Our First Drive – Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerI’m teaching my son to drive. He’s a good driver thus far – much better than many of the licensed drivers on the road already. After he got his learner’s permit, I took him for his first official drive. There is a back country road not far from our house, so we headed to Volco Road and went west.

From there, we took Beacon Light Road, heading south, before turning east again on Ariel Road. We turned around, went back to Beacon Light and made a left, heading down to West Halifax Road further to the south. We went across US-1, looped around on River Drive and Canal Avenue (where he neatly avoided getting T-boned by someone backing out of their driveway without looking) and went back to US-1. We stopped at the flea market parking lot and switched places. I drove back to West Halifax and he took over once more.

A pickup behind us apparently thought we were going too slowly, so it passed us going 60 mph, in a 45 mph zone, and we missed our turn. We started noticing the scenery saying to ourselves, “This is really cool. I don’t remember seeing this before.” We hadn’t – we were now on a different stretch of road that eventually became the Osteen Maytown Road. When we passed under the Interstate, we knew we were “not in Kansas anymore”. Since it would be just as long to go back as it was to press onward, I told him to keep going.

We ended up in Osteen, a little over 30 minutes from home. Not what we had intended at all, but it was a beautiful day and a pleasant drive. My son drove the entire way to Osteen. I took over the driving once we got there. Not because he was doing a bad job, but because there was a lot of roadwork going on. I didn’t think he needed to drive in that kind of mess. As soon as we got back to our town, I let him take over and drive the rest of the way home.

Now, of course, he wants to drive wherever we go. One of these days, we’ll tackle driving standard shift, but that’s an adventure for another day.

© Dellani Oakes

To purchase books by Dellani Oakes: The Ninja Tattoo, Indian Summer, Lone Wolf.

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The art of comedy writing by Karen Vaughan

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The art of comedy writing.

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Years ago I had the pleasure and the privilege to perform stand up comedy. I used the odd state of my mental health as the basis of my routine.

It was a fun thing to write. The best comedy out there is self-depracating humor. You are taking your flaws and going to town on yourself.

Here’s an example. I tried to laugh my ass off. It’s like a bloody boomarang it just keeps coming back.

I also picked on my former spouse–he’s a big boy he can take the abuse especially after what he put me through. He readily admitted being a contributing factor of my various neuroses.

I knew at one point our marriage was a runaway train heading south.The straw that broke the camels back occured when the mister looked at me and told me I was dysfunctional.  I was shocked! I had no clue he knew words THAT BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Writing comedy is a therapeutic exercise. I have to thank my friend David Granirer for mentoring me in this way.  I was able to translate the stand up stuff into my novel writing.  In fact I had the fun of writing routines into DEAD COMIC STANDING.

Hey great to be here. My name is Shelley.  A little bit about me. I am the youngest and only girl in my family.  My four brothers have a lot in common; they share one brain between them….. Actually only three of them are idiots. Dumb, Dumber, and Dumber still.  The fourth was born with a penis and a brain. Naturally my mother was shocked.

 Many people call me a butch. At first I thought it was because they meant to say bitch but just couldn’t spell.  Then I realized they were calling me a Lesbo.

I love animals; I guess I would have to being raised with the four primates.  Dinner in our house resembled feeding time at the monkey house.  I know I know…it’s not nice to compare the boys to a bunch of chimps.  The chimps have a bigger shot at getting a college degree than these animals. The older three attend clown school and are starting at The Shrine circus when they graduate. The one with the penis and the brain has a masters in Psychology.  Staying true to his ape heritage, he throws a lot of shit around.

I have never been married but I lived with a guy for 6 months. The only reason that the individual in question is still alive is credited to the fact that I look horrible in orange and I didn’t want to be the prison bitch of some chick named Hildegard. Honestly the names some people give their kids, they’re just asking for trouble.  Imagine burdening your offspring with the name of Hildegard, she’s bound to either sing Wagner while holding a spear or commit crimes—“Come to mommy Hildegard —sure she ambles straight into your arms and thwack—you never saw it coming.  Just think of her plea of guilty based on getting a shitty moniker at birth.

