance. Here, the Oathtaker, Mara, encounters these things for the first time ever. They continue to play a crucial part in the story as it unfolds.

New Encounters

Readers . . . meet Rowena. Let me take this opportunity to say a little something about "names." I think they are very important. I believe that every time you call someone by a name, you are reinforcing the thing that it means. So, for this story, I wanted to stick--for the most part--with real names that had real meanings. I know there are fantasy aficionados out there who think that all fantasy stories have to include the use of odd and often unpronounceable names. Typically they include apostrophes, and "hard" consonants, like K's and X's. But, I reject that theory. I cannot tell you how many times I've picked up what looked like a great fantasy, then tossed the book aside the minute I discovered that it included the use of such names. I'm sure I've missed some great stories, but I read for pleasure. I won't go through the trouble of sounding out a name every time I read it. Thus, in general, I use easy, "real" names in my stories. For my purposes here, "Rowena" worked. I've found various meanings for it, including, "fame," "joy," and "fair." Based on the description of this woman, "fair" seemed "fair." Don't you agree?


Readers . . . meet Rowena. Let me take this opportunity to say a little something about "names." I think they are very important. I believe that every time you call someone by a name, you are reinforcing the thing that it means. So, for this story, I wanted to stick--for the most part--with real names that had real meanings. I know there are fantasy aficionados out there who think that all fantasy stories have to include the use of odd and often unpronounceable names. Typically they include apostrophes, and "hard" consonants, like K's and X's. But, I reject that theory. I cannot tell you how many times I've picked up what looked like a great fantasy, then tossed the book aside the minute I discovered that it included the use of such names. I'm sure I've missed some great stories, but I read for pleasure. I won't go through the trouble of sounding out a name every time I read it. Thus, in general, I use easy, "real" names in my stories. For my purposes here, "Rowena" worked. I've found various meanings for it, including, "fame," "joy," and "fair." Based on the description of this woman, "fair" seemed "fair." Don't you agree?

Meet Rowena

One thing that I tried to do with Oathtaker, was to introduce a single new character at a time whenever that was possible. I wanted to be certain that readers knew who that person was by name, what his or her position was, etc. Here, when Mara enters the hut, she is caught once again by the sweet smell she'd made out earlier, from time to time. For those following my Bookbubbles and who've already read about the importance of scent to me, it should come as no surprise that the one Mara picks up on here happens to be fashioned after one of my all-time favorites--Herve Leger by Herve Leger. But who is the woman to whom this scent belongs . . . ?


What better way to end a scene than with a door opening, but with no information as to what is on the other side. Or, imagine a bend in the pathway ahead, around which you, the reader, cannot see. I know that when I read, such set-ups force me to keep going. Thus, I admit to using this little trick, from time to time. Occasionally, I've even "ended" a scene in the middle of a conversation, or at the moment an unidentified person joins in, or when someone is just about to reveal something of the greatest importance. I do so intending to encourage my readers to ask: "What? What's next? Who is it?" or some such thing. I know these things work for me when I read. Do they work for you?


Continuing with the opening scene, Mara battles the underworld beasts. We begin to get glimpses into the lack of information generally known--even to those who are trained Oathtakers. The suggestion here is that much has changed in Oosa, and that knowledge has been lost over time. So it is, that Mara has questions about the strange manner in which the underworld beasts disappear.


I didn't know much about the Oathtaker story before I started writing--but I did know that members of the Select would exhibit unique traits. In my early religious training, I was taught that prayer rises up, like a sweet smell to the throne of God. I also learned that praise does much the same. I put those thoughts together, deciding I'd include a group of people called the Select. When each of the Select earns the Good One's (also called Ehyeh) (God's) favor, he would begin to emit his or her own unique and exquisite fragrance. In my mind, it is like their constant "prayer" rising upwards. It was fun to play with this idea, as I ascribed to each of the members of the Select, one of my favorite fragrances. The person described here, who readers will meet later, has the scent of Herve Leger, by Herve Leger. If you've never experienced it . . . you should!


I didn't know much about the Oathtaker story before I started writing--but I did know that members of the Select would exhibit unique traits. In my early religious training, I was taught that prayer rises up, like a sweet smell to the throne of God. I also learned that praise does much the same. I put those thoughts together, deciding I'd include a group of people called the Select. When each of the Select earns the Good One's (also called Ehyeh) (God's) favor, he would begin to emit his or her own unique and exquisite fragrance. In my mind, it is like their constant "prayer" rising upwards. It was fun to play with this idea, as I ascribed to each of the members of the Select, one of my favorite fragrances. The person described here, who readers will meet later, has the scent of Herve Leger, by Herve Leger. If you've never experienced it . . . you should!


I didn't know much about the Oathtaker story before I started writing--but I did know that members of the Select would exhibit unique traits. In my early religious training, I was taught that prayer rises up, like a sweet smell to the throne of God. I also learned that praise does much the same. I put those thoughts together, deciding I'd include a group of people called the Select. When each of the Select earns the Good One's (also called Ehyeh) (God's) favor, he would begin to emit his or her own unique and exquisite fragrance. In my mind, it is like their constant "prayer" rising upwards. It was fun to play with this idea, as I ascribed to each of the members of the Select, one of my favorite fragrances. The person described here, who readers will meet later, has the scent of Herve Leger, by Herve Leger. If you've never experienced it . . . you should!


When I write, I always keep four windows open on my desktop: the first, to the document I am writing; the second, to a document that keeps track of all my characters, places, and so forth (for my ready reference); the third to a great online tool, the Visual Thesaurus, for when I'm searching for that "perfect" word; and finally, the fourth, is a window for searching the net. Whenever I come upon something I don't know how to readily identify or describe, I can go right to my search window and put in what I'm looking for. For this part of the opening scene, I needed to know the sounds that a horse in fear, might make. I discovered that they "snort" and "scream." That was helpful. As to this encounter between the grut and the gelding, I ended with a description showing how awful the beasts were, as they left of the gelding, only bones and "tufts of hair that drifted in the air."


Don't those grut sound interesting? I had fun describing these underworld beasts. I used phrases like "covered with hair, smoky black in color and coarse as wire," and "bulging red eyes oozed thick black mucus" and "three rows of teeth," to make them more ominous. Of course, added to their physical horror, was their stench. Anyone who's ever smelled so much as a dead mouse can identify with the "smell of death." Here, Sinespe identifies the underworld. In seeking a name for the place, I discovered that "sine spe" is Latin for "without hope." I don't know if it is correct, but I pronounce it as SIN-ESS-PAY. In The Oathtaker Series, Sinespe is the world of the hopeless and the dead.


People who know me and who read Oathtaker are not surprised to find how much I rely on "smell" in the story. I read once that our sense of smell is located in the most primitive part of our brain and that it can evoke powerful memories. I know it does for me. So, it should come as no surprise that I enjoy wearing different fragrances. One thing I've done repeatedly over the years is to purchase a new fragrance before going to a special event, or on a trip. While away from home, I wear it everywhere. When I return home and wear the same thing, I find myself suddenly transported to those magic places I visited during my travels. I also purchase new fragrances for special people before their special events--like weddings. My daughter-in-law still tells me that the perfume I purchased for her wedding day (Vera Wang's Princess), transports her back to that day whenever she wears it. Likewise, I picked up a bottle of Lancome's Est Belle la Vie, before she and I traveled to NYC a few years ago. We both wore it during our trip. Now, whenever she smells it, she returns--in her mind--to all the wonderful times we had in the city.

Unexpected Events

Meet Mara, a young trained Oathtaker who finds herself pulled from everyday events into an unusual situation. I sought to create suspense in this opening scene, with the unexpected stilling of the forest, the sensation Mara felt of being watched, and then the sudden howling that sounded out. If you've ever experienced entering a noisy forest, only to have it go instantly and completely quiet, you know how eerie that can feel. The use of the word "grut" to identify magic beasts sent to pursue and destroy members of the Select came about unexpectedly. I couldn't use the name for any real living creature, as those referred to here would prove to be quite different from any in our world. Thus, I decided to use a word that had a guttural, gritty feel to it. The made-up term "grut" seemed to do the trick.


I struggled with whether or not to just dive into my story, determining in the end that it might prove helpful to provide a backdrop for it. Since the main focus of Oathtaker is what it means to say you are going to do something and then to follow through on your word, no matter the cost, I decided that this introduction would prove helpful. Up front, readers learn that an Oathtaker sworn to protect one of the Select, is bound to his oath. He is unable to follow other interests, desires, even loves . . . until he is released. At the same time, I wanted to make it clear that the Oathtaker received something in exchange for his sacrifice. In addition to the magic powers endowed upon him, the Oathtaker would not age for so long as his charge lived. This concept brought in the idea that something good will come of an oath freely given and abided by.

Ephemeral and Fleeting

Science Fiction & Fantasy

A Lost Freedom. An Ephemeral Existence. A Profound Mystery. After Mara and her charges, Reigna and Eden—the ranking twin members of the first family of the Select—discover the twins’ unparalleled magic powers and then move to the palace of the Select at Shimeron, they return to the City of Light. There they train with the Oathtaker forces, preparing a response to the ongoing threat from Zarek, the evil leader of Chiran. But when a traitor in their midst discloses their plans to visit the realm’s border for a closer look, they are captured and imprisoned. Stripped of her Oathtaker’s blade, Mara soon discovers that an unknown power bars her ability to use her attendant magic to escape, or to free the twins. As Mara’s magic dreams endeavor to inform her of events to transpire, as her cohorts labor to decipher ancient prophecy, as the twins learn of the power of a magic artifact they carry, and as Lucy struggles to uncover the traitor in their midst, Dixon’s rescue attempt takes shape. Meanwhile, Zarek’s son—the twins’ cousin, Broden—seeks to assist his father’s prisoners. But before he can do so, Mara discovers that the loss of her charges is only one painful outcome that could come to pass. Escape is impossible; survival, questionable; loss, inevitable. And yet . . . things are not always what they seem.

Book Bubbles from Ephemeral and Fleeting

Opposing Forces

In this volume, the twins come into their own. They make their own decisions and go against the grain, even when the resistance is significant. It seems to me that every young person must do this at some time or another. That is, each person needs to be prepared to follow a path that may not be the one preferred by others. Hopefully (and for their own sake), they take into account all the wisdom and experience of their elders and of the ages. What do you think?

Battle - The Support Services

I understand that only 10% of the members of our military "see combat." The remaining 90% include mechanics; specialists in science, information technology, and engineering; and those providing repair, construction, transportation, delivery, medical, and administrative services. Translating that idea to this scene, Reigna and Eden mention the need for the forces that will head to the border to also bring along those who will help with meal preparation, medical needs, and so forth. Never having served in the military (although I have close family that has and does), I can appreciate the wagonloads full of all the personnel and the goods necessary to maintain a camp of any size. Have you ever served? If so, I thank you most sincerely for your service!


Today, we use cell phones, but what about days gone by? What about fantasy worlds set in medieval-like surroundings? I'm always intrigued with how fantasy stories provide characters the means to communicate with others who are at a physical distance. Crystal balls, scrying pools, mirrors, printed materials that reveal the steps of others in "real time," have been used. In Oathtaker, the first in The Oathtaker Series, Mara found a compact early in the story. Later, she discovered that she could use its mirror to communicate with Lucy, who created the device, and who holds a similar one. For this story, Lucy creates another such device that, while it cannot allow for the full magic of the original, nonetheless allows for Rafal to leave a message for Lucy to keep her informed of his whereabouts. What examples of everyday objects can you think of that you have seen used to provide magic (that is, communications technology) from a distance in a fantasy tale?

A Lovers' Tiff

Just in time for Valentine's Day, this excerpt indicates there are issues between Chaya and Marshall. Here he smiles at her, while she responds with "a lift of her brown and a clenched jaw." That lift of Chaya's brow suggests that she is asking Marshall how he can be so clueless. Her clenched jaw suggests she has a lot she would like to say to him but that she is holding back because she isn't going to bail him out by enlightening him. Isn't it interesting how, when communication is most in need, it can be the most difficult? This Valentine's Day, I hope that barriers are broken down and misunderstandings are resolved, so that you may communicate effectively with all of your loved ones!

Stressful "Good" Things

I find myself reminding my now-grown children from time to time, that even good things can be incredibly stressful: a new home; the birth of a child; a return home after a long absence; a new job; and even holidays. Here, we find the Oathtaker characters experiencing this very thing, as Mara is run down and not feeling well notwithstanding the fact that she and the twins recently escaped from a Chiranian prison and returned home. Do you experience this? What good things do you find most stressful? Are the holidays a stressful time for you and your loved ones?


The older I get, the more I realize that contrary to popular opinion, we are all subject to some limitations. Of course, we may spend time with education, follow careers, building homes and families, raise children, and pursue those issues and hobbies of interest to us. In my experience, however, it is at best difficult to do all of these things at the same time. There are only so many days and hours within them. There are only so many people with whom we can build meaningful relationships at the same time. There are no "pause" or "rewind," buttons, and a person can only be in one place at a time. Here, Mara is experiencing limitations that come from an overextended reach and limited energy. I know I've had to face limits in my time. How about you?

Treating Leaders Equally

In this scene, we see that Reigna and Eden intend to spar with their troops in training. As ethical leaders, they indicate that they are to be treated just as any other member of their forces. One of the things that set our form of government apart from others in the past, was that we deemed ourselves to be a nation of laws and not men. What did that mean? It meant that the rules for a person did not change merely because that person was in a position of leadership, honor, or otherwise. The theory was that they were truly to be "servants" of those who put them in charge. Does that philosophy still hold today? Is the law applied equally to all? Is it, or is it not, applied the same, regardless of position? These are goods questions, all. What do you think?


People of the world can be divided into groups in many ways: by looks, by beliefs, by actions. While it may be true that anyone is capable of doing either good or evil, it certainly seems that people tend to fall on one side of that divide or another. In this case, the underlords knew that the man with whom they dealt, was prepared to engage in evil acts. Thus, it took little encouragement on their part to earn his compliance. Indeed, they had merely to present the deal to the murderous villain who had been all too willing to comply. Consequently, the man's charge had passed some time earlier - at his own hand - so he no longer had the benefit of "continued youth for so long as his charge survived." Instead, he depended on evil, a deal with the lords of the underworld. Sometimes it seems like we have those around us who are dealing with such forces. Do you agree?

Teach Me

I had to do a little research for this scene, about lampreys and what they look like. I could have made up a creature, and perhaps should have, but the idea that there is something in the world as we know it that could be deadly (if only in a fantasy setting, as I understand they do not exist in our world) intrigued me. Thus, were born the man-eating lampreys. I loved the idea that the water turned red, just as Mugger's teeth had done as a consequence of his addiction to bibulous nut. But perhaps the most intriguing part of this scene for me, was when the child, having watched the horror before him, and fully aware that it was intentional, asked the man to "teach" him. Just the thought gives me the creeps!

The Trap is Laid

We return to the issue of villains and how they set their traps. Sometimes they succeed by first gaining the confidence of their intended victims. Here, Mugger is inebriated as a result of chewing bibulous nut - his drug of choice - which, do doubt, helps the villain. This theme is true in our real world, as well. Villains set their victims up, sometimes by telling them what they want to hear. Sometimes by taking advantage of their weaknesses or addictions. Some say people will believe what they want to hear. Do you think that is true? Is that the secret a villain must first discover in order to be successful?

The Lures of Villains

Oh, those conniving villains! One way they lure their unsuspecting victims into precarious situations, is to caution them, as though suggesting they are actually the source to go to for protection. Here, Mugger (although an intended victim, not exactly a "good guy" himself) is inebriated and not fully cognizant of what the man he is with might be doing. When that man cautions Mugger to "watch his step," he gets Mugger to relax. Then the man shares with him, an amazing detail, so as to keep his attention from potential danger. Do you wonder what is coming next?

Dark Words

Words like: "shadow," "enshroud," and even "camouflage," can set the stage suggesting some sort of darkness to come. "Foreboding," is defined as "a sense of impending evil or misfortune." In this portion of the story, my goal was to lead readers to believe something of that nature would come to pass. In my mind, even the name, "Mugger" suggests someone who is not quite right. Prior to this scene, we discovered that Mugger is addicted to chewing bibulous nut, resulting in his insobriety. The nut stains Mugger's teeth red. In certain circumstances, even reference to the color "red" can seem foreboding. What words would you use in an instance such as this?

Dark Memories

Have you ever come face to face with someone who did you a serious wrong in your past? It can take great courage to face the fear such circumstances might bring about. Many times, we avoid such confrontations. Here, however, the man meets with Mugger--the one who had victimized him as a child. The man approaches not with fear, but with a desire for vengeance. The fact that his attention is set on the manner in which Mugger treats the child he has with him--one it seems clear Mugger intends to victimize as well--suggests that the man's desire for vengeance is gaining traction. Vengeance is defined as the "infliction of punishment in return for a wrong committed." Do you wonder where this is going?

The Thread Between the Thought and the Deed

Whenever I read over this portion of this scene, I am reminded of some of the religious lessons of my youth, such as that to hate another puts one on the road to harming that person, perhaps even to murder. Such is what I drew on here when the man in this scene thinks on his hatred of others. It seems the abuse by another of his person caused his self loathing, and that produced a by-product: his loathing of others. Do you think this happens in real life? Do you see a thread between one's thoughts and the possible final result those thoughts might bring about?


A writer must address numerous issues face-on, including some quite difficult ones. For me, one of the more challenging issues is to express and to explore, is that of true evil. When I write, I visualize the story in my mind. I step into the shoes of my characters to determine how they might react or what they might say in any given situation. As I get to know my characters better, the writing is made easier. But as one who in her real life tries to avoid true evil, expressing it in writing can prove difficult. The character in this excerpt feels familiar to me in that I've known people who started down one path in life, but who later changed course because the first one proved too difficult, too demanding. It required too much self-sacrifice. Here the character changed his ways and became subject to evil. It was the thing he thought would free him from duty and goodness, but it enslaved him in another way. For me, this feels true. What do you think?

