Friday, October 09, 2015

What's in a name?

As Shakespeare's Juliet says: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

She was referring to the fact that she loved the man called Montague and not the Montague name. To her, the name wasn't important. But, to a writer, names are everything. Could you imagine "Romeo and Juliet" being as endearing if their names were "Betty and Fred"? Now, these are perfectly good names, but they're not the "right" names for the characters.

I labor long and hard over the names of my characters and settings in my stories, researching and looking for just the right name to fit who the character is. Thus Nic (Nicodemus) in my "The Emerald Key" book worked for him. In its various aspects, it means "victory of the people" and he and his friends do win their struggle. So it fit. And it fit his reincarnation. His is an old soul that comes back, fighting the same war, but this time winning. So victory for the people. There were other reasons I picked Nicodemus for this character as well, but basically, it just fit who he was. I strive for that connection with all my character's names. But sometimes it is a struggle.

For instance, the other day, I was having trouble coming up with just the right name for a new character. He's a detective, half-owner of a fancy club, of Italian descent... and nothing seemed right. So I went to my d-i-l. Nean is brilliant at coming up with exactly the right name for my characters. You give her the background and, boom, there it is. And she's almost always right. So thanks to her, I now have my character.

One thing I have found for me is that I can't write the story unless I have the names right. The names help define my characters and without that, there is no story. So it's important to me to always have the names up front. And yes, sometimes they do get changed, but not very often. Once I have my name down, it usually sticks.

So what's in a name? For me, almost the entire story.


Monday, August 31, 2015

When I grow up...

Have you ever been asked the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I'm sure most people have been asked that, or a similar one, at one time or another. So imagine my surprise when, at my...advanced...age, a friend asked me that the other day.

Actually, the question came up during a discussion about what books we were going to write next. She is a cozy mystery writer (hello, Misty Simon!) and is waiting to hear from an agent and publishers about her work. But what should she be writing while she waits? Her next mystery? Or the contemporary sweet romance she's working on? Or the paranormal romance? What to do.

I'm having the same issue. I have several stories underway. I love my futuristic stories, but they're not doing well sales-wise. I enjoy writing shapeshifter stories - and those do well - but I don't currently have any finished. Not enough to submit them. And I have an idea for a non-fiction that really wants writing... What to do.

This is the conundrum many authors face at one time or another. What is the next story to write? Though Misty and I didn't come to any concrete decisions on what we want to do, we do know that we have to do something. As Misty said, "You can't surf the waves if you never leave the beach." The only way to get something done is to get to it.

So I'll go through the stories I have in progress and figure out the next one to come. Who knows... it may surprise me and be something totally different. I can't wait to see.

Have a good one, folks!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


In my real day life, I am an editor. Yes, I'm one of those evil people who tell you where to put your commas and that you used the wrong "there" for the fifth time. I love my job. I really do. I get to sit at home and read a lot of novels before they're published. They often need a lot of work, but still, the basis of a good story is there and I get to read it first (or second/third/fourth/etc. since I'm not the one who picks what will be published).

I recently was given the job to do what is called a continuity edit. I'd never done one of these before. Often in a story, I note continuity issues, but I've never done an entire continuity series before. Basically, the author had a four book series that had already been edited for all the plot and technical work. So what was left for me?

I went through each of four novels in a series, starting with the first one. And I looked for details. Names of characters - no matter how minor, color of hair, color of eyes, size, what kind of car they drove, where they lived and what their home was like, how they related to all the other characters and more. I put all this into a spreadsheet noting what book(s) the character appeared in. By the time I finished the last book, I had an impressive spreadsheet - and found several problems. Like the name of a main character's mother was different in book one than it was in book four. Or the car he drove changed from a sedan to a truck to a motorcycle through the stories. Or there were two characters with the same name. And other issues.

This is what continuity is about. If you are writing a series, you need to make sure the "things" in your stories are consistent throughout the series. It's also important within a single story. If your character starts out with blue eyes at the beginning, s/he should have blue eyes at the end unless there's a very good - and believable - reason why not.

To do this, you can make your own spreadsheet. It can be on the computer, or on paper. Set it up however it works for you. For me, I set the left column as the character's name followed by the book(s) s/he appears in, nickname, eye color, hair color, physical build, type of home, type of car, relation to other character(s) (such as co-worker, friend, etc.), job, hobby, other.