Norbert is another name that should be avoided at all costs. You’re going to have a child with a shit load of psychiatric issues based on childhood bullying.  So right after my mom read a book about what your kids’ names mean, she stopped calling Bobby, Bonzo.

Well it’s been great. I’ll be here until Sunday or whenever Jeff hands me a pink slip which ever comes first.

 

In my series my heroine Laura is often trading quips with the nemesis of the day.

example: The Kangaroo court scene from OVER HER DEAD BODY:

These proceedings as they were, reminded me of my years at Camp Minnee Haw-Haw where we would hold a Kangaroo court and charge each other with silly crimes like hogging the shower too long, or some other stupid irritating habit. If found guilty, the defendant had to do another’s chores the next day, or stick our hands in what the judge referred to as ‘guck’ which turned out to be a raunchy mixture of scrapings from that nights dinner.  I highly doubted that I would get off that easy this evening, nor would Jackie.

Judge Julie droned on about how things would go, ending in my ultimate demise. The patrons were as assigned jury duty. This was a moot point as her highness had last say and Junior had an itchy trigger finger.

With this in mind, I was going to have a little fun with the judge. I whispered to Jackie, “Trust me I will handle this,”

Jackie nodded. “Why not, my dear sister, the judge, says we’re going to croak anyway.”

“If I may address the court, your Honor;  My co defendant and I choose to plead not guilty. However, as we know you to be my co defendant’s sister we request that you excuse yourself from the trial.

“And why would that be?”  Julie was looking every bit the diva in her designer duds and four inch heels.

“Fair trial in front of a jury of our peers, but what we are lacking is an unbiased judge; not exactly what you would call an even playing field is it?”

“I never said it was going to be fair. You’re guilty of sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Your co defendant is charged with being a traitor, turning against her own sister and daddy like that, all out of jealousy of course.  Delroy found out the hard way that you don’t mess with family like that. Jackie is taking a lot longer to get the point. She will, as will you and dear Sandy.”

“Yes dear Sandy,” I interrupted. “His only crime was falling for someone of his own age group.  You’re just pissed that you’re out of the loop.”

“His crime is alienation of affection and adultery.  He was schlepping the old bag while married to me!”

“You had an open marriage! He gave you money to spend as you please, free reign to do whatever and whomever you pleased, which in the real world gave him free reign to follow his own interests. If he happened to find a kindred spirit as he put it, it’s not your place to say who he spent time with. That old bag as you so ineloquently put it was a sweet eighty four year old who loved the shopping channel, playing canasta and lawn bowling. She cross-stitched samplers for her friends.  She and Sandy were involved with several philanthropic projects to help the poor and infirm in the city.  They didn’t have the time to fool around as you so gracelessly implied.  You wouldn’t know this because you were too busy spending your husband’s money on expensive bling, when there are so many people in Toronto don’t have food on the table or a roof over their heads.  What you did was totally reprehensible!”

Judge Julie laughed at me here. “Since when is shopping a crime?”

“No, not shopping per se; your crime was hiring a man to do the job for you. You didn’t have the proverbial stones to kill Mrs. Peterson, woman to woman. No, you got a man to go beat a defenseless woman while she ate her cereal.  Yes, members of the jury, the deceased was found face down in a bowl of wheat squares!” A collective gasp was uttered from the gallery.  I had the jury eating out of my hands.

“Someone want to bring the court back to order and kindly shut the defendant up?”

Jackie was right beside me. “You go girl.”

My abductor stood up, ready to put me in my place. I turned on him. “Want another can of whoop ass friend?” I raised my knee to show him I was ready for round two. He backed off somewhat quickly.

Julie was banging her gavel on the table trying to restore order.  “Junior, start shooting jurors. It’s apparent that we no longer have their cooperation.  Junior lifted his gun and aimed it straight at Karen.

Since the whole idea of writing comedy into a story is to entertain the reader or at least to provide comic relief in a tense situation. I love this aspect of it.

In as much as I enjoy using it in my books, I really love the quick laughs I get in my status updates on facebook.  Social media has become my comedy club of choice. I can’t afford YUK YUKS.