Poems and Songs

I've noticed fantasy stories including, fairly regularly, bits of song and of poetry, of myths and legends. As I think on the use of these devices in quintessential fantasy tales that come quickly to my mind, it seems they help to illustrate the people in the story, their history, societal norms, myths, and legends. Much can be learned about a group of people through their stories and art. What do you think people would learn about our current day from our art and stories? Would they discover a world that allowed for differences? A world that fostered a variety of ways to live, think and believe? Or would they discover that our current society only allowed for others to follow the norm--that it was a society that silenced dissenters? I sincerely hope that the story history tells of us is one of a people who embraced differences, not only the physical differences between people, such as color or gender, but also, that we were a people who embraced those who offered different thoughts and beliefs, for therein, lies great wealth. What do you think?

Becoming Human

I suspect most authors would agree that in the process of writing, their characters take on lives of their own. This is certainly true for me. Often, it is in the mundane, meaningless, daily things that a character might reveal who she is at her core. Here, Lucy is caught in a moment of admiring the beauty of a cashmere shawl. It doesn't matter if we all know that Lucy loves cashmere (and likely similar luxuries), nor would it matter if we did not. But somehow, in this brief moment, she becomes even more human than she was before. For those who admire Lucy, this bit might make her an even more sympathetic character. For those who dislike her (and she certainly has exhibited behavior that could cause some to do so), this glimpse into her character might add fodder to their finding her disingenuous and perhaps even more unlikeable. In the end, as in real life, each person who comes into contact with Lucy will determine this question for himself. In that way, she and her larger place in the story is very lifelike. Do you agree?

Magic Gifts

No one would be more surprised than I to learn of specific magic powers of any of the Oathtakers. Here, Lucy contemplates the ability to create magic artifacts out of thin air. I keep a list of crazy and preposterous things that I thing would be amazing for a person to be able to do. Like, breathing underwater, or being able to change one's size to find hiding places, or to catch a ride with a bird. When I need to introduce a new Oathtaker, I reflect on that list. Sometimes, the person requires a specific ability that will be used later in the story. Other times, it is just an oddly interesting fact about that Oathtaker. What about you? What are your secret powers? What would you choose them to be if you could?

Gifts and Surprises

As the Christmas holiday season approaches, my mind is on gift giving. I'm sure that is true for many of you, as well. In this excerpt we read of a gift that Rowena was given long before the twins were born. Imagine their interest, knowing how little they have of the woman who died within minutes after they were born. In any case, Lucy provides the background for how Rowena came to possess the beautiful white cashmere shawl. This scene reminds me of a recent Christmas when I gave each of my two daughters and my daughter-in-law, a pair of earrings. One received a pair with small diamonds, as she had been along on the trip when we "won" them in a drawing; the next got a pair with tiny emeralds, as that is both her and my birth stone; and one got a pair of Black Hills gold, which it turns out goes beautifully with a bracelet she owns. These holiday gifts were not just "used." These gifts were memories I hope each will carry with them going forward. How about you? What gifts of memories have you received over time? What ones have you given? Perhaps this year, you could gift such gifts - and perhaps they might include copies of The Oathtaker Series stories published to date.

Bits and Memories

With this scene, I'm reminded of my father who passed a few years ago. I possess a single personal item that had been his: a shaving brush. It is a solid bit he left behind, and whenever I see it, I think of him. Currently, my mother is struggling with memory loss, and likely, I’ve not much time left with her, but I do have one thing that reminds me of her regularly. It is a rather strange item: a flour bin/barrel that holds about 50 pounds of flour with a sifter at its bottom. I had it removed from the house I grew up in, and then put into my own home in a glass-doored cupboard. Every time I see it, I think of my mother. Soon enough, I will need to deal with the changes that come with living in a world without her, as the twins and their sister, Vida, deal with the loss of their mother in this scene. I expect that flour bin will continue to remind me of her for the rest of my days. Have you any similar bits and memories?

Bits of Life

When my eldest was first on his own, finding it difficult to make financial ends meet, I told him that his situation was completely normal for someone in his 20s; that his financial flexibility would improve a bit in his 30s; that he'd be able to afford a little better car or washing machine or otherwise in his 40s; that by that time he reached his 50s, he'd be looking around, wondering what to do with all the stuff he'd accumulated; and that in his 60s, he'd be doing all he could to give away or throw away, his excess, while reserving special pieces for his loved ones. But over time, I have noticed something of a generational difference. Mine grew up with very, very little. As a consequence, our accumulating material things became the sign that we had accomplished something. By contrast, our children grew up with pretty much everything. Consequently, they do not value things, so much as experiences. I admire that. Here, we see that Rowena or someone on her behalf, kept just a few bits - the types of things most people do keep and pass down. Have you items of this nature? Do your parents? What do they mean to you?


About three years ago, my father passed away. In truth, I didn't have a close relationship with him. He was from an age that would seem foreign to many people today. While I was growing up, he was, principally, the harsh disciplinarian. In retrospect, I see him as a man who worked extremely hard for his family. He must have been exhausted and stressed at all times, wondering how he'd make ends meet for a family of ten. I don't think he ever experienced much joy, unless it came from a sense of knowing that he held up and saw things through. Shortly after his death, my sisters and I found a few photos we had of him as a young adult. Looking at them objectively, I can see that my dad was quite handsome, indeed. In a couple of the pictures, he is smiling broadly. In truth, I'm not sure I ever saw that smile on his face - and I remember saying after his death, that I couldn't recall ever having heard him laugh. Looking at those photos is for me, similar to what Reigna and Eden experienced here. In any case, I hope my father is smiling and laughing and filled with joy now.


When I first started writing in a serious way, I recall having concerns with where I ought begin my tale. Eventually, I realized that no matter where I started, I was in the middle of something. That thought comes back to me from time to time, and in particular when I review past situations such as that set out in the scene here. Interestingly, I'm working on Volume Four of the series now--and the idea of the magic crystals and perhaps some of their history, is an issue I'm revisiting. This time, perhaps I will disclose some of the lore of old mentioned in this scene. These are the little details that draw together, the various stories of a long term series. As a reader, they are the parts I most enjoy. How about you?

Some Levity

I'm acquainted with fellow authors who naturally gravitate toward the humorous in their tales. In truth, I'm in awe of those witty souls who have that super power. In any case, it happens from time to time, as my fingers flitter across the keyboard, that something humorous appears quite spontaneously in the midst of a scene. As the one who created the situation, it's oddly interesting how I find the same humorous bits to be funny each time I re-read them. Here the twins--identical in sight even to those who know and love them dearly--share a moment of levity. It is quick, indeed, yet I get a kick out of this exchange every time I read it. What do you think?

An Enemy's Intelligence

Sometimes a character's simple actions and words tell the most about that character. Small details help to round them out, and they add to the believability of a story. Mara and Dixon's approach to the way they deal with the world, is that they always think of the twins first. If a situation such as the one here, allows for the twins to observe and to learn something, then Mara and Dixon want to provide the twins with the opportunity to take in that lesson. The twins themselves, as young adults, judge things (as young adults sometimes do) fairly quickly--at least initially. They note the most obvious things about Lilith--her disorganization, her vanity, and her tendency to be self-centered. Vida, as a child, had known Lilith, at least a bit. It is she who, looking back, is able to appreciate that Lilith was beautiful--but also, that she was "quite bright." Too often, people take their enemy as someone who is of lesser intelligence. But Vida, now sufficiently grown, does not fall into that trap. Thus, she becomes the one who schools the twins on the simple truth that a party may be evil and still be deeply intelligent ...

Homes, Neighborhoods and Museums

Here the twins, finally at their ancestral family home, are taking a tour. Dixon and Clarimonde, Oathtakers to members of the first family for some years, are able to provide Mara and the twins with some historical details about the palace and those who'd inhabited it. When you think about museums you've visited in years past, you will probably recall that some of them were actually the former homes and/or neighborhoods of historical figures. Touring such places gives us the opportunity to see how people lived, to gain an appreciation for the tools they used, and to appreciate the bleakness, or the beauty, that surrounded them. This got me to thinking about the place where I live, which is essentially, a large island on the Mississippi River, connected by bridges (which are in fact, rather short). In the future, people might come to the island to appreciate its natural beauty, or perhaps to visit the Native American burial mounds on site. What would people of the future discover if they visited your home and neighborhood? Please do share!

Choosing Companionship

The news is full of it these days--reports of new viruses, new things to fear. Do you ever wonder if there is a force at work, seeking to separate each of us into her own lonely little corner? Some people fear the out-of-doors, in the event they pick up a tick that carries disease. Others fear close quarters in the event the air circulating within carries germs that cause disease. Still others avoid shaking hands or other physical contact. Parents caution children not to shove their hands into waste bins because someone may have left behind a needle or other dangerous object. Even helping to clean a street or neighborhood includes an element of danger. There, one could come into contact with an old disease that is making a comeback. In this excerpt, the orphaned street children that the Oathtakers brought to the palace with them, carried a disease along. Lucy points out things everyone can do to remain healthy. But in the end, like those in this story, we each: (1) can live alone and lonely, cut off from even our loved ones; or (2) take appropriate measures to remain healthy while still choosing companionship, camaraderie, and caring for others - along with the risks that life inevitably brings. I choose the second option. How about you?

Samuel the Silent

Any author will tell you that some of her most amazing writing experiences came when one of her characters did something unexpected. For me, a similar experience has been when I have discovered a personality trait of one of my characters that I had not planned. It takes reading and re-reading, editing and more editing of a work before a writer really gets to know her players. It is this process in which I have engaged that I think helps to set apart my multi-award winning stories. The reason? Well, in doing so, I've gotten to know my characters extremely well. Consequently, they stay "in character" at all times, and even when they do unexpected things, their actions are in keeping with who they are, fundamentally. I recall the day I realized while writing Oathtaker, Volume One, that Jules and Samuel were almost always together, but that Jules always seemed to do the talking. From that moment, I identified Samuel's "silence" as a personality quirk that helped to add depth to him and to the overall story. As Eden mentions here, Samuel speaks so rarely that when he does, others give his words extra weight. Do you know anyone like Samuel the Silent?

Does No Magic Equal Magic?

Is magic the same as no magic? This question is answered by determining what magic actually is. For purposes of this comment, I will consider magic to be something you have, or possess, or can do, that is out of the ordinary from those with whom you surround yourself. Consider you are a member of a group of spies, almost all of whom share a feature or characteristic in common. How valuable might you be to your peers if you differ from the others in some regard? For example, suppose the group is made up of nearly all brunettes - but you are blonde. You need to send someone behind enemy lines where everyone is blonde. In this situation, you would be of great value to your group at large. In fact, I think this is true of all people and all personality traits at all times. Each of us differs physically and mentally from everyone else. Our likenesses may bind us together, but it is our differences that add value to what we can accomplish together. Here, Dax differs from his cohorts in a critical way. Perhaps that fact will make him all the more valuable to his cohorts in the future. What do you think?

Seeing or Hearing What You Want

In many ways, the world of Oosa is so like ours. Even the magic powers that different Oathtakers possess are often similar to special skills that people in our world might have through training (such as special medical skills) or through the use of tools designed for specific purposes. I am especially interested in Aliza Kensey's attendant magic. The fact that she can make others see her as something she is not, intrigues me. But then, I'm not sure that it is altogether unique. I mean, people often see what they want to see, and/or hear what they expect to hear. It is a circumstance on which those in some professions (think con-man--magician--politician) rely. Likewise, it is a situation for which those in other professions (like doctors or lawyers) must be on the lookout. I know that in my practice, I have to be certain that my clients are hearing what I'm saying and not just what they want to hear. Can you think of examples where you might fall into the trap of seeing or hearing what you want or expect? Do you take any extra measures to try to keep that from happening?

Risks Great and Small

In my experience, some risks are worth taking, as the possible glory on the other end could be so great. However, there are others I would never take for myself or on behalf of those for whom I am responsible. For example, I've read of people over the years who tried--or had slipped to them, or even had prescribed to them--a drug that caused an immediate dependency. What tragic tales those are. Consequently, there are some substances I would never consider trying--even if immediate dependency were not highly likely to occur. Here, Lucy addresses a risk that exists because of the presence of Bane. While Bane is Jerrett's companion, and one with whom he shares a magic connection, Bane is a wild animal, a wolf, that Lucy does not entirely trust (particularly in the presence of children). While she cannot stop Jerrett from allowing the animal near his own young ones, she determines that Bane is not to have access to any of the other children who are currently at the palace. I understand Lucy here. The risks of maiming or death from a wild animal of this nature are too great to choose to take on those risks or to impose them on others. What do you think? What risks would you never take?

Organizing and Minimalizing

I've been on a mission of late to organize things and to dispose of the unnecessary. I've stacks of books to take to the second hand store, of miscellaneous items to donate, and more. Some time ago, when a young person I know mentioned how difficult it was to fill in the gaps of need, I said: "In your twenties, you just get by; in your thirties, things get a little easier; in your forties, you might get a better washing machine or a nicer set of wheels; and in your fifties, you look around and say, 'Who is going to take all this stuff?'"This is exactly my dilemma. I managed to dispose of a some big items last weekend, and look to do more in the coming days. Mostly, I'm doing this because I want to be able to find things and I want them to be marked properly and to be in their proper places. For that reason, I appreciate Lucy's concern here ... Are you organized? Are you a minimalist? How ever do you manage it?!

Smudging, Rings, and Rosies

I've been fascinated with herbal lore for some time now. For years, I grew herbs for cooking and dried some for later use. I froze mint-infused ice cubes for a burst of scent and flavor in later months. I poured through resources to learn the minute differences between one kind of lavender and another, and whether or not rosemary can really help with headaches. (It can.) The healing properties of herbs always intrigued me (as, frankly, have the potential dangers of some of them!). I'm fascinated with the concept of smudging--the burning of specific herbs for healing purposes. And did you know that sometimes, long ago, herbs were simply strewn through a room, on the floor, to freshen the air when walked upon? Old beliefs and customs can be found in poems and songs, like Ring Around the Rosie. Many believe that "Rosie" in the song refers to the rash of the plague, while "posies" references the herbs people carried to ward off the disease. While some think the reference to "ashes" is to sneezing, others say it refers to the burning of things to ward off the disease or following its ravages. Even still, there are those who say such stories are simply "folklore about folklore." Either way, they suggest great stories. Don't you think?

The Resurgence of Old Diseases

Here, Lucy worries about disease brought to Oosa via the orphans who arrived from parts unknown. This idea came from my concern that after a century or so of using vaccines and antibiotics to destroy disease, we're now seeing a resurgence of numerous life-threatening diseases. When I was a child, I had the measles and the mumps, which was common then, prior to the introduction of vaccines for them. But I had friends who suffered disabilities as a result of those diseases. Many, just older than me, still deal with the lifelong effects of polio. The most concerning reason for the return of some diseases, is the increase in those refusing to vaccinate. Yes, every vaccine comes with risks, but so too does the failure to vaccinate. Consider those who cannot be vaccinated because of health issues. The re-introduction of preventable diseases by those who chose not to be vaccinated, puts them at particular risk of lifelong problems, crippling, and even death. And because no vaccine is 100% effective, the choice of some not to vaccinate increases the risks even for those who did vaccinate. It is important we learn all they can about these issues--before it is too late ...

Risks of Deterioration

It was fun for me to write about the twins arriving at the ancestral home of the Select in Shimeron. In some ways, it was like returning home myself--home to portions of the storyline in the first book of The Oathtaker Series. When Mara first visited the palace some twenty years earlier, she arrived with Basha through the underground tunnels that had been built as a means for providing an alternate escape route for the first family. Now, when the twins visit for the first time in their young adult lives, an entourage travels with them.The twins will soon discover that the palace lost some of its prior glory, having been mostly empty since Lilith left there on her mission to kill them as infants. Thieves had visited in the meantime, carrying away valuables. And the elements, no doubt, caused some damage. In writing these portions, I could feel the "wear" that the place experienced while vacant. Without regular care, things quickly deteriorate. That is true of people and their relationships, homes, and even objects. Have you ever experienced that?

Left Behind

Don't YOU be left behind! Make sure you sign up for your chance to win in the $200 Memorial Day Giveaway Contest. See more at at While you wait for the results, check out the works of the sponsoring authors, including this one! To get you started, I'm posting this Book Bubble. It broaches the issue of what happens when loved ones surmise they know something about you, but are wrong. It can be devestating when those you love most, make assumptions about you, don't you think? Here Broden and Carlie (Mouse) are coming to grips with the fact that those they left behind when they were kidnapped from Lucy's compound, may be thinking the worst of them. Have you ever had something like this happen? How did you, or how would you, handle it?

Not Your Typical "Master"

In so many ways, Broden is out of place while residing in Chiran with his father, Zarek, the empire's evil leader. Broden was raised to appreciate the value of life--all life--and to honor and respect women. While in Chiran, he must appear to fit in. He does so knowing that the women assigned to him as slaves, might also be spies for Zarek. Even so, he treats those women well and he tries to help them. He behaves as he does because he believes it is right to honor and respect life. I, too, believe in the value of life and in liberty. Sometimes my position is out of sync with the position of those around me. Frequently, I feel I must keep quiet. Yet while I may not shout my beliefs from the rooftops, I can still conduct my life in accordance with my values. Do you ever find yourself out of sync with those around you? How do you handle it? Do you conform? Or do you hold firm?

Using Others

The empire of Chiran, which is directed from the top down, doesn't allow for individuals to follow their separate interests or desires. Leadership uses people for what they might provide to the ones "above" them. In this system, if one is not in control or does not have influence with those in control, he/she is treated as a thing and not a person. So it is that we see young women treated as servants--and yes, as slaves (for purposes I'll let you imagine). Chiran's leader, Zarek, also uses children for whatever purposes come to his mind. He finds no value in them, and so he cannot contemplate the extent of the loss that comes with each person. We, too, have people in our world who behave like this. Some are in leadership, some are not. I shudder to think of all the creativity, new technology, stunning artwork, and great philosophical minds, that we've lost through the ages--that indeed, we lose everyday. Those who might have gone on to create great things are lost as a result of numerous evil forces. Have you ever wondered what purposes might have been served by those lost to poverty? Slavery? Crime? Genocide? What other things can you identify that account for the premature loss of people in our world?