It only takes a moment to fill this out as you're writing. A little longer if you're doing it after the story is written, but it can show you a ton of things. Not only consistency, but have you really described your character? Did you give us the color of his eyes? Or that she drives an old sedan passed down from her grandmother? That he hates eggs? And she is allergic to shrimp? All these things can enhance your story, making the characters stronger.

So look at your consistency. Is it time to build a spreadsheet?


Monday, August 10, 2015

A Shout Out: Natalie Damschroder

I'm giving a shout out today to a good friend and crit partner, Natalie Damschroder. There's a reason for this - mainly a story of hers I just did a critique on. I've always known Natalie was a good writer, but this story just blew me away. The funny thing is, it's for a free anthology I and several of my writer friends are doing. We aren't done with it yet - keep looking here for details - but three of us have finished and are critiquing one another's work. And like I said, Natalie blew me away. Not only was it really clean copy (a relief to this editor's tired eyes), but the story itself just drew me in and didn't let go of me until the very end. And even then... I wanted it to go on. So...

Do yourself a favor. Go to Natalie's website and look at some of her work. You won't be sorry. :)

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Guest author - TL Schaefer / Keira Ramsay

Bio: As TL Schaefer I write contemporary romantic mysteries with a witchy theme and paranormals. I just love taking something as straightforward as a mystery or romantic suspense and adding the woo-woo world in.

As Keira Ramsay, I write the hot stuff J.

Why in the world did I do this whole split personality thing? Because I NEVER want to confuse my readers with the content they'll be getting. Yeah, my hot stuff is seriously plot-based, but it's going to be much more explicit than my TL Schaefer work. Conversely, if you want a mystery or fast-paced romantic suspense that has *some* sex, but not until the relationship has fully developed, then TL Schaefer is probably more your style.

 1. What made you decide to become a writer?  I had a story that just wouldn’t get out of my head.  I actually wrote my first book when I was 15, and it’s now buried in a place no one will ever find J

2. What advice would you give an aspiring author? Write every day.  I find myself disregarding my own advice sometimes as life overwhelms, and have to smack myself in the noggin.

3. How long have you been writing professionally?  15 years, though it’s been off and on.

4. What is your process from “new idea” to “The end!”?  I’m a pantser, so I just kind of spew my ideas out of my fingertips and onto the page.  I have started plotting a smidge as I get about halfway through the book though.  It takes me that long to get to know my characters and what motivates them.  By the time I hit ¾ of the way through, I’ll do a re-read to make sure I’m not missing something when it comes to character development and the plot arc.  Because I’m in and out of the body of the story so much as I write, by the time I’m done, it’s usually ready to go to my critique partner and then my beta readers. That strategy doesn’t fall in line with the “just write the book” premise, but it’s served me well through 5 full-length books as TL Schaefer and 7 novellas as Keira Ramsay.

5. What do you do for fun when you are not writing? Gardening, reading and fixing up our 100+ year old Colonial.  Yes, I AM that much of a geek J On the tube I’m a not-so-secret Superanatural fan girl, and will watch Bones and Firefly whenever I’m not sighing over the Winchesters.  Netflix is a bad, bad thing J

6. Do you write full-time or part-time? I write part time—my day job is as a contingency planner for the DoD, so it’s nice to come home and turn to truly creative pursuits J

7. Please list website or blog site if you have them.

8.  So, what is your new book about?   Shoot to Thrill is the 2nd book in the CASI series (the first is Behind Blue Eyes) and centers on FBI Special Agent Arin Thomas, and her discovery of a world she didn’t believe existed.

The Colorado Academy for Superior Intellect (CASI) …only the best and the brightest may attend…and only if they possess a Talent the Meece Foundation deems of value. Founded in the late sixties, the Academy is the brainchild of Hugh Meece, pharmaceutical groundbreaker…and CASI is its shining jewel. Their motto: Exploring the last frontier...the human mind.

Special Agent Arin Thomas always gets her man, but when she embarks on a personal mission to uncover the details behind her best friend’s death, she discovers a world she’s never even imagined. A world where extrasensory powers are exploited, and where her badge makes her a big, shiny target.

Dr. Jonah Summers would be more than happy to run the Colorado Academy for Superior Intellect (CASI) if only people would stop shooting at him. But that’s a pointless wish when someone with a bottomless bank account and a direct line to Russian special forces has CASI and everyone connected to it in the crosshairs.

Arin and Jonah find themselves dodging a merciless killer with a hidden agenda while trying to fight their own attraction. It’s only a matter of time before one of them has to Shoot to Thrill in order to kill—or be killed.