JOURNALLING FOR CREATIVITY BY KAREN VAUGHAN

Sometimes when I am suffering from the dreaded WB I journal. I have a book of journaling sparks to get me started.

Easy things to start with are:

  • talk about your day–find something funny that happened to you, your spouse or a pet.
  • pet peeves
  • rant about current events or a neighbour
  • write poetry if you are so inclined
  • count your blessings or create a silver linings playbook of your own
  • gratitude journal

This topic was inspired by a Mood disorder group meeting we had about Journaling. It was done for different reasons but it made me think-It does happen occasionally-about how  Journaling can motivate us to work on the bigger projects as well as cure WB.

I write comedy in mine and blogging for write minds and other groups. This keeps me fresh for novel writing.

http://www.writingsparks.com- a place to get prompts for creative writing.

http://www.gather.com -I belong to writing essentials where daily editors give assigments on a given theme. It trains me to focus and not go off on a tangent.  e.g.pet peeves was today’s assignment.

There are no set rules to journaling; just use your own personal style.

 

WHY DOES A WRITER NEED EDITING SERVICES?

Editing, the time-consuming but necessary evil in the life of a writer, eats up an author’s writing time. It’s difficult to see many little mistakes in punctuation and grammar after reading and rereading the manuscript for what may seem like or actually be the hundredth time.

No matter how great the story is, the writer always seems to find a place here, a sentence there, a description, or a bit of dialogue that could be just a tiny bit better if a few words are changed. Constantly tweaking the story or the writing often gets in the way of doing a good editing job on one’s own works of literary art..

That’s why writers need editors – someone whose sole purpose is to find the flaws in spelling, grammar and punctuation that elude the writer but will distract readers.

That’s what editors do, paying special attention to the little things that are hallmarks of good writing. They find all those elusive little mistakes the author may not catch. They make suggestions when they find a sentence that seems awkward or that has grammar problem.

The big problem for Indie Authors is that editors cost money…sometimes BIG money, and some editors are better than others. Finding someone with whom a writer can trust his “baby” – his creation of art – is a daunting task. 

A writer should be spending his or her valuable time creating, not editing. No matter how good the writer is, an objective eye when it comes to editing will make a huge difference in any writer’s life.

There’s a new service in “town” for Indie Writers. Writers’ Wings is designed to help you with the mundane but necessary jobs of editing, prepping for publication, and cover design at reasonable prices. The website is still under construction, but you’re welcome to visit it and watch as it grows. You’ll be interested in what Writers’ Wings has to offer and amazed at how affordable its services are. Stop by… http://writerswings.homestead.com/index.html Let us give your words wings!

 

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Keeping It Together

If you’re like me, you need an intervention. No, not with drugs, alcohol or gambling, organization!

My desk and files are an organizational nightmare! I’m not the most disorganized person I know, but I’m close. Being an author with O.D.D., (Organization Disability Disorder), I’ve come up with a couple very simple tricks.

Since I work on more than one story at a time, I’m juggling characters and story lines. To keep myself straight, especially with minor characters, I keep a three ring binder with sections and tabs for each story. Using the file name from the computer file, I write it on the tab. On one page, I keep a list of characters, all of them, no matter how small a role they play. On another, I keep a list of chapters and their page numbers. It’s very easy to continue writing until a story is complete, but it’s good to give the story some natural stopping or slowing places.

Every author has to do research at some point. Although I bookmark pages on my browser, it’s a horrible mess. Despite my best efforts to do better, it’s still a mile long and a disaster. To combat that, I print out the pages of research that I need, complete with the web address, in case I have to go back. These, I punch and put in another three ring binder. I keep it within reach so that I can find what I need.

I have in mind to tag the pages per story or at least per subject, but I haven’t gotten that far. That’s my goal – though it may be next year before I get it done. These are very easy things for any writer to accomplish. Even for the clinically O.D.D., there is hope!

Below is another way I keep my characters organized. I keep a card file on my desk of all the main characters – and several recurring or important secondary characters. On each card, I do the following:

Front ~

Name:                                                                                       Parents:

Book Title:                                                                               Siblings:

Boy/ Girlfriend:                                                                    Age:

Children:                                                                                 Coloring:

Family: (cousins, aunts, uncles, cousins)                Series: (If applicable)

Back~

Job:

Also In: (if they are a repeating character)

Friends & Co-Workers:

I also list if the story is finished or unfinished.