Announcing an Arrival

Brother Pestifere gives me the creeps. When I write about him, I can almost smell his presence. It is no wonder he leaves Broden's heart pounding, as Pestifere's presence would be unnerving to anyone. I actually looked for a name for this character that would reflect his persona. I don't recall just how I came up with this one, but it seems so appropriate to me. The creepy feeling he gives people is similar to the feeling you might have if a bug--a pest--crawled on you. But because he smells as he does, people know he's coming before he arrives. I recall as a kid, how on occasion our teacher would have to leave the room. We knew when she was returning by the sound of her heels on the floor as she came back down the hall. Anyone who had been acting out, would then quickly and quietly return to his seat. Pestifere's odor acts in a similar manner to the sound of those heels on the floor. Do you know anyone whose presence is made known before their actual arrival? Perhaps they whistle. Perhaps they wear a fragrance you especially like--or particularly abhor. Yes?


Broden and Brother Pestifere have a hate-hate relationship. Broden hates that Pestifere is the evil, bigoted, dishonest, man that he is. Meanwhile, Pestifere hates that Broden is bold enough and strong enough to call Pestifere out on the absurdities and inconsistencies of his positions. As is often the case in societies with top-down dictator-like control, the rules exercised in Chiran make sense from only one perspective: that of its leader, Zarek, who is deeply influenced by his own spiritual guide, Brother Pestifere. To take the things these men say and do and to measure them against reason is something Pestifere cannot tolerate--because the things Pestifere says and does are not logical or reasonable or consistent. Broden is brave to do as he does. Do you think you would be if you were in his position?

Is it Flattery?

It is not often readers get to see Broden interact with his father, Zarek. This is one of those few moments, yet it is telling, I think. Broden, a bold young man, is a bit calculating here in that he's trying to get something from Zarek. Yet, he full well knows that the best way to succeed is to get Zarek on his side. Flattery would be a waste of breath and would put all else in question. So Broden is truthful about something Zarek takes as flattery. In some ways, this shows that even the most negative of characters may have some personality characteristics that aren't all bad. How would you handle someone of power if you wanted something from them?


Broden is struggling to find ways to get Zarek's attention so that he can have more power over his own situation, and over that of those who are under his care (Mouse, his tutor, and his slave women). While Zarek is not quick to grant things to Broden, he does appreciate his son's spirit. In Volume Two, readers learned the difficult decision that Broden made when he was just a child, after having discovered the identity of his father. Was he evil like his evil parents because he was their progeny? Or, did he have the power to make his own choices about his future? I think the decision he made--to choose to live a life of good, rather than one of evil--is at the base of his spirit--or bravado, if you like. Would you agree?

A Swaggering Show of Courage

One definition of bravado is "a swaggering show of courage." You've seen someone with bravado before. It might have been the person who entered a room in some outrageous new style, expecting others to notice. Perhaps it was the hat he wore, or the angle at which he wore it, or the tip of his head. Whatever it was it invited others to watch, ponder, comment, and perhaps even, to smile. This is the person who is set-apart--and it is this person Broden intends to be as he squares his shoulders and then boldly advances. By taking command, he intends to be in command. So it is that his nonverbal cues in this instance, speak volumes. Do you agree?

The Return of the Grut

I first introduced the grut, beasts from the underworld, in Chapter One, Scene One, of Oathtaker. I had fun imagining these horrible creatures. I used words like razor, spiky, mucus, bulging, and hackles, to emphasize their negative features. I find it interesting how the very sounds of some letters, like Z and K, in particular, can add negative qualities to something--even when used for made up names. Note, for example, the name of the leader of the evil empire of Chiran: Zarek. Then there are prefixes and/or Latin words that can do the same thing. For example, I used MAL to create the name of an evil character in Select: Malefique. The Latin word, MAL, means bad or evil. Words beginning with MAL include malicious, malady, malevolent and malignancy. It's almost as though we are programmed to expect something negative when we come upon certain sounds or words. Do you agree? What ones would you include on that list?

Risks One is Willing to Take

Every now and then I hear some story that leaves me a bit dumbfounded. I'm talking about those situations where someone wants to make a change to something to see what will happen. In a society as large as is ours, even small changes can have enormous consequences. Big ones, if they turn our wrong, can have quick and catastrophic results. Those in positions of power should always keep in mind the lesson that Broden here suggests to Yasmin, which is that while someone may be willing to take a risk if the results will not effect him/her, that person should consider whether those who will be affected by the situation would be willing to make the same choice. To me that sounds like wisdom in action. What do you think?


Finally, Broden enters Volume Three. Broden, who is the late Lilith's son, raised at the compound but kidnapped from there, now resides in Chiran. With him is "Mouse," whom readers know to be Nina's daughter, Carlie, also kidnapped from the compound. In Volume Two, Broden worked events out so that Mouse would be given to him. In that way, he could protect her. Their relationship is familial. In many ways they are like older brother and baby sister. For the world around them, their relationship may seem otherwise, but that is Broden's way of protecting her. Here we see that young Carlie is growing up. She's challenging Broden to be more--to be stronger, bolder. I think we can all use someone in our life like that. Do you agree?

Child Soldiers

Once again, we find things in Chiran that mirror real life events. Perhaps, those who mislead the young in ways such as are shown here, really do have a special place waiting for them one day ... This is one reason why people should use such care in the way they live. Little ones are watching them. Little ones are taking their cues from them--whether that had been the intention of the actor, or not. In my experience, when my children were in later grade school years--say nine to twelve years old, or so--they were highly impressionable. Those who made the greatest impression on them were just a few years older--teens. Consider how the decisions you make today, the example you are today, may steer a younger person tomorrow. Are you proud of where you direct them to go? Are you confident their choices will help them to be safe, health, happy, and good? That their decisions will result in a better life for them? If so, then good on you. If not, you might reconsider ...

Border Control

With all the talk of border control these days, it is interesting that this the topic of this Book Bubble. Oathtaker readers have known for some time that many people have been fleeing Chiran and heading for Oosa. After all, Nina (who nursed the infant twins in Volume One) was a Chiranian refugee. Now we discover that children are making their way over the border on their own. Vida and Clarimonde help those they can. Of course, Dixon does ask a legitimate question here--a question worthy of consideration. How does one care for those who are unable to care for themselves without encouraging more of the same? This is a difficult question--one faced only by a people of principle. Hence, it is one we face as a nation. There are no easy answers because everything has a consequence--and sometimes the consequences are unintended. If you turn people away, they may die. Does that make you responsible in any manner? If you don't turn them away, you may encourage many more to put their lives at risk, as a consequence of which they may die. Are you then responsible for that added loss of life? In any manner? It is all food for thought...

The Children

The twins are hoping to be united with their sisters and have finally met the first of them, Vida, who is roughly ten years their senior. Here we discover that Vida has found a cause for her life--much as we'd expect of someone her age. That cause, to protect abandoned children, could keep her from joining the twins. In truth, I didn't know anything about Vida before this part of the story told itself. It's interesting how that happens. Sometimes I wonder if the events are just happenstance, or if somehow in my subconscious, I'd been working out the details all along . . . In this instance, things appear at a stand-still in this moment, but I'm confident someone will come up with a great idea. Have you any to share?

A Cause Greater Than Motherhood?

In some ways, Rowena is an enigma to me. In her eyes, her primary life purpose was to bear seven daughters--to bring about a new seventh seventh. But if you reflect on Rowena's actions, you see that only secondarily is she concerned with being a mother to those children. Sure, she sees to their safety by waiting for an Oathtaker to be assigned to each before sending it away, but still, this concept has always been difficult for me. Of course we all know people who are parents, but whose actions suggest that they believe the greater cause in their lives is something else. Perhaps it is their work, or some hobby or art or craft, or maybe even a "cause" that is for the public good. To be honest, when I see this--at least with men of my generation--it is not altogether surprising to me. But I find this odd in women of any age. I made numerous changes in my life's work so that I could see first to what I regarded as my highest calling: mothering my children. How do you handle this issue in your life? Or how do you expect you might in the future?

The Spitting Image

It's been a long time coming to get Reigna and Eden to this point where they meet the first of the sisters--Vida. Vida, who is Rowena's (the twin's mother's) firstborn enters the room complete with her unique scent of the Select. Like all the other scents, this one is fashioned after another of my favorite fragrances, namely, Chanel's Chance. In any case, Vida seems as happy to meet her sisters as they are to meet her. I look forward to the chance to introducing more of the sisters into the story in the future. Although I settled on their names (Vida, Asmeret, Diella, Pina, Tivona, and Adamina) some time ago, I really know very little about any of them. So I wonder, have you any great ideas for personality traits that any of them might possess? You never know--your ideas could end up in my stories . . . That could be fun--and I could credit the reader who shared the idea. What do you think? Any takers?

A Sense of Community

One of the things I most love about the Oathtakers, is the sense of community they seem to have and share with one another. In Volume One, readers spent time with Dixon and Basha as they renewed their old friendship and caught one another up on their lives. Likewise, here we get a glimpse at both Lucy's and Dixon's longtime friendship with Clarimonde. I suppose this comes of their sharing a common goal. Some people share a valued history through their having gone to college together, or law school, or basics training, or a for an overseas deployment. The individuals in the group aren't always the closest of friends, but they share something with one another that they don't share with anyone else. As a consequence, they can understand one another on a unique level. What organizations or situations have you experienced like this?


Every writer knows what a challenge it is to keep so many balls up in the air at once. Every line depends on where the characters are, whether they are standing, sitting, or moving, what they are wearing, if it is day or evening, and/or spring or fall. Those may seem small and incidental issues, but a story doesn't always come about by the author's creating each piece from the beginning to the end in one pass. Stories change and grow. Sometimes pieces have to be moved around. For this story, I had to so some serious calculations about seasons and seasonal changes. This scene was originally written for summer weather, but I had to change it to a fall day. While rewriting, rather than changing the countryside completely, I decided to keep most of what I'd had. To do so, I had to show this portion through Mara's imagination--as a vision of what the place might be in spring or summer. Consequently, I didn't have to do a great deal of rewriting. (Whew! One more ball caught out of the air before it fell to the ground . . .)

More Life

Oh, the fun I had in naming Reigna and Eden's elder sisters. I searched for names that meant something relating to their birth order. For example, Vida, the eldest, is named because Vida means "life." As the firstborn, Vida opened her mother's womb. As a firstborn of the Select, she is also responsible for overseeing life at all stages and to protect it. (You may recall this from the discussion about birth order and the responsibilities of member of the Select from Volume One, Oathtaker, when Mara first visited sanctuary in Polesk.) Perhaps in the future I'll share the meanings of some of the other sister's names. Do you consider the meanings of names? Have you ever named a child? Did you look into the meanings of names then? It has always been an important issue for me because I know that over time, as I call my child by his her her name, I am repeating that meaning. I want it always to be one that brings power and goodness. How about you?

Fresh corpses

Things are amiss in Oosa, witnessed by the fact that those who are a part of the entourage here, currently on its way to the palace at Shimeron, find problems in the Ethanward area. Specifically, they earlier found young people with plans to join the succedent in Chiran--and now they discover the bodies of children in the area. Whatever could be going on that would leave so many children orphaned, out on their own, and meeting danger? Do you suppose the Oathtakers will tolerate that? But whatever are they to do? You'll have to read on to find out!

Blades and Names

I've discussed the importance of names in the past. This time, I thought I'd make note of the fact that the magic blade that each Oathtaker possesses, has its own name. When the story began, I knew Mara's blade's name was Spira. My intention was to draw a connection between it and the idea that it possessed its own sort of "spirit." At the time I wasn't yet aware that every blade would be named, but as the story progressed, that became apparent. By the time the third volume came around, I'd named several blades. Each time, I wanted to bring out some key feature of that person and/or his or her mission. I decided that to do so, I would use Latin terms--or things close to them. So, here you read that Jerrett's blade is Fortitudo--for fortitude. Being the monstrously strong man that he is, I suppose that should not come as a surprise. Dixon's blade is Verity--for truth; Basha's is Honora, for honor; Lucy's is Vivacitas--for life; Velia's is Justise for justice; and Trumble's is Amora, for love. In this volume three, you will meet additional Oathtakers, at least a couple of whose blades will also be named. Did you catch these connections earlier? What do you think of them?

Various Personal Relationships

With an epic fantasy tale, over time, the cast of characters grows. Some are in most scenes, some pop in now and again. For those in the continuing stream of events, an author needs to keep a lot of things going at once. Those in different personal relationships experience things relating to the relationship in their own unique way. But outsiders also see the goings-on. If the author ignored the little bits about those events that people notice about others on a regular basis, the story wouldn't ring as true. But just as it is true that life gets more complicated as more people are added to events, telling a story to reflect that also gets more complicated. Here, we see the ongoing conflict between Marshall and Chaya--and we also note that it has not gone unnoticed by others, including Jerrett and Velia. Somehow when I read these events, they seem more accurate because the story includes bits about the relationships of those featured--as well as something about the perceptions of those looking in on them. Do you agree?

When You Can't Save Another

Many problems that people face can be resolved with a handful of twenty (or fifty!) dollar bills. But when that won't work, when someone chooses to do something harmful to themselves--as Trixie and her friends did in the paragraphs leading up to this exchange--they will do as they choose in spite of you. Hence, a saying I've used many times over the years: "You cannot save someone from himself" (or herself, as the case may be). If a person you care for chooses a bad course, you can listen to his woes, offer advice, suggest options to try, and/or sympathize with him. But you cannot stop him. People are free to destroy themselves. You cannot sit by someone's side every minute of every day to be certain she doesn't use that substance, or engage in that activity, or put herself in that dangerous situation, and so on. At first blush, this idea might make you feel helpless. But resting on the truth--that you can't stop someone else--can free you. It can allow you to stop obsessing over things, wondering what you could have done differently. So when I face these things, I do what I can--and then I step back because, in truth, I know that I cannot stop someone else. Do you agree?

The Descendants

In past BookBubbles, I've mentioned that The Oathtaker Series includes parallels to some real life people and circumstances. I don't know if you recognize from any real life events, "the men in black," also known as "succedunt," or the "descendants" described in this excerpt, but in my mind, clear similarities are found on the world stage. This enemy, which has no regard for life, finds its entertainment in torture and force. They harbor no disagreement. I wonder, why do they cover themselves--including their faces--in black? Clearly, it is not to hide their identities from possible punishment. I know this because Zarek who is their leader capable of exacting punishment, is in agreement with them and their ways. For my part, when I see or hear about someone covering themselves up like this, I always think it's because they are ashamed. What do you think?

Taking On The Pain Of Another

I'm not sure what prompted me to give Velia the power to take on the pain of another, but there you have it . . . It seems unusual for a "super power." That said, when I consider the relief someone could experience if someone else took away a burden they carry, I think it is one of the most important powers of any of the Oathtakers. It seems to me that when we empathize with others, we "feel" for them. This is usually an emotional thing. Yet, as a parent, sometimes I've felt actual physical pain when one of my children has suffered an injury. It is a horrible thing to experience . . . That said, maybe it wouldn't be as bad if I knew that by feeling the physical pain myself, I was giving relief to my child. What do you think? Is the ability to take on the pain of another a super power you'd ever want? Is it one you think you'd ever use? When?

Birdie, Sugar, Echo, and Trixie

In the past, I've discussed the use of names in my stories. My first rule of thumb is that the names I choose to use must be readily identifiable--or at least easily pronounceable. I've suffered through far too many works not knowing how to say someone's name, to make that same mistake. I don't want my readers to trip over a character's name every time that party shows up in a scene. While writing, I've also made up a few names. I've done so when I didn't want to draw any real "relationship" or "connection" between a particular character and the meaning for a name I might otherwise have given that person. That said, most of the names I use are real. When writing this scene, I remember looking for names for the four young and irresponsible characters, that were playful, un-serious. I was especially interested in using real names--or common nicknames. The first one came simply. After that, they got progressively harder. I wanted them to sound a bit flighty, but I didn't want them to be too extreme. What do you think? Did I manage to suggest a lack of maturity with these girls by giving them the names Birdie, Sugar, Echo, and Trixie? What names might you have chosen?

The Men in Black

Oh Felicity! What an incredible talent she has for seeing things and yet, how difficult a time she has expressing those very same things to others. It's fun to write this character because she is (as has been said of her) rather spritely. Yet, while a young woman, she is nevertheless, very childish. Here she acknowledges--or introduces, if you will--an element or source of danger that is coming the Oathtakers' way. The "men in black," she calls them. I'm curious: do you know of any present day characters on the world scene who do not want truth and life shared, who harm others, and who might be deemed "men in black?" I'd be curious to know . . .

Making Adult Friends

I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. I love watching the friendship between Mara, Basha, and Velia. As three Oathtakers, they have many things in common--including, at times, how they see the world. Perhaps it's because they share that bond that they expect Chaya might share a similar one with Nina and her sister, Erin. It is true that those three are all Chiranian-born, and it is true that they know what it is to be enslaved. However, there are also significant differences between them all. For example, Nina and Erin are quite a bit older than Chaya. Moreover, they've lived in freedom--and in the company of the Oathtakers--for a much longer period of time. I, for one, will be interested to discover where this goes in the future . . .

Same Facts, Differing Conclusions

I find it interesting how different people can hear and/or see the same things and yet, can come to differing conclusions as to what those things mean. I experienced this in a rather drastic fashion recently when I served on a jury. I realized that as the only lawyer on the panel, I was likely to (and did) pick up on things the others did not. Even so, I was fascinated with the differing conclusions that people came to from a presentation of the same facts. In this excerpt, Mara can't share too much with her two best friends, as she's sworn to secrecy, but she does suggest that when it comes to Lucy, there might be more than meets the eye. Have you ever discovered something truly new and unusual about someone who you'd known for a long time that completely changed your view of that person? I sometimes find that even looking at a photo of someone from 30 or 40 years ago can give me an entirely new view of who that person really is. It seems that each person in our life can serve up a constant fare of unexpected thoughts, feelings, and meanings. You think?

Filling in the Blanks

I remember writing a Bubble some time ago, about how when I first started writing, I was troubled with the issue of "where" to begin. But then one day it came to me that wherever I started--I was sure to be "in the middle." That is, things would have happened prior to that point in time and most surely, things would follow in the future. I realized that when there were past events that needed to be included, I would have to find a way to weave them into the story. Sometimes, I knew what those events were. Other times, they came about as the story progressed. As to the flits, I always knew that they were able and willing to sacrifice themselves for Ehyeh's cause, so Mara's learning of this did not surprise me. What will be interesting for me to learn in the future, is how that willingness to be sacrificed might play out. There are so many ways it could go . . . Have you any ideas about it? If so, please--do share!

