Justice, Love, and being Thankful

blind-justiceI’ve been thinking a lot about justice while I’ve been writing: A Time to Kill (working title).  This is a story, a legal thriller, that deals with themes that are hard to tackle in real life. Even for those whose jobs require dealing with application of law to a particular set of circumstances.

Law, even the equal application of it, often has little to do with accomplishing a just result. Odd for a lawyer with twenty plus years of trying cases to admit, but there it is. It is a dichotomy a lawyer—an active one anyway—shouldn’t delve too deeply into.

But a novelist can.

Where law, the equal (or unequal) application of it, and a just result each diverge is visceral stuff. The kind of gut-wrenching stuff every good vigilante story, legal thriller, or under-dog super-hero story is woven from. Might means right is enough to get most people’s blood boiling and it’s all about the details from there. Details a novelist can turn and twist and revel in. Sometimes when there is little we can do as individual citizens, there is much we can accomplish by writing about injustice and making those who meet out injustice feel the blunt edge of our pens (or keyboard). It’s cathartic—hopefully for the reader as well when the bad-guys fall.

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In, Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, there are two entries for the word, ‘justice’. The second entry is a noun and refers to the title of judge, generally a title given to federal court and state supreme court judges. The first is a verb. The definition reads, “To do justice, to see justice done; to summon one to do justice.” Law, not moral theory. Consequently, no real definition here. It may be like Justice Potter Steward’s Supreme Court short concurrence in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) when he said he couldn’t define pornography, but, “I know it when I see it.”

I love that line. I think it can be said of love, self-sacrifice, honor, integrity and justice. I may not be able to define any of those things, but I know them when I see them. When a writer gets it right, the reader also experiences each of those things without the author ever having to define them.

Just one of the reasons I’m enthused about writing and I love to be enmeshed in great story-telling when I read a great novel—I get to add my own version of love, honor, duty, integrity and yes, what is a just and an unjust result to every word I write as well as every word I read.

I’ll have more about plot and less about themes next month. Suffice it to say the plot of A Time to Kill involves finding legal solutions to the very real issue of child victimization. When the law doesn’t have solution, those who can enact justice, will.

During this month of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the ability to write about these themes and conflicts. Especially love. Because without love of something or someone, a story just isn’t worth reading.05a4d20237c5652eb3dc7504a8c280c9

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone. May love, family, great food and at least one good story find you this Holiday. For those of you doing NaNo—you Rock!

Leigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Home Front

November 11 was Remembrance Day here is Canada. On this day, we pay tribute to all those in the armed forces who have sacrificed their lives to ensure the peace and freedom we enjoy today. The ceremonies of remembrance always touch me deeply. I am overwhelmed to think of the millions who lost their lives in World Wars I and II, and specifically the 105,000 Canadian soldiers who perished.

I can’t help but think of the families left behind; as a mom, I put myself in the place of the mothers who lost their sons. Imagine the agony of each of those women, going about her days in fear of a telegram arriving at her door with the dreaded news that her child will not be returning home.

Imagining this inspired me to begin myAt Home.indd latest novel, set in 1943 in a fictional Ontario city. The heroine, Grace, is a young widow whose only son has enlisted in the army. Grace spends her time taking care of everyone else, keeping herself busy and thinking little of her own needs. When she meets Max, a mortician with a captivating smile, she realizes there is room in her beleaguered heart for the exhilaration of falling in love. But when Grace discovers a painful secret from Max’s past, she can’t help trying to set things right, whether he wants her help or not.

I started this story last year and had to put it aside to work on my Christmas novella. The research required to get a handle on the time period has slowed me down as well. I have a cover, because a cover always inspires me to continue writing, but I’ve only drafted three chapters and made a general outline for the rest. I have no timeline for finishing it – I don’t want the pressure of a deadline to prevent me from getting it just right. This is a “book of my heart” sort of project that I work on whenever I have time. Hopefully it will be available by next Remembrance Day.

