Archive for the ‘Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls’ Category

Those of you who’ve been following EverWriting for a while may remember my blogs about growing and nurturing a pomegranate plant which I related to the process of writing Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls.

I’m back at it.

I actually had not eaten a pomegranate for years and years! When I was a girl, my first taste of this wonderful fruit (some believe to be the original ‘forbidden fruit’ of the Garden of Eden variety) gave me hives! As the ruby fruit was the only oddity in our daily composition at the time, pomegranate got the blame. I stayed away until I was well into adulthood.

My next encounter was after I had three children with no untoward results at all. Since I had already had good luck with growing apple trees from seeds germinated from the Braeburn variety and oaks from acorns my children had gathered at school, I threw some pomegranate seeds in potting soil and behold, I was the proud horticulturalist of a plant usually only grown in mediterranean climes.

This year, I bought and ate my first pomegranate after another long long dry spell and, though Iimage of pomegranate seedling have only a balcony and a few potted plants, I attempted to repeat my previous effort. As far as I know my first pomegranate is still growing in my daughter-in-law’s care but having one of my own again felt right. I have a number of lemon bushes from seed and a pomegranate was a natural step.

Of the twenty or so seeds I planted, three sprouted and one survived and the secondary leaves have sprouted.

In many ways, at least in my quirky mind, there are similarities between storycraft and horticulture/gardening. If we think of an idea for a story, we often think of it as a seed. We nurture the idea/seed with effort in the way of research in the process of germinating the story, as the seedling has germinated from its pod and thrown out roots below and first leaves above. Those first leaves and roots provide the nourishment to grow in the same way our stories grow from experience (roots) and imagine (leaves).

My previous experience with pomegranates coincided with the writing and successful publishing my multicultural, interracial novel Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls.

This tiny plant coincides with my first American history novel, Pavane for Miss Marcher, which examines the aftereffects of the American Civil War on those who fought, those left behind and process of healing the divisive wounds.



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A short reminder that tonight is the last opportunity to buy my ebook titles at the 65% discount rate offered through the month of March. The sale will end tonight at midnight, Eastern Time.

The sale includes:



Also, my publisher, Amazon is offering my debut novel, Wait a Lonely Lifetime at a discount.




And also included are the 6 installment stories that make up the Nights Before novel (available only in print). The stories as individual ebooks are at 100% discount (free!) onKobo, AllRomanceEbooks, and Smashwords.


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8d4ff-wllcoverMontlake Publishing (my publisher for my debut novel) will, on Amazon, be offering Wait a Lonely Lifetime at 1/3 the usual price (99¢) from Friday, March 4th through Monday, April 4th.

In the spirit of this Spring Sale from Montlake Publishing, I will be offering the same amazing deal for ALL my books currently listed on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords during the same time period, approximately 65%.  Books that are currently available for 99¢ will be FREE (except Barnes&Noble & Amazon) for the duration of the sale.

Beginning on March 4th, this March Madness Sale is the perfect opportunity to get ready for your Summer Reading Adventure!

My part of the sale will also include my historical novels set Wales! Details about those are on Lily Dewaruile: Welsh Medieval Romance.

All of my ebook titles will be on sale until April 4th:


‘Twas the Night Before New Year FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Valentine’s Day FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Mother’s Day FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Labor Day FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Veteran’s Day FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve FREE

Wait a Lonely Lifetime 99¢ (Only available on Amazon)
Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls $1.65 
This Can’t Be Love 99¢



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This was my second post for Classic and Cozy Books, March 25, 2014, posted shortly after I published Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, one of my favorite novels. If we don’t like our own work, why are we writing?

Have you ever found yourself writing, without premeditation, about someone from your distant past, even your childhood, whom you have not thought of during all the intervening years? There they are, just as you had last seen them, clear and vital, presiding over a part in your story that you wouldn’t have envisioned when you began the work.

Sometimes they are protagonist, or antagonist, but more often they are the deuteragonist or tritagonist who hold your fictional world together in the populated corners that give your story and main characters depth.

When I was a fifth grader, my mother decided that this tomboy was going to learn how to walk, sit and stand like a young lady. Every Saturday morning, I walked up to the mansion on Sutro Hill where Mrs. Evelyn King held her dance classes in her own studio, complete with barre, walls of full length mirrors, a stage and a sun room also with barre and a view across the city to the Bay.

I was not the only girl in my school class attending these lessons but I may have been the only one who got more than good posture out of the years of ballet, jazz and ethnic dances.

At least in terms of sparking a lifetime of creative inspiration and opportunity.

Not only did I learn to dance, I developed a love of music. For me, the two are inextricably linked. I rarely listen to music without also dancing—if not full-on, with my fingers and/or toes.

Yet, I knew from the first lesson dancing was not my future. Choreography was fun and performing was a thrill but to be a professional dancer required the one element I didn’t bring to the barre every Saturday morning. Passion.

That ingredient was reserved, even then, for writing, for story-telling, for making worlds with words. Being able to transform all the joys and heartbreaks of growing up into stories is a most wonderful thing.