Laying the Groundwork

One of the best parts about writing an epic fantasy story is that what a reader may consider a small and insignificant fact at some point, might actually be a part of a long-term plan, so it can end up playing a critical role in the future. But sometimes, even that can change! In this excerpt, Mara and Basha talk briefly about Trumble, and his charge, Felicity. Readers of Oathtaker, Volume One, will recall that, aside from Hattie's infant daughter, Claire, not a single infant escaped Lilith's murderous visit to Polesk back when the infants were young. Initially, I thought that the role played here by Felicity would be Claire--that infant now grown into a young woman. Oddly, I had to change that. Why? Because I knew that "Felicity" was the right name for this character--and I had to go with that. So, since Felicity wasn't Claire, I'm looking forward to discovering two things in the future: (1) what Felicity's future holds, given that her name means "happiness," while she has, of late, experienced anything but that; and (2) when Claire is going to re-enter the story, as I fully expect she will. Somehow, I know my subconscious is working out the details even now . . .

True to Life

Now and again a scene plays out that is so familiar, it makes me laugh. There is something deeply satisfying about a group of friends enjoying the company of one another, whether in silence, in humor, in pain, or for pleasure. I love the girlfriends, Mara, Basha, and Velia, together here. As fellow Oathtakers, they share much in common. Yet, each is also quite unique. Mara is in charge of the two most important members of the Select, while Basha is Oathtaker to Therese. Meanwhile, for Velia, parenting is currently her primary concern. Mara and Velia are both married, while Basha is the only one of the three who is single and has always been so. (That said, the storyline has indicated her interest in Trumble . . .) Still, there is a connection the three share that is deeper than their current life situation. In my experience, friendships like these are born of hardship--of pain--and sometimes of fear. That was certainly the case for these three, all of whom met while Mara tried to get the infant twins to safety those many years ago. The bonds such experiences create can be lifelong and permanent. What do you think? Did your closest friends come to you in your times of ease? Or in times of need?

Family Life

I actually went back when I was nearly done with volume three, and added this scene. Now I laugh every time I read it. You see, I mention from time to time that Jerrett is one of the favorites of the compound children—even though he has a tough exterior. Inside, he is loving and caring. Having had a difficult youth, he seems drawn to helping little ones. I enjoyed getting to draw a picture of him here as a family man—a father. I couldn't forget, however, that Jerrett is still a bit of a rebel. Notwithstanding the life changes he made some years back, he tests the boundaries. His playing with his boys seems to bring a bit of that out. But my favorite part of this scene was that I got to use yet another real-life experience. Unable to pronounce the word, "ridiculous," a young man I know, when he was a little boy, used to say "ri-di-cli-ous," emphasizing the third syllable. Every time I read this scene, I recollect what he was like those many years ago. Do you ever do that with stories of children you know—your own or others you are close to?

Girlfriends in Packs of Three

I don't know what it is about me, but I've often found that my closest "girlfriend relationships" have come in "threes." Yes, often people have "a" best friend and anyone else who tries to break into the fold is considered something of a divider. In my personal experience, however, I've had situations where it was a group consisting of myself and two other women that made a pact of friendship: there has been no element of jealously about who the others spend time with, or what one might do for another. When we are separated for a time and come back together, it's as though we never left. Like Mara, Velia, and Basha, we share stories and memories and laughs in our pack of three. How have you traditionally experienced your closest friendships? As one-on-one? Or in smaller groups?

Nonverbal Communication

As volume three plays out, the cast of characters has become rather large, indeed. I like that I know them all so well now. Interestingly, when I write, I often "watch" a scene play out in my head as I quickly try to get down what my characters saw, heard, and said. This scene introduces the idea that Marshall and Chaya--who met in Chiran in volume two--may be in for some rocky times. She just wants to be near him. Meanwhile, he seems to be trying to put distance between himself and her. What do you suppose happened? Without giving anything away, I can tell you that something transpired that the reader saw (or heard or read or whatever!) earlier, but probably thought little about. Eventually, the mystery of Marshall's behavior will become clear. As the author, I found that this is the way the circumstances played out between these two. In real life, had I been in Chaya's position, I think I would have asked Marshall early on: "What is the problem?" But then, I am not Chaya--and Chaya is not me. How about you? Do you let things stew? Or do you try to resolve them as quickly as possible?

Jerrett and his Wolf, Bane

I didn't know anything about Jerrett before I started writing this series. Even so, he quickly became one of my favorite characters. I especially enjoyed when he found in Select (Volume Two) that he shared a magic connection with Bane. But it wasn't until Jerrett went to the City of Light with him, that he discovered that Bane was not a dog, as he'd thought. Rather (as Lucy wasted no time in pointing out), he was a wolf. Somehow adding an animal into the list of characters helps to make things more realistic for me. Maybe it's because I've had one or more pets around during most of my life. Regardless, I somehow "trust" a story more when it includes an animal--a pet. What do you think? Do they add an element you appreciate? Or do they make no difference to you?


It doesn't matter how many times I read this scene, I still find it as touching as it seemed to me when I first envisioned it and then set the details down. For Mara and Dixon, the first of the Oathtaker stories centered on finding a place of safety for the twins, while the second related to Mara's attempts to recall her past and Dixon's pain in thinking he may have lost her for good because she couldn't recall anything (including their love for one another) as a result of her accident. Finally here, in book three, we see the couple in a quiet moment together. I'm happy that Mara had Dixon's strength and insight to turn to in her time of fear. Still, I wonder, with all this talk of children, could there be some foreshadowing going on? What do you think?

All I Need

Like many couples, Mara and Dixon want a child someday, but not necessarily "now." Imagine if the only option you had for avoiding pregnancy, was one that could eventually make you truly barren. Or imagine if your use of it could actually be the life of a child who would otherwise (without the interference of your use of it), live and grow? We are fortunate to live in a world with so many options, but we sometimes fail to appreciate that even those options come with a price. Frequently, I see articles discussing the health effects of different types of birth control commonly used in the real world. What would you do if you were Mara and you faced the same risks that she is facing? Chance future infertility? Or chance the taking of the life of your unborn?

Loss of Choice

It's true, isn't it? Choosing not to do something is an entirely different experience from not having the option to do it at all. To have options and to make a choice between them still leaves you feeling at least somewhat empowered. But to have your options removed can be devastating. Like Mara and Dixon, many couples choose not to have children, at least for a time. But for some, the conditions are such that they have no say in the matter--and that can be heartbreaking. Here, Mara appreciates that although she and Dixon have chosen not to have a child in the past, she wants to keep her options open, going forward. I think this is true about many things in life. I guess that's why I believe in a social and political system that allows people the freedom to speak, to think, to worship (or not), to choose their employment, to select where they will live, to spend their money as they see fit, and so on. How about you? Do you agree? Or are you one of those very few who would prefer to simply have someone take care of things for you?

Open Forum

I recall that from the beginning (in Volume One), Lucy always headed meetings by standing in front of everyone. By contrast, when Mara held meetings, she sat in the midst of the other attendees so as to encourage them to participate and to share their thoughts. (This always reminds me of how in the Arthurian legends, the table used for the knights' meetings was round--so that no one sat higher or before the others. Nonverbal details of this nature can profoundly affect outcomes. Don't you agree?) Here, although Mara stands before the group at the compound, she reminds the others that they are in an open forum. Her purpose is to get her cohorts to look for Nina's daughter, Carlie, and thereby, to bring some small peace of mind to Nina. Fortunately, Lucy has already created a trinket that will help the volunteers to communicate back with the group. Readers get to see in this scene, the manner in which the compound residents have learned to live and to work together. Even so, things are about to change, as the twins are now the official leaders. Further, the group is preparing to leave the compound for the palace of the Select at Shimeron. Still, I suppose there is one thing we can be certain of in life, and that is--change.

Necessary Things

No one was more surprised than I was when Lucy readily and willingly gave up her former position of authority (real or imagined) with the group by inviting the twins to head the meeting in process here. Her opinion of the two young women changed dramatically following their journey (in Volume Two) into The Tearless. Of course, changes don't happen over night, so I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Lucy's overbearing ways. What do you think? Do you believe people can change? Fundamentally, I mean? Or are they destined to remain largely the same throughout time, forever repeating the same mistakes and relearning the same lessons? For the most part, I believe they can change, even fundamentally, but that it is a long and slow process, subject to mishaps along they way. I guess you'll have to keep reading to find out how successful Lucy proves to be.

Good Eats

Oddly, some of the most fun I have when writing, is when the subject of food makes its way to the forefront. I love to think about tasteful new concoctions the characters might enjoy. Most often, as I did here, I pull on something I've made myself in the past. In this scene, I used an old favorite--a variation of a pasta dish I make. First I take brie and semi-freeze it so that I can grate it. Once done, I add in olive oil, garlic, scallions, fresh basil, a bit of lemon zest, Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes and so forth. I let that combination meld for a bit. Later, I boil noodles, drain them, and then while they are still hot, I toss them into the cheese mixture. The end result is almost sinful. One night awhile back, I thought it would be fun to try the cheese mix with some good crunchy bread. So, I got a good loaf, sliced it, added the cheese concoction on top, and then put the slathered slices under the broiler. Goodness, I'm making myself hungry now. Try it for yourself! I promise you won't be sorry!

Growing Up

Just a short while back, the twins found themselves struggling to get the least little concession from Lucy. You may recall that when one of the camp guards looked for them one day for Lucy (back in Volume Two), he told the twins that they would have to tell Lucy for themselves, what they would and would not allow. He suggested that they may have to tell her more than once--but that no one else could do the deed successfully. It seems Lucy heard them, as here she concedes that she's changed due to what the girls did, and that they, in turn, have truly grown into their own. Have you experienced that with young people? Maybe your own children? It can be a scary situation, as when you recognize that you no longer have much to say about their choices--unless they invite you to share your thoughts. On the other hand, bringing them to the point where they are able to take care of themselves, are willing to make their own decisions, and then take the responsibility for them, was your goal all along! Do you agree?

Blessings and Curses

It's true, isn't it? Sometimes the things we are most blessed with can be the source of the most pain for us. Living in a place in which my needs are largely met, and in which I enjoy the liberties and freedoms to pursue my dreams, I find on occasion that my blessings can be the source of difficulties. Curse: My cell phone runs out at the precise wrong moment. Blessing: I have enough to afford a cell. Curse: My job takes me from my family (and writing!) more than I'd like. Blessing: I have a job. Curse: My children are growing away from me. Blessing: I did my job, preparing them to live their lives as adults. Why do I identify the "curse" in each instance first? Because I want my focus, in the end, left on my blessings. What do you think?

Magic Happened

With all a writer's intentions to use magic wisely and well, sometimes the unexpected happens. When Reigna accidentally called Lucy back to life--unaware in advance that she had the power to do so--Saga died, as a consequence. Had Lucy shared crucial information with Reigna in advance, that might not have happened--but of course, she couldn't have anticipated what Reigna would do. I think Mara is trying to spare the possibility that others will lay blame at Lucy's doorstep when she keeps the details to herself. Here she tells Nina that "magic happened." Is that like saying "stuff happens" or . . . ? What do you think?

Life Connections

Mara and Nina have shared a couple of decades together; their lives are indeed "connected." Still, emotions are individual. What a person feels at any given moment won't necessarily make sense to others. That said, those people we find ourselves closest to, are often those who can empathize with us. In this scene, Mara, having been a mother to the twins, does understand the pain Nina feels. Even so, she cannot allow Nina to shame her into going to Chiran to try to rescue Carlie because she appreciates that such a job would be better left to others. Have you ever had someone blame you, or try to shame you, for not taking action when you knew it would not be wise to do so? Do you argue the point? Or do you let the other person express her feelings without comment? It takes strength to do the latter, for sure.

A Mother's Pain

As a parent, I've learned of the pain that can come with being unable to shield my child from some hurt. It's a combination of helplessness, and fear, and guilt. I recall just days after my oldest (my son) was born, dreaming that my little one was in need of me, but that I couldn't get to him. Waking, with hot tears spilling, I received a message that wasn't exactly audible, but that was as real and true as though it had been. The simple words went something like this: "You might as well prepare yourself right here and right now. In this life, things will happen that will be out of your control. Try though you might, you simply will not always be able to be there in his times of need." It was a difficult thing to take in, but I knew it was true. Over the years, I've shared that experience with other new parents, especially when I find one who is unable to let go--even just a little. You see, I believe that we must. If we do not, we will suffocate our children--to their detriment. If we do, we may expose our children--to their detriment. Nina is experiencing some of that pain in this scene. Put another way, she is experiencing what we call "life."

Could this Be Foreshadowing

Mara and Nina have quite a history. Mara saved Nina, and Nina helped Mara to save the twins. But years have passed since those early days when Lilith sought the twins, planning to kill them. Now Nina also has children of her own and as a consequence, perhaps, divided loyalties. Even so, Mara knows her old friend wouldn't want the twins endangered. Here she appeals to Nina's greater sense of honor. While doing so, she revisits a painful issue for herself: the fact that she's had no children of her own. Hmmmm . . . Could this be foreshadowing? What do you think?

He'd Best them All

The writing of Volume Three of The Oathtaker Series differed in one significant way for me as a writer. That is, that I gave glimpses from time to time into the life and times of an evil presence. I do not identify the party until near the end of the tale. I've found it interesting that at times, readers were surprised that the issue did not resolve as they'd expected. Do you do this when you read? Draw conclusions and find the evidence that supports your position? If/when you discover you guessed wrong, do you go back over the details to confirm that the story worked that way? I know I do! And because of that, I had to make certain sure along my way that the details all added up . . .

The Demanding Gift

Imagine if, in exchange for an oath you took, you received special magic powers. Suppose part of the price of those powers was to give up choices for a long while into the future. And suppose that the gifts bestowed upon you set you apart from those around you to such a degree that you'd never be able to live life in quite the same manner as they do. This is the dilemma that Lucy faces. Gifted with eternal youth, she will never grow old with those she loves. Would you give up one for the other?

You Could Be Free From All This

Much of the workings of the Select and their Oathtakers is actually provided in this short segment. As those following the series know, when an Oathtaker swears a life oath to protect a member of the Select, he receives in return, attendant magic, and continued youth. For an Oathtaker like Lucy, who had served a seventh-born of the Select, that continued youth would last for the remainder of her days. Although not immortal, she would no longer age. Here, Mara suggests that since Lucy's charge is deceased, she might want to follow another path--as Oathtakers have traditionally done. Lucy refuses. It seems her service is her first choice. Would you agree?


Once, many years ago, someone explained to me why she thought her marriage had not worked out. She said to me that the hadn't loved him "enough." That always stuck with me. When this scene then unfolded, the words seemed so appropriate, although I wonder if they are true. Lucy held to her original vow, so it seems she loved something "enough." What do you think?


It is always fun to write about the portions of the story that help to set up everything that is yet to come. Here, readers will learn a bit more about Lucy. Yes, she can be overbearing at times, but her heart is in the right place. Like so many, she feels a responsibility for events--even when she may not be the cause of those events. I enjoyed writing this scene between Mara and Lucy. Interestingly, the two have spent decades together, yet until now, readers haven't seen much of them together. It was fun to learn a bit more about their relationship myself! Odd how that happens . . .

Good Things, Right Things

My stories have reasserted the principle, from time to time, that doing a good thing is not the same as doing the right thing. For example, if you give too much to an able-bodied person, eliminating any struggle from his life, you could hamstring him from actually developing into the best person he could be. Likewise, if you give so much to a needy person that she loses sight of what it takes to provide that blessing, she might take advantage of it and not truly appreciate it or its source. When we do these things and people come around expecting that we'll continue to provide for them--at times, we've no one to blame but ourselves. If we "create the monster," we may just have to deal with it in the future. Here, Lucy mentions this principle to the girls once more, reminding them that just because they can do something, does not mean that they should do something. Do you agree?

The Price to be Paid

In my mind, stories that allow for certain characters to have magic powers, require some limitations on those powers. Sometimes they come in the form of consequences that will transpire if the magic is exercised. You see, if the character faced no such dilemma, it would be too easy for the "good guys" who possess extraordinary powers, to "win" in every situation. Don't you think? Yet the moral dilemmas that may come when one exercises magic, as this excerpt mentions, are sometimes more compelling than the physical ones--and they can make for interesting storyline twists. Do you agree?

An Incredible, Unique, and Extraordinary Power

(I'm delighted to share this Bubble today upon learning that Ephemeral and Fleeting has taken a Silver Medal in the 2017 Literary Classics International Book Award Contest--joining Volumes One and Two as LC award winners!) When I first started writing this tale, I was in a quandary. I knew I needed to inform readers of the twins' unique magic abilities, but . . . in truth . . . I didn't know what they were. Strangely, as this scene unfolded, I went back to some old notes I'd written years prior. It seems that while my conscious mind had no idea at the time, I'd resolved the issue several years before and had merely forgotten what I'd planned. I was elated when I found those notes--and fortunately, they helped to set up this entire story. Here, Reigna discovers her unique magic powers. What do you think of them? What magic power do you wish you possessed?

Second Chances

As stories reflect the real world, this scene follows with a common situation: a wrongdoer requests forgiveness from her loved ones. Sometimes it's easy to carry a grudge. But when the odds are stacked against you from outsiders, interesting things can happen. Often, people are willing to set aside their differences so as to pursue their common goals. That is just what we see here as Mara confirms to Lucy that they've forgiven her past behavior. What do you think? Do you find forgiveness an easy thing to give? Or a difficult one? Why?

Dead or Alive

It is interesting that before I started this tale, I knew the opening scene. I knew it was Lucy who was dying--though I wasn't really ready to let her go. Though I struggled with it all, there was no question that I had to tell the story as I knew it to be. What a relief when, in trying to resolve a related problem, I looked back into some old notes. Written probably six or seven years prior, they provided the answer to two dilemmas, both presented in this scene: (1) the powers of the twins; and (2) Lucy's death. No one could be more surprised with the result than was I. You'll have to read on to find out more.

Been Good to Know You

Some of the most fun scenes to write are the opening ones. This one was particularly so for me, as I'd watched the proceedings numerous times in my head before it finally came to the time for me to put the details down. It seems there is some prevailing "wisdom" that the best ways to start a work include with a birth or a death. Interestingly, without pre-intentions to do that, I have in fact, done that on a couple of occasions. What do you think? Do such events cause you to want to keep reading? In what ways do you like stories to open? Please, share your thoughts!