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The Author’s Promise

An author’s promise lets you know, as a reader, what you get when you get that author’s books. A guarantee that their book will be what you expect from them.

Mine is: A little sweet. A little sexy. A lot happily ever after. So, no matter if I’m writing contemporary romance, paranormal romance, or even my zompoc romance, you will get a story that is a little sweet, a little sexy, and a whole lot of a sappy, over-the-top happily ever after. I am a true romantic and that is what I put into each and every story I write.

Now, sometimes a story will skew a little more heat in the little sexy. Nothing over the top, just a little hotter. Or, like my stories in the boxed sets, a little more sweet. But always, that lot of happily ever after.

So many of my auto-buy authors make this promise and keep this promise. I can pick up a James Rollins and know I’m about to go on an amazing adventure. If I pick up an Allison Brennan, I’ll get a tense thriller with just the right amount of love and romance.

Do you have an auto-buy author? Have you ever been disappointed that an author didn’t keep their author’s promise?


Jill James, author of Baby Steps and Snowflakes in the Christmas Babies on Main Street boxed set.

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The price of patience

I’ve been waiting for the paeonies to bloom. I’ve wanted to grow my own for thirteen years. We were in Invercargill researching for our book How Local Government Works, and we visited a local Council initiative testing cold-climate crops, where the frustrated manager was fuming about the airline bumping from their cargo manifest a container of paeonies intended for New York.

Sucks for them, but lovely for me. I went home on the plane with a bunch of three dozen beautiful opening buds that coloured and scented my house for weeks afterwards.

So four years ago, we planted paeonies. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Year by year, they produced lovely leafy growth and not a single bud. Until this year, we have four of the nine plants smothered in pink and cream buds, and for weeks, we’ve been waiting for them to open. I took the photo above a few minutes ago. Our patience has finally been rewarded. Aren’t they glorious?

Patience is a virtue

Or so my mother used to assure me. ‘Patience is a virtue. Possess it if you can. Found seldom in a woman and never in a man.’ Hey, don’t blame me. That’s what my mother said.

I’m not good at it. I always want to get to the next bit. I read fast. I write fast. I think about the next thing and miss out on the now thing. I’ve been trying to train myself out of it, but after a lifetime of trying I’ve only been partially successful.

At the moment, I’m neglecting tidying up my website in favour of finishing my collection of Christmas novellas. I want it to be 15 December so it will go live! But I’m old enough and wise enough not to jump to then. I want it to be 15 December, with all my Christmas shopping and baking done, and the rest of the first draft of The Realm of Silence, my current work in progress, written.

Be careful what you ask for

I have, of course, prayed for patience. I did so as a teenager, and I’d like to warn you all now that God works through life. What little patience I have has come from raising six children, one disabled, while establishing and running a full-time business and suffering from a chronic and invisible fatiguing disease. I tell people, only half in jest, that I prayed for patience and God sent me Peter. Love him dearly. Wouldn’t be without him. But boy, has he increased my stores of patience.

They also serve who only stand and wait

The stories in the new box set all involve people who have to be patient. They’re all historical romances, and they’re all previously published: four novellas and two lunch-length reads from my story collection. All together in one 97,500 word volume for your holiday pleasure, at a discounted price over the individual books.

Candle’s Christmas Chair (A novella in The Golden Redepennings series)

Candle, the hero of the story, patiently courts the heroine using the language of flowers.

They are separated by social standing and malicious lies. How can he convince her to give their love another chance?

Gingerbread Bride (A novella in The Golden Redepenning series)

Mary’s patience runs out when her cousin tries to trap her in marriage, so she goes looking for another home.

Mary runs from an unwanted marriage and finds adventure, danger and her girlhood hero, coming once more to her rescue.

Magnus and the Christmas Angel (from Lost in the Tale)

Thirteen years waiting for Magnus to come home, and six months waiting for him to notice her is long enough. Callie is out of patience.