Here’s a taste:  I stepped out of my SUV and straightened the pencil skirt and trim jacket I’d donned in deference to my cover.  In six years with the Bureau, I’d never worn such a ridiculous costume.  My duties, even when I’d been a forensic accounting cube monkey, tended more toward slacks and flats or Rockports, not the pastel pink nightmare I sported nor the ridiculous strappy stilts masquerading as shoes I teetered on.  I looked like a freakin’ brunette Barbie Doll.  I’d even straightened my hair. 

It was humiliating.  Then again, this wasn’t an assignment.  It was personal.  This was for Wes. Something twisted inside me at the thought, actually made me rub a hand over my heart.  I was such a mess.  I blew out a breath and pushed my shoulders back, put some steel in my spine.  I could do this.  I would do this.

9.       Writing can be such an isolated enterprise. Yet, I’m sure there are people who have helped or guided or inspired you along the way to becoming a published author. Could you tell us about one of them and how they helped you? Without question my critique partner, Jennifer Mason.  We’ve been together for over a decade (OMG, I can’t believe I just typed that), through good times and bad, the lows of writer’s block and the highs of winning awards.  She always calls me out when I’m being lazy, and knows me well enough to push me to be a better writer with every book.



Monday, July 20, 2015

Guest Author: Annette Mardis

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Vicky. I’m thrilled to introduce everyone to the “stars” of Shore to Please, Book 3 in my Gulf Shore series, released June 22 by Liquid Silver Books. Tara Langley is an animal rights activist and Paul “Flipper” O’Riley is the head dolphin trainer at Gulf Shore Aquarium, the jewel of the tourist district in the west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore.

Flipper sets hearts aflutter when he dons a wet suit and interacts with his finned friends at the aquarium’s Dolphin Inlet habitat. But Tara isn’t happy that Flipper sets her pulse to pounding, too. After all, the group she cofounded, Stop Whale and Dolphin Suffering, SWADS for short, is against keeping dolphins in captivity.

 Flipper and Tara are a classic case of fire and gasoline. Why, then, are they both itching to strike a match?

I sat down with Flipper and Tara for separate interviews recently. I’m combining them here so you can compare their answers.

Q. I have to tell you, Flipper, that I’m puzzled you’re even considering spending private time with Tara. What could you two possibly have in common?
Flipper: Well, we both love dolphins, for starters. Yes, we disagree on a very controversial issue, and it’s obviously a huge stumbling block because of what I do for a living. But she has a right to express her opinion, as long as she continues to do it in a respectful way.
Tara: I’m not sure we have anything in common. Well, OK, I have no doubt he loves those dolphins and wants the best for them. But we differ so drastically on what that best thing is. I don’t see how we could possibly meet in the middle.

Q. Are you saying there’s no attraction there?
 Flipper: (Big sigh) Tara’s gorgeous, obviously, and I’d have asked her out already if I sold insurance for a living or she wasn’t the head of SWADS. My boss will kill me if he finds out I said this, but I can’t get the woman out of my head. She stirs something in me that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Not since...well, that’s in the past, and I’d rather not talk about it.
Tara: Against my better judgment, I do find Flipper very appealing, and I suppose that surfer-boy scruffiness could grow on me if I let it. I usually prefer a more buttoned-down look, but exteriors can be quite deceiving. My ex-boyfriend, Steven Christianson, is proof of that. I’ve come to realize there wasn’t much substance beneath his pretty packaging. Flipper’s quite charismatic and much more intelligent and hard-working than I first suspected.

Q. So there’s no chance you two could get together romantically?
Flipper: That would be like a vegetarian dating a butcher. Not. Gonna. Happen.
Tara: That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard. I’ve endured one failed romance already this year. Why would I set myself up for such heartache again?

Q. There are other organizations and individuals opposed to keeping dolphins
and whales in artificial pools. I know Gulf Shore Aquarium is no danger to such criticism. What’s the deal with the threatening letters the aquarium’s been getting?
Flipper: The anti-captivity contingent has had us in its sights for a while, especially since the controversy over SeaWorld and its killer whales. But lately some anonymous notes have been arriving in the mail, and the language has been increasingly nasty. And then I came home from work to find a message nailed to the door of my cottage. Taking issue with us keeping dolphins is one thing. But threatening bodily harm to me and other aquarium staff unless we release those animals... Some people are really sick, that’s all I can say about that. Detective Jo Tompkins of the Gulf Shore Police Department has been working very hard to track down the source of these threats. She hasn’t made any arrests, but I’m confident she’ll find the guilty party before someone gets hurt.
Tara: I cannot say it vehemently enough: There’s never any justification for violence. The police and the aquarium have been suspicious of me and SWADS, but I don’t tolerate threats and intimidation. I hope Flipper doesn’t think I’d ever endorse anything like that.    