Dellani Oakes is a not quite completely crazy author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Indian Summer – historical romance and Lone Wolf – futuristic romance are available from Second Wind Publishing. The Ninja Tattoo – contemporary romantic suspense, is available from Tirgearr Publishing.

Why do any of us write?-Karen Vaughan

Are we looking for glory with hopes of finding our books in the stacks at a Big name book store? Okay for some that might be a possible outcome. When I started writing it was a means of keeping myself entertained. I was bored a lot of the time and my imagination ran away with me. The psychiatric meds were also having their way with my brain so who knew what was going to end up on paper.  Being on stress leave and staring at the four grey walls and yes they were grey wasn’t helping me any.  I took a weird dream I had and committed myself to writing it down and low and behold DEAD ON ARRIVAL took shape. 

I am one of those people who can’t just do one story at a time.  I was three quarters finished DOA when I got another idea for another story involving payoffs and scandal called Dirty Deeds. It’s currently sitting in my dead story pile. It ran out of steam so I just let it go. Right after I came up with an avenging angel story called Bitchin’ mondays where each person in a group of four  had a homicidal fantasy about some one who they thought had it coming to them.  Things get complicated when the proposed victims turn up dead. This is also in my dormant file. 

By this time DOA had been published and people wanted more Laura but I had the DEAD COMIC STANDING project on the go followed quickly by OVER HER DEAD BODY the promised installment that was starting to look like a series. 

The point I am trying to make is the ideas keep on coming and it’s like a tap I can’t shut off. Do I want it to?-not so much. The stories and characters in my head seem to be fighting for airspace and attention. The two guilty parties hogging the spotlight seem to be GETTING LARRY’D my gay/hetero marriage romance and THE GETAWAY, a romantic suspense plot I have cooked up. These to seem to be pushing any thoughts of DEAD MEN DON’T SWING toward the back of my brain. Ok so my characters are bullies and seem to be having their way with me –what’s a writer to do?  JUST GO WITH IT!

Did you ever wonder about Laura Hamilton-Fitz’s past? Find out here.

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Just who is Laura Hamilton-Fitz?

Her Back-story

Laura was born to a mom and dad who believed women should be independent until the day they marry.  There are girls in the family Laura being the oldest and a tomboy to boot. Dad wanted a boy to share his love of cars and sports.  Laura let him mold her into the son he didn’t get. By the time she was thirteen she could take apart an engine, change the oil and fix a flat. Dad Hamilton was a happy man. Mom Hamilton was not. Laura was a rebel and did not traditional and very non girly things. She went out for league sports and after begging from dear old mom joined the cheering squad.

This is where Laura met Lou and Gerry.  They were team mates and friends. Lou Igliati won the girl while Gerry watched secretly hoping the girl would throw Lou over for him. That never happened but that didn’t change his feelings for his friend and Laura. Gerry was awkward around the opposite sex and stuttered when confronted with one. Laura liked him as Lou’s friend.  Gerry would never poach in Lous camp so friendship would have to suffice.

Life happened after graduation. Laura and Lou had a long distance relationship and Gerry went away to do something else. He and Lou lost contact.

Lou and Laura eventually got married after their college careers were over and Laura worked til she got pregnant. This made Mama Hamilton happy. Mother was not to be for Laura at this time.  She suffered a miscarriage and Lou announced coldly that he didn’t really want kids. Lou also had a big secret and was pulling away from his wife and the marriage was going south. Just how far south Laura found out on something called speakers corner.  It was a way for the people of Toronto to  express themselves on TV.

This is where Lou came out of the closet on CITYV. Laura found out at the same time all of the greater Toronto area.   Needless to say the Igliati marriage was over in two years or less.  Laura spent time being bitter towards men and had a hard time trusting people after that.  Lou’s name was not to be mentioned in the Hamilton home but that didn’t stop Mrs. H from trying to coax Laura to move home and to fix her up with a man and make some grandchildren.  This caused a rift between Laura and mamabear.  She threw herself into a few meaningless office jobs.  Laura gave up the marital apartment and went on a hunt for new digs.