Familiar Friends

When I wrote Volume One of this series, I made a conscious effort to whenever possible, introduce only a single new person at a time. I wanted my readers to be able to grasp the general essence of someone before moving on to another person. It worked very well. (I know that when I start a new book, if I don't get an opportunity to get familiar with the characters one at a time, I'm forever confusing who is who, or forgetting them entirely!) With Volume Two, I decided that I should re-introduce each character, if only briefly. To do that, when someone entered a scene for the first time in the book, I reminded readers of a key fact about that person. But Volume Three was an entirely different matter. While I would never--could never--have used this approach at the outset, I decided that readers at this stage just wanted to immerse themselves in the story, to quickly return to the characters they'd grown to love. And so it is that in this very first scene, there are numerous parties in attendance. What do you think? When starting a new book or series, do you like to meet the characters one by one?

Saying "Good-bye" to Characters

It is so exciting that Ephemeral and Fleeting has finally gone "live" and is ready for readers! I'm anxious to hear what they think of the opening scenes. These very first paragraphs were so fun to write--and so frustrating at the same time. I knew even back while writing Volume Two, that this was the opening for Volume Three. I knew what was going to happen, and to whom. I saw the blood . . . but I wasn't ready to say "good-bye" to the character here. Sometimes our tales take us to unexpected places. Still, I had to follow my instincts . . . For those who've been following along, I must ask: who do you think this is lying on the floor, bleeding and dying?


Science Fiction & Fantasy

A Challenge Met. A Calling Sought. A Faith Required. When Mara, Oathtaker to the ranking twin members of the Select, suffers an injury, her charges—Reigna and Eden—seek to determine their callings, while Dixon suffers over the potential loss of his beloved. As their allies disperse in response to a growing threat to their homeland, and as the forces of evil set out to destroy them, the twins journey across The Tearless, where in fulfillment of prophecy, they face three challenges. A single misstep may bring them to ruin; perseverance, to glory. To triumph, they must first believe.

Book Bubbles from SELECT

Patterns of Speech

One of the most difficult things when writing, is to make at least some people identifiable by the unique way that they speak. I once read that for Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain used up to 30 unique local dialects. I don't know if that is true, but I know that when reading his works out loud, some characters sound distinctly different from others. The situation with Jacob in this scene in one in which I included an unusual way for this character to speak. These can be difficult to write--and difficult to read--but in at least some instances, they can lend an authenticity to a work. Do you agree?

Evidence of Prior Madness

I've visited Berlin, Germany, a couple of times, the first at the ripe old age of 17. Even then, I was impressed with how the city had been rebuilt following WWII. Still, left in the midst of this great metropolis, the bombed remains of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, remain to this day. I understand that after the war, the plan had been to demolish the entire temple, but the West Germans protested. Thus, a new church was designed and eventually, the ruined portion was integrated into the new temple. The demolished and blackened remains remind us all of the madness of war. I wish now that when I had written this portion of this particular scene, that I had considered allowing some of the remains of the evil that Lilith had let loose on sanctuary, remain. While renovating something that is meaningful is a laudable thing, so too, is allowing the evidence of our past to do so--even when that evidence is difficult or painful. It serves a purpose. Do you agree?

Buildings Replete With Symbolism

I am drawn to certain types of buildings and I don't think I'm alone in this. Examples include libraries, court rooms, and churches. Often such places are filled with architectural elements of interest, works of art that provide historical detail, and they exude an almost spiritual sense of the presence of those who have passed through the space before me. Frequently they are complete with structural elements that embody symbols that portray the meaning of the place. Even the objects inside these areas are telling. For example, in a library, each book is an object someone visited before me. In a courtroom, the manner in which the room is set up, the gavel, the flag, and more, all tell me something about the past and current use for the space. Likewise, churches provide artwork that tell a history and a purpose. In this scene, Basha and Therese are visiting such a place. What places of a similar nature attract your attention?

Countless Souls

What's the oldest human-created place you've ever visited? What city or building? What streets did you walk? Of what were they made? What cemeteries did you see and how crumbled or difficult-to-read were the headstones there? Not only do we each have our own histories and experiences, but so too do the places we visit and in which we reside. So too, do the objects we find there. Long-inhabited places have always held a certain charm for me. When I experience them, I notice physical aspects, of course. But I also feel what I regard as the spiritual aspects of such places and the things in them. Perhaps when I know that I'm in a place that has a long history, I subconsciously tune into the non-physical aspects of the place. Have you ever experienced a place in which countless souls have gone before you? Did you witness the grooves in the steps that they left behind? How did that make you feel?

Spring? Summer? Autumn? Winter? Cleaning

I have a project on my hands. One of the largest I've ever taken on. Specifically, with my children now out on their own, I'm trying to go through all of those things that I've moved to storage over the years, as there simply was no room in our living area for some things. I've discovered that in our young adult lives - our 20s - we struggle to get by and to acquire the things we need; in our 30s, things get a tad easier; in our 40s, we acquire a little better quality tools for making life easier; in our 50s we look around wondering where all our possessions came from; and in the end of that decade and beyond, we seek to rid ourselves of the unnecessary. This is my current project: to give good items away to a charitable cause, to store only the necessary, and to throw the remainder. This all sounds a bit like what Basha and Therese were doing as they went through the palace in this scene. What do you think? What stage are you at?

Color Psychology

I'm feel sympathy for people who do not see the full spectrum of color. I also feel a bit of frustration - or event resentment - when I observe photos of what some other life forms see for color. For example, I understand bees can see ultraviolet light, and that some flowers have "nectar guides" for bees that can only be seen in ultraviolet light. That said, they cannot see the color red. These things intrigue me. Further, when considering what we humans can perceive for color, it is interesting that different colors can stimulate various emotions. Color psychology is a theory that assigns emotional and psychological connotations between colors and emotions, many of which are universal because they have an effect on the brain, while others are merely cultural. The color red, considered a warm color, can evoke emotions ranging from feelings of comfort to hostility and anger. Lilith was known to have dressed in red at all times. It seems, in doing so, that she constantly fed her own negative emotional feelings. Do you think colors effect you?

Scripta Manent

Ever since I started writing and publishing on my own, I've found myself hyper-aware of anything I read that mentions books and writing. Authors in general seem true to themselves, frequently expressing the importance and significance of written works. So often, stories provide information begat from books and scrolls and the like. It seems that while we writers are fascinated with the process of writing and creating worlds, we remain true to another of our first loves--the written word--and that shows in our writing. Interestingly, when I set out to select a name for the publication of my own works, I wanted to express my interest in the written word, in general. I chose to use "Scripta Manent Publishing." I took "Scripta Manent" from the Latin proverb: "Verba volant, scripta manent," which translates to "Spoken words fly away. Written words remain."


There are many ways to mask who you really are and what you really believe. People do it all the time. Meanwhile, some think they can discern who is good-hearted, honest and trustworthy by the sound of a person's voice, or by studying that person's body language. One of the ideas that intrigued me when creating the traits of a member of the Select while writing Oathtaker, was that I wanted to provide an obvious outward sign that could be used to identify a member of the Select. I chose scent. Of course, it only made sense then, to consider how someone might use trickery to give the appearance of being one thing, while truthfully, being another. Can you think of ways that people trick others when pretending to be something they are not?

A Sixth Sense

One of the ideas represented by the Select in the Oathtaker series, is that a member will, if found acceptable by "the Good One," exude an extraordinary scent of his or her own. Imagine if there was a way to assure yourself of someone's heartfelt intentions to do the right thing, not merely the thing that serves them, or the thing that strident voices call for, or the thing a majority wants when following that course could be tyrannical to a minority, but the thing that is truthful and honest and would in the end, bring the best good for society. Sometimes we talk about having a sixth sense about others, but imagine if you were able to discern the position of someone because of something like their scent. Of course, even then, the concept could be manipulated, as we discover here. Lilith having lost favor with the Good One covered up the fact that she was not doing right, by manufacturing a scent for herself. Only in hindsight were people able to appreciate that her manufactured scent was not similar to the sincere ones of other members of the Select. What do you think of a world wherein something like this might be possible?


I've heard it said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Have you ever set foot into a place that had been deserted for a time? Or a room left unchanged to serve as a reminder of one who has moved on in life, or perhaps even beyond life as we know it? The room that Mara and Basha enter in this excerpt shows how Lilith left behind, signs and symbols of her presence. Just as was the case during Lilith's lifetime, the space she frequented was messy and disorganized. When archeologists dig up old sites, they contemplate those who inhabited them, the types of lives they led, and more. What would be said about you and your life if you walked out of your place today, never to return, but to be discovered by others in the future?

Filling in the Gaps

When writing a series, numerous characters fill the chapters, each with his or her own unique role to play in the story. As a writer, I find that it seems necessary from time to time, to provide brief reminders of a character's history. While not wanting to include too much, neither do I want readers to have to pause their reading to try to reflect and to recall prior incidences. Do you find such reminders helpful?

Signs of Age

Authors are frequently challenged to show their readers things, as opposed to telling their readers those same things. This challenge is one I look forward to when describing people with particular conditions. Here we see the quite elderly Bernard. In my mind I can see him contemplating the things he is hearing, pulling memories of old to the front of his mind, and struggling to hear. I have found that writing about Bernard is a satisfying challenge. What other characteristics can you think of that one might elaborate on when seeking to express a character's age to readers?


Anyone or anything abandoned by those who previously cared, suffer both physical and emotional damages. In the case of a place, like the palace at Shimeron, Basha and Therese continue their review of the damages that followed the first family's abandonment of the palace. Have you ever visited a place that you formerly frequented, or in which you lived, that had been left behind? I grew up on a farm. Some years ago after someone purchased the property from my parents where I grew up, the buyers tore the old house down and built anew. For years, each time I drove past the old house, I could still picture the events that had occurred there. Today, when I drive by, my imagination has to conjure the buildings, as well. The old place now survives only in the memories of those who once knew it. What places do you know like that?

Expressions of Life and Death

Living creatures aren't the only things that seem to express life and as a consequence, death. For example, natural physical formations and even building do, as well. Basha and Therese's visit to the palace brings back memories of its former glory days. Death often does that, whether it is the death of an individual or of some animate object. My mother recently passed, as a consequence of which I have found myself thinking on what she was like in her younger years. She came from an era that didn't allow for the sharing of many personal details between us, so for the most part, I was left on the outside looking in. But now when I do so, using details from my childhood memories, I see a vibrant, caring, giving woman. While she was not her usual self in her last days (and in the throws of Covid), I will do my best to remember her thusly . . .

Creating Something Out of Nothing

There are numerous details to address when creating a fantasy world, from the concept of time, to language, characters, social mores, religion, and more. One such issue is that of the physical world, consisting of the natural environment and the creations, such as the buildings, of those who inhabit it. These include both the significant and the mundane. The process of writing constantly reminds me of the miracle of the human mind in its ability to create an image of something out of nothing. But that is only the beginning. Once visualized, the author must describe what she sees in a manner that brings an image to mind for others. The Palace at Shimeron, official home of the first family of the Select of Oosa, is a place that, when the story began, was one of glory. Now, after having sat idle for 20 years, it is rather rundown. But like so many things in life, perhaps it, too, can be resurrected . . .

Taken Prisoner

I am a big fan of Broadway plays, including Aida, which premiered on Broadway in 2000. In it, the Princess Amneris sings "Every Story is a Love Story." I wonder if it might also be true on some level, that every story is one of capture and escape. There are, of course, those stories that include physical captures such as occurs here, but might one also be captured in other ways? By love? Might one be captured by his thoughts? By virtue of peer or community pressure? Via the power of a mob? What do you think? Is every story one of capture and escape?

The Next Corner

I admit that I do not like stories that end with cliffhangers. I want a story to have an "ending" even if it is part of a series with an overarching storyline that continues. That said, I love to read scenes that make me jump to the next page because I can't wait to see what happens next. Here, Broden has armed himself with a weapon that, if in the hands of the wrong person, could prove disastrous. So as a reader, I would love to come up to this line and then rush to continue. What do you think? Do you like cliffhanging stories? Do you like scenes that end in a manner that makes you want to continue on? Do tell!

A Genuine Tragedy

A tragedy isn't merely the consequence of bad things happening. Rather, a tragedy exists when one is faced with two options that do not allow for the "right" response to both. From time to time, life presents us with such circumstances. Here, one could argue that the thugs who had infiltrated Lucy's camp are faced with a tragedy, as Broden makes their options clear: (1) harm the child and likely, as a consequence, die; or (2) release the child, take Broden as their captive, and (presumably) live on - at least for a time. The second option will not get the men what they desire from Lucy's camp, and they will be forced to face Zarek's wrath upon their return to Chiran. Perhaps their lives will then be forfeit . . . What genuine tragedies have you had to face?

A Voice of Authority Provides Courage

I've practiced law for quite some time now. Over the years I've discovered how the softest voices during negotiations are, at times, the strongest. For example, with Broden in this scene, we see a young man who is not asking for what he requires. Rather, he states simply what it is he wants, expecting that he will get those results. He also appreciates the power of his own position. That is, he readily recognizes that while young Calandra's life is on the line, he holds the best hand since, if the men who captured the child should harm her, there is no way they will escape with their lives. But perhaps the real ace that Broden holds is that he does not fear being taken himself. In short, he possesses a unique power here: the power that may come of fearlessness. Broden gives me courage. How about you?

The Gift of Life

In this scene, Lucy displays her willingness to give the greatest gift of all, as she prepares to potentially lay down her life for the life of another. During this holiday season, many reflect on the Christmas story. It is a story of giving; it is a story of saving. It is a story that encourages people, whether believers or not, to consider the needs of others, how they might bring joy to them, and in what ways they might make their lives, easier. During this season, we are reminded of the glory of the gift that is "life," and of the means by which we might make the lives of others better. And so this holiday season, I encourage you to reach out to give to others, whether in the form of time, attention, protection, or of meeting physical needs, because even the simplest of gifts can save lives. May you and yours enjoy a safe, healthy, happy, and blessed, holiday season.

2020 - Don't be a Hostage

When I look back at the headlines from the first week or two of 2020, it feels like the events discussed occurred years and years ago. It's as though sometime in mid-March, someone pulled me off the merry-go-round of life and has been holding me hostage somewhere in an unidentified, alternative reality, ever since. I've been frantically awaiting the moment when I could break free of those chains, when things would slow down and clear up sufficiently enough that I might then have the opportunity to hop back on the ride. How about you? Do you feel like a hostage to the 2020 mayhem? Well then, this might be a good time to pick up a great story in which you can get lost. This might be just the moment to free your mind and soul--at least for a time. What do you think?

Invasions and Responding to Risks

As occurred in this scene here, sometimes life hands us unexpected invasions. They can come in the form of violent criminal acts, illnesses, mental health issues, and more. Here, Lucy is armed with her blade, her unique weapon for responding to such dangers. For the rest of us, it seems our most unique and powerful weapons include faith and our relationships with others. Presently, our society is experiencing a few unique invasions: a virus that is causing illnesses and deaths; unrest; and perhaps the most painful one of all, the separation of people from their most powerful weapons--their faith communities and their friends and family--as a consequence of social distancing and closures. That said, we do have unique electronic ways of reaching out to one another these days. Be sure to use them when you find yourself at risk.

Pets and Help When Needed

Lucy, caught off-guard, has left her most reliable weapon in the chest of a dead man, currently out of her reach. Do you ever fear that the things you would most need to protect yourself, or that would warn you of danger, will be unavailable or out of reach when the moment of need presents itself? One of the reasons we've always had a dog in our home is that dogs are always the first to sense potential danger and to warn us of its presence. They serve us in so many ways that often, we don't realize the full extent of what they do until they are gone. (I imagine that if Jerrett's wolf, Bane, were with Lucy here, she'd be much less fearful.) What do you think?

Chaos Reigns

Reading this excerpt is, for me, like reading so much of our current news. Indeed, it seems that in many ways these days, chaos reigns. Here, pandemonium has erupted in the midst of Lucy's camp--the place she had created as a safe haven for the twins, Reigna and Eden. The infiltrators are creating mayhem, intentionally stoking fear. I'm reminded of those who, while chaos reigns, are forced to make split-second decisions, all with an eye toward protecting themselves and/or others. I am grateful my job does not require that of me. What about you? Do you have to make split second decisions in times of trouble? Do you live with others who do? Does that cause fear and apprehension for you? How do you handle those times?


In my experience, when turmoil begin, confusion reigns. Do you agree?

Prophesies Abound

Oh, what fun it is to write of prophesies! In a story, they give inklings into the future - although like most that have been uttered in our own world, they leave much to interpretation. Often they are not fully understood until after the events of which they foretold, have occurred. What purpose then, do they serve? Perhaps the end game is less about telling the future, and more about getting people to focus their attention on an issue. In this situation, there appears to be another foreshadowing added to the prophecy. Here, Lucy and her friends are unable to do anything about the prophesy at hand, except to watch how it plays out, and based on Lucy's half-voiced comments, the repercussions could affect her, personally, in a serious way. I suppose there are many parallels between this scene and things we experience in our own lives. We might have good insight into how things will come to pass in certain situations, but if we have no say about those situations or control over them, we are but observers. Do you agree?

A Time of Testing

We all experience them--times of testing. We go through them as teens when we seek our own path, as young adults when we take the reins for ourself, again later when we struggle to instill our own children with values we hold dear, and so on. As a parent, perhaps the greatest challenge is letting go, yet we must. It seems to me that the key characteristic of an adult is that he/she is able to care for others. I don't mean just to "care about" others. That is something we all start learning about from our earliest years. I'm talking being able to provide for the physical and spiritual and emotional well-being of others. In some ways, the twins are facing a similar challenge here, as they have been "called" to do particular things--things upon which the welfare of others, will rely. Will they succeed, do you think?