Tara Langley thought she’d found the love of her life, but he betrayed her with another woman. So she buried herself in her mission: convincing Gulf Shore Aquarium that dolphins and whales belong in the wild, not in artificial pools.

If Tara had her way, Paul “Flipper” O’Riley would lose the job he loves. Flipper is the head dolphin trainer, and the aquarium’s dolphins are his babies. While he’s open to having a real family one day, the last person he would choose to be his wife and the mother of his children would be Tara.

These two should be sworn enemies, after all. He certainly swears at the sight of her. And his surfer-dude looks and lover-boy reputation aren’t exactly what Ms. Prim and Tidy had in mind when she pictured her ideal man.

But in the age-old way of opposites attracting, Tara and Flipper find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other. There’s no possible way a relationship between them could work, right?

As the two try to find common ground amid all the quicksand, Flipper and his coworkers become the targets of an increasingly more menacing campaign to force the aquarium to release the dolphins under its care. Will Gulf Shore Police Detective Joanna Tompkins catch the culprit before it’s too late?

Paul “Flipper” O’Riley backed away from the note as if he expected it to somehow lunge at his throat. The outrage, disgust, and, yes, he’d admit it, fear he felt at reading the vile threats composed on the single page of common white printer paper had his stomach roiling ominously.

The letters of each word had been cut from what looked like a glossy magazine and glued on like a ransom note from a classic crime drama. If the message hadn’t been so loathsome, Flipper might’ve laughed at how cartoonish it looked.

But the warning had been nailed to the front door of the cottage he rented across the street from the beach, and that in itself represented an alarming development. It meant, of course, that the animal rights crusaders who’d been hounding Flipper’s employer now knew where he lived.

With a hand he fought to keep from shaking, he drew his cell phone out of the case attached to his belt, scrolled through his contacts, and pressed a familiar number. It rang several times before the person on the other end answered with an impatient huff.

“Jo?” Flipper asked. “Is that you?”

“No, it’s the queen of England. What do you want?”

Joanna Tompkins’ characteristic grumpiness and brusque manner usually amused him, but Flipper wasn’t in the mood for her tough-chick act right now.

“I’ve got something here at my place that you need to see. Can you come over?”

“How many times do I have to tell you, Fish Brain? Even if you show me yours, I’m not going to show you mine. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” She gave a chuckle that he didn’t appreciate, given the circumstances.

“Hilarious, but I’m serious. Another of those nasty notes came, and this one’s even more personal than the others.”

Jo’s tone immediately changed into her no-nonsense cop voice. “It mentioned you specifically by name?”

“No, but it’s nailed to my front door.”

“At your cottage?” She sounded even more concerned now.


“Don’t touch it. I’ll be right over with a tech to dust for fingerprints.”

“I know the drill. I’m hanging up now and calling Kenshin.”

“See if he can meet me at your place. That’ll save me a trip to the aquarium.”


“And if you’re still on your doorstep, haul your happy ass inside right now and lock the door until I get there.”


“Did you call me for help or not?”

“All right, all right. You’re the boss.”

“And don’t you forget it.”

Wary now, Flipper looked around before doing as she ordered. Then he called his boss, Kenshin Hamasaki, supervisor of marine mammals at Gulf Shore Aquarium, and filled him in. Kenshin promised to drop what he was doing and be right over.

Flipper surveyed his cozy living room—with its bland, impersonal furnishings straight from the rental property decorators’ manual—and then moved to his front windows to fully close the mini blinds. He wasn’t too proud to acknowledge Jo’s admonition had freaked him out, and he was too antsy to sit. Not that he’d feel safe settling onto either the loveseat or his favorite recliner, both near windows. He yanked his hand through his hair, annoyed with himself for letting the situation unsettle him and pissed off at whoever was disrupting his life this way.

Who would’ve thought being a dolphin trainer carried such potential for danger?