Scarred by years in captivity, Magnus has fought English Society to be accepted as the true Earl of Fenchurch. Now he faces the hardest battle of all: to win the love of his wife.

Lord Calne’s Christmas Ruby

In just over a year, Lalamani will be free. She just has to be patient, and meanwhile find somewhere to avoid fortune hunters and bullies.

Lalamani prefers her aunt’s quiet village to fashionable London, its vicious harpies, and its importunate fortune hunters. Philip wishes she wasn’t so rich, or he wasn’t so poor.

(Due for publication as a stand-alone novella on 20 November)

A Suitable Husband

Cedrica needs every ounce of patience she can find to cope with her cousin’s guests at the Christmas houseparty.

A chef from the slums, however talented, is no fit mate for the cousin of a duke, however distant. But Cedrica can dream. (first published in Holly and Hopeful Hearts, a Bluestocking Belles collection.)

All that Glisters (from Hand-Turned Tales)

Patience is all Rose has, as the unpaid servant of her unpleasant relatives.

Rose is unhappy in the household of her fanatical uncle. Thomas, a young merchant from Canada, offers a glimpse of another possible life. If she is brave enough to reach for it.

Find out more on my book page: http://judeknightauthor.com/books/if-mistletoe-could-tell-tales/

Excerpt from Lord Calne’s Christmas Ruby

Lalamani took Lord Carne a midday meal the next day, too. And the day after.

When she slipped up and called him ‘my lord’ in front of the workmen, he brushed it off with a laugh, but after they had left, asked her to call him Philip. “For if I have adopted Mrs Thorpe as my aunt, you must be my cousin,” he suggested.

“Or your sister?”

He froze, every muscle alert, his eyes suddenly intent. “Definitely not my sister.”

She couldn’t look away. The conversation of the departing workmen faded and the corner they had chosen as their own picnic spot dimmed. Philip was suddenly more real than all of it; the only solid thing in a ghostly world. She swayed towards him and he gripped her shoulders, his eyes fixed on her lips, his face moving towards her… Until he straightened and turned away.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Finchurch.” He kept his back to her, as if the ruin of his Hall was far more appealing than one slightly over-aged spinster.

He must have heard her sigh, because he spun round to face her. “You must know that, if circumstances were different…”

Was she supposed to believe she had swept him off his feet and he was only resisting with difficulty? What he took from her expression she didn’t know, but he suddenly swore, and reached again for her shoulders, crushed her to him, then cursed again and lifted her bodily onto the log they had been using for a seat.

Now her head was a little higher than his, so she had to curve her neck to reach his lips when he lifted his face. She had been kissed before, a few times. Some of the ambitious young men who thought to win her uncle’s favour had been almost convincing in their courtship. Besides, she was as susceptible as anyone to curiosity and the temptation of a private spot in a warm lush garden after a night of music and dancing. On the whole, the experiences had been unremarkable.

She could, were she not so distracted by his firm but gentle lips, catalogue the many differences between those disappointing kisses of long ago and this one, from the setting to the sensations. But he was running his tongue gently along her lips, and she opened, wondering what he intended, then forgetting everything. The oak, the chill wind, the possibility a workman might return early. Philip was all that existed in the world. Philip, and her body coming alive where he touched her, still only with his lips, and a hand lightly kneading each hip.

Until he groaned and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her from the log to mould her against him, his mouth hardening over hers, his tongue stroking even deeper over hers as she clasped him back and lifted her legs to curve them around his hips, heedless of anything except the urge to be closer still.

For one long endless moment, she was lost in sensation, and then he drew his head back, to drop a flurry of kisses along her jaw bone, so she tipped her head back to give him access, and blinked as a large rain drop fell in her eye.

It was followed by others, first a spattering, then a deluge, and Philip stumbled a couple of steps to set her down against the trunk, out of the rain.