Laura quite literally ran into Gerrys cab in a parking lot.  She confessed to her high school friend that she was in bad shape due to a bad relationship and break up and was couch surfing with various friends and relatives.  It was driving her bananas and she needed a roof over her head before she ended up at home or the mental hospital.

It just so happened that Gerrys other job was as a building superintendant in the east end of Scarborough. There was a unit available and she decided to have a look. She and Gerry resumed a platonic relationship as they had in high school. Laura was not interested in anything else. It went along like that for years until of course someone parked a dead body in her living room.

For anyone who has read DEAD ON ARRIVAL and OVER HER DEAD BODY knows things started to get very interesting.  Stay tuned for the next chapter DAYTONA DEAD. Laura and Gerry are married and honeymooning in sunny Florida.  Watch out for car chases and the body count to rise.Front cover of daytona dead

The Ignoble End of Cliff Brooks

414BKu5bOdL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-62,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_In one of my prior articles, Who But An Author, I discussed the Kill Cliff Brooks challenge during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Below is an excerpt from my first NaNo novel, The Wall of Time (prequel to my sci-fi series). The hero, Wil, has to deal with a hired assassin and he decides the best way to find Mozzimo is to use his girlfriend, Eboneé, as bait.

A scrawny man in a dirty black leather thong and studded dog collar answered the door. He had a name tattooed on is skinny chest: Cliff Brooks. Cliff escorted Wil into the lobby and told Eboneé she was wanted below. The whore took her time, making sure she was perfectly attired for her new playmate.

(A scene follows where Wil “persuades” Eboneé to contact Mozziomo.)

Eboneé reluctantly placed the call to Mozzimo. It wasn’t a clear visual, but he could see Wil holding her prisoner. Wil’s smile was lethal, wicked, cold with anger. He took this all very personally. The fact that the Council actually thought they could kill him offended his sensibilities in ways nothing else could. That they had tried to use his friend first, offended him as well. Now they were sending a cocky, arrogant, pervert after him. They were killing his ego, that was about all they had accomplished.

“I’ll be there soon, Ebby,”Mozzimo told his prostitute girlfriend. “You just keep him happy til I get there.”

“Moz! He’s trying to kill me here!”

“Don’t be stupid, bitch. If he wanted you dead, you already would be. Play nice.” He cut off the transmission.

“Let’s get comfy, shall we?” Wil dragged her to the bed and cuffed her to it, arms and legs splayed indecorously across the dirty red coverlet.

“They’re gonna come asking for me if you don’t let me go soon.”

“Baby, they won’t ask for you for a week. I gave them so much money, I could keep you here as long as I wanted. No one cares. You’re meat.” He dressed quickly and sat on the only chair in the room, facing the door, waiting.

He knew Mozzimo was close. He was probably already in orbit. Moz was sloppy. He hadn’t paid attention to his screen angle. Wil had seen the navigation instruments behind him on the vid screen. He’d been less than five hectares away from Aolani. Figure at least thirty minutes for approach, clearance and docking, he’d be through the door in less than an hour.

Eboneé was beginning to like the position she was in. She liked the man who threatened her, finding that she enjoyed getting the pain as well as giving it. If she could distract him, maybe Moz would have a chance and kill him. She could watch. She could really get off on that.

“Hey,” she put on her most coaxing, sultry voice. To Wil she sounded nasal and annoying.

“What?” He didn’t look at her. He could see her in his peripheral vision.

“Why waste your time and money? Come on over here, I’ll give you something to keep you occupied til Moz gets here.”

“No thanks.”

“Oh, come on. I’m all set up and ready for you. You’re so hot, you’re steaming. Take off your clothes and join me. I’ll make it worth your time.” She writhed on the bed and tried to look sexy. It was hard to look really slinky with her arms and legs spreadeagled, but she tried.

Wil laughed, not keeping the dark amusement from his face. “Save it for someone who gives a shit, Ebby.” He said her name in a mocking tone. “I don’t want what you have to offer. I like my women clean.”