Buy links
Liquid Silver Books:


Barnes and Noble:


 Connect with Annette

Website and blog:

Twitter: @AnnetteMardis48



Monday, July 06, 2015

Science Fiction Romance Writers week - Space Opera

I'm taking part in a summer café contest fun with Science Fiction Romance Writers. You can check them out here:

Since I am the starter this week, I'll give you a recipe for a great salad. It's spicy - like some of our romances - full of good stuff - like all of our romances - and everyone loves it - also like our romances!

Oh, and for the contest, whoever wins a copy of the first book in this series, "The Turn of the Card" - ebook only.

But first, about my new book, "Lovin' the Odds" available today from Liquid Silver Books. It's the second in a series called "Gambling on Love" - oh, and don't worry, it's also a stand alone so you don't *have* to read them all (but I'd love it if you did!). The hero and heroine are stranded on a desert planet with little food. I'm certain they'd give a lot for my chili bean salad (recipe below). In the meantime, they have to subsist on energy bars, snakes and what little water they can find.

Catch her, kill her, or kiss her? So many choices, so little time. But Carter Jamison has to decide one way or the other what to do about Sabrina Rutledge. Wounded, hunted, and stranded on a desert planet, they will need to put their distrust aside and work together to survive. Vicky Burkholder brings you Lovin’ the Odds Book 2 of her action-packed romance series, Gambling on Love.


Carter pulled out the chute and a pack of lightweight frames that he used to make a shelter. He returned to the shuttle, dislodged the rocks blocking the rear hatch, and popped it. Smoke poured from both hatches. The interior was a shambles. He used the fire suppressant to put out the few flames he saw. Fortunately, most of the fire had already burned out. He unhooked cushions from two of the seats and hauled them back to the shelter. He activated the release switch on both, opening them up into thin sleeping pads that he laid out. Once he had everything set up to his satisfaction, he carefully carried Sabrina in.

She weighed no more than a feather, and he felt her bones through her clothing. Dark circles not from bruising showed in the fair skin under her eyes. He wished she’d open her eyes so he could look once again into their golden depths, the color of fine whiskey. He’d fallen in love with her eyes. He shook his head to stop the thoughts bouncing around. He was a Fleet agent doing an undercover job. He had no time for a relationship. Nothing more than a quick liaison to quell any urges. And no matter what her social calendar looked like, Sabrina Rutledge was not a quick fling. She was the type of person you settled down with. Something that would never happen to him.

But his heart refused to listen. They’d had something special. At least he’d thought so. Then he’d seen her with others, though never any one man for more than a few times, earning her a reputation as a stuck-up diva—something he wasn’t sure she deserved. After all, she was just trying to protect herself. That’s what he told himself, often. She was everything he’d ever wanted in a woman. Everything except loyal.

He backed away from her. He shouldn’t have come after her. There was no way this would be any good. What did she have that was so important to Tyler Adams anyway? Was it just her? Or did she honestly have something? If it was in the shuttle, it was as good as destroyed. He grabbed her bag and quickly dug through it, but other than a change of clothing, a first-aid kit, and food and water for a day or two, he came up empty. Nothing. Unfortunately, sitting here in the middle of a desert full of Ki crystals, he wasn’t going to get any messages out to anyone to let them know.

Carter unpacked a thermal cell and started water heating. “First things first.”

Using cleansing cloths, he wiped her face, checking for additional injuries. Other than a few minor scrapes and bruises, there were no other problems beyond her leg and arm. He used his knife to cut away her pant leg, clenching his jaw as he felt the smoothness of her thigh. The gash was not pretty, but it looked like she’d tried to seal it. He cleansed the wound and used his own tube to finish what she’d started. The other serious injury was her arm, and he’d already taken care of that. He covered her with a thermal blanket and went out to make sure their shelter was secure.

The sun had set and the twin moons were high in the sky. He looked into the stars. His life was out there now, not here on Tairis. He’d lived here before going undercover, guest of his friend Kiernan, leader of one of the local villages and Carter’s safe-drop spot for messages to Fleet. He’d been second man at Kiernan’s wedding, and spirit-uncle to his daughter and son. He hoped Kiernan could find them, otherwise he wasn’t sure how he’d get Sabrina out of the desert. Himself, he could get out with no trouble, but her in her present condition? That was going to be a challenge.

He shivered as the breeze picked up. The desert could be bitterly cold at night and, if he remembered correctly, they were coming into the stormy season. That meant high winds and freezing temperatures at night. He weighted the edges of the makeshift tent down with rocks. Though there wasn’t much growth around, he managed to scrounge up some dry branches—enough for a small fire—and crystals. They would hold the heat, but he had to be careful not to touch them with his bare hands. Prolonged exposure to raw Ki crystals could wreak havoc with human physiology. The fire and crystals wouldn’t be much, but it was better than nothing. Holding his bounty in his covered arms, he returned to the tent.