His laugh was rueful, and his voice shook as he said, “They said in the inn last night that the rain would set in this afternoon.”

He still held her, and she leant against him, uncertain her legs would hold her up. “That was…” She didn’t have the words. “Philip,” she said, instead. A statement, because she was afraid to make it a question.

“Lalamani,” he breathed back, and rested his chin on her head, which had somehow lost its bonnet in the past fifteen minutes. One hand rested on her waist while the other stroked her back. “Lalamani,” he said again, then, just as quietly, murmuring into her hair. “I owe you an apology, but I am not sorry. To have missed that kiss would have been a crime. But I had no right.”

His obtuse male attitude steadied her, and her own voice was calm as she reminded him, “If any apology is required, it is for me to offer it. I started our kiss. And I am not sorry, either.”

He chuckled. “I am glad. But I still… Were circumstances different, I could court you in proper form and hope one day for the privilege of taking our kiss to its proper conclusion, but I have nothing to offer a wife, Lalamani. It could be five years before the canal pays enough to provide more than bachelor accommodations. Even were you not used to the best of everything, I could not…” He trailed off.

“I do not need someone to provide for me,” Lalamani reminded him. “I have more than enough money for me and anyone I truly loved.” That was as close to a declaration as she dared, but it did not have the desired effect.

“Ah, Lalamani.” He sighed, then kissed her again, a light touch on the forehead, and pulled away. “I cannot live off my wife. Can I?” He shook his head as if to clear it, then held out his undamaged hand. “Come. I should see you home to your aunt’s house.”

Ridiculous man. In their conversations, and in that kiss, she had glimpsed a hope for which she had thought herself too old. If he didn’t see it too, or if he would let his male pride stand in its way, then she was too proud to pursue it.

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2017’s NaNoWrimo Challenge

Is anyone else participating in the 2017’s NaNoWrimo Challenge. (Don’t know what NaNoWrimo is? It’s National Novel Writing Month. It’s a big deal.) It’s remarkable to me that I’ve written more than 20 books (this still boggles my mind even though I know more than anyone that it’s absolutely true) BUT I’ve never finished a NaNoWrimo challenge. This year will be different.

And I know this will sound funny, but somehow I imagine that if I complete this goal that all I’ll rock my other goals as well–I’ll lose 15 pounds by my birthday in January, my book business will take off in new and exciting ways, my backyard will magically become a place of peace and beauty…

So here are my goals:
NaNoWrimo: Write for four hours or 4k words a day (which ever comes first) five days a week until I’ve written 50k words…even though my real goal is a 70k word novel. I’ll post each day’s segment so you can follow along.

Health: Exercise an hour a day, six days a week and eat 4 300-400 calorie meals a day.

Backyard: Spend an hour a week (on Saturdays) gardening.

http://davidseah.com/node/nanowrimo-word-calendar/

You can follow along with my NaNoWrimo challenge here:  http://kristystories.blogspot.com/p/work-in-progress-share.html

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Ever Thought of Riding the Pony Express?

I sure did…probably obsessed on riding the Pony Express, too, when I was a little girl riding out in the hills around La Honda, California.

Maybe that’s why my first novel, A Long Trail Rolling, ended up being about the Pony Express…and a girl rider.

Many have asked why I wrote about this for my first novel. For those of you who don’t know my history, suffice it to say I grew up on Highway 84 in La Honda, California, where the Younger Brothers used to hang out after big heists, the Stage ran through, and the Peek-a Boo Inn (yes, it is what it sounds like…), the eleven bars and three churches and one store were the standard, back in the day.

I went away to university and finally finished veterinary school. I had to be a hoss-doc, didn’t I? I moved on to Placerville, of Gold Country fame, on the Pony Express Trail.  You might say I was rather steeped in the Old West.

Things led to things and I found myself in New Zealand, where I’ve lived for the past 22 years. I’ve now finished my third historical fiction (with romantic elements, of course) and my first contemporary vet girl story, Once Upon a Vet School #7: Lena Takes a Foal.