So, Mrs. King, thank you for inspiring me to nourish this passion. Perhaps, if you were still with us you might recognize yourself in Sharon, the dance teacher in my novel, Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls. But, if not, know that I created her as a tribute to you and all the other teachers who have launched their students into the world of creativity.

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The following article appeared on Avalon Authors while I revised Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls.

October 23, 2011

wherein1A few years ago, one of the first comments I received on a manuscript I submitted to an agent was “I don’t know where this takes place.” I thought the descriptions were pretty clear. As far as I was concerned there is only one ‘City’ — San Francisco. The agent thought I was writing about London but she didn’t recognize my evocation.

Both cities are renown for fog and I had plenty of fog but mine was rolling over Twin Peaks. Hers was rolling up the Thames. I had trolley cars and BART. London has the Underground and double-decker buses. She wasn’t seeing any of the landmarks of her City.

I didn’t want to go down the route of actually naming the location – somehow that seemed a bit of a cheat, especially for this particular book. I wanted the physical and sensual details to do the job but they didn’t, at least not for this particular reader who had her own ideas about wharves, wet tram lines and exhaust fumes.

andronicosbSo, how do you evoke a sense of place? If you name the town or street, how do you ensure the person who reads those words has a real sense of where you want them to imagine themselves to be? Is a sense of location that important?

For some people, not being able to visualize a place is a serious barrier to their enjoyment. They feel disoriented and excluded, alienated – like being in a strange country without a map or knowing the language.  Or worse, reading a poem written to discombobulate.

If you are writing about a place unfamiliar to you but critical to your story, how do you evoke that sense of authenticity your reader will want?

Last year, I attended a conference in which one writer of historical fiction praised satellite-generated images. While roaming streets of towns and villages you’ve never visited can be a help, it’s of no use for time periods that pre-date the technology.  What may have been rural, uninhabited terrain in the 19thC is more than likely urban sprawl when that satellite passed by.

FiesoleRomanTheaterA sense of place is as much a character in fiction as protagonists and just as unique to the experience of the reader as the author’s voice. When I began to write Wait a Lonely Lifetime, there was no doubt in my mind that the main body of the novel had to be in Firenze (Florence), although I had only been there for three days several years before I even had a notion to write this story. I had taken no photographs, bought no postcards, collected no tourist guides. I had vague memories of restaurants, piazzas and two obscure details that I knew I had to include.

Audacity was my guiding principle. As news readers are taught: if you aren’t sure how to pronounce a name, give it your best shot with authority.

Is location as important in fiction as it is in real estate? When you read a novel, do you look for road signs?

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Here in California, we think of lilacs as cultivated garden shrubbery, container plants for decks, flowering in Spring. In Maine, lilacs grow in the wild, spreading into groves so large a four-year-old can build an imaginary dream house fit for fairies and elfin princes.

We start building our dreams as soon as we have the ability to articulate what our longings are and where they can take us. Although we may have no clear recollection of the first moment we heard a fairytale or an heroic journey or watched a film about baseball or rugby or corporate ownership, that spark ignited in our inarticulate brain.

That ignition gave us the words we needed to voice that dream so our subconscious could begin its lifelong work to make that dream or some part of it a reality.

Book Cover: Salsa Dancing with PterodactylsThe next steps are entirely in our own hands. How far we are willing to go depends on what other longings come along as we gain experience.

Emily, in my most recent novel, Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, has a childhood dream of performing on stage as a ballerina. As a grown woman, having a family supplants the earlier dream, though never replacing it. Emily sees her dream through, though not in the way she first envisioned.

We accumulate wants and needs, filtering as we mature, allowing for reality checks, allowing for the naysayers and the dream-crushers and the green-eyed pillagers and, worst of all, the indoctrinators.

Which of your childhood dreams have you fulfilled in some way? Which have you willingly let go? Which were stamped out of you? And which are you still working on?

As my SFSU department chairman, Thurston Womack, once said to me, “If you do it and it doesn’t work out, you can turn around. If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it the rest of your life.”

I have no regrets. You?


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My blog as a guest on Birth of a Novel.


Leigh V-R�My guest this week is Leigh Verrill-Rhys.  Leigh is a native of Paris Hill, Maine, but spent most of her childhood and early adult years in San Francisco before emigrating to Wales to marry and raise three sons. She has been a writer, editor and lecturer most of her life, intermingled with career portfolios in marketing, finance and community arts projects. An award-winning editor, she has published three volumes of women’s autobiographical writing about their lives in Wales and during World War II. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Welsh Academy and several RWA chapters. She is also the author of WAIT A LONELY LIFETIME & the six installment serial novel, NIGHTS BEFORE. Leigh admits to running with scissors and leaping before she looks.
Here’s what she has to say about her latest book, which probably has the most unusual title I’ve ever heard.

When I first published Salsa…

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SalsaNeweBook200The 2nd edition of Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls will be released today as a single book with revisions and a new cover. Below is one of my favorite scenes from the book.