A Picture of Hope

Hope is more than a wish. It is a confident expectation—a desire for a certain thing to happen. When I hope for something, sometimes I try to visualize what I want to come to pass. Reading this scene, I can envision what Nina’s imagination conjured up when Broden told her he’d found evidence of Carlie near the river. Needing to believe her daughter was safe, Nina dared not think about the risks of her having fallen, or of a drowning. Instead, perhaps Nina’s thoughts went something like this ... Carlie's leather saddlebag, cracked with age, and withered from humid summers and frigid winters, sported shiny spots where Carlie’s graceful hands had grasped it to open and to close it. Those hands, feminine, lithe, smooth with youth, drew to her mouth as she held back a cry of fear when unexpected sounds of horses’ tack and foreign voices sounded out, signaling approaching danger. Rushing away for safety, Carlie dropped her bag, sending its contents flying. A faded olive-green, boiled wood shawl, one of her favorites, found refuge in a mass of prickly bushes at the base of a nearby oak, unaware that the sour scent of mildew it exuded might tattle on its presence ...

Prophecies and Foreshadowing

What is a prophecy and why do prophecies play so high a part in fantasy tales? Well, a prophecy is loosely defined as a prediction or forecast. In fantasy tales, prophecies are often discovered in books of old, as is the case here. I think this is because the reader of a story loves to find within it, the reader of another story! I also think prophecies play a prominent role in fantasies because through them, an author can provide a sort of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a literary device that provides a hint of something to come. As a reader myself, I don't like something dropped on me from out of the blue, as though the author of the work introduced the concept as a means of resolving a dilemma. One way I seek to avoid that in my own storytelling is through foreshadowing things to come--sometimes through a prophecy. Then my reader is not surprised when the means to resolve a dilemma, comes about. Also, when I read for myself, I enjoy when I think I might know what is to come. In the end, I either have the pleasure of finding out that I was right--or I have the pleasure of being surprised by an unexpected twist in the story. What do you think?

Not So Terrible - To Be Alone

The older I get, the more I appreciate: (1) that I need others and that others need me; and (2) that no matter how much I might need others, in the end, I am (as each of us is), alone. It can be a daunting thought--being alone, but like the twins here, one day I realized that even when I am "together" with one or more other people, I am always "separate" from them, as well. When I was young, I craved the company of others; I was out of sorts when I was alone. Now I find that being alone is not so terrible. In fact, these days I crave my time alone. Perhaps it is a natural part of the human condition that prepares us for the day we put this world behind and take our final journey from here--alone. I don't know about that. But I do know that as I sit here alone today, with the house to myself and a dog at my feet, surrounded by quiet, and without any plans to go anywhere until later this evening (and I'm only going to go out then because its expected of me), I'm relishing every quiet second. To be alone is not so terrible after all ...

My Way and Your Way - It Matters

When it comes to things that matter, one of the most important exercises one can do, is to identify who she is and what her mission or missions might be for her future. You see, there are many things that any number of people can accomplish. However, there are some things that only a particular person can do. When the intended person does not see her mission through, there may be others who can act, but no one who could have accomplished the same important deed in the same manner. This is one of the reasons why I value each and every individual life as I do. Every person is unique; every person has a unique mission. In this excerpt, the twins talk about their mission, ultimately surmising that perhaps each is designed for something uniquely personal to her. How about you? Do you have a life mission? Something that only you can accomplish? Do share!


I've raised three children, all of whom are now (at least for the most part) on their own. Along the way, I discovered that the most difficult years were not when my children were young. Those years came with plenty of confusion and busy-ness and challenges. But with young adulthood came the realization, not only that I had to let go, but that my children, each in turn, needed to let go, as well. With young adulthood a young one must acknowledge that the things he/she chooses come with consequences, and that he/she is solely responsible for those consequences. Indeed, one has not really reached adulthood until that person discontinues placing blame on others for their mistakes, input, failures, and so forth, and instead, looks to him/herself. So, both sides are involved in the cutting of the umbilical cord--or apron strings if you will--and in my experience, the job is not complete until both do their part. (I'm still working away on one. At times the struggle - and the sense of loss is extraordinarily painful.) What do you think? What has been your experience?

Traditions and Futures

Traditions become more valuable to me as the years go one. At the same time, I appreciate new and innovative things more all the time. These two competing phenomena show up when I write. I frequently find that my characters begin as their true (traditional) selves, but they change, through circumstances, and over time. That is, a character created for a specific purpose, takes on a life of his/her own. Here I enjoyed spending time with the twins. Each is discovering, bit by bit, who she is. I think that at times, the traditions we practice, help to define who we are, while at other times, they hold us back from finding the person we might become. As Eden mentions, people often discover things they want to do, or to be, when they come face to face with something they come to realize they do not want to do, or to be. What past traditions have helped you discover new revelations about yourself? What traditions have you acknowledged, that you have now outgrown? Is this the year you create a new one? Do share!

Simultaneously Alike and Different

I've discovered of late, a tendency of many to treat world events and political issues as absolutes. Too often, the attitude seems to be, with respect to THING A and THING B, that if THING A is true, then THING B, is not. In reality, two things can be true at the same time, provided that the truth of the first doesn't preclude the possibility of the second. So, it can be true that it is raining outside. It can be true that the sun is shining outside--even at the same time. (We have all seen sun showers, after all.) On the other hand, it cannot be true that it is light outside and that it is dark outside at the same time--at least not in the same place at the same time--as light removes darkness. Here, Reigna and Eden ponder on what it means to be "identical." They look alike (or at least as much as would any identical twins), but they also differ. The thoughts and personalities of each, are unique to each. So these two things are true at the same time: they are alike, yet they are different. I try to use the preclusion test when hearing of current events. It helps me to appreciate different sides of an issue. How about you?

Magic v Technology (Scrying v Cell Phones)

The twins grow increasingly concerned about their mission. They seek to earn Ehyeh's favor so that their magic powers will be revealed. In the meantime, they function without the benefit of those powers. Don't you wonder what they might be? I have always held that in fantasy tales, magic stands in for technology. Thus, it is magic that is used for healing (think spells or incantations versus modern medicine); transportation (think teleporting versus planes, trains, and automobiles); communication (think scrying versus cell phones, text messaging, and email); and access to information (think telepathy versus the internet and all the places one may visit there). What powers do you suppose the twins might ultimately discover for themselves? If I could, I might choose the power to be in two places at once. I just think of all I could accomplish! (Even the ability to "beam up" on Star Trek still leaves a person in a single place. Just imagine being in TWO places at once!) What magic power would you choose?

Fault and Guilt

As an author, I'm frequently surprised at the things that motivate my characters. Here, Reigna feels guilty because an evil person intends to harm her, and she knows their plans will put her loved ones in danger. Interestingly, one of the themes of the Oathtaker stories is that people are responsible for their own actions and that one should not take on responsibility or feel guilt for the evildoings of another. Reigna would have been raised with these ideas because Dixon has shared them over the years. Still, she falls into the same emotional trap that many of us experience when she thinks that her very existence puts others in danger. Have you ever experienced anything like that? Are you able to put things in perspective during difficult times and to assign guilty where it is properly due?

"What if - For Past and Present

Things could have gone so many different ways in the past. Things in the future still could. The "what if" question is one that, at times, haunts me in my writing. That's because every step taken in response to the question is one that leads down a specific road while simultaneously foreclosing other "what if" paths. Once I've given someone green eyes, they are not blue. Once I've assigned a past to a character, that past will color that character's future. The thing about approaching things as a reader, is that you don't know which "what if" question the author may have asked herself, or what answer she ultimately settled on until you discover where she takes you. So here, what if Chaya is a spy? What if Marshall missed a key clue about how to proceed because he was distracted by Chaya's bluebird-like eyes and of her tale of woe, rather than being focused on Cark? What if Chaya has plans other than those she indicated to Marshall/Mansur for the weapon she requested from him here? What if she becomes the key to gaining the intelligence Marshall needs? What if she becomes the bar that keeps him from that goal? What if ... ? I guess you'll have to read on to discover the answers ...

Yes, Readers, I See You!

Today I want to emphasize how much I appreciate the opportunity to connect with my readers. One of the best experiences for me is when a reader, whom I know personally, reads one of my books and shares with me along the way, their reactions. It is such fun to see and hear them try to figure out the next step, or to comment on a favorite character, or to share their feelings about a surprise twist that they hadn't expected. These conversations are crucial to my understanding of other readers--those whom I do not know personally. Somehow, these conversations allow me to "see" and "hear" those readers, as well. This concept relates to the excerpt that I chose today. Chaya has lived a life of anonymity. Until now, only her childhood nanny, Ophelie, connected with her on a personal basis. But here, Marshall (aka Mansur) reaches out to Chaya. I can imagine her sense of relief when he does--even though she doesn't expect he can help her in any other way. In our world today, sometimes we need to put down the devices and engage with people, one on one, eye to eye. The sense of acceptance and connection we get when we do so, helps us in significant, meaningful, although largely unquantifiable, ways. Do you agree?

Child Brides - Can We Stop This?

When I wrote this story, I specifically decided that Chaya would be sixteen years old, because I wanted her old enough to understand the horrors she faced, but young enough to illustrate the concept of forced marriages and child brides. Child marriage is defined as any formal marriage or union in which one or both of the parties are under 18 years old. I found an article dated April 2017 that provided that girls under 15 can be married without their consent in 52 countries, while the same is true for boys in 23 countries. Organizations like Girls Not Brides at, and Plan International at, work to end child marriage. Available statistics vary, but common stats provide that each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. That would translate to almost 33,000 per day, or 23 girls every minute, or nearly 1 every 2 seconds. In general, child marriage is fueled by gender inequality, poverty, and traditions. It exposes young ones to violence and poverty. Is today the day you research what organization you might support in an effort to help stop this practice. What do you think?

A Rare Entertainment

When the idea of this scene and the circumstances around it first came to me, it seemed so unbelievable that I almost didn't write it. Then I looked around. I realized (and not for the first time) that things seem to get more outrageous by the day. What one does, another seeks to undo, outdo, or to surpass by going one step further. But of course the next step down a path is not always better, even if that step is different and perhaps, never before taken. Taking another step on a path to evil, to destruction, is just what is occurring in this scene. Tanith raised Chaya after having discovered that she could no longer terminate her pregnancy. Then she spent years forming her plan. She determined she would sell the child when the child grew, so as to recoup her expenses. The auction she set up for this scene is indeed, a "rare entertainment." It is also one more step down the road of societal destruction. Do you see any parallels to this in our world?

All Hope Is Not Lost

When a person stands on the edge, wondering if she can carry on, she struggles to find hope--hope that one day, things will be better. Here Chaya is at that threshold. She doesn't know what her future holds, but she knows her mother intends the greatest evil for her. With no support, and riddled with fear, Chaya could have stopped her mother's plan. She could have taken her own life--the very thing by which her mother intends to profit. Instead of accepting such a defeat, however, Chaya searched for some bit of hope, however small. Somehow, she found a glimmer of it. Believing that she might lose the battle on this day, but that she might win the war on another, she grasped that hope and held to it. Then she stood her ground. Here, when she throws her shoulders back, and lifts her chin, she shows that although armed with only that tiny bit of hope, she will enter the arena to battle for a better day. If anyone out there is struggling at this time, I pray they find the glimmer of hope that will allow them to do the same. Indeed, all hope is not lost. All hope is never lost. There will be a better day--there always is.

Raised to Sell

Readers will recall that Zarek, the leader of Chiran, seeks to build an army. To do this, he put into action some time ago, a plan intended to encourage the birth and raising of boys, while discouraging the birth and raising of girls. He provided that parents would receive certain annual gifts for each of their sons, but that they would pay significantly larger penalties for each of their daughters. Tanith, burdened with Chaya, a child--and a daughter--she did not want, decided to raise Chaya and then to sell her. Given the reduced number of women in Chiran, and the sudden increased demand of the young men for them, Tanith expects to recoup the losses she incurred over the years in the payment of penalties. Meanwhile, poor young Chaya is without recourse. Can you envision something like this happening in our world?

Young Women for Sale

Chaya had no idea what was in store for her when her mother ordered that she undergo ministrations that quickly became a "make-over." While being bathed and perfumed, with her hair put up, and a touch of makeup applied here and there, she remains in the dark. But then, after being told that what is happening is "none of your concern," she learns the truth: she will be sold. It is a hard truth that even in our world, this sometimes happens to young women--sometimes even with mere girls. Such stories burn in me. The fear, the unfairness, the threat of what disobedience would bring, is shocking. And to think that such treatment often comes from those responsible for the care of the young ones, is almost too much to bear. I am grateful to live in a society that does not tolerate this. Chiran differs, although it could be likened to other real-life places. It is those differences that helped to create Chaya's compelling story. Can you feel her shock? Her fear? Can you imagine finding yourself suddenly for sale?

New Year - New Information

Happy New Year! May you find all the information you require in 2019! You know, sometimes the most frightening things are so because we don't know what is happening or the purpose for it. Sometimes I want to close my eyes and mind to certain information, as though not knowing it will make it not so. Of course, that's ridiculous and so, eventually, I come around. Deep down, I know it's easier to face what's happening--no matter what it is--than it is to wonder and worry about the unknown. Here, Chaya is in the state of "not knowing," and even when she asks for information, it's refused her. Perhaps that adds to her fear. After all, if I thought someone wasn't telling me something because they thought the information would be too difficult for me to process, that would only make things harder for me. How are you in times of crisis? Do you want the information up-front? Or are you more apt to try to hide from it?


Tanith's plan moves forward as she leaves her daughter, Chaya, in the hands of her assistants, including Sabra. Sabra always grabs my attention. As the story mentions, she seems to act as an "emotional appendage" to Tanith. I actually took this idea from what I've seen in the practice of law over the years. I've discovered that people often choose legal counsel that reflects their own personality. The most obvious example I ever experienced of this was with a negotiation I handled years ago for my client. Opposing counsel was difficult to reach, difficult to talk to, abusive, verbally insulting--and he was dishonest (yes, he outright lied) about our prior communications--which I was later able to substantiate with documentation. The funny thing was that his client kept communicating with mine during that period, and he also (a relatively famous personality who later moved on to politics) was difficult to talk to, abusive, verbally insulting, and dishonest about things that were proven to the contrary. (Years later, he fell from his political post with disgrace. I can't say I was sorry to see it happen.) I don't think it was any mistake that the other party chose such representation. In a similar manner, Tanith chose Sabra do to her dirty work. Have you every experienced something of this nature for yourself?

Ridding the World of Nasty Characters

Tanith was an oddly interesting character to write. While it is hard to imagine that someone could be so purely evil and self-possessed as to be willing to harm their own children for benefit, I know they exist. Tanith is one such women. Not only does she do the things she does for the economic benefit she will experience, but she seems to derive a sadistic sort of pleasure from Chaya's pain, bewilderment, and fear. I truly despise this woman. Writing about her makes me long for ways to rid this fantasy world of her. Sometimes that happens to me when I read a story, as well. Have you ever experienced that?

Daughters for Sale

Chaya grew up in a land that was terribly out of balance. Zarek, its leader, had spent decades encouraging people to keep and raise boys, as a consequence of which, many did not see to the needs of their daughters. Many died at young ages. Some years later, Chaya’s mother, Tanith, realized that she could benefit from the reduced number of women. She decided she'd start with her own daughter. And so, she raised her for the purpose of selling her to someone in the future. I actually believe that this could happen in our world. For example, in a society that allows for a limited number of children per family that also values male children over female, people might abort their unborn daughters so that they might try again for sons. Eventually, however, those sons will grow will into men--most of whom will at some future time, seek women to share their lives. It should come as no surprise then, that there may be those willing to pay for what is difficult to come by in other ways. This would reduce women to the position of chattel, property. Valuable property in some manner, perhaps, but property nonetheless. Do you think?


It is hard to imagine a parent like Chaya's mother, Tanith, and yet we read headlines on a regular basis that tell of incredible evil acted out against children at the hands of their own parents or other caregivers. Some survive their experiences, although they carry the weight of them every day. For Chaya, most of her mother's abuse was emotional in nature. (She left it to Chaya's future husband, Cark, to physically abuse her.) Tanith had little to do with Chaya as she grew up, looked upon her as a difficulty, and eventually expected Chaya to bring personal gain to her. It is difficult to imagine how one finds healing after a life like that, but Chaya seems to be on her way to doing so. She sees herself less as a victim, and more like a victor. Under such circumstances, could you?

Too Late

As is the case with many dictatorships in the course of history, the Chiranian leader has found an enemy for his people: Oosa. He does this to take attention and blame from himself. In doing so, he is able to control others. But Chaya has learned of another way through her relationship with her childhood nanny. As a consequence, Chaya knows that it is possible to live a different kind of life. It is possible to be in a world in which each person has value, is valued, and appreciates his/her value. That does not come from something a person does, nor from a group to which he or she belongs. It comes by virtue of the fact that the person exists--that he/she has the breath of life. Chaya longs to be one who is seen as a person of value. In that way, she is like most of us. Don't you think?

Daughters for Sale

Readers learn here that it is not quite the case that CHILDREN are sold in Chiran. Rather, it is DAUGHTERS who are sometimes sold. Such was the case for Chaya. Before she gets to telling of the particulars, however, she settles into a discussion with Marshall (who is here, going by the name "Mansur"). Chaya's life is one of deep seclusion, as her husband, Cark, keeps her locked away--and we know from prior reading, that he beats her. Lest anyone think she is easy prey, however, she shows another side here. In some ways, the fact that she would challenge Cark seems odd given how he treats her. Still, as she told Marshall earlier, she's already determined that her behavior doesn't change his treatment. Either way, he beats her. So perhaps she gets a bit of satisfaction when she suggests to him that she may get her revenge one day. For my part, I agree with Marshall. She is either incredibly brave, or shockingly foolish to do this. Which do you think it is?

A Child's Value

The land of Chiran is one in which things are out of kilter. Life is not valued, crime and cruelty run rampant, and faith is mostly non-existent. Here Chaya discloses that in Chiran, it is not uncommon for people to sell their children. While that idea is far-fetched, it is not as if we don't see the same thing happen in our own world from time to time. Everyday, in some deep and dark places around us, children are not valued--except insofar as they may bring something to those with power over them. This is where we get human trafficking from. And so in this way, Chiran parallels our world . . .