It’s actually included in our Christmas boxed set, Christmas Babies on Main Street! You’ll see it in the right sidebar, all dressed in midnight blue!

Back to History and the Pony Express!

I discovered some pretty cool things can happen when you’re researching a story. 

Thanks to Pony Express History –

The Pony Express Re-Ride runs every year, all the way from St. Jo, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. Patrick Hearty, past president of the National Pony Express Association (NPEA), wrote the Foreword of A Long Trail Rolling for me. He and his wife, Linda, hosted my son Elliot and I a few years ago, and again last year, when they invited me to ride in the re-ride and lent me their horses for the famed ride. It was awe-inspiring to ride over the same trail as all those young men, so many years ago. It is strange to realize that the portion I rode over is less populated than it was back in the day!

The  Pony Express Re-Ride continues!

This rider is putting the “mochila,” (the leather pad with the mail pockets, below) over his horse’s saddle. It’s transferred from horse to horse all the way from St. Joseph to Old Sacramento for the western run, and another one is transferred at the same time, in the reverse direction…all the way from Old Sac to St. Joseph for the eastward run.  Members of the NPEA and others may insert a commemorative letter at one end and have them delivered to the other.

Credit to Ryan Long, Deseret News

Patrick has put a commemorative letter in for me every year since we met and I cherish the growing stack of letters, knowing how many miles those letters have gone, carried by horse after horse in their locked “cantinas”, over 2000 miles of hot summer sweat and dust, prairies, rivers, and the Sierra Nevada Ranges.

Map of the Pony Express Route

http://dinosaurcowboys.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/pony-express-map.jpgThanks to Union Pacific and http://bit.ly/11K21Oh

To join the NPEA or follow the mochilas on their yearly trip, you can visit the XPHome Site

Thanks to Tom Crews!

This is Patee House, the eastward terminus of the  Pony Express, or “Pony”, as it was called.

https://i1.wp.com/www.legendsofamerica.com/photos-missouri/StJoePateeHotel-600.jpg

Thanks to Kathy Weiser, owner/editor, Legends of America

 

Pony_Express_Map

Patrick Hearty and Dr. Joseph Hatch of Utah speaking on the Pony Express

 

Patrick Hearty The Pony Express Stations in Utah

Patrick Hearty The Pony Express Stations in Utah

Photo above: Patrick and Joseph’s book. Photo to right: Joseph L. Hatch, left, and Patrick Hearty talk about the history of the Pony Express. (Thanks to Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Traveler’s Rest Pony Express Station, Near Salt Lake City, Utah

Travellers rest station

Here is the Traveler’s Rest (or Absalom Smith) Station, with the front torn down, but the pic shows the first part built.  Thanks to the University of Utah

 

Simpson’s Springs (Somewhere out in the Utah Salt Desert!).

Simpson's Springs Station

Painting of Simpson’s Springs Station

Lookout Pass, Where my Heroine, Aleksandra, Finds a “Bit of Strife”

Lookout Pass - Pony Express Trail Thanks to Roger Douglass 

It’s in Lookout Pass that Aleksandra, my heroine, is ambushed by Paiute Indians and… (but that would be telling!)…. you’ll just have to read the book!

INDIAN ARROWE AND ECHO STATION PE STATION KEEPERS

“Mose Wright described the Indian arrow-poison. The rattlesnake – the copperhead and the moccasin he ignored – is caught with a forked stick planted over its neck, and is allowed to fix its fangs in an antelope’s liver. The meat, which turns green, is carried upon a skewer when wanted for use: the flint head of an arrow, made purposely to break in the wound, is thrust into the poison, and when withdrawn is covered with a thin coat of glue. Ammonia is considered a cure for it and the Indians treat snake bites with the actual cautery. . .”

Yep, it gets messy, but then, it often did.