Sabrina hadn’t moved, and that worried him. He knew basic field first aid, but what if she had internal injuries? He pulled out a portable medi-scanner, already pretty sure it wouldn’t work. After the third time it told him Sabrina was a neutered male, species Cerulean, he gave up and stowed it back in his pack. Not only was she very much a female, but she had two arms, not four, and her blood was red, not blue.

He made her as comfortable as he could, then pulled his sleeping pad next to hers, in case she needed him during the night. At least, that was what he told himself as he lay down, facing her.

Not so long ago, he’d been in the same position, but the circumstances had been significantly different. After going out a few times and enjoying each other’s company, she’d surprised him by going to bed with him. Unlike now, they’d been in his bed, in a comfortable apartment on the outer rim of the station. The sex had been incredible as they moved from the sofa to the bed, touching, kissing, teasing until both were too hot to breathe. He remembered the way she felt in his arms, the way her thick hair felt in his fingers, the way her eyes darkened with passion. They’d gone from casual dating to what he’d thought was a serious relationship. At least on his part it had been serious, as he’d fallen hard for her.

Then Tyler had sent him to another Fun Palace to quell a strike, which he’d done. When he’d returned two weeks later, Sabrina was gone. A few quiet inquiries let him know Tyler had sent her planetside to analyze the viability of setting up a permanent casino there. When she returned to the station a month later, she wouldn’t even talk to him. Then he heard she was dating one of Tyler’s accountants. He got the message loud and clear. He’d taken every off-station job Tyler would send him on. It gave him a chance to see more of Tyler’s operations, and it kept him away from her.

“So what happened?” he whispered as he reached out to smooth a stray hair from her face. “And what brought you to this?”

He closed his eyes to sleep, but all he could think about was her. Her scent tickled his nose, teasing his memories. She smelled like a summer day in his family’s garden, sunshine and flowers. He rolled over onto his back to stare at the darkness and to try to forget how much she’d hurt him.

During the night, Sabrina’s thrashing woke him. He tried to calm her and got a solid punch in the jaw for his efforts. Lost in the throes of a nightmare, she’d reinjure her arm and more if he didn’t calm her. In addition, she was burning up. He scrunched around and pulled her into a tight embrace, her back to him.

“Brina, baby, come on. Relax. It’s all right. I’m here.” As soon as he started talking, she calmed down, wilting in his arms. When he felt it was safe, he moved away to get the first-aid kit, then gave her a shot of antibiotics and an analgesic. Done with that, he sat back on his heels and stared at her. He knew what he should do to bring her fever down more, but damn, it was hard. And so was he.

“I hope you appreciate this.” He bent over her and maneuvered her out of her filthy jumpsuit. Underneath, she wore black lacy panties and bra, ones with dark red roses embroidered on them. She also had on a small pendant she always wore. He’d commented about it once, and she’d grasped it like a lifeline. He figured it was something special to her. It wasn’t even all that pretty, but she never took it off. “Double damn.”

He sponged her off with cleansing cloths, shivering in the cold night air, then laid her back down and covered her with a thermal blanket. Several times during the night, he alternated calming or cooling her. Finally, toward dawn, her fever broke, and she sank into a more normal sleep. Exhausted, he caught a few hours of rest as well.

The sun was midway to zenith when Carter woke again. He checked on Sabrina. She was still sleeping, but at least she showed no sign of the fever. He went outside to relieve himself and climbed a low hill to get his bearings. Nothing but rocky desert lay in all directions. Kiernan’s village lay to the west. He hoped Posi had been able to contact Kiernan, or it was going to be a long, difficult—if not impossible—hike out, if Sabrina could even make it. Somehow, he’d get them both out. Then he’d strangle her.

Now for the recipe:
Chili Bean Salad
3 (14 oz.) cans beans of your choice (I usually use black beans, pinto and garbanzo)
1 small can sliced black olives
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. corn (frozen or fresh)
2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon garlic powder (Note: NOT garlic salt)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar

Rinse beans well. Combine beans, corn, olives, onions, parsley in a large bowl (I actually put them in a plastic sealable bag or a bowl with a tight cover). Combine dressing ingredients, mix well and pour over salad. Chill several hours (overnight is even better).

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