Chapter 18

Miguel napped. The music was sensuous and evocative. Emily felt its power to inspire physical response but David was still reluctant to trust himself to follow it. Even making a slow turn was hard work and Emily, accustomed to dancing as she pleased, sensed that, for him, dancing was a prelude, not a pleasure in itself. She yielded to his interpretation of its primary purpose.

All of the pivot windows were open. A breeze that swept down from the cliff top, over the back garden to the river, carrying the early afternoon fog ahead of it, danced between the sheets of plate glass, riffling the edges of his files, flipping open the covers of magazines, turning the pages of Miguel’s storybooks. Though the music still provided ambient sound when they lay on the sofa together, it faded to a murmur as they explored one another.

Emily took deep breaths of the breeze caressing her skin as David opened the buttons of her blouse and slid his hand between her jeans and her bare skin, allowing him unlimited access to her mouth, exploring the unyielding contours of his body with tentative fingers. Gusts of wind rippled along his golden shoulders, lifting his shirt away from his body and gave her an enticing glimpse of the strength he had at his command. …

Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyl will be available as an ebook on the iBookstore, Amazon and other online retailers, as well as a paperback.

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Salsa250The following is a scene from Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls (on the iBookstore) and is one of my favorites:

Her boss gripped the steering wheel as hard as his jaw was clenched. “From now, Burdis, this moment, our professional relationship is that. Exactly that.”
“I never thought it was anything else,” she murmured.
“Really? What in hell do you think I’ve been telling you all these weeks?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“My mistake,” he said, opening his door. There was a lull in the rain. With one hand, he slammed the door and stood facing the bridge.
Emily took her appointment diary from her shoulder bag. On that Tuesday, in mid-August, the day before her thirty-fifth birthday, she wrote “Rain. Tx MT.” Pressing the pencil against her lip, she watched the metallic champagne car park in front of David Gitano and the wonderful Dane join him on the pavement. They spoke for a moment and Gitano came to her side of the car. Dane took her briefcase from backseat.
“He’ll get you to work by 8:30, Kitten,” David said, holding her by the elbows. “I’ll give you forty-five minutes. Be in my office by 9:15. You do not want to force me to come looking for you.” He lifted his eyes from her face, stared over her head. “I made a mistake last night. I apologize.” He peered into her eyes. “The people who are privileged to know anything about my private life are limited, Burdis. I trust you to keep it that way.”
She preferred Kitten. “I have no wish for anyone to know anything about last night, Mr. Gitano,” she said. He stared at her for so long that she blushed and had to look away.
“Don’t worry, Miss Burdis, I have no wish to tarnish my reputation either, so yours will be safe. Bold cuts no ice with you,” he murmured. “I have a lot of research ahead of me.”
“May I go?”
“If you intend to take me before a tribunal, I’d appreciate a heads up, Burdis. My office. 9:15. Clear?”
“Clear, Mr. Gitano.”
“Dane, take this lady – mi mujer bonita linda – to work. And be careful. More than one man’s future depends on her.”
For a fraction of a second, Emily believed he wanted to kiss her again. Her instincts made her resistant and he loosened his grip on her arms. Turning toward Dane, she smiled. His instant grin gave her courage and she said, “I’ll see you at 9:15, David.” On her boss’s face, the impact of the simplest liberty she had taken was plain. When she slid into the front seat, she gave him one of her rare, warm smiles as she was driven away. Without looking back, she sensed David watched the chauffeur-driven car until it disappeared. David….

Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls is also available at Barnes and Noble and AllRomanceEbooks.

Some of my writing colleagues are also sharing their work on Snippet Sunday.

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Sunday Snippet and another opportunity to taste a bit of Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls. This week, I’m sharing a selection from Part II. This scene takes place when Emily and David are attending their first appointment for fertility treatments.

SalsaP2“Just a quick pregnancy test, Emily. Shouldn’t take long.” Dr. Nathan Daley smiled at his new patient and her husband. “Sandra’s told me a lot about you two.” He extended his hand to David. “You know what to do with this,” he said, holding out a cup to Emily.

“She’s not pregnant,” David said.

“No offense, David, Sandra told me you were using the oldest contraception in the book, but we’re all human.”

Emily laughed for the first time in weeks. She giggled.

“I think,” David said, gazing at her, “that means Emily is pretty certain I’m not human.”

Nathan Daley frowned a moment, glanced through their notes. “Sandra gave me the impression that you were prepared for this process.”

“We are. It’s a private joke,” David said. “Nothing to worry about. Everything is great.”

“While you’re doing that, Emily, we’ll check David’s sperm count again, do a few tests. Then we’ll see you back in my office. David, come with me.”

“You’ll get sick to death of these tests,” the nurse said. “Every month for months. Some of my ladies cry every time. Breaks your heart.” The nurse flicked her wrist and peered at the strip of paper. The pregnancy testing kit proved David right but it didn’t prove that he wasn’t human, only what he had claimed in Carling’s office before Christmas. He did celibacy – at least where Emily was concerned – better than most. “Dr. Daley will explain everything to you in a few minutes. Let’s get you a cup of really good coffee, a luscious doughnut and see what your husband’s got to say for himself.”

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