Bluebird Colored Eyes

Marshall always struck me as one of those people who seemed quite tightly wound. He put up with Lilith for years without complaint, then suffered the embarrassment of her release of him, knowing full well that as a result, others would think poorly of him. He's spent time with his two closest friends, both married men--Dixon and Jerrett, over the past two decades, but has remained single all the while. He is a man's man. He feels much, but says little. Thus, it came as a bit of a surprise to me that little Chaya moved him with such force. From his first glance her way, her bluebird-colored eyes caught his fancy. Have you ever met someone whose appearance startled you? Someone who you almost couldn't take your eyes off of, even though you knew you shouldn't stare? What do you think will be the consequence here? Where do you suppose Marshall and Chaya might be headed?

When There is Nothing Left to Lose

Sometimes people overplay their hands. Sometimes they go too far, say too much, exaggerate too greatly. It's like crying "wolf" or "the sky is falling" repeatedly. In some ways we are experiencing this in our society at large. People boldly espouse doomsday warnings, and yet . . . the world goes on. Of course, when people do this too often, they lose credibility. When their efforts amount to repeated threats (or warnings), those threats (or warnings) lose their power. Here we see Chaya, a character I quite enjoyed adding to the story, challenge her husband, Cark. Because he's always treated her with cruelty, she knows that nothing she says or does will change her situation. She no longer believes that behaving in a more positive manner will bring about better results. And so, she challenges him. Do you know people like this? Have you ever experienced this yourself? Do you see this play out on the bigger stage with the different sides (on any issue) warning of the days to come? Do you even pay attention any longer or have you shut out all sides? Please, do share!

Forbidden Topics

In Chiran, people are not free to talk openly. This is part of what makes it an evil empire. I believe in the free marketplace of ideas. I believe that from open discussion, truth will emerge, on issues of faith, politics, economics, and more. The person who shuts herself off from allowing a difference of opinion to be expressed in her presence--even one she finds destructive, objectionable, disagreeable, offensive, or abhorrent, is a ready-made puppet for evil. This is a person who is unable to find fault and error in ideas expressed by others or held by herself. Challenging ideas doesn't mean that "new" ways are always better. In fact, quite often, they are not. Indeed, some ideas have withstood the test of time because--even if unpopular--they are true. (The North Star is where it is even when the clouds cover it.) I worry about people who shut other out, who refuse to engage, who "unfriend" family and friends--due to a difference of opinion. Those people cheat themselves of the challenge of discovering truth, of learning the rules of engagement, of discovering whether what they believe is, in fact, true. The world is not a better place when everyone believes the same (currently popular) thing. If that were so, we'd still be living on a flat world. Do you agree?

Little Or No Sleep

A topic I find myself returning to from time to time is that of the various magic powers of the different Oathtakers. In truth, I'm a bit jealous of one particular power that Marshall and Dixon both have--the ability to get by on little or no sleep. Indeed, it is one magic power I might choose if I could. Just think of all the extra things you could do with one more, two more, five or six more hours a day! The idea leaves me almost breathless. I could read so much more. I could re-read more! I could study new topics and delve deeper into those that interest me. I could re-read the great philosophers, study battle strategies and tactics (a subject I've always found fascinating), examine the histories of peoples and places that I find of interest but haven't had the time to do. Oh, and I could write so much more, too. What do you think? What would you do with a few extra hours every day?

Magic Devices and Intent

In the Oathtaker tales, just as those who exercise good magic--magic for a good cause--can make and use magic devices, those who exercise bad magic--magic for evil purposes--can do the same. Notice it is not the device itself that is good or evil, but the purpose or intent behind the use of it. This is like saying a weapon isn't good or bad in itself, but that it may be used for good or bad purposes (although in truth, I cannot think of a possible good use for a channel). This can also apply to things in our world that we would not typically identify as weapons. For example, a car is a transportation tool that becomes a deadly weapon when intentionally driven into a crowd. A knife is a necessary kitchen or hunting device, but it can be used for murder. Or consider even the internet, which allows for the transfer of information, but that also has been used for evil, whether to spread falsehoods, or to victimize the weakest among us. In my mind, it does not follow that any of these things should be outlawed merely because someone could use them for evil. What do you think?

Foreign Influences

Readers of Volume One will recall Lilith's meeting a particular Chiranian soldier. She asked him his name. He responded, "Freeman." She grinned and said, "Not anymore you're not." I recall writing that scene, searching for a name for the character. Freeman was the first thing that came to mind, so without much thought--and knowing I could always change the name later--I went ahead and used it. But when in the very next line, Lilith said what she did, I knew that I had to keep the name. I struggled with it because I was aware that "Freeman" was not a particularly Chirianian-sounding. Still, the scene just wouldn't have been the same without it. So, I moved on, resolved to reassess the issue in the future. Then, later, I realized that it was not uncommon to have an exchange of people from neighboring realms. Here, I address that issue. I also had Marshall and Jerrett use names that sounded "local" while in Chiran. In part, this was to hide the true meaning of Jerrett's body art. While it had started with a theme that glorified death, when Jerrett came to know Ehyeh, his life changed. Consequently, he modified his body art. Now it signifies the conquering of death. Do you have body art? What does it signify?

Artistic Temptations

It's a temptation that is difficult to resist: the desire to make characters who are morally lacking, also appear physically unattractive. Of course, there are times in real life when physical attributes can tell us about character. Sometimes they tell of positive things. A person with clear and lovely skin is likely someone who takes care of herself. One with huge biceps probably works out a lot and--in that regard at least--is disciplined. In this scene though, we meet a man who is short, has unhealthy looking skin, broken veins on his nose, and dark puffy circles under his eyes. Translation: here is someone who takes little care of himself and who leads a life of . . . excess. Is it unreasonable then to conclude that he might care little for others? So maybe my inclination (at least from time to time) to mold an unsavory character into one who is also physically unattractive, is not wholly off the mark. Of course, this discussion begs a question: is beauty more apt to follow moral strength or is moral strength more likely to be found where there is beauty (or vice versa)? What do you think? I'd love to know your thoughts.

Ignorance as a Tool

In most of history, it has been the case that the masses (or significant portions of them) have been left intentionally ignorant because it is easier for those in power to control ill-informed and/or uneducated people. The empire of Chiran is fashioned after those old ways. Zarek and his ilk do not want the common person to have much information. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Joseph warns Jerrett here not to let the Chiranian guards know that he can read. Our real world has changed so that many people in many places can actually read these days. Do you think, however, that there are other ways to keep them ignorant--to control them? Do you suppose that controlling the type of information they have access to could be of benefit to those in power? Do you suppose that to allow information to be exposed--but only when it is bent in favor of those in control--that those in power are benefitted? Do you see anything of that sort happening in our world today? If so, who do you think is doing the controlling? Politicians? The media? Schools? Others?

Mere Mortals

This may seem odd, but here goes . . . I'm concerned for our youth, and that for too many, no one discusses with them, long-term consequences of their actions. Many are taught that their time here is short, that they are beholden to themselves only, and that nothing will come to them after death. They are taught that it is acceptable for someone to have chosen whether they would even make their debut into the world, and that once here, their presence has fouled the earth because they use too much of everything (paper, fuel, space, etc.) . . . Then they are taught that when they pass, there is nothing more. In short, they are "mortal," by which I mean perishable, terminal, irreconcilable--which is the case for the Chiranians here. So, I wonder, if this is taught, why wouldn't people act out in ways that harm themselves and others? There are no consequences, after all. By contrast, if people were valued from their very beginning, and if they were encouraged to give and do and be their best, do you think their behavior would change? If they believed they were more than mere mortals--that what they did had lasting effects--might they rise to being better people and doing better things? Maybe?

Heathens and Thugs

For most Oosians, information about Chiran and those who occupy that neighboring realm, is slight. Even Oathtakers like Ezra, Marshall, and Jerrett, know little of the place and its people. Joseph's story here begins to fill in some of the details about the soldiers under the control of Chiran's evil leader, Zarek. As heathens and thugs, these men have little regard for human life. Indeed, they are content to bring about pain and suffering. In a similar fashion, the world in which we live is inhabited by violent people. When watching or listening to news reports, one could conclude that there are more of them, than there are of good and kind people. But of course, that is not so. Sometimes I have to pull back from watching and listening to world events so as to be able to put things back in perspective. Do you ever experience that? How do you handle it?

Smiling in the Face of Difficulties

I admit I'm not very good at it--at smiling in the face of difficulties, that is. I know people who joke through adversity, but I'm not one of them. The closest I came was while in labor with my middle child. (I was blessed to have had eeeeeaaaassssy deliveries!) When she was minutes from making her debut--which was a couple of hours since we'd arrived at the hospital and less than six hours since my labor began--the doctor arrived. Having developed a terrific personal relationship with her, I greeted her even as she shone a light on the subject. "They're not showing a moving in there," I said. Also in the room was my husband, a long time family friend and my 9-year old son. (My friend was there to help with my son. I'd gone through a series of classes and things with him in advance so that he knew what to expect, but so that he could be there when his little sister arrived!) In any case, everyone laughed. Even so, aside from that incident, I've not generally been lighthearted during difficult times. Here, Joseph is--as is witnessed by his gratitude that his facial burns were healed so that he wouldn't disappoint the ladies in the future. How about you? How to you act in stressful times?


Whenever I write about one of the Oathtakers in the process of healing someone by virtue of that person's use of magic, I think of the power of faith. I've known people who have claimed miraculous healing--the kind that occurs with the laying on of hands. I've also known those who've experienced healing by virtue of modern medicine--and that is no less miraculous to me. For that matter, our system of modern medicine can even cure things with a pill. That too, seems like true magic! Still, the very idea of being able to put hands on someone to ascertain what is amiss and then to be able to resolve the problem is one of the kinds of powers I would like to possess. I have people in my life who I really wish I could heal. Do you? In fact, can you think of a time you wouldn't use the power to heal if you had it?

The Local Pub

I love visiting Ezra's place, The Clandest Inn, with its friendly pub that the locals--as well as travelers who carry news and information--frequent. Whenever a scene is placed in it, it seems there is some activity going on, such as "magicians" engaging in some slight-of-hand, ballad singers, or in this scene, a pantomimist. Someday I'd like to do a music contest at the inn. I've not yet worked out how that would fit into the greater story, but everyone loves a good musician and a good contest. Right? I think that would be so much more fun that what we see today where the average "local bar" comes complete with a number of large screen televisions used to provide entertainment to the patrons. For my part, I like the personal touch of the performers that readers will find in Oosa. What do you think?

Friends and Enemies - or are they Frenemies?

Oh, the power of spirits. Yes? When under the influence, people don't always behave as they otherwise might. As an outsider looking in, I've seen situations that felt quite similar to the scene presented here. Ezra wants no trouble in his tavern, while two visitors nearly come to fisticuffs. Funny, isn't it, how while those patrons are under the influence, they go from friends, to enemies, and back to friends again in just a matter of seconds? Fortunately, while I've seen tensions rise in a public place, I've never seen them get out of hand. I've always wondered when watching old movies, how things can go from calm to chaos the moment the first punch is thrown. Have you ever witnessed such a brawl? Been involved in one? For my part, if I truly believed one was about to break out, I'd probably vacate the premises--quickly. (I'm not adventurous enough to stick around, I guess.) How about you?


In my opinion, one thing an author should have a solid understanding of, is her limitations as to her understandings of those of the opposite sex. For me, I find that I don't often delve into the deep thoughts of men. The truth is that I find men to be quite different creatures from me. I don't purport to know how they think--with perhaps, a few exceptions. In my experience, they are moved by beauty and they appreciate when others recognize the beauty they are able to attract. Here, Jerrett and Marshall pay Ezra the high compliment of finding his wife lovely to behold--and Ezra repays Jerrett with a compliment about his wife (Velia) in return. Whenever I read this passage, I think about the physical beauty of some of my characters--and particularly of some of the Oathtakers. I don't want to give the impression that every Oathtaker is flawless, but I do mean to suggest that the life each lives comes through in his or her physical appearance and presence. There is a peace, and a deep understanding of life, that comes from an Oathtaker's commitment to Ehyeh and His ways. I'm sure you've experienced something of this nature yourself. Yes? That those who live disciplined lives seem to exude something greater? Do you agree, or no?

Old Friends

Ezra is actually one of my favorite characters. An innkeeper and spymaster, he knows how to move information--and how to maintain confidentiality when it matters. When Jerrett and Marshall visit him here, it seems like his life has gone on exactly the same as it has for the past number of years. Yet readers will soon discover the actual changes that have come his way. It's interesting when writing and skipping a period of time, how it can become necessary to fill in some of the gaps for readers. That happens because readers know that even though a particular personality hasn't been around or awhile, things didn't remain the exact same for that person in the intervening time. After all, the one constant--and perhaps the only one constant--we can always be certain of, is that things change. Do you agree?

Playing With Words

Every once in awhile during the writing process, something will trip off the end of my fingers in a way that leaves me . . . stunned. I wonder then if I'd known the issue all along subconsciously, or if the synapses in my brain just suddenly--in that moment--made a connection that worked for the purposes of my story. Whenever I run across the name of "The Clandest Inn," I find myself contemplating that issue. When I wrote this piece--in the moment of writing--it just . . . came out as the "right" name for an inn run by a spymaster. What do you think? Does it fit? What would you name such an establishment?

Thinking Poorly of Parents

Every time I read this portion of Select, I'm struck by what I see as Marshall's wisdom when he says (at the end of this excerpt): "Children may believe unsavory things about their own parents, but they never want to hear others speak negatively of them. A child's sense of self is closely aligned with his knowledge of what others think of his parents." I believe Marshall is right here, as I've seen this play in the past. Whenever I've witnessed a child hearing something less than positive about his or her parent, I've seen them respond in one of two ways. One is to "come to the rescue" of that parent--perhaps even disagreeing with something they've said themselves about their own parent in the past. The other is to remain silent. I've always felt that in those moments, that those children are internalizing the criticism--that they are wondering if it also applies to them. Indeed, I think children whose parents are well-liked think better of themselves than do children of parents who are not so well-liked. What do you think?

Looking the Other Way

Continuing along in this conversation between Marshall and Jerrett, I find myself thinking back. I truly cannot recollect a time when I thought I knew of a child in danger, and that I failed to take action on his or her behalf. It is interesting though, how easily it can be for people to blind themselves to truth because facing it can cost them so much--and in particular, in their relationships with others. I'm not sure that Marshall is insinuating here that Rowena had remained blind because she wanted to get along well with her sister, Lilith. I think he's more concerned that he might have looked the other way for too long. Perhaps that's why he still hears the echo of Broden's scream in his mind. What do you think? Was he right to wait until he felt the facts were confirmed? Or should he have stepped in sooner? How would you have handled things with Lilith?

Limitless Evil

When I read this excerpt, I think of the evil that Lilith exercised. She was responsible for the deaths of many--and the things that she did all seem to boil down to one basic principle: she had no regard for the lives of others. I wonder at times if she was amoral--that is, if she was simply unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something. Or perhaps she understood what was right and wrong, but simply didn't care. Over time, I've come to appreciate that for a person to behave as Lilith did, she must think very little of herself. This is true even though that person presents herself to all the world as though she cares only for herself. What do you think? What if, following the early signs that Marshall discusses here, someone had intervened. Might the future have been different? Have you ever found yourself in a position of wondering if you should intervene? How did you handle it?


I love attendant magic! Even as the author, I'm fascinated with the fact that different Oathtakers have different powers. Of course, this can add genuine difficulty in the storytelling . . . For example, if I need a person incapacitated for some period, due to an injury, I can't have that person in the company of an Oathtaker with the power to heal. That is unless, of course, there is some reason why the person with the power to heal is unable to exercise that power for the time being. Here, readers learn more about this power of Marshall's. It is one I had to fashion as something he did not exercise so much as one he "experienced" from time to time. I wonder, is this power to see possible future events one that you would want to have? Not me! Aside from the trouble I can anticipate coming of certain events, I really don't want to know the future. I'm afraid I'd spend my life grieving over things that haven' yet transpired, or wishing time away and failing to find the value it in--just so that I could get to a time of celebration. What do you think? Is it a power you'd like?

Duty Calls

Whenever I think about Marshall, I feel a deep sense of sadness. All he ever wanted to do was to serve Ehyeh and to protect the Select. But as Lilith was his charge, the road he set out upon was a very rocky one, indeed. Marshall's story makes me ponder the difficulty that some people face when they are bound to do one thing, yet feel a strong moral obligation to do another. For example, this has happened on occasion in history, with those in uniform. Imagine knowing you are responsible to follow orders, and then that you are faced with one that is so contrary to what is humane, that you find it impossible to follow. From the outside looking in, we can say that the person has the greater duty to do what is right, but we must never forget how difficult that could be. It's food for thought . . . something that perhaps we'd all do well to ponder on from time to time, as it may prepare us, gird us, to act correctly ourselves when the time comes.

To an Author's Surprise

Every time I read the end of this scene, I'm reminded of the surprise that it was to me when the words flew from my fingertips to the screen before me. Mara isn't generally one who moves me to laugh. She's more serious. Perhaps that's why she catches me so off-guard here. In this moment, when she tells Dixon that she'll hunt for their dinner because she's the better shot of the two, it seems she's coming to grips with her predicament--that she's buying into the fact that it might take some time for her situation to improve. At the same time, there seems to be a softening to her exterior. This is the first suggestion since she lost her memory, that she is interested in forging a friendship with Dixon. I like this playful side of her. What do you think?


Ultimately, an author's characters are entirely separate and "living" beings. They emerge from the ether, yet each comes complete with a past, a personality, and his very own world-perspective. Just as you get to know a "real" person, an author gets to know her characters, over time. By the time this scene played out, I was extremely comfortable with Mara and Dixon. I could follow their thoughts and conversations easily. Here, Mara is her typical cautious self. Likewise, Dixon follows his natural inclination to try to protect his loved one. Both must exercise patience with the other, as the true facts unfold. Have you ever, like Dixon here, found yourself in the position of having to keep things from someone close to you? Things you believed they would be better off not knowing? I experienced that when I raised my children. My goal was to prepare them to face the world and all its glory, yet I also needed to prepare them for some of the ugliness that would, in time, be thrown their way. When young, they were capable of understanding and coping with just so much. In some ways, what I did to protect my children and their innocence was similar to what Dixon does in this scene. How do you think you'd have handled this situation?