The “Pony”, as the Pony Express was called, only actually ran for 18 months or so, a bit less because Indian attacks caused it to shut down for about a month and a half…  (Why, you say? Well, when all the stations for over 50 miles are burned down, stock stolen and station tenders killed, it’s pretty hard to maintain a route!)

Thanks to  David David Gallery / SuperStock

The opening of  the new trans-continental telegraph line sounded the death knell of the “Pony”, but it had served its purpose in keeping California in the Union, preventing its secession to the South! This is actually the main storyline of Book 2 in the series, The Hills of Gold Unchanging. 

Thanks to Trips into History 

That’s my bit of history for today, I hope you enjoyed hearing about the “Pony”.

Back to Today!

As you probably know, The Authors of Main Street have just put out our Christmas Boxes Set!

If you haven’t  read it yet, go for it, there are nine heartwarming stories from your favorite, and new favorite, we hope, authors, all for only 99c!

If you love the stories, we’d sure appreciate your reviews on Amazon!

Take good care.

XX from NZ,

Lizzi and the rest at Authors of Main Street

 

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October’s furious pace – and the welcoming of the Dark Half of the year

I usually blog the third Wednesday of the month. I realized I’d missed my blog day as I sat drinking a coffee in bed, the Saturday after, with my daughter in Toronto.

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I’d left for Toronto on Wednesday – usual blog day – traveled from Wisconsin through Chicago, into Indiana (briefly) to Benton Harbor, Michigan where I stayed for the night, making Toronto Thursday afternoon.

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Long story short – I’m writing my blog today.

On the “UP” side, I’ve got lots to blog about.

Toronto, Stratford, Hamilton – this area of Ontario is lovely. I got to see it and be with our girl who is now in her third year of naturopathic medical school and won’t be coming home for any extended stay after this year.

Magical. All of it..

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We saw “Guys and Dolls” at the Stratford Festival = FANTASTIC. We wandered through the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. We played card games and drank beer with our girl. All good. All over too fast.

On the way home, I couldn’t type so I researched. I’m writing a legal thriller at the moment, which I started right before I delved into my novella – CHRISTMAS IN JULY – for the Authors of Main Street Box Set. I wrote CHRISTMAS IN JULY quickly and enjoyed the process. I think it’s my best novella yet.

Christmas in July-1

Fast forward to: A TIME TO KILL (working title). I’m writing this one fast & furiously as well. I’m liking this process, so I’m quite literally running with it. A TIME TO KILL is more thriller than romantic suspense – but I can’t seem to keep the romance out of it. Not that I’m trying too hard. Every great story I’ve ever read has love in it somewhere – every truly wonderful one has romance. Since I love it – I guess I’m destined to weave it in.

October has indeed been furiously paced for me, but that’s as it should be. October holds its own magic and none of it is subtle or reserved.

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Tomorrow is my birthday – a day where I am thankful to be on this glorious planet surrounded by people I love and the opportunity to make the coming year better than the last.

The day after tomorrow is my dad’s birthday. It is also the Celtic New Year.

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Halloween for the Celts is the day when the veil between this world and the OTHERWORLD is the thinnest. The day we honor those who came before – the day they walk among us once again.

This is the day the dark overtakes the light and we in the Northern Hemisphere enter our dark half of the year.

This is the time of the storytellers.

This is the time where magic is real and hopefully it will flow onto the page.

I LOVE OCTOBER!

Time to celebrate life – seeing our daughter. Time to celebrate those who came before – Happy birthday – I’ll be setting a place at dinner while we tell funny, i.e. embarrassing, stories about you, dad.

the-storyteller

Time to tell stories – get busy and write – write – write. Time to read great stories. For those of you so inclined, please buy our Christmas Box Set. Here’s a helpful buy link. It’s also a time to be thankful to be alive.

Happy Celtic New Year!

May Inspiration, Enthusiasm, and Magic find you and Bless you as we move into the storytelling half of the year.

Leigh

 

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