“I’m clean!” She screeched.

“Sure you are.” He chuckled. It was a very spooky sound.

Eboneé cried softly, waiting for Mozzimo to arrive. Wil sensed him before he heard Mozzimo in the hallway. Making no pretense of his arrival, he was coming in hot and fully loaded.

Yelling obscenities and banging on doors as he clumped down the hall, he was disturbing the entire establishment. Cliff came up behind him to find out what the trouble was. Without thinking, Mozzimo spun around and shot him right between the ‘f’ and the ‘B’. Cliff scrabbled at his chest, coughed once and died.

Dellani Oakes is a not quite completely crazy author of Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo. Indian Summer – historical romance and Lone Wolf – futuristic romance are available from Second Wind Publishing. The Ninja Tattoo – contemporary romantic suspense, is available from Tirgearr Publishing.

They Don’t Take Me Seriously

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My family and friends have no idea what I do. Those that might sort of intellectualize it, still don’t really consider it work. To their untrained eyes, I’m sitting at the computer most of the day doing something nebulous that they can’t understand.

They don’t get the fact that my being on Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, etc. isn’t just for fun. I am networking and marketing. Yes, it looks like entertainment, but looks are often deceiving. I do take time off to play games from time to time, but I put in work time first.

Also, to the uninitiated, writing looks like fun. We, as authors, sit in our location of choice with our computers or a pen and paper. We type and scribble, doing our best to get our words down in a coherent fashion. Finding the best word possible isn’t an easy task.

Once we’ve written the first draft, the edits and revisions begin. This is a time consuming, tedious, ceaseless process that only comes to an end because we have a deadline. We suffer separation anxiety, struggling to release our fledgling to the harsh, cold world. We probably aren’t going to appreciate being interrupted.

I don’t know about any other authors, but I can’t put into words what it is I do. Everything sounds inadequate for the amount of time and energy that goes into it. If I had to summarize my work, I would say that I write stories, market my books and post articles about writing. How can something so seemingly simplistic take all day?

All this being said, why do they think they can interrupt my stream of thought with phone calls and random requests? I don’t do it to them. I don’t call indiscriminately and make demands of their time. Why do they feel they can do it to me with impunity? Do the words, “I’m busy” not mean anything anymore?

I guess instead I should say, “I’m busy, but by all means call and interrupt and bother me because it’s convenient for you.”

In case it isn’t obvious, I’m a bit irritated as I write this. I suppose I shouldn’t harbor resentment, they are my friends and family. But they should understand that what I do is as important as what they do. I don’t have a huge paycheck attached to my work hours. In fact, my payback is barely adequate to put gas in the car or pay for lotto tickets. I am pursuing what drives me, trying to fulfill a dream that keeps eluding me.

Like most authors, I keep weird hours. I might be up until the wee hours of the morning and not get up until later in the day. That, for some of us, is normal. There are those oddities who like to get up early and watch the sunrise, but we forgive them their proclivity for sunlight because they are writers. I don’t work 9 – 5. I often am working well into the evening, and I really don’t want to be bothered then either. However, if it’s been a productive day, an evening chat isn’t such a bad thing. Please note that chat means about 30 minutes. It does not mean talking for an hour or two. I can’t speak for anyone else here, but I hate being on the phone for hours on end. I can’t seem to express this to my loved ones without risking getting really nasty, so I’m saying it here. I DO NOT LIKE TALKING ON THE PHONE!

It’s not only a waste of my time, but it is PAINFUL. After a couple of surgeries on my neck, listening on the phone makes part of my face and neck numb, but the other parts hurt more and make up for it. I may love you, but that doesn’t mean I want to natter endlessly.

So, before picking up the phone and calling your favorite author friend or relative, think about what they do and wonder if what you’re about to call for is really that important. If they say, “I’m working” or “I’m busy” could they really be saying, “I love you, but your call has interrupted my writing sprint and I really need to get back to this before the ever elusive scene is lost”? Could whatever it is you have to say wait?

© Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes is an author with Second Wind Publishing and Tirgearr Publishing. Her novels, Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and The Ninja Tattoo can be found through the publishers.