Using the concept of the loss of memory in this story gave me the opportunity to reflect on Mara and Dixon's initial meeting. In many ways, the encounter in this scene is similar--in particular on her part. Given that he is unknown to her--just as he was when the two first met--her natural inclination is not to trust. Consequently, it seems that no matter what he says, she finds a possible alternative meaning. Have you ever had someone in your life who consistently expected the worst from you and so, was continually at odds with you? I have. Sometimes it comes from a first impression. In those circumstances, it's quite difficult to say or do the right thing so that I can move beyond the barrier that the other person has put in place. Here, Dixon works around Mara's barrier by throwing her own words back at her--and it works! Have you ever done that? How did things turn out in your case?

Start at the Beginning

There are times in life when telling others things could cause problems. Sometimes, the less said the better. Other times, the failure to state something may itself be deemed a falsehood. Here Dixon, feeling compelled to follow Basha and Theresa's earlier warning, chooses not to give Mara too much detail. This seems somewhat difficult for him. Perhaps it's because Mara's base personality didn't change even while her memories fled her. That is, she's still focusing on problem solving by "starting at the beginning." I can identify with this aspect of her personality. I think I share this characteristic in common with her. When confronted with a problem, I typically want all the details before I address specific issues. (Maybe it's the lawyer in me. ?) Do you know anyone who has a particular way of approaching problems? Do you? How does your way compare to Mara's?

Time Travel?

Of course, this story does not include any time traveling, still I found Dixon's response to Mara's inquiry to be interesting. As she's trying to figure out their geographic whereabouts and asks where they are, he's thinking that what she really needs to know is how long she'd been unconscious. Thus, he asks her if she doesn't really want to know "when are we?" Have you ever awakened and wondered "when" you are? I admit that it happens to me almost daily. As I keep a rather odd schedule, I frequently awaken wondering what day of the week it is, as from there, I can figure out if I need to get up right away, hurry to prepare for work or some other commitment, or if I can sleep in. That state between sleep (or unconsciousness in the case of this story) and wakefulness can be confusing. Don't you agree? Do you ever ask yourself "when" are you?

Asking for and Accepting Help

I notice when reading this scene how difficult it is for Mara to ask for help, and then to accept any more of it than is absolutely necessary. I've come to appreciate over the years that while I look for opportunities to be of service to others, and while I may regularly offer assistance to others, one of the most difficult things for me to do is to ask for help for myself. I don't know if this is an issue of pride (as in "I've got this. I don't need help!"), or if I'm always certain that others are more in need than am I, or if I think that others are simply more worthy than am I. Even so, I've tried to teach myself over these past few years is that--especially when it comes to my own (now adult) children--I need to learn to ask them for help from time to time. It is good for them to be of service, rather than always to be on the accepting end of things. Also, it's good for them to see that it is "OK" to request assistance. Is this a generational thing, do you think? Do you find it hard to ask for and/or to accept help? What do you attribute that to?

The Paralysis of Worry

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, due to concern over someone or something, you found yourself paralyzed? There is a feeling of knowing that there may be things you ought attend to, but cannot find the energy to do, unique to such situations. What kinds of things send you in a spin, unable to focus on a task or to see it through? Do you shut down completely? Or are you one of those who, like Dixon here, can at least find the energy it takes to cover the most critical issues? I find myself more like Dixon in these situations, but the energy required for anything comes in fits and starts and mostly, I am unable to concentrate. I gather up enough strength to see to a task and then fall back and wait again until I must act again, at which time I will once more try to summon the necessary energy. How about you? How are you in an emergency?


My preparing this Bubble comes at an interesting time, as I just returned home yesterday with my husband who spent the last six days in an ICU unit at an area hospital. For reasons unknown, he experienced a medical emergency that the doctors are unable to identify the cause of--at least just yet. The first few days of this experience had him in a semi-aware state. He couldn't recall from minute to minute what had happened, although he remained generally aware of his surroundings. It is a frightening thing to watch someone try to put pieces together. Even now, I'm re-telling him details from a week ago that he's heard repeatedly over the days, but doesn't recall. And so it is that I don't have to imagine the fear Dixon is experiencing in this scene. I've just lived it. How about you? Have you ever had a similar experience? It tends to re-connect you with the things of most importance: family and loved ones. Don't you agree?

Dangers Ahead

With Mara having lost her memory of her status as an Oathtaker, and of all of the training and skills that entails, she nevertheless takes a shot at the mountain lion that pursues her and Dixon. To her surprise, she successfully brings the beast down. Interestingly, Dixon mentions that she is a "sure shot." This was one of the first things Mara ever told him about herself. Although initially something he didn't believe, he came to appreciate the truth of that fact. In some ways, this scene brings me back to the opening scene of Volume One, when Mara successfully took down an entire pack of grut--otherworldly beasts intent on destroying Rowena before she could birth the twins. Here, however, Mara is shocked to discover her talent. Perhaps as a consequence, within moments, she passes out. One can only wonder what her subconscious is doing with all the information . . . What do you think? Will she awaken with a fully restored memory?


When Mara and Dixon first met in Volume One, they were at odds, but eventually found their way through to understanding, friendship, and more. Here, with Mara having lost her memories of all those years, they are starting over. While she's been distant until now, he seems to be winning her over, a bit at a time. Her softening toward him feels very real to me. Have you ever had to reacquaint yourself with someone? Maybe it came after a time of estrangement due to distance, or disagreement. Learning how to trust again can be difficult when one's memories are intact, so I can only imagine what it is like for someone who has no recollection of having trusted in the past. What do you think? Is trust freely given? Or is it earned?

What Are Your Powers?

I recall when writing this scene that Mara asked Dixon what he'd told her before about his other powers, and then asked once again, "What other powers do you have?" I realized in the moment that the two questions were different--and I found it amusing that Dixon caught that fact. (Characters really do take on lives of their own.) As you see here, Dixon responds by asking Mara if she wants to know of his other powers, or she wants to know what he told her the last time she asked the question. I suppose in truth, this reveals a bit of my lawyer-training--something I found quite useful in the writing process overall. In this instance, I had to expose the fact that there were two quite separate questions before Dixon. Then, while I didn't want him to come across as non-responsive, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of an edge to his demeanor since, to Mara, he was little more than a stranger. Yet, I didn't want him "scary," either. What do you think? Did I succeed?


It was interesting when writing this scene to think about how two people would act--one wanting more information and the other cautious about disclosing pertinent details. Somehow the process of trying to keep things secret can make a person's behavior suspect. I know, for example, when someone is trying to keep something from me that I start to doubt everything they say. In this scene, Mara is finally asking questions, but Dixon is left unable to answer them. I wonder how this will play out? Will she start to doubt everything he says? Or will she take it all in stride? What do you think? How would you react?

So Near Yet So Far Away

We all know the feeling, I'm sure, of having someone who is close to us seem terribly far away for one reason or another. Sometimes life just hands us a multitude of tasks. Our "busy-ness" keeps us disconnected. Other times, we assume we understand what another is thinking or feeling. It is a dangerous trap to be in, but not an unfamiliar one. Here Dixon looks for any sign that Mara's memories have returned. I know how difficult it is when someone I care about doesn't remember a specific event that was meaningful to me. I can't imagine what it would be like to discover that they'd forgotten me altogether. To be close, yet so far away, would be deeply painful. Don't you agree?


It is interesting, when writing a series, how little things from one story will pop up unexpectedly in another part of the tale, down the line. I used to to think that all those occurences were planned--not the accidental stumbling upon the odd bit from time to time. But now I know that as I get to know my characters more all the time, and as their memories are my own, the strangest little things will enter the story from time to time. I think those bits add authenticity. Here, the twins are recalling a special blade of Mara's to which they must both have some feelings attached. Do you ever find yourself thrown back into past memories over the sight of some small object like this?

Come Back

It may seem a bit odd when, compared to our world, we discover two young women so wanting the company of those who've been like parents to them. Still, one must remember that Reigna and Eden have lived a very sheltered life, having rarely left the compound over the years. Now they prepare to set out to discover the world for themselves. It is a scary prospect to do something new and different--to take an action you know leaves you vulnerable because there is no longer a safety net in place for you. Have you ever done that? What is the scariest thing you did as a young adult that may, in the end, have changed the course of your life?


As the twins pack for their adventure, they review the items they've collected. Included with all the practical bits they'll need to live on the road for a time, are the weapons they'll require if they're to be appropriately armed. Here readers will quickly deduce that Reigna is the more "warlike" of the two, while Eden's preference is to avoid conflict. Even so, they both have a sense of humor, witnessed here when Reigna sarcastically comments about the unlikelihood of one's defending herself against a sword with a simple knife. I'm with Reigna on this one. How about you?

A Bit of Humor

This is the first scene in which readers start to get a solid glimpse into the personalities of Reigna and Eden. I was surprised to discover that they use humor as a coping mechanism. Frustrated with Lucy, they nevertheless are able to find a lighter side to her manipulative and controlling nature. Specifically, here we see Eden, like Mara who raised her, as she succumbs to sarcasm. What about you? Do you use humor in trying circumstances? Do you know others who do? Does it help? Or only exacerbate the problem?

We're Not Children

Some time ago, I prepared a Bubble for for Oathtaker, Volume One, that set out the text relating to when I first introduced Lucy Haven to readers. I mentioned how she can be difficult, but that I don't want people to dislike her. This scene sets a great example for Lucy's general behavior. All too often she fails to see things from the perspective of those around her. Yet, when all is said and done, as the last paragraph from this except shows, Lucy really does have everyone's best interests in mind. Would that she could soften her edges a bit. Yes? Do you know anyone like this? How do you handle these difficult personalities?

Regaining Favor

By way of background, in Volume One of The Oathtaker Series, readers learn that each member of the Select is born with a unique birthmark, designating his or her birth order. Each also exudes his own mesmerizing scent. (I fashioned the scents after some of my favorite fragrances!) When the child reaches the age when she might do things contrary to the Good One's intentions (that is, when she first exhibits "willful disobedience"), her birth sign and scent will disappear. They will not re-appear for that person until some time after she reaches the age of accountability (roughly 14 years old, or so), and does something that demonstrates her loyalty and commitment to the Good One's words and ways. Here, the twins discuss how they long to regain their signs and scents so that they may take their rightful places as the ranking member(s) of the Select. What do you think are the signs of disobedience in a child and when do you think they first appear? Also, what do you think about the age of accountability? Is 14 about right? Or . . . ?

Meet Broden

When I started writing the Oathtaker story, I didn't know that the character Broden was going to come along. But at one point, it just seemed to "fit." In Oathtaker--Volume One, readers learned that Broden's mother, was Lilith. Lilith was sister to Rowena, the twins' mother. It was Lilith who tried to kill Rowena and later, the twins, as infants. Readers also learned that the father of Lilith's child was Zarek, the evil leader of the neighboring realm, Chiran. Rowena took Lilith's child from her when he was an infant and sent him to Lucy, who then raised him at the compound. Here, finally, that child now grown, Broden, makes his debut. But why did Rowena take him in the first place? You'll have to read on to find out.

Discovering Mara's Secret

Reigna and Eden are in for the surprise of their young lives. Having believed their Oathtaker, Mara, merely needed a bit of respite, they now discover that in fact, she has lost her memory. She doesn't know who they are and she doesn't recall her duty to see to their safety. I suppose the closest I could compare this to would be if my parent suddenly forgot who I was. (I suspect the children of those who suffer from Alzheimer's would appreciate that feeling, but I have not experienced it.) I suppose, were that to happen, that I might want to get away myself. So I wonder . . . might the twins contemplate doing just that? You will have to read on to find out.

The "Middle"

When I first started writing, I had to get a firm hold of a few concepts. Without them, I was crippled and couldn't even begin. For starters, I had to acknowledge that no matter where I began, I would be in the "middle" of something. Events led up to the opening event, and events would follow. Next, I had to realize that there is "nothing new under the sun." In practice, this means that I may suggest/create a new color that no one has ever seen before, but I can't suggest/create that "color" exists if readers don't already identify with that phenomenon. You see, they have to be able to compare whatever I do, to something they already know and understand. Finally, I could have an idea at the outset, where my story would start and end, but in the meantime, there would be a fair amount of the "middle" to tell. With this scene, the true "middle" of this story is introduced, as the reader is provided the knowledge that going forward, they will be following a few lines of thought: the traveling of the various compound residents, and the prophecy that Fidel mentions and its significance. The key to the middle of every story is to keep things pertinent and moving toward its final resolution . . .

Family Dynamics at the Compound

Every family has its own quirky members, and the makeshift family of the Oathtakers and Select living at the compound is no different. Such an array of personalities! Of those in this scene, Jerrett is one of my favorites. A man of powerful strength, he is nevertheless one of the children's favorites. It has been fun to watch him evolve over time. Another interesting compound resident here is Adele. She ended up with Mara in Volume One of The Oathtaker Series quite by accident. At the compound, she became the favorite resident cook. It's always fun to include her in a scene since it usually means that I get to envision some interesting food selections! I like to see and smell and taste the food I read about. How about you?

Keeping Someone a Baby For Too Long

This post includes something I've said many times over the years, about a subject I've seen play out time and time again. That is, that sometimes parents, teachers, and others, treat young people as though they're unable to think for themselves, do for themselves, reason out the appropriate reaction to a situation, or otherwise. In truth, I believe that when little is expected of a young person, that the person will react exactly as expected. However, young people will rise to the challenge if allowed. In other words, if more is expected of them, they will deliver more in response. Hence, my saying: "The only thing worse than making a child grow up too fast, is to keep her a baby for too long." What do you think?

So Long As You Go With Me

Things are about to heat up, as Dixon prepares to take Mara away from the compound, in the hopes of keeping secret, the fact that she has lost her memory. Here he, Basha, and Therese, keep things covered up by interrupting others, when necessary. Imagine their concern when they hear Mara about to ask little Calandra who she is! Even so, they manage. Dixon, ever hopeful that something will suddenly bring Mara's past back to her, is heartbroken when she does not respond in her usual manner. For truly, without her memories, Dixon is mourning the loss of his beloved. How about you and your loved ones? Are there things you say and do with one another that you will most miss when they are gone?

Preparing to Travel

In light of Mara's insistence that she should return home, Dixon, Basha, and Therese, arrange for Dixon to take her away. Their main goal is to keep Mara's loss of memory from Lucy. Here Dixon makes plans with Jules to see to details at the compound while they are away, while he hopes--expects--to return soon. This portion of this scene lends some insight into Dixon's relationship with others at the compound. They've lived and worked together there for two decades, and they share concerns for one another and their families. Thus, Dixon cautions Jules to keep careful watch on the camp so as to protect the twins, while also continuing his search for his missing daughter. So . . . nothing could possibly go wrong. Right?

Practicing Deceit

Although Mara suffers from amnesia, some of her genuine personality still shines through. Thus, recognizing that he won't be able to stop her from heading "home," Dixon agrees to help her. Clearly, she seems reluctant to put her trust in him, but in the end, she agrees to the plan. Once she does, Dixon must come up with a story that the twins will accept. This is where practicing deceit can become so complicated. One must find a way to tell a falsehood that others will believe . . .

Keeping Secrets

"Oh, the tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive." (Canto VI, XVII) Here the set-up of the story continues, as Dixon determines that Mara's condition--her amnesia--must be kept secret from Lucy. He fears Lucy would arrange to have Mara removed from her position as Oathtaker to the twins. But what comes of this, you can only imagine. After all, they all live together at the compound, set apart from the outside world. How will Lucy react to their leaving the compound? And what will the twins do when she's suddenly taken from them? Ideas, anyone?

The Set-up

I admit it: the most fun scene to write for any story is the one that is the set-up for all that's to come. Here, readers discover just where this tale is headed. Mara, having fallen, suffered a concussion. Worried for her, her loved ones tended to her needs for days while she remained unresponsive. But no one expected what might occur upon her awakening . . . Where, oh where, do you suppose this is going?

Answers to Prayer

Following Mara's injury, Dixon seeks solace at sanctuary. When Therese tells him that Mara is finally awakening, he rushes to her side. Theirs is a love that was not meant to be--that was forbidden--or so it seemed. But a special magic exception allowed for their union. Indeed, they are uniquely "right" for one another. Other than Lucy, there are no other living Oathtakers, to their knowledge, who'd ever served a seventh-born of the Select. Thus, they are set apart in that they will both remain "forever youthful." So it is that Dixon's fear of losing his beloved, goes beyond the norm. Read on to find out more.

The Evildoing of Others

A principle often mentioned in my tales, is that one should not take on blame for the evildoing of others. There seems to be an epidemic these days, of those who act out badly or illegally, blaming others for their actions. When I was in law school, we studied the law of torts. One element for finding someone responsible for a tort, is "causation." Questions like these are commonly discussed: Was this result the cause of the action? Was it the proximate cause? Was there an intervening cause? A superseding intervening cause? But for this, might the event have occurred? And so on. For example, if you leave your car door unlocked and your keys inside, and someone steals the vehicle, runs away, and harms another, are you responsible? Should you have anticipated the criminal act of another? While for the most part, the law seems representative of society's overall expectations, there remains a deeper issue: should not the person who takes the evil action, be held responsible for it, notwithstanding such other factors? I ask these questions because in this excerpt, Basha reminds Dixon that he should not do so. What do you think?

The Stage is Set

With the second book in this series came the issue of how to introduce characters who were also part of Volume One. In the first book, I took pains to, whenever possible, introduce a single character at a time, giving readers the opportunity to get to know that person before springing another new personality on them. But with Volume Two, the idea is that most readers will also have read Volume One (or will, at a minimum, have read through the nine-page synopsis of Volume One included in Volume Two). Still, there are a number of people coming and going. Thus, I provided where it seemed necessary, a bit of the history of some people as they entered this scene. Here readers will also learn what has transpired in the past two decades. Where did Mara go with the twins after escaping with them? Where have they been all this time? To Lucy's compound, of course . . . But as Mara's injury shows, the place is not as safe as they've all believed. So now, read on to find out if they will be staying there . . .

Danger at the Compound

Times have changed for the Oathtakers since the end of Volume One, but some things have stayed the same: Mara's charges remain in danger. Here, she and Dixon, along with some of their friends--both long-time and new--seek to hold the interlopers off. As readers will learn (and one of the concepts I most enjoy), the Oathtakers who've sworn to protect the twins, are gifted with "continued youth." Thus, while gaining in wisdom and insight, they remain as physically strong and able as the day they first swore their oaths. (Would that we could live that way!) No one could expect what comes to pass . . . Follow me to read more and to get more of the backstory to Select!

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